Coping. We all do it. Some off us face more challenging situations than others. I find myself in a room with my adult peers and I can’t help but wonder, “How would she have faced motherhood as a teen?”. As we grow we face more and more difficulty in life. Experiences change the way we think. You learn how to cope with what life throws at you. You begin to wonder, how do others cope, or how would they have handled what I went through? So much stress can ensue a teen pregnancy. A young person may have to shut down mentally and not really process what is happening. Unable to work out frustrating feelings, a teen can become angry, isolated and even self-medicate through a variety of options. Food, alcohol, drugs, pills: all can be used to escape the pain that reality has now become.
In high school I was very much focused on my social life. Starting a family was never an immediate want or desire. I was really into my dance team and everything that was up and coming for a teenage girl. I did not want the responsibility of caring for a baby, or anyone else for that matter. I was self-focused, pretty normal for a young teen. For those that choose to get pregnant because they are wanting a baby, it still may be a shocking experience to go through pregnancy, birth and care for a new life 24/7. Looking back, those first weeks were the hardest. Close friends from my teen mom class at school confided in me they also had similar frustrations. I was so tired after having my first, I was alone in caring for him, and waking up with a new baby was very difficult. I had never gone without sleep. I had no idea how maddening it is. Had I talked with seasoned moms about caring for a newborn, I would have at least know my feelings of helplessness and exhaustion were normal. That is of course why I’m writing about it now, because over the years I have learned some things about coping with stress – what works and what does not.
I will always suggest educating yourself on a subject. Read up on postpartum. Get familiar with the stages you and your baby will go through. Take a class. A local organization in my area offers infant massage classes (for free!). I need to check this out and write a post, because it is a great example of a tool you can use to cope. Once you have learned about the stages of your baby, you will be better equipped to recognize what’s right and wrong. Be prepared for the no sleeping. Set up help if you have it available through family or friends. Ask a friend if she would consider spending some nights at your house to give you a break or plan for sleep time during the day when help is more available. Nap. Naps are so key. You may not want to hear that taking a nap is now a part of your life and success story, but learn from me, they do you so much good as a mom. Proper rest keeps you balanced and calm. You can avoid so many stupid regrets sometimes simply by realizing you feel off and need to rest your body before you try to tackle something else. Nutrition goes hand in hand with rest. I’m sure you will get plenty of reminders on nutrition throughout pregnancy, just be sure to continue healthy habits after you deliver. You can cope with the stress much better when your body has the nutrients it needs to function. I recommend smoothies. Keep extra fruit around by purchasing some frozen. I also keep dry milk in the pantry. It adds extra protein to the shakes, and is inexpensive compared protein powders. Just like the right things do your body good, toxins do your body bad. Staying up all night to hang out or party, binge drinking, heavy drugs/pills:
All these things may offer escape, but ultimately will make you weak.
Being social and networking among the right people will benefit you. We all need relationships to feel whole. Excessive partying is a waste of time and will absolutely affect your ability to parent and be successful. Wouldn’t you rather invest your time and energy in something that will bring you life long benefits?? How about developing a strong bond with your child, one based on love and trust – or putting in long hours of hard work to get your dream job? Be smart with coping habits because what you choose now will most likely set the stage for how you handle future stress.
Now that you’re thinking about taking care of yourself, let’s talk breaks. I am still shocked by my feelings and emotions some days. I can feel completely happy playing with my kids and enjoying life one day, and then become totally overwhelmed and hyper sensitive to stress within 24 hours. My point is that never trust your feelings as your reality and sometimes you just need a break. I have good news for young moms, while having a responsible sitter rocks for some time away, you can take a break without a babysitter! I have a large family now and it has been a challenge to find one person to care for all my children. It takes a very special individual or multiple adults for me to have time away. Needless to say, I do not hire a sitter often. I do, however, have regular coffee dates. My husband and I strap all the children in their car seats and go for coffee. My favorite is Starbucks. I get out of the house, I don’t have anyone climbing on me, I play some good music and it stimulates my joy. I got some good advice from a mom of 4 when I was sixteen. She told me that she regularly would feel overwhelmed when the baby was crying loud and long. Whenever she began to lose it, she would put the baby in the crib and walk away for a few minutes to calm down. She would get her favorite drink (her’s was Coke) and give herself a moment to compose before going back to care for the baby. It was her way of coping and keeping everyone safe, without yelling or losing her peace in front of the kids. Sometimes, I have learned, simply changing your scenery can change your outlook. Taking a walk or getting out into nature by going to a park, keep these ideas in mind if you are feeling irritable or depressed. You can do this! If nothing you seem to try is helping, be sure to reach out to a your doctor or family for more resources. Never Isolate! #NoTeenShame #PleasingAbba