The Limitations of New Parenthood

Stepping into new motherhood, I felt really prepared. I had an arsenal of doulas in my corner and I had a library of resources to draw from (should I need them). I felt quite confident that I could face the unknown and roll with the punches. Even with all the reassurances, it was still an initiation that my heart wasn’t prepared for.

From my own perspective, I came up on limitations when I became a new mother. Socially, there are some huge shifts that occur when the fresh wingman is a newborn. There are some logistical snafus that arise that require creativity and all the flexibility. With an adjusted sleep rhythym, the missed sleep can really impact all the other areas. There are inevitable mental and emotional shifts that can feel a bit jarring. 

I call it the ‘glory-mess’ of postpartum. There is so much wonder and boundless love AND it’s so bloody intense. It’s all of it all at once. It’s a glory-mess. 

 
The one and only photo of us tandem nursing, taken March 19, 2019

The one and only photo of us tandem nursing, taken March 19, 2019

 

SOCIAL LIMITATIONS

The FOMO after my second daughter was born made me cry some days. The monthly dinners with my friends had came and went, and I missed out and snuggled my baby who only wanted my breasts. We tried giving her a bottle, we don’t have a lot of family to babysit at night, and I knew my baby needed me. I stayed home. 

The play dates were scheduled and after four months when a nap schedule started to emerge, the times just didn’t jive. The bedtime ramifications of not having well-slept babies wasn’t worth the nap sacrifices. Both my babies needed naps, and I was stuck in that weird conflicting nap schedule so many friends with little ones find themselves in. It’s both a social and a logistical limitation of new parenthood. It’s beautiful some days, and others it totally sucks.

Image credit:  Helene the Illustrator

Balancing the needs of two babies was vastly different than my easy-going first singleton. So for the time being, their needs came first and I became a recluse for a solid few months.

There was a strange dichotomy of these two things being true: I missed my village terribly AND there was a freedom in the surrender to the social isolation. This was the season where my babies’ immediate needs trumped mine, and (most days) it was totally okay that I was developing varying levels of fancy loungewear. It’s now 13 months postpartum, and next week I’m going to attend that monthly friend dinner. It feels very symbolic that as the warm weather welcomes the spring, my social life starts to bloom again. It’s very welcome.

The social limitations for me were largely tied to the logistical limitations.

LOGISTICALLY LIMITED

When my daughter was 19 months old, I was seven months pregnant with our second. We took a family holiday to Maui for two weeks, and my husband and I collectively agreed, “no more long airplane rides with these babies until they’re older”. That trip we made it work. We tag-teamed the red-eye flight with an overtired and under-slept toddler who adamantly only wanted to breastfeed for an eight-hour overnight flight in coach, but… #FML #neveragain.

I’m not going to fly across the country with my young kiddos, so I’m not going to see my extended family for a little while. What I could pull off was short flights to my family in BC. Traveling and staying at my family’s home with two pack-n-plays, two feeding chairs, two car seats, two sets of clothes and diapers… it’s a lot, but it was worth it. 

On a short plane ride to BC for a family visit over Christmas.

On a short plane ride to BC for a family visit over Christmas.

We purchased a mini-van. We upgraded to the double stroller. There’s that surrender again. However, far from being limitations these tools have been the ultimate liberation. I highly recommend.

The logistical limitations of new parenthood are somewhat negotiable. Depending how committed you are to the mobility, anything is possible. I discovered our limit on that flight back from Maui, but yours may be limitless.

MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL LIMITATIONS

I’m still wading through this pool. Some spots are deeper than others and I really need to tread slowly and with intention. Biologically, I know my brain has changed. There’s science behind it. I struggle not having my same mental capacity and sharpness for conversation and work performance. I have to intentionally concentrate. My attention span is short - it’s harder to read books. I’m really looking forward to the season shifting when I can emerge from this fogginess and finish a novel. 

Sometimes you have to accept the fact that certain things will never go back to how they used to be.
— Rosebud

GROWTH AND MOTHERHOOD

My transition into motherhood has been joyful and the biggest learning curve of my life. I’m only three years, a rookie, relatively speaking. I have been so grateful for the wisdom of other mothers in my proverbial village. The experience of mothers with older children has been invaluable and I continue to draw on their wisdom and kindness as I clumsily find my way through every new phase of my children’s growth.

Brene Brown says, “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.” So here’s the truth of it from me: I found joy AND limitation in new motherhood. I am standing at the beginning of a new chapter, I have two small children and I am back to work. I don’t know how to write what comes next, I just know that I’ve identified where my limits are and that I must focus on what I need.

A mommy and her two babies

A mommy and her two babies

This is us. 

I love them more than I ever imagined I could love anything.

Sometimes I really have my shit together, and other days I’m a glory-mess. 


Christine Jennings Birth Doula 0 sq.jpg
 

Christine is a DONA International Certified Birth Doula who brings a sense of joy, excitement, and wonder to her work. She loves to support her clients as they journey towards their own best birth and shares their pride in their accomplishments. Offering deeply intuitive care, she is able to encourage them as they uncover their own inner hopes and desires for their birth, while supporting them with the tools to achieve them.