New motherhood perspectives in these challenging times

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.

3 girls in 1988
Our 3 girls in 1988 – now they’re all mothers themselves!

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….

Granny Debs and Patrick
Granny Debs and Patrick

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

Grandma and baby cartoon
Grandma and baby cartoon – says it very well! Insta: @common_wild

Motherhood 2020

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.

Deb xx

Sharing for Denyse’s #Lifethisweek with the prompt of Self Care stories

You may have missed this post from Eliza, many years ago when she was my first guest on my blog – A guest post about me


Bio: 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 her husband 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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53 Replies to “New motherhood perspectives in these challenging times”

  1. Aww I really feel for your daughter. Motherhood is hard enough isn’t it, without the added stress, fears as isolation that a pandemic brings

    Patrick is bloody gorgeous!! 🥰

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  2. Dear Eliza, it is nothing like we might expect even with all the people in the world sharing the stories of birthing and motherhood. I am glad, these days, that there are MANY ways of connecting even when physically isolated. I pay tribute to all new mums because it is a unique experience and for some of us, quite challenging. I know I was isolated because we lived in a country area of NSW, I was home alone with a baby in 1971 and my husband went to teach each day. I had a phone and that was my only connection to the outside world…oh, and a trip to the local town every fortnight. I needed to be with people more, and fortunately I went back teaching when the baby was 6 months and she was cared for by my boss’ wife in the house next door to the school. Take care, reach out and do ask for company and help. No-one needs to feel they have to go it alone. Denyse. For Deb: Thank you for linking up for Life This Week. Next week’s optional prompt is 15/51 Share Your Snaps #3 13.4.2020 Happy Easter. Stay Safe. Stay Home. Stay Well. Denyse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Denyse, there are so many kind wonderful people leaving comments and you are one such person! I love hearing your stories and can relate to much of what you say. I also pay tribute to all those isolated mums and this is another way of being isolated at a vulnerable time of life. Happily Eliza has online support and her family love her and are helping as much as we can. I have sent her a list of contacts for when she feels she needs to talk to someone. All the best and thanks again for your support. x

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  3. Thank you for sharing. I love that you compared the generations. So much has changed and who could have anticipated this. I also like that you encouraged her to journal. It may help her daughter someday or son, or other loved one going through the challenges of new parenthood in a challenging unexpected time. And the journal would make interesting stories for Patrick at some point in the future.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Michelle, it is hard hearing her upset but she is getting better and managing well. It’s just all so new to her. I always enjoy writing so it’s my go-to suggestion for anyone feeling a bit anxious. I agree, the stories would be very interesting for Patrick in the future.

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  4. Great blog post and timely for our family. My daughter (31) is expecting her first child in July. She’s been working from home for 4 weeks now, and is doing well, but we all worry. I haven’t seen her in person since we went shopping for maternity clothes on Mar. 8. Thank goodness for Zoom. Her husband is doing all the grocery shopping and other errands. I hope I can be close by when the baby is born.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your news and I do indeed hope all goes well. I agree zoom is proving very useful! I hope you can be close by when the baby is born too, all the best. My daughter just told me she has made a friend through one of her mother’s groups and will be meeting up with her after all this is over. She sounds very happy to have made a friend in a similar position to her. So I’m happy too.

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  5. I wish they’d just said physical distancing from the outset (because that’s what it is) just the very term social distancing makes me feel isolated! I was just thinking about new mums the other day and how lonely it must be for them especially without the face to face support of family, midwives and mothers’ groups. Technology is great but there is no substitute for a good old fashioned hug. On the flip side, Patrick is gorgeous and how lucky you got to meet him and support Eliza before the virus really set in. What stories these parents will be able to tell their Corona babies! Hope you and the family stay safe and well x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it is definitely physical distancing not social distancing. New mothers are in an unusual position and I worry about them all. On a happier note my daughter just told me she has made a friend (at 4.30am) in a mothers group online and will be meeting up with her in person after this is all over. She sounded so much happier having someone she can talk with who is in a similar situation. Thanks for your understanding!

