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A freshly minted mother with a newborn baby needs me time as much as the next person. So ladies, stop feeling guilty about it!
So, I just had a baby. It’s been three months and they have been a rollercoaster. They have felt like the slowest, most fascinating, most challenging, most difficult yet most wondrous three months of my entire life. But many of the expectations I had, before becoming a new mother, of being a mother, have not real been realized, yet other expectations have been met and have even been surpassed.
I had a C-section and must confess that when the baby was first shown to me my reaction was more confusion and surprise than the overwhelming love or joy that is talked about. It was amazing to suddenly be face to face with this tiny bundled up wrinkly creature and then to just wonder where it came from. Maybe it was the anaesthesia or the entirely new process of going through a major surgery, but I was just dazed, groggy and wanting to sleep real bad.
But moms to be, the love and joy do come, in time, naturally and organically, like it’s meant to. As you take care of the baby, the constant physical closeness demanded by breastfeeding, the cries that stir your heart, the smiles and coos, the complete dependence of the baby on you, these elements are designed to make you fall in love and importantly, create a sense of duty and responsibility within you. This little life has come to you and it’s your biological, spiritual duty to nurture it, look after it.
It’s definitely not easy, and there are major ups and downs. Post partum depression is a real possibility for many new moms. But as in any long term, strong relationship, the joys and sorrows, tears and laughter, anger and playfulness all come together, and are required to build a lasting bond between mother and child.
So there will be times when you will feel angry with the baby who will seem to be crying for no reason, the sound grating on your already frazzled nerves and tired body. But, in those times it is important to remember, number one, that the baby cannot communicate its needs and imagine yourself in his or her shoes. It must be scary and frustrating when all you have is a cry to communicate. Number two, a healthy mother means a healthy baby.
So if it is all becoming too much, put down the baby in a safe crib or on a bed surrounded by pillows, take time out for a few minutes to just breathe deeply, have a little cry, maybe a glass of water or a chocolate biscuit. Treat yourself and allow yourself to look after your immediate needs first. When you have calmed down and replenished yourself a little bit, you will be able to go back and take care of the baby much better.
It is important to remember that nature has given parents the tools to look after their babies. Animals in the wild capably look after their young and human beings have been doing it obviously for generations upon generations. So, remind yourself that you are empowered enough to take care of the baby. If you are alone you can still be a great single parent, but if you do have help, in the form of nannies, aunts, grandparents and so on, do not hesitate to ask for help. There are theories that state that human beings live long beyond their fertile years because of the important role grandparents play in child rearing, and as Hillary Clinton put it best, it really does take a village to bring up a child. So take all the help you can get, especially in the very beginning when your own body is recovering from the delivery.
Being a parent teaches fortitude, and the lesson doesn’t just come from patiently rocking an infant to sleep even as you struggle to keep your eyes open or worry about the dishes that need to be washed. The lesson in patience and keeping one’s chin up also comes from giving a patient hearing to the numerous advice and criticism that is thrown at the new mother. The advice is mostly well meant and all one should do is research well from authorised sources and pick and choose what you want to follow or discard.
As for the criticism, especially people’s attempt to put mothers on a guilt trip, your own conscience must be your guide. People might see you at the mall and ask you how you could leave your little baby with your aunt or husband, but if you know that you have done your very best as a mother for your child, but that you need a break now and then, take that break. For people close to the new moms, it is important to make them feel empowered while at the same time offering to help from time to time.
To wrap up, remember that this utter need of the baby for you is temporary. He or she will grow out of it. But for now, as babies they need you to survive. So focus for these few months on the baby. Tough times pass but the beauty of a baby developing into a toddler is also a sight that is her now and gone too soon. Never again do most people go through a phase in life that is both demanding and painful at times, yet breathtakingly beautiful and marvellous at the same time.
Image source: pixabay