Friday, September 24, 2010

New Mom Isolation?

The Question:
Dear Jane,
I know it has been a long time since you were just a mother of one, but as that is what I am, that is where my question comes from. My question isn't about my baby, it's about me.
Now, let me first set some things straight. I love being a mother. It is the most fulfilling thing that I have ever done. My daughter is seriously an angel baby. When she's having a rough day, other people don't understand because that is how their babies were on normal days. She is a great sleeper and is as cute as can be. I love her. She is great. I am doing everything I can to soak up these precious moments when I am her best friend and she lights up when she sees me. I know this time is going to go by fast.
My problem is the loneliness in my life. My husband is great, but he is working while also attending law school. Although he is the oldest in his family, he struggles with his schedule no longer being his own with the little one around, esp. since our time together is limited due to the demands on his time. We don't live anywhere near family; we don't feel like we fit in at all in our ward (which is amazing in a ward where there have already been something like 20 babies born this year, you would think we'd be perfect in that demographic.) I am tired of trying to make friends and failing, but 18 hours alone every day with a 3 month old gets to be a little isolating. I even have talked to my doctor about PPD, but she's fairly certain that that is not my issue.
When it is a chore just to get to the grocery store with my little one, how am I supposed to be motivated to get out  and do other things? How can I combat this new mom isolation and have a conversation where I can get a response that is a little more complex than ga ga goo?

Thank you,
The Answer:
Dear AJ,
I am reasonably certain that since you wrote this letter back in July, you have already solved this problem to some degree.  But because I've received several letters like yours, I'm going to offer some suggestions.
First let me refer you to a response from last March (March 8: Dealing with Loneliness)  In it, I give almost every idea I can think of for reaching out and connecting with others.  There are also several great comments from readers that might help you.
But besides "reaching out" ideas, I'd like to give you one other thought.  I've discovered over my lifetime, that there are some lonely seasons.  I've gone through them.  I've watched my children go through them.  I think they serve a purpose.  We really learn compassion when we experience that isolated feeling.  We don't like to see someone sitting alone.  We are motivated to teach our children how to notice and include people.   But more than even these valuable lessons, I think we really discover the reality of a Heavenly Father.  I've never felt closer to him than during those times when I've run out of places to turn.  The more lonely I've felt, the more open I've been to his love.  Maybe it's just that we have to be really empty before we recognize how it feels to be filled.  Certainly, those times of isolation and need have deepened my testimony more than the times of feast.
Because before long, life becomes full and busy and so we forget, to some degree, that most precious relationship and we lose, to some degree, that precious dependence. 
So my suggestion is that you try to form friendships, but also learn the lessons that your present life can teach you. 
All my love,


  1. I think we all feel this way when we have our first baby. It's sometimes boring and we feel unproductive. I didn't know if I was supposed to sit and hold or play with the baby all day or if it was okay to put her down. I found some hobbies and that helped. My husband started law school when our first was 2 months old, so believe me, I know the feeling.
    My recommendations; attend play group, just to talk, even though your baby can't play
    Find a hobby- reading, sewing, cooking
    Don't read too many of the parenting/baby books- you'll go crazy thinking you have to be some kind of perfect Mom.
    Enjoy your baby, but it's also okay for the baby to lay on the floor next to you while you read, or sit in the swing while you work on a hobby.
    It get's better and in a few months you'll look back and wonder what happened to your little baby.

  2. I think Jane's response is beautiful and so true. This response really rang true to with me today. I loved when she said "Maybe it's just that we have to be really empty before we recognize how it feels to be filled."

    I'm not a mother yet, but my husband and I just moved to a new state and I work from home, talk about isolating, it's just me, alone, all day. I'm so grateful for my job because it means that when we do have little ones I'll be able to stay near my babies (and that is the only reason I'm keeping this job). But it's a real sacrifice I'm putting in now for my babes, and many days and weeks it is so lonely. I needed to hear that - thank you Jane

  3. Have you heard of The Bloomsbury Foundation? (

    Joining a group there might be an outlet good outlet for you--especially if you're feeling like you don't fit in.

