#3 | Roundtable: Postpartum Moms on Isolation, Anxiety, Sex, and Marriage

January 8, 2020

Today's episode was recorded on location at HypnoBirthing of CT in Westport, where we brought together three women between 8 and 16 months' postpartum to reflect on their experiences. You'll hear about their anxieties and how they've struggled to stay connected to the husbands they love. This episode contains sensitive content and uncensored language. Before tonight, these women had never met before; yet their feelings, fears, and hopes instantly connected them in this open, honest discussion of real life after a new baby. 

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View Episode Transcript

I really didn't enjoy her, her infancy as a result, I look back on it and so much of it was just so clear and second guessing and forgetting and now there's that guilt too, because I'm like, Oh my god, I'm enjoying my second and I'm like, this is just so beautiful and amazing and oh my god, did I enjoy this? Did I miss it?

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast.
Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

Today's episode was recorded on location at HypnoBirthing of Connecticut in Westport, where we brought together three women between 8and 16 months postpartum to reflect on their experiences. You'll hear about their anxieties, and how they've struggled to stay connected to the husbands they love. This episode contains sensitive content and uncensored language. Just one more thing. They never met each other until now.

Like, I find that as soon as I start speaking to a woman who's going through any anything postpartum wise, I feel like I immediately come back to that place of what have anxiety and fear and living it and I forget that, you know, I have a second child now and I'm no longer going through that. But I I went through it very, very much with my first child and as soon as I start to hear other people's stories, and I'm sure as soon as we start sharing, it brings me right back to that place. It doesn't feel like it was three years ago. It feels like it was yesterday. It feels like I'm still in it.

I remember, you know, In the first life after birth session...I remember how I felt in that first class and, and Cynthia, you made us go around and talk about an emotion we felt and I made started crying and and you know, those things don't go away those moments I even talking about it now I know exactly how I felt I know exactly how dark it was on the on the drive to the class. But if someone had asked me, How are you doing? I was fine. I was great. I was fine. Of course. I was brand new. It was yes. But it was a beautiful spring day. And I all I remember is just how dark it was. And not that I was going to do anything. And I was just so thankful that I had that appointment to get to, to come to talk to these women that I had thought about that before and made it and the end but when I talk to women today about postpartum I go right back there. I completely agree. I know exactly where I was. I know exactly how I felt. It doesn't leave you.

It's like those Broadway shows where they suddenly all the lights on the stage go dark, and there's just a spotlight on that one person. That's what it feels like in those moments. Yeah, it's like life is going along, life is going along, a woman suddenly says something that brings you back to that place. And all of a sudden, it's like, everything stops and the lights shining on you. And you're like, I remember that moment. Now. These that darkness never really leaves. But you learn to sort of step out of it. Yeah, for sure.

Just even being in the in that. With that group of women and talking that day, I felt better. And then the last class that we had all together, us, Cynthia, you asked us to think back to that first day and we had to describe to someone new in the class. And I mean, immediately, I just I could feel that I was so much lighter just from having those conversations. But you know, again, it seems weird to just go and have a little playdate with with three week old babies. But it's so important. It's not about the babies. It's about the moms and talking and what a triumph getting here, right. I felt that Not just here. But this was great because this was a place that I knew that once I got there things would, would be better in some way because there was like a tribe, right? But going anywhere with a baby, a newborn and infant was like, for me, one of the most frightening things and I talk about this a lot with with new moms, which is, for me, for some reason, transportation or just out of the house, which I think a lot of women when you're dealing with any kind of like fear or anxiety is a really hard thing to get through. And for me, I would create like routines in my head that I would go through even if it didn't actually make a difference to the baby or the baby's temperament like my daughter's temperament. I would do these things like a checklist almost like an OCD checklist of like if I do this, and then I do that and I do this and if anybody was helping me and they didn't do that one thing. I would like freak out and I was convinced that now I wouldn't be able to drive a car because she would panic and have a meltdown and it would be because they didn't put her in the pink sweater that she was more comfortable in the car seat because that pink sweater is light enough that she wouldn't overheat. So I have her sleeping in a pack and play right now because she's rolling a lot and she was hitting the crib railings and they tell you not to use bumpers and she was waking up every hour. So she's in a pack and playing and she's crashing into the mash. So she's fine. Just wake up and she's actually sleeping through the night. Um, bye. But if she's if she naps in her car seat, and she's uncomfortable, she will have a really bad rest of the day and it will interrupt every other nap. So depending on who's with her that day, and if I'm not with her, I'm really anal about how she sleeps and who's letting her nap and who's taking her where and what she's wearing because if she gets destroyed rupt it in any way, she's not going to have a good nap later in the day, and she's going to be up late or trying to go to bed at five o'clock and it just kind of disrupts everything. So I don't know if it's like, not my husband only but you know if my mom has her or my husband has her and he's like, Oh, yeah, we're just going to go to BJs or we're going to go to Costco and I'm like, okay, but what time are you going? What is she wearing? How long was she sleeping? If she's napping and she falls asleep in the car, you have to stay in the driveway and wait till her nap is over. Because if you take her out of the car while she's still napping, and she wakes up, and she's only been asleep for 10 minutes, she's gonna think she had a nap. Even though she didn't have a nap. She's gonna be like wide awake and totally wired by the end of the day. So the the real issue here is not so much the baby's routine, but what does that change in routine do? What does that mean for you? As the mom it's like that we want to we feel like we have to manage all these things so that we really are can manage ourselves because this There's so many unknowns when you bring a baby into your life, right? It's all of a sudden, like, everything is unknown. Okay? And so anything that we can try to put into a routine that makes it predictable for us now we feel a little bit safer. I think a lot of it had to do with sleep and I don't know if it Oh, yes, I, it's this weird thing that now having a second child I have, I think somewhat tried to come to terms with which is there's this abundance of education out there for women around sleep for your child sleep for your baby and how important sleep is and how sleep begets sleep and how they're awake windows and there are weak times and there are, there's bait, it's not a physical, it's not logical, it's anxiety inducing. It is really, it is meant I know that the intention is to help us because a well rested baby is a quote unquote happy baby. Well didn't work for me and it actually made things so much worse because exactly what you just said, which was my obsession with routine as it related to rest, rest, rest, rest, rest, and schedule, schedule schedule, and I would become incredibly resentful at my husband, for instance, who was so casual because he could afford to be because he wasn't the one getting up nursing all through the night when the baby wasn't quote, unquote, well rested and therefore not sleeping well, when in fact, it probably didn't have a lot to do with that. And she was just a baby and babies do these things, because they're here to drive us nuts and you love us. But you know, and I would resent him so much because he would literally just come downstairs on a Sunday and be like, you know what, I'm going to run to like the store. You want me to the babies me and I would literally think to myself, wait, what? It would take me like three days to play. I have to know in advance that I was leaving the house at a certain time and I would plan it around naps and food and nursing and maybe she's getting sniffle maybe not maybe she just sneeze because I spread too much perfume is she allergic perfume? Oh my god issue maybe maybe maybe she was allergic to the food that I fed her to somebody right now. What happens?

Oh my god, and then he's as I'm going through this. He's already got her in the car seat and they're like practically out the driveway. And I'm like She's happy and she's out good.

