I wake up and look over at this angelic creature, so beautiful at rest, she smiles a little in her sleep and my heart skips a beat. But then, she stirs, I hold my breath and I cant help but think,"Please don`t let her wake up! Please don`t let her wake up!"
Pretend all you like, you know what I`m talking about. I was blessed with motherhood about three years ago, and only then did I really get the idea that something could be `Life changing`. I mean, you hear those words thrown about a lot these days, I`m assuming by people who don`t know what that really means. Like, `This desert is life changing, `This movie is life changing`. Seriously? Try being kicked from inside your tummy, or, in a word—labour. Or even the sleep deprivation that comes after the said kicking and labour. Now, that is `life changing`. After experiencing the said change, it did take me a while to recover. Am I a great Mom? Hell no! No awards for me, but I am the only one she has and I`ll be damned if I don`t try and be the best I can be, or do the best I can do. At the end of the day, isn`t that all that matters?
Recently, I read an article about how having a child is a societal norm; in India, we are looked down upon if we dare say we do not want to and so on... But really, for every one woman out there who sees motherhood as a burden, or hates that she has to share herself, her time, her soul, her body with another, there are a thousand like me, who love it, not just the smiles, and the cuddles, even the times when I`m bone tired and I know I have a few more hours to go before I sleep. I know it`sclichéd, but I feel motherhood has made me a better human being. So what, if I have to think of my child`s meals before mine, or I have to be more organized to get through the day. I`ve learned life skills that no business school will teach you. I learnt how far I can push my body and my will. I know for a fact what those zombies in the Resident Evil movies feel like, I`m pretty sure I might even look like them some of the time. But then, she puts on her shoes, and asks to go to play; `lets go Mommy`, and just like that popular credit card tagline, `its priceless`.
So, The good, the bad, the gory, in all its glory, I love it all, and wouldn`t change it for the world.
Noora D`Mello, 32, Floral Entrepreneur
Trust your Mommy instincts
From the first time you hear your baby`s heartbeat during the initial doctors visits, your mind works in overdrive and an avalanche of questions fill your mind–How will my baby look? How will it feel to hold her? Will I be able to understand her needs when she cries? and the biggest question of all, Will I be a good mom?
?When I saw my baby for the first time, I first thanked God for her. The minute I held her I knew I was no longer the master of my emotions. I knew from now on her tears are mine, her fears are my worries and her joy is my happiness. I forgot about caring for myself and put my needs second to hers. But no one remembers that babies are tiny when they are born, so when visitors say “She`s so small,” it`s a bit upsetting for a new mommy, because you are feeding her and she`s still “so small.”
The initial days are stressful; you don`t know if you`re feeding her enough or if she has slept enough and when she cries, you can never tell what is bothering her. If this isn`t enough, there are a million people around with their two-pence advice on how they did things differently, which worked perfectly for them. Their different ideas and suggestions are useful, no doubt, but the contrasting opinions can be overwhelming. You`re told to feed the baby every two hours, but no one tells you that you have tickle her and wake her up for her feed, no matter how sound asleep she is. They have small tummies and their food gets digested quickly, which makes it necessary to feed her every two hours. Add to this the doctors dos and don`ts, and I was left very confused and anxious.
Things never work out as planned and they certainly didn`t for us; mistakes were made, post-natal troubles appeared in one form or the other and there were times when I felt completely clueless. But in a few weeks, my mommy instincts kicked in and I could decipher her different cries and babble.
And then came Allison`s first smile; she looked straight at me, recognised me and gave me this toothless grin that makes all the sleepless nights totally worthwhile. What helps in those difficult times is the people around you, so make sure you surround yourself with all the people who love and care for you and provide you with lots of positivity.
Ritika Moniz, 27, Financial Analyst
Sleepless in Babyland
Motherhood and impending motherhood for me introduced a variety of emotions over a relatively short timeframe. The navarasas, I`d call it! It began with anxiety while peeing on the stick, went on to excitement at the conclusion of the first trimester and then the whole `why me` disgust at nausea, then the lethargy and frustration at sleeplessness, the pain of labour and the unadulterated joy at finally holding in your hands the little creature that lived within. It doesn`t stop at that! There is postpartum depression, guilt at not being a breastfeeding expert, guilt of snapping at the spouse and extended family, and the sheer exhaustion that comes from months of erratic or no sleeping.
I worried at every weigh in, every rash, and every strange coloured stool. I googled every little thing and exasperated my baby`s pediatrician by assuming the worst with the baby. Every development milestone was tracked on calendars and agonizing hours were spent figuring out why little Atharva wasn`t rolling or teething or crawling or standing as per the dates indicated on babycenter.com or what not. There is joy and pride when your infant sniffs you out, lunges for you every time you are in the vicinity and chuckles and gurgles at your silly poems and utters his first words... Mama. Then comes the joy!
