Miranda: Infant versus internet…a losing proposition?
An article in this morning’s Boston Globe has added to my anxiety about managing work, creativity, and a new baby. Last time I had a newborn (three years ago) I didn’t work as much as I do now, and I wasn’t quite as plugged into the internet. Even so, I felt guilty about the amount of time I spent nursing while typing with one hand, eyes glued to my computer screen instead of my beautiful baby.
I tried to tell myself that it’s not much different than staring at the pages of a book, but it is. When I’m reading and my kids talk to me, I hear them. When I’m staring at my laptop–either working, being creative, or goofing off–the machine seems to cast this hypnotic spell that enables me to tune out the rest of the world. Sometimes the kids have to jump up and down to get my attention.
Obviously, I’m not alone. The Globe article, entitled “Connection Failure?” discusses mothers of newborns who are glued to their computers much of the day. The article raises several concerns: time spent on the web is associated with depression; mothers of newborns may be satisfied enough with their virtual connections that they stop trying to get out and establish tangible relationships; and worse, that Mom may end up more connected to her computer than she is to her infant. Pretty much a lose-lose situation for baby:
Mothers have always multitasked, from foraging with babies strapped to their backs to sewing, engaging an older child, or even cooking while nursing. Is Internet use any different?
“If you observe women who, let’s say, knit, their gaze is moving back and forth from the baby to knitting,” Rich said. “The Internet demands a lot more attention. You’re receiving and sometimes sending communication, so there’s sustained concentration away from the baby.”
Habitual Internet use while nursing, especially if the baby’s awake and seeking the mother’s eyes, concerns Rich. “It can be a real rejection for the baby, for whom you fill his or her world,” he said.
Ouch. For me, this time around–with so much on my plate, including a nonfiction book in progress (and four other children), I’m worried. I don’t want my new baby (or any of my kids, for that matter) to think of me as inseparable from my laptop. I know that my goal needs to be boundaries, but I’m not sure what that looks like. I have childcare in my home three days a week for my toddler, but I imagine that for the first four months, my childcare provider won’t be doing much with the baby aside from changing the occasional diaper. This means a lot of nursing during work time/creative time, as in, nursing while staring at the computer.
How have the rest of you navigated this mine field? How bad is the guilt? (Like we need one more thing to feel guilty about.) Does your family threaten to cut the cord on your computer? When you’re sleep deprived and you want to keep up with your blog reading while feeding the baby, what do you do? If holding your baby while typing your novel is the only way to finish your book, do you bite the bullet and hope for the best?