My transition into motherhood wasn’t as fabulous as Instagram pictures I saw on my feed. I had too many emotions at the first moment I held my baby. I was overwhelmed. I was happy, yet, at the same time, I was… worried.
My First Night was a Nightmare!
I am one human being. So are my husband and our tiny human being who just came into the world. Each of us has different needs and we communicate towards each other, only with our own way — our baby with her cries at that moment, ofc.
Soon after I delivered Aisha, I had to stay in the same room with her at the hospital. The hospital didn’t allow either my husband nor my parents to accompany us. It was one particular day that I just became a mom – I had been through labor for nine hours! OMG! (Read more on “The Day Aisha was Born”). I read books and articles to prepare myself for my new role, only that I didn’t know my new role was that challenging. Had I knew it was THAT hard, I would have been more prepared. Well, does anyone feel much-prepared in being a new parent?
A less-than-an-hour old Aisha
Aisha cried soon after we moved into our room. The nurse told me she was hungry. “Feed her with your milk. Do you breastfeed?” Those were two sentences I heard several times that night coming from different nurses. I was frustrated hearing those sentences over and over again.
I breastfed her many times. At some moment I thought she had enough milk already, but she kept crying. I held her around the hospital but her cry didn’t stop. I was completely exhausted and I couldn’t sleep that night because Aisha cried the entire night. In the end, both of us didn’t manage to sleep that night. It definitely was a nightmare!
I had this beautiful blessing, but why did I cry…a lot?
I was so relieved when the hospital allowed me to return home because I was at a critical moment where I needed my husband’s and my parents’ support more than ever. My perineum stitches hadn’t completely healed at the moment, but luckily the OB/GYN allowed me to return home. He didn’t give any prescription for my stitches, only said, “it will heal,” therefore, we didn’t really know how to properly take care of the 5-cm stitches.
Because of the pain, I wasn’t able to stand, walk, and even sit properly. I couldn’t hold Aisha and see my mom gracefully hold her, I felt so envy. I want to hold her in my arms. My breastfeeding position was also limited because I was only able to breastfeed her with a sleeping position. Moreover, I feel like my body experienced a huge change. I was physically exhausted (esp. with the sleep deprivation and hearing Aisha’s crying for days) and mentally… unwell.
Tiny little fingers of Aisha
The centro de saude (health center where I had my General Practitioner or also called as the family doctor) appointed us for Aisha’s checkup within days. Since I was unable to walk properly, I was hoping not to come there. Let alone my husband and mom brought Aisha to centro de saude. My parents suggested me to come and have my stitches checked. So there I was…
I almost fainted at centro de saude while the GP checked Aisha. My husband was carrying Aisha so I called my mom who waited outside the checking room. The GP asked a nurse to check my perineum, she said the stitches were wet thus those weren’t healed faster as expected. She advised my husband on how to take care of those stitches. After we left the checking room, I cried a lot. I felt so weak! How could this happen to me?
I once slipped on the bathroom floor, it wasn’t that hurtful but I cried… a lot! Many “what if” scenarios kept popping into my brain. I was faced with a completely disastrous imagination of mine: juggling between household, baby, and.. Ph.D. How could I handle all? I meant, ALL and not in Indonesia! I asked myself: Is having a baby really a blessing?
“Hang on! It will get better.”
The best metaphor to illustrate my transition into motherhood (and together with my husband into parenthood) is the season. Now is definitely the spring-goes-to-summer season for the three of us. The winter season – that was full of crying, colic, throwing milk, confusion, and worries – has left us. Flowers bloom in spring, summer is arriving. Sun is shining bright, just like our baby girl’s smile. Aisha now responds to our action with her smile, laugh, coos, and even now she has a different type of cries (we start to understand what does each cry mean). I have been amazed by how fast she grows and how (somehow) she understood anything I said and how she imitated my silly dance.
I often reflect on myself way back then. A single woman who loves solo traveling, couch-surfing, and getting lost in translation has become a mom. I AM A MOM. It is unbelievable how fast things change within months. How one particular day when a baby comes into the world, the life of a woman completely changes. Although sometimes I miss being a carefree person, now I can’t imagine returning to the old me. Now I have someone who relies on me completely.
Nothing can change a person’s life so drastically as the transition of a woman’s life once she becomes a mother. – Ika Natassa & Ernest Prakasa on the Susah Sinyal novel, p. 74
“So how does it feel being a mom?”
If someone asks me that question, which there were many asking me this. I usually answer: I did imagine myself being one. But I never expected the amount of love I would have received. It is enormous. It comes from a baby who speaks to me through her coos, who sees me with her wide (curious) eyes, who smiles when she sees me coming home, who imitates my dance, who loves my awful singing, and many other things she does those make me & my husband overjoy every day.
Like what we usually heard, nobody is perfect. So are my husband & I as a parent. Parenting is not about the parents learn how to be parents, but together with the baby. Three of us learn from each other, although surprisingly I feel like Aisha has taught us more than we taught her. Parenting is a teamwork for us, it really is. It triggers a new ecosystem for me, a network of support systems consists of helpful friends, supporting new mommies (and parents) who often share experiences, parenting community, and many more. Not to mention, Aisha’s been gaining a new ability in attracting grandmas which she usually responds with her bright smile. Hmm, I believed she understood Portuguese.
Just like a Ph.D., parenting is a training program. The path won’t always be smooth and full of bursts of sunshine. It is like a wheel of emotion, once we are on top and shine brightly; once we are at the bottom and try to recover. But for sure, it shapes us to be a better parent each day. Even summer does have a rainy day(s), doesn’t it?
I don’t want to give any suggestion because I believe each woman experience different things. But if you happen to experience the baby blues, I just want to tell you that you are not alone. Communicate your hardship and feeling to your partner. Remember that you are stronger than you think you are. #womenempowered
Kisses from Lisbon,