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New-Mom Survival Tips From a Five-Timer

When I sit at the computer to write, I ask myself what do parents — would-be parents — want to hear. Some days I come up with something deep and profound like the meaning of life (yeah, right) and then I come up with stuff that's just pretty funny. Today was a mixed bag because as much as I love writing and sharing, I just don't know if I'm thinking like a SAHM with five kids or not. I guess I want to know if I've lost touch because I've been in my bubble for so long.

So, since my confusion, fueled by the emotions generated this week as the world reflects on September 11, I decided to ask a diverse group of friends about the hottest topics for them and then blurt about those issues.

How do you prepare for pregnancy?

Because I'm overly active and a light sleeper and light eater, the physical preparation for me was minimal. The big deal for me during pregnancy was the crazy dreams I would have throughout the day. I'm glad I had a midwife to go to and share some of these bizarre experiences that seemed so real. She let me know that it was just the hormones, but that didn't always give me peace. Also, I had pregnancy gingivitis, which my mom hadn't even heard of, so I didn't receive any support when I was at the dentist every three months trying to keep my teeth.

But if there were one thing that I would require for every pregnant woman, it would be a pregnancy girdle. My grandmother shared with me its importance and I am eternally grateful. The pressure on my lower back was intense and I attribute my back strength after five drug-free vaginal births of babies ranging from 7 pounds 8 ounces to 9 pounds 2 ounces to the girdle. They don't sell them at Sears or other department stores much, but you can find them online, I'm sure.

My husband seems more interested in the baby than in me. How do you deal with that?

The impact that having a baby has on your marriage is huge and I was completely unprepared. Together we neglected our relationship while we were trying to figure out the parenting thing. Please talk with one another and spend as much time together as possible especially when you don't feel like it. Have your spouse sit next to you while you're nursing in the bed. Have him sit in the bathroom with you, or better yet, you guys can take turns bathing and feeding the baby (once the table food kicks in). Don't minimize the importance of intimacy/connection on all levels, not just sexual. Back and foot massages, along with a fun, competitive game like Scrabble (when the baby is sleeping) or Uno (when the baby is distracted) would work wonders. Lastly, if it is real bad and you're really hurt, share your feelings and don't be afraid to look as cute as the baby sometimes even if you feel like death warmed over.

How do I not lose myself once I become a mom?

Oh, I only have a 750-word limit and I could write books on this topic, so I'll share with you what I wished someone would have shared with me. Spend some time connecting with yourself outside of your many roles, and work on feeding your other parts. You were a person before you were a wife and a mom. Oh, you've heard it all before. What do I do? I blog. I spend quiet time with myself. I love the theatre, so I go with my mom or my sisters. I read a lot and read for various reasons, mainly to strengthen my knowledge base, my confidence and my spirit. I've been lost before and I wish someone had pulled me back in a way that was gentler than the jolting revelation I had when my oldest daughter had a question about her schoolwork.

"Mommy, when is Daddy coming home?"

"Well, he's on campus now and I'm not sure when he'll be back. What do you need? Can I help?"

"I have a question about my schoolwork and I figured he'd know because he's in school and he teaches."

That was many years ago and it still stings. I'm the trained teacher. I'm the consummate educator, but not to her because she didn't see that. My motto for this year is "Do You," and if that doing consists of rock climbing, teaching, painting, do it. You're important, and like we all know, "Happy Mommy. Happy Home."

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