First-Time Mommyhood

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.

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21 thoughts on “First-Time Mommyhood

    1. joeyllhow

      Thanks so much for all the support and tips/advice you’ve given me throughout the past one month. I’m feeling much better now and very proud to say that I’m still giving Ewan my milk 🙂

  1. Nancy

    I can understand what you are going through right now. The first few weeks is certainly not easy, but everything is going to get better. I cried almost everyday the first few weeks after giving birth, I thought I had a post natal depression 🙂

    Time flies so fast and now Ewan is almost one month old. Happy Fullmoon to Ewan.

    Cheers…:-)

    1. joeyllhow

      Nancy, you’ve always told me so much about motherhood last time but I could never understand how challenging it can be. I certainly understand now how you felt all along. Thanks for your faith in me and most of all, the colourful playgym for Ewan!

    1. joeyllhow

      Karen, it’s great to see you here! Thanks for visiting my blog.

      Oh, I did argue with my hubby during confinement time. I guess it’s just part and parcel of being a new mom – with all the stress, lifestyle change and new things to learn. Thank you for your encouragement!

  2. May Yee

    Congratulations and Happy Full Moon to to Ewan.

    My turn will be coming soon… true it is not going to be easy… things were very different since the day i got pregnant… my female friends didnt understand much about nausea and tiredness the pregnncy package etc (they are successful in their own right as strong women in their financial indipenedent age with boyfriends – no marriage pls).

    Hence, I am glad to read about you and Jaclyn… as support and indirect encouragement for me… for me to know that I am not going thru things alone…

    Thanks, girls. Wish me luck for my coming Sophie, end of May… 😀

    1. joeyllhow

      It’s especially hard when our colleagues are not of the same age/status as us….nobody to share pregnancy tips and discomforts with. That’s why Internet is heaven-sent to me! Just so you know, when your turn comes and you feel overwhelmed, Jaclyn and I are here for you…just an Internet away! 🙂 I can’t wait for Sophie to arrive…

  3. Shaniz

    Happy fullmoon to Ewan. And most of all, great job and well done Joey. You and Ewan made it through the first month. Many more joys will come your way. I’m so proud of you Joey. Time does fly very fast. So treasure every second with Ewan as the time to return to work will be here in a blink of an eye. Hopefully, when Ewan is bigger, Allyson and I can meet the both of you.

    1. joeyllhow

      Shaniz, thanks so much to you too for all the support, advice and long emails! Like I said, though we don’t know each other that well, you’re selfless enough to share your experience and give me encouragement. Wouldn’t have made it through without learning from you 🙂

  4. Yen

    Congrats on the fulll moon Ewan.

    How I envy u that u finally “pass” the confinement month. I am tearing my hair out here. Hahha.. like u said, feeling dirty all the time. EEwwww… esp my hair. I still have 2 weeks to go and I am really counting the days till I feel more like a human again.

    Anyway, enjoy your time in Melaka and let ewan have fun with his grandparents while u rest.

    oh btw, my second CL left after a day. So i am back to looking after my handful little daughter. I really feel like crying!!!

    1. joeyllhow

      Yen, let me share a tip with you. When you’re scratching your head like a monkey and can’t take it anymore, go upstairs, switch on the heater, wash and blow your hair as quickly as possible. Make sure everyone’s too busy to take notice at that time. I did that twice and felt so good after that…like the girl in shampoo advertisement, man!

  5. Welcome to mummyhood! Btw, not to sound negative, just when you think you mastered and knows/expects what’s coming, you find your baby leveling up and you’re back to square 1 to learn all the new things and gain new experiences again. I’m still learning even tho’ its already going to be 14mths now. Enjoy your mummyhood and brace yourself for the growth spurts phase! 🙂

    1. joeyllhow

      Jenny, after going through the ordeal, I deserve some credit, don’t you think? I will never master parenting skills but for now, I would prefer to think more optimistically 🙂

      1. Of course, of course, must give a pat to your back. Just want to share with you that’s what I feel earlier, just when I thought I know what to expect from Ben (usual schedules, signals, etc etc), then I got smug and do like normal, then you got caught off guard cos they changed new habits and level up with new things for me to learn 😛

        Nobody can master parenting skills la… ;p

  6. BQ Lim

    Joey…
    Thanks for your sharing & undeniable, Im totally facing what u went through actually. Sometimes, I’ll cry due to uncertainty & feel so helpless– especially my hubby is not around at the moment..
    Thanks again for this –” If you’re experiencing what I did, you’re not alone”. I know that, im not alone anymore…

  7. Jchua

    Thanks for this post. It is comforting to read as I am constantly in tears with my 2 week old baby. It feels like pure torture at times and often I feel I can’t do it. 2 weeks feel like 2 months and I was told it only really gets better after 3 months?!?! Makes me want to scream!

    1. joeyllhow

      *Hugs* Jchua, I hear you. Hang in there! It’s weird how nobody told us how hard it’s going to be right? That our lives will change forever with a baby. It doesn’t get easier especially when we see/hear how happy and great our friends feel about parenting…it’s like as if we’re unfit parents. To me, the first one year is the tiring but the true joy of parenting comes in after that.

      It seems that babies these days are more demanding. Nothing to do with what you did or did not do, Jchua. We went through the same thing too, very tiring and frustrating to the extent I warned Hubby that one is all that we’re having. I kept asking myself, “what did I do to my life?!” But dear, I promise you that it’s just a phase and it will pass. Your baby won’t be forever like that, just adjusting him/herself to new environment. I practically lived on less than 6 hours sleep every day for the first year. It will pass, just have faith. It gets easier if we prevent from having n expectation on how our baby should behave. I feel that baby reacts to mummy’s feelings: if mum is down, baby is too and vice versa. Chin up, everything will be okay soon. And don’t worry abt the pending house chores; manage that later as right now, your well-being is most important. *hugs*

      1. Jchua

        Thanks Joey, everything you said is how I feel..told the hubby one is more than enough n I am going round scolding my gfs for not telling me how hard a newborn is!

        Hopefully I can hold up, each week feels like eternity!

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