Motherhood: The Long and Short of it
People tell you a lot of things about becoming a mother. Contradictory things, too. It is the best thing that will ever happen to you, but get ready for your life as you know it to be over, holding your child is the best feeling in the world, but rest all you want now, you’ll need it for the sleepless nights ahead.
“To me, this change was literally like mental growing pains – it hurt. Mentally, physically, and emotionally, I was spent”
The last one is my favourite actually; it’s like, that’s not how it works! Sleeping nine hours that one time three months before you gave birth, will not somehow fill in for the successive nights you’ll be waking every one hour.
“The one thing I’ve been told about motherhood that does hold true is that it is ineffable. It is everything you have ever felt but more”
Now that my daughter is turning one soon, I ask myself, how would I describe motherhood? The one thing I’ve been told about motherhood that does hold true is that it is ineffable. You think you have words to describe the feelings but you don’t. It is everything you have ever felt but more.
Yet, try karna tho banta hai, so I’m going to try sharing all the lessons (read: rude awakenings) that I have stumbled upon this past year.
- This child is your responsibility.
You’re probably like, are you for real, you didn’t know that when the baby was kicking you for the entire third trimester? Well, yes but mostly no. It’s one thing to know, like we all know that we’re going to die one day, and a whole different thing to actually go through it.
“I accepted that my life was not mine anymore. If I had continued to get upset about the loss of freedom I felt by becoming a mother, I’d be in a foul mood every day”
It’s like all of a sudden, you go the hospital and after a few agonising hours (or days) you come back, and there is this little stranger who you are suddenly RESPONSIBLE for. Every burp, every poop, every sniffle is your problem. And trust me, the absence or presence of any of those things can constitute a problem. And when you get a moment, to like pee or something, you think: ‘Is this my life? This isn’t how I remember it,’ while simultaneously telling yourself, ‘just chill’.
“It’s one thing to know your child is going to be your responsibility, like we all know that we’re going to die one day, and a whole different thing to actually go through it”
To me, this change was literally like mental growing pains – it hurt. Mentally, physically, and emotionally, I was spent. What made it easier was to just allow the change to take over my life, not fight it – because it is a losing battle. I accepted that my life was not mine anymore, it was first hers. If I continued to get upset about the loss of freedom I felt by becoming a mother, I’d be in a foul mood every day, and that’s not how I like myself.
2. The feeling grows.
So a lot of people will tell you that the feeling you’ll get for the first time you hold your child is the most amazing feeling in the world. Looking back, sure, but not really. I do remember when my daughter was put on my chest after I delivered her. I remember looking at her and thinking wow she’s like a small me. And looking back in the memory I think, how helpless she looked. But I don’t know if it was the best feeling in the world.
“I felt that warm tingly feeling of your heart filling up to the point of explosion much later, and let me tell you, it only grows”
I remember coming home after, in those early days my feelings towards her were more of concern, and genuine wonder rather than love. I felt that warm tingly feeling of your heart filling up to the point of explosion much later, and let me tell you, it only grows. I feel much more love for her now than I did when she was born, or when she was 3 months or even six months. So go easy on yourself, don’t expect to hop into motherhood all at once. The reason why time exists is so that we have space to grow.
- That one-month mark is special.
I don’t know if I speak for all the new mothers here, but that one-month mark – like when your baby has been alive for one whole month, is just a super feeling. To me it felt like this big accomplishment. I didn’t let anything happen to her for one whole month. We made it to one whole month. It’s the first moment where I kind of felt that hey, you got this. You’ll be fine. Only my sister understood how that one month really meant something to me, and she had a delicious cake made, one she knew I’d been craving, to celebrate it.
- The Yummy Mummy syndrome.
Unfortunately we live in a time where women are glorified for gaining very little weight during their pregnancy and even more for losing it soon after. As if being a parent isn’t hard enough, mere hours or days after you give birth, people start telling you ways to shed the baby weight. It’s a bit like, uh, I didn’t realise losing this weight is as important as keeping this child alive but sure, thanks for the memo.
“Unfortunately we live in a time where women are glorified for gaining very little weight during their pregnancy and even more for losing it soon after”
I don’t want to mislead, it’s not like I didn’t partake in that conversation with great and genuine interest, because I did. I still do. But wouldn’t it be nice if it wasn’t mentioned at all, as if it wasn’t even a topic of discussion or a thought that ever runs through someone’s head. I remember thinking while having these conversations with other new mums that look what our bodies just did, look at the role we are playing, why can’t we just focus on that for bit – because that is overwhelming as it is. Do we really need to take upon the pressure of looking a certain way?
“Look what our bodies just did, why can’t we just focus on that for bit? Do we really need to take upon the pressure of looking a certain way?”
It kind of pains me to tell you but at some point or the other, yes, you will take upon that pressure. We have entered an era in civilisation where a woman’s body will always be a point of discussion. My advice to you is that try to not let it overwhelm you. You can be, as the millennials say, “mindful” about what you are consuming, and if you are breastfeeding, the weight should kind of regulate to a good degree on its own. Or you can be lucky like me, contract typhoid three months post birth and just lose a good amount by being sick as a dog.
- The exercise ball can be your best friend.
So I’m sure you may have heard of exercise balls being super handy during labour but did you know they are actually secret baby whisperers. A couple of weeks into motherhood, I was struggling at times with the whole burping situation. A super-mom friend had once mentioned about how holding your baby upright while bouncing on the exercise ball can get those stubborn burps out (mothers you know what I’m talking about). I forgot about it when my friend told me because A) I didn’t have an exercise ball and B) the baby had burped so all was fine. But then maybe a few days later the incident repeated itself. I Googled and ordered myself an exercise ball. A few days later when it came, I just blew it up and bounced my baby on it to see if it soothed her and guess what? It did.
“I started using the ball to put her to sleep, and literally it was a godsend. Everyone in my household slowly converted onto it”
You see babies like the soft bouncing motion – it’s a familiar motion for them, kind of like when they are in our wombs and our general movements are lightly rocking them. I started using the ball to put her to sleep, and literally it was a godsend. Everyone in my household slowly converted onto it. It’s just so much easier than rocking them about with your hands. Yes, the downside is that they get used to it, blah blah and you should try and not rock them – but really try taking that advice when they are just crying and not calming down. I’d like to see how much you care about setting bad habits six months down the line rather than getting the baby to stop crying at any cost. Having said that, the reality is that now whenever we go anywhere, the exercise ball comes with me. But, apparently the bouncing on the ball is good for your core – so who is the real winner here, you decide.