Pregnancy might be your most beautiful stage in life, but it’s certainly not as rosy as it is made to sound.
Becoming a parent is the greatest thing that can happen to a person. It holds a baby inside you for nine months and then when you finally give birth you get to meet him or her.
Becoming a parent is one of the biggest changes you’ll ever go through in your life. It can be exciting and scary. It’s the kind of change that will enrich your life or destroy it. Few things are as more important than parenthood. It’s a difficult job, but also an important one to have. Becoming a parent for the first time can be very intimidating.
Like most women, I had only ever heard of good things that happen when you have a baby. You glow while you are pregnant and are always smiling looking at your cute baby bump in the mirror. Childbirth pain is just a minor inconvenience that you’ll forget as soon as the baby comes out and you’ll bond with the tiny bundle instantly. Life will be full of roses and rainbows forever.
How we delude ourselves to get through the day. How we peddle these lies and trap another unsuspecting woman who has to strive to achieve these things and feel not worthy for not living up to the image.
Childbirth is not a minor inconvenience. It is painful. But nature does make you forget most of the harrowing details soon after. Even with a normal vaginal delivery, it took me weeks to fully recover.
The actual process itself was painful even with the assistance of epidurals. I have not screamed as I screamed that day. My baby came out (pulled out by forceps at the end) with barely a sound though. He looked around in wonderment and was healthy.
I took him in my arms and looked at this strange thing. I waited for this surge of motherly love to overcome me. Nothing came. It took me a few days just to fully grasp the enormity of the situation. I was a mom. I was responsible for a whole new life. I was not ready for this.
The first few days were made more difficult since the baby was diagnosed with jaundice. He had to be kept in a UV light box which he hated, and let everyone know how much. The needles that drew blood for testing didn’t help.
I will need a separate post to talk about breastfeeding but I’ll just point out that the lack of correct information available on breastfeeding was astounding. Even by doctors.
Another thing no one tells you about is postpartum depression. Even when you have read up about it in detail before delivery, you still cannot recognise the signs. It took me a year to realise what it was. I just took all the emotional rollercoaster rides to be a normal consequence of having a baby.
I failed to see that my husband wasn’t going through the same. Sure, we were both worn out, but he didn’t feel the need to leave the room and just scream at the walls.
They tell you your life will change after a baby, but you cannot understand what it means till you’re holding one you’re responsible for. They cry…a lot. It’s the only way they can communicate, I know. But when you’ve heard nothing else the whole day, and your arms are tired rocking him, and your boobs are sore from all the suckling and pumping, and your entire being is exhausted because you’ve only slept in intervals, it makes you wonder why you agreed to do this in the first place.
All the attention and pampering you got while you were pregnant is diverted to the baby. The mother’s delegated to the chair listening to the lists of things she needs to do for the baby. Eat this for the baby, check this, do that.
Random strangers feel they know everything that you’re already doing wrong and will helpfully point them out to you. They will have a problem if the baby is too large or too thin, too loud or too quiet, if the mother is too attentive to her baby or not enough, and all this on their own measurement scales.
I learnt early on to ignore everything thrown at me. It was still annoying but just mildly.
The one thing that got me through the tough spots was the thought that I had wanted this. I remembered the days trying to get pregnant and wishing for this child. So I would hold him a bit longer.
I was 35 years old when I had my baby. I had a little more confidence in myself and that helped me navigate the people around me – even my husband and mother. But that’s a story for another day.