I'm still writing things down. Yes, Yes, he does. And I'm like, did you write that down?

How many ounces did she take? Did you write that down? Did you hook today? A bottle? Yeah. Did you take the new bottle?

Yes. Okay. Because Yeah, what that would do to me is I would not even be thinking about me if I had to think about oh, I guess I guess it could stem from guilt somehow, because maybe doing these things makes us feel like we're good moms and we're paying attention to what is happening in our home and we're driving you that person who's tracking their needs and making sure they're okay. And if they did get sick Let's just say and they got this fever they were something happened. I can at least say, Okay, well, I was trying, I was doing everything I was supposed to do. I was feeding her I was making sure she was napping and making sure she was more. It's why you feel the need to check everything because this is a this is something that we want to be good at. We chose to have babies, we want to be good moms, and nobody's teaching us how to do it. So it's this process of learning and we think you know, we're gonna learn to be better if we track all the things and we don't want to be held responsible for our kid getting whatever it is they're gonna get, the more effort, the better the output, but that's not a correlation right? And realizing that is hard, and we put so much pressure on ourselves and we make ourselves crazy and then we feel guilty.

See, we start tracking things to lessen the anxiety. And then when we keep tracking we realize it's it's creating anxiety it I did that I did.

I was tracking well. You have to know yourself. You have to know yourself. You will get me Because we're so similar in like the business sense, but I will confess to you and I don't know if a soul knows this now everyone can notice. There was a day where I started in an Excel spreadsheet with five minutes segments, tracking my son's naps. And thank God I swear to God, I'm not kidding you and about maybe four days in, I just said to myself, What am I doing? And I'm By the way, I'm not even parenting right now. I maintain the spreadsheet, what is happening? And I realized that's balance.

You were good at that. And it's what you knew, right? Okay, confession. Go ahead. I set a timer to wake windows with my daughter, I timer on my phone.

So you mean, I mean, like as soon as if she was on a if she was at an age that the nap, Gods told me online on the Google, that she should be, she should her average wake windows should be three hours. I set a timer on my phone for two hours and 40 minutes that would go off and I swear to God, it didn't matter what we were doing, who was there? That timer will go off and I'd be like, okay, it's temporary.  And I was like no right now and I would literally take her because I knew that now I had 19 minutes because you just made me talk 19 minutes to get her upstairs, get her change start her ridiculously long nap routine, which by the way with a second, that doesn't even exist.

And he's better off for it. But that's a whole other story. I would take her upstairs and I because I knew that I needed a minimum of 15 minutes to get her asleep. And it didn't matter if she was showing any signs at all I'm exhaustion. She was going to sleep even if it took me longer to get her to sleep, then she would sleep. And it just was the thing that for some reason I thought was grounding me but was not I set a timer. I set a timer. I didn't pay attention to my kids cues, even though they tell you pay attention to their cues. That's bullshit. nobody's doing that when not your first not when you're in that in that moment. When you're in that space, you're looking for any guidance because because we don't know we don't know. We don't know. And especially I think that like when you're maybe it's a life stage thing too. For me, I had, I had a career and a business. And I knew for the most part that like, if I followed certain steps, it would lead to certain outcomes. Yes, measurable results, all of these things, that whole thing was a viable, logical, yes. And there is nothing, man, and we think they're very brain development depends on it. That was another one like I I'm one of those that met a bunch it's like but their brain development but they have to sleep for their brain development you feel like everything is the type of asleep, don't worry.

They'll sleep over their brain development mostly. But by the time you talk to any mom who's on her third, fourth, fifth, and your none of that is happening. Yes, that's correct.

None of that is happening. And there are usually I'm on my third yard. Yes, yes. And final just to clarify. Again, there was not one bit of schedule tracking. None of that and he was your easiest or my easiest, right?

Some of that may be temperament. I do believe babies are born with certain temperaments. So there's this balance, we have to find that we have to find that balance between feeling like we have to control every detail, which then makes us feel really the the downside of that is that we suffer from the guilt when we don't stay on that pattern or it fails us, you know, I'm doing all these things, right? But I'm not getting the results I want. And then we start to feel bad about ourselves and feel like guilty that you're not, you must be missing something, you're not doing it right. And trying to balance that with taking good enough care of yourself so that you you do have enough a routine that you do get the sleep that you need, so that you can be a health and healthy functioning person, especially if you have to go back to work. And then incorporating all that with how it plays into our relationship. And what what do these feelings bring up about what relationship right?

Yeah, how do you have time? I mean, that's how I felt sometimes, and it's the person I love most arguably in the world. And and I felt radically I'd say that yes, but I mean, how I, I felt bad for him sometimes. But actually, when we talked about having a third, one of the reasons I said I was worried about it was I said, I don't want to have to find my way back to you again. And I don't mean that I fell out of love with him. I don't feel that I How did he respond to that? He he, he understood I he understood because there's just a time when it's not, it's not about him, right. And he has and I was lucky because he was a partner who understood and listened and and kept trying to be a part and bond but you know, a part of what was going on not apart from us, but I remember thinking I don't want to it was so much work to find my way back to you. And we were in a great spot where we were us again and we were intimate again and we were all those things and I didn't want to have to go back to the part again, though, you know, right after the baby when it's like No one touch me. No, I know, touchy enough touching. I make it all day. I'm not getting naked again. You know, and it's like and to get naked, you got to take 85 pieces of clothing off and it all has stains on it like it was just there's no, there's what this is intimate, you know, but that's how I felt. And so when we when we found out we were pregnant with our third, we were lucky that it was easy that time and but I was worried I was really worried about that. Because what would he want to find his way back to me? Right like I mean, I'm not you still interested in this? Yes. And it's it's work. It is work. I mean, we had our second eight months ago, and I've told my husband and he knew I mean when when we met I said that I would love to have three maybe more kids. That changed after my first but now after having my second we had the same conversation and I said to him, and at least you had the confidence to say I am worried about how long it will take for From my way back to you, my concern is I don't know that I'll find my way back to you. Now intellectually I know that I would but emotionally I don't maybe it's too fresh. But I know especially after what it was like with the first and then with the second and I said to him as much as I would love many more children I there's no way I don't have the confidence at this point that we would be able to get back to that special place. I mean, we're not even fully there now eight months out, we're on the journey. Yeah, but that destination still feels a ways out and it takes quite a bit of time. It It is a new reality. But I I'm, I'm too worried for us and and quite frankly, I feel like that also is like the guilt that weighs on you as a mom, which is like, Yes, I love my husband and I'm in love with him and I want it for us but I also want it for our kids. And I don't want as it is like with my daughter seeing it the I don't want to call it the rift but like what happened to my husband and I after my second and just no dynamic, the dynamic changes like I don't want them to be privy to that, you know, I I think I almost feel like that in and of itself is me being Batman like the fact that they don't see me loving on my husband every second of the day and instead they just hear me being like, why didn't you do this? or Why didn't you do that? Right You know, because they just can't do anything right and those months that follow and we're warriors
that's a hard place to be in and I don't want her to see that I just want her to see I want him to see also want my children to see happy healthy family dynamic and not at the cost of mommy and daddy want to have another kid. So you're gonna have to deal with the dynamic shifts that happens and I wonder how many moms are actually having that third or fourth kid because they don't know how to find their way back and they're not willing to look at that Yeah, and having the kid is the way they connect Oh, I played is not a solution right any relationship of course it's of course it's not but as as a mother as a woman. Yes. Yes, I don't elation, easy way to stay connected to something. To stay connected, but it's like it's I don't think that all women are thinking the way you think about subsequent children. And how do I how do I make sure that I get back with you before I take that next step? Yeah.

