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As a new mother, only my mom was my support, no-one else. Even my feelings were invalidated, almost making me invisible as a person.
This may sound weird to you coming from a new mom. But “Why are these guys happy?” was my first thought when I looked at the happy faces of my family outside the operation theatre after my delivery.
After what I had gone through in the labour room, I didn’t see any reason to be happy, in spite of the fact that I just had a baby.
I got pregnant immediately after my marriage. It wasn’t planned, I wasn’t prepared. It took me months just to digest the fact that I was carrying.
On came a series of issues like dependency on others, bodily changes, health issues, lifestyle changes, lack of confidence in playing this new role, empathy from everyone including strangers etc. By the time I managed all these, I was already in the labour room.
After 12 hours of intense labour, my obstetrician thought it best to go ahead with C-section. And hence, I entered into the labour room but came out of the operation theatre.
And the answer to my initial question came after a month, when I came back to my original self after I overcame the baby blues. As the name suggests, baby blues is the sad feeling that takes over the new mother after the birth of the baby.
And the support I got was:
A husband asking me in the labor room, like a parent to a child in his classroom, “Is anyone else around screaming?”
A father-in-law who was in extreme distress because it was going to be a caesarian.
A mother-in-law who expected me to waltz out of the ICU, because someone else did.
A close relative who suggested epidural is of no good.
Amid many such bitter scenes, I found very little solace, that too in tears. My single mom was my only pillar to lean on. My blues went up and up before subsiding only after almost a month.
The reasons being:
With family and friends dropping in to see the newly born, (yes, newly born and not me), a basic intro of “She couldn’t do it” about not having a ‘normal’ delivery was given.
There was no acknowledgement of the pain and trauma I have been through, instead, it was invalidated, nay nullified to ‘today’s girls’. I felt worthless.
Anything from taking care of the baby to my own food habits to improve breast milk, everyone had a advice ready with them. Well, not one was coinciding with others. I was confused.
You might have already got a glimpse of the support I received from my in-laws. And almost similar, mostly advice, was the support from my maternal end. Only my mother was running pillar to post to manage everything.
Poor mom, she did much more than her capacity taking care of my baby and me. I felt alone and helpless.
The initial days were an absolute nightmare! While some said do this, others said something else altogether. No one had any logical explanation for any of this advice;. no doctor had ever suggested them.
I was forced into following these. I blindly obliged.
I used the phrase ‘There’s no turning back’ earlier in my life with an enthusiastic attitude that suggested, ‘This should be done, NOW!’ But now the same phrase shows a loss of confidence, like ‘I am stuck, I have no option but to do this’.
I felt hopeless.
It’s all about the baby now. I am expected to eat, sleep, dress, travel, work as per the convenience of my baby without even considering my comfort. It appears as though my mere existence is just for the baby.
I love my baby more than anything in this world, but I love myself too. Seems, it is not the case with others. I felt unimportant.
Everyone wanted a slim mother and a chubby baby. Their former expectation was met, as I dropped many kgs after my delivery. But my body is not the same, and I am overwhelmed by these changes. I am not the same.
Coming to the latter, they weren’t content, though the baby is healthy.
I somehow believed that I was not being a mother good enough, a symptom of postpartum depression. No one ever said, “You’re doing your best”, which made me feel worse about it. My role as a mother felt more than a burden. I felt guilty.
Now that I am a mother, my career is at question, because the full responsibility of my baby is put on me. I understand that she is dependent on me initially, but later I would want to continue in my profession. For this thought, I was branded selfish.
This post might seem negative, but I have gone through all that. And my blues go down just at the sight of the beautiful baby in my arms. It took me more than one month to be my usual self, and in the process of coping I have done /understood the following:
Now, my baby is 5 months old and I feel stronger than ever. I am a freelancer and planning to take on a full-time work-from-home job soon.
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