I just got in from my son’s, graduation ceremony, The Gates of Life. My son has officially aged out of his Montessori school (Athena Montessori Academy, an excellent school if you happen to be in the Austin, TX area and are looking!!) and will now proceed to elementary school and start 1st grade in the fall.
Never would I have imagined this day. When we first started at this school, our drop-offs were every parent’s nightmare. My son would cling to me, crying and screaming for me not to go, his teachers tugging at his bottom and legs and trying to pry his little fingers from my shoulders. Sometimes as I walked to the parking lot, I could still hear him screaming and my heart just ached. His teachers assured me that he was fine, but I later learned that there were days when they had to take him into the activity room and let him “cry and scream.” This is the same boy who this year, as an “older” (top tier/oldest level student) would essentially ditch me at the gate (not even the classroom door but the entrance to the property) to go “hang” with his buddies. I was often lucky if I got a fly by kiss goodbye! As I looked on and watched my son proudly walk through those make-shift gates into the next phase of his life, my mind played a mental movie of his short life. I am sure that I will look back on this day and so many others with the same teary eyes of joy having watched him overcome obstacles, develop skills and mature.
Mamas on bed rest, the end is closer than you think. Yup, it all comes to an end and believe it or not, it really does become a distant memory. (That’s why some of us, gluttons for punishment that we are, will do this again! So prepare yourselves to “move into the next phase of your life”. In our post It all comes down to this, “The Final “Push”, we shared some tips to help mamas physically prepare for the rigors of labor and delivery and to transition to motherhood healthy and strong. So what about the emotional changes that are now upon you? Your are about to become a mama. If it is your first pregnancy, you may be feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of caring for a completely dependent individual. If this is your second or beyond child, you may be thinking, “How am I going to do it all?” Never fear, Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond is here with just a few tips for making the emotional transition to motherhood.
1. Secure help now. This is the greatest piece of advice that I can give you (and that I myself did not have/take!!). Even if you have the smoothest delivery possible, there is no denying that following bed rest and then labor and delivery (or a cesarean section) your body has been traumatized. I am always amazed at the women who think that they are going to be able to just jump up and resume their prior activity level after weeks on bed rest and then labor and delivery. You need to rest and bond with your baby. In these last days on bed rest, speak with family, neighbors, friends, church community or a doula and secure help with the family and household responsibilities. If possible, try to secure help for the first four weeks post partum. (at least!)
2. Line up a Lactation Consultant. If you plan to breastfeed, I highly recommend that you get the name and number of a good lactation consultant. We all know, breastfeeding is natural but not always easy. Sometimes problems can be solved simply by adjusting your baby’s mouth around your nipple or getting into different position to feed. But these easy “fixes” are often unknown to a new mama. La Leche League is a wonderful breastfeeding resource and they do provide over the phone support all over the world.
3. Discuss mood changes with your health care provider. Mamas, having a complicated pregnancy with bed rest is not easy. So many mamas turn their situations over and over in their minds wondering if their bed rest is a result of something that they have or have not done. Dr. Diane Sanford, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (LPC) who specializes in Women’s Reproductive Mental Health, shared with us that perinatal mood disorders can be up to 8 times more common in women with complicated pregnancies. Most times, while it’s easy to identify the reason for bed rest, it’s much more difficult to identify why the complication occurred. Most times there is no reason and this can be very unsettling. If you are feeling down, sad or depressed, please discuss these feelings with your health care provider. You may not be “just moody” or “a whiner”. Find out for sure by talking to your health care provider.
4. Begin Exploring Your Work Options. Typically, the bed rest prescription comes out of left field and women are completely unprepared for it. This can be an even bigger blow for working mamas whose families need that additional income. As your bed rest time is drawing to an end and you are preparing to return to work, consider your work options. You may be surprised at how attached you become to your little one and may not want to leave him or her. But if you must work, what are your options? Is a flexible schedule an option? A shared position? How about bringing your baby to work? Peruse our posts on Work-Life Balance and see what work options are available and utilize the resources presented to help craft the perfect working experience for you and your family.
Your bed rest experience will quickly come to an end and ready or not, here comes motherhood! I hope these tips for easing into motherhood, both physically and emotionally, will help you have smooth passage. I’ll just go ahead and say it now, “Well done mamas!”
Today is Memorial Day. The national focus is on the dearly departed men and women who served our country valiantly protecting our lives, our liberties and our pursuits of happiness.
Whenever I think of those who served our country, my mind immediately jumps to my grandfathers. I actually had 3, but I only really knew one. My father’s father, William George Turner, served in World War I and unfortunately died in February of 1941 just 2 short months after my father’s birth. My mother’s biological father, John Oliver Lane, served and was killed in the line of battle in World War II. My Grandmother remarried and her husband, Alfred Haywood is the man that I remember most as my grandfather. I was lucky to have him until 1984 when he died when I was 18 years old. Each of these men bravely served their countries and I am forever grateful for their contributions.
There is a strong legacy of service in my family, and one legacy of which I am most proud is the legacy of women who were early birth professionals and activists. My Great Grandmother, Queen Elizabeth Perry Turner was a “root woman” and midwife. She birthed most of the children in Inez, NC between the late 1930′s thru the 1940′s and was also very skilled in the use of plants for healing. She and my great grandfather also owned a general store, a huge deal for a black couple in those days. Lore has it that my great grandmother was “no nonsense business woman”. Grandpa Tom was quite generous and would allow people to pay on credit. Grandma Elizabeth always asked up front, “And how do you intend to pay?” I am quite sure that lead to their collective success.
My paternal grandmother, Hollie Alston Turner was also a natural birth proponent. But rather than work as a midwife, she had 15 babies! All but the last few were born at home with midwives. Since my paternal grandfather died two weeks after my father was born, “Ma” had her hands full caring for the 10 children that she had at home at the time. But Ma still did what she could to enhance births and the lives of babies in her community. Long before it was fashionable, my grandmother donated breast milk. Now mind you, there is a long legacy within the black community of “wet nursing” where African American women nurse the children of their slave owners and share croppers. However, my grandmother was not a wet nurse but a milk donor, much in the spirit of Milk Banking today.
My cousins tease me and say that “birthing” is in my blood. Perhaps they are right. There is something about the birth world that is captivating. For me, knowing the numbers of women who struggle during childbearing, the women for whom childbearing is anything but a natural process, the women for whom access to good, quality prenatal and post parutm care is nearly impossible, I can’t help but to dive in and do what I can to make a difference.
I am so proud of my history, my legacy of service. I am proud of the men in my family who served this country even though they were denied many of the rights that they fought to protect. And I am so proud of the women in my family who loved babies and did all that they could to come into this world safely and to gave them good starts.
To all you Mamas on Bedrest, what is your family legacy? On this Memorial Day, Have a wonderful day and don’t forget to take time to acknowledge your “heroes” and “sheroes”.
Our Interview with Freya Morani was a wonderful time! This owner and founder of RootMama Maternal Care is a dynamic doula who loves and cares for mamas and their families in the Dallas/Ft Worth Tarrant County area. Freya offers doula care for the entire span of pregnancy; ante partum, intra partum and post partum care. She also offers belly casting, prenatal belly dance classes and Blessing way ceremonies for mamas. To learn more, visit the Rootmama website or give Freya a call at (682) 587-root (7668).