If your baby has a nappy leak in the middle of the night, the traditional options have been to 1) replace the crib sheet with a clean one in the rare case your sleep-deprived brain has remembered to keep a spare, or 2) do laundry and sob. (You can't just drape any old blanket on the bare mattress and say "see ya in the morning" - it could be a choking hazard.)
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When my daughter was born, some friends came over to visit and brought us flowers. "Do you have a vase to put these in?" one chirped. As I sat there on an exercise ball, bopping my newborn up and down in a bleary-eyed state, my brain could not compute the request. Thanks, they're beautiful, but really? Does it look like I have the capacity to tend to another living thing?!
Interesting news out of the Netherlands: A team of researchers tracked nearly 85,000 women through their pregnancies and beyond, and found that self-esteem in pregnant women and new mothers fluctuates: It dips during the 30th week of pregnancy, rises until the child is six months old, and then declines for at least the next two and a half years. The good news is that maternal self-esteem eventually did recover: When the researchers followed the women for subsequent pregnancies, they found that the women had returned to their previous level of self-esteem.
In the months after my kids were born, the news cycle would send me into tailspins of anxiety and fear. The Penn State sex-abuse scandal and the Newtown shootings paralysed me for days -- I wept while changing nappies, wept in the bathtub, wept while pushing the stroller down the street. What might have been (merely!) horrifying pre-kids was now incapacitating. For my own mental health, I had to stop reading the news and looking at social media.