But I think it depends on the sort of the appetite that your partner has for that too, right? Like, yeah, even though again, my husband was saying something. When I said to him, I don't think we could do this, because he would love to have another kid, he would have another child today, he'd have a fourth if I were willing to go that far with it. But I say to him all the time, you know, you say that because you love children, and you want to expand our family. But remember these moments, and I try to actually bring him back to it, which really annoys the crap out of him. When we're having that moment. Like we'll be in a moment where I'll say to him, I'm exhausted Just so you know, you're on night shift, because I was on it the last three nights and I need you on tonight and he'll argue with me about something he was working, he was doing whatever, and I'll say okay, just stop because this is just so you know, why? I'll be like, what why, what? Why, why I have to get tonight like no, no Why I don't want to have a third. It's not that I don't love our children. But these are the moments I don't want to keep having with you because they really chip away at everything.

I just wanted to add that I think it's fascinating that we can sit here and have this conversation because if I looked at my parents, and then that whole generation, they would never be having this conversation and taking any kind of responsibility for what went on. For example, my parents are divorced. They had two kids, I don't know what went on there. It was not great. But the fact that we can talk about this and actually reflect and have and we have this knowledge as to what makes a relationship work and that having more children is not the answer to fixing a relationship is is amazing. I don't know maybe we've come a long way but this is we have to remember what the goal is right? Like arguably, you are married to your spouse and without children in it longer than you are with children in it right that's the goal, right and and so You know, my husband and I, we go away, at least once a year, just the two of us. And we're adamant about date nights, because it's like, you're the person I'm spending my life with, not my children, right? Like, they need to go spend their life however they want. But I think that's hard. Sometimes we're trying to live our life for our children. But no, we're living our life for us and with the person we love more than anyone else, and that that gets lost in those first moments.

Yeah. And mothers get a lot of conflicting information about that. I mean, we get this message that our children are first prioritize the children correctly thinks about the children but no, my mother in law would not agree with what I just said. For sure. And I'm sure my mother relationship therapist would, okay. They would absolutely say you put that you put self first, your marriage second, and your children are third, or maybe, you know, could be even forced down the line. But if you don't put that First the way, you're the way you're speaking, then you're not serving your children well, because you're not showing them what a healthy relationship looks like.

Talk about what unconditional love really means. So it's so hard for us to reconcile, like, oh, let me quote, prioritize my marriage, whatever that means. Because I have this child to feed and take care of a nurturing home right now. That's so difficult.

Yes. And why say I have to find my way back to you. Because those first three months it is not it is about the baby. I mean, right? They can't. They can't, they can't eat. They can't nothing they can do on their own for 20 minutes without tending to their knees.

Yes, correct. Correct. I mean, you can't go to the bathroom, right? You take a shower.

I'll talk about how that translates to the partner because even with an incredibly supportive partner, who has been through it like this is not their first rodeo. They've seen it before. They know the calls. They know the requests. They know the needs. I went through this with my husband like he knew it, we pray Before we talked about it and yet still the second one came along and didn't do time same there were the there was the metaphorical like tapping up a foot yep yep What's going on? Like where Where'd my bride go? Exactly? Yeah, like hey like I would love some time tonight and me turning around like a dragon and being like, well so would fucking yes so what I love time tonight is right, you know it sounds nice a bath. Why don't you draw me one? I know we don't have a tub. But if we did, you should draw me one. Okay, how about a meal? How about a meal where I'm not nursing a child tending to a toddler. I don't just scarf it down and just like swallow without eating it. And the resentment would just fester and fester and fester. And it's just unbelievable, because that's what the second that's when he already knows what it's gonna be like the best part. You know at my six week OB follow up. I come home and he's like, okay, so you're good now, right? Oh, that's always magical six. We are not that that concrete. Like No, I'm not good. I went to physical therapy after this. I'm not good. It was not six weeks later that we were back at it. Sorry, I've been taking the days to get to that six week mark and it's just like some magically on the six week mark, you're suddenly swept away physically, emotionally, mentally ready. I'm a bad and I scheduled it at eight weeks in, convinced everyone it was only six weeks. I definitely said that my doctor may have thought I should wait a couple more weeks.

I mean, it was true with the first one maybe not so much with the other ones, but I just I wasn't there mentally. And I just asked Where did the six week thing come from? Because I'm trying to wrap my brain around that you're not healed after six weeks.

It has nothing to do with your sex life and my readiness to have sex It has everything to do with the way that the the process of the uterus medical term is involution or healing or the bleeding typically is over by six weeks and the cervix is closed. And the uterus has you know contracted back to its semi pre-pregnant size and the stitches are gone. No one has nothing to do with that. It was nothing should matter. Yes, typically Yes, they are gone but yes, it's not based on that it really is based on when the OB wants to evaluate the healing of your uterus therefore, if you're not bleeding anymore, you are safe to have sex because you're not at risk of infection. It just should men started this baby. Oh is a man about they're counting down the days to get to the six week mark.

They're like you're good waiting. We're good. You're fine. Yeah. How I mean, it's so dry. No, like, Yeah. Right. Yeah. Was at the six week mark. And I'm like, No, I don't.

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Intrusive thoughts what were your craziest the moments you're just like I'm going crazy or no one else sees what I've seen ever growing the beam me over the banister. I thought I was going to trip and throw the baby over the banner out of your hands. Yes, there even if I tripped wouldn't be anywhere near the Bannister. But I would walk as far away from the van after because I just thought I was going to trip and just throw so and then I was worried other people would so then it was just Yep, the baby should be in the bassinet next to us because no one can just walk around with the baby.

I mean, anything could happen if you're walking with the baby. Yes, a lot of my arms. Yes, like back but that's not No, we are able to hold the baby and walk at the same time or just, I don't know being in the car and not buckling her in all the way like I of course, I buckled my child in but thinking that there are people who would just not do it. And it's something about this, that would happen a lot. A very common thing where you actually think about the worst thing that you could do even though you know you wouldn't do it, but for some reason thinking about it, but people do how makes you feel more secure because you're not doing it. I think it's a protective thing. We all do it and it's like, Okay, well, I buckler and I would never knock on my kitten, but like, it is a thing. And I well, or we are we've definitely gone to a destination. And we're like, yeah, didn't buckle the kid. hasn't happened to you yet. Oh, it's going to it's going to
you're here. So about maybe a week after I came home from the hospital, which the first night home was also another fun one that we'll get to. But about a week in, I was the middle of the night, or what I deemed as the middle of the night. And I legitimately Google that I'll never forget this moment. How long can you stay away? How long can you go without sleeping basically? Or how long can you stay awake until you die? But it wasn't like it wasn't a joke to me. Like I say it now and it was crazy. We happen but I remember just thinking very matter of factly like, I'm not going to sleep because for me with my daughter. I was convinced that if I slept she would just die in her sleep. I was just convinced that she was about three big I have no reason to think that but I was convinced and so I've literally never slept from the minute I birth hard for days.

