As a certified postpartum doula I work with mothers to normalize the need for help. The belief in our culture that "asking for help is a sign of failure" is detrimental to society's mental health and our future well-being as a culture. Every mother will have moments when she feels like she can't go on and needs a break. It's normal to feel that way. It's normal to feel at the-end-of-your-rope.
So imagine, having a sacred network of support to talk openly and honestly about all the highs and lows of being a new mom....all while receiving resources to maximize healing your mind, body, and spirit after childbirth. Imagine how much more confident, supported and empowered you would feel! You will be happier, more at peace, and able to grow into your motherhood journey more gracefully. This is what the Healthy Mama Intensive is all about! Read further for an amazing excerpt on this topic of being at the-end-of-your-rope from one of my favorite mothering books, The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother.
THE END OF YOUR ROPE
If you're anything like the millions of mothers who've walked this path before you, parenting will remind you- that you are utterly and completely human. Your offspring has the power to induce in you the greatest expression of love and frustration. You may be wondering how it is possible to be filled with great, nearly overwhelming surges of adoration one moment and pushed to tears of exasperation the next. Welcome to motherhood!
Even the most angelic babies will push your buttons at some point. This is a standard part of parenting, but unfortunately, it's not always expected. The media has been bombarding you with fabricated images of the postpartum experience for as long as you can remember. You know the scene: A smiling, well-rested woman gently sings a lullaby to the softly cooing baby nestled in her arms. Both mother and child are beaming and beautiful. The feeling in the room is peaceful and sweet, all is right in the world. Does this look anything like the scene in your home? Where you've been wearing the same spit-up yoga pants -- the only pants that will fit -- for the last three days? Where your laundry is cascading in lopsided dunes across the bedroom floor? Where the piercing sounds that escape from a baby ravages your frazzled nerve endings on an hourly basis?
The early weeks with a baby can be a wild roller-coaster ride as you negotiate the volatile combination of sleep deprivation, relationship changes, and a demanding little person who won't stop screaming until he gets what the wants. Just like adults, no two babies are alike. Yours may be easygoing-eating, pooping, sleeping like a champ. Or she may not. Babies are often challenging. Their relentless demands, odd schedules, and incommunicative nature make them inherently taxing. If yours happens to be colicky or a light sleeper or a squirrelly nurser (all common newborn traits), Your mothering stamina will need to stretch to new lengths.
There will come a moment, one of many, many such moments, where you will feel like you can't take it anymore. You'll feel tired, too hungry, too overwhelmed. Your baby may refuse to take the nape you've been waiting for since 3 A.M or she may refuse to nurse when you know she's hungry or maybe she just won't.stop.crying. The emotions you feel during these moments-severe frustration, anger, sadness, hopelessness - are indicators that you are at the end of your rope. Though rarely discussed, end-of-rope moments are an absolutely normal part of parenting. They are not a sign that you're a bad mother or that you're weak or incapable. And they definitely do not reflect upon the love you feel for your baby. End-of-the-rope moments happen to every mother. Nobody escapes. The circumstances will differ, but the feeling will be the same: I can't take it anymore.
Experienced postpartum doulas want their clients to become increasingly comfortable with the concept of reaching the end of your rope. Just like you can expect to feel tired during the first forty days with baby and joyful during the early days, you can also count on emotionally jarring moments. During these times, you may find yourself thinking some pretty negative thoughts about being a mother, about the baby, about life in general. It's common to feel ashamed about the thoughts and feeling that come up-mothers are often striving to meet unrealistic high standards of parenting. We're expected to handle more than we've handled before and do it with a smile. But just because you have birth doesn't mean you stopped being a thinking, feeling, emotional being. Mothers are imbued an array of superpowers, but they aren't robots. Emotions etch a strong line through the postpartum experience, one that will be with you throught your experience as a parent. Postpartum doulas are on the front lines with new mothers, advise their clients to use their end-of-the-rope emotions as signposts. When you reach the end of your rope, it's a signal that now is the time to turn some energy and love back to yourself-you need a break. With your support team in place, you will be able to turn to someone and say, "I need help."
Remember, we used to raise our babies in community. We were enveloped in a group of loving, capable people who would help ease the strain of parenting. Now, isolated from our extended families, we're often doing it alone. But we don't have to. When you find yourself face-to-face with the end-of-the-rope, and you will send an SOS to one of your support people. A simple phone call, or text that says, "I really need a break," will have a magical effect. The relief may come in a deceptively simple form: a ten minute shower, a twenty-minute foot rub, a thirty-minute nap. You may just need someone to hold the baby while you talk for a few minutes or you may need someone to give you a hug and place a hot cup of soup in your hands.
Soon you will see that reaching a breaking point and asking for help to move through it is a natural, expected aspect of motherhood. Your baby will pee, poop, burp, and cry. The sun will rise and set. You will feel joy, bliss, sadness, and frustration. It's all real. It's all okay. Your job is to set down any and all critiques of yourself and simply bring in extra help when things get hard.
Create a new habit: reach out when you're at the end-of-your-rope.
Tell yourself-even write it on a piece of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror: When I reach the end of my rope, I'm going to ask for help, love, and attention to come my way until I can figure it out.
There is always someone who can help. Don't try to muscle through these feelings on your own! There are support hotlines available to help you 24/7. - The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother
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Your life has changed; there have been losses, and there have been gains. Come together to appreciate and embrace this transformation within a sacred group setting.
Learn more at Positive Postpartum and this featured blog: The Healthy Mama Intensive
Wishing you peace and wellness on your journey,