Help for an anxious new mom

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  August 4, 2011 06:00 AM

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Hello,
I am a new mom of a 14 day old baby boy. I delivered him via c section and have been taking it easy thanks to my husband who is a teacher and at home until Labor Day. He has been amazing with changing the diapers, burping him, and comforting him when he's upset. My main focus has been breastfeeding and getting rest. Now that the stitches are coming out and I am starting to feel better, I am trying to do more.

I am really anxious about everything though. I worry that I am not supporting his head enough, that I take too long putting his clothes on and they are over his head too much, that he will choke on his spit up, that I'm not doing enough tummy time, and that he isn't getting out of the house enough (I've been recovering and it's been so hot out we haven't really gone anywhere but the doctor's). I'm also anxious about breastfeeding, my husband has been helping me by letting me get set up with pillows and my boppy and then placing him on me so he can nurse. I worry that when he goes back to work I won't be able to get him set up myself. I also worry that I'm not entertaining him enough the times when he is awake.

My question, I guess, is two fold, 1, what are some ways to entertain a new born? And 2, will this anxiety go away and what can I do to help it go away?

Thanks,
From: New Mom, Framingham, MA


Dear New Mom,

First: congratulations to all three of you! Second: Relax! Third: Relax!

Easy to say, I know.

Let's start with the easy stuff first. You "entertain" your newborn every time you smile and coo at him, every time you two make eye contact. The human face is the best toy of all, generally at about 12 inches from the baby's face. At about three months, you can consider mobiles & infant rattles.

Getting him outside? Sounds like your judgement has been 100% appropriate. Tummy time? Here's how I define tummy time with an infant: Lie down on your back. Put your baby on your chest, so you're face to face. Giggle, smile & enjoy each other. By three months, your baby should be experiencing about 30 minutes a day on his tummy, although not necessarily all at once.

The hardest question you're asking is very individual: How anxious is too anxious?

Some of your anxiety will dissipate as you get more familiar with the baby, as your hormones return to "normal," and as you learn to trust yourself. It's universal to feel anxious. When my son was a newborn, I was terrified of bathing him -- he was so slippery! I was convinced that he might drown, even in the little infant "tub." My husband became the BathMan, a routine that persisted for years.

You don't mention post partum depression, but if that's in the back of your mind, talk to your OB/Gyn for some assurance so you know the symptoms.

Whatever you do, I urge you to find a New Moms Group. It is the single best gift you will give yourself and your new family. You might find this through your health care provider, local hospital, local Y, or through private organizations like Isis Maternity. I formed life-long friendships in my New Mom support group. A related question came up a few weeks ago; all of the organizations I mentioned then also offer groups for new mothers.

I do hope some other new moms will weigh in on this so New Mom will know she's not alone. It really helps!

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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22 comments so far...
  1. I remember that anxiety well! I had my first 3.5 years ago and was totally overwhelmed for the first couple of months. I dreaded the day my husband returned to work but I got used to doing things on my own. I agree with Barbara about finding a moms group. It gives you a safe and easy place to take the baby out and you find out you're not alone!

    It's important to be kind to yourself. If you don't get much done during the day and your house is a wreck, be happy that you fed your baby all day! Just nursing is a full-time job.

    I'm now a mom of 2 and I was a little anxious about handling 2 on my own at first but there is nothing like the shock of having your first baby.

    Good luck! You sound like you are doing great so far!!

    Posted by Jessica August 4, 11 08:48 AM
  1. Oh, you're so not alone. Right around that 2-3 week time was the hardest part for me. I think it's because you're starting to feel physically well enough yourself that you can worry about all these other things.
    I also felt like none of my friends had felt like that. Come to find out, they ALL felt like that. Barbara is right -- find a group. It is the best thing I did.
    I also had a wonderful, supportive husband who did almost everything but breastfeed those first two weeks. It's a transition from that -- I felt like the two of them were in sync and I was outside. The third week of our daughter's life was skills week for me. I just tried to have my husband encourage me to do one new thing each day. One day I did a couple of diapers. The next day I put her in her car seat. The next day I unfolded the stroller by myself. Et cetera.
    Just do a little bit each day. It will get easier... and keep talking!
    OH - and post on the discussion boards here on the boston dot com "Moms" site.

    Posted by Carrie August 4, 11 09:21 AM
  1. It's been 23 years since I was a new mother and experiencing very similar anxiety to what the LW describes, and it would be very mean of me to chuckle (so I won't), but I do remember being just as scared of making some awful mistake. Barbara's right - you'll soon feel much more confident. My worst manifestation of anxiety came in a dream that was so patently obviously based in my fears that I still remember it: I rubbed butter, salt, pepper and tarragon on an object that definitely looked like a chicken, and put it in the oven to roast, but when I opened the oven to baste the "chicken", it turned out to be the baby! Various family members split their sides laughing when I told them about my dream, but I still remember my heart thumping as I woke up and leaped out of bed to check that she was safely asleep in her crib. Good luck: get as much rest as you can and relax!

    Posted by alien57 August 4, 11 09:47 AM
  1. Just putting the baby in front of black and white picture at first will entertain him. Anything to focus on. My daughter used to love looking at my hair clips, attached to the side of the white bassinet. She liked the contrast and patterns.