And I just remember googling it and thinking to myself, how long can I do this for her? How long can I just stay alive so that she can stay alive? And then what happens if I do die? Because who's gonna watch her while she sleeps? I did the same thing. Yeah, for the most part. I did the same thing. I actually, I'm using an outlet monitor. Mm hmm.

We tell me about that. How do you see the results of what's on the monitor do have so  there's a good looking at it there's a doc there's a doc and if it's it stays green at night, meaning she's breathing, which she's healthy, like there should be no reason she should stop but you know, if something were to happen, it would start beeping and alerting red.

What I'd love to ask you this question because you are talking about this device and you're also the woman who commented earlier about keeping My anxiety would probably be
skyrocketing. What would it look like? How would it manifest? I don't know. What do you think I would just I would always be super anxious.

I don't know what that would look like. That's a really good question for me. It's if you at least not let's say like the naps and the outfit and the hat. What about that? I could do that. I think the logging I think I could stop for me. I was so sleep deprived that using the sock would at least it at least I can sleep I'm not saying that that's going to save her life. For me it was it'll give me an opportunity to help her if something were to get it right. I told her man that's gonna relax you. Like a smoke alarm? Yeah, it allows me to close my eyes. I don't use it for
now. Let me share what I'm thinking while you say this. These are this is my sincere thought. I'm so grateful that didn't exist 14 years ago, and I had my first I'm so grateful because I would have bought it. I know myself. I have a propensity toward anxiety. It's all a function of how bonded we are. That's the good side of all this wait but you're suffering as a result I would have been I would have been that one. And it would have been hard. And sometimes we're forced to trust and it's so uncomfortable. And you know, I'll share, I'll share a story of my own. When my son was several months old, I had a friend who made plans with me to go to the outlets like an hour and 15 minutes away from where we live. And it was like this big exciting special day was going to be a Saturday I was finally going out with a friend we're going to go out to nice lunch was going to be my first day where I was just going out for like a girls day out shopping. And I was looking forward to it for a month or two. And my husband was going to have the baby he's perfectly attentive. His parents live 20 minutes away, and he was going to visit them with a baby. I went the car, started the car ride with her, really had a happy car ride, really enjoyed speaking with her arrived, took out my iPhone, or whatever phone I had it Time I texted him like, hey, like, How are things? Didn't hear back from him. And then my mind went crazy. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my god, where is he like I did he go to his parents Did something happen? Why didn't he get there? I tried reaching his parents didn't reach them. I just was forced to go through some kind of learning experience that day. It was horrible as hell and I'll never forget this. I, I ruined my whole day. And I also had the burden of trying to pretend to my friend I was okay. What would happen for you, if you couldn't do any of those things anymore. And it was just one of those moments. And this comes with parenting and this never goes away. It doesn't matter if we're 170. This doesn't go away. You just are forced to trust.

I think part of it is what we're, what we're reading and what we're seeing right and the guilt that we would feel if we didn't follow every single recommendation cross every T dot every day. Because God forbid we one time missed it and something happens. And then we have to live with the consequences of that. And so it's it is, I think, a function of guilt. I mean, it's. So it's learning to sift through that information. Now we as the mothers are responsible for having the ability and the knowledge and the capacity to sift through that information and know that, you know, not every child is at the same risk of sins, or, you know, not every household is at the same risk of some of the things that we're afraid of happening and our job as parents and we have to start to learn this when they're really little. And it's really, really, really hard. But our job as parents is to learn this trust so that we can send them out into the world and not have to stay up at night worrying about because there will come a day and it's not that far away. At least for me. My daughter is almost 15 where she's three years away from being out of my sight. I have to have that trust in her and she has confidence in her. She has to have that trust in yourself. And I instill that in her by trusting her at four or five years old to do the thing that I'm afraid, correct.

Yeah, I feel like it's so hard. Our generation, like you said before, our parents were, our parents were in some ways, we'll call it naive to a lot of things. But really, truly ignorance can be bliss. And I feel like what has happened is parenting has gone from being a culture of, I don't know, do your best or do what feels right. Right. Like I've heard like a lot of parents, I feel like, like the boomer generation, a lot of moms will constantly give me tips and be like, you're the mom. Like what? You know, trust your instinct, trust your instincts, right? Because a they didn't have anything else to go to. But now there's this culture of fear. I don't feel that parenting is now a culture of information. I don't feel that I was information but you were getting they least my parents, my mother was getting information from the three great answers to the four other ads, the her mom and her sister, you know, like there was people giving her information that all around her now I don't have any of that around me. So then I go searching for it. And I'm getting it in a different way. No human. But the problem is that Yeah, the type of information, it's the type of information, the information that comes from the sister, the aunt, the grandmother is the safe information. It's information that we trust, the information that we get when we Google, the word of the thing that we're worried about is the information that's dangerous and creates this culture of fear. And that's why you say, you know, you don't feel like it's about information. It's about it is fear, because we have this influx of information that we don't know how to filter and a lot of it's not correct or it's misplaced, or it's right, and they're ruining it. I have to say that and i i was very resentful after my daughter and the I made a promise to myself when I became pregnant with my second that I would not do those things and and I really have been pretty good about it. And we've dealt with a lot of other things with my son that we didn't have to deal with with my daughter. Like he said, some health things go on. Thankfully, nothing crazy, but I just keep reminding myself what happened to me in those moments when I went searching for help. But even the moms the other generation of parents, moms who keep saying like trust your instinct, I find myself being angry with them and resentful. And when if I really dig deep and try to unpack it, it's because I am jealous. You're like you don't know what it's like for I am jealous. Yeah, they didn't you have to deal with all of this influx of information all the time. Yeah. And they also had people around them I think so part you brought up real Okay, my mom, you know, we brought up like the ads and the great ads that were around and probably cooking in my Yes. And parents generally we were learning by example. Yes. And yes, people I think I look back at my first three months and I was alone for a while. Yeah, like, really? It's really sad to think about yes isolation. Like the my parents generation had you had people like cooking like the old nanny in the kitchen probably making lasagna like in my grandma's generation.

And I feel so much compassion for women today who had their babies just after I did, because of social media, I think that would have just done me in I think it is such a false sense of connection. There's so many things I don't like about phones and I it pains me to see little kids being holding these radiation devices and having their attention and their eyesight and, and everything that comes with it. But for a woman who's home alone, it's so much better to go through the discomfort of being alone and getting out of your house. And just making some like, you know, tangible friend who's there and can we just talk and connect on this, you know, you we lower our standards, and that's okay, let's just connect with another person. But social media eats up time and gives you this false sense of connection. And then at the end, we can feel so empty and isolated. What do you think about that?

