Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The 5 Stages for New Parents

Denial: This stage begins before the baby is born, when you have visions of your life continuing on exactly as before, only with a baby playing happily on a blanket on the floor (I’m not kidding you, this is precisely the image I had in my mind when I thought about how life would be after the baby was born. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. That’s my hysterical laughter at the memory of my na├»ve former self). The denial stage continues after the shock of birth, as you convince yourself that you are simply in an “adjustment period,” that your vision will come to life after you all get used to each other. (HA!)

Anger: A few months later, when your life has been completely taken over by the little tyrant your precious baby, you enter the anger stage. In this stage you might find yourself thinking things like, “Will this little f***** EVER sleep through the night?” and snapping at all of the irritating well-meaning friends and family who dole out conflicting pieces of advice, none of which seem to work on your demon spawn little angel. 

Bargaining: Anger got you nowhere, so in desperation you start to cut deals, both with the baby and with a higher power. You may find yourself uttering pleas to the sky such as “Please, please, please just let her/him stay asleep long enough for me to finish my dinner, just this once, and I promise I will be more patient when she wakes up every ten minutes tonight needing her damn paci put back in her mouth so she can go back to sleep. Just let me EAT. OKAY?” 

Depression: The bargaining didn’t work, so now you know you’re supposed to accept that this is life now, but you can’t. You love your baby (who by now is actually smiling at you and maybe even sleeping several hours in a row at night), but you and your life are unrecognizable. You spend most days in your pajamas and rarely brush your hair. You can’t imagine life without your little angel, and this is wonderful but scary too, because you don’t really know who you are anymore or how to figure that out (or even if you want to). 

Acceptance: You only get here by opening up and talking to fellow mothers, and reading their stories in books and magazines and blogs. It is through honesty with each other that we find our way to acceptance of our new lives and new selves and learn how to find the parts of our former lives and selves that we can recover out of the ruins and incorporate into mama life. But you’re not through with these stages. I have yet to spend more than a few months in this last stage before starting them all over again when the next unbearable “challenging” phase begins. (Only now I tend to skip over denial and instead begin with a new stage, Panic, in which I am convinced that life will ALWAYS be like this and I will never, ever get control over my life again. And once again, it is my fellow mamas who rescue me. Every time.)

I did a quick search before posting to see if anyone else had done versions of this list, and found a great cartoon version from last year over at The Mom Bomb


Kaza said...

A note on my post today: This post doesn’t fully capture the postpartum struggles I experienced, nor does it present the full extent of my difficulties in adjusting to motherhood. I will definitely write on these topics in future posts. The anger and depression ‘stages’ in those first months were real doozies for me, as they are for so many women. I can’t do them justice in this format, which is meant to be funny and relatable for everyone. Thanks for reading!

Ann said...

I hear what you're saying Kaza.
"Reading Between The Lines" is another trait you can pick-up after childbirth.
It can help you with other mommies that want you to think they're keeping it together, when what they really need is a big hug, a good cry, a tall glass of wine and a long nap.

THE MOM BOMB said...

Thanks for the linky love!

You're still in toddler territory? Don't sweat it! Control will return! It's also known as "Full Day Kindergarten"!

I'm still in the Denial phase over my stretched out stomach.

Heather said...

I vacillate between all of the stages...still.

ali said...

The depression stage lingered for a couple of years after my youngest was born. My boys are 2 years apart and staying home all day with a newborn and 2 year old was not easy. It makes me feel weak when hear about how moms are just LOVING the heck out of their baby and how everything is so EASY. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who lived in pj's for days at a time!

Mrs. R said...

Great post!!! These are so true. I am so glad you joined in with SITS!

I recently wrote a post called "An Open Letter to New Mothers"... you might take a gander... and laugh.

followthatdog said...

Ha. That's great. Mine are 2 and 4 and I am still in that panic phase. I can only assume you get out of it at some point, like maybe when you retire, but I have no real evidence of that.

Kaza said...

Thanks everyone for commenting! It's nice to find mamas who can relate.

Ann: I think I need all of those almost every day!

Mom Bomb: I absolutely CANNOT wait for all day kindergarten! We'll come close next year when her new preschool will offer extended care, which we'll need a couple of days a week when we're both teaching long hours.

Heather: I was just thinking that last night, and am going to talk about that vacillation in my next post.

Ali: You are definitely not the only one. My jammies and I were inseparable in the first two years. And I think I'm still in and out of the depression stage.

Mrs R: I will definitely check that one out asap! I think we need a collection of such posts somewhere, actually, for new moms to consult when overwhelmed.

Followthatdog: I do think there's some measure of hope once they start school, if certain friends of mine can be believed.

Thanks again, your comments mean the world to this new blogger!

Staci said...

oh lord i hear ya!!! Hey thanks for the comments, i love new buddies ill be back fo sho

IRISHKAT said...

Oh you just made my day. I wish there were more opportunities to 'hear' other's stories when I had my first son. I was alone, with no family or friends that had babies and I felt soooo alone. Add to that a hubby that travelled and the guilt over wanting to chuck the non-stop crying baby from a fast moving car and well... you get the picture. Luckily I have come to more of a peace with chaos. A little red wine does the trick too :)

Mrs. Flinger said...

You can add "stages for parents adding another child who is already one" to the title. ;-)

So there. And amen to the little red wine comment above.

Kaza said...

Staci: Right back 'atcha!

Irishkat: Hey girl! I agree, wine is mama's little helper!

Mrs. Flinger: yeah, I think the title is too limiting, as this clearly applies to all parenting situations and you never stop cycling through these stages!

Thank you all for visiting! So great to be making new blogger friends.

NedaAnn said...

Amen! I still find days when I am in my pjs at 3 pm and I admit to having left the house without brushing my hair, because I just couldn't find time and/or forgot. In fact I almost did it this morning. Thank goodness for blogs & fellow moms who tell it like it is.