New Moms Hardwired for Self-Sacrifice?
I love babies. There is nothing more fulfilling and heart-expanding
than having and raising a child. However, there is another side
to being a new mom we don't talk about much. And that's...shhhh,
don't tell anyone....all the hard work and self-sacrifice that is
required of her!
It's true, isn't it? From the moment a woman brings her new baby
home from the hospital, and for that first year, at least, finding
time to sit down and catch her breath is rare. The truth is that
a baby is a twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week "need
machine." A newborn needs to be fed, changed, bathed, held,
rocked, loved and put to sleep long enough for mom to wash his onesies,
empty the diaper pail, stock up on more diapers and pump breast
milk, or make more formula, and the cycle starts all over again
the moment baby wakes up. Whew! Because it's such an intensive time,
it usually means that just about everything else that matters in
a new mom's life will be excluded. Hence, the self-sacrifice.
After being childless and carefree for much of my adult life, I
was in for quite a shock when I gave birth to twins. Like losing
a best friend, I witnessed the instant deterioration of any time
for my meditation practice, walking the trails with my dog, writing,
cooking, having lunch with friends, and having an intimate evening
with my husband. You know, the kind of self-nurturing activities
that keep you glued together?
It can be argued that we know what we were getting ourselves into
when we get pregnant. We know the kind of self-sacrifice that will
be required from us, don't we? We know that it will indeed "be
all about the baby." And we're willing to make that sacrifice
to have and raise this beautiful bundle of joy (or bundles, in my
case.) We know it, and we accept it, because we're women. We can
do it. We're hard-wired for it. We can give birth to and raise babies
with one hand tied around our back. We can even do it alone if we
must. Or, so we tell ourselves.
That's what I told myself. And I did it Ð mostly by myself, as my
hubby worked 12 hours a day. (Although to be fair, he did wake up
with me and help with those 2:00 AM feedings.) And I loved it...
in the beginning. Then, slowly, incrementally, my patience became
stretched thin. I witnessed myself getting irritated easily. I found
it difficult to be fully present with my babies. I started to feel...what's
the word?...trapped. Depriving myself of all self-nurturing activities,
or actually any activity other than taking care of two babies, made
the challenges of motherhood that much more difficult. Eventually,
to maintain to my wits, I had to find a way to incorporate back
into my life some of my pre-baby activities Ð admittedly, a bit
Denise Theberge, Ph.D. mother of two and clinical psychologist in
private practice in Santa Clarita, California says, "I see
a lot of moms who feel guilty if they try to take some time for
themselves, but if a new mother doesn't do just that, she'll become
easily frustrated, exhausted and possibly even depressed."
It makes sense that if a new mom is frustrated, exhausted or not
thinking clearly, her parenting skills will suffer. So will the
rest of her life. Therefore, it's essential that a new mom make
it a priority to do some personal activity (or inactivity) that
keeps her centered, so that the challenge of motherhood doesn't
The good news is that a large chunk of time is not required. Just
fifteen minutes of exercise, or thirty minutes of rest a day can
help you feel refreshed, renewed and ready to return to the demands
of motherhood. "Even having the time to take a shower undisturbed
and put on make-up in the morning can help you feel ready to face
the day," says Theberge.
In my follow-up article I'll share
eight tips on how to bring some balance back into your life now.
Victoria Loveland-Coen is an author, speaker and entrepreneur. She
is the author of The Baby Bonding Book and co-creator of The Baby
Bonding Book on CD. Her newest creation is The New Mommy Coupon
Book, Or 28 Ways to Help Her Get Through the Day. Visit her website:
www.newmommygifts.com for more parenting articles and fun gifts
that nurture the nurturer.
Article Source: www.ladypens.com