On the second day of my seven-day trip to Bali, Indonesia, my mother called and told me to come back to California immediately. Of course, I panicked and started packing my clothes while calling the airline to rebook my flight. Though Mom did not tell me why I knew she would not get in the way of my much-awaited vacation if it weren’t for an urgent matter. My only guess was that Dad’s high blood pressure went through the roof again, causing him to collapse (which already happened twice).
When I reached the airport, I called my mother to let her know when to pick me up. Then, I thought of asking, “What happened there?”
Mom explained, “John (my sister’s husband) was freaking out, saying that Celie (my sister) was too focused on their little boy ever since he got pneumonia.”
Confused, I said, “I don’t see the problem. It’s normal for mothers like Celie to be like that.”
But Mom argued, “No, it’s not normal for mothers to avoid sleeping at night because they worry that something crazy will happen to the baby while they’re resting. That’s what your sister is doing, and she won’t listen to John or your father or me, so we’re hoping that she’ll listen to you.”
This news bothered me the entire flight back home. Celie had always been the mentally tough one between the two of us. But when she became a mother for the first time, she seemed unsure of her actions. I kept on thinking of what I should say to my sister when we meet, and I stuck with the following:
Stop Feeling Guilty Every Time Your Child Gets Sick
The primary problem with first-time moms is that they experience terrible guilt whenever their baby coughs, sneezes, or, worse, become feverish. They keep on saying sorry to the infant while thinking of what they probably did to cause it. “Was the bathwater too cold?” “Did I give spoiled milk to my baby?” “Did we stay outdoors for too long?”
In reality, there can be a hundred and one reasons why a child gets sick, especially during infanthood. Their immune system is still not as strong as that of an adult or at least a teenager. If they have a fever or flu, it is not precisely your fault. All you can do is make sure to increase their immunity so that viruses and bacteria won’t affect them again.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up If Your Baby Falls On Their Own
Infants tend to roll or crawl as early as six months. When that happens, everyone in the family rejoices, considering it is a significant milestone that they have crossed. But if the baby falls on their face, the mother usually beats herself up for “not watching the child more closely.”
Think about that statement right now. Every time you let your baby crawl or roll around a mat, there is a high chance that you are also on the floor, ready to help them quickly. Still, some babies are more curious than others, in the sense that they want to leave the mat when you’re not looking. If they fall while doing that, it’s not because you have not taken care of them enough.
See Every Mistake As A Learning Experience
Many first-time moms read all the child-rearing books that they could get their hands on during pregnancy, hoping that they’d become experts at it before giving birth. But then the baby arrives, and they realize that they don’t know how to burp, bathe, or stop the infant from crying. Often, that makes new moms worry that they’re not good enough to look after their babies.
Well, considering you have made similar mistakes recently, try forgiving yourself for not knowing everything. That’s understandable because you have never looked after a child before, much less a newborn. Just learn how to do something correctly so that you won’t repeat the same mistakes next time.
Ask For Help Sometimes
Some first-time mothers want to be able to say that they have raised their kids without anyone’s help. That is especially true for single moms who have had to stick it out after their partner left or their parents disowned them. However, the more you try to do everything on your own, the more your mental health may suffer.
A word to the wise: ask for help sometimes.
For instance, if you need to go to work on short notice, find out if a friend can babysit your infant. In case you run out of food or milk, and your friend is going to the grocery store, ask them to buy it for you. You should never be ashamed of needing help and asking for it because you can’t get anything done when you allow shame to rule your life. But if you are THAT shy, you may promise to return the favor anytime your friend needs help.
My parents and I decided to spend a few days at my sister’s house to ensure that she won’t forget everything mentioned above. There was some resistance on Celie’s part at first, but when she finally got to sleep one night, she woke up with a much clearer perspective.
If a mother develops mental health issues while taking care of the baby, nothing good comes out. So, try to get your act together and follow our tips.