    I recommend the board books BLACK AND WHITE by Tana Hoban, and Curious George MY FIRST BOOK OF COLORS. These books are accordion fold. You unfold the book and stand it up, next to or around your baby so that he has different objects to study.

    Get a bouncy chair, some links and some toys that make noise to hang from the handle. Once the little one starts kicking his feet, he'll love to make the objects move.

    I had one kid who loved tummy time and one who didn't. Both of them can hold their heads up now, imagine, and the one who refused tummy time is now the athlete of the family. I have always felt the hoopla around tummy time is too much.

    As for the anxiety...well, you are probably by nature an anxious person. I am too, and it sucks. You have to constantly reassure yourself with pep talks. But the best cure is really just confidence born of experience. This first year or two with your baby will be a marvelous training ground. By the time you have your second, you'll be a such a pro and able to enjoy the experience fully!

    Best of luck and congratulations again!

    Posted by momof2 August 4, 11 10:03 AM
  1. Oh, New Mom, you are not alone! So many of us feel the same way, worried that we're going to do something "wrong." As Barbara says, try to relax. Women have been doing this for a long, long time, and you'll figure out what works for you and your family. Is the baby clean, fed, comforted? Then consider your day a SUCCESS! The rest of the house and the chores can wait.
    Enjoy this time, because it really does fly by in a blur. My "baby" is about to turn 12, and it feels like it happened in the blink of an eye.

    Posted by Mary August 4, 11 11:59 AM
  1. Some of this can be from just plain tiredness--not enough sleep, interrupted sleep, sleep at off hours. If you're tired everything seems harder to do and problems seem worse. Try to work out, maybe not a schedule but at least a routine so you get enough sleep.

    This may sound counterintuitive, but take a little bit of time to get the house at least passably neat, and yourself as well. It's not the end of the world to sit in sweat pants with dishes in the sink all day once in a while because you're still getting used to it all. But you will find that if you do that more than once in a while seem harder--you will feel less overwhelmed if you are at least showered, in jeans and a T-shirt, eating a real meal off a plate, and not looking at a mess. If your husband's schedule doesn't permit a lot of time to assist at home, can you get a helper for the housework once a week, or a mom's helper for the baby so you can get you and the house cleaned up? If not, trust me, the baby will not be warped for life if you let it hang out in the baby swing for half an hour watching you fold the laundry.

    Also, it sounds to me like some tasks are turning into projects--tummy time is a good idea, the boppy arrangement is a handy way to do things, but they are not a detailed procedure to land a plane or perform brain surgery. Don't let all the books and pamphlets and nurses' advice get you too hung up on doing things in one absolutely right way (unless it's a matter of safety). Especially with the nursing--once you get the hang of it you won't need to spend a lot of time and effort setting up a pillow nest with the boppy just so.

    Posted by di August 4, 11 12:30 PM
  1. I haven't read any of the comments yet, but I just had to let you know that what you are feeling is 100% normal. It took me a couple of weeks to even diaper my first born by myself -- it was such a production with my husband and I manning the wipes and the diaper and the new set of clothes and the all important soft pee-catching paper towel. I had serious complications with my C-section and had visiting nurses coming to my house twice a day -- so we really went nowhere for a very long time and I can tell you my son is now 12 and he's active, healthy, smart, -- no harm done from any of my real or imagined limitations.

    Children are very resillient -- even babies! And you are doing the best thing for your child by breastfeeding him. Nursing was also the best thing I did for myself -- despite needing all the help with the pillows and the boppy setup for the first few weeks! -- because it was the one thing I knew I was doing right for him. I could say to myself, "today I panicked about this and that, but at least I fed my child." Sounds silly, but it was a touchstone for me that comforted both of us.

    Every day is going to bring you a little more experience and a little more confidence, and you will look back on this special time and be amazed at how much easier it has become.

    Posted by SandEE August 4, 11 12:31 PM
  1. Congratulations! And like everyone else said, you are completely normal. My daughter, also born by caesarean, is a little over 1 now but I vividly remember my fear of how I'd cope when my husband went back to work after 2 weeks.

    Some of the things we did: when I asked him to, he'd wake me to shower and eat breakfast before he went to work - so that he could give any care needed during that time, and I could focus on me. He also packed me lunch and snacks in the morning, and either left it in the fridge or on a bed tray in our room. Etc. Think through your day. What really has to happen that's too challenging for you to do while minding your baby?

    If it makes you feel better to accomplish stuff, think about what can you do while minding him? For me it was folding laundry. My husband had to carry the basket, so he also ran the loads, but then I could lay my baby on my bed and fold laundry next to her. She had fun watching, and sometimes I had the energy to sing songs or just narrate what I was doing.

    Once the weather cools off enough for you, taking walks will make you feel better. Getting out of the house made me feel more human, and I liked seeing how I got stronger, noticing that I could go farther than I had been able to just a few days before.

