The second Saturday of each month is the Outside The Mom Box support group for new moms and babies. Each session starts out with introductions and then goes in our main topic. We leave about 30 minutes for Q&A, then close. We've tackled introducing solids, travel, summer, and a slew of other relevant baby topics so this month we focused on mom. Our topic was "changing relationships". Here are a few noteworthy snippets from that conversation:
Juggling your rapidly growing baby is enough of a task but when you factor in outside employment, extra commitments like church or volunteering, pets in the home or other issues, finding time to catch up with friends, even if they do have kids of their own, can feel overwhelming. Luckily, the moms on Saturday felt like that they either a) did have some good friendship that were being attended to or b) were in the process of building new friendships with other new moms. I definitely was in the latter category until Elisabeth was about 7 months or so. I didn't know many women who were also new moms who lived closely or who were home with their child and honestly, many new moms seemed much more together than I. I felt vulnerable reaching out to new moms. It was way too easy to attend to my own child and not talk to anyone else. But I don't recommend that strategy; it was lonely! One mom shared that it can be hard to be the only couple in their groups of friends to have a child. All social activities seemed to have stopped now that baby is getting older and a bedtime routine has developed. It's crucial for us to find moms with babies around our kids' age to connect with, for our own mental health and to ensure future playdates.
Some of the women in the group talked about their relationships with their own parents. One woman's relationship with her mom became very positive after her baby was born. Another woman talked about how she still felt like a little kid around her own dad sometimes, even though she is an adult and now a parent herself. Dealing with our parents now that we are parents can be tricky. My own mom just sent a book of nursery rhymes to my daughter when she learned that Elisabeth didn't have one ("they teach memorization and movement!!" she said). I don't really like it. I WANTED to like it so badly, believe me. But it just doesn't do it for me. My mom, though, loves the idea of Elisabeth reading nursery rhymes and so I let it go.
We also talked husbands! How we have a shorter fuse now than we did before with him and how challenging it can feel to have our partner not have the same sense of urgency when it comes to doing something baby-related i.e. baby proofing etc. Especially in the early days with a new baby, dad might default to mom to soothe the baby with "you're better at it," or "she likes what you're doing better,". That's hard for mom because then it feels like it is all on her, all the time. Sometimes dads tend to try 1-2 things and if they don't work, they give up...too easily, many of the moms agreed! When one of the moms shared that she did what many of us moms do (just keep trying a bunch of things until something worked) I was reminded of the #lifesinvisiblework hashtag that I created. There are so many little things that moms do all the time, all day (and all night!) long for their baby, that aren't remarkable or particularly noteworthy but are still important.
Finally, we talked sex. In the beginning, and that means the beginning of when you start to have sex again after baby (not related to baby's age), it will likely be uncomfortable. It can be painful, especially if there was any tearing. It definitely was for me. A lack of sleep, too many things on our "must tackle" list and the unpredictability of a baby schedule's can add even more angst to getting back into feeling like you want to be intimate with your partner. We talked about scheduling time for sex and while that can feel lacking in spontaneity, it can help with feeling more relaxed, less rushed and perhaps in a better mood overall. Easing into sex by starting in a position that has traditionally been better for you, both in terms of comfort and also pleasure, can also help. Getting enough rest so you don't feel tired, starting with massage or an evening out can also go a long way to making you feel more comfortable about resuming sex again.
For Durham area new moms, our August (8/10) topic is: "sleep". Once again, we will be at my office at 1200 Broad Street, Suite 104, in Durham. RSVPs are not required!
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