On Saturday 20th August, I became a new parent. A baby girl was born to me and my wife at home.

Wow!

So much change. Such a steep learning curve (vertical). The need to adapt everthing we thought we knew how to do, but now need to rethink.

I spoke to a friend yesterday and told them that despite reading books about having a baby, and going to classes to find out about breastfeeding or handling, nothing could have prepared me for the total onslaught of a 3AM unsettled new-born. Whatever I’d picked up from the books and classes just went out of the window as real-life gets pushed into your face. Reality.

Adapting to a new life is hard work, but it gives a very different perspective on things, and ultimately, is empowering. As parents-to-be, we felt pretty well prepared for parenthood. I’m just wondering what things might have felt like if we had done no preparation. Probably a bit of a nightmare!

Speaking to other transition people a few months ago, I was speculating on what the impact of having a baby would be on my work on the Energy Descent Action Plan. Would it get lost under a pile of nappies? Well, I feel that having witnessed a new life coming into the world, my determination to help create an EDAP is stronger than ever. Massive change is clearly what we are faced with as a society with the triple whammy of climate change, economic meltdown and peak oil.  Now, I’m not saying that having a baby is some kind of parellel to these changes, but the need and ability to adapt is a fundamental aspect to both. Bare minimum is that you need to get your head around the type of change you’re dealing with . . .

I think that the theme of adaptation and adaptability are essential elements for a successful EDAP, and is an idea that needs to be explored more. In Australia, the Sunshine Coast EDAP used the new term ‘edaptation’ to bring this into focus with five definitions (quoted in The Transition Timeline book, page 93):

  1. the act of a community adapting to climate change and peak oil by creating and actioning an EDAP
  2. the act of transitioning to a post-carbon future in a positive, pro-active manner
  3. (sociology): a far-reaching and widespread yet significant modification of individual and community attitude and behaviour
  4. the act of moving from oil dependency to local resilience community by community
  5. the act of personal attitudinal and behavioural change

If you accept that change is happening or coming then you can adapt. My guess is that it’s probably worth beginning this adaptation (or edaptation) before that change is on top of you ( or being sick in your lap, if you are still with the baby analogy).

My wife and I have had some fantastic support from mid-wives, maternity support workers, doctors, and relatives, although often with conflicting advice on how to do things. Eventually, we came to realise that we just had to make our own choices and decisions. The first lesson that we have learned from our new daughter is that we need to trust our own abilities and instincts. We can’t wait for experts to tell us ‘what to do’. Energy descent for communities will have to work like this too. We know our towns better than anyone else.

The past weeks have shown me that humans are very adaptable and can develop solutions and responses.  It helps, of course, when you have an idea about what’s on the way so you can plan, even if those plans need to be radically re-thought when the time comes. Babies don’t come with instruction manuals, and nor does energy descent. We need to work it out ourselves.

Now, where’s that clean nappy?

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