Just checking in on you...

A message of support and solidarity and a virtual hug for new parents from PSP founder Susan Fox.

I wanted to pop my head in and say, “hi.” The first few months of parenthood were really tough for me.  If it’s not, yay for you. If it is hard, however, know you’re not alone in feeling a bit overwhelmed and insecure about your parenting skills. Remember, if it’s your first child it makes sense—you haven’t done this before! If it's your second, double the complexity!

There’s a tendency (for birthing moms especially) to minimize their feelings and struggles because they don’t want to break the curse of the “New Mommy Happy.”  I was telling my 19 year old the other day that I remember in my sleep deprivation haze that I forgot for a few minutes that I had a baby. There were times I resented not getting to just go to a movie like I used to, or staying in bed til noon without a care in the world. I worried that I would drop her. I worried that I wasn’t doing enough. I have a PhD and never felt less competent in my life. Face it, this shit is hard.

Please check yourself, check in on your baby group members, partners, and friends making sure they are doing okay. If there were people who you saw on baby group Zoom meetups or at a park meetup who seem to have distanced themselves, please reach out.  I worry sometimes that while Park Slope Parents is this wonderful resource for people to connect, if they haven’t found people that they really "vibe" with they just might feel even lonelier than if PSP wasn’t around because they see all the fun others they think other people are having. People you thought might have been totally with it might be struggling just like you—they might just be better at faking it.  If you are that faking it person, be honest with yourself.

If you're not yet a member of Park Slope Parents, get connected here!

Sleep deprivation can be brutal. If you have a partner, help each other by taking different night shifts. If you’re doing this solo, call up that friend who has been eager to help.  I had a friend who would check into a hotel with her breast pump and leave her partner to take care of the baby for a night here and there. One full night of sleep can feel like a drug: it’s so powerful.

Also—let’s not discount what’s happening with partners/dads. Partners can feel lots of pressure once a new baby arrives. They can be supporting a recovering mom and baby. My hubby never felt as powerless in life as when he was trying to help me recover from an L4 laceration, bleeding nipples, popped blood vessels in my eye, older daughter neediness, and all the extra needs having kids entailed.  Becoming a parent is full of changes; physical, emotional, psychological and more, and sometimes partners don’t feel like they can ask for self-care when the person birthing has gone through so much. ASK!

There are such wonderful things happening too. Just looking at this new life form and thinking about the possibilities can give you hope (especially during these crazy pandemic times). Your baby probably smells wonderful (and who knew newborn poop doesn't stink!), watching them sleep can be dreamy, and you are learning so much about this "new life form." I read a book called What Mothers Do: especially when it looks like nothing that helped explain all of those hours of time that just disappear with a newborn. It's okay if you're not as productive right now as you want to be. Cut yourself some huge amounts of slack!  It gets easier and you start to see patterns emerge that help you plan and know what to do!

It took me a good six weeks after #1 was born til I wasn’t feeling like I was in the deep-end of a swimming pool saying, “who in the world thought I could be a parent?” (tread water, struggle, tread water).  The sleep-deprivation was a killer those first few weeks—and the patterns were so erratic I couldn’t plan for much.  For someone like me who constantly had a To Do list a mile long and who tackled many things every day it was hard realizing I just had to let go of the expectations I was going to make dinner, get caught up on laundry, send out thank you cards, etc.  Heck, if you get a shower every few days you’re doing great!

Also know that for some of you things may be really hard-- too hard-- and we need to get you help.  And there’s more than just depression that you might be experiencing. It can be anxiety-related issues and much more. If you’ve had past issues with anxiety (or depression) those can rear their head again (especially right now).  Please reach out for help.  As I remind people all the time, there’s no better gift you can give children than a parent working on their mental health. Getting through the fog is such a gift to you, partners, family, friends, and especially your child(ren).

I had someone come up to me at a PSP event and tell me that a message like this helped them reach out for help. I’m hoping this long-winded email touches those who it needs to touch or helps you reach out to others who may need help. Feel free to reach out to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (that goes directly to me) now or any time if you need us to connect you personally to help. Feel free to forward this on to anyone who you think may need it.

Here are resources from the Park Slope Parents website (share widely) to help you decide if you’re a typical stressed out parent or something more.

PLEASE take care of yourselves and each other.

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