I was chatting on my home phone with my friend Emily in Boston while both of our daughters, my toddler and her less than a week-old, were napping yesterday afternoon. Suddenly my iPhone buzzed. I read the NBC Breaking News alert.
“How far away are you from the finish line of the Boston Marathon?” I asked.
“A few miles,” Emily responded. “Why?”
“A bomb supposedly just went off at the finish line,” I said. I read her the alert. Nothing was confirmed yet so we went right on talking.
Ten minutes later she interrupted me mid-sentence. “Stace, I’ve gotta go. Philippe just texted me that two bombs went off at the Marathon. He’s fine, but I have a friend who lives around the corner from the finish line. Let me go.”
“Okay. Stay safe.”
And we hung up.
I turned not the TV instead of turning my attention to the work I should’ve been doing on for upcoming presentation. When the screen came alive I was met with video of the bomb blasts. No one knew what was happening, how many people were injured, or who did this horrendous act.
My mind went back to January 8th, 2011, when my daughter was a few days old. That was the day of the shooting at the Safeway in Tucson where Congresswoman Giffords was holding a meeting with constituents. There I was, hormonal and sleep-deprived, watching the terrible events unfold again and again on CNN. It was tragic. But as I sat in my bedroom, pumping several times a day, I watched the news. I couldn’t seem to turn it off despite the fact that I bawled constantly every time I heard about someone who died or who was injured. What I needed someone to tell me was this: TURN OFF THE TELEVISION. But no one did. So I watched and cried as many times a day as I pumped.
So I dashed a note off to Emily a few hours later. I said this:
I can’t believe we were on the phone when the bombs were exploding in Boston this afternoon. Try to stay away from the news as much as you can. (The Gabby Giffords shooting happened when I was a few days postpartum. I watched way too much of the coverage and was bawling my eyes out since I was so hormonal.) I know it’s happening much closer to home than the Tucson incident, but it’ll probably make you more upset to have the TV on constantly.
I’m not one of those moms who likes to tell other moms how to raise their kids, what to buy, etc. I’m really not simply because I don’t like being intrusive. However, as someone who read too many articles and watched too much television about the shootings in Tucson, I know how helpless it left me. Here I was, a new mom who just brought new life into this scary world. Everything was new to me. Simple things like diapering and feeding my newborn felt complex back in those days. Adding a national tragedy into the mix made being a mom of a newborn harder.
So, my advice to any mom of a newborn who is sleep-deprived and healing from birth is to turn off the television. If you must watch, limit yourself to 30 minutes away from that precious baby of yours. And then, turn off the news and shut out the rest of the world. Smell his/her heavenly scent. Feel their soft skin. Give your child lots of kisses. And that’s it. Just go and be a mom.