Can we stop starting conversations with new moms by saying “What’re you doing?” or “What’ve you been doing today?”
New moms are SENSITIVE; our hormones are fluctuating, we are emotional, we are sleep deprived, and it feels like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders trying to make sure we’re doing everything right for this tiny human (or humans) that literally depends on us to LIVE. Then there’s the impending return to work fast approaching giving us anxiety: will my baby be okay away from me? Will he take his bottles okay? Will he get enough snuggles? How will I keep everything done when I have work on top of all of this.
So even though it’s not, it feels like a criticism. What have I been doing today? Really nothing that I can “report” but I’ve somehow been busy the entire day.
Newborns/young babies sleep a lot. Like practically all day. So it probably seems like there’s an abundance of time to get shit done, except there’s not.
It’s 6:20 and even though the baby was just up from 4-4:30 nursing, burping, & getting back to sleep, and you didn’t fall back asleep until 4:45, he’s awake & fussing because his tummy hurts.
He needs a diaper change.
He wants to nurse again, so at 6:30 you start. He nurses for 8 mins on one side, time to burp. He spits up. You start nursing on the other side, 6 more mins, gotta burp again. It’s 6:52 before you’re done. You try to lay him down but his tummy still hurts and he just wants to lay on moms chest. You hold him until 7:15 when he’s “good and asleep”. You lay him down and he’s a little fussy so you settle him with his paci. It’s 7:20 by this point.
You go pee for the first time yourself, get your clothes on, brush your teeth, & throw your hair in a bun.
7:40 & you gotta pump
7:55 you get to eat some breakfast.
By the time you’re done it’s 8:20 and you can finally do something, so you start with the dishes, then you pick up through the house because even though you just did it yesterday, there’s random crap out of place everywhere you look. You make the beds. You start a load of laundry & fold the one from yesterday that you never got to.
Except you don’t get to finish because it’s 9:00, the baby wakes up ready to eat again.
That cycle goes on all day long….trying to get things done or feed yourself, drink water so your milk supply doesn’t dip, shower, take a nap because you’re exhausted & your body needs rest while it’s trying to heal from giving birth….in these small windows of time.
So when you ask “what’ve you been doing today” and I reply “just been around the house” It’s because I don’t feel like I have anything exciting that I’ve accomplished, nothing of real value to report. Mentally, this makes me feel like I’m not doing enough, like I should be doing more……..but how? I don’t have enough time as it is. How could I possibly do anything else? Not to mention when is the last time I did something that I wanted to do, something that was just for me?
This inner monologue we have with ourselves beats us down. And the person asking “what’ve you been doing today” has no idea, because they were really just trying to make conversation with us.
First, we have to stop being so hard on ourselves. We are doing more than enough.
Let me make something clear: your main job during maternity leave is to snuggle your baby, keep them alive, & let your body heal from the major medical event it’s just endured. Those 6, 8, 10, or 12 weeks of maternity leave go by way too fast and you never get that kind of time away from work with your kids again.
Second, if you’re the one talking with a new mom….for the love of all things holy & the sake of that mom’s sanity….start the conversation with “have you had a good day?” or “have you enjoyed your day?”