40 Days After Birth and Beyond

Gypsy, a reader of this blog from New Zealand, wrote this post on her blog that I wanted to share with you:

http://domesticallyblissed.blogspot.com/2009/07/more-than-suburban-neurosis.html

I am sharing Gypsy’s concern regarding not only  the general lack of time mothers today have to prepare and dream for a birth while pregnant, but also this thought that as soon as possible one must jump back into the old routine.

My Dutch neighbor asked me yesterday why people in the U. S.  brought tiny infants to movies….. (My European and Down Under readers, is this only a U.S. phenomenon???  I would like to know!  Please leave me a comment!)  Her thought was that a movie is so very loud and overstimulating and she wondered why mothers are trying perhaps hard to prove that “they have had a baby but can still do all the things they used to do”?  I am not sure if this is the reason mothers bring infants to movies, or if it is just “something to do to get out of the house”, but I do wonder. What makes us think that this is okay for a tiny baby?  (Well, okay, what makes us think this is okay for children in general under the age of 7 or 9?  That is a whole ‘nother post topic!)

A child under the age of 9 and especially a small baby is WIDE open to the world with no filters, no sensors.  All those sensory impressions just come pouring in!  I cannot tell you all the number of hospital rooms I have walked into to treat a tiny newborn and had to ask the parents to please turn a very noisy and loud television or radio program off!  I have felt badly for these infants’ assaulted senses.

I am a very attached mother, and I have many, many attached friends.  But please, let’s not use the fact that we can breastfeed in a sling to drag a baby all over creation!  Our bodies can act as a filter for some of the sensory impressions for our babies, but the question is shouldn’t part of being a mother be that we put the sensory needs of our smallest and most fragile first and foremost?  Shouldn’t the birth of a baby be a time of wonder and  enjoyment and yes, a slower pace?  What have we to prove by running errands all over town and everything else?  I had one friend who came from a large family who commented wryly  that a new baby was always

Your baby will only be a tiny baby once.   I encourage you to not only take your forty days, but also to slow down your life for a year and get used to being home.  I think this adjustment comes sooner or later.  I have had many mothers who have lamented to me that once their baby was walking and such it “was difficult to go to Starbucks and enjoy a cup of coffee” or go out to lunch as the child wouldn’t sit there any longer.  I understand that, I really do – they hit an adjustment period, a true adjustment.    They realized after a bit of time that they needed to be more firmly entrenched in their homes and that  having a child was changing them and their lives.  It was this sense of surrendering that had to occur and these mothers had to take charge of their own homes.  This can be a difficult journey for so many of us, and I would love to dialogue more about how to make this transition to home a reality.

More to come,

Carrie

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18 thoughts on “40 Days After Birth and Beyond

  1. Hi Carrie, I just found your blog via a recommendation from a Waldorf mama, and I’m so glad I did. My son, Pan, is just about 8 months old, and he is the most wonderful little being. However, he is very fussy most of the day, and he does not sleep. He never naps for more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time, and at night he wakes every 1 -2 hours. Every night. He seems to constantly have this underlying exhaustion, but still he cannot sleep. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and I’ve found myself drawn to the Waldorf traditions and rhythms. I’ve realized that a lot of his sleeplessness / fussiness may have quite a bit to do with his senses being way over stimulated throughout his wee little life. We took him out with us all the time, watched loud movies while he nursed, drove around running endless errands. A lot of this high activity level had to do with the fact that we moved into a house that needed to be furnished / didn’t have running water or a washer/dryer for four months, just two weeks after he was born. And then we moved again two months ago. I’m trying to figure out how to help us settle a bit for him (and our own sakes, as well). However, I work full time while my husband stays home with the babe (this isn’t what I want to be doing, however I am more qualified to make enough — and I mean, just enough to pay our bills enough — to support us than he is). My husband himself has adult ADHD and has a very difficult time focusing / sitting still. We’ve talked and talked about trying to develop some sort of more stable rhythm to the day for Pan, but something always comes up to keep that from happening. I am pregnant now with a babe to be born in January, and I’m trying to figure out how to avoid some of the mistakes we made with Pan. Any ideas / suggestions?

    • Hi Chelsea! thanks for reading! I guess the main thing would be to start to get a rhythm in place now; there are many, many posts on this blog regarding rhythm if you look under rhythm in the tags section. Perhaps having something you and your husband discuss orally and then make a chart and write down together with photos or pictures for reference would be helpful to your spouse.
      There is a lot to the Waldorf way of parenting for kiddos under age 7, I highly encourage you to look at the old posts on here. Other things that may help is Sharifa Oppenheimer’s “Heaven On Earth” or Rahima Baldwin Dancy’s “You Are Your Child’s First Teacher”.
      Good luck and thank your friend for me for sharing my blog with you! :)
      Blessings, Carrie

    • I’ve just stumbled on this post and it rings very near to me. I was always on the after my child was born, at least until I returned to work. My husband and I would often go out ot restaurants, I would take her running errands all day long in her stroller and often met friends and breastfed in restaurants and all over town. I had hardly any rest and frankly, looking back I’m worried I didn’t hold her enough. She is a sweet little girl, but now at 22 months she is overly bossy and very independent. Is this related? I guess I’m wondering what I could do for her now, in the present to possibly undo all the over stimulation when she was a new born?