    Posted by Debra August 4, 11 02:38 PM
  1. Congratulations New Mom! Please know that your experience is completely normal. There are so many new things you're trying to do, acclimate to and understand while you're body is recovering, you're not getting enough sleep and hormones are in a post-pregnancy upheveal. Be gentle with yourself! Set your goals for the day really low for a while; perhaps today's the day you shower AND shampoo so save putting on makeup for tomorrow! There will be a day that you breast feed without the pillows, change a diaper without a team, get showered and dressed, and out the door in under an hour remembering everything including shoes (!) and you will realize how far you have come. Spending time with other new moms helped me get perspective. It was a relief to know that I wasn't the only one taking an inventory in the car before leaving the house: baby-check, diaper bag- check, am I'm fully dressed-check, did I brush teeth-oops, do that after, keys- right I'm in the car already, destination- seriously where am I going ... must be to get more diapers and wipes! Today I am proud to say that I can run an errand, with my son, in less time than it took me to get out of the house when he was an infant, he can even remember where we are going! Be with other moms, enjoy your little boy, laugh as often as you can, cry when you need to, get outside everyday (even for just a moment) and know that you will be the best mommie for that little boy simply because you love him as no one else can!

    Posted by Liam'sMomma August 5, 11 06:14 AM
  1. I've been there--and it can feel terrifying as a new mom, but you will get the hang of everything. Take one day at a time and trust your instincts. In regards to not getting out much with the baby--you have loads of time for that. Take it easy, heal, and enjoy your little peanut! Easier said than done, but you'll be just fine. Doing one thing for yourself each day with the baby--whether it's a walk, an errand, conquering a bath, etc., will boost your spirits and give you confidence. The moms group will be therapeutic and should be enjoyable for you and baby. It really does go by fast. Also, not to turn this into a pro-breastfeeding post, but good for you!! Good luck.

    Posted by CeeCee August 5, 11 10:22 AM
  1. New moms groups- ISIS Maternity has a new beginnings course (closest to you is Needham) and it is the best thing I did after having my son. All the babies in the class are 2-10 weeks old so they age together and the other moms know exactly what you are going through and serve as an amazing support mechanism. You can air your concerns (rational or irrational) and hear what others are thinking without judgement. We started when my son was 6 weeks old and it brought back the sanity for me. He is now almost 4 months old and we still email with each other every day about the babies and our worries and joys! Very soon your son will become more interactive ad more rewarding. This stage is hard because you don't "get anything back' but snuggle him and make faces and soon enough he will give you that smile and you will fall more in love than ever!

    Posted by Jessica August 5, 11 03:20 PM
  1. My baby is 18 months, but reading this reminded me just how nerve racking everything is in the beginning. Take a deep breath. Your body is recovering from major surgery and breast feeding takes a lot out of you, plus your sleep schedule is off. All of these things add to your anxiety. You'll be fine. It sounds like you're a great mom. Great moms worry about things like tummy time, and head support.

    I suggest finding a new moms group. Mine really helped me, and even now I see the moms from a play group that we formed. We help each other at every step. It's really nice to see that other moms are going through the same things, plus it's a great reason to get out of the house. I went to one in West Concord run out of Emerson Hospital, but there are groups all over.

    Posted by Abby August 6, 11 04:05 PM
  1. My oldest is 8 now, but I remember this anxiety like it was yesterday. My husband returned to work (out of town Mon-Fri) after two weeks and I'd spend my days alone, just hoping to keep her alive! I remember the first time I drove with her in the car I was afraid to go more than 15 mph. Tummy time? I worried she would pick up carpet fuzz and choke on it. I was a wreck. Finding a mothers group did help me since I didn't have friends with babies nearby. You sit and laugh at all your worries together, and they get smaller. It was so fun with my second baby because I worried so much less (but still worried of course!). A book that helped me was "Girlfriends Guide to Surviving the First Year" by Vicki Iovine. It was such a relief to laugh with someone describing my life. I wasn't nuts, I was a mom. Congratulations and try to enjoy.

    Posted by Kip August 6, 11 06:02 PM
  1. Have you considered finding a mothers group or a breastfeeding group? The latter might help you a lot with gaining confidence in getting yourself comfortable with breastfeeding without anyone to help you get settled. It will also give you a network of other people you can ask the questions that may seem silly to you to - Chances are, whatever the question is, at least one in the group has asked it themselves.

    Getting out into the fresh air to do even just something like that does wonders for the mindset too. I found with my little one that taking him outside once a day, weather permitting as he was a summer baby as well, gave him so much entertainment.

    Good luck and as others have said, take it all one day at a time. I had a c-section just like you and the recovery can be hard. Every day you'll get stronger, just remember to do yourself the invaluable favor of being kind to yourself through your recovery. C-sections are often underplayed in how it can take a while to recover from them. Don't be discouraged to find yourself needing to take longer to grow accustomed to doing things for and with your son. It -will- get better. It -will- get easier.

    Posted by dovetail August 6, 11 11:38 PM
  1. Not sure if anyone said this already, but by the time your husband goes back to work, your "newborn" will have grown and developed more, and so will you have developed as a mother too. You'll be able to do so much more than you can do right now with him, and it will all be easier. It will also be cooler out and you'll be able to go for walks with the baby.

    My first baby was born on August 4th 17 years ago, and my husband returned to teaching that September also. I was so much better able to deal with him by then.