  4. hi jane, your theory about periods of loneliness has been completely true for me. i had a long one in a place where i knew no one - it was especially hard because i had just come from a place where i knew EVERYONE. i had 1 baby and another on the way and i honestly felt like no one cared. since coming out of that period of loneliness i see how much i learned from it - i'm constantly the one making friends with the new girls in the ward, even if they aren't staying for long. my ability to love has significantly increased because of that time in my life.

    AND a few other more practical thoughts for AJ: 1 - it gets easier as baby gets older (i'm sure you're already discovering that!). 2 - here's a great resource for things to do (just find your city) and make some different friends outside your normal circle. 3 - do you have a gym membership? my gym time is kind of like my sacred adult time. AND it helps me stay in shape. :)

  5. and here's that website: oops!!

  6. Isolation can feel so lonely! I know the feeling. It took me a while to fit into my current ward at church and I kind of felt the same way. I recently switched from working full time to staying at home and what I have found is that balance is essential like some of the comments have said. This may sound redundant but I would say reach out to others. I think it was Sister Hinckley who said there is always someone who could use your help. Go to Relief Society Meetings they help you get to know people, do the play groups. Not only will you help your child to bond you will make some good friendships too! One thing I have learned is don't worry too much if people don't reach out to you right away. Sometimes we all get so busy in the stages we are in that we forget how important others are. Finally be a good visiting teacher. I have just had my route changed and I am with someone who is such a strong and amazing example as a companion and these amazing sister's to teach. The Lord put you with your specific companion and sisters for a reason. I feel bad I wasn't always a good visiting teacher because I was afraid to call people. Don't be scared. Think of how much you like it when people reach out to you. They like it too. Finally, realize this too shall pass! Cherish that angel baby and give her extra kisses because it will never hurt a child to give her extra kisses and lovin'.

  7. Oh my this question took me back to those first days and months of being a new mother. I would scrapbook, bathe the baby, bake, watch TV, wait for hubby to come home from school, read, hold the baby and start all over again the next day. Talk about loneliness and isolation. It crept up on me after so many weeks of that same routine. By nightfall going to an Enrichment meeting or girls night out (I had no friends actually)was out of the question because it would mean sacrificing what little time I had with hubby. I often wondered how I could feel so sad and so in love with my new baby at the same time.

    I wish I knew how I overcame it. I know I just did. Day by day, week by week, year by year, baby after baby. I just had my sixth and it kind of happens all over again, but I love Jane's advice and I so wish I would have heard it and been mature enough to accept it 14 years ago. Turn to Heavenly Father. He is your greatest advocate. One day (sooner than you expect) you will look BACK at this time and remember it fondly. Hard to imagine.....I know.

  8. Oh, I know exactly what she is talking about! I was so lonely after my first baby was born, I had no family around and quit my job to stay home with her. We had just moved so I had no friends, and I am naturally shy and introverted so it was difficult for me to meet others. It was such a long first year! I was in a bad funk and would just sit on the couch for hours, not knowing what to do with myself. My husband finally told me to go back to work, and I cried and cried thinking I was a bad mom. But, going back to work part time really helped me get into a routine, and surprisingly, helped me appreciate being with my daughter more. I was truly blessed that after a year of working I was able to switch jobs and work from home, and I have been a VERY happy stay at home mom for the past three years.
    I love Jane's advice and I agree that feeling loneliness and isolation can bring us closer to God and help us to be more understanding to others in need. I found the MOMS Club (Moms Offering Moms Support) after I decided to be a SAHM, and now I volunteer in the club to reach out to other new moms.
    I think that if I had found the MOMS Club sooner I may have never needed to go back to work; it is a wonderful group specifically for SAHM to support each other and find joy in motherhood. You may want to check their website to see if there is a chapter in your area.
    Good luck and God bless!


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