Is it really 2020? Forgive me, I have a newborn and life is a blur. Our daughter was born before the holiday rush and I think we managed to celebrate the holidays as best as our family could with a baby and a 4-year-old. My house shows evidence of presents and there is melted candle wax from the menorah stuck to the table. Like any parent of a newborn, sleep deprivation colors the days and nights, skewing my sense of time. The ante is upped with our son, who has had a bumpy transition into his role as a big brother.
Our son is learning how to navigate this new family dynamic, and some days he showers his baby sis with kisses and then there are times when he’s furious that his mom can’t play with him while she’s nursing. At the moment, I feel like I’m juggling fire. I believed the transition to a second child would be easier, which is the axiom of parenting. Breastfeeding this new addition is proving challenging, and have I mentioned that there’s another little person in our household who needs love, attention, and care too? Luckily we’re stumbling through this period with an awful lot of help from family, friends, and maternal health care providers.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of maternal and postpartum support, and feel grateful that I have access to high-quality health care in the Flathead Valley. This care extends to the emotional support moms need to care for their families, including working with a lactation consultant and hospital nurses to ensure proper breastfeeding techniques. This valley, including both hospitals, offer a range of mom and baby support groups to help with nursing and to address the toll of the baby blues and postpartum depression. I’m tapping into all the available options, and appreciate the variety of different services this community offers. It’s critical, and I believe deserves more attention. In addition to health care services in this stage, our family and friends have provided a much needed balm as we make our way from a family of three to a family of four. Meals arrive at our door, friends pop by for a visit and are considerate to include a big brother gift as they lavish attention on his little sister. Cherished friends text messages of support and empathy as I worry about a temper tantrum and if the new siblings will get along. Grandparents hold the baby while a shower is taken or a slighted son needs to play outside.
It’s a joyful time with a newborn and it’s also exhausting, terrifying, and trying. I feel fortunate that I have a wide range of support, from my doctor to the friendly nurses who offer tips and suggestions, to my family who run a load of laundry unasked or snuggle with the baby. As the love in our family has grown, I’m thankful for the love I’ve received from our support network. It’s my sincere hope that all families and mothers get this as well.
Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.