I have a baby, now what?
With my first child I was living 16 hours away from home in Charlotte, NC. I remember being so excited that I was pregnant. At the time, I was middle of the way through my masters degree and working full time with children in a residential program. The pregnancy flew by and a month early I ended up with my adorable son (I know I’m biased) in my arms. I had the nursery, I had the car seat, the stroller and all the accessories– but the one thing I didn’t have was a group of friends or community.
Loneliness Sets In
My husband was able to take two weeks off of work to help me. Which was a good thing because I ended up having a c-section. Looking back, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Facebook is really great at reminding me of this with my memories each day. One day I posted, “Feed the baby, change the baby, baby sleeps, repeat.” I tried going to new mom playgroups, tried the library, but I ended up spending a lot of time at Target. Exploring all the new baby gadgets my son would never play with.
Anxiety Goes Up
Three weeks before I had to return back to working my second shift job and after visiting countless daycare centers I impulsively decided to move from 2nd shift to 3rd shift. I had thought that all my struggles had been solved. However, when you only sleep 4-5 hours a day there is a high probability that your anxiety will increase due to lack of sleep. Its a primitive biological thing our body does. I’m not entirely sure how I made it through the 1.5 years on 3rd shift. My rationalization was I was protecting him from unsafe caregivers that would not be able to adequately care for my child. Looking back, I wish someone would have said “Rachel he will be fine in daycare. Actually he will love it and you won’t be a Zombie anymore.”
Second Baby is Easier?
As my son grew we realized that as parents we needed support. Our friends and family all lived in Vermont. So we settled in Williston, VT area. My “surprise” baby was born 9 months after returning to Vermont. The pregnancy itself was more exhausting, but the overall experience was easier. Let me explain why:
- I had people I could count on: Every day I worked with a group of moms. One was actually pregnant at the same time I was so that made things really fun. I felt I had a connection and if I wanted to say, “Today this sucks or Today this is so awesome” I knew they understood. My family wasn’t far away and I didn’t have to worry about when I went into the hospital my son would be with strangers.
- My Work was Supportive: I had just started my job in Vermont. My anxiety immediately went through the roof, because when I had my son my employer terminated a mom for not being able to perform due to taking care of her newborn son. She didn’t qualify for FMLA so she had to return after 6 weeks. I watched the termination happen. Would that be me? My company was the exact opposite. They were supportive, understanding, and never wavered from their mission of supporting families.
- My Anxiety was in check: I have a 6 year age difference between my son and my daughter. Remember, I said she was my surprise baby. In between those years, I have invested a substantial amount of time and energy into addressing and managing my own fears. And I’ve had some great people I could go to along the way, talk to about my mom fears or guilt and get support and feedback.
Postpartum Support in Vermont
So, this leads me to the most important part of this blog post. I will be starting up a postpartum support group in the Spring of 2016. Specific Details to Be Announced Shortly! I know that there are moms from all walks of life and all part of the country living in Vermont. I have people that ask me “How Do I connect?” Connection is important, as a mother, otherwise we might find ourselves getting lost among the aisles in Target (I know we don’t have a Target here… just add in your favorite store name instead). My hope is that this group will be a supportive resource for the community, help foster relationships, and strengthen families.