Child: Vihaan, 4 ½ months
Expectations of Motherhood: I’ve always wanted to be a mum and thought I would be a great one. I would look at cranky babies with frazzled mums and think, “Oh…I would be so much better at that!!”, or, “I would even enjoy those crazy moments and would never get frustrated or frazzled.” When I was younger I baby sat my cousins and nephews and was great at it! I had a knack of calming babies down and putting them to sleep. I loved it! It was as if I had this special power! Obviously, it would be even better when I had my own…right??!!
We waited a few years after getting married before we started to try for a baby. I miscarried my first pregnancy more than a year earlier and after months of hoping and praying, my husband and I were so thrilled when I got pregnant again. I was going to have a Summer baby and I had visions of long walks in the park, picnics, swimming classes and general maternal bliss.
I just could not wait!! Though so many women have done it before me and will do after me…I felt like the most special woman in the world, entrusted with the most precious project in the world.
Reality of Motherhood: After just seven hours of labour, my beautiful boy Vihaan, literally shot out into the world! The first moments after seeing him have to be the most uncontrolled emotion I have ever experienced. My pregnancy was closely monitored as there was a possibility of Downs Syndrome or Achondroplasia and we didn’t know for sure till the baby was born as we chose not to risk the pregnancy with any invasive tests. Most of my pregnancy was filled with anxiety and mixed emotions. So, when I saw the little soul, placed on my tummy, looking at me, a crashing wave of emotions washed over me. I have a healthy little boy who is just little like his mum and dad.
The first night on my own with my bundle in the maternity ward was lonely, scary and unexpected. How could something so little and beautiful be so unhappy and hungry? I was up feeding him every 20 minutes through the night! I was exhausted and so angry that I had to do it all by myself. How was it fair that my husband didn’t have to go through it with me? Why didn’t any of the nurses come in and take him off my hands? I mean, I had just been through such a traumatic experience and no one seemed to care! When my husband and parents came to see me the next morning, I have to say, it wasn’t my proudest moment. I was at my moodiest best.
Four months on, the proverbial emotional roller-coaster fits my first experience of motherhood to a tee. I have been frazzled yet hopeful, exhausted but exhilarated, insecure but proud, all pretty much bundled into one. It is one of the most demanding things I have EVER done. I feel like I’m constantly being measured by this invisible, larger than life yard stick. When I wasn’t able to solely breast feed, I was riddled with guilt. When I didn’t immediately know what each cry meant, I felt like a bit of a failure. But in just four months, I’ve realised I’m going to be learning for the rest of my life, how to be a better mum. I’m going to do certain things brilliantly but suck at others. I have to let my husband be a dad his own way and allow him to make up his own rules too. I CANNOT plan and control everything around my baby!
It’s taken me all this time to get comfortable taking Vihaan out without wanting to run back home when he’s fussy or crying. I have only now started enjoying being out on my own with him and going for mum and baby groups. I’m fine with that! Some people can do it better, earlier, but this is me and my baby and I need to do things in a way that suits us best!
However tough the first few weeks were, I still feel like I’ve been entrusted with the most precious project in the world and I intend to do my very very best.
A close friend of mine said, “it’s not labour that makes me think twice about having a second baby, it’s the first 8 to 10 weeks.” I completely understand what she meant. The first 8 to 10 weeks with the baby were so tough and so challenging. I didn’t know whether there was light at the end of the tunnel. I was sleep deprived, exhausted and overly emotional for the most part of that time. Magically, this suddenly changed as me and the baby seemed more in sync and pulling in the same direction. I now know what my baby could possibly want, for the most part, and try my best to be organised enough to give it to him on time.
The best/worst advice:There isn’t any specific bad advice I can pin-point but I think the general hard and fast rules, tick box exercises and the need to fit into a specific box that health visitors seem to insist on puts too much pressure on new mums. If my baby and I get more sleep when we co-sleep then I will try it. If I cannot breast feed, I don’t want to feel like the worst mum in the world. I do not want my baby’s existence determined by growth charts. If he’s happy and healthy he is okay! The best advice that was given to me was by my mum: “Remember to always eat first before you set off feeding the baby. You need to have strength and patience to care well for the baby and that won’t happen if you’re hungry and irritable.” Not an easy rule to follow all the time, but it is true.
The hardest parts of being a mother:For me, this is balancing being a mum with being a wife, partner, lover and just an individual. It’s tough! At the moment I’m all about being MUM but if i’m not careful I’ll lose all that made me ME before Vihaan came along. I need to enrich my life with my new role and though I believe it’s my most important priority, I believe that it can co-exist with my other facets. Making this happen, is the challenge that lies ahead.
The best parts of being a mother:Seeing my husband and me in this splendid being is the most exciting thing about Vihaan. He’s like a perfect cake, baked with such an interesting combination of mum and dad’s ingredients. The amount of warmth and unbridled love I feel for him has truly surprised me. Even at 3 am, exhausted from being up just a few hours before, seeing him smiling in his sleep with his fingers curled around mine is the purest form of happiness I have ever felt.
Hopes for your family:I hope we can provide a stable, loving, home for Vihaan, where he will grow happy and with confidence. I hope we can educate him through travel and explore the world together.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums:Enjoy your pregnancy and treat yourself well.
Trust that you will make a good mum. Get comfortable in your new role and take all the time that you need. Don’t get into the comparison game, you and your baby are unique.Take as many photographs as you can. They grow so fast.