Wednesday, May 1, 2013

It's A Concern

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

- prenatal groups, prenatal instructors


  1. First, congrats on the new grand baby! Second, you are so right. A lot of the traditions on how to behave are definitely fading away. I noticed when my own daughters had babies that their friends were amazed at the things I did for them. Some as simple as filling the refrigerator and cooking and freezing a few meals. I'm glad that you were able to introduce the two young mothers. I'm sure that the relationship will enhance not only their lives but their children as well.

  2. I had lots of help with my first baby, but when my son was born I lived far from my family and had no one-so I totally understand your concern. Your daughter is so lucky to have you.

  3. It's so true. When I started having kids I was much older than any of my old friends, and most lived far away. It was lonely, but I was lucky to have my mum who also lives here in Ottawa. One day while shopping with my mum and 7 week old babe, I met another mum who told me about a Strollercise program run by a kids second-hand boutique (Boomerang Kids). It was (and still is) free, and would meet a couple times a week for walking/running and a gathering at various coffee shops right by the shop. It worked for me because I met many other mums in similar circumstances, and 8 years later I'm still in touch with some of them. From there I found out about other programs for babies/toddlers. It saved me! I've heard that Calgary has many different types of programs for mums & babes, hopefully your daughter and new friend can find some soon. And summertime is a great time for being out and about!

  4. Powerful post. I have no children, but I have to say that I guess those in my crowd are lucky - the in-person presence is very prevalent among my friends, and even I can't wait to spend time the newest baby in my life :)

    So the good news is that this is not a universal approach; at least not if you have family and friends nearby :)

  5. Things certainly are different than they were years ago. Here on the Island, midwives are very popular and my daughter and DIL had several home visits from them after coming home from the hospital. Their church home group provided meals for two weeks. The prenatal groups have been great for both couples and friendships have continued.
    You might want to check about moms and baby groups there in Calgary - I'm sure there must be something.

    I can't compare their experience or your daughter's to mine - my children were born in S. America and believe me, that was lonely, especially for the first one. I have told my girls that I would be there for them when they had a child, if at all possible.

  6. I agree with your post. I'm a step-mom of a 14 yr old (married when he was 2). We're in Alberta, my parents are in Ontario and my in-laws...not supportive. Tough time that's for sure. However, my Mom and I e-mail daily (still) and talk often. We married in a church and there were and are many ladies there who were a big help. But your point is well made - so much so that our church has started a Mom's support group put on by some Grandmas. Just as a chance to talk to someone who has been there and done that.
    I'm glad that your Grandbaby is doing well and that your daughter and her friend can find some support.

  7. Thoughtful post. I'm so glad you are enjoying time with your daughter and new grandbaby! Interestingly, I know of a couple of people who actually refused help and pushed off families for a while so mom and dad could bond with baby alone. One was my mom's good friend who was very hurt that she wasn't allowed to help care for her first grandchild for the first several weeks, despite living close by. Different folks!

  8. So kind of you to introduce the two moms. Yes, times have changed...everyone's so busy doing (something). What is it that we're all so busy doing anyway? Isn't spending time with loved ones the most important thing? Your daughter is lucky that you are able to spend time with her and her little one.

    Lucky you, too, that they *want* you to bond with the new little one.

  9. Reading your post is a good reminder that things are different today than they used to be, and it is sad. So much disconnect in a lot of ways. How wonderful that you introduced the two new moms. Just having someone to talk to as a new mom will really help. Congratulations to you on you new grandbaby!


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.