I didn't expect to be so overwhelmed when I had my baby last month. My body felt weak, my physical energy minimal. I had two older girls who needed my attention, and who were loud and demanding and tantrumy.. and all I wanted was to have quiet and be alone with my baby. I was beside myself worrying about my brand new baby that was showing early signs of colic, trying to figure out why nursing wasn't soothing her. Since I'm the cook in the family and wasn't in the condition or mindset to cook, we were eating out all the time. And laundry was coming out our ears due, in large part, to our insanely poopy newborn wearing cloth diapers. I was also worried about my husband. He was working his butt off keeping the big girls entertained or shuttling them to our in-laws, doing laundry, getting us take-out, and on top of all that, handling his bankruptcy practice and our personal financial life 300 miles from home. I felt guilty that he was doing so much while I lay in bed.
About three days post partum, my midwife Davi stopped by the house to check on me. She found me in bed, crying, because I was so, so overwhelmed. "Enough is enough Katherine," she said. "Reese has his hands full, and you need some help! You need someone to take care of you!" And without further ado, she whipped out her cell phone, called a post partum doula, and told the doula she needed to get over to our house, pronto. Within a few hours, Glyol the doula was there, taking care of me. She made me food. She brought me water. She gave me a back massage. She held the baby while I showered, ate, and slept. What a relief!
When I arrived home to the Bay Area a few days later, my friends began delivering me meals. Nearly every single day for more than two weeks after we arrived home, there was a friend at my door bringing me a home cooked super yummy vegetarian dinner. And - so very generously - a number of them volunteered to watch my big girls so that I could rest and bond with the baby. Thanks to these gracious ladies, I felt so loved..less overwhelmed.. and much more like myself.
I wish every woman who births had the support that I had. In many countries and cultures, after all, it's the norm to provide a new mother six full weeks of tender loving care.. cooking for her, cleaning for her, caring for her children while she rests and recooperates and bonds with her new baby. Here in America, though, there is no post-birth nurturing for mom; we are expected to go right back to our normal routines with a new baby, and no real support. It's such an incredible shame. We women deserve to be loved and nurtured and taken care of in these incredibly fragile weeks after giving birth to a baby.
Since we do not have that, I would say this to my dear women friends who are expecting. If you are at all able, hire a midwife - because she will provide you nurturing and holistic care after you have your baby. If you're able to financially, hire a post partum doula - even just for a few days... they provide amazing care! And finally, join a mothers club - or two. Not only will you make friends that will be there to support you post partum, many have programs that provide you meals after you give birth.