    • Leslie,
      Welcome to my blog, I know I espouse a very different kind of parenting than what is frequently seen in our society and the ideas can take some getting used to. It really is a journey and a process. I would highly recommend you read “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne and also look at all the posts under the “development” tab under the two year old. There is a lot there, and not there to make you feel guilty at all but to empower your parenting with an encouragement and a consicousness.
      The best thing you can do for a toddler, literally, is to slow down. Work so you are home when you are not working. Work around your home in a de-mechanized kind of way to include your child as she wants to be included. Protect your child’s senses for over-stimulation. This post should be helpful: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/06/28/guest-post-meaningful-work-for-toddlers/ and this one: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/02/11/how-to-best-support-your-childs-development-ages-birth-through-three/. Work to have a steady rhythm to encompass your days, with less talking, and not asking your toddler to make choices. Think about when you do speak to try to talk in pictures, not in power struggle mode: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/01/talking-in-pictures-to-small-children/. This is another good one based upon a book we were reading: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/26/discipline-without-distress-discipline-tools-for-toddlers-1-2-years-action/

      One other resource that may be really wonderful for you could be the Christopherus early years book available here: http://www.christopherushomeschool.com/Waldorf-Homeschool-Materials-For-Early-Years-s/124.htm

      I hope this is helpful to you and that you feel encouraged! You are the best parent you can be at any given time with the information you have, and we are all striving and growing and changing!
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  2. I’ve asked relatives and friends why they expose their babies to loud noise like movies. They say “the baby doesn’t mind, he/she just falls asleep.”

    Well, to me that’s a sign that the baby is so totally overwhelmed that they have to “check out” for a while into dreamland to escape!

  3. “Mums with Bubs’ movies are extremely popular here …. like Anthromama says people just say the baby sleeps through it. Mums really struggle with re-orienting themselves to homelife, I actually think most don’t. I cringe with the oversitumluation we subjected Munchkin too … she was a ‘high needs’ baby and I used to get her to sleep by bouncing her in my arms on a swiss ball, facing outwards towards the TV. I remember not liking it but finding it worked …. I didn’t have the patience or understandign she needed. I wish there was some kind of Waldorf based ante-natal classes … maybe that could be an idea for Donna’s MCP! Thanks for the link :)

  4. Hi Carrie,

    No not just a US thing. Here in Australia we actually have “Mum’s and Bubs” sessions at the movies (not all cinemas) and “Baby rooms” which are soundproof so if baby is crying the parent can go in there still watch the movie and hear the sound via additional speakers!

    I’d probably agree somewhat with your neighbour, there seems to be an air of “if you are out and about early with a little one you must be doing well!” Such a pity, I think at ante natal classes etc first time mothers are so often told “Let it all go, you’re not going to be able to do everything when the baby first arrives” New mother’s are spurred on to do this as it “prooves” they must be coping. I think the concept of “Let it all go you are never going to get these precious moments back again and your baby will thrive from your shelter” would perhaps give new mothers a different perspective

  5. I’m quite shocked to read that some parents happen to take their infants to the movies! I grew up and live in Scandinavia and Germany and I’ve never ever seen that here. :)
    Carrie, I really appreciate that you take the time and blog so many interesting and inspiring things. This means a lot to me! Thank you.

  6. Hi,
    I feel lucky here in Italy we don’t have “Mum’s and Bub’s” cinemas but we do follow almost every american trend, so I’m afraid it’s coming soon!

    Only a friend of mine took her infant (one month old) to the cinema with her and I really couldn’t understand the reason. She is a movie lover, as I am, but I gave up of course. I think she wanted to be a “non-chalant mom”.

    I didn’t even take my baby outside for the first 20 days, then until the 40th day, only a stroll around the block and never in a car until she was 3 months old, silent telephone ringer and so on.
    But I must admit that it was the best for her but too much for me. I even declined some people who wanted to visit us and so I was really isolated, alone. Much balance was needed. A mother can do like this only if someone supports her and tells her: “YOU can go out whilst I’ll take care of your baby”.

    Ciao
    Federica

    P.S. And of course she was a first child!

  7. I have never, ever seen a mother with a newborn or baby in a german cinema, thank goodness.
    TV and radio are used in many german homes, but we know a lot of families where the TV and Computer is not in use when the children are awake or in the house, and that goes for babies as well as for older children.

    Thank you very much for your inspiring blog, Carrie. I am not a strict follower of Waldorf education but I like the impulse it gives me.

  8. Hi, Carrie and thanks so much for your blog which is a great source of inspiration for me (even if I am not into Waldorf, Steiner or homeschooling).
    I live in Paris France and here we do not see infants in theaters, thankfully. I know not one parent that would bring a child to a movie before being 3/4 years old.
    Our daughter, just turned 4, has already been to a movie theatre three times to watch kids movie (for her age) that did not last more than one hour. She loved it but I could see the loud noise was a bit too much for her the first time.
    Again, thanks.

  9. Pingback: The Newborn: Traditional and Anthroposophical Perspectives « The Parenting Passageway

  10. Another excellent post. I just posted about how we are trying to slow down and just “be present” at home with our 3 week old. With our first, I was able to stay home and enjoy those first 6 weeks entirely. We were new to the area, didn’t really know anyone, and weren’t involved with outside obligations yet. I’m finding it more difficult this time as we are actively involved in our church, B-day parties for my daughter’s friends are unending, in addition to a stream of family and friends stopping in and inviting us out places. We have been having to say “no” to so much, I hope that I don’t begin to hurt feelings. I wrote my post in hopes that family and friends would understand where we are coming from in staying home and slowing down for awhile. I am glad I found your blog for support and continued education on Waldorf home-life. My post can be found at oursuburbanhomestead.blogspot.com/2009/08/balance.html

  11. Pingback: this week and end of babymoon | this tiny asteroid

  12. Transitioning to being at home is hard. Without a community to teach us how to be at home, it is even harder. Being home-based doesn’t come easily or naturally to modern career women, we aren’t told why it’s a good idea, we struggle to master skills we haven’t been taught, and it’s a mindset we don’t possess.

  13. Hi Carrie, i found your blog very interesting and awaking to us parents. Both husband and wife should be physically and mentally prepared… Keep it up!

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