Hello! I regret that I was not able to come back sooner on the blog but things were (ARE) moving so fast that this is the most edited draft I’ll ever have. Last year around this time, I was wobbling with a big belly that I proudly wanted to flaunt and now I am wearing cardigan on a 100F day hoping to conceal it. I have fat tires. See what I did there? Thanks! Last year, my apartment looked like that of a masters student’s with electronics laying all around and now it looks like I robbed BabiesRUS store. And I could go on. Lot of things have been going on and if I were to say few words about them as an FTM- here goes:
Postpartum: I came back from the hospital sore and sad. Yes, that’s right. What you won’t hear but is true is that nearly 70% of the women have this massive feeling after extreme pain and this is not to be confused with depression. This feeling goes away with time and without much ado. At least I did not find any time to sit and bawl because I had to get healed, nurse, pump, visit my doctor, visit the baby’s doctor and repeat all this as and when needed. Amid all this, I forgot to BREATHE. I had successfully offloaded other duties to my parents who were then with us to help with the baby. One key to survive first few months is to seek help because only then can a new mother heal quickly and only a healthy human being can take care of another tiny human being. Also remember what they say on flights? Secure your oxygen mask before helping others.
Naming: I do not understand the craze for new names. Because I think names do not have an expiry date and they don’t die with time. So, searching for something new and unheard of was out of question. Both husband and I were never fans of fancy names and we always wanted the name to be easy to pronounce and preferably short. So, when filing for his birth certificate, we picked out one among all the shortlisted ones that felt apt to the baby boy at the moment and he blinked acknowledging our decision. I’d fondly remember it as a cute little gesture and you who wants to spoil it, please go away. Shoo!
Feeding: Feeding a baby takes two. No, three people. Baby, the mother and another collaborator to bring things. I tried again and again to gather all the things I needed before I sat down to feed the baby but there was no single time I got it right. On top of this, it was always an exercise to get the latch right. In the meantime, hungry baby used to turn red (hangry is the word) and that is enough to bring the house down. The tryst is not ever with feeding the baby. A well fed baby needs to be BURPED. Cute term given to the process of releasing the air that baby may have swallowed during feeding, burping is one of the few things that counts as an achievement for a new parent because the satisfaction that comes when you hear the roulette like sound after intense patting on the back is so worth the exercise. Phew! I am exhausted just typing that sentence.
Putting to sleep:
This I would say is the toughest challenge I face daily as I fight for my sleep and my boy fights against his. I try my level best to stick to a routine so that he notices the difference between nap time and sleep time but as you can imagine, it is really, really hard. He took after me in this respect and I was the one who used to resist sleep as a baby. Another classic example of karma folks, my mother on the other side of the globe is having a hearty laugh (JK, my mom is the best.) Even if I get lucky, putting him down on his bed without waking him up is equal to the picture. And I tip-toe around like I came to rob my own house.
Tracking: Milestone tracking is one thing which every parent does with excitement (first poop in the hospital marking the start :P). As many doctors suggest, it is also good to maintain a journal of baby’s feeding and sleeping patterns, wet and dirty diapers (especially in the first few months). It is the first question they’d ask in any doctor visit (if the routine has changed) and though one small change is not so alarming, it gives an idea about the happenings. One can never trust a new parent to remember when last feeding was or when last diaper changing happened. So, smart phone and apps to the rescue ( I used GLOW baby). That little gadget isn’t so annoying if you use it right!
Illness: It breaks one’s heart to see a tiny human suffer to pass gas or poo or has a stuffed nose. To an outsider, these may not seem serious but to the person who made the human, it is like God conducting an open book exam. There are answers everywhere- from the pediatrician, from grandparents, from other parents, from internet but nothing seems to work. Feeding patterns change and there is confusion everywhere- what to try and if at all something worked, what worked? Whether the actual medicine, time or maa ki dua?
Not feeling like a mother: I do not mean to disrespect motherhood even a bit but it will seem tiring at one point (all those mothers who tell you a different story are lying IMO). Physical strain and mental stress are inevitable and I must honestly admit sometimes I wanted to take a good break. And by good break I mean alone time with myself and also alone time with husband. How bad am I? The times I also feel that I am not a good mother is when the little guy cries and I cannot figure out why. Does he need milk? Does he have to burp? Or maybe he has gas? Just some cuddles, may be? I keep a checklist and I try all of them but I fail. It is heart wrenching if nothing works and in such hard times, mostly time resolves the problem. Those are the times I feel incapable and undeserving!
Judgmental eyes: Parenting advice comes from all directions when one talks to others. Just tell someone that baby is not sleeping through the night and they will dig their experiences with their children or nieces or nephews. Like doctors say, every baby is different and there are no golden rules. It doesn’t hurt to take all that advice but sometimes it comes in a disapproving tone and sometimes with mocking and that hurts. Whether a mother wants to breastfeed the baby or not, whether she wants to hire a nanny or she wants to take the time off, whether she wants to give him gripe water or not (YES, people have opinions about this too!), there are judgmental eyes everywhere. Taking such taunting with a pinch of salt is the wisest thing to do. Also, some lemon and soda along with the salt so that you can cool faster!
Getaways: First travel with a baby is an experience that one has to live to understand. We made a 2 day plan and I almost packed the whole house- his diapers for 2 days, extra in case we run into a situation and the nearest convenience store ran out of them, milk, extra milk, his clothes, extra clothes, ALL his toys in case he missed any one of them, his rock and play and few blankets. And what happened is that I did not even open some bags and our little one just slept in my lap and played with my nose all through the trip. So you see – it’s great to be prepared for situations but it is required to be prepared for few surprises (and also for some mocking about the recent OCD that you’ve developed).
Pranks and tantrums: The cutest part of parenting is this. My little guy smiles at all goofy sounds I make but not his daddy’s. He likes daddy’s hair but not mommy’s (I see why, don’t explain). We sleepy heads feed him his midnight milk and he joyfully coos at the night light destroying our hopes of resuming our sleep. We have a range of toys for him to play with but he likes to play with daddy’s laptop and my hair brush. NO END.
Anyway, the little boy will soon grow and do other naughty stuff so I’d rather enjoy while he is still so squishy and cuddly. Happy holidays and see you next year!