I’m a brand new mom. It’s taken some time to sink in, but I think I’m finally starting to see myself in this new role (although apparently it’s been much more obvious for those around me as friends have been good-naturedly chiding me for weeks about making cheesy new mom remarks).
The first few weeks were definitely an experience of living life at extremes. I felt more full of life and joy than ever, yet most of the time I was so tired I felt like I was sleepwalking. The smallest hint of a smile or coo was monumental, yet so was trying to accomplish the most basic of household tasks.
Washing the first load of tiny baby clothes while I was still pregnant was strange but exciting. I was amazed at how much cute little clothing could fit into one load of laundry. After the first few days with the baby I was just as amazed at how often all those same little clothes had to be washed.
Simple chores like going to the grocery store were seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and what would I do with the food once I got it anyway? I could barely find time to open a container of yogurt—cooking? Yeah, right!
But I could feel how much my body needed good nutrition at that point. Having enough energy to get through the day was one thing, but my body was also trying to recover and produce enough milk for this little baby with a big (and frequent!) appetite.
Fortunately my husband and I have had lots of support to get us through these early weeks and months, but it’s still been far from easy. I can’t imagine going through this period with the extra stress of worrying about whether or not I could afford to buy what we needed.
I’ve worked with federal nutrition programs nearly every day for more than seven years, but this life experience gave me a whole new appreciation for them. WIC especially stood out in my mind because its whole purpose is to provide critical nutrition at critical times: pregnancy, postpartum and the first weeks and years of a child’s life.
WIC helps nearly 9 million women, infants, and children every day by providing them with very specific food items tailored to the needs of each. Women receive the nutrition they need to stay healthy during and after pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Babies and young children receive the nutrition they need to grow and thrive in their early weeks and years.
In addition to food, these families can receive many other supports to ensure that their children have what they need to get off to a great start physically and mentally.
As a nation we’re hearing a great deal right now about deficits, budgets, and looming cuts across the board. It’s a time to reassess our priorities and decide on the kind of leadership we want at the helm going forward. My hope is simply that our leaders remember how important the early years of our children are for their long term health and development and that they maintain a firm commitment to the well-being of all of our children.