    Finally, you've done the baby a good service by NOT taking him out in the heat, or even worse, into air conditioned stores. I've seen so many newborns out in a/c places, shivering in their onesies without a blanket or hat on. You're also doing yourself a favor, in that you aren't having strangers give you advice (in person rather than online!), which can sometimes be hard for a new mother to take.

    Best wishes!

    Posted by SomMom August 7, 11 11:24 AM
  1. I don't want to sound redundant about how normal it is to be anxious, especially with your first. I do, however, want to add a little to Barbara's mention of postpartum depression. As someone who went through it twice, I can say that there is a difference between a new mom's anxiety over getting everything "right," and postpartum anxiety/depression where you may find yourself actually becoming afraid of being around the baby. You don't want to hold him, you wake-up panicked in the middle of the night for no reason, you fear being alone with him, etc. You may lose your appetite and become agitated or upset for no reason and find that you have trouble sleeping. If you notice that you are experiencing these types of feelings, definitely talk to your doctor right away. He or she can help you. The most important thing for moms who are experiencing more than typical anxiety is to tell someone. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you need help. It was VERY hard for me to do, but my friends and family were incredibly supportive. Please understand that I am not saying you are experiencing PPD, but just want to give you some info.

    Posted by Halcuri August 7, 11 08:17 PM
  1. One thing I found helped me included not reading any parenting books or websites unless I had a specific issue I was concerned about. Books like "What to Expect the First Year' and so forth tended to raise more fears than they answered.

    Also, at this age, they don't need much. You are not going to ruin him as a human being if he doesn't get enough tummy time (I had one child who hated tummy time and he never crawled, either. Guess what? he's perfectly fine). What he needs right now is probably just mommy time. One thing I regret is curbing my snuggling time because I was afraid of spoiling them (bad advice from an older generation). In retrospect, it would have done both of us a lot of good to just chill out a bit and snuggle up.

    Also, getting out and about helps A LOT. Just putting the baby in the stroller and taking a walk will help you feel better, in many ways.

    And finally, please hear Barbara's advice about PPD. Yes, fears and anxieties are normal, but if it's getting in the way of you enjoying your child, speak to your doctor about how you are feeling. If it's PPD, getting help is the best thing you can do for you and your baby.

    Posted by rpj August 8, 11 02:08 PM
  1. I was thinking about how many moms like you I have seen in 11 years of volunteering with the Visiting Moms program of the Center for Early Relationship Support of Jewish Family and Childrens Services in Waltham. So many of your concerns and issues are both common and part of the process for so many moms.
    I would hope that you will find a mothers group or a home visiting program like ours so that you can find support and solace from people who know what you are going thru.
    It is a job without a job manual that makes any sense. Each person has to write their own as they go.
    You will find your own path to a comfortable relationship with your baby and yourself as a mother.
    Be well and be good to yourself by finding places to build your confidence.
    Warmly
    Daphne

    Posted by Daphne Petri August 8, 11 09:20 PM
  1. Hi, there.
    Congratulations on your baby boy.
    I've read a few, but not all of the responses, but I also wanted to point out that I think another common reason to feel anxious is the overwhelming reality of being completely responsible for another person.
    As for your anxiety, I had significant anxiety after both my kids (more the first than the second) and opted to go on anti-anxiety medication for about a year after both. That being said, that decisions is not for everyone and I'm not a proponent of this course, just pointing out that you need to figure out what is right for you to get through this and if your concerns persist, you should at least consider talking to a professional to get their opinion. I got to the point that I wasn't able to sleep b/c of anxiety of being awakened by the baby, and the medication allowed me to roll with the punches a bit more than I would have been able to otherwise.
    My kids are still young, so I can still clearly remember how awful it felt to be anxious, scared, and wondering just what in the world you have gotten yourself into while everyone around you is asking for your confrmation that these are just the BEST days of your life. Don't be intimidated - those people just don't remember what it is like.
    And don't underestimate the challenges of sleep deprivation - it can make you think and do all sorts of weird things!

    Posted by trs August 8, 11 09:27 PM
  1. I just wanted to add one more thing to this discussion. I felt the same anxiety that you seem to be feeling. Most of mine seemed to be related to sleep, as I got more sleep I felt better about my care of my son. A lactation nurse was soooo helpful and calming, as well as an excellent pediatrician who told me to be reasonable about expectations and behaviour.

    I want to give you a 'warning' though, at least for me, there was unbearable anxiety for the first 2-4 weeks, and then life really settled into a good routine for all of us. My anxiety came back with a horrid vengeance right around 12 months though. Keep in mind that as his routines change, yours will too. There will be good times and difficult times, just try to be prepared that your body and mind might want to swing back to anxiety, especially if you are an anxious person naturally.

    Having the mother's groups is a huge help. There is one in Natick, I think called Natick Mom's or something similar. Ask friends who have older children, they often know, but don't always think to tell you until you ask.

    Good luck, you will get through this and it sounds like your husband will help.

