by Latoya Burnham
No one really understands the love of a parent for a child like a parent.
Roger and Lindsay Burnham are a joy to know. And that’s not just because I’m a loving sister and doting sister-in-law and aunt, it’s because they truly reveal how much the old adage that love can conquer anything is absolutely true.
Roger is Bajan; Lindsay, Canadian and they are in every sense of the word a loving interracial couple. But things like colour are the farthest thing from the mind when you meet five-month-old Harper Olivia Burnham – nicknamed Olive by Roger.
Roger and Lindsay were married in November 2005 and knew eventually they would like to become parents, after they had settled into jobs, owned their own home and were comfortable enough as providers. So when they decided to start consciously giving it a try, there was only shock when they were confirmed pregnant less than a month later.
“Shock and Awe! I was scared at first – ‘Could I do this?’ ‘Is this the right time?’, ‘Could I afford it?’, ‘Would I make a good mother?’
“Once all the ‘What if’s’ went away I was in awe that a tiny person was growing inside of me. Someone who was half me and half my husband was actually living inside me,” said Lindsay, still in awe.
Roger, my brother, a man of very few words, would only reply, “I was excited”.
So the Canada-based couple, was now planning for the birth of their daughter, who graced the world on November 28, 2012 at 7:52 p.m., less than 10 days after their seventh anniversary.
For Roger, the birth was “easy, even though the process seemed long and exhausting”.
Lindsay recalled that labour lasted about seven hours and in fact she only had to push for about 45 minutes before Harper was born.
“I remember the entire process. Every minute, every feeling, every emotion. It definitely hurts. Every mother-to-be wonders just how much it actually hurts. There is no way to describe it or to plan or prepare for it. It’s going to hurt!
“However the clich√ is very true, when it’s all over and you are holding your baby in your arms you forget about the pain and would not hesitate to do it again, just not for a while,” she wrote in reply to the question.
Parenting as a new experience for the couple has been eye-opening. Roger worries mostly about his wife coping and worrying, but added too that it has been stressful with the lack of sleep.
Lindsay’s list of challenges were a little more extensive. The first month, she admitted it was “crazy”. She had to adjust to a baby that now demanded “every second of your time and every ounce of your energy”.
“In any new relationship, the first little bit you are just trying to get to know one another. It’s easy to breakup when you are in any other relationship. You can’t breakup with your baby, so you must keep getting to know them and making it work. The wonderful thing is, everyday that you get to know them more you start to love them more.
“It started to get easier and easier. Instead of waking her every two hours for feeds through the night she started to go longer and longer and I would get more and more sleep. The trouble I had was that I put so much pressure on myself to perfect everything.”
Even though she had challenges producing enough milk, Lindsay still made the conscious decision to breast feed because she believed it was the best thing to do. She had to put Harper on a schedule so their precious bundle could sleep properly and then try to find ways to stimulate her mentally and physically to spur development.
“I had to play music for her or she would not have good cognitive development. I had to read to her or she wouldn’t speak on time … The list went on and on … Just a lot of pressure. Once I relaxed, I realised she would develop at her own rate and learn all she could handle if I just relaxed, enjoyed her, and love her to pieces. I worried a lot, but I’m learning to relax!”
For the couple, the baby has taken over.
As Roger put it, “There is no time for myself. There is no such thing as free time anymore. Parenting is a full-time job so you have to balance and juggle both your time and schedule to accommodate the new baby.”
When asked about their fears of race playing a major role in their daughter’s life, Roger replied a flat “No”, almost as if it’s not something that he considers a big deal.
Lindsay on the other hand laid it all out.
“How on earth would I do her hair!” she initially said puzzled but ended with a lol, “I was secretly hoping for a boy so I could shave his head.”
But then she said: “[B]ut seriously… I worry that in a predominantly white family and white town, she will miss out on the importance of her Bajan heritage and culture. Let’s face it, my flying fish and cou cou is just not what grandma’s would be. I worry that neither race will really ‘accept’ her.
“I even worry about down the road. If she marries a black man, has black children and a black dad, I will be the one who doesn’t appear to fit in. Regardless I will teach her that we are all the same on the inside. I will teach her that love is blind and has no colour or race.
“The beautiful thing about kids is that they don’t start out noticing people are different races. To them we are all just ‘people’. I hope that Harper always feels that we are all ‘just people’,” she posited.
Lindsay’s parents have played a large role in helping the couple to cope as well. Lindsay says her dad is just waiting to spoil young Harper, while her mom is forever buying new clothes and shoes for the baby. It also helps, she said, that they sometimes come to help with chores like laundry or to babysit when the couple gets busy, or bring dinner when their day is so packed that they don’t have time to cook.
But overall, these new parents just hope for a happy, “good” and God-fearing child.
“I hope Harper is a good person. I hope she cares about others and has a positive impact on the world. I hope she understands how much her parents love her when she has children one day. I hope she is successful, and finds what makes her happy. Most of all I hope she loves God more than anything else. I fear that she will never know how much she means to me,” said Lindsay.
Her husband, added: “I hope that she has a great education and career and surpasses me in every way. I also hope that she is a devout Christian woman… [but I have] no fears for the future.” [email protected]