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.