I remember the first day I went back to school, after I had my first set of twins. I had taken almost a six month break from school, gifted me by the University lecturers’ usual strikes. That enabled me spend at least the first six months of their lives solely with them.
By that time, the vigils had stopped. I only had to wake up once in a while, may be due to wet diapers and such, but it rarely happened by the time they were six months. So, I was well rested and even filled out in some areas.
I looked forward to going back to school, but nothing prepared me for the withdrawal feelings I had that day. I felt kinda weird. I was quite distracted in class, I merely thanked God that we had only few lectures scheduled for that day.
The worst part was that I was leaking all over the place. My breasts were leaking like a tap turned on and left to run. By the time, I got home that day, after spending the shortest possible time in school, my blouse was soaked with breast milk. The extra breast pad I had with me was also soaked. So, I practically had to use my handbag to hide my bust from public view.
As if that was not enough, by the third time I called my mom to ask after the children within an hour, she told me not to call her again, as my babies were doing just fine. After that, when I called her, true to her word, she did not answer the call. Well, that is my mom for you.
That day made me realize just how much I had taken the time I spent with the children almost for granted. It was really a privilege to have them, which is something that I should probably remind myself of even now.
The withdrawal was both ways though, given the way they latched unto my nipples when I got home. By then, my breasts were turgid too, and quite painful to the touch. I was more than willing to sit down and let them suck the milk, so as to relieve my pain. After I felt some relief, I was then was able to gaze into their adoring eyes and play with them, something that was not possible, some few minutes earlier.
The main reason, I left my babies at home was because they were twins, and I would not have been able to manage them and concentrate in class. But for Toyin*, the thought of leaving her three month old baby for work gave her serious headache. Her maternity leave had expired, but she was worried about how she would be able to leave her with her grandma, and still be productive at work.
You see, Wura (meaning Gold) was a longed for child. She came on her father’s 40th birthday, and in her parents’ 7th year of marriage. She was a child they had waited a long time to have. So, you can imagine why Toyin would feel worried at having to leave her, even with her own mother.
What did happen in the end was for the first two weeks, after she resumed office, Toyin brought both her mom and baby to the office every day and they stayed in the car park. It did not matter that it was not a conducive arrangement. The fact that she could pop out of the office to the car park to check on the baby, breast feed the baby during her lunch break and cuddle Wura, made all the difference to her.
When her scurrying to the car park was noticed, that was when she opened up that her daughter and her mother were in the car park. The HR personnel allowed her to make use of an empty office for her baby. After that day, she realised that she was holding on a way too tight, and decided to let go, and trust that her mom would take care of her baby in her absence.
Uju* wondered if she was doing the right thing, when her son simply refused all her attempts at parenting him, in a way that she would like. He was not one to be held tightly all the time. After being fed, he preferred being put down after his meal, not having his back rubbed until he burped.
At a time, he preferred the breast milk from a feeding bottle to latching onto his mother’s breast. There went her special bonding time, or so she thought. And being a boy, his mom expected that he would want to suck directly, but obviously the young man had a different idea.
He could go to someone else without a fuss, which was shocking to his mother, who wanted to carry him all the time
After a while, she stopped beating herself up, over why her son was not bonding with her the way she wanted. She accepted that he was a different person, thus had different needs and the best she could do was meet his needs as he wanted them met, not as she wished he wanted.
That was how she liberated herself from the mentality of having to be the eternally available mommy to her son. The young man did not want a mom that was fussy and made it pretty known early on.
So, what matters most is what exactly the baby wants; if the baby appreciates being rocked to sleep on your laps instead of its bouncing chair, fine, if not, don’t beat yourself up over it. On the other hand, there can be a case of over-attachment…imagine breastfeeding a three year old child.
Balance is key in this parenting business, babies need to know that you are there when they need you, but also free to develop their personalities. It might not seem like babies understand such things, but believe me when I tell you that babies are very smart indeed.
May we all continue to have strength for the motherhood journey…and baby dust to TTC moms.
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