By MA Filler
First my disclaimers: I’m a bit nervous about writing this first blog post. I have a science and math degree and no writing experience other than the papers that I wrote in college. In addition, I want to make it clear that I am by no means an authority on the issues of parenting. But, I hope that I can be of help to you in whatever stage of parenting you find yourself. In fact, I’m hoping to learn from you as well! Finally, I am aware that not everyone has or desires the privilege of “jumping off the merry-go-round.” Our differences in approach and circumstance are what make life interesting!
I blame my dominant left lobe for my inclination to view all sorts of things in chronological order. So, let’s begin with the new mom stage. What are some of the challenges that new mothers face, and how can those challenges be addressed?
My first son was born one day after his due date and just about 12 hours after I got home from my last day of full-time teaching. I planned to work until my due date as I thought statistics showed that first time babies are generally late. I thought I might even have a week or two to rest and get mentally prepared. The bottom line is that babies will come when they are ready. Unfortunately, I was exhausted going in to the parenting process for the first time.
When boy wonder number one was born, I was immediately overcome with intense feelings of love and, surprisingly, being overwhelmed. I cried in the hospital while a nurse comforted me saying that “it” would be all right.
What was wrong with me? Why did I feel so under-prepared to assume this new role? Perhaps it was the physical pain I was in from giving birth or the reality that I didn’t have a very big support system once I got home. My mom came for a few days to help out but lived two states away and was unable to stay beyond that. We were new to our community, and I knew very few people. I went from knowing exactly what I was going to do every day to having no idea what I was doing day to day. I had chosen to nurse, and no one in my family had ever done that nor was there support in our area for nursing mothers. On top of that, my son had colic and didn’t sleep day or night.
How did I survive that phase of parenting? Well, it wasn’t easy, and it is a wonder that I went on to have two more babies after that!
When I reflect back, here are some things I did to not only survive but to thrive during that first year.
- Take one day at a time. I remember thinking that I would NEVER get sleep again. Try to keep perspective and know that all children do eventually learn to sleep (that’s a topic for another blog post).
- Make friends with other new moms. I was blessed to meet two of my fellow bloggers, Karen and Ruth, in a Sunday school class for parents. In addition, I attended a stay-at-home Bible study group that met during the week. From those relationships, we formed a much needed playgroup for “the moms!”
- Make friends with moms who are ahead of you “in the game.” Fortunately, just before my first son was born, I moved across the street from a mom with two girls, ages 7 and 10 at the time. Her wisdom has and continues to be priceless.
- Go for a walk or get some other form of exercise. The exercise piece is critical in mood lifting! If weather permits, get that stroller out and walk. The sunlight alone will lift your spirits. If you have to stay inside, the baby swing can be your best friend while you get in a quick 30-minute workout.
- Accept help when it’s offered. For some reason, it’s not only difficult to ask for help, but it’s also difficult to accept help when being offered. I remember friends and family offering to keep the baby. News flash…there are people out there who ADORE babies and would LOVE to help you out at this stage!
- Take Time for Yourself. Take a bath, read a great work of fiction or sleep! Also, for future perspective, read Jen A’s blog post from 10/5/12, The Importance of Girlfriend Getaways.
- Laugh! Look in the mirror at your unkempt, pajama-wearing self and laugh. Try to find humor in the stream of urine that was sprayed on the nursery wall (you know I have boys) and the other day-to-day mishaps that are likely.
Note: If you have a colicky baby, make a recording of the hair dryer or some other form of white noise and play it back for your baby. It works wonders!
Cherish every moment you have with that newborn baby! In the blink of an eye, you’ll be moving on to the next stage!