Every new mother would agree with me if I say that the first three nights taking care of a newborn is the hardest. You’re still exhausted and probably still in pain from labor and/or operation and you’re hungry yet cannot eat and you’re most likely sleepy. Not to mention, you probably dread your physical appearance and smell too. I cannot imagine how other women give birth alone. Those three nights you could never be sure if you’re doing the right thing, if you can ever be a good mom and if you can ever love another human being more than yourself. Those three nights would debunk the concept of a baby sleeping like an angel. Yeah, those first three nights were tough, it honestly made me cry but what I did not know is that those first three nights were just a beginning of something I was not prepared for.
Days, weeks after, changes slowly took place and as it sunk in, I could not help but be in an unfamiliar dark place called BIG D! My husband and I could not eat together anymore. One had to be with the baby. (I learned later on that it did not have to be that way.) I could no longer enjoy meals or take long baths. I could not find time for myself. I still felt ugly and fat. I gave up so many booked flights and I could not plan any travel. We could not finish a movie in one sitting. Before, we used to watch four straight movies in a day. I was always like a turbojet and always short-tempered. I lashed out crying spells especially when I see my husband in the evening. The mommy routines (we didn’t hire a yaya) just ate me whole. It was the longest time I didn’t go out of the house. I could do so if I wanted to but it was my choice. I felt like I needed to own up to my responsibilities to my child. And, many more adjustments I just could not write nor recall one by one. I learned later on (and admitted) that it was postpartum blues, adjustment or depression I experienced. My friends swear it was normal though I could not believe it was until I had a chance to have a heart-to-heart talk with a colleague who suffered the same postpartum blues. My case wasn’t a full-blown postpartum depression, thank God, although I was sad. I never hated my child nor did I have the urge to hurt him. (PS: If you are in that state, IMMEDIATELY ask for help!) Mine lasted for just a couple of weeks and by the time my maternity leave was almost up, so was the adjustment and hello SEPARATION ANXIETY (separate topic). With my second child, I no longer experienced any postpartum and it’s because I now know better and I wish to share it with you.
Assistance, love, and support from family, friends and your partner/husband.
A solid support group definitely helped me a lot in my adjustment to my new, lifetime and wonderful role of being a mommy. I am one lucky woman to have a husband who actively co-parents with me and I am one lucky daughter to have a mom who extends her motherhood to her grandchildren. I am truly blessed by God, as proven by having them around me and my children.
Rest and sleep.
While the baby is still in the nursery, take the time to sleep, rest and fully recover your strength. Once the baby arrives, I’m sure you won’t be able to resist holding him/her. But, try not to do everything at once and all by yourself. Entrust her to your partner or anyone you completely trust if you are already tired. After all, you and your baby are just in the same room.
Stay hydrated and eat healthily.
Drink as much as the doctor orders you and drink fresh fruit juices if allowed. Once you are allowed to eat, make sure you eat delicious and healthy foods. Plan your meals ahead just like how you plan for the hospital bags. More often than not, hospital foods do not cut.
If there’s one thing I learned after two births that is to bring make-up in the hospital so that I won’t look like a zombie once friends and family come visit us. I personally feel more cheerful when I look my best so this third and last pregnancy, I want to make sure I look my best during labor and after giving birth.
Breast is best, that’s what they say, and I believe that. It will not be called milk gold for nothing. Now, I won’t force anyone (but I will encourage everyone) to breastfeed their baby but I swear breastfeeding made me happy. I don’t exactly know how but they say it produces happy hormones that fight stress away. I believe I did not develop postpartum depression with my second child because I breastfed her for one year.
Be gentle not only to your baby but to yourself as well. Do not try to be a superwoman who try to single-handedly and urgently do all things at the same time. Don’t be too hard on yourself if some things do not happen according to your plan. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help does not mean you are weak nor irresponsible. It means you are strong enough to accept your limitations and responsible enough to do what’s best for you and your baby, even if it means needing other people. As they say, it takes a community to raise a child.
What could be a better weapon than prayer? We can do nothing without God. We cannot be a good mother all on our own. We need other people. We need God. Motherhood is a not solo journey.
Sadness after giving birth may not be natural but it definitely is a normal period especially for first-time (most especially 20 something only) moms. I have let go of my past guilt. But, I’m sharing this story to raise awareness of PPD.
To dear readers, if you are a new mom and needs reaffirmation, I hope this helps. If you are a soon-to-be mom, consider yourselves warned. To those who suffered from PPD, I hope nothing beyond borderline happened and I hope you have forgiven yourself already. To those who know a friend or a family member who would soon give birth, I hope you make yourselves available in case they need you.