They Say It Takes A Village

Last month I had a baby and I thought it was ready for it. Oh boy oh boy oh boy was I wrong. I had taken the classes, read the books, and talked endlessly with my parent-friends about their experiences. Still, from the moment my little boy arrived I felt in way over my head. I knew there would be late nights but I had no idea just how much of a toll that takes on your mind and body. But this post isn’t about the details of my first weeks as a parent. I would much rather talk about an interesting concept I recently heard about that involves community support for new parents.

I’m sure you’ve heard the cliché – it takes a village to raise a child. Yes, yes, that’s all well and good. But like many things in this country, we don’t practice what we preach. My employer offers no maternity leave so I’m forced to use sick leave to get any paid time off while caring for myself and my baby after birth. I was in the hospital for less than 48 hours and sent home with some leaflets and booklets about newborns. If it weren’t for my husband, friends, and family, I probably would have had a major breakdown. So I was intrigued by something my mother-in-law told me.

She is from Switzerland and she told me that there they offer support for overwhelmed parents. For example, if your baby is screaming for hours on end or has kept you up night after night, you can take him/her to the hospital and nurses will gladly take over for a few hours while you regain your sanity. Isn’t that great? The purpose of such a service is prevent parents from going over the edge and shaking their baby. This is the type of social service that contributes to “it takes a village.” And imagine if we had something like that for more than just parents. What if you are the main caretaker for an elderly parent and could get some help when you feel overwhelmed? Or if you parent a special needs child? Or what if you need to drop yourself off for any reason? I know I would love a place to go where I could walk in, tell someone that I’m super stressed and gentle souls would take care of me for a bit. Such care centers could be life changing for some people and could prevent some truly tragic situations.

Anyone have ideas on how to get this started? I’d love to see a more “village” mentality here in the TC!

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Andrea Aebersold

Andrea Aebersold

I am an English professor at Washington State University Tri-Cities, which allows me to make a living as a book nerd. When I'm not reading, I can be found cooking, cuddling my dog, or drinking wine in Walla Walla.

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  • Oh momma, I understand, and YES! It’s an excellent idea! I agree, we have very poor postpartum support in more ways than one in the U.S. My friend in Canada gets one year partial-paid maternity leave; wouldn’t that be nice! My friend is a Certified Doula here in Maple Valley where I live, and she offers care during the first days or weeks after childbirth. She does anything needed to help ease your transition to new parenthood — from caring for you and your baby and offering breastfeeding advice to cooking, babysitting, running errands, and even doing light housework. Her goal is “To serve and support the family unit in the best practical, emotional, informational, and physical way possible, as they transition through the miraculous process of welcoming a new life into the family.” Her business is called Solid Beginnings: Antepartum and Postpartum Care Services (www.facebook.com/solidbeginnings). I’m sure you would be able to find a doula whom offers similar services in Tri-Cities. Congratulations on your new little one!