So, we’ve talked about the magical moment you lay eyes on your new baby. Awesome, fantastic feeling, right? Most definitely! But I bet nobody prepared you for what would follow!
If you are like most pregnant women, you have envisioned how it will be when your baby is finally born. You try to prepare yourself by asking questions, reading books, practicing how to use a breast pump and a bottle steriliser…you actually think you’re ready. And then the baby comes, and you realise….hmm! Not so much!!!
Your first taste of reality happens your first night at home. During your hospital stay, you have been pampered by the Nurses, who relieve you of baby tending activities, particularly those night feeds. But when you are back home, you will then realise that sleep is indeed over rated. You will realise how much power this small human being has over you. With the first note of a cry, you are already on your feet, attending to your new boss and master, doing all you can to make him/her happy. No matter how many people you have helping you, when it comes to feeds, especially night time feeds, the onus falls squarely on Mommy dearest. That is when you will realise that is indeed possible to survive on 10 minutes of sleep for the whole night. In my case, my twins chose not to have the same feeding and eating schedule. So as one was fast asleep, the other was screaming for food. And just as the newly fed baby would be drifting to sleep, her twin would wake up to continue where she left off. The only time they were in harmony would be when crying for food. They would never be asleep together, but would gladly be awake, crying, together. Even though I had my Mom with me, we found ourselves stretched to the very limit. It wasn’t until we adopted a shift system (one person would be awake for a certain amount of time, while the other rested) that we were able to cope. As prepared as I thought I was, I never saw that coming. Nobody ever told me that!
And then they would tell you to “sleep while the baby is sleeping”. Hmmm, easier said than done! The time the baby sleeps is when you finally have the opportunity to take a shower, have a meal, sort out laundry, pump milk, wash and sterilise bottles, cook, and a myriad of other domestic chores. And let’s not forget the steady flow of visitors!!!! That one is another kettle of fish! The endless entertaining, when all you want to do is sleep! Yes, it’s nice to have your friends, relatives, work colleagues, and church member stop by to visit. The gist is usually great, and the accompanying gifts are always welcome. But sometimes, all you would rather do is curl up in a corner and just sleep! And since these visits always end up with a compulsory view of the sleeping baby, odds are high that you will be left with a wide-awake baby upon their departure. And let’s not forget the cost of entertaining these guests! Our entertainment budget in the first 3 months of the twins’ arrival could have bought a truckload of diapers. Nobody ever told me that!!!
And then your milk supply is another issue! Do you have enough? Do you have too much? Are you struggling to pump 1 ounce, or are you a dripping mess? Is your baby latching? Is it painful? All these are just some of the questions that never would have crossed your mind before you gave birth. In those wonderful pregnancy days, your idea of breastfeeding was a perfect Mother and child moment, with the baby sucking gently away, and Mommy looking down lovingly. Whilst this is the case a lot of time, some women have breast feeding/pumping disasters from hell! I have a friend who refused, point blank, to breastfeed her son after the first painful week. For her, she had never experienced anything quite as painful as her baby sucking her breasts. For those with limited supply (and even those with a normal flow), it is an endless quest to ramp up your volume. You drink ogi like its water, hoping the old wives tale will truly boost your milk production. For me, I went from having too much supply, to barely being able to pump anything. My volume decline coincided with my return to work, when I wasn’t able to breastfeed or pump as frequently as I would have liked. Apparently, breast milk follows laws of demand and supply. With limited demand (i.e. when it is not expressed), breast milk supply will follow suit. Nobody ever told me that!!!
And speaking of returning to work, I never imagined the kind of separation anxiety I would have, leaving my babies at home. Having to deal with work issues whilst wondering how many hours of sleep Grandma (if you’re lucky) or the creche (if you’re not) are allowing your baby, if and when your baby has eaten, what your baby is wearing, etc., is an incredibly frustrating exercise. Nobody ever told me that!!!
Add all this to the rising trend of quickly snapping back to your pre-pregnancy appearance, and your stress is further amplified. You have to keep joggling Mommy duties, wife duties and work duties, with losing the weight, and keeping your hair, nails and feet permanently dolled up (or on “fleek”). Hollywood and reality TV starlets present such an unrealistic body image, which only end up with us being stressed to keep up with it, or feeling very insecure if we can’t.
There are so many stress points for the new Mother…and that’s the truth. But no matter how stressful and chaotic your external circumstances are, it is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL to get regular health checks, especially for blood pressure. With all the stress you are probably going through, it might be something you are least likely to check, but which could be hitting the roof. My blood pressure was perfect all through my pregnancy, but 2 weeks post delivery, it had already sky rocketed. I spent the next few months trying to manage it. This is a very critical point to note, as we all know the repercussions of high blood pressure.
So…new Mommy, it’s a whole new world for you. As you have probably seen, what you are going through is nothing like what you had heard or imagined. But it’s still one of the most wonderful feelings ever! The stress you are going through will eventually morph into another type of stress, as your children grow. And the truth is that, by the time your 2nd, 3rd or 4th child comes along, you will be able to handle all the new-baby stress with your eyes closed.
Baby dust to all!