Can I make a confession? Every year on my son’s birthday, I try to steal a moment and give myself a little pat on the back. For the excruciating hours I labored in the delivery room. For all the soupy, smelly diapers I’ve changed. For the countless books and articles I’ve read so I could be a better parent. For the long nights spent rocking him back to sleep. As much as I love being a mom — and I very much do — it’s not the easiest gig out there, and I think there’s something to be said for acknowledging the hard work every now and then.
Pampers Japan is right there with me and devoted an entire commercial to us mothers (h/t Huffington Post). In the tearjerker of an ad, we see moms taking their babies for their first-year checkup. They talk frankly to the pediatrician about their child’s progress but also about their first year as a mom. “I was so unsure when she was first born,” one woman says. “I’d worry myself to tears almost every day.” Another wondered, “Am I doing this right?” (Sound familiar?)
But more interesting than that were the goings-on in the hall outside the doctor’s office. Dads were setting up a surprise party, but the guest of honor wasn’t their newly minted one-year-old. It was mom, who was also celebrating her first year as a parent. There was cake, yes, but also (and here’s where I start bawling) photos and signs celebrating them and their commitment to their families. “I almost cried when you first said ‘hello’ to our son,” one dad wrote on a sign. “Thank you for deciding to do this,” wrote another.
Grab the tissues and watch the full video below. (And be sure to turn on the video captions, unless you speak Japanese.)
Tell us: How has motherhood been for you so far? What has surprised you the most?
One of the most frightening moments of motherhood happened when my son was about 20 hours old.
A woman came into my hospital room to give him a bath. It was around midnight, which even in my bleary-eyed state struck me as an odd time to clean an infant. I remembered a nurse told me to always check the badges of people coming into my room — the implication being that even with a staffed-up security team, interlopers could sneak in the hospital. So I eyeballed the woman’s badge in my near-dark room and it looked official enough.
Until a few seconds later, when all of a sudden it didn’t. And she was already gone with my baby in hand. Even though the front desk assured me the woman was in fact a night nurse, I couldn’t sit still until he was back in my arms. It was one of the worst 20-minute waits of my life.
So when I read about a California woman who waltzed into a maternity ward wearing scrubs and carrying fake babies, my heart dropped into my stomach. As ABC News reports, Tonya Whitney said she brought the dolls — called “reborns” because they look an awful lot like a newborn — to Mercy Medical Center in Merced, Calif., in the hopes of selling them to administrators for training or therapeutic purposes. She entered through the ER and a nurse there told her to go straight up to the maternity ward.
Thankfully, a security guard stopped Whitney and her stash of faux babies from entering and took a picture of her. (It appeared on a flyer later posted around the hospital warning staffers about her.) Police were called, and Whitney was charged with trespassing, though she swears her intentions were good. “I, in no way, tried impersonating a nurse,” she told the ABC affiliate in Fresno, and attributed her very nurse-like attire to a recent weight gain. She also said, “I, in no way, ever thought or tried to steal a baby.”
Still, officials were understandably troubled. Turns out, she’s tried this before. ”We are concerned because she did show up at the ER and attempted to get into the maternity ward not once but twice so that concerns us; we’re afraid for the potentiality of abduction,” Merced Police Capt. Tom Trindad told KFSN-TV. And it doesn’t help Whitney’s case that she and her husband were fawning over the dolls as if they were real. “They hold them and hug them and change their diapers,” Mercy Medical Center hospital spokesman Robert McLaughlin told ABC News. “It’s very odd.”
I’m just relieved that security guards were on point that day and police are taking Whitney’s unauthorized visit seriously. After all, a new mom’s focus should be on bonding with baby and maybe even getting a little sleep before going home — not worrying about whether someone is trying to snatch their infant out from under them.
Tell us: If you delivered at a hospital, did you worry about security at all?
Everything was going so well with my newborn son. He had quickly figured out his days and nights. He could latch on with the best of them. And, most importantly, he was starting to give my husband and me long stretches of time to sleep.
Then he turned 6 months old and started an 18-month reign of terror where he’d wake up no fewer than six times a night with a wail that could wake the dead. Some time around month two, I moved from denial (“It’s just a phase”) to full-blown crankiness (“He’s awake? Again??”). My Google search history during that time consisted of phrases like “sleep training techniques that actually work” and “what’s the least amount of sleep a human needs?” I cornered every well-rested-looking parent I could find and all but forced them to tell me how they were getting their baby to sleep through the night.
Yeah, it was a dark time.
So when a new study published in Sleep Medicine found that interrupted sleep can have the same physical toll on you as no sleep at all, I was hardly surprised. Researchers at Tel Aviv University’s School of Psychological Sciences found a connection between broken sleep and “compromised cognitive abilities, shortened attention spans, and negative moods,” according to Science Daily – and that was after volunteers endured just one night of interrupted sleep. If that weren’t bleak enough, the scientists also discovered that a night of fitful rest is basically the same as getting four (four!) consecutive hours of sleep. “These night wakings could be relatively short, only five to 10 minutes,” points out lead researcher Professor Avi Sadeh, “but they disrupt the natural sleep rhythm.”
“Our study shows the impact of only one disrupted night,” he continued, “but we know that these effects accumulate and therefore the functional price new parents — who awaken three to 10 times a night for months on end — pay for common infant sleep disturbance is enormous. Besides the physical effects of interrupted sleep, parents often develop feelings of anger toward their infants and then feel guilty about these negative feelings.”
And those bad feelings, to be honest, were much harder on me than the crush of nausea and exhaustion that greeted me every morning. Here was this innocent, beautiful child who I loved more than anything, yet his constant wakings were causing my husband and me more angst and stress than anything ever had. Dr. Sadeh, who regularly counsels new parents at TAU’s sleep clinic, hopes studies like this one bring attention to the issues exhausted moms and dads face. As a mom who survived a wicked, relentless stretch of sleep deprivation, I hope so, too.
You know Facebook is fabulous for sharing all those adorable shots of your baby with your friends and family—but just this week, the social media site was credited with helping bring a kidnapped newborn back to her parents, according to CNN.
New mom Mélissa McMahon handed her daughter Victoria over to a woman who looked and acted like a nurse—but the woman wasn’t. And the fake nurse fled the hospital in Quebec with McMahon’s baby. Fortunately, the hospital quickly discovered what happened, and several other patients were able to give descriptions of the woman. Security cameras caught an image of her with baby Victoria, along with her red Toyota Yaris leaving the hospital lot. The Amber Alert blast with the image of the woman and her make and model of car quickly caught fire on Facebook, where it drew the attention of Charlène Plante—who recognized the woman as her former neighbor. She and a few friends drove past the house, discovered her former neighbor was home, and alerted police. Within moments, the police were there, and baby Victoria was on her way back to the hospital and her frantic parents.
Two great takeaways from this story: Even though most hospitals have security measures in place to prevent these tragic situations, you may want to double check the ID badges and credentials, especially if someone’s planning to take your baby out of your sight. And you should always check out (and share) those Amber Alerts on Facebook. You never know when you might be able to help bring a child home!
Tell us: Do you always check out Amber Alerts on Facebook? How cautious were you when you were in the hospital?