We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
This is one of the realities for new mothers that are seldom spoken of: At some point after giving birth, you will end up alone with your newborn child, with a whole empty day stretching ahead of you. And it will likely happen sooner than you expect.
And so it was on my first day home alone with my newborn. My husband was back at work. My family lives on the other side of the country. All the visitors who had dropped by with gifts and casseroles were long gone. There was just me and a tiny, mewling thing in my lap.
I was reminded of my first day home alone, pre-child, with a new kitten. Only now the stakes were much higher. A cat will forgive you. A baby will grow up, rack up therapy bills, write a tell-all memoir, and blame everything on Mom.
I stared at this baby who couldn't communicate with me, and I couldn't communicate with him, and we were both crying. Mine were tears of panic, and his were tears of – well, I still don't know. Sometimes he just cried for no reason. He wasn't wet, he wasn't hungry -- he had just nursed -- but he was crying like a bleating goat with a bullhorn.
My anxiety stemmed from the fact that I felt like I just didn't know what to do with a baby yet, or how to bond with him. And so I really didn't know if or how I could make it through the entire day with him on my own. There's no manual to prepare you for that moment – but there probably should be!
On top of that, in my case (as with many women), I'd had a cesarean section. So while I was picking up the baby and putting him down, doing chores around the house, walking up and down the stairs, and so on, I was also recovering from major surgery.
People say moms should sleep when the baby sleeps. But in my house that day, there was no sleep. My son only wanted to be held, so I had to get through the day one-handed.
I held him while I did laundry.
I held him which I loaded the dishwasher.
I held him while I ate (and I dropped oatmeal on his head more than once).
I tried to put him in his bassinet a few times, but he woke up as soon as I slipped my hands away. I did manage to successfully transfer him once, but he then wiggled out of the swaddling blanket and punched himself in the eye.
Finally, a moment came when everything was calm. My son was asleep against me and all was right with the world. Of course, that's when the diaper blowout happened. It was actually worse than a blowout … I'd call it a tsunami. Suddenly my day up until then didn't seem so bad after all, because while it's one thing trying to calm a cranky child when you don't really know what to do with him, it's quite another trying to calm a cranky child when there is human waste soaking your clothes and you've become a walking biohazard.
This reality for brand-new mothers is common, but surely not an ideal situation. I imagine the perfect solution as some kind of cozy maternal hut that doubles as an affordable spa: a place where lots of wise women tend to new mothers and simultaneously care for their babies in a soothing, healing environment. Among their loving duties would be to brush my hair, make sure I'm bathed, and tell me I'm pretty.
Luckily, there is the Internet. So while I didn't have a sisterhood to help me through my first few days alone with my baby, I did have a virtual outlet that offered support, encouragement, and answers.
Being at home by yourself with your newborn is clock-watching. It's terrifying. It's an extreme sport that will test your limits. You'll likely hit a point where you feel exhausted, achy, and dirty; then you check your watch and realize it's only been half an hour.
But this exercise in endurance is also an exercise in being gentle with yourself. You might not be able to feed yourself, clothe yourself, or even wash yourself. But you will get through the hour, and then the day, and then you will get through the next one. That is a fact. Trust me, and trust yourself.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.