Nothing prepares a mother for departure from the hospital after having her first child. All of the Dr. Spock books and material from other parenting experts slips out of your brain once you’re smacked in the face by the welcome fresh air.
Good luck after you’re no longer tethered to labor and delivery. I’ll never forget the endless 7-mile drive from the hospital to home. “Slow down,” my wife said. “Remember the baby.”
How could I forget the baby? Nothing has ever been so all-encompassing. Those prepaternity days are just a blurry haze now. Ever since I became a father, it’s a succession of indelible memories. Fortunately, there has been more good than bad.
Remarkably, those early years all worked out for my wife and me. We had a great support system with my mother and father, who were over the moon that their siblingless son finally had a baby!
I was thrilled to start a new chapter of my life. When our daughter Jillian arrived, the line from the Pretenders’ “Middle of the Road” ran through my mind. “I’m not the cat I used to be / I got a kid I’m 33 baby.”
Every now and again, I look back at those early videos of Jillian, who was an only child for three years, and smile. It was a magical time, but it wasn’t easy for my wife, Terri, who was riding an emotional, hormonal roller coaster.
Terri had a last-minute C-section since Jillian flipped and was a breech baby. Like most moms, she did most of the heavy lifting early. Mothers who breast feed have a remarkable connection with their babies. Mom is their lifeline, especially early on.
Our postpartum issues were few since we had considerable assistance. However, a number of friends didn’t have it so easy after having children.
After our second child, Eddie, was born after a 19-hour labor, we were out of the hospital within 48 hours. Terri, who was groggy and still in pain after the draining experience, felt as if she was discharged too quickly.
Many of her friends felt the same way after childbirth. Women are ushered into motherhood at an accelerated pace. That often leads to anxiety or depression. That’s particularly true for those who lack that support system. There’s a gap in postpartum care.
Nurses Emily Silver and Jamie O’Day, who also are mothers, understand how overwhelming it can be as the caretaker for a helpless, new life who is completely dependent on their mother.
Feeding, bathing, sleeping schedules and soothing a newborn are just some of a new mom’s responsibilities. “Many women struggle when they come home with a child,” Silver said while calling from her Boston office. “I know that I struggled when I came home with my (two) children.”
Silver and O’Day co-founded Nurture by NAPS (Newborn and Parenting Support) in 2011, which provides nationwide continued care and support via remote programming. Lactation consultation, pumping education and many facets of newborn care are part of the support moms receive.
“We’re there for mothers,” Silver said. “Many mothers suffer from anxiety and depression. It’s underdiagnosed. Having a baby isn’t easy. It’s about finding balance. Moms can’t help but ask, ‘How do I keep my marriage alive? And how do I care for this baby?’ We love working with new mothers, and we’ve been doing this for nearly a decade.”
While working as labor and delivery nurses, new moms often asked Silver and O’Day for their phone numbers so they could receive advice. “Some mothers were joking, but others clearly weren’t,” Silver said. “So we started Nurture by NAPS.”
Moms have access to video clips, live webinars with a registered nurse and a peer support group. The latter has been especially helpful since mothers feel especially isolated courtesy of COVID-19.
“It’s been a really hard year for new mothers and families in general,” Silver said. “Mothers have to navigate through something no one has had to navigate through before. It’s been a different experience not just when it comes to bringing a child home, but for dads who were unable to be able to experience ultrasounds earlier this year.
“I feel for fathers who lost out on the experience. It’s been a very hard year for moms and dads due to the coronavirus. But we’re here to help now and beyond the pandemic.”
Mothers can sign up while pregnant and stay with the program until their child is 2 years old.
“We’re here to make it easier,” Silver said. “You’re not alone when you have a child. Everyone needs support. Having a baby isn’t easy, but it’s amazing.”
For more information on Nurture by Naps, go to nurturebynaps.com.