Mothering the Mother After Baby Arrives
By Stephanie Ondrack
Many of us spend our entire pregnancy anticipating the upcoming birth of our baby, but somehow our vision fades out there—right after the birth itself. Once we’ve come through this experience, we often find ourselves the shell-shocked guardians of a new baby, one who is with us all day and all night, utterly dependent, and ours to keep. Somehow, we never imagined what this would be like, or what an enormous life change it would be. We may have heard that babies sleep a lot. They do, but rarely for more than half an hour at a time, and almost exclusively in our arms. We may have envisioned the baby cooing peacefully in a basket while we ‘get stuff done’, only to discover that babies never like to be put down…ever. We may have pictured promenades and outings, beaches and restaurants, only to learn that it requires extreme juggling and dexterity to leave the house with a newborn, a feat at which few parents succeed during the first couple weeks. We may have thought this would be the time to paint the house, write a novel, or catch up on thank you cards, only to realize that somehow, these teeny tiny little people we call babies take up all of our time, all of our hands, and all of our energy, day and night, without breaks.
But somehow, we do this. We have babies. We look after them. We get through those early months of reeling. We learn to let go of our unrealistic expectations, and to surrender to the much more basic ebb and flow of a new baby’s needs. We stop aspiring to ‘get stuff done’, and aspire instead to enjoying these precious early months with our brand new progeny. Eventually, we may even embrace this ever-shifting new existence, and learn to appreciate this short and passing season in our lives, the “in-arms” phase of early parenthood.
In this issue, we consider some key postpartum issues, such as early breastfeeding challenges, postpartum doulas, and what to expect during this turbulent time. Becoming a parent is the steepest learning curve we will likely ever face, a maelstrom of a roller coaster with frayed emotions and little sleep. Like all new adventures, new jobs, and new situations, the curve will eventually level off, and the chaos will settle into familiarity and confidence. For now, we encourage you to ignore those dishes, turn off your phone, and surrender to the motion of your postpartum journey. We hope you enjoy the ride. Of course, if you’re right in the middle of this crazy, magical time, you won’t be reading newsletters anyway. You will hopefully be busy settling in and finding your groove with your new baby.