I’ve often heard that being a mom is the hardest ‘job’ anyone can have. It’s not that I didn’t want to believe that it was that hard, but you never truly know the truth something until you experience it yourself.
This week, my baby and I both had our 6 week check-ups. And in preparation for our check-ups, I realised that there has been so many lifestyle changes, challenges and new experiences that we’ve been through as a parent and child in the past 6 weeks.
In my last post I discussed some of the challenges I’ve been dealing with, but I’d like to elaborate on some of the other challenges I’ve been dealing with as a new mom.
We all know that new babies don’t have uninterrupted sleep. And like many new babies, mine would spend more hours asleep during the day than at night. During the day we were at 3 to 4 hours of sleep and at night only 1.5 to 2.5 hours. The saying “sleep when the baby sleeps” is the worst piece of advice anyone can give a new mom. If we’re sleeping when the baby is asleep, when do we get to get anything else done?
It is very difficult to sleep every time your baby is sleeping. There is always so much for a mom to do at home. There are so many household chores that need to be done. Even though my husband insists on doing all the chores, so that I can give all my attention to our baby; it’s hard to see that pile of dirty laundry and not feel compelled to want to wash them. It’s even more difficult to see a sink full of dirty dishes and not feel the urge to clean them.
You will never get used to waking up every few hours during the night. For me, I’m most tired between 3am and 5am. During that time, it is incredibly difficult to keep my eyes open and find the patience to deal with a crying baby and changing a very smelly nappy.
Regardless of time, my morning starts with baby and I getting up and out of bed, then I do the usual routine that involves changing, feeding, putting him to sleep and then cleaning up after him. Then, while he is sleeping, I have just enough time to choose to do one of the following:
- Eat breakfast / brunch
- Shower (only)
- Put on clean clothes
- Brush my teeth
- Brush my hair
By the time I’ve chosen one and completed it, or gotten half-way through completing one of the above, there will be a noise or a cry coming from the bassinet. As a new mom, nothing gets you more quickly out the shower than wondering or worrying if the noise from the bassinet is your baby choking or suffocating. You then spend some time just making sure that there is nothing wrong, or putting baby back to sleep. Once everything is fine, I then get an opportunity to choose another option on the above list. There are not many days where I find myself showered, “teethbrushed” and adequately fed. In all honesty, if my husband did not make breakfast for me and leave it for me on the night stand before he leaves for work; the possibility of me having any food before midday is very low. Another challenge when trying to feed yourself whilst looking after your baby, is that as young as they are, they know exactly just when you’ve started making yourself a meal or have just sat down to eat your meal – this is the exact time when they start crying or fussing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started preparing my food or had just put the prepared food into the pot/pan to start cooking it – when a cry-session would begin, which then takes 20 or more minutes before the calm and quiet returns so that the cooking can commence.
Another challenge a new mom faces, is the new wardrobe choices one has to make. In my previous post, I wrote about how my post-natal body is all frumpy and shapeless and how my clothes don’t fit the way they used to. Clothing not fitting is not as bad as not liking any of your clothes. I’m sure all new moms imagine themselves dressing up every day, bring well groomed with make-up and their signature scent everyday. Whereas in reality, you end up wearing ALL your comfy clothes: baggy t-shirts, yoga pants, tracksuit pants, socks and slippers. The baggy t-shirt is required for the loose fitting bra to assist in breastfeeding, bearing in mind that the t-shirt will indeed be covered in throw-up by the end of the day. My comfortable clothing choices are sometimes challenged by me then having to consider if I can breastfeed with this top on, which can make the outfit choice slightly cringy. I have also noticed that there aren’t many plus size options for nursing clothes or even nursing bra’s for that matter. I get very jealous when checking out new moms on Instagram and how they seem to have it all – the post-birth model figures, fashionable outfits and social lives.
Other challenges new moms have to deal with include the discomfort of wearing maternity pads for weeks, as no one tells you how long you bleed post-natal. And depending on your choice of birth control, there might even be more bleeding which can be up to 2 weeks. The next challenge is remembering to put breast pads into your bra every day, so that you won’t experience your breast leaking right through your t-shirt. This has to be done even at night unless you want to wake up with a t-shirt that’s as wet as a t-shirt from a wet t-shirt contest.
As a new mom, apart from feeling like you’re looking like a physical mess, you’re probably feeling like a mental mess. Being at home to be with your baby is such a blessing. But being at home, with an infant all day everyday can be such a challenge. After being at home for a few weeks, you begin to forget that there is a world outside. A world outside where people work and socialize. Spending time with my new baby, learning about him and watching all his cuteness (also binge watching all my favourite shows on Netflix) is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but I will admit that I am jealous that my husband gets to go out, work, drive around and speak to people. Also, being at home, day in and day out, changing diapers, feeding and soothing the whole day can become too much, and when husband dearest comes home, all I want is to hand baby to his father for some alone/quiet/me time. This alone time is typically just me sitting on the far end of the couch so that I can have my hands free for a little while.
For the past 6 weeks, I’ve spent most of my days at home with my baby except for some doctor’s visits, and a few trips to the mall with my favourite mom-friend. It has been very difficult to let go of the old me. The old me who was so used to being independent, driving myself around, socialising, shopping alone and doing some household chores by myself. All this changed when I was admitted to hospital. I’ve had to hand over some of what I’ve been doing to my husband. Fortunately for me, my husband is willing and capable of taking over from me, which felt like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Then after a while, it starts to feel like there is something missing. And yes, you can miss doing the laundry or just simply going to buy groceries. I took my first solo trip to the mall two days ago, and it felt liberating. Just being able to leave your child at home, getting into the car and driving yourself where you want to be can do so much for your self-esteem.
One of my favourite hobbies is going shopping, even just window-shopping. Before baby, I was free to run to the mall after work, or early on a Saturday morning. I could spend hours just browsing through my favourite stores. Now that I’m a mom, I have extra motivation to shop. How many moms can go to the shop and not buy anything for their baby. But going shopping or doing anything means that I now have a plus one. A plus one who comes with baggage. My plus one is my baby, and he comes with a stroller and baby bag. And when shopping with an infant, there is so much to think about, such as:
- Are there enough nappies in the bag?
- Have I packed enough extra clothes in case of emergencies?
- Is there a pacifier close by for when needed?
- Are there adequate baby changing areas available?
- Will I be getting urinated on or thrown up on during the outing?
- How much can I carry while shopping with a stroller?
This can make going out anywhere a little complicated. When you’re out with your baby, it can be stressful and practice is needed until you can go out confidently and not worry about all the small things. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to go out alone with my baby, as I’ve always had my mom-friend or my husband to be of assistance when going out. But sooner or later, I’m going to have to learn to be confident when going out with my baby so that we don’t run into any complications.
On the subject of having a helping husband… I often hear that I am “lucky” to have a husband who not only cooks and cleans but also does his share of dirty nappy changes, feeds and so many other baby-related responsibilities. I have also heard many men say that they have never changed a nappy or refuse to do household chores because those are “women responsibilities”. I think that society has allowed men to get away with not doing tasks or having responsibilities that have been previously completed by women. Times have changed, men should be becoming more domestically apt as women are continuously proving that we are far superior to men when it comes to all the tasks we have taken on through the ages.
Being a new mom is difficult, there is so much to do, think about and consider. There will be a lot of experiences I will have to deal with and situations to navigate through. Hopefully, as time goes by, I will learn how to deal with the challenges that come my way. I’m just happy I won’t be going through it alone, as I have to support of my husband and other new-parent friends. I also hope that my baby boy will stay the sweet and quiet boy that he is.