Becoming a new mother for the first time during a global pandemic
My story (briefly because this isn’t really about me)
I remember how hard it was when I became a new mother for the first time. Do you?
I was 22, we’d been married for 3 years, had moved into our first home, (an old fairly rundown house), just months earlier with the idea of renovating before thinking of starting a family. But things happened quicker than anticipated and before we knew it our first baby was on the way. I loved being pregnant! It was exciting and scary all at the same time.
We lived a long way away from both sets of parents and had no family near us. But we had friends and I quickly found my feet with a Nursing Mothers group, playgroup and other mother’s groups. I was sociable, active and had family support, albeit from afar.
When I gave birth I had both sets of parents visit to stay and help out for a while then I was on my own! My sister was already a mother by this stage so I knew I could always call on her for advice if I needed it, despite her living in another state. Remember this was long before the days of online chats, emails, mobile phones, Facetime…it was hard, lonely, scary, isolating and emotionally draining at times.
So fast forward to my youngest daughter’s first baby
Eliza was fortunate in some ways to have her baby before many of the stringent guidelines were in place. Patrick was born as the global pandemic was just getting underway, with only a handful of infected cases in Australia at the time. This situation soon changed.
My daughter is 31 and had Patrick by caesarian due to him being very much stuck in breech position for the majority of the pregnancy. His head was wedged up under her ribs most of the time.
We were asked to visit (from interstate) when she was due and to be on hand for the first 3 weeks or so, ( I wrote about it here). We deliberately didn’t stay with the new little family but instead based ourselves nearby and popped in most days to help out, offer support, do shopping, cook meals, hold the baby while mum slept, do washing….
By the time we left them to return home, her husband had also gone back to work and Eliza was on her own at home with Patrick. She was in a form of isolation as she couldn’t drive due to surgery, couldn’t really leave the house due to risk of infection, and she had no neighbours or friends nearby. Lucky for Eliza, her lovely mother-in-law was just across the city and could pop in for a chat and could provide much needed support. The midwife also visited her at home each week.
But then the pandemic ramped up and the weekly midwife visits became a phone call, people couldn’t visit and Eliza starting feeling quite isolated. She still couldn’t drive but didn’t really want to go out anyway. Everyone was encouraged to #stayathome
Her two sisters were also newish mothers so offered their support from afar, as did I, but it wasn’t what she had expected, or wanted, from her first weeks as a new mother. She has made some contacts in Facebook groups but misses the face to face contact, she was hoping for.
According to Eliza
I asked her to write down what she was feeling and here are her words, used with her permission:
Motherhood is full of so many unknowns – emotions, fears, the rights and the wrongs, abilities, the feeling of isolation and the constant question – am I a good mother?
There are people who can help quell these never ending unknowns – partner, family, mother groups, midwives but during a time like this – the aloneness can feel overwhelming.
Like parts of the world Australia has been introducing new measures to help control the spread of Covid 19. These have impacted everyone, but I feel like these are particularly hard on new mothers.
I know there isn’t a “normal” motherhood experience as each journey is different but there is no normality in times like this. And for new mothers this extra stress is an unknown we weren’t expecting.
Luckily for me, I have an amazing husband who always makes me feel like I’m a doing a terrific job, my family who schedule weekly face time chats to check in ( gotta love technology), and the plethora of mother groups on social media – who are all in the same boat, so we able to share our fears, frustrations and we are all absolutely in love with our new little babies.
However there is a comfort in the fact that people around the world are in isolation and we are in this together. We will come out the other side and be stronger for it.
Since writing these words Eliza found this quote, saying it articulated what she was thinking and going through.
A timely quote
This is not what you had planned. This is not what you’d envisioned. There are no visits from friends, no loving doula bringing you soup, no “mommy and me” yoga classes, no coffee dates, no stroller walks through the park. There is empty space where you had planned comfort and company. There are long days with no one but your little one to talk to and this big transition to navigate all alone.
I know it’s lonely, mama. I know the walls of your house feel tight and the days feel so long, and you crave a warm hand on your knee and the soft embrace of a friend. You wish for someone by your side to marvel at this beautiful baby of yours and to wrap an arm around you when the feelings get too big and scary.
We were never meant to do this alone. Motherhood has never been a solitary sport. And yet here we are, in this odd chapter of isolation and distance, with no choice but to do it by ourselves.
But mama, know this – We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing.
This too shall pass. And when it does, hugs and coffee dates and visits from friends will taste so much sweeter. Soft kisses on your cheek and arms around your waist and gentle laughter in your ear will be the joyful medicine after this trying time.
Until then, hunker down mama. Find the coziest, warmest spot on your couch, sink into the pile of unfolded laundry, and sleep the Spring away, with that sweet babe warm on your chest.”
You are not alone mama.
Words by the stunning Spirit Y Sol
I think every new mother has ‘moments’ and unfortunately this is just one part of Motherhood 2020. Everyone is having to do things differently these days, homeschooling, working from home, only leaving home for essentials and social distancing, to help flatten the curve.
It’s worth recording our feelings during these times and as a new mother I remember writing a journal, keeping track of mundane things. Looking at these thoughts now, I am taken back to my first days of motherhood and how scared I was, but I was never truly alone.
Eliza is positive in her outlook, despite suffering from mastitis on top of everything else, just this week. She has support but she’s also scared and lonely at times. One day these long isolating days will be a distant memory and baby Patrick will be all grown up!
Can you relate to Eliza’s words?
Are you, or someone you know, in a similar position? An elderly relative living alone perhaps and isolated even more due to this virus? We need to be kinder to each other, think of others and ways we can help.
These days it’s not too hard to reach out to others, wherever they may be.
I am very proud of Eliza, as I am of all my daughters, and their ability to cope with whatever is thrown their way! And isn’t Patrick a little cutie??
We can be physically distant rather than socially distant.
Please take care of each other and stay well.
Sharing for Denyse’s #Lifethisweek with the prompt of Self Care stories
Debbie is an award winning blogger and lives in the small town of Tumbarumba in NSW Australia. Married for 40 years, with three grown up daughters, Debbie and the Mathematician are avid travellers, cyclists and adventurers. Described by others as a ‘hummingbird on speed’ this active mother and grandmother has also received a bravery award from the Queen.
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