It’s not always love at first sight. When I first saw my daughter, she was 3.6 kgs, the colour of the American flag (yes, she was red, white and blue) and she wailed like a siren, loud and shrill!
It’s really an indescribable feeling to finally meet the human that has been living inside you. It’s part surreal and part overwhelmingly real. When I held my screeching bundle of joy, I was overcome with happiness but I don’t know if I was in love. I desperately wanted it to be like the movies and the stories I’ve heard. I wanted to cry and kiss that screeching mouth and have all my fears and pain of childbirth vanish like the invisible ink that used to fascinate me as a child.
But that didn’t happen. When I started to come down from my epidural high, I felt nauseous and my new reality began to sink in. I’m a mom, and I have to keep this tiny, tiny person safe, healthy and happy while forsaking my needs and parts of my sanity. How the hell am I ever going to do that?
Well I did and I am. While it’s only been four months, I’ve begun to shed my old, selfish, fearful skin and grow into my tough, badass mamma skin. Which is why I would like to impart a little new mom gyaan to new mom’s to be. Of course I’m a rookie and I’m still doing a lot of it wrong but the things I get right make me feel (at the risk of sounding silly while paraphrasing an overused line from a Titanic) like the queen of the whole world.
When I was wheeled in the OT for my delivery, I thought that with the epidural safely injected into my spine all I’ll have to do is push. And that’s what I did, but nothing prepared me for the next 45 minutes. Not the mommy blogs or the very vivid YouTube videos I’d watched about childbirth. A doctor literally pushed her out of me like a dhobi beating clean a pair of haldi stained trousers while the other doctor vacuumed her out. I also vomited and yelled at the top of my lungs, vowing never to go through this again.
You’re never prepared until it happens to you. BUT you will be fine because remember that you’re a woman and you’re so strong. You’re basically God because you’re creating a life.. a life!
Your stomach, your vagina, your breasts and even your belly button are unrecognizable. I don’t mind the weight that much but my body feels like someone else’s, which makes sense considering a tiny human did take over my body for almost ten months.
With the help of my compact, I decided to look at the wondrous work my baby performed on my vagina on her way out and it wasn’t pretty. Which is why it’s really important to remember to do kegels. Besides tightening things down there it also helps strengthen the bladder. I was a bit lazy and I’m now suffering because I’ve lost some control over my bladder. Not fun, especially when you want to get in shape but can’t exercise cause you’ll piss yourself. Oh and if you’re wondering how the sex is after baby and if things “feel different” maybe the first time, but then in a few weeks it’s as good as new. But ‘it’ I mean your vajayjay.
Never shy away from asking for help. You don ‘t have to pretend to have your shit together. Ever. I was lucky to have my mother and mother-in- law stay up with me at night. In this age of jhappas and night nurses, help is really easy but I chose family, plus they came for free. I’ll admit that I didn’t enjoy waking up every hour and I was so frustrated at times that I even yelled at my baby (yes, you read that right) but I still wanted to endure it all. Every bit of that bittersweet pain. Isn’t that what being a new mom is all about?
I thought it would be easy. I would stick my boob into her mouth and she would suck. Well, my baby didn’t latch on more than thrice. So I pumped for the first month and top up with formula. But then I gave up. I detested pumping and even though my breasts were guilt laden for not doing the one important task they were supposed to, I decided to go full on formula. While I’m in agreement about ‘breast being best’, I am now a proud formula-feeding mama, albeit this wasn’t the case at first. I’d fight tears, as I’d shamefully admit that she isn’t breast-fed. Almost everyone had something to say or some advice to give. “ Keep trying.” “Don’t give up.” “ Don’t you want what’s best for your kid?” Of course I do! But I also want to be happy and not indulge in painful foreplay with my breast pump every free minute. If you’re ever faced with this dilemma, always do what you feel is best. Ignore judgment and never make yourself feel bad because remember you’re doing the best YOU can do.
So there are some exceptions but ladies, husbands can be gigantic turds during this time. Most of them move out of your bedroom because they have to work the next day and need their sleep. Fair enough. But let them do it for a month or two, but as soon baby has a routine have him move right back in. We need help too and emotional support in the form of cuddles at night. Most husbands will try to get away with doing as little as possible and yet they get applauded for changing one dirty diaper. Please don’t let them get away with it and don’t fall for the it-takes-a-while-for-men-to-feel-connected bull. It’s their baby, too and they need to start parenting from day one! I am constantly telling my husband that he needs to do more and even though I nag him and nag him, I shall not give up until he is changing diapers with one hand and wiping her butt so clean that it sparkles.
But the best advice I can give you is that just remember to have fun no matter how tired your are, or how many diapers you’ve changed, or how cracked your nipples are or how many bottles you’ve sterilised. Because even though it’s not always love at first sight, it’s the greatest love affair you will ever have.