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Adjustments to Tending

by Carol Castanon, Child Development Specialist and Parent Consultant

Babies nurture their parent and parents nurture their baby.  Sometimes, there are absolutely clear moments of the woman, man, mother or father you had hoped to be, and that you are.  Other times, the change into parenthood, tending another can feel foggy or unclear.  Growing into parenthood might feel exciting to many.  But for some, it might feel heavy or dense.  Or most often, different emotions at the same time are true.  This relationship, the love of parent and new baby is often complex, seemingly long, and charged with emotion.  If it is not the baby crying it might be the parent!  It turns out that when a parent is cared for it really helps mothers and fathers care for their baby.

In the beginning, a mother and or father experience a range of emotional postpartum mood adjustments. Women might, maybe yes maybe no, feel they are in the stage of baby blues during the first couple of weeks after the birth of their baby.  This is short lived, about 2 weeks and no longer. Approximately 20% of women will experience Postpartum Mood Disorders {PPMD} which could include distress, anxiety and or depression. Sometimes these feelings are compounded by life experiences.  A surprise pregnancy, a difficult pregnancy or birth, multiples, a pre-mature baby or baby in need of medical care might trigger feelings of distress.  In our culture, sometimes, a new mother is not given the proper amount of time to rest for healing and bonding time.  Helping hands are necessary and good after the birth of a baby!  The most extreme emotional disturbance is known as postpartum psychosis.  This is when a mother is no longer able to safely take care of herself or her children.  It is serious and needs serious and immediate medical attention.

Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center’s Emotional Care programs nurture those times where there is something hard that is trying to be understood.  To begin, there is breastfeeding and newborn support.  The birth of a new baby brings questions, physical changes, and new intimate relationships.  It is the beginning of full on tending.  As you care for another, we look toward expanding your circle of being cared for.  ParentCare home visits are meant to nurture you at home and in community.  

Emotional Care includes therapy for individuals and couples, as well as parents and children. NTNC is certainly focused on supporting mothers with PPMD.  But tending throughout the early years can really test how we understand others and how we are understood.  Getting therapy might lift up those that feel down by giving a compassionate and non-judgmental ear to life experience.  Therapy is intended to be deeply helpful and indeed healing.  Sometimes, even parents, need help understanding what’s trying to be understood as they tend their way through the intimate relations of family.  

Families discover, weave, leap and wobble their way toward each stage of family.  Sometimes it is a happy path and sometimes blue.  The first year can feel wide and long, but with a look back it yields into caring for a young tot.  The young tot also leaps and wobbles forward.  There are tears, laughter, running towards and away, snuggles and sleepless nights.  The rigors of parenting emerge in a different way.  And the discovery of the parent you imagined, and the child you dreamed of take a different form. This is true from young tot to older tot, and through those early years.

Emotional care might also be a parent consultation.  Parents seeking more information about their child’s developmental stage and behaviors might wish to have a private session to problem solve the parts of relationship that seem tricky.  Alas, there may be days when both children and adults find themselves feeling unsure. Scheduling a parent consultation is largely about listening, putting pieces of a child’s experience together, and uncovering what is important to a parent with inquiry and problem solving.

There is often, but not always, fluidity to our programs.  Many families will take advantage of several of our programs while others will use just one.  We may recommend trying the support of an additional program, expanding the circle of support both within the Center and the larger community.  Together, we work hard at simply walking with you through the early years of tending…