So, I get this question all the time: How is motherhood? and I think to myself if this is a kind of tricky question. Motherhood is portrayed in the media and by women as this lovey-dovey and glorious experience. Like everything is hunk dory. The truth of the matter is that, motherhood is not glamorous at all. It is rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty. Motherhood is not for the faint hearted. The babies will trick you while you are still in the hospital acting all quiet, shy and do little to no crying. Wait until they get home with you, that’s when the games begin. It is as if you are in a rat race or in boot camp. I am constantly being tested with drills from how fast I can wake up to make a bottle, change a diaper without being peed on, rock the baby to sleep or how fast can I get the baby to stop crying… I can go on and on. It never stops! I am not trying to be negative or deter new mommies, but the reality is: being a mother feels like another chore or checklist of the several things that I must get done in a day, and then I start the same routine the next day and every other day. This is not to say that I don’t love my child, I truly do. I remember hearing a mother state that she can still love her child, but at times she may need a break that doesn’t make her love them less. Children are a blessing. Since my son arrived, I have convinced myself that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. I am fearless! I want to do so many things to afford my son with several opportunities that I never had as a child. I want him to be successful. I however want to be honest with mothers and do not sugarcoat my experience.
I was given 12 weeks maternity leave. With support from my husband, I stayed at home with my son 24/7. I breastfed for 2½ months which was quite an experience, it was very overwhelming. Breastfeeding is recommended by doctors and family members because it is healthier, However, another common thing in motherhood is that people will suggest all things that you should do, but they never tell you the truth about them. One of the truth is that if you are exclusively breastfeeding, you are on constant demand, and often the baby is not satisfied with one breast. Often, the baby will have to take both. Also, the baby can breastfeed for 30-45 minutes and you have to let them eat till they stop. Otherwise your child may have a preference and prefer a particular breast to the other. An alternative is to pump milk that will make you a milk machine you feel you don’t have any use for yourself. Also, like in my own case, you may not have adequate lactation such that when you pump, you only get an ounce out after long hours of pumping which is very discouraging. If you don’t release the milk your breasts will become engorged as if you have two bricks on your chest, your breast may leak on your clothes and all sort of things. You may want to get a good maternity bra to sleep, breath, and live in.
I love when my husband is home and when people would come over to watch him for me, that’s when I got my sleep. I really didn’t go out at all with the baby besides for doctor appointments. I didn’t want the baby to become sick since he was born in November during the winter. My emotional state was overwhelming while staying with the baby and I would joke with my husband that I need a nanny. I just need the nanny to take care of the baby when he cries then I am okay. I feel my son is over-demanding than other infants, because even after feeding him and trying to soothe him, he was never satisfied. He would only want to be in the bed with me, he didn’t want to sleep in his bassinet. Unbeknownst to me, he wanted to be on my chest to hear my heartbeat because I breastfed him. One might think I was experiencing postpartum but I don’t think that was the case. I was just thinking back to my old life I had. I didn’t have extra cargo to carry or to think about. It was just me and then I got married. It can become very cumbersome trying to meet my husband’s needs and then my son’s needs; it is like trying to find that balance. I just kept telling myself “it’s too much!” Don’t get me wrong, I have a great support system, but still, the onus is on me. Why is it that I feel like I am superwoman and have to do everything! I am realizing that it is okay to ask for help and that some days, I will forget to do things or the dishes may not get done, but it’s okay because there is only 24 hours in a day.
We switched to formula food when it seemed breastfeeding was not effectively working. It was like we were going through trial and error with the formula. We started with a formula that had rice in with it, but it made him constipated, then another formula that was supposed to alleviate gas and fussiness was doing the reverse effects. Eventually, we found a formula that worked for him. Though he did spit-up a lot, but he was much calmer.
While being a new mother, I graduated with my master’s degree in principal leadership a month after I had my child. To complete my certification as a principal, I had to take two exams to certify me in evaluating teachers. With reluctance since we had been together forever; I had to let my mom watch my baby for the weekend, though I didn’t want to, but I had to finish this test. I did and passed both parts.
To many, being a mother is their greatest accomplishment. And I ask myself: What is the accomplishment? I asked this question to several of my friends that are mothers who raised their own children and they struggled to answer. A friend stated that the accomplishment is when they are grown and have become successful. Of course, you will always worry about them to ensure they grow well and are okay. You still carry them in your heart. They no longer need financial support from you and that you have raised productive child(ren). That is the accomplishment. However, things get better. Like now my son is almost a year, standing and about walking sometimes falling like humpty dumpty, feeding himself, calmer, saying da-da already. And it’s such a wonderful feeling! I am enjoying motherhood more now as compared to when he was a newly born.