Perhaps it’s because I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for the vast majority of the last six years, or maybe it’s because I haven’t had a single night of uninterrupted sleep in just as long, but with a third baby on the way, I am desperate for a little extra help.
Those first several weeks with a new babe are beyond challenging. I’ve experienced the exhaustion of around-the-clock feeding, two rounds of postpartum depression, and heading back to work far too soon. Moreover, I’ve let go of any misconceptions I once had abou
t being able to care for my children, and my home, on my own.
That’s why when Chrissy Teigen shared her plans with Us Weekly to hire a night nurse after her baby is born, I was cheering at my computer screen (and battling a little bit of jealousy, let’s be honest). The only thing stopping me from hiring a postpartum doula or night nurse a few nights a week is the same thing that comes between me and her fabulous wardrobe — money. You can bet if I had some extra cash lying around, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second before hiring some help for the first month or two after our new baby arrives.
Of course, as usual, the
perfect moms of the Internet had a whole lot to say about Chrissy’s postpartum plans, and they took to Twitter and Facebook to share exactly how they felt. You know, normal sancti-mommy comments including:
“Giant eye roll about a night nurse. Getting up with baby is important to bonding. Why have kids to pawn them off??”
“A night nurse? Really? You might just wanna skip out on parenthood if you can’t hang.”
Here’s what I’m struggling to understand: Why on earth do we insist on making motherhood any harder than it has to be? And why do we feel the need to not only make motherhood hard for ourselves, but to also impose our own ridiculous standards on mothers everywhere?
I have my doubts that brand-new-mom Chrissy Teigen will be indulging in a luxurious eight hours of sleep every night, but even if she was, it isn’t really my concern. Out of curiosity, I asked postpartum doula Mallory Shannon, who works as a night nurse, what it is like for parents of newborns when she is around to help them during the night.
She confirmed exactly what I suspected: she sleeps nearby and wakes when the baby wakes to help the parents learn how to care for their newborn during the most difficult time of day and to offer them a break when they are desperate for some sleep. Sometimes, mom is getting up to pump so the baby can be bottle-fed, or she brings the baby to mom to breastfeed in the middle of the night and then helps her get baby back to sleep.
“Parents are still highly involved in the care of their children,” she said. “This notion that new parents must suffer or they don’t care is bullsh*t.”
She went on to explain her concerns about the “do it on your own” mentality that so many expressed in criticism of Chrissy’s decision.
“An exhausted caregiver in the morning is just as dangerous as one at night. Too often we see parents putting their babies in unsafe sleeping situations because they’re too tired to realize what they’re doing is unsafe.”
I can’t help but agree. With my first, I remember waking my husband at night, hysterical, sure I had “lost the baby,” while she slept peacefully in her bassinet next to our bed. I returned to work exhausted, having spells of dizziness and fainting from exhaustion, and suffered for a year with postpartum depression, all of which may have been prevented, or least minimized, with a little extra help and a little more sleep.
If there is any way for a brand new mom to get a little more sleep and a little more enjoyment out of those first few weeks of motherhood, I wholeheartedly support it. Whether it is a night nurse, or a mother-in-law who spends a few hours a day caring for the baby so mom can sleep, moms should never experience shaming or criticism for knowing when it is best for her health, and her baby’s well being, to call in reinforcements.
And if you happen to be one of those moms who were “never bothered by waking at night” or would never want to miss out on those 2 AM moments of bonding, want to come stay at my house for a few weeks six months from now?