"All that matters today is that my baby is lying safe within my arms;
warm, present and alive.
We have made it, separately and together.
My world will no longer be the same."
New mothers usually enter their changed world a little awestruck, if not stunned, by the magnitude of emotions that swell around the time of their newborn's birth. It is truly on blind faith and instinct that new mothers proceed through the days and weeks that follow. Whether the birthing process was natural, anesthetically assisted or cesarean, the transition from pregnancy to motherhood is indeed a magical deliverance and incredible exhibition of life's great power.
The child that awaits you is totally dependent. It has been all along. But now that child, so tiny and soft, has eyes to gaze at you, arms to clutch at you, lips to suckle you and a whimper or cry to startle you. It is no longer the infant you envisioned, it is the infant you see, touch, smell and hear. This child is yours, and he/she will steal your heart during the first moments of its life.
Emotions And Fatigue
Tentative? Maybe, a little fearful. Confused. All these emotions are natural; let them flow. You have been through an incredible nine months and a birth. What is next? Amidst fatigue and pain, you must start caring for this newborn 24 hours a day. Yes, it is overwhelming. But you will survive, and someday look back on these days as the dream that they were. In some ways, they will be over far too soon; in other ways, not soon enough.
Be good to yourself, and kind in your self talk. You have a consuming job with a newborn. Ask for help, and allow yourself to depend on others. Some things will just have to wait. What matters now is your time with this baby, your other children, your husband and taking care of yourself. New mothers who have gone through a high risk pregnancy may be very protective and reluctant to let anyone else care for the baby. It is important to know that the pregnancy has past. Let others help you now and allow yourself rest. In doing this, you will be better able to care for the baby in the weeks and months ahead.
Rest, lie down often and move slowly. Your sleep schedule will be off, but you still need sleep. Take naps whenever you can. Drink lots of water, and eat healthfully. Don't skip meals. Try to keep lots of fresh fruit and vegetables in your refrigerator. Many women want to eat lightly after childbirth, and keep fiber and fluid intake up.
New Mothers Of Twins Or More
New mothers who have twins, triplets or more babies will have a harder time in the early weeks, unless there is a lot of at home help available from the start. All the demands of caring for a newborn are doubled, or more. It is easy for these moms to feel inadequate, because it is almost impossible to meet the needs of more than one baby all the time. A little self forgiveness and, if you can manage it, humor can help turn around what seems to be a 'wretched day'.
Keep in mind that twins or other children born together learn to share your attention right from the beginning. This may benefit them, and you, later since sibling rivalry is usually less pronounced. It is much harder for a toddler to adjust to a new baby after years of having you and daddy all to themselves. Also, fathers are generally more involved with twins or more starting from the newborn stage. The first year is the hardest with multiples. Once you've made it through this phase there will be nice pay-backs for having had same age children. As they grow up, they play together, have same daycare and school needs, etc. In some ways, parenting twins or more will be easier down-the-road.
In many ways, you will be growing right along with your child. The experiences and responsibilities of parenthood have a "steep learning curve" associated with them. Each day seems to bring a new surprise or require a quick response to something totally unexpected. Each month your child grows, and changes. Just when you thought you 'knew' who that baby was, he/she will change again. These little ones are in constant metamorphosis, and mothers can't afford to take anything for granted.
Staying open, flexible and responsive is important. Of course, guiding them and keeping them safe is critical. A mother must provide opportunity for her child to explore and learn from the environment. Sometimes it is a hard trail to blaze, and easy to feel confused.
In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself
within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.
Just remember, your child is special and unique. It is easy to compare your baby to a friend's baby. New mothers often question and doubt the pace of her child's development. Frequently the only result of these comparisons is unnecessary worry. This is not to say mothers should not be observant and look for markers that their child's development is on track. But it is important to use a broad interpretation of the normal range, not one-to-one comparisons with any other child. As a new mom, learn what you can about the normal age range expected for developmental tasks (first walk, first word, toileting, etc.). Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns.
From Mom To Mom
Being a new mother can be all consuming and it is sometimes tempting to give up a close connection to your man, your own career or hobbies, or friendships to focus on "just being a mom". Taking this path can leave a woman with a sense of lost identity and worthlessness when her children reach school-age and begin to separate. It is important that each woman takes time to nurture her own life outside that which is based solely upon the children. Newborns are dependent on you, toddlers need you, but your children will want and need to gradually separate. You began this journey to bring a child life. Because of this child, your life will take on new meaning, and there will be many moments of joy and pain between you. But remember, you and your child must eventually grow apart. Always keep the seeds of your life alive. Someday soon, you will want them to bloom for you again.