    Posted by Nicole August 9, 11 01:13 PM
  1. Its been said but I feel I need to reiterate it...new mom's group!!! Isis Parenting (formerly Isis Maternity) was the best thing I ever did - for me and my son! I did the Great Beginnings (2-10 wks) and Next Step (3mo-5mo) groups with him and he is now 14 months and I still refer back to the handouts and songs! Would have kept going but had to go back to work! First class was the hardest to get me and my son to - I cried twice just getting him ready, packing his to-go bag and in the car to get there but after that I looked forward to every week!
    I had been around infants my entire life but when its your own and the responsibility is all you - its completely different. This group was my saving grace!!

    Posted by Lynn August 9, 11 03:44 PM
  1. Dear New Mom,

    Congrats on your new bundle of joy! The anxiousness and reactions are the same feelings I had when I was home with my newborn...who is now 3. Just remember...you are the mommy and you know what is best for the baby. The baby feels safe around you and all you have to do is use your instincts when it comes to the baby and all will run smoothly. You will also be able to handle whatever comes your way when your husband goes back to work because for some reason no matter how tired a mom is...she finds some SUPER MOM strength that no one else has to accomplish anything. Like everyone else said, I joined a mall walking group for moms that allowed me to walk around the mall before it opened with other moms and just converse and window shop. You could also sign up for a mommy and me Gymboree class which will count as tummy time. Just put the baby down on the play mat and let the mat stimulate the baby.

    Good luck and know you are not alone here...

    Posted by Debbie August 9, 11 09:20 PM
 
22 comments so far...
  1. I remember that anxiety well! I had my first 3.5 years ago and was totally overwhelmed for the first couple of months. I dreaded the day my husband returned to work but I got used to doing things on my own. I agree with Barbara about finding a moms group. It gives you a safe and easy place to take the baby out and you find out you're not alone!

    It's important to be kind to yourself. If you don't get much done during the day and your house is a wreck, be happy that you fed your baby all day! Just nursing is a full-time job.

    I'm now a mom of 2 and I was a little anxious about handling 2 on my own at first but there is nothing like the shock of having your first baby.

    Good luck! You sound like you are doing great so far!!

    Posted by Jessica August 4, 11 08:48 AM
  1. Oh, you're so not alone. Right around that 2-3 week time was the hardest part for me. I think it's because you're starting to feel physically well enough yourself that you can worry about all these other things.
    I also felt like none of my friends had felt like that. Come to find out, they ALL felt like that. Barbara is right -- find a group. It is the best thing I did.
    I also had a wonderful, supportive husband who did almost everything but breastfeed those first two weeks. It's a transition from that -- I felt like the two of them were in sync and I was outside. The third week of our daughter's life was skills week for me. I just tried to have my husband encourage me to do one new thing each day. One day I did a couple of diapers. The next day I put her in her car seat. The next day I unfolded the stroller by myself. Et cetera.
    Just do a little bit each day. It will get easier... and keep talking!
    OH - and post on the discussion boards here on the boston dot com "Moms" site.

    Posted by Carrie August 4, 11 09:21 AM
  1. It's been 23 years since I was a new mother and experiencing very similar anxiety to what the LW describes, and it would be very mean of me to chuckle (so I won't), but I do remember being just as scared of making some awful mistake. Barbara's right - you'll soon feel much more confident. My worst manifestation of anxiety came in a dream that was so patently obviously based in my fears that I still remember it: I rubbed butter, salt, pepper and tarragon on an object that definitely looked like a chicken, and put it in the oven to roast, but when I opened the oven to baste the "chicken", it turned out to be the baby! Various family members split their sides laughing when I told them about my dream, but I still remember my heart thumping as I woke up and leaped out of bed to check that she was safely asleep in her crib. Good luck: get as much rest as you can and relax!

    Posted by alien57 August 4, 11 09:47 AM
  1. Just putting the baby in front of black and white picture at first will entertain him. Anything to focus on. My daughter used to love looking at my hair clips, attached to the side of the white bassinet. She liked the contrast and patterns.

    I recommend the board books BLACK AND WHITE by Tana Hoban, and Curious George MY FIRST BOOK OF COLORS. These books are accordion fold. You unfold the book and stand it up, next to or around your baby so that he has different objects to study.

    Get a bouncy chair, some links and some toys that make noise to hang from the handle. Once the little one starts kicking his feet, he'll love to make the objects move.

    I had one kid who loved tummy time and one who didn't. Both of them can hold their heads up now, imagine, and the one who refused tummy time is now the athlete of the family. I have always felt the hoopla around tummy time is too much.

    As for the anxiety...well, you are probably by nature an anxious person. I am too, and it sucks. You have to constantly reassure yourself with pep talks. But the best cure is really just confidence born of experience. This first year or two with your baby will be a marvelous training ground. By the time you have your second, you'll be a such a pro and able to enjoy the experience fully!

    Best of luck and congratulations again!

    Posted by momof2 August 4, 11 10:03 AM
  1. Oh, New Mom, you are not alone! So many of us feel the same way, worried that we're going to do something "wrong." As Barbara says, try to relax. Women have been doing this for a long, long time, and you'll figure out what works for you and your family. Is the baby clean, fed, comforted? Then consider your day a SUCCESS! The rest of the house and the chores can wait.
    Enjoy this time, because it really does fly by in a blur. My "baby" is about to turn 12, and it feels like it happened in the blink of an eye.

