I am reading a new book on my new Nook called The Immigrant Advantage by Claudia Kolker. Just to take a small detour here, I got the Nook for Christmas and spent 2 hours yesterday trying unsuccessfully to load my old epubs and maybe check out a library book. I broke down and purchased this book wirelessly right onto my Nook in less than 10 seconds. Coincidence?? I think not!
Anyway, I have only just started reading this book and already have to write about it and encourage you to read it as well. Claudia Kolker is a journalist who became interested in the cool practices new immigrants bring to the US when they first arrive. These practices vary, and I think she may have found enough material for two or three more books. But this practice was just so neat I had to share it.
She had just become pregnant with twins and was looking for advice on managing with two babies at once. A Mexican friend told her to find three people she trusted and felt comfortable around, who loved her and wouldn’t make her crazy, and who would be willing to each help her out for two weeks following the babies’ birth. These friends or relatives would cook, clean, grocery shop and answer the phone. Their role would be to help her rest and recover from her birth and pregnancy, establish good breast-feeding, keep her from feeling isolated, and when needed help with the baby. The idea is that this would free her to care for the new baby without other distractions. The idea is based on a Mexican tradition called “la cuarentena” or the gentle quarantine, which lasts for forty days. What is interesting is that post-partum depression is almost unheard of in areas where this is practiced. The idea is not to create diva-ish “mama-zillas” but to help new mothers serenely transition into their new lives with this extra little person in it. Breast feeding is often more successful when the mother has good mentoring and help in the very beginning, and I know from experience that tension, stress and fatigue dry that milk right up.
I especially love this idea for mothers of multiples. I see women in my practice all the time who eagerly wish for twins (or more! God in heaven) because they incorrectly view the conception as the most trying part. And when you are going through infertility, it is almost impossible to imagine that being granted your dearest wish will be anything but blissful. They are absolutely blind-sided by the demands even one infant can make, much less two. Kolker’s forethought in assembling her own cuarentena was brilliant. If you can find this kind of support, how lovely would those first few days of motherhood be? If early motherhood is in your past, how lovely would this be to offer to your daughter or daughter in law or niece?