Tips for New Moms: Get Ready to Regress
Others of us, who expect to conquer motherhood the same way we did the work world or single life, end up asking one painful question: "What the hell is wrong with me?"
Janine, a former elementary school teacher in Oregon, asked this, too. For the first four months of his life, Janine's newborn wailed incessantly from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. She remarks, "When my husband got home from work, he'd get the baby down for a nap very easily, and say to me, 'What's the problem?' And, for weeks, I kept taking the baby to the doctor but they told me the crying was nothing to worry about."
Janine continued, "There was nothing else I could do but hold the baby, try to calm him, and try to calm myself. Meanwhile my three-year-old son watched TV ten hours a day." When she said this, Janine broke down in tears, guilt-ridden about neglecting her oldest.
Janine's littlest one turned out to have a milk allergy, a problem that was easily solved. Once relieved, the baby got much easier to handle, and Janine stopped blaming herself for the enormous strain her family experienced.
A baby's cry pushes an adult's blood pressure up and quickens his or her heart rate, sometimes steeply. Imagine weeks on end in which nervous tension wore at Janine, her baby's screams keeping her shoulders tight to her neck, the pacing and rhythmic jiggling meant to soothe her newborn also making her back and arms ache and the muscles spasm. Then affix a displaced preschooler who wants Mommy to himself, a husband who isn't very empathetic, medical professionals who tell her nothing is wrong, and a claustrophobic house isolating mom from the healing empathy and support she needs. You've got all the ingredients of a deranged, deprived new mommy someone who loves her family so much that she'll suffer and blame herself for the stresses at hand.
More on: Adjusting to New Motherhood
From What No One Tells the Mom by Marg Stark. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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