First comes love, then comes marriage. Getting pregnant follows suit but what happens after the baby pops? Now, that’s one important thing books out there don’t tell us. Dear all first-time mommy-to-be’s, brace yourself as you read this.
The first month after the baby arrives isn’t a walk in the park, and definitely not a bed of roses. When we were pregnant, we pictured late nights, endless diaper change and occasional milk vomit on our clothes. Seems still manageable, right? If only I knew much earlier that it’s going to be much tougher than this, I would have prepared myself better.
My first month after giving birth was stressful and filled with tears. Confinement period was indeed a CONFINEment. Coupled with the pain from childbirth, stress from coping with a lifestyle that involves a little person, confusion and frustration from establishing a breastfeeding system as well as exhaustion from midnight feeds and babycare, I broke down by the second week.
I was inconsolable and irrational. Everything seemed impossible and negative. What’s more, the uncomfortable practice of the Chinese confinement rituals did not help. Physically, I was exhausted and unwell. The taboo of no bathing and no washing hair made things worse; I felt dirty all the time. Emotionally, I was directionless, overwhelmed and unsure of my capabilities as a mom. Then, there were pushy people who couldn’t find ways to give us some breathing space. Or concerned relatives who gave various tips and advice, including asking me to give up breastfeeding so I could rest more. If the old wives’ tales were true, I would probably go blind soon from crying too much.
I love Ewan to bits; he’s my only source of laughter amidst the gloom and stress. However, the huge responsibilities that motherhood requires overwhelmed me. Never-ending questions like “Will I cope on my own?”, “Is this exhaustion forever?”, “Will I ever be a good mom for Ewan?”, “How come it didn’t get easier?” and so on haunted me every single minute of the day. The firm confidence I’ve had for years went down the drain just overnight.
I was fortunate to have unwavering support from a group of mommy friends (you know who you are! *hugssssss*). Without their constant encouragement and advice, I wouldn’t have pulled through this difficult month. From them, I discovered that it is perfectly normal for new moms to behave, think and feel this way. It was a huge relief to know that I am, after all, not incompetent or a complete loser. I was repeatedly told that the exhaustion would not last forever, that it was just a phase of getting to know baby and things would fall into place soon. I’m still holding on to this faith.
If you’re experiencing what I did, you’re not alone. If you’re about to enter mommyhood for the first time ever, do prepare yourself for this. Acknowledge that stress is inevitable during the first month as we leave our comfort zone and step into a territory that is completely new to us. If you are overwhelmed, talk to your mom, sisters or friends. Seek for support. This was what pulled me through.
As Ewan turns 1 month old this weekend, I’m glad to say that we’ve got to know each other better and I’m more familiar with his feeding and sleeping patterns. Wish me luck as I venture into mummyhood on my own from now onwards.