All throughout the first week postpartum, I kept thinking how easy it was in comparison to what I thought it was going to be like. I was staying on top of things, my physical healing was much easier this time around, and emotionally I was feeling fantastic given all the hormones adjusting in my body. My husband was home, so he could help with Peanut. My friends and family were coming over and graciously offering to do housework for us. Twig was sleeping the majority of the day and surprisingly well at night (beyond the first night where she was awake for 5 hours in the night, she only woke a few times for an hour or so). I was getting to shower. My house was more messy, but not a catastrophe. Even Peanut, who wasn’t handling her world changing so dramatically well at all, was something I was able to handle.
Then everyone left.
My husband went back to work. People, for the most part, stopped coming over to visit. My in-laws went out of town and my mother went back to work. It’s like all my help was pulled out from under me all at once. Kaboom! Everyone’s gone.
But isn’t that how it works in our society? In other cultures, it’s normal to “baby” the mother, but in ours the focus is immediately shifted from the pregnant mom to the newborn, leaving little to no attention to the newly postpartum mother (thanks to Best of Babes for linking the article on Facebook). During a very difficult time in her life, both emotionally and physically, no one has much interest in her. Everyone wants to hold the baby, just occasionally asking the mom how she’s doing without any real interest.
Of course this is a more severe case than most of us experience. I had some wonderful people who came to visit and brought me dinner, cleaned my house, and just sat and talked with me. I am very thankful of all of the lovely people in my life. Just the act of listening does so much for a new mother.
But that’s just it, I’m still newly a mom of two. I’m still figuring out how to balance two children at once, one who is incredibly needy because she’s so new to this world and one who is incredibly needy because her world is now so new to her. I’m still trying to heal myself, especially in terms of my emotional health, which appears to be spiraling downward as time goes on (more on that in another post and don’t worry, I’m getting help). My house is becoming a bigger and bigger mess by the day, which just adds to these difficulties. Yet no one shows interest any more.
People have offered to come help, but I never take them up on it. I don’t know if it’s just me or a reflection of our society, but I find it very difficult to say “Yes, come do my dishes for me.” When people show up at my house and just start doing my dishes I even feel guilty. I don’t know why I’m so unwilling to actually ask for help either. I keep thinking of all the people who have offered and would happily come over and play with Peanut or vacuum my living room, but I can’t get myself to call. For some reason, the idea of calling actually makes me feel a little teary-eyed. That’s probably just the PPD though.
I honestly don’t even know the purpose of this post. My brain isn’t functioning fully at the moment, which makes sense. I guess I just wished that our society took care of new moms better. I wish people realized that it’s not just hard for the first couple of weeks, but rather for the first couple of months (if not more). I wish people cared more about the family as a whole rather than just the new baby.
I’ll leave you all with this great post from Code Name: Mama about things you can do for parents of a newborn.