I think and I also think it's kind of taking away everyone's confidence in a way. I mean, because it triggers comparison. Right? You right? They're doing it. Oh, they look like they've got it.
They've got it down. Right, right. Like my mom and my aunt were so confident in what they just the stories they tell and just how to you know, do this or do that they're just so confident and Matter of fact, and it's it's almost like they're taking that away they're trying to take that away from us.

And they ever Do they ever tell you I don't remember dealing with that. Right? I hear this all the time. Why are you putting them on their back? We all have these spots because you're putting them on there. Like you know, you know, I don't know when we were I don't know when when we were mothers when we were first mothers. We just we just did it the way it made sense to do it. I don't know.

I don't know we didn't do it that way. We didn't have these problems. You were Cassie and I put you in the crib on your stomach and there were bumpers all over it and you're fine.

Definitely. We did it this way and everything is fine and everyone smile or you turned That's my favorite to laugh at and I the worst one I went running on the highway in the middle of the night with no reflectors on and I'm just fine right like it cracks me up when anyone tells me I turned out okay I'm like first of all you're not okay first of all, who's okay Second of all, how much can you lower your bed? Okay, so what the heck exactly? not aspire to anything at all? Yeah, my mom gave me the, the one piece of advice my mom gave me was she said, it's okay for the baby to cry in their crib by themselves you to shut the door and leave my I remember my mom saying that. And I reached that point. Eventually with every kid it happened. And I remember with the third one, he was just he was so fussy. I, I had done everything. I had done everything on the list that he napped great during the day. And it was just it was the third day I have this I hadn't slept. And I remember he just I was I had some not great intrusive thoughts and I just I took a deep breath Just I set him in the crib. He continued to cry. I walked downstairs on my and I said to my husband, I said, I don't I don't know if I love him. I just I had to walk away. He's he you do what you need to do. I, I can't. And I don't know if I love him and I just started crying. And of course, I loved him, but I just I didn't know what else to do. And and I was just I with every kid I reached that breaking point where it was just and it was at different times and for different things but and of course then my husband went upstairs, put them in the car seat took him for a drive, he went right to sleep and then transferred easily. So just now I'm just pissed at my husband, because he made it work. And it's just like I can't just get up in the middle of the night when he's traveling and drive the baby around in the car seat because I have two other children that are asleep in the house. So I was also mad because it's that's not fair. That solution doesn't work for me. Yeah, that's right. But I just remember my mom saying it's okay if they safely are in the crib and cry by themselves and you walk away and shut the door. It's Oh, k. In fact, it's probably good for them.

Yes, sir. They're they're not made not to cry. Yeah, they're made to cry. Yes. Part of what babies do and maybe, you know, it's we put so much pressure on ourselves. Yes.

I was I was going to share something and it just made me think of this but it I don't know that it's an intrusive thought so much as it was one of the Wilder things that happened and it happened right when I came home. We were nodding about this before but I, my first child, my daughter, I came home because of I learned this second because of the fact that I birthed her at 11pm at night. I didn't get that second night in the hospital. Yeah, you learn you learn to hold real tight.

It was 11 o'clock at night has a baby so basically the next night if you could call it that, of course she cluster fed all night long so there was no sleep still. And this is of course what led to these this crazy how long can I go without dying thing. So I come home Next night, and I haven't slept now in three solid days, and the baby's hysterical and we can't soothe her, I can't soothe her. There's nothing that's making this child happy. And I'm losing my mind and I'll never forget being in our guest bathroom, our second bathroom upstairs my baby's bathroom and I'm looking around it and all the things that I had done prior to birth, all the ridiculous things I spent time and money and energy on and there's like frickin bath toys and like, you know, the all natural organic bath gel all these things that now in hindsight, I'm like Christ, I'm so ill prepared for this. And I just remember looking at the mirror and my husband was like, fine, like he was like in the bedroom, maybe listening to her cry or holding her. But it was like not it was not affecting him the way it was affecting me because obviously we're built for it to affect us. And I was just, I was beyond myself. And I remember thinking, I made a huge mistake. I shouldn't have had a baby. I don't know how to do this. I'm a horrible mom already. Oh my God, my life is over and I kept saying my head My life is over my life is over. And then I remember having this epiphany like, wait, the hospital, the hospital knew what to do because we had these amazing nurses in the maternity ward. And I remember that she was losing her mind there too. And there was a woman who I called Mother Goose. She kept coming in, she was a nurse and she knew how to soothe her. And I had this grand idea that I was going to go back, I swear, and I was gonna live at the hospital for like two or three months. And I'm thinking just staring myself in the bathroom mirror and thinking like, I wonder if they would let me like, how would I get back there though? Would they admit me to maternity because I'm literally asked myself 20 hours a day, what insurance cover it. Like if I went back?

If I went back as a crazy person, would they put me in cycle?

But what does that mean? Because I had the same day you want to say what did that mean? Because safety is? Yes, yeah. They have monitors and no one can help. And you have a role model. Yes. It's a village we don't have a village village that you're creating naturally.

No, I was thinking and I say this with So much honestly, because you brought up I have all this shit essentially in my house, okay? The one or the two things I wish I had, which I didn't were a postpartum doula and a lactation consultant not provided by the hospital, because I have to say they didn't show up. I, I had my daughter on Good Friday. And Easter Sunday, I was still in the hospital and the lactation consultant was supposed to come in and they didn't come. And here I am with this nipple shield that I've now put on the wrong way. But I didn't know that because no one told me it was on the wrong way. And I'm like, Why Does this hurt? Why is she feeding and this is like, ripping me like what is going on here? And because the little thing was not, you know, it was the plastic whatever it is silicone was pressing against her nose, like but nobody, where's the lactation consultant? Where are they? And I'm still mad about this, like I reflect now and I think about everything that I wish I did. And that was something that really still bothers me still bothers me. I'm so pissed off about that.

Okay baby just for a second little pivot, baby showers and baby registries. Everybody I know now who has a baby, the first baby, the very first thing I tell them is forget about your registry. Just like when you get married people now do honeymoon funds. You need a postpartum doula fund, you know dual fund just a postpartum support fund. Forget about the baskets, forget about the car seats, borrow them, right buy them secondhand. Forget about clothes, forget about the 8000 rafts or some of those things helpful. Yeah, but they are all secondary to the support. And if you have to, you have to just do whatever you need to do to get those funds to get that support, which is such a shame, by the way that this falls on us individually, to actually buy the support but whatever. That's where we are the only country other than New Guinea that doesn't provide postpartum support. It's it is outrageous, absolute crazy bite, because that's where we are. That's what everybody needs to do. Forget about your baby registry, just postpartum support whatever format is baby postpartum doula I think someone to do the laundry and ashes. I wish I had that help just someone to even hold the baby for an hour, just an hour so I can close my eyes.

