I remember back in our pre-child days, we fantasized about the adventures we would include our future children in, as we sat on the edge of Hells Canyon in remote Eastern Oregon, drinking wine and playing cribbage, (for many glorious un-interrupted hours). We judged parents who hunkered down in their house with young children and stopped camping, hiking or otherwise going out. We idolized the friends who took their young babies and children on airplanes, and backpacking trips. We insisted we would continue our recreational activities, just add baby. We selectively screened out the warnings about how having a baby is going to change your life.
And, yes, it is going to change your life. But isn’t that what you have in mind? Usually when people are considering parenthood, they are ready for a life change. Change is good and forces growth. But after our son was born there were many points of adjustment. The reality of nursing a 6 week old baby in the forest, at a camp-out wedding for example, or the first night we stayed in a hotel and could not stop his crying, the multiple episodes of projectile vomiting due to car sickness on our annual two week camping road trips. The poop blow out at a fancy Sonoma winery…
So yes, parenthood causes a person to grow in so many ways, it is truly amazing. We go from living for ourselves to living for another totally dependent being. This new human being is totally dependent on our care, our love, our presence. Through a sleep deprived fog, life becomes richer and more meaningful as we adjust to putting this little person’s needs ahead of our own. There is much joy in watching your child grow and develop and become his or her own person.
And while new parents may experience a tremendous amount of joy and fulfillment, most new parents also struggle at times to adjust to the sacrifices. The sacrifices and changes in your life range from less sleep, how you eat, how you spend your days and the diminishing amount of free time, whether or not you continue to work outside of the home, your relationship with your partner and your sex life, relationships with friends who do not have children, what is important in your life and your plans and goals for the future, and reach as far as changing your identity in the world and your sense of yourself.
But no need for panic! There is lots of support out there for women adjusting to parenthood. There are parenting groups, co-operatives, support groups, play groups, play spaces, and mamas groups. There are more books than you can possibly read. In fact, I always say, one of the biggest mistakes a parent-to-be or new parent can make is to read too many books and feel overwhelmed by all of the information and advice, much of it conflicting. It’s helpful to read some, but practice moderation. As you prepare for parenthood, talk to your partner a lot about what kind of parents you plan to be and how you envision your days and nights going, but stay flexible and don’t be shy about asking for help! Think beyond infancy and babyhood. Just as a marriage is not just the wedding, parenthood is not just birthing a baby.
And that brings us to a lovely resource worth considering if you are local:
New Group for Anxious Mamas-6 group sessions for expecting, new, and seasoned mothers who are struggling to manage increased anxiety postpartum or otherwise.
Email to schedule complimentary consultation with Rachel prior to joining group!
I look forward to hearing from you,