What were we thinking! promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby

Hello? Is anyone there?

By Alex

Hello? Is anyone there?

A new baby can be very isolating.  Obviously you’re not actually alone, because there is the baby, but Victoria is not great company.  I love her dearly, but she can’t really hold a conversation and is somewhat immature (10 months now). 

By the time Albie gets home, I may have spoken to my Mum, Telstra (or some other service provider), riveting stuff.  So when Albie steps through the door, I have so much chit chatty energy that I can’t help myself; “How was work?, “What did you have for lunch?”, “Did you see anyone we know on the tram?”.  How annoying must that be?  He’s exhausted and had a sandwich for lunch.  I’m just dying to hear news from the outside world. 

Friends from the outside world try to visit, but they have full time jobs and full time lives of their own.  I’m a bit light on in the friends with babies department, some are crossing to the dark side, but our babies won’t be on the same sleep schedule for ages.  When will my life be in synch with anyone else’s? I might just have to wait for my little button to learn to speak and tell me all her secrets.  I’d love that.  

Expert response from What Were We Thinking! expert, Sue Doogan

For all the positives mothering can bring, this aspect of loneliness or isolation you mention is common for many stay at home parents. When you have a baby, the early weeks/months are taken up with mostly the baby’s needs of feeding, play and sleep (along with some must attend to chores!). However, in a relatively short space of time, look at how far you’ve grown as a parent and as an individual. You are so confident and capable with parenting that you actually are thinking about social contact. How wonderful!

It also shows that you are thinking of your own needs and this is the next step along the continuum of parenting. It’s just another aspect you cannot plan or prepare for because no one knows how they are going to be affected until they are ‘there’. Equally we can be thrilled or disappointed by support from family and friends when you have a baby. Their life appears to continue merrily along whilst yours appears to be on hold. Try speaking openly and honestly with your partner, your family and your friends – it may not resolve your feelings of isolation but it certainly makes them aware of how life is for you at the moment. Stories in the media do not often portray this side of mothering. A number of reports are written through “rose coloured glasses” and it can make the reality seem “abnormal” which of course it isn’t!

Your life may never be in synch with others, Alex, but it will be in synch with your family and your family’s needs! However frustrating or lonely that may sound, I’m sure you’ll agree that it is better than the alternative (tired and unsettled babies and partners).  The great thing is that you’ve recognised an issue. Now you can take steps to help counteract it. You could try ‘first time parent’ groups or playgroups, a class at the gym or local community centre where there are child minding facilities.  This allows time for you, as well as time to connect with other likeminded people in the ‘outside world’.

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