A small bundle of joy is a source of instant excitement and love. This is the part that every first time parent is prepared for but with it comes a lot of stress and fatigue. A splurge of emotions that can’t be called happy ones. It doesn't matter how much you read, how much you try to learn before hand, nothing prepares you for the whirlwind that’s about to come.
Please don’t think that I am saying that it is not a happy occasion. Ofcourse it is and most probably it is one of the happiest moments of your life. But parenting doesn’t stop at that moment. It starts with it. The whole preparation of nine months was not about that one moment, the first cry. In the awe of that moment we forget to look closely at our emotions and by the time we realised how stressed we are, it looks like there is no way out.
This is especially tough for first time parent. By second time you are already a parent, you have experienced the stress and fatigue and you know that it will not last forever.
It happened with me also. First time I was so stressed about everything that I do not even remember enjoying the first few months, infact I do not remember first few months of my elder one at all, except for the sleepless nights, the diaper changes and the constant 24 hr crying but I am sure this was not all. Now when I did enjoy the first few months of my second one, I really wonder why did I not do that after my first baby.
Looking back I think there are a few things that if I knew or really believed it would have been easier for me. I have tried to encapsulate them below:
Surrender: Yes surrender to motherhood, don’t fight it. This is a rookie mistake a first time mother could do. Though you may completely devote yourself to the baby, you would keep going back to you earlier self, your free memories and would compare them with being with an infant (I know every mother does it but most don’t admit). It doesn’t matter whether you admit it or not but acknowledge the feeling and remember to not fight the phase. If you completely surrender 100% and don’t think of earlier memories,it will become easier for you (It will tempt and create dissatisfaction)
Take a break: I earlier said surrender but along with that do remember you are only a human being taking care of another human being. You are not a machine. It is very important for you to take a break. It doesn't have to be a big break. It can be a very short break of 15-20 minutes (You can lock yourself in the bedroom and read a book for 10-15 min, or could go for a short walk, with baby obviously safely kept with your partner or anyone trusting)
This break is essential for your sanity and for your baby’s well being also. An infant is an extension of you, he knows you inside out. He can sense if you are tired or stressed, this makes him more stressed, so you being calm and relaxed is also better for the baby.
Do not overdo: Yes, we tend to overdo and over care. If the floor is not mopped 20 times in the day, it is okay. If you don’t wash your baby’s clothes in a special laundry cycle its okay, if your baby cries with your partner and you go for a walk its okay. Bring the standards a notch down!
Share responsibility: You are a mother, your primary responsibility is your child right now. So share other responsibilities in the house, take help, ask for help and if that is not possible than bring standard down even in household duties. It’s okay to eat cold food once in a while, Newspaper spill on the floor can remain on the floor, clothes piled in the corner can remain in the corner etc
Perspective: It is very important to keep the long term perspective in mind but along with that take each day as it comes. Don’t plan and schedule too many things, babies are unpredictable. And remember that this is just a phase, it will soon be over, those small hands and feet will outgrow themselves, out of the house and of your life...so enjoy each day.
Take notes: Yes take notes. This is what I didn’t do properly for my elder one. I have some of his milestones written somewhere but I am not talking about bookish milestones. There are a lot of small things that look small right now but will become invaluable memories in future. These are the moments no one ever thinks of recording like the first time the baby smiled at you, laughed at you, looked at you directly, slept for more than an hour, your first trip out of the house, your first trip out of the city, his first toy etc etc.
Remember you are a good mother: Always remember you are good mother. Don't doubt yourself. If possible do this exercise daily, repeat at least 5 times, "I am a good mother" never mind if once you slept a little more than your baby, if you didn't pick him/her up at the first cry, even if you feed him cereal from a box... you still are a good mother!
These were some of things that I really really wish I knew the first time. If this helps you even in a small way, I would be really glad. Trust me few years down the line you won’t even remember the tough time.....and till then just Go with the flow and build beautiful memories
Thanks to Dr. Gauri Kekre for recommending the last point.
Image courtesy: www.flickr.com