“But it’s your existence I love you for, mainly. Existence seems to me now the most remarkable thing that could ever be imagined," wrote author Marilynne Robinson.
It seems near to impossible lately to engage anything not related to the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic. There is an amped sense of anxiety; a pall that hangs over our daily lives. Only a few months ago we lived in a different world. That one too was full of stress and uncertainty to be sure – but without pandemic contagion.
For women who became pregnant after the pandemic made landfall in the United States, the timbre of their pregnancies and prenatal care shifted rapidly from anticipation to caution. Seemingly overnight public health mandates necessitated self-quarantine for the purposes of maternal/fetal health. There were restrictions on gatherings. And geographically variable rules affected things that pregnant women often enjoy – hospital birthing classes, a tour of a maternity ward.
But there are things that COVID-19 cannot take.
So for all the expectant mothers out there, we wanted to take a minute to celebrate your pregnancy with you. While the postpartum period is never one size fits all (and I’m going to avoid leading with one-dimensional words like “love," when you give birth), you will be safe. You will hold your baby. You will be filled up in the right way at the right time with exactly the right hitherto undiscovered emotional alchemy.
My experience of motherhood is complex in the way that everyone’s is in a different way. Nevertheless, I will share that the first weeks of my life with my first child were as sun-dappled and love-drenched as anything I have ever known. And it was the novel aspect of that love, that newness that I cast back to sometimes. It was as if we – my son and I – gave birth to one another. We were a tiny universe unto ourselves within some sort of snow globe, enclosed and apart from anything that could breach our sacred containment.
Now. This is not to say that I knew what I was doing. Nope. I was terrified. When we returned from the hospital and my husband drove my friend home, I remember him leaving. It occurred to me that they were leaving me alone. With the baby. I can’t explain it, but it seemed so reckless of them. I found nursing very stressful – was he getting enough? (I co-fed with formula and breastmilk.)
But for a second here – let’s just forget about COVID-19.
You got this. We reached out to mothers to learn what advice they would impart:
“If you are ever unsure of what to do, stop asking everyone around you. [I was one] of the mothers of twins. The answers to mothering are already within you. You have built-in good mothering instincts. Don’t fret about everything. You know what will be best for them.
– Mother of Twins
- Remember that while you are learning to be a mom, they’re learning how to be a human. Be patient.
- You can change course… how the sleep, eat, nap, snack, poop…WHATEVER. Make a decision and then know that if you discover it does not work for your baby or your family, you get to change your mind. Baby will adapt and learn and it will be fine. Nothing is set in stone.
- Love grows. If you don’t fall in love at first sight, love will grow over time as you get to know the small creature you helped to create.
- When my milk never came in and I felt like a failure, my sister told me the teacher wouldn’t stand in the front of the class and know which kid was bottle-fed and which was breastfed.
- Don’t ever count the hours of sleep you get.
- “Let them cry, it’s good for their lungs!" Grandma D.
- This too shall pass. In the good moments, it reminded me to hold on and savor it all. In the hard moments, it reminded me that not everything in life hinges on this one interaction or this one stage.
- You are already a loving mother. You have been carrying that baby for nine months now. You will know exactly what to do.
“No matter what you do, some people will judge you. Don’t internalize it. Ask for help when you need it. Focus on the love – that’s what they’ll remember – not all the mistakes.
– Mother of Three
- Never interrupt happiness. Let them play with the box, not the toy.
- There are supposed to be ups and downs, hard days and beautiful ones.
“I couldn’t get the hang of nursing, couldn’t calm the baby and was exhausted. My mom said, newborns suck but it gets much better. Just being given permission to have that negative feeling was very liberating.”
– Mom of Two
- Prepare, prepare, prepare AND know that you’ll never be fully prepared.
Congratulations with love from your team at Give InKind.
This the sixth in a series of articles to provide guidance as to navigating situations we continue to navigate during the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic. We recognize that life continues in all aspects, even the pandemic impacts all of us in profound ways. We are on your team now as well as post-pandemic – and beyond. We invite you to visit our library of situationally specific articles here.
Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.