One Google search on parenting and baby raising experiences in the 0-3 months time frame will unleash at least a few million hits so my post here may not necessarily unearth new insights. However, these are my experiences and in the interest of sharing them, here I go:
Listed below are a range of my adventures raising my baby from his newborn stage to 3 months. I will not say I loved every moment of it, that would be a lie. I have had many a frustrating moments, moments of anger, tears, moments where I just wanted to run away from it all, moments where I just wanted my old life back, and moments where I wondered if life as I knew it was every going to come back again.
Never, however, NEVER have I regretted having my child. Never have I doubted my mothering him. Never have I not wanted to be a mother, his mother. I am completely and immeasurably head over heals in love with my little child and I cherish my time with him every day (even amidst moments where I wonder if I am ever going to find time to work on important job-related things). I appreciate my child and I am filled with immense gratitude for him. With all that being said, let me now get started.
What you may or may not know:
1. You may encounter grief over the loss of an “I” identity
I did. For weeks, I cried (not continually or all the time but there were some moments of tears) mourning the loss of a personal “I” identity. I was no longer the image of who I thought I was, my personal self – that of an individual, a feminist, a wife, a woman…yes I continued to remain all of these simultaneously but while the single woman in me had no issues adapting to the wife identity, and I instantly embraced my ‘mother’ identity, there certainly was grief of the loss of who I was, my past. What I missed most was the spontaneity that had come to govern my life. In what seemed like a previous lifetime, I could get dressed and go out at a second’s notice or at whatever time I fancied. Everything with a baby needed planning.
I would have worked an hour or so trying to put Baby J to sleep and finally settled in at my computer to work when he would start cr
ing again, for the third or fourth time and I was back to holding him, consoling him, and rocking him. It got to a point where I resented doing these things because I was so stressed about work. It had to stop. I read a lot of stuff online and I once read how a woman loved putting her baby to sleep and cherished that time with him. That was a light bulb moment for me. I realized that instead of looking at my time holding my baby and resenting parts of it, I should embrace those precious moments. How long would I be doing this anyway? Before I know it, he would have grown up and not want to be rocked any more.
Since that day onwards, my life was different. I actually spoke those words out loud – that I loved this time with my child, putting him to bed no matter how long it took was indeed a great thing because I am experiencing some previous memories and moments in the making. The power of positive thinking is that it actually worked. I love this activity so much now. I do have occasional moments of frustrations still but they fleet away as I look at my child in my arms. Whether I am nursing him, holding him and rocking him, soothing his hair lovingly, kissing gently on his forehead…this is often my favorite part of the day. Duri
ng nap times, when he first meekly fights the sleep but ultimately gives in and burrows his head in my chest, there is no better moment and place I’d rather be than in that moment than right there.
I also grieved over the loss of a personal self because…as I am writing this, strangely, I can’t even remember what all my grief was over. Today, my son is closer to 5 months than the early days when I had all the regrets above. I cannot imagine my life any other way now. Yes, having a child and planning a life around a child requires a lot of effort but this is my new life and I love it so much.
2. Loss of a personal self will be exacerbated if you are already struggling over work-life balance/personal-professional management
This was certainly the case for me. I was still working when J was born. As a result, for weeks after his birth, I was still answering emails, working, planning for meetings, and attending meetings. I was working from home, which helped tremendously, but the stress of meeting deadlines, completing assignments and such was quite a bit. This led me to be short on patience and often quick to raise my voice and spew anger at those around me.
Because my professional life was so stressful during these early times, I did not quite enjoy the time I should have with my newborn. Furthermore, because I was struggling to complete my work commitments which I would have otherwise done so effortlessly, the loss of a personal self was grave. Today, I am more at peace. With Baby J’s tummy issues near resolved and more of my work commitments met (I still have a lot going on but I don’t feel as stressed about these yet), I am loving motherhood, my baby, and my life so, so much more.
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