By Katie Wise, Childbirth Educator, Doula, and Prenatal Yoga Instructor at Yo Mama Yoga Studio in Boulder, CO
You’re staring over your alarmingly increasing baby bump, and your mom asks you “what can I do to help you after baby arrives?” then a co-worker says “you let me know if there’s anything we can do,” and a friend pipes up randomly “hey having a baby is tough- can I bring you guys something?” What do you say? Well- the first response is usually “Oh, that’s okay, I’m sure we’ll be fine”
Insert gameshow buzzer noise here: Ehnnnnnn.
Everyone knows that old phrase “it takes a village to raise a child.” We all say it, it’s on bumper stickers, and on some level we feel it’s truth. But our increasingly technological, decreasingly personal lives, with no-proximity to actual family, and friends with grown babies or no babies yet- the village can be pretty clueless. Things like Facebook can cultivate a false sense of community- but a bunch of comments on your status update are not going to help feed your baby at 2am. We have people ready to jump in- what we don’t know is how to train our village to truly help.
In this three-part series- I’m going to give you three steps- which will take your postpartum period from ‘hey where’s the freakin village?’ to ‘man, I didn’t know this many people really loved me!”
- Part One- Train Yourself First: How to open yourself up to receiving support from your village
- Part Two- Gather the needs and the peeps What to ask for and who to ask
- Part Three- Set it up right How to train your village in how best to support you after baby comes, and keep the expectations clear for their support.
Enjoy and welcome to your village!
Train Yourself First
In order to let the village help us raise our baby, and be more sane, present and happy in our postpartum period, we have to let go of the idea that we can do it all ourselves. I’m not sure where this fiercely independent thing comes from, but it’s got to go. First take a look at the shirt you are wearing- did you sew it yourself? What about the shoes on your feet? And the food you ate for lunch- even if you cooked it yourself- did you grow it? harvest it? Plant it last spring? I’m guessing not. Likely the roof over your head, Kleenex you’re going to blow your nose on, skivvies on your pregnant heinie, and the digital device you are reading this on were designed, built and created by someone else. So you’re already in a village- let’s just decide that interdependent is way cooler than independent.
I know it sounds simple, but if you are a perfectionist- or used to being in control- this can be hard. How do I let someone else vacuum my house if they are 100% guaranteed to do it wrong? How do I receive food from someone else when I’m gluten free, dairy free and partially paleo except for I love butter?
So I’m going to introduce you to one of my favorite phrases these days: “good ‘nuff.” I saw it on a road in New Mexico, and it’s stayed with me ever since. My husband and I use it when one of us is getting too fussy about some decision or detail- in our imperfect life with two little kids. And then one of us will chime in with “good ‘nuff.” Good ‘nuff dinner. Good ‘nuff nanny. Good ‘nuff blog post. Whatever it is. It’s good ‘nuff. So when it comes to the village- let go, they won’t do it exactly like you- and that’s usually a blessing. Whatever they do, it’s good ‘nuff.
Once you let go of the idea of doing it all yourself, then you need to train yourself to ask. You are not a burden. Look at where you got the idea that you are too much- that your needs are too heavy, that somehow others can ask for help but you can’t. For some, it may be helpful to use a therapist or coach to get past any blocks you might have in learning to receive. This is not just about you, either. It is about your baby, and you getting the help and support you need will allow you to fully love and nurture this little baby.
Your baby is a gift- and anyone that comes in proximity of that gift has received something completely special from you. You may not understand this until you are on the other side. When I bring a meal to a new family- even if I drop it off in a cooler on the porch, or talk to the Dad for 15 minutes while mama and baby are upstairs resting, I feel like I’m in the proximity of something sacred. If I actually get to see/hold/smell the sweet head of a newborn… nirvana. So it is a gift to let others support you in this time. I promise- we want to.
Take a few minutes each day to focus on your breath, and place your hand on your belly. Dream into those first days meeting, holding, feeding your little baby. Imagine having all the support you need so that you feel like you are not only surviving but truly thriving during this time. Start to imagine what those needs might be, and who might be there to meet them. And stay tuned for the next installment: "Gathering the Troops."
Katie Wise believes that women's bodies have the wisdom to give birth, and her role as a doula is to help uncover and foster that instinct and faith. She currently serves families in the Boulder area through her doula practice, The Boulder Doula Circle, and mentors and trains new doulas. Katie also is the owner of Yo mama Yoga Studio, and loves creating communities for women in the childbearing years. She believes that birth itself is a divine teacher, showing women their strength, and the beauty of surrender. Katie has served at over 200 births, and her doula work was featured on NPR. She is also the creator of Yo Mama's Signature Birth Class, Inspired Birth, and her very own Hypnosis program for labor and birth, Hypnomama. Katie is a Boulder native and is thrilled to bring her work back to her home town. She and her husband enjoy their family of four in Lafayette, CO. For more on Katie's story and thoughts on motherhood, you can view Katie's personal blog here.