August 25, 2014

Help a Momma Out Series

This is the beginning post of a series called "Help a Momma Out" where some of the most challenging parts of motherhood are addressed.  Guest posts from mommas who know will be included, and although regular posts and crafts will be interspersed, this series will go on for a couple of months.

HMO (Help a Momma Out) # 1: Why is this so hard?  Adjusting to a new baby

As a mom of four, I have struggled often enough , and yet I clearly remember the upheaval that was adjusting to baby number one.

Not all moms deal with that.  Some of my friends say their first was by no means the hardest transition, and that they kinda sailed through.  Did they have newborn siblings growing up?  Maybe their personalities are such that not much ruffles them.  I have no idea.

What I do know is, at one point or another, most of us have to deal with giving up our spot as numero uno to a baby.  That's not easy.

For me, one of the main troubles was becoming a stay at home mom. I was particularly happy 'climbing the ladder' at a wonderful (and honest) credit union. I knew enough to see that I was incredibly lucky to be a SAHM, but I had purpose and direction at work, approval and promotions.

And then I had this new sweet baby girl.  Tiny and precious, and totally dependent on a momma who (while prepared by the best books) felt lost.  My hubby stayed home from work for a week, and my family was close and took good care of me as I healed, but baby blues began to set in and I didn't recognize it.  Beyond that, I suddenly had a full 8 hour day all alone with my babe, who slept so much, and I was expected to lay down and heal.  I felt lazy and unimportant.

Being homebound, (you don't take your baby out, you know, especially in RSV season) didn't help.  Though I adored our sweet baby, I couldn't imagine how we were going to keep our same routines, or even the same friends.  How do you go to a movie and dinner with a newborn along?  And what about staying out late when your baby goes to bed at 10?

I was caught between an intense feeling that my world was halting to a stop, and the excitement and love I had for our new babe.  All the while the merciless back and forth of post-baby hormones was taking a toll.  And I won't even go into sleep deprivation.

What would I have done differently, now that I'm thrice more experienced than before? (I belong in Monty Python, saying thrice like that)

Though there are things to cushion the stress of the situation (and I'll give some pointers), I have to say that there is merit in the sacrifice you make to become a mom.

You have just introduced a new soul the world, whose personality, choices and future are forever entwined with your own.  Of course that's going to change us!  We give up important things to make room for a family, and at times it's costly, but worth it.

Interestingly enough, all this transition isn't bad for a marriage. Research found (according to Russo) that one of the best predictors of marital satisfaction is adaptability.  Families thrive when there is shared meaning in what they've experienced.  Like saying to your spouse: 'remember how hard that was, adjusting to our first?'.  It's meaningful to both of you, and you appreciate each other more for understanding what it required.  The struggles of transitioning to baby number one, two (or whichever), bind us together and make us more equipped for hard things in the future.  That's good!

That's good for the future, but for now, there are ways that I learned to make the transition easier as our family grew.  Maybe these will help you:

1. Let go of perfect parenting expectations.
 No one is perfect, and you shooting yourself down for missing a night time feeding, or neglecting your husband for a few months, or choosing weekly book club over tucking your babe in at night does not make you a bad mom.

This becomes even more important as you have more kids.  You can't keep the laundry up, read nightly to Tommy, and still be a room mom for Nan (heheehe, Nan) when you have a new baby.  Give yourself time and let go of lesser things. I try to give myself a whole year before I expect to be running on all cylinders.

2. Understand the difference between baby blues and Postpartum.

photo courtesy

  I have no idea why this was so hard to define for me.  I had the baby blues with baby number one, and full on postpartum with the following 3.  That is not party I'd invite you to.

If you do struggle, get help!  Visit this site or this site to find out if you're suffering from baby blues or postpartum.   Then see your doctor for some recommendations.  I can't tell you how much better off I am when I've done what my doc has suggested.  By baby number 3 I had my plans in place to deal with the depression in advance.  It was SOOO much easier that way.  No hitting rock bottom, no crying for weeks.

3. Keep perspective.

Yes, your kids will rearrange your life, but that is true of every other worthy goal as well.  What about new careers, or living abroad?  Those certainly take adjustment.

As a mom, you have the chance to mold and shape a life, to influence the very way another being is.  It's a big job, and dailiness tends to down play what a huge role you have.  It's easy to see your small accomplishments as ridiculous: 'I just got my boy to sleep in his bed instead of mine', but truthfully, these are giant leaps for the little guy who is terrified of the dark.  See it that way. It's not a pat on the back from an executive, but giving a child self confidence, or independence, or urging him to succeed is incredibly fulfilling.

4.  Be grateful for this season of life
You can compare your current life to the old until the day is gone, but it certainly won't help you move forward.  What will?  Being grateful.

Gratitude allows us to embrace our circumstance, and to see the good in it.  What do you have to be grateful for?  How about a baby who is in your arms instead of in the ICU?  Or how about your amazing body that can tote around another human for the better part of a year and then rearrange itself to work properly again?  How about the years to come which include small hands that want to hold yours, and curious eyes that get wide at discovering there are hotdogs inside hot dog buns!

Obviously I don't see things the same now as I did at first. I have had so many moments of pure sweetness where I thank God he sent my kids to me.  I see now that this is the best thing I could be doing with my time.  I hope that your journey into motherhood leaves you with a similar feeling, and that the good that has come from your becoming a mom grows.

I'd love to hear from you, especially if you have a word or two to encourage another new momma!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for speaking up!