But I think the trust comes first to that point, right. And I think that like for me with my second and I did this proactively because again, I didn't know with my first with my second as soon as I found out that I was pregnant, I started interviewing postpartum doulas, and I knew I wanted a postpartum doula and not a Night Nurse. And I understood the difference between them and I already had a birth doula lined up. I knew that for me, that vital missing link was really that support system. And so I started interviewing, and I found that person that's like dating, right? Like you find that person that you click with and that you have that, that immediate trust with. And I remember everyone around me, especially my family, and especially the mothers was like, wait, what do you mean, there's gonna be a woman here who we don't know with the baby, you're gonna leave them with the baby all night long. And I was like, Well, no, not all night long. I'm gonna be nursing. So but you know, she'll help me and what do you mean? Which is a stranger What? That's crazy, right? So there were all those questions that came along with it. But it didn't matter. Because finally for the first time I did what was right for me. And I swear our outcome, maybe I just got lucky. And I just didn't have anxiety with a second. But I really do think that setting up that support system in advance, made all the difference because it was smooth, it wasn't reactive. I knew coming home, I actually left the hospitals funny because for the second one I held on after midnight, thinking I was gonna want that second night in the hospital. And I left the very next day, I couldn't wait to get home to my school, because I knew how superior that one on one care was going to be. And I got there and she was waiting and everything was ready. And it was literally like, just open arms right like this woman who is a mother herself and who had been there and who understood and we just had this bond. And I've and I had what I wish I'd had with my first which was all things considered a pretty appropriately peaceful, postpartum things still went awry, right like things were still whatever But I was not staring in the mirror at two o'clock in the morning wondering how I could convince the people at the hospital that I was crazy enough to get back. They're just not crazy enough to be put in a psych ward. How can I get admitted back to my babies for two months? Is there like a work study? Like you guys do that at college? Do you do that in the hospital?

It's so funny that you said that you had the same thought exact same all about trying to create that village. Yeah, having that safe space where you have role models. You have a support system.

It's what you said in our last group when you said, but who's holding the mother. And it's like these women are saying, I wanted someone to hold me.

Yeah, everyone wants to hold the baby. Who is holding the mom Well, the fourth trimester, which no one wants to talk about. And I feel like that needs to be a bigger part of your six week. Post. You know, your postpartum checkup. It's just why are we not talking about me more? I left thinking, Oh, that's so silly. But no, it's not. It's not silly. Why I'm not being silly. I want to talk about that. No one asked. Trying to educate people around me the second time around about like the first 40 days and learning about the fourth trimester and what people in every other culture have for all of history done for the mothers. And what that looks like. And like today, we call it like, or maybe in the 70s. We called it like the meal trades, right? Like but, but that doesn't really exist here today, that community that really does come through for you, they come through for you, they don't come at you. And that's like the other does because it did in my world it did in my world as a midwife and midwifery school. And anyone three of three women in my class had babies in in while we were in graduate school, and it was this big thing that you know, we would have this meal service and everyone would bring a meal and so it did exist in my world, but I actually felt like it was I don't need that. Why, why do you need that? Like, you don't need to bring me food.

But I can do this and you felt that way before the baby. Yes. And then after you did you feel the same way after I still did and I took it upon myself and that's a whole nother you know story but but but even if it did exists, how many women out there are willing to even accept that help?

But what I think is also interesting is Yeah, it's exactly that because I feel like it's at odds. again after my first I remember not wanting anyone around also, a lot of that I remember I remember anger every time my husband would say so and so wants to come over they're so excited.

Oh, okay. But wait a second. So how does this why coexist? There are so many reasons why you might not have wanted company. Why? It was a term it was it was it was throwing off the routine was number one overriding too much action. And I'm naturally sensitive to this in our home because I feel like I want my home to be a place of like common peace and joy. And when there were a lot of people coming through, you know, they're, they're being normal, but it's disruptive to a newborns, environment. And I remember just thinking like I wanted that piece to carry through the home, and when there's people coming in, and then they're allowed and maybe a little bit boisterous, and maybe they want Hold the baby and they want to see the baby and me are totally carrying a bajillion germs I don't want around us and and by the way, then you're kind of even though they say don't get up. You're expected to host and yes and you have to like an hour for you. Yes your hour for you get there yet they get there like us like pika Oh, don't worry about the house, you're going to pick up your house.

Exactly like us to be getting out of bed. Yeah.

But you're going to be doing all those things. And so no matter what happens, there is that pressure. Yeah. And so I realized that it's hard because like, we're sort of shouting from the rooftops like, we want community, we want support, we want help. But wait, not, you know, No, that doesn't count or not help and not in that way. And I actually think that as a mom, like as a fairly new mom, I think it's very clear. But I don't think that the rest of the world understands that or maybe the rest of our society. And that's why it's so hard to communicate that because we feel again, guilty as women saying like, I want help but here's exactly the kind of help I do and do not want.

So in my practice, and I learned this from my amazing beautiful midwife, she would actually make us put a sign on the door of every birth that we attended. And she did this. She birthed my first child. And she put that sign in the door. And I have to say I was a little bit like, uncomfortable with it. But I was like, of course, you know, go Go for it. And we had put the sign on the door that said, you may visit, but you come in, you leave the meal. On the table, you say hello, you fold a load of laundry and you leave. Great. That's all it is. And that's how it is for the first two weeks and mom, strict orders. Mother does not get out of bed for a minimum of 10 days, up to 14, except to go to the bathroom.

And back in bed, I went maybe one time a day you can go sit at the table and join the family for a meal. That's it. I mean, it made all the difference. This is also what this conversation makes me think of because sitting where we sit with this revolving door of women coming through in a postpartum support group. There are just certain things you see over and over and you learn What's got you so emotional right now that 10 day thing?

Oh, I wish is a big wish it took me three kids or four I actually did it and I'm by my third kid I, I finally, kind of like, felt enough in my power to say to my husband, this is my third child. It's probably my last I am in this bed for two weeks. And you're gonna have to figure everything else out. And it was it I still look back on this most blissful two weeks of my life. I would live in those two weeks for the rest of my life if I could.

We had a mom and a recent group who like maybe it was week three or four of the of the program and she was sitting there and the week began and she started talking about how she was sitting in on a couch with holding her baby and her husband called just to say he'd be a little late from work and she said, I just I just sat and cried. And she was like always cheerful. She was one of these women who always showed up really seeming just fine. And she was sharing like I just sat there and cried and I was kind of asking her What were you feeling what was happening? And what we identified was she was just feeling sorry for herself. And I feel like this is a time where it's actually really, okay. Just you just feel bad because if it were happening to anyone else you were close to, or if we were really sharing with women, what this experience is genuinely like, we'd feel such compassion for each other, and we're just feeling toward ourselves. Right. But what I was going to say earlier is something that was so revolutionary for me in running these support groups, is that we had a mom come to the group once, maybe a couple of years ago who said, Oh, we had the christening, we had all these relatives over and we catered and whatever and that all actually went fine. And then she got emotional and said the day was just so hard for me because people kept passing around the baby and I didn't get a hold her all day and she got really emotional saying I just wanted to hold my baby. I just wanted everyone to go and I wanted to sit down and hold my baby. We totally felt it. Now fast forward to another Another session I was in maybe months ahead with another group of women. And one woman was sitting there talking about her difficult week. And she said, my husband comes home every night. He walks in the door. I'm sitting on the couch with the baby. He walks in the door before you all nod sagely. Hang on cuz you won't know what's coming right now. He walks in the door and starts cleaning the kitchen. And we're like, okay, what's the problem and she's like she You got it. Take the baby. clean the kitchen.

