The other day I met some fellow mothers (my friends) for a cup of coffee. What coffee it was! Most of us mothers just gulped our coffee the moment it touched room temperature. Rest of the time we were either feeding or entertaining or running after our kids. However, while talking to these fellow moms, I realized, mostly we see experiences of mothers who paint all rosy picture of motherhood but there are some ‘not so good’ feelings also attached with being ‘first-time moms’ that usually remain hidden deep inside.
Though today I touch those hard moments of motherhood, I shall echo many moms that in the end, it is all worth it….. very worth it:
- I am a total mess: The new baby together with smiles and love brings a lot of weight gain, hormonal imbalance, and fatigue to the mother. We take a quick shower, hardly do our hair, and clothes! Clothes are anything that are good enough to cover our huge body and comfortable enough to nurse. Our house looks as messy as we do because we have plenty of work in our hand and with the baby, not everything is done on time and up to perfection.
However, mothers I want to say that this ‘everything is dirty’ feeling will not last long. As the baby grows and starts to be on its own, you shall get if not plenty, but enough time to take care of yourself as well as beautify your surroundings. Till then, just chill and enjoy the chaos for some time.
- Something will happen to my baby: Oh my God! I remember, awake or asleep I used to have constant visions that someone has kidnapped my child or my child has fallen down. More often than not I used to find my heartbeat racing and my hands shivering every time I heard a crime story. I used to be extra cautious while taking my daughter out or descending down the stairs. Every time someone took my daughter in carry cot, I used to fear that its handle will break and the cot will fall down. Yes, this stupid were my fears. Funny thing was I had told everybody to support the cot with their hand so that it does not fall (tight lip laughter).
However, as time passed my fear started to subside. Also, I started to trust some (only some) people to give my daughter to. Though my alertness is still there but minus the shivering and nightmares.
- I am lonely: The loneliness is killing. In the starting, baby sleeps for very short intervals and is mostly awake at night. The time when everyone else is asleep, you are awake. Whosoever said a new-born sleeps for 14-16 hours a day is a myth! At least for me it was. And you are not awake for any kind of ‘me’ time. You are taking care of a baby who has taken night time feed for the fifth time and pooped for the third time and I don’t know burped for how many times. Such days and nights are like forever for a mother. Sometimes looking at my husband I used to cry that he is sleeping peacefully and I am up, holding my breast while my daughter sucks my sleep out of it instead of milk. My crying used to be proportionate with the snores of my husband.
However, the touch of my child’s body was enough for me to deal with this loneliness. And when she smiled while lying asleep in my lap, it was a bonus. Hence, this loneliness also did not last for long.
- I don’t understand my baby: Though I read as much as I could on new born care and development, it still took me a lot, a lot of hits and misses to understand what my baby’s signals meant. How many of us think mother’s instinct is all messed up and takes time to develop? Hands in the air, huh. No matter how many parenting sites suggest that not every cry is a hunger cry, my baby only used to get quiet after a feeding. At one time around her second month, no science worked. I was definitely feeding her more than 8 times a day, rocking her mostly whenever she cried, making her sleep in my lap, switching my breasts unlimited times, and definitely watching every possible video on how to make baby burp.
It was after 3-4 months when eventually things started falling in place and I could understand what my baby really wants however still, sometimes I fail. But dear mommies give yourself some sympathy votes. Do not be so strict on yourself that you feel guilty every time you misunderstand your baby. After all, that baby will still be the happiest just around you (winks).
- Nobody understands me: Yes, nobody. Though sometimes my husband, my mother, and my mother in law at least listen to my nags and unjustified fears without any opposition. However, the world we live in is full of so many ‘experienced’ people that they fail to understand what kind of mother I want to be. I carried the baby, I took labour pains, I delivered the baby, I wake up at night and feed the baby but somehow most of the things I want to do for my baby will be wrong. How weird is that! Hey, I am not saying that advices are not welcome but that does not mean I will follow each and every advice that comes my way. Hello!
Even after 9 months of my baby girl being born, I am still misunderstood by my near and dear ones whenever I don’t do things as they say. The typical dialogue, “Hum ne bhi bacchhe paale hai, hamari bhi sun lo”, constantly rings in my ear. Earlier I felt bad and angry seeing their depressed faces whenever I disobeyed their advice, but now I have learnt to stay calm. I listen, I nod, I smile and if it’s good advice, I follow it otherwise I carry on with what I want to do. No explanations given and no unwanted stress taken. Phew! Also, my pregnancy hormones have subsided so I do not get offended by advices now, rather I welcome them and understand that they are by the people who love my baby.
- I am always tired: Feed the baby, bathe her, massage her, make her sleep, bathe myself, arrange the room, change her diaper, make baby food, call your friends, spend time with family, play with baby, spend time with husband,…there is just lot on the plate for a mother. It took me long, long time to start managing all these tasks (while getting less sleep hours) with a smile and find time for myself as well. God bless you mothers and give you strength if you have no help while doing these things. I am sure the laughter of the baby, their tiny arms wrapped around you motivate you enough to manage everything, however it is the mental stress (mostly that others give) that made me feel tired.
At this crucial time, we mothers make mistakes. Sometimes we forget to turn off the light, sometimes we don’t arrange clothes in cupboards, or sometimes we just delay picking up empty dishes, which does not go well with ourselves or with others. It is important that we mothers not let such unimportant stress enter our lives at this point. I deliberately now un-see many things or put them on tomorrow’s to do list just to sit back and relax and have some ‘me’ time. I know that being mentally or physically tired will just make me take my anger on the safest possible person-either my husband or my baby.
- I was a terrible daughter: Every waking day I realize how terrible a daughter I have been to my mother. Not that my daughter answers me back or doesn’t listen to me (yet) but it just comes to me what effort, time, love, sacrifices all mothers must have gone through in raising us. My mother must have also planted a million kisses on my face. Then I remember all the tough times I have given her. I feel terrible. Some days, after my delivery, I used to feel guilty looking at her that how could I even shout back at that face.
I am sure this guilt and realization could have come to me only after being a mother. This guilty feeling occupied me for many months and till today I feel bad when I remember my mistakes. However, the way I respect and love my mother now, there is no holding back. I create moments to let her know how special she is and how thankful I am to her. Every single day I remember one or the other thing she did for me. I know she wants neither my thanks nor my appreciation but still I do them. She loves me, as I am, with my weaknesses.
- My life is over: The freedom of being anywhere you want, the ability to just lay like vegetables in front of television, the excitement of accomplishing your targets, or just doing whatever you want takes a backseat the moment a baby arrives. Not to mention the ‘romance’ also goes on hold. To add to it the post-partum depression kicks in and for some mothers, it kicks in bad. I remember how much I used to cry, after my baby was born. I am sure you must be dealing with your story of how your life has come to an end but you know what, I realize it now that my life hasn’t ended.
My life has changed! Yes, sometimes the adjustments are not easy to make but I have never felt more alert, more energetic, and more alive than I feel now. I plan my each day more productively than I ever planned it before because now I have to work as per my baby’s moods. I have never ‘felt’ life the way I experience it now because now I am becoming a more loving, empathetic, caring and a responsible person.
So dear first-time moms, just stop for a while and look how far you have come and what more you can accomplish being a mother. You were not born as a perfect mother…. you are becoming one as your child grows. Relax, take a deep breath, share your highs and lows, and just see how BIG a task being a mother is! The rest of the small stuff can really wait.