first-time mothers to be. Have you by now gotten used to friends or family touching your belly, talking to it and even kissing it maybe? Or do you now expect even strangers to give you their prediction of whether you are carrying a boy or a girl? They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what they don’t tell you is that a village also wants to be a part of each step of your pregnancy.
When I was expecting my first child, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean I knew my belly was going to expand five times its size and that I was expected to be hungry every couple of hours (such a myth by the way, since I was hungry every minute) but beyond that, all I expected was a rosy baby shower, lots of pampering from the hubby and the liberties that came with being pregnant. My friends wouldn’t let me carry as much as even a 2 kg bag of groceries.
What everyone told me about motherhood
Everything about pregnancy and being a first-time mother seemed to be learning on the way. Once the initial euphoria of the baby announcement abated and the congratulatory messages flooded my inbox, I was in for whole new schooling about being a first-time mother. First came the warnings about those sleepless nights. Parents of little ones smirked as they told me, “Sleep now, you won’t have a peaceful night once the baby comes”. I wondered if my body had a sleep bank, where I could deposit hours of sleep now and avail the benefits later. (And no, it doesn’t just so you know). Then came the whole “Enjoy your free time now, you won’t have any once you have the baby”.
Some told me to enjoy the last few months of enjoying my hobbies and doing what I love. It was apparently going to be a thing of the past soon. Not one to regret later, I baked a treat every day and strummed my guitar like it was going to be the last time. Every parent I met had only words of caution in store. My once confident self slowly began to lose its grip on me.
With the constant bombardment of how I was headed for doomsday, I lay in bed one night, my baby bump taking the space of two, anguishing over what I had gotten myself into. I was convinced that no amount of baby books on pregnancy and parenting were going to prepare me enough for this new chapter in my life. (This part is true, nothing can fully prepare you for having a baby). I wondered why everyone was out there to scare me like I hadn’t already considered the big changes that a new baby would bring in my life.
What no one told me about motherhood.
Two months and one C-section later, I held my 6.5 pounds baby in my arms for the first time, mentally prepared for feeling uncertain and hopeless. Then I looked at my bony baby boy. He was a vision of peace and an assurance that God still loved the world. Yes, I had been warned about how the surgery would leave me feeling like my body had been ripped apart, but what they hadn’t told me was that my heart would explode with joy when I held my baby close to me. Those sleepless nights they cautioned me about? The first night we came home, I lay awake at 3 in the morning, just to watch how peaceful and beautiful my baby looked when he slept. I didn’t want to miss a minute of it. (Of course, as the weeks progressed and I found myself snoozing at 10 in the morning, I found a more suitable time in the day to admire his beauty.
Yes, it was hard to know what made him cry or uncomfortable. Colic wasn’t fun when it showed up like an unwelcome guest at 6.45, every evening, for weeks. Some days, I felt like I just couldn’t do it. Only minutes later I’d find that my familiar voice which had made little conversations with him while he was in my womb, soothed him like magic. All those songs I played and sung for him those 9 months, seemed to calm him down in an instant. This is something that everyone missed telling me; that my baby and I would figure each other out as days went by. This was MY baby and I would know how to care for him.
Of course, the changes were huge, my “Me Time” had suddenly diminished, but no one had warned me about the joy I would feel when my baby first smiled at me, or about the time he’d giggle every time he heard me sneeze. What about the pride I would feel when he learnt to roll over or crawl to reach a toy or coo and call for me. It was something I had never experienced.
And what they should have told me before anything else
It gets better. It only gets better. As the weeks passed, the colic went away, my baby slept longer hours at night and gently fell into a workable schedule. This coupled with the sound of his giggle, his infectious smile, his calm cooing, all brought me a sense of wonder and elation I had never imagined before.
All those warnings they gave me about the demanding changes a baby would bring were all, well mostly true. But I already knew about those. Don’t we all? It’s all we hear about when someone is having a baby. So if you are going to be first-time mom, I want to for once prepare you to experience a kind of love, that you didn’t know existed, a strength for getting through you didn’t know you even had within you and happiness that will surmount all the challenges a baby will bring. Good Luck. You are going to be okay.