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  6. Becoming a new mother can be challenging at the best of times, so I can only imagine how hard it must be for Eliza in this new world we’re living in. That need for touch and physical connection is a very real one. Thank goodness for social media and technology, though it’s not really the same is it. Patrick is such a cutie. And no doubt he’ll grow quickly. Warmest wishes to all your lovely family Deb. xx

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    1. Yes Miriam it’s a hard time as she really misses the physical connections. She has made a friend from one of her online mothers groups and is glad to have someone in a similar situation who understands what she’s going through. Patrick is a cutie and we get regular photo updates so we get to see the changes in him. Wishing you all well. xx

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  7. Oh, I can so relate! I struggled in my early days of motherhood but was lucky to have my family only a few hours away and my husband’s even closer for those times when I really needed some help. Flash forward to my first son’s soon-to-arrive baby in a state 16 hours drive away from me and a 3-day drive for his wife’s mom and dad. I’ve been vigilantly self-isolating in these days before their brith, and I plan to hightail it there in the car as soon as I get word that the baby is on its way; I’ve got gloves to wear while pumping gas and all my own food packed to keep myself as “clean” as possible. I hope that will still even be possible in a few weeks … What an added worry at such a momentous time in life for them and us.

    Your daughter sounds both upbeat and sad, which is exactly what I would expect. I’m glad you could go in the early days and that she has the virtual support and love she needs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Lexie, I really feel for you all. Wishing you well and try not to worry, although that is easier said than done. Yes my daughter is a bit all over the place and it’s completely normal but she doesn’t see it that way. I’m so glad we got to spend time with her and Patrick in the early days. take care and good luck!

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  8. Back in 1987 on the January day my son was born, there was a blizzard. I was stuck in the hospital alone for two days and then on the day I was sent home, there was another blizzard. My car was buried, couldn’t see it and didn’t see it again until March when a tow truck pulled it out from under the snow. I was home alone with my baby during the day until my husband came home from work. I couldn’t go out without a car, but luckily friends and family could stop by to relieve the pressure. Which helped a lot. I really feel for your daughter in that she doesn’t get that relief. I know it’s tough, especially for a first-time mother, but at least there is technology to keep everyone close.

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    1. Oh my what a story and a dreadful blizzard! It’s amazing what stories people have and I’m grateful to your for sharing yours with us Jennifer. It’s the lack of face to face interaction that is hurting her the most but yes technology is a godsend to all of us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  9. Patrick is beautiful. It looks as though your daughter is doing a very good job. I hope we all get to cuddle our grandchildren again soon.

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  10. Oh well done, Eliza! (She obviously has her mother’s indomitable spirit.)
    Modern technology certainly helps but there is nothing to beat human contact especially when you are a new mom. Things will get better, Eliza. Keep on being positive. You’re doing a great job and Patrick is absolutely adorable.

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  11. My heart goes out to Eliza, and all those other new first time mums out there because I know how much social contact helped me through those first few months. Thank goodness for technology which means that she can still be in contact with other mums and also her loving family. But it’s not the same as physical contact and we can only hope that before Patrick is too much older, she can join those baby groups and make friends ‘face to face’.
    My friend’s daughter went into hospital for a C section for her 2nd baby on Thursday. Her husband was only allowed to stay for two hours and was then sent home. She was discharged after 36 hours and they of course are now on total isolation rules. My friend is desperate to get a Nanna cuddle in but it will have to wait. There will be lots of catch up cuddles once this is over!

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    1. Hi Deb, thanks so much for your understanding, it’s been a rough time for everyone hasn’t it? I really feel for your friend’s daughter and hope all goes well. Cuddles and face to face contact is the hardest thing to get through at this time. You’re right, technology is so important at the moment and I know I’d be lost without it. Hope you and your family are doing well x

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  12. Being a new parent is hard enough in ‘normal’ times but it must be unbelievably hard during these tough isolating times. However much you love your babies you still need other human interaction, perhaps more than ever. Hopefully these times will soon be over and we can all return to a more sociable lifestyle. Let’s hope we all appreciate everything and everyone we have after that.

