My daughter was born just before Christmas in 1986. We spent three days in the hospital and came home on Christmas Eve. While we didn't know everything, we'd certainly had more than two minutes training and were substantially more equipped than many of the young families leaving the hospital today. My daughter was home within twenty-four hours. IMHO that's not nearly long enough and it's a concern because...
... things are not the way I remember them and not the way they look. The fabric above is a navy blue, almost black, stretch cotton jacquard. Would you have guessed that from the photo? The camera lies. And so might the happy smiling faces of the new mothers you've met. Young people today are having a wonderful event - a new baby - and then dealing with that experience predominately alone. Instead of phone calls, there are text messages. Instead of cards, there are Facebook comments. Visits are minimal or not at all. Even the home nurse didn't visit. They went to her office ! ! ! Flowers are non-existent as are offers to make meals, clean the house, and watch the baby so you can have a nap. Someone hosting a baby shower with gifts of support is not a given. Compared to my experience, it's a lonely celebration.
Today, at Jessica's prenatal group drop-in, I met a young woman who is new to the city, has no friends or co-workers with babies, has a parent who strongly and vocally disagrees with nursing or any other approach that sounds remotely like "natural" child rearing - as if there is any other kind - has in-laws with several grandchildren already who are spending the winter in the south, and has a husband who travels for work. She is facing a new, emotional, and foreign experience almost entirely on her own. When I found out that she lived near Jessica and suggested that she introduce herself, she grabbed onto that like a lifeline.
My daughter's prenatal instructor told me this is the new normal for women having children. It made me sad for them. It made me realize that I needed to pay more attention to the expectant and new mothers who might need the support and experience of a "mature" mother. We have tricks to share that make that screaming, puking, pooping infant manageable and adorable.
When I had my daughter, no one came and stayed with me and there was no such thing as paternity leave but there were older women in my church who offered advice and other women in my neighbourhood having babies. We talked. There were coffee and play dates. The seven women in my prenatal group met every week for two years until we had our second children. We were able to support and encourage each other.
It's very hard to make friends in today's culture. So much is shallow and virtual. Without the prenatal classes that my daughter and her husband took, these other women, other couples, might be entirely alone. It makes you realize how important that card, gift, meal, phone call, or offer to baby watch really is. I'm so thankful that I am able to come and spend time with this new family and help them cope and celebrate AND...
... while Jessica and Daimon were napping this afternoon, I went to Fabricland... again... and got the jacquard as well as an embroidered cotton, some lime not a chiffon, not silky, but still lightweight, polyester, and a fuchsia sweater knit... on sale... in the bargain center. YES YES ! ! !
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - prenatal groups, prenatal instructors