When you have a baby, people are always asking what they can do to help. And the list of course is endless. You all know the obvious things…. Making or bringing a dinner, purchasing something from the parents registry, coming to visit the new mom and baby. And those are really great and helpful things.
But what about after the first 2 or 3 weeks? Seems like mom has a baby and everyone is knocking down the door to help the first few days. Dad or other support person is (sometimes) still there helping. Mom is getting to rest with the baby, and has someone to hold the baby while she showers or eats a warm meal.
Then, all the help goes home, dad or partner often goes back to work…what then? For myself, this is the hardest time postpartum. We are very lucky and blessed that my husband gets paid paternity leave from his work, its only a week, but it is better than nothing at all. And I have an amazing mother and mother in law, who are ready and willing to help in anyway they can. And, for me, those first couple weeks after birth are almost blissful. I’m riding the high of just having given birth (amazing!!) and having my village surrounding me and lifting me up.
But at some point, for everyone else, life goes back to normal and mama is left navigating this new normal. Her world has been turned upside down and now shes basically all alone.
So I reached out to my mama tribe, and asked them what was most helpful to them in this period or as they struggled with PPD and/or PPA. I am forever amazed, at how much of an impact a small act of kindness can make.
For me, having even 5 minutes to myself can make a world of difference. So it was most helpful to me when my husband/mother/friend was able to either take or just sit with my kids so I could take a bath, a quiet walk, or even a solo grocery store trip
” It was really helpful just to have someone to sit with me. I was scared to be alone once my husband went to work. It was also wonderful when people entertained my toddler after I had my second child and I wasn’t able to give him as much attention.”
“My cousin’s husband came over a few times to help with the baby while I tended to my 3 yo on nights that my husband closed at work. The baby was very collicky and he had a way with her. It was so helpful to have someone there so that I could feel “normal” for an hour or two”
“My friend had a baby 10 months before me and wrote me an essay (pretty much) of her experience and what she wished she would have done differently or how she coped. She talked about how you feel like a badass after pushing out a baby but how hard nursing was and the emotional toll of delivery. How you become anxious about night time and want to kill your husband when he comes home after work and asks what you made for dinner. This continued over her first few months as a mom and I remember reading all of it and feeling understood and not as alone or afraid of fucking up. We weren’t really close before having babies but it taught me that motherhood is a gang and we’re in it together.”
“I have battled with anxiety my entire life (I first recognized it when I was 6), and it has increased in intensity after the birth of my daughter this last December. I thought it was normal at first, until I found myself crying until hyperventilation at the thought of giving her a bath. Anytime she cried I wanted to die, it was so painful for me and I felt I personally caused her discomfort. I hardly slept (I’m talking maybe 2 hours a day) for the first week I had her home. I just felt so inferior, I was terrified I was failing and she would end up sick or hurt because of me.
Then I went to stay with my parents, and my Mom saved me. She didn’t take her from me- she forced me to deal with everything just as I had when I was alone. But she coached me through everything, constantly reassuring me that she was not in pain, that she didn’t feel betrayed by me, and that I was doing a good job. She also reassured me that I made the right decision to co-sleep, because otherwise I would still be getting very little sleep. I am still working on my confidence as a mother everyday, but having my Mom to cheer me on reminds me that I’m more than capable “
“Bringing me lunch/dinner when we were in the NICU”
“After all the struggles we had with River after he was born, the Nicu stay, the two surgeries and the countless trips to the hospital my family was struggling. I was unable to work because of needing to take care of my sons medical needs so money came short to us. Thanksgiving was approaching and I rounded up maybe 30 dollars to get a thanksgiving meal for my family. While in the check a fellow mom paid for my groceries not even know how much that helped my family last year. An extra 30$ to some people is play money but to us we needed that to survive.
I could go on and on about the help we received from so many good people through out the last year but that was the biggest and most meaningful help we received”
“My PPD was terrible. I got to the point I was contemplating suicide on a weekly basis, was really anxious and unhappy with almost every aspect of my life except for my son. My best friend would come over every other week and would watch my son for a couple hours (for free) while I went to my therapist and got my mental health back in check. She did this for a couple months and without her help I don’t know where I’d be today”
“Just come over and watch the kids while I got a much needed nap”