One night after my husband came home from work and our first baby was just a few weeks old, I nearly darted out the door to go to the grocery store. We needed just a couple of items and honestly we could’ve gone a couple more days before really needing to get them, but I couldn’t wait. I had been isolated in the house with my little guy for a few weeks and I was starting to go stir crazy.
I’m naturally an introvert and as a freelance writer who works from home, I was used to spending my days by myself with only intermittent phone and email conversations with the outside world. I liked it that way. I assumed it wouldn’t be much different once the baby came along. But what I hadn’t anticipated was the change from being a well-rested, confident and independent woman to an exhausted new mom who felt uncomfortable and uncertain of how to take care of a newborn.
My husband said he wouldn’t mind running to the store, but with tears nearly welling up in my eyes I said, “I just need 15 minutes to myself.” With that, I headed out the door. I remember as I drove the few minutes to the store, I felt a sort of relief to be able to breathe, but at the same time, I had this odd sensation. This was the furthest I had been from my baby. It was this internal struggle with wanting some space and yet feeling this maternal pull back to my child. Of course the trip only took a few minutes and soon enough I was back home, nursing him and calming his cries.
After my other two children were born, I anticipated those lonely newborn weeks a bit better. When number three came along, I looked forward to them since she was born in the winter and all I wanted was to hibernate anyway. Plus, I was a bit more adept at taking care of an infant, so I wasn’t as overwhelmed by breastfeeding, soothing her cries and changing countless diapers, though I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the sleep deprivation.
At the same time, I had also learned to take moments to myself. Even if it meant just running to the store for some bread, I welcome those few minutes to clear my mind. I also made sure to invite friends over or at least chat with them to stay connected and to remember that, while my life may have felt like it had been put on hold for a few months, everybody else was continuing on. Some nights I just handed the baby to my husband and headed to the shower or to take a nap. Or, I laced up my running shoes, put a leash on the dog and headed outside for a run…even in the rain.
What about you? Did you ever feel isolated during that newborn period? How did you cope? Do you wish you would’ve done anything differently?