When I became a mother for the first time more than four years ago, I was always under pressure to be perfect. It’s not like people were pressurizing me. It was just me. I wanted everything to be textbook perfect. A perfect “normal” delivery. An exclusively breastfed child. Everything on schedule. Baby comes first. No to pacifier. Weaning at six months. To be fed everything homemade. Literally everything you can think of.
I don’t know what award I was after. I really hope that if someone is a first-time mommy, and is striving to be perfect like me, then she gets to read this.
How did it turn out, you ask? I had a c-section for starters. I did not exclusively breast-feed. My baby was introduced to the pacifier after my aunt convinced me at something like two months old. I made him have baby food. Everything went against my plan. But do you know what? He ended up perfectly fine!
You know how first time mothers are. I tried to get the best of everything. Non-bio baby detergent for his clothes. Separate bottle washing liquid for his bottles and utensils. An electronic breast pump. I wanted to pre-wash the brand-new newborn clothes. I made a lengthy hospital list that even had things like nail polish and makeup!
When Zaviar was born, I became extremely controlling. I wanted to be the one to decide everything about my child. I never wanted to leave him alone and I wasn’t ready to trust anyone. Honestly, I thought only I knew what’s best for my baby.
But now I realize, it’s okay. When you become a mother, it transforms you. You become a lioness who is looking after her newborn cub. It takes time to trust even those who are closest to you, whether that time is a few hours or a few months. A part of your body is outside of you and is no longer under your control. Every time he cries, you break a little inside, and then his smiles just magically mend you.
I cried at his circumcision when they handed him to me after the procedure. I took him to the ER because he vomited twice in one day despite my mother telling me he is okay. Even the nurses there told me to relax and that I was only worried because I was a first-time mother. I was terrified. I was also so possessive. When Zaviar first learnt how to express his feelings about not coming to someone and expressed that he would rather stay with either of his grandparents instead of coming to me, I got so upset!
I had many arguments with my husband and the rest of the world when we had to take Zaviar anywhere and it collided with his schedule. A very good friend of mine told me not to be so strict about his schedule, but unfortunately, I paid no heed to it. I went to events with a sullen face and I was the only one at a disadvantage and with a sullen mood because everyone else had fun including my son!
Do you want to know what happened at the birth of my second son? I had another c-section. I didn’t get postpartum depression in my first one, but I got very bad postpartum blues this time. I call them blues because they lasted a week, unlike depression which doesn’t just go away. I couldn’t breastfeed this time at all. I had a toddler to look after who had been the center of attention all his life and suddenly didn’t have his mother to himself. He chose this time to act out.
But do you know how I was different this time around?
I took a minimal hospital bag. I still took my makeup which I didn’t use for the second time. I reused many of Zaviar’s clothes and didn’t prewash the new ones. I didn’t get a special liquid for his bottles or for his clothes. I didn’t cry about not being able to breastfeed. I took charge of the situation on the recommendation of that same friend and concentrated on my older one.
The most important difference was that by now I had learnt to trust the people around me. I trusted my feelings and calmed my toddler down. I knew it was okay to not be able to feed him and that those who judge me don’t matter. I wasn’t strict about the schedule. I did follow it to the dot but I wasn’t that whiny mother who cried to my husband about not wanting to go out and about. I attended weddings with my infant and sailed through it smoothly. I didn’t even care when he preferred someone over me.
All this is because the second time around, I was far more experienced. I had raised one lovely little boy through the infancy stage and it wasn’t new and daunting. It was something I had done before. I wish someone had told me all this when I was a first-time mommy. I wish someone had been able to knock some sense into me and reduced my worries. By the second time around, I had realized it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t been able to have a baby naturally. You still had your body cut open to take out your baby. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t able to feed your infant. Fed is best even if its formula he is fed on. It doesn’t matter what detergents you use. You want your child to be immune. It doesn’t matter if his schedule gets disturbed sometimes. You’re the one who got him on that schedule and you can get him back on track. It doesn’t matter if your child wants to go to another loved one instead of you, a couple of years later, you’ll be his favorite person.
Most of all, it doesn’t matter if you don’t put your baby first. Put YOURSELF first. If you aren’t happy you will never be able to be a good mother. Self-care is so so important and it is the only way you can stay sane and be an awesome mommy. Ask for help. Don’t ever be hesitant to ask for help. Give your baby to someone you trust and take a long bath. Watch an episode. Do something that makes you happy every single day.
Also, watch out for PPD. It is real and it can be harmful for you and your baby both if not taken care of. Talk about your feelings and confide in your best friends. I know I couldn’t have gotten through that one week without the support of my husband, my loved ones, and my amazing friends.
You basically just have to let go. Let go of a lot of things. Relax. Remember that it will be okay. Of course, if someone is trying to harm your baby, knock his eyes out. You are still the lioness, but one that is composed. 😉