If being a parent to a newborn or older baby is easy for you, this article is not for you. You’re a beautiful unicorn and I will be happy to take you out for a cupcake one day to congratulate you on your wonderful experience. I mean that sincerely.
But that’s not the norm.
Parenting little tiny people is really hard. Really, really hard.
Of course, it is also so wonderful you will be amazed that your heart doesn’t burst out of your chest like an over-inflated balloon.
And you will cry, sometimes out of sheer joy and wonder at the miraculousness of it all. But mostly because you’ll be overtired and frustrated at your seeming incompetence and baby’s lack of cooperation.
That’s a real problem for a new parent: low/no resilience.
Let’s take a few minutes to talk about resilience, because I think it’s a vitally important concept for parents to understand.
Resilience is your ability to bounce back from adversity. In a word, it means toughness. It’s the thing that allows you to look at a pot of burned potatoes and not freak out but come up with an alternate dinner plan in moments. It’s the thing that makes it possible for you to power through a busy day despite having a cold. It is also the spirit of persistence and calm determination that sees you through hard days.
Resilience can also be low or depleted. This happens when we have less energy than usual, when our health has been impaired or when we have been facing ongoing challenges and even trauma over long periods of time.
Lose one night’s sleep and you can probably power through the next day with few negative consequences. Think about those all-nighters in college and university when you’d stay up till 5am studying, sleep for 2 hours and then write a 3 hour exam first thing in the morning. Lose a few hours of sleep every night for weeks or even years and your whole health could crash, you may develop depression and anxiety and you’ll feel like you just can’t do anything right.
This is what becoming a parent does to you; it chips away at your resilience.
It starts with frequently interrupted sleep that prevents you from getting into the long deep sleep cycles that are vital to memory consolidation, weight regulation and suppressing inflammation.
There are the initial challenges with breastfeeding and knowing if baby is getting enough milk. Then baby seems content only when they are in your arms. This intensity of caring for someone, coupled with feeding challenges and chronically disturbed sleep can lead to mental health issues for a new parent.
And there is the issue of crying. Oh, so much crying! It hurts physically each time the baby cries.
But, all of a sudden, baby giggles during a diaper change. They smile while falling asleep. Comically loud farts emerge from the tiniest behinds. And you laugh, and marvel and feel more love inside you than you imagined you could ever feel.
I don’t want to hammer you over the head with this message, but my job as a doula is to reduce how hard being a new parent is. My work as a postpartum doula is to remove as much uncertainty as possible from your parenting life. It is to help with breastfeeding challenges. I’m there to help you find the tools you need to be the best damned parent you can be. I facilitate you listening to your best instincts about how you want to parent your baby. And, I can make real sleep at night possible again.
I will get you from surviving to thriving in your new life as a parent
My job as a doula is to help you build resilience so you can be the best parent possible to your beautiful child.
And, incidentally, resilience will also help you be a good partner to your spouse, a better friend, sibling, child, person.
Being a new parent is hard. We can make it less hard. And we can open up more time and space for pure joy in your life.