Yes, come in and tell me Oh my god. I've been you know what you don't appreciate. I've been outside doing yard work. I'm like, I would kill. I would kill to be outside and get a whiff of fresh air without anything. I Oh.

Here's the point. Here's the point. It's going to come back on you guys though. Because here's the point. How can anyone guess what a postpartum mom needs? She doesn't ask. Because with if you make that assumption that she just wants her arms free, you might be trying to, quote, help the woman who's crying because other people are holding her baby. You never know. So now it's really on you to tell people how they best can support you. Absolutely. It's It's so, so interesting how during pregnancy, we're so tended to as pregnant women, everybody sort of psycho take care of the pregnant woman, what's the pregnant woman hold the door for her. Don't let her carry that. Like everybody wants to really take care of the pregnant woman. And then everybody wants to take care of the baby. And then there's this period of time after the baby's born, you're no longer pregnant, and the babies over here separate from you and mom is just kind of abandoned. There was some article about this.

I will try to find it but there was some article and it spoke about how specifically in our country, which I guess it doesn't exist in any other country. We have these bumper stickers that say baby on board and We value maybe we even talked about this in your class, I don't remember but how in in our country and in our society, that that is so significant that by putting that sticker on your car, you put it on there because you assume that the person driving behind you will then think to themselves, oh, there's maybe in that car, I should really I shouldn't tell them right? Like I should just like, I don't want to crash into that car. Because there's a baby. We really put this unbelievably high value a higher value on a baby's life than we do on any other humans life. And I'm not saying that we should that we shouldn't value our children. Of course we should. But the point here is that we're not valuing us all as humans equally. The baby that mom and baby on board that bumper sticker should just say humans on board.

Watch out. This lady hasn't slept. Yeah. She might be the best. We really don't. We really don't acknowledge it enough within ourselves or within other women. What happens as soon as that baby is out of your belly, the focus is on the baby and you are no longer pregnant. So the focus is no longer on you. And you are still there going through this incredibly challenging transition, your whole identity has just shifted. You're, you're physically challenged more than you ever have been before. And nobody is paying very much attention to that. Except if you're bleeding you're paying attention to your breasts and your uterus. And when we get to well maybe you're lucky they are Yeah, right. Maybe somebody is paying a little bit right into that just because you have you know, a doctor visit or something that's about it. I feel like in the American culture, the kindest thing the average person thinks they can say to postpartum mom is all look you already got your body back and you're just like, Can we not talk about my? You look great. Yes, can we can we can see ya. Yeah, and then you feel like you have to explain like, Well, I mean, I'm actually not going to talk about my body, please. How about asking me?

I've never had the problem of anyone telling me I got my body.

Oh, come on. Maybe you just weren't around the superficiality. Yeah. Like, I'm hopefully some video instead, that would be so much better. Well, I mean, I was pregnant. Everyone's like, oh, you're all belly. You're all belly. And I would say to people, What's the hardest area of your body to get back? Not your ankles, your belly. I would love your ankles like a sumo wrestler. I would love for my face to swallow five sizes like you know and it just everyone is different. You know, it's and so even commenting on pregnant when you're pregnant. I it was a compliment. People thought they were being nice. And I just was like, first of all, I'm at work, and I'm here to do business can because every meeting would start How are you? What's an hour so the first 10 minutes of every meeting, I had to talk about that entire story. And everyone, of course, everyone meant well, of course, everyone was caring about me. But I need to get some shit done. Because I want to go home and go to sleep because I'm tired. So let's get this going. But it's it's before and after people are commenting.

I had a phone call today for an hour right before I left the house to come here tonight and do this Roundtable. A local therapist referred one of her clients with postpartum depression to me for our life after birth support groups. So we had this wonderful talk this woman that she's six weeks out actually invited her to come and it would be tough this year, her baby's only six weeks. But I said if you just want to come and sit on the couch and listen to these women, you need to see that we get through this. This is always temporary. But one thing that came out was that she doesn't happen to have parents in the picture here. Her husband isn't really understanding the significance of what she's going through and I said make sure your therapist or I just talk with him and inform him a little bit and educate him a little bit so he can support you better. But the thing that came out was she hasn't told a soul about her suffering and she's returning to work in a month with all her friends there. She's talked with them multiple times. And I said, the burden you're putting on yourself to not tell them? For whose sake are you doing that? It might be for yours because you fear the judgment or the stigma that you think is going to come with this? Or is it for theirs? But part of the reason we can feel so sideswiped by this experience, is that the person before you didn't talk, right. I felt the hardest thing for me was when I did speak openly about it because I was pretty comfortable. Once I recognized what was going on. I was pretty comfortable talking about it and speaking to friends and family. And the hardest part about it wasn't me saying it out loud and sort of admitting it, or fessing up to it, if you will. It was that specifically again, generationally, we're going to go back I was getting a lot of responses from mothers that would tell me basically like mothers who've been mothers for a long time, let's say and they would say, Oh, you just have the baby blues. That's normal. It'll pass and that may very well be yes it you know what, it is normal that it happens and it will pass those things I do know definitively, but it's not okay. And it's not okay to write it off as just anything. It doesn't matter what you call it delegitimizes what you're feeling, what you're feeling, it makes you feel wrong for sharing that you're going through it. It makes you embarrassed that you've now done that thing again, as somebody who's telling you that they have this really horrible crippling anxiety. Now I have anxiety about the anxiety. Thank you very much. Thank you, because now I'm questioning whether or not what I'm saying is even real, in fact, or am I am I making this up? Like, I'm not a liar? Like I was when I'm feeling real? I don't know. Do I tell anybody else now? Do I stop telling them? I'm embarrassed? I don't. It's just like this horribly vicious cycle of unsolicited advice and why does it feel so much more? For me if they just say it's Yes. Oh, and by the way, those people, those same moms, those same women were the same ones who would later Tell me randomly like, Oh, yeah, I remember after my second standing in the middle of a supermarket and crying hysterically, and I'm like, Oh, really just the baby blues. Right? And maybe it was maybe that was just a moment. But the point is, is like it's a string of moments and it's this journey and it's okay. I don't I don't know again, if it's like a badge of honor, like a pride that we that maybe they wore as a generation that these are like things that they went through and like they're warriors, and no big deal because we all know that that's something people talk about a lot like this.

Today, everything is so tough for you. We all got through it again. We were all fine. Okay, I want to hear reactions to this. I was away on vacation with my mother in August. We were eating outdoors in a little cafe. And there was this very narrow little charming Street and a nice sidewalk and some shops very, very narrow street where you could just see the sidewalk right across, whatever it might have been like 1520 paces from us and she I was sitting there eating and enjoying our lunch and we saw this attractive, nicely dressed guy strolling down the sidewalk right across from where we were. He was holding it had his hand in his pocket, kind of dressed in preppy clothes, holding a coffee in one hand, and he just walked by and got to the corner, and he turned and looked behind him. And then half a block behind him was apparently his wife with a baby strapped on pushing a stroller with one hand stroller was empty. shopping bags were in the stroller, and there was a toddler who was pulling her other hand because the baby was strapped on yanking at her and leaning and having that lean back thing. And he just stood at the corner holding his coffee with this other hand in the pocket. Watch. What are you feeling right now?

