New Parents: Build Your (Support) Village
Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC
NOVEMBER 18, 2020
It's been eight long months, since COVID-19 began seriously impacting our lives, and in that time we've focused a lot of our energy on efforts to protect ourselves and our families. The insidiousness of this virus, and that we are now experiencing the full impact of the fall surge after all this time has left many of us weary, fatigued and mentally exhausted.
There is hope on the horizon with significant gains made towards developing a vaccine and in treatment medications. And yet, from a mental health perspective, we are struggling. We are isolated, anxious and exhausted from the sheer mental effort of calculating every outing to try and limit the potential for exposure. In the midst of this, you've become pregnant, become parents or added a new baby to your family and that's a wonderful thing to be celebrated.
Having a baby in the midst of this pandemic has perhaps been different from what the experience might have been without COVID-19. Perhaps there have been some silver linings in that you and your partner are both working from home and thus providing the opportunity to share this newborn experience together. Perhaps it's made it easier to set boundaries around too many visits from family that might be hard to limit otherwise, or perhaps it's provided you added time from eliminating a commute that you can spend exercising, meditating or simply just slowing down... and yet, the isolation is still a challenging factor.
What we do know, from much of the mental health research, is the positive impact of mutual support, that connection with others going through the same thing. Knowing that you are not alone, that others are having the same struggles brings relief and often humor, where you can share the absurdities of things like poop explosions with others who can really appreciate the experience.
Another "silver lining" of this pandemic is that our new parent groups that typically met in Chestnut Hill, Milton and Dedham locations are all now accessed virtually via Zoom. It doesn't matter anymore if you live in a community where there are limited resources, just hope online and you've found a community.
All BIDMC Parent Connection groups are offered free of charge to any parent, regardless of where your baby was born. To register, visit the Parent Connection page. Once you're registered, we'll send you a zoom link and you're all set.
We've got some long months of winter ahead of us, so don't wait to join in. Don't worry if you feel like a hot mess, (or it's your baby that's the hot mess)and don't wait until you feel you've got it together... that's what this is all about. Show up as your real, authentic hot mess self, it's all good. Some babies are easy, and some are screamers, and sometimes that's just how it goes. So often we get in our own way of having an expectation for ourselves that is completely unrealistic that prevents us from reaching out for the support that we all need. So don't wait, join us, it's time to build your community (even if it's virtual)!