No one tells you how hard it is going to be. Honestly, even if they do, you don’t realize it until you experience it yourself. This June when we celebrated her birthday, I got this phrase from almost everyone: time flies. “Huh, what do you know!,” I said to myself each time I read or heard that line.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it was a painfully slow year. But fly it didn’t.
It’s not that I’ve been crying in my bathroom or sobbing myself to sleep through the year. But there are days. While several things come naturally to you when the baby comes out of you, most of the others are things you wish someone warned you about before so you could have prepared yourself better.
Now, I don’t know if you can really be prepared for things but one gets strength in knowing that you are not alone. My 12 months as a mother passed with some lessons, some tears, and many gleefully happy moments. Several times, I wondered if I am the only one feeling like how I’m feeling. Of course, everyone’s journey is different. May be it was easier for some and far tougher for others. With this post, I am reaching out to the new ones telling them what the first year is like, and asking the old one whether they felt the same?
- First Three Months are the Toughest
The first month as a mother can make you numb. It feels like watching a movie with too many characters, too many sub-plots, and with just too many dialogues to comprehend what’s happening. And to top it all, the movie is in a language you have no clue about! The second month onwards you begin to process things and by the end of third month you finally begin to make sense of what’s happening in front of you.
These are also the months when your baby can be colicky. Mine was. I still remember those long nights with her wailing throughout and us helplessly trying to pacify her.
- It Might Hit You a Little Late That Your Life Has Changed
The nine months should have ideally prepared me for it. Plus, I was on bed rest for the entire third trimester. So my life had already changed. But the transformation the baby brings in your life is something absolutely different. And I’m not talking about it changing in the not-being-able-to-meet-friends kind of way.
Every decision, no matter how small or big, you have to take requires a change of perspective. This dons on you slowly. You happily change the décor of the room. Your shopping cart is full of items not for yourself but for your munchkin. You get a fabulous work opportunity for but can’t take it because you’re not in the frame of mind just yet. And all of this is happening when the world is moving at its usual pace. Your extended family is meeting for get-togethers like before. Your friends are partying and travelling the world. Excellent movies are releasing… It’s business as usual everywhere, may be even better than before. But not in your life. Your life has changed. Bit by bit, you accept the change… sometimes happily and sometimes with a frown on your face.
- About Breastfeeding…
You know it already that there is no substitute for breastfeeding but you do not realize a lot of facts about it until you have a baby in your arms. And you might not be able to exclusively breastfeed no matter how much you want to. I suffered from depression after my doctor told me that I would have to top feed because I wasn’t lactating enough and my baby was going hungry. I did all I could to increase the supply (granules, green dal, breast pumping, and every other possible remedy there was) while I gave her formula milk. I got very little supply and that too just for three months. My doctor then counseled me and told me of cases wherein some mothers did not get even a drop of milk to feed their babies. That is a reality. It made things worse for me when well-meaning friends said I should try harder. If you are in the same situation, remember it does not matter as long as your baby is healthy and happy. Don’t traumatize yourself over it; it’s not your fault.
4. You Realize How Scary a Sneeze Can be
Ever been scared of a sneeze before? I’m not sure if there is a word to describe the phobia of hearing someone sneeze. But if you are new mom, you must have or will experience the phobia. Anyone who denies having it in the initial few months of becoming a mom for the first time is a liar! (Okay, or may be just stronger than the rest of us!)
The first time Prisha caught a slight cold, I called up my mother in a state of panic. She was only three months then. I remember being mad at my mom because she was away somewhere and couldn’t come home immediately. She would have been as helpless as I was then and going to the doctor was the only thing we could have done. But the panic was real! Mom pacified me and told me of some home remedies to help Prisha, and came home the next morning (worried more about me perhaps!)
5. The world is divided into three kinds of people…
After you have a baby in your arms, you start dividing the world around you into three kinds of people:
i) who adore your baby and would do anything to be with her at any given time
(ii) who say they love your baby a lot, but are never available if you need help
(iii) those you just comment on how much you have changed after your baby
The only people falling in the first category will be your baby’s grandparents and perhaps your siblings, and if you’re really lucky then your closes friend(s). The extended family and some friends fall in the second category.
