Mother (n): The only person in the world who will still love you in the morning even after you’ve woken her up 67 times at night.
The first year of motherhood teaches you a lot of things. Here are 11 things most mothers learn in their very first year. Let’s start right from the beginning.
1. How much pain the human (read: female) body can actually bear.
Whether you have a scheduled C-section or wake up at 3 AM feeling like you’re going to die, every mother goes through some degree of pain in the childbirth process, be it before or after. And to put it simply, that shit HURTS. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you didn’t go through childbirth if you had a C-section. The baby came out of you one way or another, right?
2. Sometimes you don’t fall in love with your baby right away
This is a bit of a taboo subject, but one that really needs to be discussed. Your body aches, you haven’t slept in what seems like years and you have no idea why your baby is screaming. The first few months after having a baby are the hardest. They’re adjusting to the world and you’re adjusting to them. Remember, it’s a process. Nobody knows what they’re doing in the beginning and that’s perfectly normal. If even after six weeks you’re still down in the dumps and not over your baby blues, it’s best to seek professional help.
3. Breastfeeding is anything but natural
This is probably one of the biggest shocks a new mother gets. Forget the blissful images of mother-child bonding and replace them with terrible latching, positioning, pumping and compressing. If you plan on breastfeeding your child, please do your research before baby comes. Learn everything you can about how to feed your baby and if possible, invest in a good electric pump. You’ll thank me later.
4. Those desi totkey every auntie throws at you actually work
No, this does not mean you drink castor oil to induce labor or give your baby honey before they turn one (do your research, both can be fatal!) However, the panjeeri your aunt made for you will actually help with those aches and pains and believe it or not, chewing on zeera will increase your milk production! All the advice well-wishers give should definitely be taken with a grain of salt but in all honesty, some things actually work.
5. Whoever coined the term ‘sleep like a baby’ never had children
Let me tell you a secret, every mother who says her baby slept through the night at 36 days is LYING. Babies don’t sleep, end of story. At least they don’t sleep the same way adults do, lying down in bed with the lights off, thinking up ridiculous scenarios that will never come to life. No, they need to be fed, changed, rocked, fed some more and will finally doze off after approximately three or four cycles of this, only to be woken by the sound of you sneezing. It’s tough, so make sure to tag team with your significant other, at least for the first three months. It usually gets a little better after that (fingers crossed).
6. Every baby is different
For the love of God, don’t freak out if your chacha’s cousin’s son’s daughter started walking at nine months. That child is the exception, not the rule. Every baby is different, and as long as yours is reaching his or her milestones within the appropriate age bracket there’s no need to worry.
7. People will talk, and they will talk shit
You will be asked why your child isn’t as fair as that one random cousin you barely speak to. You will be asked whether or not you’re breastfeeding (which tbh is an extremely personal question, please note). You’ll be asked how many times you’ve gotten your baby’s head shaved, when you had your son circumcised and why your daughter’s ears aren’t pierced.
People will tease you and ask when baby number two is coming. They will comment on your baby’s weight, the shape of their head, even the size of their ears. They won’t just stop there, they’ll also comment on how tired you look, how fat you’ve gotten and how dirty your house is. For the sake of their physical well-being and your mental health, decide in advance whether you plan on ignoring them, or giving them a shut up call (the latter is definitely more satisfying).
8. Trust your gut
There’s a reason they say mother knows best. When it comes to your baby, you should always trust your instincts. Be it a physical or developmental delay, or even that nasty cold that just isn’t going away, you know your child better than anyone. Do what YOU feel is the right thing for your baby, always.
9. Make a point to take some time out for yourself
Be it a grocery run or movie date, it’s absolutely necessary for a new mother to take time out for herself. You need to remember that you are so much more than just a primary caretaker. Take that baby-free trip with your husband, go on that movie night with your girls. Your baby will be absolutely fine and you’ll come home feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on that diaper explosion.
10. The guilt will never leave you
Alas, whether you’re going back to work or on a date, your child will be on your mind. You might find yourself messaging your baby’s caretaker instead of writing that email, or looking at the baby monitor app on your phone instead of the cinema screen. This is natural, and gets better with time. It also definitely does NOT mean you don’t do you. If you’re happy and energized, your baby will be too, remember that.
11. There is no love like the love for your child
It’s a funny thing, unconditional love. Despite bearing the pain of childbirth, being covered in bodily functions and not having slept in months, mothers will still do anything for their children (for the most part).
What was your first year of motherhood like? Do you have anymore advice for new mothers? Is there anything else that should be added to this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Cover image via pbs.org