It's been 20 weeks since I delivered and it's been a super life-changing 20-weeks for me.
My life changed the moment I found out I was pregnant, but it changed even more after I delivered.
I was probably too high, way up in the clouds when I was pregnant, to realise that life would in fact, continue to change after the delivery and at every twist n turn along baby's development n growth. I wasn't anticipating such a strong mix of emotions because I only saw the glorious and good side of having a baby.
Not that I don't now.
But I am gonna share some facts I discovered along the way and hope these can help prepare any mums-to-be mentally, to be more aware and hence cope better, post-baby.
And here they are:
1. Feeling left out.________________________________When I was pregnant, everyone expressed concern over me. But once baby arrived, the attention shifted to baby alone. (Or at least that was how I felt).
I know, I may sound petty and some of you reading this may think this is just a trivial thing, but this shift of attention is REAL.
I won't speak for all mums, but at least for me, as much as I love and am thankful for the way everyone cares for my baby, I did feel left out.
After 9 joyful months of carrying baby, and an unexpectedly torturous time in the delivery room, perhaps all I wanted was acknowledgement that I did a "good job".
There's nothing wrong with loving, caring, giving attention to my baby- all that is great, and it isn't even as if nobody bothered about me, they all did. But, somehow, I just felt left out, and this will lead me to the next point.
2. Being overly sensitive.___________________________I took everything and anything that anyone said straight into my heart.
It didn't matter if they came with a good intention, or if they were just "smart alex"s, I simply allowed these unfiltered comments to affect my state of mind and end up either getting upset with them, or feeling incompetent by myself.
And it didn't just stop at words. Even small little acts by my confinement nanny/ husband within the first 4 weeks made me cry.
ie. He didn't wash the bottles for me = he don't love me anymore.
Yup, you got the point.
3. Having no breastmilk. Yet._____________________________I proactively declared that i will breastfeed my baby and have armed myself with lactation supplements, breastfeeding notes/accessories like nursing bras etc, and breast pumping equipments, expecting to have supply enough to feed my little one. I thought I was "ready" to breastfeed.
But readiness is one thing, and ability is another.
In the hospital, my milk "hasn't come in" and the nurses advised that this could take within days to weeks before it eventually come, "just keep latching n pumping".
Before I knew it, baby's suckle was so efficient n strong that both my nipples were already sore and bleeding; and yet, with all that soreness and her persistent latching, she was STILL NOT FED fully n had to drink formula milk (I'm not against formula milk, by the way) - I just felt like a completely useless mum having to let my new born cry n work so hard (at suckling) n EVEN after she's done ALL that, she IS STILL hungry.
I always didn't understand why people would say that breastfeeding is stressful, not until now- Where there's a demand, and yet the supply can't meet it. And to top it off, having to endure the pain of latching n pumping despite the soreness, till u get there.
So now, besides being sore and painful below the waist, I am also sore and painful above. And the "best" thing is, even with all that pain, baby is STILL not provided her does of breast milk.
4. Feeling completely useless, fat, ugly, painful and lost._______________Obviously, that weight gain isn't going to go away once the baby pops out. And even though we'd all be logical enough to understand why, it is just demoralising and depressing looking at how my waist, butt and thighs have changed. After all, I am not pregnant by now, so having a pregnant-looking body is... just sad.
This along with the combination of the 3 above-mentioned points altogether - Do I need to say more?
5. Worrying. A lot more.______________________________When I was pregnant, I was constantly concerned about how baby was doing in the womb, is she growing well? I count her movements and worry when she doesn't move. I thought once she is out and I can see her and hold her for real, my worries will be lesser. Right?
She is so precious and I cherish her so much. When she cries, I worry if something is wrong with her. When she is not crying, I STILL worry if something is wrong with her. (e.g is she breathing>) When I watch news and read articles relating to babies, I worry about the possibility of it happening to her.
Basically, I worry about everything, including the absurd and ridiculous ones. And they can keep me awake, even though I am already dead beat.
6. Having my own needs as last priority._____________________I've never imagined how stressful and depressing it could be to manage just ONE baby. It's not like playing house where you can simply put aside the baby to meet your own needs first before coming back to her.
In the past 30 years of life, I've taken for granted the freedom of being able to do what I want, whenever I want; only to realise how a baby changes it all.
She is a little life who can do nothing by herself and is fully reliant on me for everything and anything.
