Chrissy Teigen has lots to think about as she nears the end of her pregnancy, and like most moms, she’s starting to put the final touches on her post-baby plan. Unlike most moms here in the States, though, she’s decided to hire a night nurse after the baby comes, a decision that’s drawing an inexplicable amount of ire from the Internet.
A night nurse, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept, is a nurse who offers postpartum support for new moms in any number of ways. Sometimes they’ll take over for Mom as she gets her much needed rest during the wee hours of the morning. Other times they are there purely as support and can help with those tasks we all initially fumble with — helping the baby to latch if Mom is nursing or showing new moms how to master the routines that will one day be second nature.
Nowhere on the menu of services that night nurses offer does it say “raise your baby for you so you can be a selfish, irresponsible jerk,” but that isn’t keeping people from drawing their own conclusions about Teigen’s mothering abilities before she actually starts mothering.
When Teigen mentioned that the one consistent piece of advice she’s getting is something along the lines of “hire a night nurse if you can swing it” (we’re pretty sure she can), reactions ranged from weirdly vitriolic finger-wagging:
“Why is she having a baby then? If she’s hiring people to take care of it. Shameful. These famous people are incapable of doing anything. They are worthless.”
To sanctimonious pity masquerading as concern:
“The beauty of getting up with them at night to feed and change them is to also connect with them…I think most moms have experienced feeding their baby at night while the baby stares right into your eyes.”
If waking up with a howling baby on zero sleep is what turns your crank, that’s legitimately awesome. But can we stop pretending like each and every parenting moment — no matter how banal or downright unpleasant — is one that should be savored and treasured and locked into the old hope chest? There’s a reason sleep deprivation is a form of torture, people. It’s OK to ask for help when you need it, and it’s fine to be proud if you didn’t. Maybe just don’t use your unique experience as a yardstick with which to measure everyone else and then beat them for their perceived shortcomings.
Believe it or not, there are places in the world — places that routinely turn out healthy babies that grow into functional adults — where the postpartum period isn’t seen as an event in the Suffering Olympics and the idea of collecting a martyr merit badge is seen as needlessly self-flagellating.
Besides our depressing maternity leave situation, there’s lots of other stuff American moms miss out on that other countries deem important for the mental and physical well-being of new moms and their babies.
In China, for instance, mothers retreat to their family’s home for a month after they give birth and hand a lot of the heavy lifting off to others, freeing up their time for snuggles and breathing in that new baby smell. In France, medical professionals are on call around the clock, which means that if you need something for you or your baby, they will come to you. Yes, even at night.
In the Netherlands, every new mom is entitled to a kraamzorg or — brace yourself, Internet — maternal nurse, who will check in on them every day and provide assistance and support at a reduced or nonexistent cost.
None of this is laziness, and there’s no worldwide epidemic of babies who are not bonded to their parents because they got a little help when they needed it most. Exhaustion and fatigue can definitely take a toll on bonding with baby — ask anyone who knows firsthand. So how is it ever a bad thing to have the maximum amount of support you can get in what is undeniably an extremely challenging time?
Besides that, let she who would not have gotten some extra leg up if she could afford it throw the first stone here, people. A lot of the anger at Teigen seems to be because she can afford a night nurse. That’s ridiculous, because most everyone knows exactly what they would do for their kids or themselves if they had the financial wiggle room to make it happen. A bigger car? A housekeeper that comes once a week? Someone to drive the kids to soccer practice? A schmancier preschool? We all have our fantasies.
Teigen, for her part, seems to have caught on to the fact that when it comes to momming, it’s hard to do anything right:
No one should feel that way before they even get a chance to screw it up like the rest of us. Remember: It’s never a good idea to drink too much of the Haterade. It’s bitter, and it gives you a tummy ache.
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