by Jill Campbell, PsyD
Having a baby is a time of celebration, but as with any big transition in our life, there is also some loss involved. You have to say good-bye to your old life and your old self. In addition to feelings of bliss and joy, it is not uncommon that you might also be feeling overwhelmed, worried, and let's face it, exhausted, as you try to adjust to a brand-new role that you do not yet have confidence in. Even if you've read all the baby books out there and taken as many prenatal classes as you could find, no one can totally prepare you for what it feels like once your baby is actually here.
One of the first important lessons that I learned when I was a new mother is that there was always going to be a difference between the image of the idealized perfect mother in my head, and the reality of the mother that I actually was. My fantasy mother was always completely selfless, always calm and patient, and knew how to handle every situation with assurance and grace. Pause for laughter.
It wasn't until a few months after my daughter was born and I became a postdoctoral intern at Cedars Sinai Early Childhood Center, that I realized that all the conflicting feelings I was experiencing as a new mom were completely normal. As a postdoctoral intern, I listened to other new mothers like myself talk in group, and I heard similar stories over and over again. I remember moms sharing their feelings of both joy and sheer terror and the other moms nodding in unison. I learned that allowing yourself to experience what you are really feeling is much healthier than trying to convince yourself that you should be this flawless mother who only feels jubilation in her new role.
The group was a haven, and it is what inspired me to make working with new mothers my career for the last 21 years (yes, my daughter is now 21!). Being a part of this group of new mothers made me realize how incredibly important it was to have a safe community to come to every week where women could discuss and process questions like, "How do I handle this huge transition in my life?" "How do I know if I am doing this parenting thing right?" "How do I play and connect with my baby?" "How do I get my baby on some type of sleep schedule?" "How do I keep from getting frustrated with my partner over, well, everything?" "When and how do I introduce solids?" "How do I stay sane during this insane time of my life?"
I truly believe that taking this class is one of the best things that you can do for yourself as a new mom. You will meet other women with babies the same age as yours and gain the support and the community that all new mothers need. Come join me in Santa Monica, Hollywood or Calabasas!
By Jill Campbell, Psy.D.
Mommy & Me Curriculum Director