Last week I ordered a weighted stuffed animal — a pink dinosaur, to be specific — from Target. No, I wasn’t doing some early-ish Christmas shopping for the kids. This stuffie was for me. After what feels like a whole lot of failed attempts at working through the end of my childbearing years and the absence of a new baby in my house, I figured I would give this a go. And I kind of think it’s working.
The newborn life brings me an irreplicable, euphoric joy. I know so many who prefer other stages of motherhood, but newborns are better than Ativan for me. I’ve dealt with terrible anxiety my whole life, but with my baby on my chest, my hyper-active and perpetually anxious brain is quiet, and I am sincerely and truly happy. And so I am really, really struggling with the end of this era.
My therapist came up with the idea — well, kind of. She suggested I explore replicating scenarios during that newborn phase that feel specifically happy and calming, but without the newborn. She urged me to sit in my favorite corner spot of the couch, under a blanket with coffee in hand. To put aside other tasks of the day without guilt, even for a short period of time. She suggested giving myself permission to veg — to watch a show on the couch, ignoring my to-do list, a luxury I only afforded myself while postpartum. Maybe if I gave myself that grace in my normal life, I would find a sliver of that precious calm and happiness.
Well, with four kids ages nine to two and a small business, you can imagine that carving out this kind of time is not easy. As a type-A person with a noisy brain, relaxing simply is not something I am good at. And to be clear, I do not mean that in a self-righteous way. I am not always performing thoughtful tasks, but rather scrolling furiously on my phone while trying to watch TV. My brain just struggles to slow down and relish one thing. That is, unless there is a fresh baby of mine in my arms.
So one day, while scrolling the hellish depths of TikTok, I saw a girl promoting a weighted stuffed animal. She said it relaxed her and brought her joy. Now I have read research on weighted blankets in the past, as they are known for quieting anxiety, but a cozy, baby-sized thing that I could place on my chest and snuggle under my chin — that seemed magical. Obviously, I ordered it.
My husband was skeptical at first, understandably so. He tries his best to understand my current emotional plight, but doesn’t. Because being a dad comes with different complicated feelings — ones that are maybe less rooted in attachment and infancy — and me attempting to solve my issues with a stuffed companion just seemed “a little weird” to him.
But here I am, over a week since my seven-pound, pink, plush little dinosaur arrived and so far things are pretty great. At night, once all the kids are in bed, I engage in my usual routine: I take up residence on the couch and enjoy an hour or so of television. While I typically scroll my phone periodically during lulls in the drama, now I am a bit more relaxed. Sitting in my corner spot — legs extended and crossed at the ankles, stuffed dinosaur resting comfortably on my chest — and I am kind of calm. Not completely — I mean, it doesn’t produce the coo-ing and hot newborn breath, after all — but more calm than before.
So I will continue utilizing my new dino therapist, despite the eye rolls of my husband. I will sit with her on the couch and carry her around the kitchen because even though it definitely is a little weird — it’s working. And that is a step in the right direction.
Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.