The Siege Mentality of Having a Newborn

I’m not sure if it’s a normal occurence or if many tapped into this phenomenon, but B and I have talked about this quite a lot over the years as we look back on our first few weeks and months… ok, years with A. We developed, almost instantaneously, a Siege Mentality as soon as we brought A home from the hospital. Whether it was because we were mentally unprepared for our new life with a baby or the shock factor of how difficult and drastic a change it was, we don’t know. Either way, it was our new life as we aimed to protect our newborn and ourselves from any, whether positive or negative, outside influences from the world.

I will admit, and B will whole heartedly agree, that the Siege Mentality was primarily his and hit him like a ton of bricks as soon as we closed the front door that first day of sharing our home with a helpless, beautiful baby. When we closed that door, we effectively attempted to shut out everything. Anything that could have an influence on us or our child whether good or bad. This is not a good thing. And worse still, we were oblivious to the fact we were doing it. Eventually, it became a kind of norm for us. Everything had to be on our terms otherwise we struggled to cope.

While it was an attempt to deal with sleepless nights, an unknown way to keep our baby safe, a chance to give ourselves some freedom to be new parents, we inadvertently blocked our friends and family our in a way we shouldn’t have. The closed attitude continued for a quite a while and was only amplified as we both suffered a depression which neither of us got help for.

As you probably recall, we didn’t like where we lived, and hated the idea of raising A in a home neither of us were happy in. While the house was ideal, the neighbourhood wasn’t and so that Siege Mentality increased and we blocked as much as possible out, perhaps too much.

As I said this is not a good thing. Our level of trust almost disappeared and less than a handful of people were trusted to mind our baby if we had to go out. Needless to say we rarely went out which in turn had a negative affect on us trying to pull our way out of depression.

I’d like to say that this was a direct affect of becoming parents for the first time and that it only lasted for the first few weeks. For us, it lasted an awful lot longer. In fact it still lingered as we moved into our new house as A turned two. We literally took a step back from the world and tried to let it get on without us as we threw ourselves backwards and hid away. From the outside looking in, many of our friends and family wouldn’t have known that this was an instant reaction that took a long time to lift. Perhaps they thought we were being anti-social, boring, closed minded, or plain rude but it was a genuine psychological reaction we had to becoming parents mixed in with a depression we couldn’t explain or work through.

Moving to the countryside helped to alleviate our depression and we slowly got our life back on track but it took a year of us living here to finally understand ourselves a bit better and to come to terms with what we had been through the last few years. If we’ve only started to understand ourselves now, can you imagine how friends and family would have seen us. I don’t blame anyone who may have been pissed off with us over the years. I don’t blame anyone who thought we were being ridiculous. It’s not easy to understand anyone elses mental state of mind and it’s equally hard for the suffering person to verbalise how they feel.

For us, we closed out the world in obscure, unusual and, oftentimes, irrational ways. But that was our coping mechanism. That was our Siege Mentality.

While we wait for Little Bean to arrive, we’ve started to wonder if we’ll be hit with the same closed in attitude despite living in a new home and dealing well with a depression which might creep back in every so often. Bringing a new baby home is never easy. Whether it’s your first or your fourth, but every time is different. With A bouncing around us, we realise that we can’t afford to block anyone out. For both her and for ourselves. It doesn’t do any good and we are happy that the black cloud has lifted from our lives and minds. I’d like to think that we are a bit more rational, open and positive.

Life certainly has changed for us the last year. We’re stronger, happier people that we ever have been. We see a future that doesn’t involve segragating ourselves. We just hope we haven’t burnt too many bridges in the meantime.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Geraldine, I have a bit of it too. I’m constantly wanting to censor the things me, my husband, and his parents (who watch my baby during the day) say to and around her! I know she’ll hear and see things as she goes out into the world but I think it’s OK for parents to be diligent at home and provide that space for parents and children to filter/evaluate/understand what goes on in the world with other people. Since we can’t control what’s on the outside, the goal then is to help the children navigate the outside.

    I wonder if the coping mechanism is actually the preferred learning model as well? I know there are times, parenting included, when I don’t know how to do something that I just want to find out on my own. I’ll read books, articles by experts, a few selective friends, but advice generally dished out by grandmas, aunts and family friends, no thanks. Because maybe some of us just prefer to figure out our own way before we get overly influenced!

    – Rebecca x

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