by Robin Hayter, Lactation Consultant
This one is dedicated to the children: the newborns, the toddlers, the school-aged, and all of the new graduates. Approximately 15 months ago, life as we know it ceased. COVID-19 has had an immense impact on the daily lives of people across the world. Everyone has their story of how their life has been upended. We have thanked and honored our healthcare workers and first responders, and grieved with families who have lost loved ones to this awful virus. This has impacted us all in different and unique ways. The purpose of this post is to recognize and honor what this pandemic has done to our children.
Babies born during this pandemic have entered the world under more stressful circumstances. Many birthing parents have been justifiably worried, have endured fears of separation from their babies, have been only allowed limited labor support partners, have scrambled for childcare for other children, and have missed family visiting and helping before and after the birth due to COVID fears. The babies born at this time are also learning social cues in a world where often everyone around them is masked. Babies love to look at whole faces; for more than a year they have been seeing eyes only anytime they are outside of their home. I can see it in their eyes, they look so confused when they come for their visits at the birth center and everyone is masked.
Toddlers and preschoolers have had their worlds rocked, too… the massive quick change to their routines messed with their lives in untold ways. Parents suddenly had a whole lot more to deal with at home, too, as rambunctious youngsters had fewer places to go to get their wiggles out.
My heart breaks when I think of our kiddos grades K-12. Some have entered a brand new school completely online. Schools closed overnight, without any time to say goodbye to friends and teachers. Our kiddos really had no time to process what was happening. In addition, they could not ask their adults, because we had no idea what was happening either! Extracurricular activities, sports, Girl Scout and Boy Scout meetings halted. No more hanging out with friends or going to parks. Many of our children didn’t really leave their house for a year. Graduating seniors missed out on traditions and chances to celebrate. The long-term implications of this era for our children are still unknown; but certainly we know that they were already mentally stressed, and this has made it worse.
We all need to look out for our children and evaluate their coping and mental health. If you fear something is awry, reach out for help. HERE is a link to a helpful link from Albuquerque Public Schools for health and wellness resources for children and families. You don’t need to be part of APS to access these resources.
While many families had parents who lost jobs or worked from home (a situation that came with its own massive struggles on relationships and families and internet bandwidth) both my husband and I were considered “essential workers” and worked the entire time. In my own family, as with many families, this has been the hardest year of our lives. We were already a very busy family — I am still working and I’m also back in school, which has kept me busy enough. In addition, we had three kids distance learning for the majority of the year which was by no means ideal for the teachers, the parents, and (especially) the children. It would break my heart to see them trying to learn this way, and I knew how sad they were not to be able to go to school. Their struggle is real. As I often tell new parents in lactation visits, your child is a part of your heart that is now outside of your body, and when they hurt, your heart hurts.
Then there’s the parenting aspect. My kids have seen me melt down and I have seen them melt down, and while I did my best… I was certainly not the best parent this last year. I am finally realizing that it is okay to be able to say that. Mom/parent guilt is real and we need to be able to validate those feelings of not being good enough when we are balancing way too many things at once. For me, the best thing at the end of a hard day is getting all three of my kiddos in bed with me and just snuggling, especially with our dogs. It is so good for my soul. What have you found to help your family in this time? Feel free to leave a comment below!
I am incredibly grateful that I have been able to continue to come to the clinic for lactation visits. Keeping the birth center open and safe during COVID-19 took a huge sacrifice from our entire staff AND our clients, but we have been open the entire time — which is something to celebrate. This continues to happen because we have all worked together to keep each other safe. This is truly a community, working together for the greater good. This is something for which I know we are all grateful.
COVID-19 also took away our weekly Wednesday morning meet-up — also known as our Breastfeeding Support Group — which has been extremely sad for all of us. I have seen new parents over the last year who would really benefit from that extra support and community, and from realizing that others are going through the same thing.
The great news is that we are hoping that we can begin to bring this group in person back later in the summer! Keep your eyes on our newsletter and social media for dates and times. Yay, something to look forward to!
Thank you for being a part of this community, and please know we’re here to support you and your family. The lessons learned and the resiliency earned that this pandemic brought to all of us will not be fully known for a few years, but it sure feels good that we seem to be moving in the right direction. Looking forward to the coming changes and connections… see you at the birth center as we all begin to heal and grow again. I wish you an easier, more joyful and connected summer with your kiddos!
All my love and hope for a brighter year,
Robin was born and raised in Albuquerque. She gave birth to her first daughter in 2007, and welcomed her second daughter in 2009. Having two young children so close together taught her that she had to lean on family, friends and her community. In 2012, she was expecting her third child and felt so fortunate to find Dar a Luz. Her third daughter Asha, was born that September. In 2016, Robin became a Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. She is excited to currently be in nursing school! She enjoys helping women achieve their personal breastfeeding goals, and is honored to have the opportunity to be with women in their individual transition to motherhood. It takes a village to raise a child, and Robin loves seeing women become confident and empowered mothers.
This newsletter is dedicated to my three smart, awesome babies. Photo courtesy of Katie Buckles photography.