May 18, 2009

Mothers and Babies and Surviving

Yep. I missed the entire month of April, and I'm late for the month of May. Usually, the 18th of the month is reserved just for me. But I have a fantastic excuse. Honest. :) Really, I do....

On April 2nd, I became a mother to a beautiful baby girl named Victoria Elizabeth. Now, isn't that the perfect name for this time period of the 1800's? All right, so the Elizabethan age is a bit earlier, but it's close enough, right?

Anyway, since my time is quite limited these days, and since this little treasure is occupying my thoughts and focus, I figured a topic on mothers and babies and survival would be a propo.

Think about it. In today's world, there is a lot of pressure on new moms to get right back to work after having a baby, or to ditch breastfeeding in favor of the bottle to save time or eliminate inconvenience on the mother's part. As a stay-at-home mom who breastfeeds, I cringe at circumstances like that when it's purely for the mother's convenience.

During the 1800's, when it was rare for women to be anywhere but at home, if they had a baby, they would think nothing of a midwife's or doctor's instructions to stay in bed for weeks with their newborn. It would be a time of bonding, healing, recovering and tending. And all women need this time for their bodies to recoup.

Of course, women who did this often had a female family member or two (or a neighbor) there to tend to the household duties and share the load of caring for the baby.

For women who didn't have this luxury, there was always the sling or papoose-like wrap so they could carry the baby with them while they worked. If it wasn't their first child and their other child(ren) was old enough to help, the work load would be shared in that fashion.

Let's face it. Motherhood is hard work. Add to it the responsibilities of tending to the home in a time without modern conveniences where you'd spend all day preparing meals, washing clothes, cleaning, sewing and sometimes even assisting with the plowing, animals or livestock...and you've got a doubly-full day.

However, it wasn't often that a new mother was left alone to fend for herself. Unless she and her family lived miles and miles away from anyone else, the ladies in the community would rally together to lend their assistance wherever it was needed. They would make sure the mother and baby got their rest and provide companionship for when the post-partum blues might set in.

If you ask me, having a baby today is far more lonely and sometimes harder than it was over 100 years ago. Our modern "conveniences" seem to have only put more and more distance between people and made new mothers feel like they have to "do it all" or they've failed. How well I know that feeling. I've had a couple of friends and my family step up to help, but it's still difficult. My daughter is only 7 weeks old, and right now, I'd give anything to have another woman around all the time, even if just for companionship.

So many say we have made great progress in this day and age. I think we can actually learn quite a lot from the women of the 1800's. In fact, I believe we'd all find the experience quite rewarding.

What do you think?


Linda said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. In fact, Dr. James Dobson talks about the dilemmas today when women don't have female assistance and friendship like olden days. You are so right-on.

Keli Gwyn said...

Your little Victoria is adorable. Congrats!

I think it's sad how women today are rushed right back into action after delivering a baby. My daughter was born in Germany in a German hospital. They keep mothers a week, during which time they are taught how to nurse, bathe their little one, change them, etc. I enjoyed being pampered and was in much better shape to care for my little gal when I got home.

CherryBlossomMJ said...

I'm emailing you. I have way to much to say!