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  13. I think it’s different for all mums – and the mums of this generation do parenting quite differently to how we did it. I had very little family support (nobody calling in to do my washing, cooking, shopping etc. It was just a case of getting on and doing it. Advice came from the couple of parenting books I’d managed to get hold of (thank you Penelope Leach). Today there’s so much more help on offer and so much more available to support new mums – to not be able to access a lot of that support would definitely lead to an increase in self-doubt and anxiety.
    Eliza is very fortunate to have her husband, you and her MIL, and her sisters available for conversation and encouragement – she’ll forge her way through this and look back with pride at how well she came through it. Life always likes to throw little surprises at us doesn’t it? Your family seem to have copped a few lately with a premmie baby, a major bushfire, and now a pandemic!

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    1. Yes you are right Leanne, it is different for all mums and probably depend on how we’ve been brought up and our life experiences we bring to motherhood. I remember Penelope Leach too! we have certainly been through a rough time in recent months but we’re still standing! Take care and thanks for your comment.

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  14. Deb it’s such difficult time for everyone but especially difficult for new mums. Thanks for asking Eliza to write about it. Her words make it so real. But on the positive side. We are very fortunate to be going through the pandemic in the time of technology. #lifethisweek Sharing

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    1. Yes Jennifer, it is hard at the moment, for everyone! I’m pleased I asked Eliza to write her thoughts down as it helps me when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I know she will appreciate everyone’s kindness. We are indeed lucky to be going through this with technology on our side. Thanks so much.

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  15. Patrick is very cute. It must be daunting to have a young child in the world at the moment, given the uncertainty. Let alone the isolation. Although I’ve never really felt this way before, I’m lucky I only have myself to worry about. (And my mum, but that’s different!)

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  16. Hi Deb and Eliza, Wonderful to see Patrick a month old already, He’s very cute. I know for a first time Mom, the early days with a newborn baby are hard, and now even harder during the pandemic with physical distancing and most places shut down. Use technology and keep in touch with your family, friends, other new mothers and your medical team for support. I volunteered to call my elderly neighbours who live alone to check up on them and chat. They’re always happy to hear my hello and have someone to listen to what they say. Stay strong and healthy! #lifethisweek

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  17. We didn’t have any family near by when we had our first baby, but our police flats were right next to the child health clinic where my health visitor ‘lived’. I did go dashing in there one day when the baby was less than two months old and a hernia appeared!

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  18. Aw. So sweet! I have a neighbour who had her first baby prematurely and now this lockdown…ugh. They are home, he is fine, but I worry about her being all alone too. No visitors…I feel for the grandmas and grandpas. 🙂

    Good luck to you and yours. ❤

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    1. Thanks very much for your visit and comment. Yes it’s very hard having a prem baby and then to be in isolation as well! My daughter had her first baby at 25 weeks and Dottie is now 7 months old and doing well. My daughter says she’s basically been in isolation for the whole time, trying to protect Dottie from common germs that could be very harmful to her. I wish your neighbour well. I feel for all the grandparents too!

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  19. It’s tough to be navigating something this massive without physical contact. Your words, though, are heartfelt, your baby cute as a button, and support just a virtual click away – even though it doesn’t compare to a real hug.

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  20. Hi Deb, I can’t believe Patrick is a month old and he looks so cute! New Motherhood is a difficult period at the best of times as new mums navigate the huge responsibility of this adorable tiny human. Eliza, I hear you, as do many other Mums out there. The positive side is that you have a gorgeous baby, a supportive and loving husband and family and the technology to connect regularly with them. Take care, you are doing a fabulous job and your Patrick is devine. xx

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