You’re the mother!

It was late July 2011.  My husband, my five week old son, and I went to the Home Depot to pick up some things for my mother in laws house.  As we were browsing the aisles to pick up the supplies my husband need to work on his mother’s house, our son started to cry.  It wasn’t a hungry cry.  It was a whiny, uncomfortable, irritated type of cry.  I looked at his pampers swaddle diaper that have the blue line to tell you that the baby is wet.  What did you know, there was the blue line going down his diaper.  I had my small diaper bag and looked inside.  I had a bottle of milk but I forgot to pack the diapers in the bag.  I told my husband that I’ve forgot the diapers.  He’s responds was, “How could you forget the diapers?  The poor guy is sitting in his own piss.  Look how miserable he looks.  How could you forget?” 

“Well you were with me when I was packing the bag you could have made sure that I had the diapers. You’re the parent too.” I told him. 

Then what my husband said to me stung me like a finger getting cut by paper. 

He said, “You’re the mother!”

 I couldn’t respond when he said that to me.  The angry words I felt from the pity of my stomach rising towards my mouth and ready to spit out something vile couldn’t come out. In essences, he was right…I am the mother.  What I didn’t like was the implication which translated, “You’re the mother, you should know better.” During that hour or so shopping trip, my son peed about two more times.  My son sat in his stroller in his pee filled diaper looking so sad and uncomfortable and it was nothing I could do until we got him home.  I will never forget that look my son had on his face.  If only I remembered the diapers. 

While my husband was right about me being the mother and I never forget to bring diapers everywhere I went from that moment on, I am also human as well. Fathers need to realize that just because a woman becomes a mother doesn’t mean that we can’t have mishaps or missteps in taking care of our children.  We don’t give birth and all of a sudden that we are on point in everything we do in taking care of our children.  This is very true for first time mothers.

There are other issues that play a role in our mishaps that you may want to refrain from asking “How could you?”  Things you never thought of that can contribute to our mishaps. In my situation as a new mother, I lack a lot of sleep. I had to get up every two to three hours to nurse to make sure that my son was getting enough milk to bring his weight back up to normal. I couldn’t sleep when the baby slept because my son at the time would only nap twenty to thirty minutes at a time once or twice a day in the daytime. So I was getting three to four hours of sleep during the first three months of my son’s life. I went through a horrible third degree episiotomy that had a slow time healing which was painful and sore.  I had to be careful how I sat because it would bring pain. I had to take ibuprofen at least three times a day for the pain.  I didn’t have help from anyone in the beginning months that my son was born as far as watching the baby so I can sleep or get chores done.  I was suffering from postpartum depression in the first few weeks after my son’s birth because I was tired, in pain and burned out.

We look at our mothers and we say to ourselves, “Mom knew everything.  She knew when something was wrong.  She knew how to make things right. She took care of things. Mom was on point.”  But how do you think she got that way?  Do you think that she was on point at the start of your life?  Your mother had years of experience under her belt that make her efforts in taking care of you look flawless. For the experienced mothers that judge other mothers on the mistakes that new mothers are making in taking care of their children; shame on you!  I doubt you were perfect with you first child; you didn’t know everything either.  Experience is a great teacher.

Unless you become a mother and understand that things just don’t go as planned when you have children; whether it’s a forgotten diaper bag, a lost shoe, forgotten winter hat, forgotten blanket, or a misplaced pacifier, you will only see your mother in those rose colored glasses. The next time you seen a woman in the store or on the street with small children and start to ask “How could she do this or that”, realize she is not your mother.  She a mother who is learning how to handle her children the best way she can. As long as she’s trying her best, what’s the big deal?  Give her a break. She’s probably feels bad enough as it is.

 
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My Journey into Motherhood

My journey to motherhood started in the spring of June 2011 when I gave birth to my first son. It was a long and exhausting labor.  I don’t know if I felt a connection with him at the hospital right away.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t get to hold him soon after I gave birth to him. Maybe it was the pain soreness from the third degree episiotomy that caused the disconnection.  Maybe it was the fear of taking care of this fragile human being that kept me from getting a connection from him. I was even scared to change his diaper. I don’t remember him being around with me all the time in the hospital room.  I remember I would ask the nurse to take him when he was crying or if I needed sleep.  The nurses would come in every three to four hours to breastfeed and once I was done, I would lay him down.  But as soon as he would cry and I couldn’t figure out why, I would call the nurse in for help or to take him to the nursery.

