Let’s normalize moms being called superheroes because we ask for and accept the help we need.
Not because we handle so much on our own. Let’s go back to the village because here’s the thing, most of us aren’t handling it.
I had my first baby when I was 15 years old. I was no longer in a relationship with the birth father and I lived with my parents, as expected, since I was a child and all.
My mindset was that I needed to do everything myself because everyone thought I was going to be a failure. I had to prove them wrong!
My daughter was colicky, had acid relux and non-stop ear infections. The first nine months to one year were grueling. At night I rarely asked for help. In fact, if my parents gave me a hand it was because she wouldn’t stop crying and eventually one of them would come, likely for their own sanity.
I had my second baby when I was just shy of 24. He was a much easier baby for me. But, I now lived 1500 miles away from my family. My husband, who works in construction, was up early and exhausted in the evenings. He is a great provider and loving father but let’s face it, no help during the middle of the night wake-ups. I know so many fellow moms can relate. Most of us have been there, angrily staring at your husband wondering how he can sleep through the nonsense that is happening right next to him.
I had my third baby at 30 years old. Holy hit me with a train! We joked that we waited so long to have another child because his brother was so chill. And the third child came out just as expected, like a bat outta hell. I still had no reliable family close by to help. My husband was still up early, weary and also sometimes out of town. This baby, extremely strong willed, left me more tired than I have ever been in my entire life. I had no support and both my husband and I were worn out. There was no self-care or date nights. I just went through the motions day to day.
“But I am superwoman. Look at all of the things I have managed on my own. Look what I have gotten through.”
I appreciate that sentiment. But at what cost?
Not too long ago, I was driving home from a prenatal meeting I had finished with a client, listening to Birth Without Fear by January Harshe on audible, specifically Part 3, Postpartum (read or listen to it.) Halfway through the drive I started sobbing as I realized I left myself with zero self care during those early parenting years. I always said “I’m fine” and I never asked for help. Well, I agree with January Harshe, “Accept the help!”
I have been a mother for 23 years and I am just now getting my groove back. And it’s only because I decided that I am taking my groove back. So here’s the thing:
What if I didn’t lose my groove in the first place?
What if I had support instead of believing I was supposed to do as much as I could on my own?
What if we normalized asking for and accepting help?
In my line of work as a birth doula, I see a wide variety of what new parents want and expect after they bring their baby home. Some new parents want time to themselves before help arrives, some have no help, some have parents and in-laws visiting, or friends helping with meals and household tasks. Some have people stay a few days, some for months.
I understand the significance of different family dynamics. You may not have family close by or maybe you do but you don’t really want their help. I get it.
But we do need a village. We need to have moments that are just for us. We need self care.
So, what other options do you have? Any friends willing to provide relief? They don’t need to help with your baby’s needs. They can help with your needs, food prep, household tasks, etc.
If you do not have family or friends available to you, I would strongly consider a postpartum doula.
These magical beings will absolutely change your postpartum experience for the better. They can come during the day or at night. Postpartum Doulas care for your baby, for you and for your whole family. And in my opinion YOU are the one that needs their care the most.
Doulas can do just about anything, including save your husband from the death glare as he loudly snores while you are wrestling an alligator. They can save you from sobbing in your car many years later because you thought you were supposed to do it all on your own and you completely lost yourself in the process.
Let’s bring back the village. If you don’t have family nearby or prefer not to have your family around, get a postpartum doula. Accept the help. You deserve it.
By: Cara Call, Certified Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula & Childbirth Educator