Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Mother's Christmas

Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding readers! December's carnival is all about keeping healthy during the festive period and there are (or shortly will be) links to the other wonderful posts at the bottom of this one. Enjoy reading them, and have a lovely Christmas time.

Christmas is a time for families to be together. We have always made an effort to spend time with our parents, brothers and sisters at Christmas, even if it meant that by the end of the holidays we were more exhausted than at the beginning.

Things were no different last year. I had a four month old baby, breastfeeding most of the time and waking me up at least every couple of hours through the night (in fact every hour is probably more accurate). But in those early days of motherhood I still believed that I should be trying to have it all. Yes, I should be taking it easy and spending lots of time nursing my baby, but I should also be cooking fantastic Christmas meals, hosting family at my house, making mince pies, buying gifts for everyone and generally being the life and soul of the party. So, as usual, we arranged a punishing Christmas schedule that would allow us to be all things to all men, as is expected at Christmas. We spent the big day and Boxing Day with my parents, then Cave Father's parents arrived to stay at our house; on the 28th we hosted a party for all the family, and the following days we continued to wait on our house guests.

It was about as far from "fun and relaxing" as you can get. We ended up absolutely exhausted, and Christmas felt more like an ordeal than a pleasure. Instead of enjoying ourselves, we longed for the time when our parents would go home and we could spend some time alone with our baby.

So we are determined that things will be different this year. But if we believe that Christmas is a family time, how can we balance our needs with the needs of our relatives?

Family means more than grandparents, aunts and uncles. Though it sounds strange to my ears, my partner, my daughter and I are a family unit now. Our family bonds needs nourishing, just like the bonds with our extended family. It is too much to expect a new mother to play host to her relatives as well as breastfeeding and caring for a baby. That is just a recipe for illness. So this year we are going to concentrate on nourishing the relationships within our tiny family. We are going to spend Christmas Day at home, cooking a small but (hopefully) perfectly formed Christmas dinner and going a bracing walk with Cave Baby in the backpack. We are going to visit my parents, but not push ourselves too hard by staying the night. We are going to see Cave Father's relatives at New Year, when there is less pressure to conjure up forced Christmas cheer. Above all we are going to put ourselves first for a change - not in a selfish way, but in a "we really just need a break" way. And we are even hoping that (whisper it) Cave Father and I might be able to have sex! Just think of it! After weeks of illness, colds, teething and worry, there has been precious little romance around here.

So here is my recipe for a new mother's healthy Christmas time. See your family, but let them do the cooking. Have guests, but only the ones who will help out around the house and won't complain about you sitting on the sofa breastfeeding all day. Space out the festive activities with luxurious time at home spent enjoying the family that you work so hard for all year.

Most importantly, make sure you make time for your baby and your partner, because the closest bonds are sometimes the ones that get forgotten at this family time.

Happy Christmas.

Photo from Daily Mail.

And while you're here, why not have a look at the other carnival posts:

Mama Knows Breast: A Breastfeeding Poem: Twas the Breastfeeder's Nighttime
Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: Don't Forget the Pump!'s Breastfeeding 1-2-3: Breastfeeding and Dehydration
Accidental Pharmacist: Motherhood Statement
Hobo Mama: Breastfeeding and the holidays: How to take care of yourself
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Taking Care of Yourself and Your Baby During the Holidays
Breastfeeding Moms Unite: Caring for a High Needs Baby During the Holidays
Breastfeeding Mums: Looking After Yourself During the Holidays: 7 Tips for Breastfeeding Mothers
Mommy News & Views: The Holidays And Being A Breastfeeding Mom
Happy Bambino's Blog: How to Take Care of Ourselves During the Holidays
The Adventures of Lactating Girl: Breastfeeding and Holidays


willow81 said...

That's a nice reminder of what is important, thanks. I hope you and Cave Father get to, erm, connect!!!!

carol b said...

wishing you a very relaxing christmas!

The Awakened Heart said...

Here! Here! I absolutely agree. It is so important to remember to nurture and nourish your little family unit at this festive time of year. If you make your boundaries clear, other people WILL respect them and you might find a whole new family tradition emerging - one that really celebrates the true meaning of the season. Merry Christmas!

The Accidental Pharmacist said...

Great advice. As a mom that hosted Thanksgiving dinner 2 weeks after having a c-section 5 weeks before our due date, I'm taking it easy this holiday too. In our case it means no flying out to see either of our families - as you said, we're a family now and that's what we plan to nourish. Happy holidays.

Melodie said...

We're having our first super quiet Christma in over 5 years. Just us with maybe my mom coming for dinner. That's it. I look forward to the extra relaxation. Merry Christmas to my favorite cave family!

Hobo Mama said...

I wholeheartedly agree. I also had to get to that place of accepting the three of us as a family in our own right, and that we could start our own traditions and celebrations.

You've got some great tips for how to integrate extended family & holiday celebrations with keeping your own space and getting enough rest. It's a balance, for sure.

Wow, Accidental Pharmacist, hosting a holiday dinner after a premature c-section?? Good object lesson in not pushing yourself too hard!

Mon said...

I'm so glad for you. A relaxing time with your innermost famly unit is precious and all-important. Enjoy the day, the dinner will be perfect, because it's made with love and enjoyed by loved ones, whether it's burnt or otherwise.

All the best to you and yours. And a dash of romance your way ;)

Darcel said...

I hope you had a great Christmas! Great blog post.
We went to my inlaws, and they did all of the cooking, it was nice.

I'll have to remember what is really important next year, as we will have a new 6 mo old on top of our other 2 children.

Dr Sarah said...

Where do you find the subjects for the Carnivals each month? Is there a list of them posted somewhere?

Best Christmas wishes to you and yours.

Jessica said...

Christmas this year was just the three of us and my husband was practically heartbroken by its smallness. I told him that we are a family now, but he missed his siblings and our parents and all the hubbub. Personally, I loved the quiet :) I guess it'll take some time for us all to get on the same page. But as a mother of an energetic toddler having less to do is a great gift!

Paula said...

Love this!

John R. Carlisle said...

I love Christmas!

John R Carlisle

Cave Mother said...

Dr Sarah: I doubt you'll read this, as it's ages since you posted your comment. But the carnivals are anounced on blogs including the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog (find it on Google).

Sabrina said...

I wish it was Christmas time again!! This is a great post!