The "Baby Fog". Thinking of new parents
A baby is a miracle. It is one of the greatest privileges human beings may have: giving life, witnessing this miracle blossoming day by day, introducing a little creature to the world and being in the position of giving and receiving the most intense, unconditional love is an indescribable joy to parents and to the whole family.
However, this joy does not mean that the whole process of becoming a parent will be an easy and a feel-so-natural one (is any happy life event completely easy, would it give us so much joy if it was? ) Pregnancy and birth are often a bumpy ride and an emotional rollercoaster too.
In my personal and in my professional life, I have had the chance to meet several new mothers and although expressions like “baby blues” and “post natal depression” are nonchalantly used everyday, it is still very hard and remarkably guilt provoking for a new parent to admit to themselves and their entourage how difficult, scary, de-skilling and exhausting the experience of becoming a parent can be.
The feeling that I have most frequently came across is isolation. . Most mothers I have worked with live in London, had busy professional lives before the baby arrived and live far away from their families of origin. Which basically means: not much emotional and practical support. Fathers help as much as they can but after two weeks of paternity leave, despite their heart sinking, they have to go back to work, leave mum and baby for the day and come back to them at night, most likely exhausted from their day and not so ready to relieve their wives back at the parenting fort.
What I am writing is well known to parents but what I do want to emphasize for my present and future clients, present and future parents: please do not be hard on yourself. No matter how wonderful, marvelous, breathtaking the experience can be, becoming a parent and looking after tiny little creatures may also be one of the trickiest things you will ever do.
I call it the BABY FOG: a feeling /state of physical and mental exhaustion, in which the perspective on things may become blurry because of sleep deprivation , the afterbirth, the hormonal turmoil, and the massive life cycle transition you are going through. But when in the Fog, please do not forget this: You will become better at it, you WILL go back to being yourself sooner than you believe and most important, you do not have to go through “the baby fog” on your own.
Ask for help: family coming to stay, friends, neighbours, mother’s helpers , babysitters . Try to reach out in your neighbourhood/borough through baby classes, children centres, online communities. Also, there are great blogs that not only provide useful information but also help you to feel supported and to take away the edge of it with a little bit of irony. Some examples.
If it still feels overwhelming and/ you are worried about your mood swings, thoughts and health, professionals are there to help you.
And yes, you can bring the baby with you.