As a new mother, I had a knack for giving the impression that I didn’t need help.
My village lives on the other side of the globe, so it was borne out of necessity, but I wonder if it was more than that. As new (or not so new) mothers, I wonder if we feel as though we’re letting ourselves down if we show that we’re vulnerable. Are we falling short if we admit that we simply can’t do this alone?
That we have one hairy leg because our survival strategies have devolved into shaving one leg one day, and the other the next. And we forgot the second leg…for a week. That we eat breakfast for dinner on a semi-regular basis. And that if one more well-meaning person tells us (as if we’ve forgotten) that we really need to take care of ourselves, we’ll scream.
Because, before becoming mothers we were used to feeling productive. To meeting deadlines. To getting the job done and feeling like a valued team member.
But motherhood shatters that reality. And although it’s bittersweet, thank goodness it does. It softens us. Slows us down. Stops the treadmill of a results driven society, forcing us to reassess what we truly value in this one short life of ours. As parents, we need to redefine success in the context of a journey, with a destination we will never see.
The idea of a couple growing a family in isolation is new to human society. What we need, in the absence of our families and tribal support systems, is postpartum doulas.
Each of my postpartum experiences was different. For one I was largely dazed and happy, for another I felt upset and overwhelmed, and during one I was losing touch with reality. What they had in common was that I felt unanchored. Adrift. Lost in a sea of beautiful dreams and haunting nightmares that I felt obliged to keep to myself.
Surely this is just how it is. You struggle on, alone. Your triumphs are yours alone. Your grief and anger is yours alone. If you felt you could share, no one could understand anyway. Motherhood is a box.
For many of us, this is how it feels to enter into motherhood for the first or fifth time. You go to your box, sort yourself out, and occasionally over the next few months you’ll venture a peek outside, save up for a short staycation. But mostly, you are the box. You need the box and boy does the box need you.
(click link above to read the entire article on mothering.com)
Pope Francis kisses a baby at the end of a special audience for Italy quake victims in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
When it comes to breastfeeding in church, Pope Francis has a simple message for moms: Go for it!
While celebrating the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday, the pontiff encouraged mothers present at the service to breastfeed their babies.
“The ceremony is a little long, someone’s crying because he’s hungry. That’s the way it is,” the pope said, according to Agence France-Presse. “You mothers, go ahead and breastfeed, without fear. Just like the Virgin Mary nursed Jesus,” he added.
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. During the ceremony on Sunday, the pope baptized 28 children in the Sistine Chapel. When several babies started crying at once, he reportedly joked, “the concert has begun” and later suggested that perhaps Jesus’ cries as a baby were the substance of his first “homily.”
Pope Francis has famously invited mothers to breastfeed at this same service in the past. In 2015, he addressed worshipers with babies: “You mothers give your children milk and even now, if they cry because they are hungry, breastfeed them, don’t worry.”
In a 2013 interview, he also said he believes women should feel comfortable feeding their babies whenever they’re hungry and feel no shame nursing in public.
(click to read the entire article on mothering.com)
If we spend time thinking about it (which we often don’t), most of us believe we’ll transition into motherhood easily. I’m sure lots of women have no problems in those early heady days of being a first time mom. But I’d also be willing to bet that even the moms who look like they were born to smile at their babies (and manage to find time to take a shower) have ups and downs at the beginning.
With the vantage of hindsight, a lot of parents confess that the early days of life with a new baby were hard. Many moms I’ve talked to over the years have had trouble bonding with their babies, a process they assumed would be natural and easy. (I’ve written about my difficulties bonding with my second born here.)
(click link above to read the entire post on wellroundedny.com)
A mom of twins explains why she said yes to every offer.
I was 40 years old when I got pregnant with my twins. Because of my age, I would have been happy to have one baby. Having two was icing on the cake. I was really excited to be a mom. I would daydream about all the fun I was going to have with my babies — what we would do, where we would go. Only joyful thoughts. It never occurred to me to be nervous or that having twins was going to be incredibly hard. I just assumed that I was going to be able to do it. The plan was for my husband to go to work while I stayed home (alone) with the babies and took care of them. Naive? Crazy? Maybe. I like to think I was blissfully unaware.
When I came home from the hospital with my babies (my little guy came home the same day as me, my little girl spent a few days in the NICU and then came home) I was so happy to take care of them. I was happy to feed them, bathe them, hold them and so on. I was running on pure adrenaline.
Within a few days, the adrenaline wore off. I was tired. I was doing all of the feedings (both day and night) and taking care of them for the most part by myself. I thought I could do it all and actually believed that it was my job to do so. I was wrong.
Black Breastfeeding Week was created because for over 40 years there has been a gaping racial disparity in breastfeeding rates. The most recent CDC data show that 75% of white women have ever breastfed versus 58.9% of black women. The fact that racial disparity in initiation and even bigger one for duration has lingered for so long is reason enough to take 7 days to focus on the issue, but here are a few more:
1. The high black infant mortality rate: Black babies are dying at twice the rate (in some place, nearly triple) the rate of white babies. This is a fact. The high infant mortality rate among black infants is mostly to their being disproportionately born too small, too sick or too soon. These babies need the immunities and nutritional benefit of breast milk the most. According to the CDC, increased breastfeeding among black women could decrease infant mortality rates by as much as 50%. So when I say breastfeeding is a life or death matter, this is what I mean. And it is not up for debate or commenting. This is the only reason I have ever needed to do this work, but I will continue with the list anyway.
We’re not meant to “bounce back” after babies. Not physically, not emotionally, and definitelynot spiritually.We’re meant to step forward into more awakened, more attuned, and more powerful versions of ourselves. Motherhood is a sacred, beautiful, honorableevolution, not the shameful shift into a lesser-than state of being that our society makes it seem.
The very notion that we are meant to change as little as possible, and even revert back to the women we were before we became mothers is not only unrealistic, but it’s an insult to women of all ages, demographics, shapes, and sizes. It makes a mockery of the powerful passage into one of the most essential roles a human can live into, and it keeps women disempowered through an endless journey of striving for unattainable goals that wouldn’t necessarily serve us even if we could reach them.
The world needs the transformation motherhood brings about it us. The softening, the tenderness, the vulnerability, the shift in prioritization, the depth of love — these are some of the qualities our hurting world needs most.
(click link to continue reading this beautiful post on revolutionfromhome.com)