Sometimes the good feelings of being older are pushed into the background or completely submerged.
Everyone needs help to endure difficult days and times. I, you, people who live in hunter and tribune tribunals and all famous celebrities with professional photographers to help pretend their lives are perfect.
A PERFECT SANE RESPONSE
Parenting is not always great: the first weeks will also be tiring and stressful. It is not madness or weakness or not feeling overwhelmed when a new baby arrives – in many ways it is a completely healthy response.
As well as being fascinating – “Look at those sweet hands of a starfish!” – your baby will scream and poop and will not explain itself at all. This is probably your training ground in unconditional love and dedication, and sometimes it’s a pain in the butt in the best case and absolutely maddening and exhausting in the worst case. The hard aspects can be compensated by the pride and joy of keeping your little one alive and the excitement of getting to know your baby.
In sensible cultures, new parents do not feel alone and can achieve a lot of support and human contact as they go through it. Our ‘modern’ way could do with much more of the tribe in it.
To be honest, I can’t quite figure out why no one would collapse after the ultra-stress of birth; the lack of sleep; the realization that this is not for the weekend but for life; the painful, painful parts of your body (at the same time that it feels like your body is no longer yours); having hand or early pain and worry from breastfeeding; the fear that you are doing everything right; and the photos on social media that look like another planet away from your life – how come you feel like a worn out old couch instead of a super model with a stunt child?
And that is if everything goes well.
If you also have problems with external relationships, a sick baby or unsuitable family members, it can all seem a bit of a disaster. Parents at this stage can sometimes feel terribly lonely, especially single or single parents, and parents whose partners go back to work and leave them – aarrgh, definitely some mistake – in CHARGE. And then there is the house that looks terrible the day after coming home from the hospital, and how should you eat fresh, healthy food if you can’t even get out of your PJs at 5 p.m. and keep it close up!
A scenario like this often leaves partners and fathers unaware of how they can be helpful and supportive.
All of this is not helped by the amazingly intense attention that newborn babies need – fed every two to four hours, diaper changes, comfort – as you try to tear away pieces of sleep here and there.
Frankly, if you didn’t feel demented at least once a day, something would be wrong with you.
One of the contradictions that I remember feeling through the newborn days was that someone would ask to say: “A terrible mistake has been made, this is not your baby and we will take her and let her take care of her more competent people, while at the same time knowing that if someone really tried to take my baby away from me, I would try to kill them with a fork. Or some dental floss. (I didn’t think very clearly.)
It is no failure to struggle like a new parent. It is normal. Reach for help. We must all help each other to stumble, rather than pretend to be superparents who know everything. It is especially difficult if we do not have family help or the support we need, and we are all isolated in our own apartments and houses that do not realize that there is an army of us that feels or has felt the same.
HOW TO BAT THE BABY BLUE
• Know that the tiredness and stress of a new baby will probably improve over time.
• All new babies cry for hours. It is not caused by bad parenting, and this period will end.
• It is OK to be bored, impatient or irritated by aspects of parenthood, as long as you do not stand up for the baby.
• Talk to parents who have experienced it and come to the other side.
• Tell people how you feel.
• Learn yoga or another relaxation technique. Or do a baby massage.
• Go out in the open as much as possible. A walk a day with the baby in the pram will give you a better feeling. It doesn’t matter what you look like. Put on sunshine and repel all paparazzi.
• Go away if you can: maybe to a cinema that takes you to another world, even briefly.
• Understand that if you feel alone, there are thousands just like you go through, and thousands that have come the other way.
• What would you advise them if a friend came to you with your problems? Why be harder than your own?
• Avoid people who are critical and negative without help: you don’t need them even if they are related to you.
• Go to a mothers group, parents group or playgroup even if your baby is too young to play.