‘Motherhood is a beautiful phase of life, welcome to the club!’ This was the most common message I received from most of my friends. To be honest, this is also what I tell my new mummy friends. What no one tells you (out of concern and not to scare you) is the flip side of this beautiful journey. I am not being negative, only realistic. Anything this wonderful will come with its own share of trials and tribulations.
I have no idea who came up with the term ‘morning sickness’; probably a person who didn’t have it or maybe a man. There wasn’t a single day for me when nausea was confined to the morning. So ladies, be prepared. It is also not set in stone that all this morning (throughout the day) sickness should magically disappear in the second trimester. For the select few of us who have the misfortune of dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum, well life becomes hell. The only vaguely good thing is that you probably will lose weight while pregnant. I lost 7 kilos; it was the only dieting (puking) program that ever worked for me.
Blame it on movies. They show you a woman pushing, just a little bit flushed and then Ta-Da! Beautiful mummy and beautiful baby all smiles. No one shows you the terrible, long labour. Mine was 10 days, yes you heard me right (I had other complications, you may not be as unlucky). Be prepared to have a long labour, especially if it is your first one. Educate yourself, go for classes, be prepared and then just go with the flow. A supportive partner will go a long way in helping you. There is also nothing wrong with getting an epidural. If you know you have a low threshold for pain, might as well get it early.
Baby – Love at first sight
I had dreamt of that moment when I will hold her in my arms every single day during my pregnancy. I expected this ‘out of the world’ bonding moment. In reality, I did not have the love at first sight feeling. Maybe it was the 10 day labour, maybe it was all the stress of having a premie, maybe I was weird. The first thing I felt was relief. I had suffered and it was finally over. Don’t get me wrong, I love my baby to death but I simply did not bond immediately. It took me time and in hindsight I think that’s okay. So don’t stress or judge yourself if you don’t feel the way you expect to.
‘It is the most natural thing ever’. Is it really? Maybe I didn’t educate myself enough but I was in for a rude shock when I couldn’t breastfeed. I didn’t have enough milk. I pumped, had fenugreek, garlic, and drank ‘sacred tea’. Nothing worked. Making it worse, my baby refused to latch on. I was convinced that she hated me. I felt like a failure, I secretly envied all those women in the feeding rooms who pumped out 150mL and came out looking triumphant. With sheer persistence, Kiara and I got breastfeeding established at month 1. Though not exclusive, it was still something. It is okay if you have difficulties and you choose to give up. You are no lesser a mother just because you can’t or choose not to breastfeed.
Being a mother brings a lot of joy, I am sure you have heard it plenty of times from various sources. What it also brings is an immense sense of guilt. You feel guilty about almost everything. Guilty that you are taking time off, guilty your baby cried too long, guilty about returning to your career, guilty of messing up their routine, basically guilty about everything. This guilt can be overwhelming and difficult to cope with. I would have liked to say how I managed it but truth be told, I am still struggling.
I am just scraping the surface here. We are all different and no two pregnancies are the same. The only thing that is common to all is that we are all wonderful mothers and we should care to remember that, even in the hardest of times.
What did you find difficult? Share your thoughts below.