The people in the third category are the ones you need to put in the ‘archive’ folder of your life. They can be there somewhere just not anywhere in the distance of your naked eye. You will be surprised how many of your close ones you will end up putting in this category within the first year!
6. You Learn to Live with the Mess
I am not a very organized person per se. I haven’t been a sucker for keeping things in perfect order around me. So, perhaps that is why I am okay with dealing with the fact that you will eventually learn to live with the mess around. The usual mess with the toys and stuff can be taken care of. But the items in the house just keep on increasing. Car seat, high chair, mini swing, stock of diapers packs, boxes and boxes of toys (the amount of toys one can gather for an infant is amazing!), cot – these are some of the essential things always lying around the house (the fact that we do not have a store room just makes it worse). That does get messy. I haven’t even mentioned the condition of my wardrobe, dresser, the table etc. You either clean and organize everything every day or learn to live with the mess!
7. Sleep When the Baby Sleeps….is Irish bull
This is the advice that will come to you from every single person around you. And you wonder okay, I’d sleep when she sleeps and I’ll cook and clean when the baby cooks and cleans? In the first year, you realize that all these are well-meaning people and need to be forgiven. But this rarely happens. Forget all the house chores, even if you want to sleep you are unable to most of the times. And on one of the lucky days when you fall asleep just when your baby is sleeping peacefully, someone will ring the doorbell after exactly 3 minutes of sleeping. True story.
8. Definition of Vacation will Change:
Honestly, visit to a mall now feels like vacation: there’s planning, packing, travelling (okay commuting), clicking pictures (because you want to click a picture of your baby anywhere and everywhere). The joke about how vacation feels like work, and work feels like a vacation after you have a baby, is on point.
9. Shit Happens
…literally, right when you are about to step out after getting late already. Worse, the baby will poop just when you are about to get out of the car. And definitely when you have just changed the diaper. You learn to not let it get better of you. (Shi)It happens.
10. Good Friends Become Your Oxygen
I don’t know how I could have survived the first year without the support of my girl pals. Friends who had become mothers recently offered tremendous guidance whenever I needed it. I would bother them on whatsapp or call even at odd hours, and I would get a reply I was looking for. Always. These are new moms as well as single friends I am talking about. You need a solid set of friends to cheer you up or just listen to you. You need them when you’re drowning in a sea of emotions (mainly because of the hormones)
- You will become the mother you thought you won’t be…
Remember the time your friend who just became a mother couldn’t stop talking about her baby? And you thought you’d never be that person. Well… you will probably end up starting a blog dedicated to your baby J You will be showing off your baby’s latest knowledge procurement: “Baby, where’s your head? What comes after A?” You would want to tell the world that your baby can identify her nose.
- The Art of Multitasking & Forgetting
The art of multitasking comes complimentary with becoming a mother. You realize now how your mom could cook for everyone, help you with your homework, clean up entire house, and still have time to read her book. You learn to multitask because there is no other way. You will be surprised to know how much your mind can process and remember: doctor’s appointment, baby’s medicines, food timings, your work deadlines. But, you’re only human, right? So you’d become forgetful too. You will be mentally replying to a lot of messages on WhatsApp but realize later you actually forgot to (happens too much with me). You will put the clothes in washing but forget to hang them out. You will tell your friend you will call back in 10 minutes (but you never will not because you don’t want to but because you got too busy adoring your little bunny ;))
- Wanting “Me Time” is Not Being Selfish
I struggled with it initially, feeling guilty about wanting some time alone. But then realized that you can’t draw from an empty well. You need to fill it. From having a quiet time to read a book, watching Netflix, meeting a friend, to enjoying a spa session – any kind of self-care is important to keep your system going.
Do you relate to any of these? What are the things you learnt about motherhood in the first year?