The Big Unknown

 

[Editor’s Note: Expectant and new parents, don’t miss your chance to win the ULTIMATE dream nursery. Click here for more details.]

In
honor of New York Family‘s upcoming Baby Show (May 19-20), I had the privilege
of talking with doula, parent coach and Mommybites support group director, Renee
Sullivan, about the many common questions and concerns on the minds of
expectant moms.

The first thing I want to talk about is a mom’s birthing choices
because I feel like there is a lot of judgment around this. What should moms
consider when deciding what scenario they and what their family unit is most
comfortable with?

You
bring up a really good point. In the world today there are so many choices,
from a traditional birth with just your OB/GYN at the local hospital to working
with a midwife, or a doula and in other settings, including possibly your home.
When you become pregnant other people start sending lots of opinions your way.
Some people do great with lots of opinions and resources and then sort through
them to make a decision. While others like to act a bit more intuitively to
decide what may be best for them. The hardest part is just being able to spend
the time to figure out what is really right for the family unit and not heed to
all of the different advice that is offered.

What do you think are the best ways to tell people you are
pregnant—especially your boss?

I’ve
had moms who have very close relationships with their employers just come right
out and say it. I’ve also had moms in the groups who have been six months
pregnant and still hadn’t told them. Getting clear on what timing works best
for you is really the best way.

For me, the theme of there not being black and white answers to
becoming a parent carries through to almost everything we will talk about.
Parenting just does not happen like that
!
[laughing]
In the groups moms always ask, “When does it get easier?” and I say, “Well I
have a 6-year-old, I’ll let you know.” The cool thing is that we get wiser, we
get more proactive, so parenting doesn’t get easier per se, but we get smarter.
One of the moms in the groups said, “I realized that becoming a mom has activated
a super gene in my brain.” Becoming a mom helps us do so much more, take on so
much more and be so much more. There’s a pot of gold on the other end, but
we’re not sure if we’re going to meet a troll or a leprechaun along the way.

Speaking of meeting trolls along the way, even though I was warned
about not sleeping after having a baby, I was truly unprepared for what chronic
sleep deprivation felt like.

Yes,
it’s one of those things that you can try your best to describe but until
you’ve actually had your baby, you really don’t know how prolonged sleep
deprivation can feel like. And it’s the intensity of it. Never in our lives
have we ever needed to always be “on”. Once you’re a parent, you’re always a
parent. So I look at this not just as the difficulty of sleep deprivation but
the whole bigger umbrella which is that we’re always in motion, always moving
forward, always changing in ways we were not experiencing pre-baby.

How can pregnant moms deal with changing body issues?
It’s
hard to see when you’re pregnant, but as soon as you have the baby so much of
our body concerns wash away. We all of sudden get what’s real and makes us
understand what’s really important. It’s like when you’re in the airplane it’s
really hard to see the destination. No matter how much you prep for the trip,
read the guidebook and do all your research, you never really know what it’s
like until you land.

Just to get a little shallow for one second—what’s your magic secret
to stretch marks?

One
of the best things is to stay as moisturized as a possible whether that’s using
expensive creams, olive oil or cocoa butter. Another thing that helps is doing
our best to gain weight slowly during the pregnancy and also losing weight
slowly postpartum.

OK, let’s talk sex prenatal sex!
Ah,
the first question a pregnant woman should ask herself is “Do I want to
have sex?” [laughs] Some moms want to have sex (keeping in mind you should
always check with your OB/GYN). But for other moms, with all the changes of
body and emotions they just don’t want to and that’s OK, too. It’s important to
communicate to your partner that not wanting to have sex does not mean you’re
not attracted to them but rather with all the changes going on, you may not be
feeling the need for it, right now.

We’ve talked a lot about a mom who gives birth biologically but what
are some questions that often come up with adoptive expecting parents?

That’s
a big one because their challenges are both similar and different. One of the
biggest concerns is, “How are we going to bond with the child?” When you’re
pregnant you have so much time to get used to the idea of having a baby.
Adoptive parents often need more maternity leave because they didn’t have those
40 weeks to adjust—and that’s OK, it’s only normal. Whether giving birth or
adopting, it’s the unknown that is often the hardest part. Just when we get
comfortable with a routine, things change.

Keeping in mind that moms return to work after having a baby for many
reasons— what are some of the things that come up in your groups around going back
to work?

Whether
you are a stay-at-home mom or a mom that works outside of the home, both want
the same thing—balance. Everyone just wants to do what’s right for their
family. How we define balance is different for everybody. Every few months you should ask yourself, “Am I fulfilled?
Am I happy? Am I getting enough ‘me’ time? Enough baby time?”

I hesitate to even ask this next question because I don’t want to
perpetuate the craziness, but should new moms even begin to think about the
whole NYC preschool scene?

You
know the whole idea of trying to predict the future doesn’t work well for
anybody. I’ve seen so many women worry and worry about preschool, only to be
transferred for work or move to the ‘burbs or overseas. But if you feel like
you’re hearing too many rumors and could use a solid overview of the process, I
like Victoria Goldman’s Manhattan Directory of Private Nursery Schools.

There’s a great John Lennon quote that says, “Life is what happens
while you’re busy making other plans
.”
Exactly!
We fully experience emotions and stress and then it shifts. And all of that
stressing was really wasted energy. The more we can trust ourselves, believe in
our child and live in the moment, the less stressed we’ll be with
everything—not just preschools!

I know some moms worry that they are doing their children a disservice
by raising them in such a fast-paced city. What do you tell them?

Yeah,
NYC definitely has a different energy than other places. I think it’s important
to consciously build in daily downtime for your children. There is so
much activity in the city and often not enough quiet time. Researchers have
said that children need this quiet time to process and synthesize all the
external input and everything they have learned through the day. If you can
create this balance, NYC is a wonderful place to raise a
family.

Heather Ouida is the Co-Founder of Mommybites, formerly known as
babybites. Renee Sullivan leads expectant and new mom groups around the city.
Visit the new mommybites.com network for extended education, support and
advice to families with children of all ages.


The Ultimate Moms’ Night Out

Join
Mommybites in The New Yorker Hotel’s grand ballroom on Wednesday, May 2 at 6pm for an evening of learning, socializing and shopping. Enjoy wine and
delicious food, mingle with other moms, win incredible prizes, check out
must-have parenting products and services, and take home fabulous goody bags!
You’ll also hear from the best selling author of The Happiness Project,
Gretchen Rubin, and get your parenting Qs answered from experts at the new
speakers’ corner. Sign up now at mommybites.com/newyork.

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