It was the usual routine. I woke up in the middle of the night to express milk so that I can stock up in case my nipples either bleed or become too sore to nurse. I folded and organized the laundry. I tidied up and did a couple rounds of—‘do we have enough clean nappies?’, ‘are the milk bottles and toys clean?’, ‘are the baby toiletries refilled?’, ‘is it too cold or too warm in the room?’, ‘is it humid enough?’, ‘is the diaper bag replenished with essentials?’—everything seemed to be in order.
I thought I sort of had it all together, so I went back to bed while the little one is still asleep. Two hours of having half-closed eyes and a farewell kiss in between for the working dad, I heard the familiar cry. I got up, greeted our beautiful daughter with the best smile I could wear, cuddled a bit and fed her. I burped her, did a nappy change and eventually had her sit on her bouncer. We played. We sang. We did our storytelling about a daddy bee, mommy bee and a baby bee who lived in a house with a huge garden. We laughed and giggled. Few repeats of everything and she finally fell asleep again.
While the baby bee was napping, I decided to work on other household tasks. I finished some but thought a break was needed. I did a huge arm stretch, yawned and just when I was about to hide myself under a blanket I heard another cry. The entire saga was recapped, but this time there was no napping. I hummed and pinched my sleepy self.
I thought I could keep going. I was fine, but not entirely. My headache was back. For some reason, I couldn’t find a comfortable way to sit while I tried to cradle feed our daughter. Then my tears started falling. I tried to stop but instead I sobbed. I didn’t know why I was crying. In an attempt to fight the tears and not to scare our daughter, I decided to sing her new favorite nursery rhyme about some wheels on a bus. I got into the rhythm, and she smiled back at me. But my crying didn’t stop. Fortunately, after what seemed to be my worst singing performance just yet, I was able to convince her to stay on her crib. She obliged and fell asleep. Such an angel.
I hurriedly showered where the crying continued. But my nonsensical drama had to take a halt as I had to greet an equally overly tired husband. I dried myself and dressed up. We were heading out for dinner, so I went through the entire production of preparing this and that. You know the drill.
Dinner was sumptuous, although a bit uneventful. I miss our dates pre-pregnancy, pre-parenthood. I released a huge sigh.
It started pouring on our way home. So we had to speed up our pace. I slipped and twisted my ankle. Reckless! With the rain in mind, I had to lie and told my husband I was fine. I asked him not to wait for me, to head on before we all soak. It was a painful walk, which unfortunately became another reason to shed tears. Alas, I have turned myself into a soap opera crying diva!
Back at home, I did our nighttime routine—bath, book reading, pajama and nappy change, feeding. I was back to our sort of normal and predictable tasks. She fell asleep, and hopefully for the next nine hours. Wishful thinking is well intended and permitted. When things settled a bit, I walked around and tidied up with final rounds of checks. The usual. Then I went to the bathroom to seek peace and to finally finish the remaining dose of tears I still had.
My ankle still ached but it needed to be ignored. Otherwise, I’d be winning Oscar’s this year. Because for some reason, I thought that my pain, exhaustion, and sadness were seen as overly acting what seem to be rather insignificant feelings. Because I thought that childcare is perceived as an uncomplicated and undemanding job compared to the ones that required coat and tie. Because I was convinced that I simply couldn’t and shouldn’t entertain such preposterousness.
I know I am exhausted. But I am also happy. I am happy that I am blessed to have become a mother. I also know that I can do this, but I think I can really use a break. The kind of break that is uninterrupted. But that would be selfish, and to some extent unreasonable for a mother. Wouldn’t it?
They say recovery from birth take six weeks. But it might not be necessarily true except for your uterus shrinking back to its pre-pregnancy size. So I wonder, how do you really recover from the immediate pains of childbirth when you are introduced to new sets of discomforts and agonies right after? How do you become equally good as mother and a wife? How do you deal with yourself through these transitions and changes?
I am constantly on high alert, on a lookout for just everything and anything that could possibly harm our daughter. My brain seem to be overloaded all the time. My heart overly emotional. I multitask, and its taking a toll on me. Because there is really no time to rest, no chance to relax.
There is no downtime, no days off. No one is lying about that.
Because the ‘work’ schedule is extensive, not to mention having to learn a new system process that changes quite fast as your baby grows.
Then there is the matter of breastfeeding. It’s tiring. It’s frustrating. It is also worrisome. What if my milk supply decreases? Or what if I simply stop producing milk? It’s unimaginable!
But there is more—the postpartum blues. Is the depression causing the fatigue, or is the fatigue causing the depression? The worries are taking over me. My anxiety is consuming me.
Alas! The wife duties. What if I lose my husband in the process of learning to be a good mother?
I am not complaining. I am simply seeking for clarity, or perhaps a little bit of space to breathe. Because today I cried. Today I felt defeated. I love being a mother, but I am not sure if I am doing it right. I love my husband, but I am not sure if I am being fair with him. I am overwhelmed with feelings of self-doubt.