    Posted by Mary August 4, 11 11:59 AM
  1. Some of this can be from just plain tiredness--not enough sleep, interrupted sleep, sleep at off hours. If you're tired everything seems harder to do and problems seem worse. Try to work out, maybe not a schedule but at least a routine so you get enough sleep.

    This may sound counterintuitive, but take a little bit of time to get the house at least passably neat, and yourself as well. It's not the end of the world to sit in sweat pants with dishes in the sink all day once in a while because you're still getting used to it all. But you will find that if you do that more than once in a while seem harder--you will feel less overwhelmed if you are at least showered, in jeans and a T-shirt, eating a real meal off a plate, and not looking at a mess. If your husband's schedule doesn't permit a lot of time to assist at home, can you get a helper for the housework once a week, or a mom's helper for the baby so you can get you and the house cleaned up? If not, trust me, the baby will not be warped for life if you let it hang out in the baby swing for half an hour watching you fold the laundry.

    Also, it sounds to me like some tasks are turning into projects--tummy time is a good idea, the boppy arrangement is a handy way to do things, but they are not a detailed procedure to land a plane or perform brain surgery. Don't let all the books and pamphlets and nurses' advice get you too hung up on doing things in one absolutely right way (unless it's a matter of safety). Especially with the nursing--once you get the hang of it you won't need to spend a lot of time and effort setting up a pillow nest with the boppy just so.

    Posted by di August 4, 11 12:30 PM
  1. I haven't read any of the comments yet, but I just had to let you know that what you are feeling is 100% normal. It took me a couple of weeks to even diaper my first born by myself -- it was such a production with my husband and I manning the wipes and the diaper and the new set of clothes and the all important soft pee-catching paper towel. I had serious complications with my C-section and had visiting nurses coming to my house twice a day -- so we really went nowhere for a very long time and I can tell you my son is now 12 and he's active, healthy, smart, -- no harm done from any of my real or imagined limitations.

    Children are very resillient -- even babies! And you are doing the best thing for your child by breastfeeding him. Nursing was also the best thing I did for myself -- despite needing all the help with the pillows and the boppy setup for the first few weeks! -- because it was the one thing I knew I was doing right for him. I could say to myself, "today I panicked about this and that, but at least I fed my child." Sounds silly, but it was a touchstone for me that comforted both of us.

    Every day is going to bring you a little more experience and a little more confidence, and you will look back on this special time and be amazed at how much easier it has become.

    Posted by SandEE August 4, 11 12:31 PM
  1. Congratulations! And like everyone else said, you are completely normal. My daughter, also born by caesarean, is a little over 1 now but I vividly remember my fear of how I'd cope when my husband went back to work after 2 weeks.

    Some of the things we did: when I asked him to, he'd wake me to shower and eat breakfast before he went to work - so that he could give any care needed during that time, and I could focus on me. He also packed me lunch and snacks in the morning, and either left it in the fridge or on a bed tray in our room. Etc. Think through your day. What really has to happen that's too challenging for you to do while minding your baby?

    If it makes you feel better to accomplish stuff, think about what can you do while minding him? For me it was folding laundry. My husband had to carry the basket, so he also ran the loads, but then I could lay my baby on my bed and fold laundry next to her. She had fun watching, and sometimes I had the energy to sing songs or just narrate what I was doing.

    Once the weather cools off enough for you, taking walks will make you feel better. Getting out of the house made me feel more human, and I liked seeing how I got stronger, noticing that I could go farther than I had been able to just a few days before.

    Posted by Debra August 4, 11 02:38 PM
  1. Congratulations New Mom! Please know that your experience is completely normal. There are so many new things you're trying to do, acclimate to and understand while you're body is recovering, you're not getting enough sleep and hormones are in a post-pregnancy upheveal. Be gentle with yourself! Set your goals for the day really low for a while; perhaps today's the day you shower AND shampoo so save putting on makeup for tomorrow! There will be a day that you breast feed without the pillows, change a diaper without a team, get showered and dressed, and out the door in under an hour remembering everything including shoes (!) and you will realize how far you have come. Spending time with other new moms helped me get perspective. It was a relief to know that I wasn't the only one taking an inventory in the car before leaving the house: baby-check, diaper bag- check, am I'm fully dressed-check, did I brush teeth-oops, do that after, keys- right I'm in the car already, destination- seriously where am I going ... must be to get more diapers and wipes! Today I am proud to say that I can run an errand, with my son, in less time than it took me to get out of the house when he was an infant, he can even remember where we are going! Be with other moms, enjoy your little boy, laugh as often as you can, cry when you need to, get outside everyday (even for just a moment) and know that you will be the best mommie for that little boy simply because you love him as no one else can!

    Posted by Liam'sMomma August 5, 11 06:14 AM
  1. I've been there--and it can feel terrifying as a new mom, but you will get the hang of everything. Take one day at a time and trust your instincts. In regards to not getting out much with the baby--you have loads of time for that. Take it easy, heal, and enjoy your little peanut! Easier said than done, but you'll be just fine. Doing one thing for yourself each day with the baby--whether it's a walk, an errand, conquering a bath, etc., will boost your spirits and give you confidence. The moms group will be therapeutic and should be enjoyable for you and baby. It really does go by fast. Also, not to turn this into a pro-breastfeeding post, but good for you!! Good luck.

