Kathleen, mom of Adam, 1
After Adam was born: I had no idea it would be so tough! My husband, mom, and in-laws helped as much as they could, but the demands of breastfeeding wore me out physically, and I was completely overwhelmed emotionally. I was anxious about what would happen if Adam cried while I was asleep and I didn't hear him, or if he had a problem that I couldn't help him with. I definitely had a case of the "baby blues."
Getting out of the house: I had gone for a walk around the block a few times, but my friends thought it might help if I got out into the "real world." Two of them set up a lunch date for us. They came over beforehand to ooh and ahh over Adam, who was then 2 weeks old. I left him with my husband, Allyn, and we drove to a restaurant nearby. What we talked about: Babies, mostly. Both of my friends are moms, so they empathized -- they said they had some pretty trying times, too. But they also reassured me that it gets easier and that it's all worth it. As lunch went on, I started to feel much better. They were so enthusiastic about motherhood and so excited for me that it made me feel excited, too.
How I felt about leaving my baby: I was a little nervous, especially because we'd just started getting Adam used to a bottle. But after such a tough couple of weeks, I can't say I missed him -- it felt more like I'd forgotten something without him near me. My friends reminisced about some of the funny things that happened when they left their babies at home with their husbands, and we all had a good laugh.
The best thing about lunch: I was only gone for about an hour and a half, but in that time I started to feel like a real person again. I could see that a world existed beyond my house. I felt refreshed and ready to go back to my baby.
A bonus: My being away helped Allyn, too. It was the first time he took care of Adam by himself. He liked having the opportunity to help out, and he felt good that I trusted him to take care of our baby.
What I realized: How important it is to try to get "me" time. I still have to work at it, and sometimes I get close to the end of my rope before making it a priority, but I do make an effort. Whenever I can squeeze it in, I ride my exercise bike in the evenings, or take a bath, or head to the mall while Allyn watches Adam. Now he also takes Adam to the park at least once a week so I can have the whole house to myself, which is pretty great.
Words of wisdom: Even if it's just to run some errands, leaving the house for 15 minutes helps. And if you go during your child's naptime, he'll be rested and as refreshed as you are when you return. Nothing beats coming home to a happy baby.
Kathleen, mom of Adam, 1