When discussing the launch of my prenatal and postpartum doula support business with a dear friend, she mentioned how hard it is to ask for and accept help, even when you’ve just given birth.
She recalled how she didn’t even make use of all the postpartum visits that came with the birth doula package she purchased, because asking for and accepting help is that challenging for her.
This, in turn, made me recall how this same friend had offered to bring me a meal after the birth of my youngest. And, then I remembered how I evaded and dismissed her generous offer - an offer I should have accepted with thankful enthusiasm.
Why is it so hard to ask for help or to accept it when it is offered? Why couldn’t I simply say, yes, I’d love a meal next week and thank my friend?
It is not that I was feeling like I had everything managed. On the contrary, I had three kids age four and under and no family in a four-hour radius. My spouse returned to work a week after Baby #3’s birth, leaving me at home all day with my three littles and a pelvic floor that needed several weeks of rest. On top of that, we’d moved into a new neighborhood in a new town just a few weeks earlier. I didn’t even know my next-door neighbor. The support my dear friend offered was exactly what I needed.
Why do we, as mothers, feel like we have to go it alone when that is the opposite of what we need?
Part of our national myth is the idea of rugged individualism. The self-made (wo)man whose ability to handle it all is a defining characteristic.
Wow, that sounds terrible even as I type it.
Let’s make a vow, shall we? Let us ask for the help we need. Let us accept it when it is offered. Because we need it, and we are worth it. And, we don’t have to go it alone.
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.