When I left the hospital, I started to get closer to him by holding him more, looking at him more, touching him more.  It also helped that I continued breast feeding to get that skin to skin contact which helped with connection to my son.  I fed him every four hours.  I didn’t know better because I misunderstood what the lactation consultant said about the feedings.  As breastfeeding mothers know that a new born baby should eat every 2-3 hours but shouldn’t go without eating no longer than 4 hours in a day.  I figured that as long as he doesn’t go beyond four hours each feeding he should be fine.  When my husband and I went to baby boys wellness checkup, we found out I wasn’t producing enough milk and my baby was dehydrated.  I felt like a failure.  How could I not realize that I wasn’t producing enough milk?  I thought that milk would automatically flow through my breast.  I was very naive and could have cost my baby to be severely hydrated and hospitalized.  Thanks to the doctors at Mount Airy Pediatrics and the BreastfeedingResource Centerin Abington, PA, my breast milk supply went up within a week.  I had to supplement with formula while I breastfed, and then double pumped.  My breast was so sore and tender but I had to do what I had to do for my son. 

This is just one of the examples of my mistakes that I made in my life long journey in motherhood.  I have been a mother for two and a half years and now I have two health sons; my first born is a toddler and my second is a three month old infant.  Looking back, I can’t change how I handle raising my first born.  Some moments I had an “Ah Ha” moment where I knew the answer or how to deal with a certain situation.  I had moments where I knew that a certain pitch cry meant ‘I’m tired’ than ‘I’m hungry’.  Then there are moments where I had no clue what his cries meant and I tried everything to console him.  Eventually, he may fall asleep but I would still wonder if that he was tired all along or he just gave up trying to tell me.  I started studying my first born and his cues and while I got about ninety percent of what he wanted, that other ten percent would still bother me.  How come I couldn’t figure it out?

There is vulnerability with being a mother that I never experienced before.  When you’re use to taking care of yourself, you see yourself as invincible.  But when you’re taking care of another human being, you start to realize that you’re not a superhero.  Certain things you can’t fix.  You can’t save your baby from everything.  For example, when you’re teaching your baby how to walk, you want to hold their hands because you don’t want them to fall.  But if they don’t fall, how will they learn to stand back up and walk on their own without you?  Feeling helplessness for your children is terrifying. It’s especially true if you child get sick from a nasty cold virus. You want to take their achy muscles, sore throat, and fever away so they wouldn’t have to suffer. But there’s nothing you can do but give them medicine for fever if they have one because it’s a virus and it has to go away on its own.  The helplessness I feel is the most challenging part of being a mother. The “I don’t know what to do phrases when your baby is crying his heart out and you’ve done everything in your power to stop it.  The thought of letting him cry it out because you only had three hours of sleep but yet you pick him up anyway because you want him to feel loved. But things start to get better as I settle in my role as a mother.  I start to recognize when he need to be feed, changed, burped, held, sleepy, tired, or cranky. Being a mother was get easier everyday.

Don’t get me wrong, I still face challenges with my children everyday.  At this moment in my life, I’m experiencing the terrible two with my first born and my infant son is more of a challenge than my first born as far as colic, rashes, and fussiness. Sometime I get stressed, depressed, and feel like I want to crawl in a cave and never come out because of  their screams, yells, and crying that make me go bat crazy. But I see that every effort that I put in to being a better mother reflects on my children everyday. My children are loved, happy, and health and although I don’t have all the answers, I’m trying my best to study their personalities and mother them to tailor them. 

I’m starting to realize that being a mother is a learning process. It will take time and patience, lots and lots of patience to accept that I don’t know everything and its ok to cry, lose my temper, and get frustrated because I don’t have all the answers.  At the end of the day, my children love and accept me just the way I am, flaws and all.  Now I just I have to learn to accept them as well.