Let's Homeschool Together Uncategorized 5 tips for new moms during a pandemic

5 tips for new moms during a pandemic

It’s Heather here to share with you today! Mother’s Day is tomorrow but TODAY I get to go celebrate a baby shower for my sister-in-law who is becoming a mother for the very first time!! Woo hoo! This past week it got me to thinking about how she is birthing a baby at the tail-end of a worldwide pandemic and it got me thinking about MY experience being a first-time mom, which was at the height of H1N1, otherwise known as “Swine Flu.”  So I wanted to share my experience and tips I learned from that epidemic in hopes of encouraging new moms who may be struggling in this time right now.

First though, I want to say that this isn’t written only for those who birth their babies, but to encourage all women who are mothering a baby during the pandemic.  I don’t care if you became a mother by birthing a baby, adopting, surrogacy, or you became a mother figure to a child in some other another way. Mothers are mothers, I don’t care how it happens. A mother’s love isn’t limited to growing a child in your womb. So that being said, it’s time to share my personal experience with becoming a mother during a pandemic.

A little background, prior to the birth of my first son I had multiple miscarriages so throughout the pregnancy I had a continued fear that I was going to lose him.  Anyone who has experienced this knows the fear I’m talking about. It made it where I couldn’t fully enjoy being pregnant. I just wanted to get to the next stage to make sure he was still okay. The birth experience itself was also really, really traumatic, and I thought I was going to lose him several times, which I won’t go into today.  So, there I was, birth was over and I was FINALLY holding my sweet baby boy in my arms and I thought I could finally let go of the fear that had gripped me for 9 months.  Except the newspaper on his delivery day had the headline of the H1NI epidemic sweeping the nation and his pediatrician literally told me that my baby would die if he got it. Welcome to motherhood, amiright?

I honestly hadn’t even paid attention to the headlines up until this point! It wasn’t like right now where everyone was wearing masks, quarantining, and social distancing as possible.  No, everyone thought I was being silly for trying to keep my infant at home, away from everyone.  I didn’t go to church for the first 2 months and had my husband do all the grocery shopping. I had a large group of people show up at my door unexpectedly one night to see the baby and when I didn’t let them in and they got angry and upset with me!  They thought I was being overly cautious and ridiculous.

Wait, what? They were upset with ME when they showed up after I already told them we didn’t want visitors yet??  YES!! FACT: Everyone views the world differently and has opinions on the best way to raise a baby. You will absolutely do things as a first-time mom out of an abundance of caution that you won’t do with their siblings. But YOU are the one that chooses what is okay for your child, not other people who try to bully you into doing what they want.  YOU are the one who gets to choose your circle of support, and you don’t need to let everyone in.

Which brings me to my next point. I didn’t reach out to anyone to help me learn HOW to be a mother – my siblings had my mom to help them but she was working full time by the time my first was born so she couldn’t come stay with me. My mother-in-law worked full time as well, thought she did drive the hour to come deep clean my house before the baby came home! I also felt silly calling her, my mom or my sisters to ask questions as we didn’t have that type of relationship at that time. I thought they would think I was a terrible person for not knowing how to care for my own baby! (Ahh, yes. Turns out that was my pride mixed with my own preconceived expectations, and not wanting to admit I was in over my head.)  My husband worked incredibly long hours at 2 jobs so I could stay home, so I didn’t want to tell him I was struggling either and add to his stress. So, I relied on my pediatrician who I thought was the expert and knew everything (wrooong! but another story for another day!) but she had me thinking I’d kill my baby by leaving my house.

So there I was, self-quarantined at home with a colicky infant, while the world went on without me. Those were the longest, loneliest, darkest days that should have been full of joy. I felt no one understood what I was going through and was hit with a deep depression. That was actually when I finally joined Facebook just so I could have human contact. I can still remember sitting in the rocking chair with my precious baby boy, crying, while looking through photos of other people enjoying their lives. Social media was a blessing but it was also a source of envy.

Fact: Social media isn’t the full picture of people’s lives. Even I was posting photos of my sweet smiling baby boy and giving snapshots of his life, but in reality I was in a deep, dark depression.  Post-partum depression is real. Your life has changed and you are learning to become something new: a mother. Add in isolation and fear from a pandemic and it becomes really intense. Pandemic or not, you need human contact. And that is REAL connection outside of looking at the snapshot people post on social media.  You need a circle of women you can be genuine with, who allow you to be real.

So the bright side was that eventually I started taking my son out for little outings here and there as I built up my bravery to face the world.  I was still overly cautious with making sure I didn’t touch door handles, push buttons, etc., but I was learning to LIVE again. It took baby steps, much like learning to be a mom in the first place. The hyper-awareness of germs never went away (which has come in handy during this pandemic!) but the FEAR left as I learned to live again, not just as an independent woman anymore, but as a mother caring for her child.

Finally, what I learned is that mothers can overcome great things for the sake of a child. You CAN mother in this crazy world. Which leads me to :

My top 5 tips for being a new mom:

1. Have human contact. Don’t hole up in your house for the next year out of fear. Go outside in the fresh air and SEE other humans, even if it is smiling at them from a very safe distance while pushing the stroller at the park.

2. Find your people! This can mean your mom, your sister, your neighbor, or a random mom you made a connection with in a new mom’s group online.  Find someone you can feel comfortable saying: I need help.

3. Remember that social media isn’t the full picture. Don’t compare yourself to the tiny snapshot that someone posts of their day.  Every mother is out there changing poopy diapers but they aren’t going to post a photo of that mess, they are going to look for the highlight to share.

4. Take an crazy amount of photos! In the moment it may feel like each day goes on for years at a time, but truly this season is going to fly right by. You may think you’ll remember something because you do it with them a million times, like feeding them, or that it is so mundane and not “worthy” of capturing, but years later you will wish you had a photo to look back.

5. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for how you parent. They may do it differently, but it doesn’t make YOU wrong. You can simply say “Thank you for the suggestion, I’ll keep it in mind.” Also, remember you don’t need to explain or justify yourself.

Are you a veteran mother? What things do you wish you would have known?

2 thoughts on “5 tips for new moms during a pandemic”

  1. Love this, Heather. I was stuck at home for a while with Conner too because our doctor told us to. Why would he do that???!!! The first time I went to the store I was a nutcase. And I was upset that I had no quick reference on how to actually be a mom to a newborn?. The nurses gave zero education except for one who told me I held him too much and he was going to be spoiled. (Thanks but what I really needed was for someone to show me how to bath a newborn. How can a nurse not know how to bath a baby?????)

    1. Hospitals have come a long way with educating, that’s for sure! Your nurse comment also reminded me how a “helpful” nurse told me to be sure to bring my breastfeeding record book home with me so I could continue to easily track his feedings through the night. I thought that meant I was supposed to wake him up to feed him exactly like they made me do in the hospital. So the first 3 weeks home I’d set my alarm and wake up to feed him every 3 hours around the clock, not knowing the hospital only required that to make sure all his systems were functioning and get me out the door.
      He and I were both EXHAUSTED and it set him up for terrible sleeping habits. I was so upset all my baby wanted to do at night was sleep and not eat. ?‍♀️ That being said, it was a totally different experience with baby #3 — it was at the same hospital but the experience was completely different, including education. They bathe the baby right in your room and show you how to do it. They have a newborn education class you can take. The lactation consultants that come to your room can now also be called for free after you get home. I love that there has been a shift in thought on how to HELP new moms!!

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