After the natural delivery of your child, you may be advised to rest for six-weeks. Health permitting, you may explore the outdoors with your newborn once you have surpassed these six-weeks. If you’ve experienced a more physically traumatic delivery, these six-weeks could extend into months.
Whether you have personally delivered your child or adopted your new baby, your medical professional will often give you a certain amount of time to stay home to prevent illness in the newborn and to provide an appropriate amount of physical and mental rest for the new parent.
Considering this common direction, the new parent is now conditioned to isolate from society. Whether it’s for six-weeks or two-months, the new parent will often find a new, very sudden change with their day-to-day activities.
Rather than getting a full night’s rest to wake for a shower, you will often wake every other hour to feed your young. Unlike before when you intended to ready for the day with a harmonizing outfit, you now live in a robe for convenience sake.
From the first day of parenthood, you *welcome* a new norm. For some, it may feel more natural to connect with the child/children in the early days, but for others it can feel like a big ol’ shock to the system. Between sleep deprivation and lack of emotional preparation, to how strenuous the newborn stage can be, motherhood greets a new type of isolation that you’ve never experienced.
Friends will come by and family will visit, but it’s no longer the same kind of time spent together. Rather than being fully in the moment, there’s a cry you’re listening for. There’s a bottle that needs to be warmed. There’s a monitor that needs to be glanced at, for God forbid the child should stop breathing. Rest assured, momma: you’re not alone in these common anxieties and this feeling of loneliness.
Though you’re constantly with your new child, there’s nothing worse than being in your own head for a long period of time. When you do hold an adult conversation, it’s often to order a coffee from your local barista (that you forced yourself to put mascara on) just to feel like yourself for a moment.
But you are a new self. You’re just trying to adjust to her/them.
We often hear that new motherhood/parenthood can feel isolating, but we don’t understand its extent until we experience it. This is why bonding with other new parents can be crucial.
Have you ever discussed an issue that you face with your own parent, only to receive advice that simply comes off judged or dated? Do you often receive unsolicited guidance from older generations telling you how to breastfeed or explaining the importance of letting the newborn cry it out? As intimidating as it can be, connecting with a new parent from your generation can also provide the support that you truly need.
By the time you’re ready to socialize with the public once again, it could feel scary. “Could”, ha. It will feel scary. You’ve been in your own mind for the past few weeks and now you get the itch to get back into a social realm.
It’s important to recognize that the emotions you’re feeling are a collective experience. The fears that you face are often not unique, but experienced by others going through a similar journey. It takes confidence and vulnerability to open up to others, but there’s nothing braver than facing these feelings that you mistakenly believe have to be challenged alone.
We’re not encouraging a playgroup if you feel the relationship feels forced. We’re not suggesting you pay for a mommy-and-me yoga class to meet like-minded mothers/parents. We suggest that you stay open to the opportunity to meet other parents in their early days of parenthood. Whether it’s through a library visit or a social media exchange, you can find support in varying and organic ways.
It’s ok to be honest with others regarding your experience of new motherhood/parenthood. If anything, it’s important. By opening up this conversation, we may be able to prepare others for what they may experience.
We will allow for this experience to be awakening. This is not the time to shut down or keep quiet; it’s the time to be loud and to embrace the early days since, since they go by so quickly.
Mother Muse is here to guide you; to inspire you. Motherhood has its challenges, but if you change your perspective in the early days, you can change the way they’re being experienced.
Words by Julian Jamie
Photographed by Jeremy Simon
Editorial for Mother Muse Print No.7 available here