When I was pregnant, I hated the phrases “just you wait” or “I’ll remind you of that when…” Now that Avonlea is here, I hate the phrase “you’re a new mom” as much if not more.
I’ve been surprised at how this phrase is used to be condescending and demeaning and everyone from strangers to medical professionals use it to “excuse” or justify my behavior or worse devalue my concerns.
Somehow the new mom designation translates to being uninformed or ignorant in addition to overly emotional, irrational, harried and unstable. Even worse is when the person says, “you’re a new mom” with an eye roll or a tone that indicates you “silly woman.”
Let me be clear, I’m not being an overly emotional new mom because I’m tending to my daughter’s needs. I’m not being an irrational new mom by being prepared. I’m not just being a new mom because I notice changes in my daughter’s behavior and ask questions. I’m not just being an overly concerned new mom because recommended courses of action aren’t working. I’m being a mom.
I first encountered this phrase when I was at the local Macy’s and trying to find a place to change my daughter’s diaper and if necessary feed her. (This was after finding out that the handicap doors didn’t work, so I shouldn’t have had my hopes up.)
Not only was the bathroom not equipped with a changing table but trying to find a chair to sit in for nursing or giving her a bottle was almost impossible.
In desperation, I found a handicap dressing room with a seat. Thankfully even though we were just going to the store for a short time, had packed an extra outfit, a bottle and a few diapers. Poor girl needed the new outfit, two diapers and drank the entire bottle.
When we emerged from the dressing room with a new outfit and a happier (not screaming) baby, fellow shoppers commented on how I “must be a new mom” because I was “over prepared.”
I don’t think I was even a bit over prepared! I was just prepared and knowing my daughter and her general needs doesn’t make me over prepared.
By far, the worst and most condescending comments about my being a new mom has come from a medical specialist we’ve seen.
After our terrible experience in the Pediatric Unit when Avie was four days old (see above photo), I’ve become a much more vocal advocate for my daughter. I’m not afraid to request the next steps in treatments and I’m willing to do my homework.
When the physician recommended course of action isn’t working the timeframe he indicated it would and I say I want to try something else, don’t tell me just being a “new mom.” I want my daughter to get better. I want to make sure this isn’t going to cause long-term issues because we weren’t proactive enough.
So when a nurse or physician essentially blows off my well-researched questions or indicates my wanting to try something else is just because I’m a new mom, it makes me irate.
I highly doubt non-new mothers would ignore their child’s symptoms or would want to be unprepared for a diaper blow out. All parents should feel comfortable advocating for their children whether they are first time parents or fifth time. Period.