Congratulations for making it past the first half of this year, momma!
We each have our unique stories to tell. I gave birth at the height of the pandemic, when so many questions about coronavirus haven’t been answered. As if the challenges of being first-time parents weren’t enough, access to basic things like processing my son’s birth certificate and passport, going out for essentials and hospital visits were limited. The most important blessing of our lives arrived at the most testing of times.
Whether you’re a new or expectant mom, the confusion around this situation and exhaustion of bearing and rearing a baby could easily contribute to stress. Normally, being surrounded by friends and family to get advice and support would ease that. However, with restricted physical human interaction, it’s inevitable to feel isolated. Here are some coping strategies that I found were useful and even empowering as I navigated my new role at the time of corona.
- Activate your mom community. Reproductive psychiatrist Alexandra Sacks in her Ted Talk calls the transition to motherhood, ‘matrescense’. Using a push and pull analogy, she describes it as an emotional tug-of-war. Your oxytocin, released around childbirth, pulls your attention in so that the baby becomes at the center of your world; and at the same time, the difficulty of managing your various roles and the struggle of being able to do things for yourself, like sleeping, eating, exercising and even going to the bathroom, push you away. Some call this baby blues, and a longer period of this can lead to a more serious postpartum depression.
Talk to other moms to deal with this wave of new emotions. You can activate your nearest and dearest first and through social media, the circle can be expansive to include friends you haven’t spoken to in years, acquaintances and honestly, even strangers. While I reach out, moms more often come to me with simple “how are you’s” that turn to meaningful conversations. It’s strengthening to be part of this mom tribe. Take advantage of that and when the opportunity arises, pay it forward by helping another new or expectant mom.
- Find a Forum. When I had breastfeeding challenges with my baby, I felt so inadequate and almost gave up. It was when two mom friends invited me to local and international breastfeeding groups on Facebook that I discovered that I wasn’t alone and that thousands of moms go through similar and even greater feeding feats. There are a lot of forums available for different momma needs. Join those and you’ll appreciate the wealth of information and resources moms share.
- Meet parents of other “coronial babies.” While online support can be extremely powerful, nothing beats the warmth that you get from being able to interact with other people. We have started meeting trusted friends who like us have kids or “coronial babies.” Yes, a new generation is now being named after the pandemic.
We feel that these families like us practice extreme caution to protect their children, so we are comfortable around them. While our other friends are equally excited to see us, they would be honest about preferring not to meet until after they are tested and cleared.
- Download parenting apps. Meeting maternity and parenting experts can be complicated, so we have relied on apps to guide us on our baby’s growth. What to Expect is my favorite and has been my ultimate go-to for pregnancy information and now my son’s development. There are more specific apps to track baby’s sleep, feeding, playtime and more.
- Document and celebrate baby’s growth. With your hands constantly full, it’s understandable to feel more overwhelmed than festive sometimes. But time flies fast and our little ones grow quickly. So on the 8th of every month, we celebrate our baby and record our favorite moments of his development. I have also created an online scrapbook on Instagram using editing apps like Story Art and Canva. Because we are unable to fly home for his baptism, it’s one of our ways to keep all our loved ones updated.
Some may say that 2020 is a complete tragedy. But I feel I have grown the most this year, and for that, I’m grateful. For all “coronial moms” like me, the pressure is great, and the pandemic has already taken so much from us. Let’s not allow it to rob us of our happiness any further. More importantly, let’s fight actively so that we’re not only moving forward from it, we are also contributing in shaping a world where one day, our children can live freely and fearlessly.