I know sick kids. I don’t know parenting, why should people listen to me or care what I have to say about this??? Two thoughts that have pulsed through me since being asked to write this post. When I found out I was pregnant I was decidedly anti parenting or pregnancy books. I didn’t have a parenting technique I was going to follow or a detailed birth plan, I just wanted my husband by my side, my OB to deliver the baby and be about 2 minutes from an adult and neonatal ICU – oh and to not have my water break at work. We’ve had four patients die in the past 2 weeks. I’ve got two waiting for heart transplants and countless others with life-altering or potentially life-threatening conditions. Working in pediatric critical care I know what can go wrong and I didn’t need to be reminded of how lucky we were. I’d never felt as calm as when I was pregnant- it was amazing and I didn’t want to lose that. My husband and I would know the basics and then let our child guide us as to what he needed and when. Now that I’m nearly 4 months into this motherhood thing and I’ve gotten over the ‘I know sick kids’ phase, here’s what I know…
-Some nights are hard. He’s wailing but he’s clean, fed and swaddled… Really? This is when I set him down in his crib or swing and have a cup of tea or take a shower. Him crying doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom, we just both need a minute.
-Pre game. Before you got pregnant pre-gaming likely included awesome snacks, great music and some sort of alcoholic beverage (hello orange blossom ale). I wish I had done a better job of this before the baby and the guests came. I wish I had more snacks and meals, and general household staples stocked up. I also should have thought about things other people could do to help – things like dishes, dog walks, trash and recycling, etc.
-Keep yourself. I’m an introvert. I recharge when I have time to myself. Now add in a brand new baby and house guests for 6 weeks. My little one has been great, and this was still trying, I can’t imagine how not like myself I would have felt if he had colic or any other issues. When I had down time but couldn’t sleep I liked to do things I did before he came that brought me joy. For me that was cooking or baking, reading, meeting friends for lunch, coloring, or making lists.
-Get out. This was difficult for me, actually this is difficult for me, but it yields some of the biggest profit. I feel so much better with fresh air but sometimes I get caught up in the to do list or in just wanting to relax with my family that I put off getting outside. A walking date or a lunch outside does wonders when I’ve barely slept or am stressed (both pre-baby and post).
-Reach out and be vulnerable I went from juggling lots of personal and professional responsibilities to sitting down nursing for over 3 hours a day, to having two guests and two extra dogs in my house. Not to mention it was winter and working in pediatrics I know that winter equals illness so I didn’t want to go most places while my little one’s immune system wasn’t up to full strength – one of my fundamental goals as a mother is to not have my son become one of my patients. Making that transition, being forced to slow down and feel like you don’t know everything, having someone you are responsible for who can’t tell you what’s wrong, or even just having prolonged guests can be really tough. You need to be able to ask for help and you need to not be embarassed or worry that you’re a burden or that you aren’t being a good hostess… File this under something I’m still working on. I’ve got a fair dose of guilt at baseline and that matter of being a good hostess really messed with me, as did the fear of burdening my friends with my feelings. We had tragedy hit several of our friends within a short time of each other and of having Charlie so I always felt that my issues weren’t nearly as worthy but you know what? They were and still are. Your issues matter and your friends care even if they forget to ask. So be vulnerable, put yourself out there and ask for what you need. And when people try to push things on you, say hosting over a holiday, speak up and share what would be the best for you especially if it’s alone time with your new spouse and some Chinese food takeout.
-Everyone has a cross to bear. This ties into the last item and it’s beyond just having a new baby. Pregnancy and motherhood is a series of amazing events and blessings- it’s biology at its best and a fair bit of grace. Making it through all of that with a seemingly healthy baby and mom is amazing but it doesn’t mean things are awesome. Looking at a person or family on the surface you can’t tell if only months before delivery a partner was unfaithful, or when a seemingly healthy newborn has a chronic illness or a momma wasn’t able to bring her sweet baby home. Be kind and gentle. We all have a beast of burden, whether you can see the wounds or not.
*originally written for and published on mamacarekits.com