Harini Aravind, 33, Bangalore, India
A Mother is born
Years ago, I came across a saying—A child gives birth to a mother—and dismissed it as senseless immediately. A woman of 29 years and I never felt the emotional need to be a mother; the thought scared me rather. You know things like loss of freedom, sleepless nights, etc.. felt so not worth it. Every time hubby dear would hint at starting a family, I would take flight and bury my head like an ostrich. Then on 5th March 2013 my world changed when I found out I was pregnant. The mere happiness of people around me made me happy and feel so special! Every time I shared the news with someone, I felt so much more special!
After the initial excitement gave way to calm, it was time to face reality—I was starting a family! For the first time in life, I took a close look at what I was eating and began to change my lifestyle. Since I have always been over weight, exercise couldn`t be put off. I had to be healthy to keep my baby healthy! For the first time in life, I put myself before everyone around me. My husband`s likes and dislikes for food were suddenly least concerning. The motherly instincts were kicking in, but I didn`t realise it.
Time flew and soon I started feeling my baby move. First the gassy flutters and then twirls and kicks. Oh what a feeling! I was amazed with every ultrasound. It is a miracle! Not once through all of this did I feel I didn`t want this. I was enjoying every single moment of my baby`s growth. It was like a wonderland where magically things were happening.
My child was born 35 days pre-mature, but in good health. The moment I first held her in my hands is engraved in my memory. I cried and howled within. It was MY child! She was so angelic that I couldn`t stop staring at her. The cutest new born I ever have seen. Aren`t they right when they say, "there`s only one beautiful child, and every mother has it"? I had an instant connection with her. I remember my days in the hospital were sleep deprived; and when I did sleep nothing around would wake me except my girl`s little movements. A slight move of her little hand or leg and I`d awake to check on her. It was as though we were still attached with invisible strings. I was still in my wonderland, but now my little angelic daughter was keeping me company.
A colleague once told me that pregnancy is the best part of having a baby and damn was she right! After returning home from the hospital, there was an endless list of things that are right and those that are wrong. Everyone had something to say. Everything I did didn`t seem enough. To add to this, superstitious beliefs and rituals! All this when you are still adjusting to your new life with a baby, can really take a toll. I`m sure all new mothers are nodding their heads in agreement! I went through an emotional roller coaster. Sobbing, crying, howling, screaming, fighting. All this when all I needed to do was to be with my baby and be happy. Despite the huge mental and physical toll, one look at that baby by your side and your life is a happy place again.
My daughter is 7 months now, and when I look back I need to think hard to remember any tough times, because they are so few compared to the happiness she`s brought into my life. Priorities have realigned; my life is more focused on home with quality family time; and my days are filled with laughter. She has been my best decision ever and today I do believe, "A child gives birth to a mother".
Praneet Gill, HR Professional, 29
Anxiety and Ecstacy
My story begins on the Christmas day of 2012. The day that was the happiest crazy day of my life—I was pregnant!! God had answered my prayers. I felt the superlative of ecstatic (if that exists). I couldn’t wait for my baby to be with me! After that day, there have been multiple times I have had what could be classified as “freaking out” moments.
During my pregnancy, I developed the habit of devoting an hour every evening to feeling for my foetus; my lovely child always relented with a couple of dance moves. One day, when I sat down to do so, there was no movement. I tried everything but he wouldn't budge. The fear consumed me. I cried enough to fill a bucket, as the tears hit the rim, my son jived! I knew this boy would change me forever.
Then came the day he was born. As soon as he was placed in my arms, I felt pure ecstasy, amazement and relief. He was a happy, healthy and rosy boy! I forgot all my anxiety. I believed motherhood would come easy to me. I thought I had all the ammunition (being a pediatrician) to get this perfectly right. I would be the best mother ever!
What came next was a series of questions and doubts. Is he drinking enough? Is he dehydrated? Why is his cry meek? Did he sleep well? Shouldn’t he sleep now, it’s been three hours? Why is his poop green? Shouldn't it be mustard yellow by now? Is that a rash, or am I seeing things? I even asked myself; Am I ready to be a mother at all? Am I a good enough mother?
Everything is trial and error and that is scary. Every child is different but then, who can put a first time mom’s fear at bay and convince her that she is doing something right? If my boy is happy and healthy why am I sick with worry? I worry if I am providing the best of all worlds to him. I worry, if he is getting the right food, toys, books, clothes and the right amount of sleep, discipline and fun. I worry am I falling short?
A mother’s mind is never at rest, more so a first-time mother. What makes it worse for me is, people judge me by the fact that I am a pediatrician and think bringing up a child would be a breeze for me, or at least I know what a textbook kid should be and I should know better. But do I?
All I know is, I am taking long deep breaths to enjoy this time with my boy and work through anxious times. He is my life and nothing else matters or should matter. It’s natural to feel I could do better but it’s good enough for now. What I see in my smiling baby’s eyes is a stellar mother. Yes, in his world, my good enough is stellar.
Vaishali Bansilal Kaul, 32, New York City, USA