Due to the glamourisation of pregnancy and child birth in western cinema, a lot of women fail to understand that even the simplest form of routine can become tedious and straining purely because we have to adjust to it quite suddenly. New ‘skills’ that you learn will also take time getting used to! This list contains my top 5 areas of motherhood that left me in tears more often then I would like to admit. It started forming in my head when I considered myself somewhat of an expert at this game and decided to advise my sister on do’s and don’ts. Undoubtedly she got irritant with my constant reminders and told me to write this down for her. So here I am!
1. Sleep Deprivation. When I was pregnant, I’d often be approached by mothers to ‘sleep before the baby arrives’ for I will miss that sleep. I have always had issues with sleep and that advice to me was plain ludicrous. How can someone possibly catch up on sleep they haven’t missed? I claimed to be a night person, “I can handle it!” I said. So sure of myself, I was! My baby was kind to me and eased me into depriving me of my sleep, if that makes sense? It was all rainbows and sunshine in the first four months. Then I got a very rude awakening! Every two hours…every two hours. I never knew a human could function with such little sleep but it’s true! Mums do this! I never really mastered putting my baby to bed half asleep because I’m not patient enough to sit and listen to her cry it out. I’d wait til she’s nursed, fully asleep and then creep about the room like a thief in the dark of the night in my very own house. I still haven’t been able to get her into a good sleeping pattern. We meet a lot during the night, Jana and I.
Sometimes she’ll decide her sleep is more important and I’ll get to have a few more hours.
I’ve tried various methods for example nursing until she’s awake but drowsy then putting her into her crib. This is probably most effective but time consuming. You have to make sure you sit there while she cries or throws a bit of a tantrum. Don’t wait til she’s distressed to get to her though! It could take hours sometimes as long as your persistence. Also, try and get a routine going when your baby’s still young, they’re easier to ‘tame’! You might feel you don’t need a routine, just remember this is more for you (and your sanity) then your baby. Teething will throw you off course but again, persistence!
2. Breastfeeding. This was a ‘skill’ I presummed mothers instantly acquired once they gave birth. How wrong was I! Not only do you teach your baby the right way to suckle but you have to learn on the job! I spent two nights in hospital after the birth of my daughter. On the first night I sat up admiring my little angel and wondered when she would wake up for a feed. I then proceeded to wake her up because it had been too long since her last ‘meal’. On the second night she wouldn’t stop crying! What am I doing wrong? How can she still be hungry? She woke up every hour and I was in tears every time pressing on the buzzer so a midwife would come help me feed my baby! It seemed simple enough when they went over it but it didn’t work out the same way when I was left on my own.
The third night (first night) I spent at home, Jana was hungry, she was frustrated, she was crying, I was frustrated, I was crying. There was no milk. What do I do? How long before it ‘comes in’? I had no idea! The pressure of so much family didn’t help either. Someone suggested formula and I snapped. No! (This became an issue too.) This was possibly the most emotional time of my life. I just couldn’t get over the guilt of even thinking about giving my little baby formula. The night went on and Jana hadn’t stopped crying. My husband was the only person who could have gotten through to me at a time like that. (There’s just no one who understands me better.) He suggested buying a box just in case we needed it, and also to calm the baby down temporarily. At the time it didn’t make any sense to give formula but looking back it helped me get through those tough times when my body was still catching up with me! I had a good support system that encouraged me at every turn to stay at it! I did and six months on alhamdulilah I am still breastfeeding. Let me tell you something ladies (as was told to me) it will get easier! If you’ve decided to breastfeed then stick to it, you will get the hang of it eventually. Also if you have to give formula to your baby for whatever reason, that’s what it’s there for. There’s nothing wrong with it!
3. Unwanted Advice. What do you do when there’s way too many people ready to spring their experiences on you and you just don’t need it? You listen to it then you do what you set out to do in the first place. Simple. A mother knows best. Listen to your intuition. (I had no idea if i even had one when I was told to listen to my intuition, but I found it in the end and you will know when you hear yours!) You should do what suits you and your baby, not what your neighbour tells you to do about that fuzzy hairline after her first hair is shaved off. You develop a certain level of fearlessness to protect your baby from everything and everyone! I certainly have a thing or two to say when something doesn’t suit me in the way I’ve decided to bring up my child. So you might become a little snappy.
4. Losing Weight. This has been an amazingly difficult challenge for me. Having been in the shape of my life when I fell pregnant, I felt hideous in my skin. It took me a long time to learn to accept the way I looked. It was all for this little bundle of joy and it was worth the price. I love my battle scars! I tried to be a hero and started working out within the first month of giving birth. It absolutely exhausted me. I had no energy to look after Jana. I was starving after every feed she had so I was basically eating twice as much which meant the excercise was doing nothing for me. I also noticed that I wasn’t producing as much milk when I was working out regularly. It is so important to let your body rest and get back to normal after the trauma it goes through. Do not conform to social expectations. Some women find it easier to get back into shape which is fantastic but for those of you (like me) who are finding it difficult, just rest your body and it will tell you when it’s ready especially if your still breastfeeding. Remember it will effect the quality of your milk. Six months on and I’ve finally mustered up enough energy to go running again. Yay for me!
5. Getting Your Life Back. This is something I’ve heard a lot of people say. Maybe I’m still new to everything so I don’t see why you would think your life has been put on hold? I feel like my life has just begun. I’ve got a purpose! Jana is my most prized possession. I dont think I’ve ever truly been able to call anything mine until now. She’s all mine, isn’t that amazing?! So ladies, enjoy your little bundles. We need to live in the here and now. Forget about the future and a time when you think you’ll be happier because your child is finally walking, eating on their own or independent. There will never be a time when we’re truly happy. It’s human nature to want more. If you learn to love and accept all that you have in this very moment, that’s when you will truly be happy.