Finally I get to see my friend and her squeaky new born baby!! Yay!! I can`t wait to smell her newborn baby scent. I wish they could find cologne to mimic that awesome smell. Just like the smell of leather…when you walk into Danier`s the smell of leather just fills your nostrils and it`s such pleasant and raw, sensual smell. Oh my! Now how did I get on the subject of scents? Oh yeah…babies!!!
How I remember well my first born! When coming home from hospital, my son`s dad was getting things out of the car and I had laid my son on our double bed. He looked so darn tiny. I had undressed him and just stared at this tiny precious human being who was so dependent on me…on us. The only thing he could do on his own was breath, pee, pooh, fart, burp and cry. Well the burping needed a little help too. But still! I was just so overwhelmed with the sight of this infant and wondered if I would manage.
Speaking with my friend on the phone tonight made those entire memories flood back to me. She has lots more friends with young children to tell her what to do and not do though. Hopefully she will limit the “free advice” to a few that are consistent with her beliefs. It can get so daunting and annoying too. It is a time that moms are vulnerable to criticism and advice. Advice giving can also destabilize a new mom. She needs to build her confidence not be told what to do every second of the day! She needs to be empowered and a little reasonable support and suggestion here and there is fine…but please!! Women, don`t you remember how you felt when tom, dick and harry told you what to do and not to do? Most advice contradicted with others and it got so confusing you just wanted to scream!! More often than not, you just curled up and cried out of helplessness and discouragement.
I had a few close friends who had young children and family of course. And I limited regular phone calls to ONLY 3 moms that had similar values and parenting styles that I admired and wanted as a model. I was nursing my son and back in 1978 it was just returning as the “norm”. So many family members kept questioning me, “Why do you bother to do that? You are going to be so tired and what if your milk does not come in? What if you don`t have enough milk? And what about when you get back to work in 3 months?” In those days maternity leave was maximum 4 months paid by unemployment insurance.
Well, I will never forget the support I got from those 3 moms and I joined a support group similar to La Leche League at our local CLSC and eventually volunteered and offered support in turn too. It replaced the old-fashioned huge extended families. Many moms supporting other moms with breastfeeding, child development, nutrition, parenting and so much more. It was a place you could feel “normal” for feeling overwhelmed at times being a stay at home mom. It`s the toughest and most important job you will ever do in a lifetime…raising a child.
Boy oh boy, they sure don`t tell us that at sex Ed classes and not even during prenatal classes! The little infant does not EVEN come back home from hospital with a workbook with instructions adapted to “this particular model”. No Sireee, once you get home…you are on your own!
So it is a good thing you can scrounge up some supportive friends, some family and professional resources too.
I remember when my dearest friend, Annette came to visit me when I first came out of hospital. I was so tired. I could hardly sit down for obvious reasons and I had not got the hang of the nursing quite yet…I was so awkward, weak and sore. I bet I looked like a rag for sure. Well, she didn`t stay long and 4 days later, she arrives at 11a.m. with a huge container in her arms. The container was 2 full course warm meals for our lunch. I was so surprised and pleased as well. After we ate, I fed my son and then she asked if she could burp him and put him to sleep while I had a nap. Oh boy!! Did I run to bed quickly. I trusted her with my baby…she was his godmother after all! Normally I was a little tigress with my baby but not with Annette.
I could hear him whimpering and then crying. Oh dear, I thought, he must have gas…poor thing. But she sang to him and rocked him and he finally went to sleep. She nestled him in the crib next to my bed and shut the door.
For 2 hours she dusted, mopped the floor, vacuumed the entire house, washed my kitchen, did the dishes and washed my bathroom from A to Z. And when Annette cleans up…you DO notice!! I was so touched when I woke up and saw all that she did. I will never, to this day, ever forget her selfless act that day. I guess that`s why we have been friends for so many years. My son is now 34 and I still remember that day like it was yesterday.
I hope I can be of service to my dear friend tomorrow too and rock that beautiful infant so her mama can rest a bit. This is the beginning of a new chapter in her life, and in mine as well. Thank you, Marie-Hélène for being you and having Emma.