By: LUMO Leaders
Hey – It’s Sheila.
My kids are now in college and, while it seems like a million years ago, I can still feel the bliss, joy, exhaustion, and loneliness of those early months after my oldest son’s birth.
I was ecstatic. The happiest I’d ever been.
And the loneliest. And most scared I’d ever been.
My husband was in grad school and working full time, my family was across the county, my friends were all at work and none of them had kids. It felt like I’d been dropped off in a new land without a map or even a sack lunch. Just me and an adorable baby boy who cried 24/7. (Wouldn’t it be great if babies could tell you what’s actually up? I have thoughts on this, but that’s a whole other post.)
Let’s just say, my transition to being a mother did not start off with a bang and this was not the maternity leave I’d dreamed of. I had so many questions about this thing called “motherhood” but no one to ask. Remember this was pre-social media so it was just me, one or two old-school parenting books and an AOL Message Board (think Facebook Moms group, but way more simplistic and definitely less interactive).
Luckily, things started to change when I got some wise advice from our pediatrician.
During one of our early visits, I asked her if I was the only woman she knew who struggled to breastfeed. She laughed as she put down her clipboard and pulled up a chair. “Listen,” she said,
“It’s a damn shame that women don’t talk about how hard it is becoming a new mom. You need to find other new moms to talk to, so you don’t feel so alone. Get yourself some support.”
She told me about some baby groups for new moms and encouraged me to go.
While I don’t remember the pediatrician’s name, in my book she was an angel. Her kindness and encouraging words made a huge impact that day.
I am not a “joiner” but I was desperate to see if support was the thing that would make a difference so I joined every single new parent group in LA County. Gymboree, a handful of new mom walking groups, a breast-feeding support group, “Mommy and Me” music classes and dozens of meet ups in the park. You name it, I joined it. And, if I saw a new mom anywhere, I introduced myself and invited her to tag alone.
Things started to change. I slowly built a circle of women who got exactly what I was going through. They became my lifeline. I could talk about all the ups and downs and I never felt judged or alone because someone was always going through the same thing. We laughed, we cried, we supported each other and loved each other’s babies.
Now those babies are 22. My circle of mom friends has expanded over the years and a handful of those women from those early baby groups remain my closest friends. We’ve been through it all – from crying babies to launching young adults.
While my cries for help have changed a lot over the past two decades, my strong need for support has not. I rely on my friends to champion me on, point out my blind spots, and to laugh and cry with me. And, I’m there for them in the same ways they are for me.
How about you?
Do you ask for help when you need it? Do you have support from others who get what you are going through as a mom or parent? Do you need a bigger circle? If so, what’s getting in your way of taking action to create what you need?
If you are a new mom (or know one who may need support), check out LUMO’s Expecting Moms Online Program. It’s everything I needed and more in those early months and I am 100% certain my pediatrician would love it!
Sheila & the LUMO team
Photo – Sheila and Finn in 2000
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