Today’s Warrior Mom guest post comes from Samantha Konikoff, who lives in Bellingham, Washington.
Eva Amurri Martino and her son. (Photo credit: Eva Amurri Martino on Instagram)
While browsing through Facebook this week, I saw a news story about Eva Amurri Martino—the actress, blogger and daughter of Susan Sarandon—who was coming out about the trauma she experienced after a night nurse accidentally fell asleep and dropped her infant son. Thank goodness the baby is just fine.
Without even clicking on the article or comments, I knew that (mostly) women would be throwing stones at Eva because she had a night nurse, a professional hired to care for a baby throughout the night. And sure enough, they were. Commenters scoffed, writing that she is a celebrity and can afford to have someone else raise her baby while “us normal people” do it all on our own.
But why is having a night nurse shunned?
I am not a celebrity. I am middle class. And yet we had a night nurse once a week with our second child. It was the best decision my husband and I ever made, and I believe it helped my mental health.
For five glorious weeks, a night nurse named Nancy was at our house from 10 p.m. on Thursday night until 6 a.m. on Friday. She stayed in our daughter Emma’s room, and when Emma woke up, our nurse Nancy would feed her, change her and rock her, and then leave me notes about it to read when I got up in the morning. We bottle-fed so I didn’t need to be woken up for feedings. If our son (who was 3 at the time) woke up, that was our responsibility. Since she was up all night, she also offered to fold my laundry. Yes, you read that right. When morning came, POOF! Baskets of folded laundry.
When I had my first child, Evan, I experienced postpartum depression/anxiety. One of the triggers was not knowing things and becoming overwhelmed in trying to find the answers. Three years later, when Emma was born, I immediately knew it could happen again. At one point, both kids had colds, and we weren’t sleeping. We needed help.
My mom had a night nurse when I was a newborn in the late 1970s, and she always said how sad she was the day the woman left. And I remembered my friend talking about this amazing night nurse who helped with her twins. My husband and I had received a check from a family member for our daughter’s birth, and we decided this is how the money should be spent.
We hired Nancy when Emma was about five weeks old. She was amazing. She had been doing this for over 25 years and was a kind and sweet and caring woman. During one of her visits, we talked about the postpartum depression I had with my son. She said that with new moms, she always keeps her feelers out for depression, and had dealt with it before.
For the five weeks that Nancy was with us, I had her knowledge at my fingertips any time I needed it. I would call her and ask her about feeding schedules, how to drop a night feeding and whether it was the right time, and how to get the baby to sleep less during the day and more at night. I had an expert at my disposal and that was worth its weight in gold.
I wish that when moms are sent home from the hospital or birth center, or at least at their baby’s first doctor visit, they should be given a list of night nurses.
It truly takes a village to raise our children, and if you can get a postpartum doula, night nurse, family member, or friend to stay up with your baby for a night here or there, I’d say take the sleep. Your mental health may depend on it.
Love this. Thank you samantha. Totally agree with you. Healthy mama happy baby. How everyone gets there is personal and there is no “right way”. Thank you for speaking out!
Beautifully put! When will the mom shaming end? Only when enough of us speak up for ourselves and other moms! I know that if I hadn’t felt so ashamed of my need for help 16 and 14 years ago, I wouldn’t have spent the last 11 years working on getting over the trauma of my pod. Thanks for speaking up!
In the Chinese culture, traditionally we have the month long post-Partum care, usually provided by our mom or relative or hired help. My mom was my night nurse for my first child. She volunteered to sleep with him and took care of him every night for a month. I stored my breast milk in the fridge for his feedings at night.
My mother in law came for my second child. I could not oblige her to do the same for me at night. However, she was a great help too, cooking nutritious meals for us.
Having had my mom helping me at night for the first month was the best gift I had.
I know that in certain cities, there are postpartum hotels for new mothers to stay for a month. To me , it is a great idea but nothing beats having someone help care for you and the baby at the comfort of your own home.