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We’re almost a year into this pandemic and a lot of babies have been born in the past 11 months or so. As someone who had their babies pre-pandemic I’m here to tell you that this just isn’t normal.
As if being a new mom wasn’t hard enough. Lockdowns, things closed, keeping our distance… It’s been exhausting for most people. But for new moms who were already going to feel isolated, it can be devastating.
Dear New Moms: This Isn’t Normal
I see it all around me. Mothers are breaking down. We’re tired. Tired of saying no to playdates. Tired of cancelled birthday parties. Exhausted from juggling work and the kids’ schooling and lockdowns and – and – and…
And, well, everything.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that mothers have it hard during this pandemic. They’re bearing the physical and mental load for their families.
But, in my opinion, there’s a group of moms out there who are getting forgotten.
An Open Letter to Moms Who Had Pandemic Babies
Dear new moms who had a baby during the pandemic,
This is not normal! This isn’t what parenting is supposed to be like. Maybe you planned to be a mother your whole life, or maybe you embraced it by surprise. Either way, you probably had some expectations of what having a baby would be like.
When you have a baby you’re supposed to have some community. It might be a local mother’s group, it might be your family, or it might just be a smile from another mom.
These little things are what makes early motherhood, which is so painfully isolating, less lonely.
And you’re missing out.
It’s not normal to go to the store and have everyone stay far, far away from you. People like me smile from under our masks – but you can’t see it.
It’s not normal to have a baby without any celebration. Of course, not every baby is celebrated even in normal times, but most are. You deserved a baby shower, someone stopping by with dinner, people dropping off cards and flowers, and so on.
It’s not fair that you missed out on preparing for your baby in a normal way. Maybe things were closed and you did your shopping online, or maybe you went alone. Regardless, you didn’t get to experience trying out every single stroller in the store for the right one or impulse buying some useless baby gimmick you thought you needed.
If you have family close by you’re supposed to be able to see them. They’re supposed to stop by and visit, help you with chores, or just ooh and aww over the new baby. Maybe they haven’t even met your baby yet.
Most of all, though, it’s not normal to be cooped up like this. Babies are naturally isolating and all new mothers have to deal with the relentless loneliness that comes from motherhood.
But they find ways to cope by seeing other people, getting out of the house, and sometimes even getting a babysitter and heading out.
None of this is normal – and it’s not fair. It’s OK to not be OK.
Understanding… Sort of
I can kind of understand some of what these moms are going through because I experienced a month long NICU stay with my twins. Now, it’s not exactly the same – but some things were.
For example, we were paranoid about germs. We also couldn’t take the babies out, even after they were home.
Here is the thing about the NICU experience: It’s traumatic. Pandemic Baby Moms, you’re going through trauma too.
It’s OK to be struggling with the loss of certain ‘dreams’ you had for you and your family. It’s perfectly reasonable to be upset that you didn’t get a baby shower/to take your newborn to Walmart/see grandma. This is hard.
What You Can Do
As the pandemic-versary draws closer I think a lot of us are coping with challenging feelings. What’s important is that you keep looking to the future and understand that not only is this abnormal, it will also change.
As vaccines roll out and things open up we’ll be able to go back to our lives. You’ll be able to visit grandma and take baby to the store and have a birthday party.
When that happens you can’t get this time back, but you can celebrate. Throw the first or second birthday party. Take the trip. Take your toddler to the toy store. Join a mom’s group.
Acknowledge That It’s Trauma
Another thing you need to do is accept that this is a traumatic event. Work through your feelings and get help if you’re really struggling. Mourn what you can’t change and do your best to move on.
Almost 6 years later, the NICU memories still sting – but they’re a lot less painful. I believe it will get better for you too. Give it time.