    Posted by CeeCee August 5, 11 10:22 AM
  1. New moms groups- ISIS Maternity has a new beginnings course (closest to you is Needham) and it is the best thing I did after having my son. All the babies in the class are 2-10 weeks old so they age together and the other moms know exactly what you are going through and serve as an amazing support mechanism. You can air your concerns (rational or irrational) and hear what others are thinking without judgement. We started when my son was 6 weeks old and it brought back the sanity for me. He is now almost 4 months old and we still email with each other every day about the babies and our worries and joys! Very soon your son will become more interactive ad more rewarding. This stage is hard because you don't "get anything back' but snuggle him and make faces and soon enough he will give you that smile and you will fall more in love than ever!

    Posted by Jessica August 5, 11 03:20 PM
  1. My baby is 18 months, but reading this reminded me just how nerve racking everything is in the beginning. Take a deep breath. Your body is recovering from major surgery and breast feeding takes a lot out of you, plus your sleep schedule is off. All of these things add to your anxiety. You'll be fine. It sounds like you're a great mom. Great moms worry about things like tummy time, and head support.

    I suggest finding a new moms group. Mine really helped me, and even now I see the moms from a play group that we formed. We help each other at every step. It's really nice to see that other moms are going through the same things, plus it's a great reason to get out of the house. I went to one in West Concord run out of Emerson Hospital, but there are groups all over.

    Posted by Abby August 6, 11 04:05 PM
  1. My oldest is 8 now, but I remember this anxiety like it was yesterday. My husband returned to work (out of town Mon-Fri) after two weeks and I'd spend my days alone, just hoping to keep her alive! I remember the first time I drove with her in the car I was afraid to go more than 15 mph. Tummy time? I worried she would pick up carpet fuzz and choke on it. I was a wreck. Finding a mothers group did help me since I didn't have friends with babies nearby. You sit and laugh at all your worries together, and they get smaller. It was so fun with my second baby because I worried so much less (but still worried of course!). A book that helped me was "Girlfriends Guide to Surviving the First Year" by Vicki Iovine. It was such a relief to laugh with someone describing my life. I wasn't nuts, I was a mom. Congratulations and try to enjoy.

    Posted by Kip August 6, 11 06:02 PM
  1. Have you considered finding a mothers group or a breastfeeding group? The latter might help you a lot with gaining confidence in getting yourself comfortable with breastfeeding without anyone to help you get settled. It will also give you a network of other people you can ask the questions that may seem silly to you to - Chances are, whatever the question is, at least one in the group has asked it themselves.

    Getting out into the fresh air to do even just something like that does wonders for the mindset too. I found with my little one that taking him outside once a day, weather permitting as he was a summer baby as well, gave him so much entertainment.

    Good luck and as others have said, take it all one day at a time. I had a c-section just like you and the recovery can be hard. Every day you'll get stronger, just remember to do yourself the invaluable favor of being kind to yourself through your recovery. C-sections are often underplayed in how it can take a while to recover from them. Don't be discouraged to find yourself needing to take longer to grow accustomed to doing things for and with your son. It -will- get better. It -will- get easier.

    Posted by dovetail August 6, 11 11:38 PM
  1. Not sure if anyone said this already, but by the time your husband goes back to work, your "newborn" will have grown and developed more, and so will you have developed as a mother too. You'll be able to do so much more than you can do right now with him, and it will all be easier. It will also be cooler out and you'll be able to go for walks with the baby.

    My first baby was born on August 4th 17 years ago, and my husband returned to teaching that September also. I was so much better able to deal with him by then.

    Finally, you've done the baby a good service by NOT taking him out in the heat, or even worse, into air conditioned stores. I've seen so many newborns out in a/c places, shivering in their onesies without a blanket or hat on. You're also doing yourself a favor, in that you aren't having strangers give you advice (in person rather than online!), which can sometimes be hard for a new mother to take.

    Best wishes!

    Posted by SomMom August 7, 11 11:24 AM
  1. I don't want to sound redundant about how normal it is to be anxious, especially with your first. I do, however, want to add a little to Barbara's mention of postpartum depression. As someone who went through it twice, I can say that there is a difference between a new mom's anxiety over getting everything "right," and postpartum anxiety/depression where you may find yourself actually becoming afraid of being around the baby. You don't want to hold him, you wake-up panicked in the middle of the night for no reason, you fear being alone with him, etc. You may lose your appetite and become agitated or upset for no reason and find that you have trouble sleeping. If you notice that you are experiencing these types of feelings, definitely talk to your doctor right away. He or she can help you. The most important thing for moms who are experiencing more than typical anxiety is to tell someone. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you need help. It was VERY hard for me to do, but my friends and family were incredibly supportive. Please understand that I am not saying you are experiencing PPD, but just want to give you some info.