So, suddenly, I am awake from wee hours in the morning till late at night trying to meet every need of hers from feeding, to bathing, to diaper changing, to entertaining, to putting her to sleep, and not forgetting to wash her bottles, pump milk, do her laundry AS WELL as taking care of all my own meals and chores. My needs have became so insignificant and they all can only revolve around hers instead.
Suffice to say even basic needs like wanting to have a meal or pee, actually takes way longer than it used to be. Not to mention, sleeping straight for 3 hours is actually a luxury.
Now that I have stated the 5 things I discovered while being a new mum, I'd also say a word about how I dealt with them.
IS IT REALLY THAT BAD?
The truth is - no. Not if you are well-aware by now.
1. Talk to your husband. __________________________
Tell him how much you'd need his acknowledgement and reassurance. A "thank you", a "i love you", a text message to ask " how r u"? These small acts mean a big lot!
2. Judge people base on their intentions. _______________
Sometimes mothers, in laws, relatives, friends etc, may come across as telling u what to do, when all they are trying to do is to show concern. Chances are, when we are on high-sensitivity mode, it's definitely possible to find fault in anyone and everyone.
And of course, u can choose to ignore that handful of "I-know-it-all" friends who think they know best and will most definitely tell you what to do- you'd probably figure out they know nothing at the end of the day. ;)
3. Understand that motherhood is not about supplying breastmilk to your little one. And IF breastfeeding is still your ideal choice, persevere and don't give up.____________________
I know there are a lot of different theories about what's best for babies and there are also very extreme views on both breastfeeding and formula feeding.
But you know what?
What's the point of breastfeeding your baby while nursing a grudge about how sore n unbearable it is?
It just makes motherhood even more challenging than it already is.
I still recall how the hospital educated me to cup feed my baby until my milk has fully came in- so when she cries, I should latch her on, then after she is done (which she will obviously still be hungry) I should cup feed her so she won't fall into "nipple confusion". They had good intentions, but it was such a struggle and pain for me.
Imagine how heartbreaking it was:
Baby cries in hunger, I put her to my already sore breast (which I knew will not fulfil her needs), and after 15 mins of suckling, she cries even louder, and I give her the cup with formula milk (which she certainly isn't trained to drink from a cup) and end up spilling more than half its contents all over herself.
What did I achieve? A poor, crying baby who is still hungry, half-soaked in milk, a bruised breast and a broken heart which has resulted in a phobia to direct latch my own baby and ultimately making me feel like a even more useless mum.
Therefore I gave up on the hospital's advice and just followed the peace in my heart to bottle-feed her while I did my best to latch her and pump persistently to up the supply.
Today, after 20 weeks, I m still pumping milk for her, and supplying 70% of her feed with breastmilk.
I'm truly happy, because I didn't dwell on this whole breastfeeding thing but rather, focused on growing with my baby.
4. Stop condemning yourself, always believe in yourself and give yourself time.____________
New mums should know that they are completely "NEW" to this whole experience,so stop beating yourself up just because you don't know what to do.
You are not the only one who doesn't know what to do. Sometimes, even confinement nannies who have cared for babies some 20 years, have zero idea on why baby still cries, they just continue to trial-and-error, confidently, so they look like they totally have it altogether.
Every baby is unique and so, that makes you a unique mum to your unique baby.
Slowly, but surely, you'd figure it out.
And not forgetting, pregnancy is having your body supply enough for another human to be fully formed and functioning. If you look from the other perspective, your body has technically JUST created a human. How wonderful is that?
Sure, go ahead and take the relevant measures to lose that weight if it burdens you. But, give yourself time to pamper, treat and love your body for the amount of work it has just done.
5. 85% of what we worry about NEVER happens._____________________
That is a proven statistic. In fact 97% of what you worry about is driven by fear, exaggerations, and misperceptions. Worrying doesn't get you anywhere and yet, it drains you to all the strength you originally had.
So, my best counter, is this thing called - faith.
And instead of constantly being worried, I spent all the time praying and cherishing the time I spend with my little one.
"Don't miss the Sun today, worrying about the rain tomorrow." The rain may not come at all.
6. It is worth it. _____________________________________________
This is your own flesh and blood who has grown from a size of a pea to a human who now knows how to express herself.
All those tears and nights of waking up, and living like you are last in priority, suddenly become insignificant when you compare it to the satisfaction of seeing your little one growing healthily, securely and happily.
I hope this knowledge I've shared will go on to empower all you mums and mums-to-be to be less stress and enjoy your new journey!
What were some things you wished you knew before you delivered your baby?
Share your thoughts below! ;)