I am happy to bring you another guest post by my sister-in-law Esther. She is married to my brother Matthew, and they are raising four sweet and adorable little people who are currently ages 7 (Ger), 5 (Ellie), 3 (Adaline), and 18 months (Naomi, or “Mimi” as she is affectionately called). Esther wrote this over three years ago, before Adaline was born.
Dear Young Mom I Saw In Target Yesterday;
I don’t go to Target very often. In fact, this was the first time I had been to the Target in this area. But I had some gift cards for the store and had determined to use them toward a new infant car seat for our soon-to-arrive third baby.
While I was looking at car seats I heard your infant cry in the next aisle. I knew he couldn’t be very big from his cry. While selecting a car seat, I heard him cry a couple more times.
When I came out of the car seat section and headed toward another part of the store to finish our shopping, I glanced at you and your eyes met mine for a split second. They seemed to be filled with desperation and distress as you were holding your fussing baby and trying to accomplish another task at the same time. Not wanting to embarrass you by having a stranger staring, I quickly looked, and walked, away. My two-year-old commented, “Baby’s sad!” to which I responded, “Yes, that baby is a little sad.”
It wasn’t until later, after we left the store and were headed home, that my mind began to process what I had seen in that split second and I more fully realized what was going on.
You were alone, in the store, with your newborn infant. He couldn’t have been older than two weeks, and looked closer to one week old. You were looking at baby carriers, attempting to try one on (I believe a Mei Tai style) with one hand while holding your baby with the other. You were having trouble figuring out how to accomplish that. Your sweet little son was feeling a little insecure and was letting you know it, and his crying was stressing you out. I don’t know if he was your first baby or not, but you didn’t look that familiar with him yet and you definitely did not look familiar with carriers. Since he was so little you can’t have been more than a week or two postpartum—maybe this trip was even your first one out on your own. You were feeling desperate and distressed, and frustrated, and probably majorly overwhelmed by the newness of your infant, the freshness of postpartum-ness, the experience of being out on your own with your babe, and the big wide confusing-to-a-beginner world of carriers.
I wish now that I had stopped to help you, or at least offered to. Having had two babies of my own already, I do know a thing or two about infants. Having worn my second one practically from birth until she could walk, I’ve learned a little about carriers and babywearing. I wish I had assisted you in finding what you were looking for so you could go home and rest and cuddle with your infant.
In fact, I wish it so strongly that I had a very difficult time falling asleep last night for thinking about you. Wondering whether you managed to find and purchase something, or whether you just gave up and went home and cried yourself to sleep, frustrated and discouraged and despairing. Wondering whether you will persevere to babywear or whether your first experience was sufficiently frustrating to convince you it’s not worth trying. If I had been in your shoes I probably would have not been emotionally in a good state after the experience on a good day, but especially not so freshly postpartum.
Because, the truth is, you’re not alone. I’ve been there too. I’ve been freshly postpartum twice now and will be again in a few short weeks. I’ve tried to grow my independence by going out on my own with my two littles and had very upsetting, frustrating experiences where I did just end up feeling alone and stressed out and ready to give up. I’ve been totally overwhelmed with all the newness and bigness and complicatedness of everything of postpartum, including all the changes to my own body. I’ve been in the place where everything makes me cry, and I just feel discouraged about life. I’ve been to where every time my baby cries in public I get so stressed and distressed I can barely function. I feel you…so strongly I can almost breathe it now.
I just wish I had seen it all then, and reached across the stranger-distance to offer you some tangible encouragement when you needed it. I hope you will persevere to baby wear; it is a worthwhile thing to do.
Your baby is precious, and you are a good mom.
Wishing I could redo that moment,
The Other Young Mom In Target ♥