    Posted by Halcuri August 7, 11 08:17 PM
  1. One thing I found helped me included not reading any parenting books or websites unless I had a specific issue I was concerned about. Books like "What to Expect the First Year' and so forth tended to raise more fears than they answered.

    Also, at this age, they don't need much. You are not going to ruin him as a human being if he doesn't get enough tummy time (I had one child who hated tummy time and he never crawled, either. Guess what? he's perfectly fine). What he needs right now is probably just mommy time. One thing I regret is curbing my snuggling time because I was afraid of spoiling them (bad advice from an older generation). In retrospect, it would have done both of us a lot of good to just chill out a bit and snuggle up.

    Also, getting out and about helps A LOT. Just putting the baby in the stroller and taking a walk will help you feel better, in many ways.

    And finally, please hear Barbara's advice about PPD. Yes, fears and anxieties are normal, but if it's getting in the way of you enjoying your child, speak to your doctor about how you are feeling. If it's PPD, getting help is the best thing you can do for you and your baby.

    Posted by rpj August 8, 11 02:08 PM
  1. I was thinking about how many moms like you I have seen in 11 years of volunteering with the Visiting Moms program of the Center for Early Relationship Support of Jewish Family and Childrens Services in Waltham. So many of your concerns and issues are both common and part of the process for so many moms.
    I would hope that you will find a mothers group or a home visiting program like ours so that you can find support and solace from people who know what you are going thru.
    It is a job without a job manual that makes any sense. Each person has to write their own as they go.
    You will find your own path to a comfortable relationship with your baby and yourself as a mother.
    Be well and be good to yourself by finding places to build your confidence.
    Warmly
    Daphne

    Posted by Daphne Petri August 8, 11 09:20 PM
  1. Hi, there.
    Congratulations on your baby boy.
    I've read a few, but not all of the responses, but I also wanted to point out that I think another common reason to feel anxious is the overwhelming reality of being completely responsible for another person.
    As for your anxiety, I had significant anxiety after both my kids (more the first than the second) and opted to go on anti-anxiety medication for about a year after both. That being said, that decisions is not for everyone and I'm not a proponent of this course, just pointing out that you need to figure out what is right for you to get through this and if your concerns persist, you should at least consider talking to a professional to get their opinion. I got to the point that I wasn't able to sleep b/c of anxiety of being awakened by the baby, and the medication allowed me to roll with the punches a bit more than I would have been able to otherwise.
    My kids are still young, so I can still clearly remember how awful it felt to be anxious, scared, and wondering just what in the world you have gotten yourself into while everyone around you is asking for your confrmation that these are just the BEST days of your life. Don't be intimidated - those people just don't remember what it is like.
    And don't underestimate the challenges of sleep deprivation - it can make you think and do all sorts of weird things!

    Posted by trs August 8, 11 09:27 PM
  1. I just wanted to add one more thing to this discussion. I felt the same anxiety that you seem to be feeling. Most of mine seemed to be related to sleep, as I got more sleep I felt better about my care of my son. A lactation nurse was soooo helpful and calming, as well as an excellent pediatrician who told me to be reasonable about expectations and behaviour.

    I want to give you a 'warning' though, at least for me, there was unbearable anxiety for the first 2-4 weeks, and then life really settled into a good routine for all of us. My anxiety came back with a horrid vengeance right around 12 months though. Keep in mind that as his routines change, yours will too. There will be good times and difficult times, just try to be prepared that your body and mind might want to swing back to anxiety, especially if you are an anxious person naturally.

    Having the mother's groups is a huge help. There is one in Natick, I think called Natick Mom's or something similar. Ask friends who have older children, they often know, but don't always think to tell you until you ask.

    Good luck, you will get through this and it sounds like your husband will help.

    Posted by Nicole August 9, 11 01:13 PM
  1. Its been said but I feel I need to reiterate it...new mom's group!!! Isis Parenting (formerly Isis Maternity) was the best thing I ever did - for me and my son! I did the Great Beginnings (2-10 wks) and Next Step (3mo-5mo) groups with him and he is now 14 months and I still refer back to the handouts and songs! Would have kept going but had to go back to work! First class was the hardest to get me and my son to - I cried twice just getting him ready, packing his to-go bag and in the car to get there but after that I looked forward to every week!
    I had been around infants my entire life but when its your own and the responsibility is all you - its completely different. This group was my saving grace!!

    Posted by Lynn August 9, 11 03:44 PM
  1. Dear New Mom,

    Congrats on your new bundle of joy! The anxiousness and reactions are the same feelings I had when I was home with my newborn...who is now 3. Just remember...you are the mommy and you know what is best for the baby. The baby feels safe around you and all you have to do is use your instincts when it comes to the baby and all will run smoothly. You will also be able to handle whatever comes your way when your husband goes back to work because for some reason no matter how tired a mom is...she finds some SUPER MOM strength that no one else has to accomplish anything. Like everyone else said, I joined a mall walking group for moms that allowed me to walk around the mall before it opened with other moms and just converse and window shop. You could also sign up for a mommy and me Gymboree class which will count as tummy time. Just put the baby down on the play mat and let the mat stimulate the baby.

    Good luck and know you are not alone here...

    Posted by Debbie August 9, 11 09:20 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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