But she needs to say Help me get your ass over here and take the toddler. Or maybe they were in a fight. And he said, I told you not to go shopping. I feel like she has told him. This is not the first time. This is like the 82nd time that day that she has been like, hey, I need help. These are the moments when I don't want to tell you, because I shouldn't have to tell her because you should know that you've got a family and that you're not alone. And that we're back here because clearly this stuff ain't moving itself. So why do I have to even tell you because that would that would actually bother me. And then I would tell him and then he would say like, Oh, come on. You're ruining a great family moment. We're on vacation and the kids can hear you.

I'm thinking he's going, I go to work every day. I commute to the city and I get up at five and this is my vacation. And you know, I'm gonna relax and chill because I go to work every day. And she's going Oh, where's my vacation? You go to work every day?

Yeah, what do I do that links to it. Partners not understanding what the job is when you're home. And I don't want to say like job like, it's something we don't want. Of course, I love being with my child love her to death. But it is a job. And it's one without a lunch break. Without a prep without a specific wake up time to catch a train, or a paycheck or a paycheck or reward or a bonus or a promotion all day. It's manual labor, physical labor all day long. And that's what I would like. You know, my husband to understand sometimes I'm not just watching TV and watching Netflix and letting her play on the floor. That's not what's going on.

Can we just talk for one second, if we have the time about how that whole scenario, that woman, that man, that family that unit, how that plays into the relationship behind closed doors, and how that drives or maybe doesn't drive the intimacy factor as well. Because that is such a huge that is such a huge part of it right? And it's, I found it hard to convince my husband Have the direct correlation between my want to be intimate with you when you're not when you're not recognizing it's not just the action but recognizing the action needs to be taken.

And maybe they would wise up Oh, so much better, right? I mean, really, and I try to explain that to him like, on the days I'm like, we've like run these mini experiments where I'm like, listen on the days when you like just participate and you're like, in it really in it not reactive, proactive, and everything gets done and the kids are happy and I'm happy and we're all in bed and everybody's You know, you're getting lucky like that's happening because I'm rested and I'm happy and I More importantly, I feel Connect Exactly. I feel connected because I feel understood. And I feel that my needs have been met and now I can meet your needs whenever they are babe. Like that's that's how this all goes. And yet still, it's like the reminding needs to happen quite often often enough that that is so frustrating, because how do we find our way back when it feels like You're often trekking up a mountain and I'm trying because I want to get up that mountain for you, because I do love you. But damn, you're making it hard. So let's like bring back something we we asked her earlier, right? We don't have those role models, they don't have those role models in a lot of cases either. And in the prepping for a baby, when do the guys get together and talk about how they're prepping? For a baby? That doesn't happen? I think that going back to just the husbands or the men needing someone to ask them questions to we're just talking about having a baby, I think, unfortunately, it's still very gender specific, your role and what advice someone would give you or what you can talk about, oh, so the baby's coming? or How long are you going to take like the advice or the conversations are still very like, specific to dad versus mom and not like, What are you all doing together? How are you doing this? Right there yet.

I got in the I was in not a great moms group with my first and it turned into just complaining about husbands and our Remember, you know, a couple of the things where people would just say, Well, my husband didn't think about this, and my husband didn't do that. And my husband and I was just saying, thinking sitting there going, I wouldn't think of that either. Like, if I'm at work all day, I'm not working. I'm not thinking about all the things that I that I could do, or I'm not thinking it so that's for me when the moment when I, I, it clicked for me that I need to advocate for myself, because he has a job and he and, and he's got things and and he's not just gonna guess he's not a mind reader. Right. He's, and everyone wants different things. Yes. Like we talked about earlier. Yeah. Like a mind reader.

So, imagine you that you're speaking to a pregnant woman. She's really excited to be having a baby. She's in a good relationship, and you really feel you can be completely authentic with her. What's the best thing you can find?

Tell that woman, create your support system, you will need it, create it now. Because once that baby comes, the time and energy that you need to put into creating that system will all be on the baby. That system will help you to focus on baby. But yeah, create that support system before the baby comes.

I don't think anyone assumes they're going to have any kind of depression or anxiety. I think that's not something we think about. It's something we, even before I had a baby, I would look at other moms who were maybe like, didn't have their shit together. And I would be like, Oh, that's not going to be me. And you cannot assume that that's not going to be you and it might not be you might be completely fine, but prepare as if it's not going to be fine. What would that preparation look like? Um, support help at home, someone to talk to maybe a doula. I know that that's not something I again would have considered. But now being having gone through this, I absolutely am going to have a postpartum doula. For my second child, when that happens, um, I guess that's it. I mean, I can't really think of anything else.

Your resources, do your do your work to have your resources know who you can call know who you can count on a support system, same thing.

Okay, what if that woman's husband approached you like you're at a party, you're all mingling, you talked with her and you have a heart to heart and He says, but just be real with me. What advice do you have for me as her husband? What's the best way I can support her? What would you tell him?

Ask her, I would say ask, I would say to the advocacy topic we just brought up.

She may not think of the fact that she has to tell you what she needs. So be proactive and ask every step of the way. And don't assume that what she told you she needed yesterday is what she needs today. Don't assume that if she told you she needed it this morning that she needs it tonight. Just keep asking and know that you will get back to that place. But you have to participate to get back there. You have to Be an equal partner in that and just support her because this is so much more challenging than you can ever fathom. And also get support for yourself.

Everything that you just said and set an alarm on your phone to ask her that question of what she needs. I don't care if you have to come home every day. And if you forget, that's why there's an alarm. That's why we have iPhones that alarm. What do you need? The minute you walk in the door? Do you need something?

Yeah, it's not about you. And that doesn't mean you don't matter. You arguably matter more. Because your role is to take what she's everything she's been doing for the family, and you're going to take a bigger piece of that and do it and don't complain. And and if you need to complain, go find your dudes and go drink some beers and complain with them but just just know it's just not about you right now. And that's okay. And it doesn't mean it won't be about you another time.

What I always tell couples is especially if I'm talking To the dad, prepare for your needs to really not be met for quite a while and expect that and keep in mind that hers are going to be virtually down to zero. So yours might be diminished by like, I don't know 40 60% hers will be almost down to zero where she has to put conscious thought and effort to even taking a shower to even feeding herself. It's the first thing we ask anyone in the first session of the group is have you eaten today? Can you remember to feed yourself? So I would love for that partner to understand that even though your needs aren't met hers are met even less and be really gentle with yourselves. Because what are we asking of this couple, each of whom don't have their needs met. And you will get through this together. This will get easier this is very possibly the hardest Chapter of your whole marriage and the whole story here. So be gentle with yourself, be gentle with each other, you're each dealing with people who aren't having their needs met.

If what keeps coming to my mind is just the thought of, I just want to say to him, honor her, like, honor this experience that she's going through and look at her as the amazing, incredible woman who is able to carry this child, birth this child and respect that and honor that. And by thinking that way, it will be so much easier for you to understand why your needs are going to go on that right now. Don't be resentful of her attention to the baby. honor this period of time because it is the most beautiful time in her life.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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