10 challenges an expectant mother never expects. Number 4 is unbelievable.
A personal reflection written from a first-time mom.
I used to think baby likes to sleep a lot.
And that, I will have plenty of time to myself so I will use it to get myself back in shape and pamper my body with facials and bubble baths all day.
And, most importantly, raising a baby is a piece of cake. Boy, I was so wrong. Clearly, I wasn’t living on Earth, metaphorically that is.
As I had heaps of help from my husband and families, I thought I was immune from the motherhood struggles, which include post-partum anxiety and depression.
But again, I was kidding myself (though I did receive plenty of help. I guess it is never enough when you feel like you haven’t slept well for 10 years).
I have been told that being someone else’s mother isn’t easy.
But I didn’t know what they mean as I have no prior experience, except the occasional involuntary and voluntary babysitting jobs I’ve done for my extended families.
I wish I knew more about what is in store for me and how to navigate those challenges. Yes, yes, I know you really can’t prepare for motherhood. However, wouldn’t be awesome and helpful to know what we are about to buy? Like a preview or review of YouTube video, before you commit to buying that laptop or the designer bag you bought a while ago.
So here’s my preview of what motherhood has to offer you (both good and the not-so-good) that an expecting mother wouldn’t normally expect:
1. Like I was alluding to earlier, no one is immune from post-partum depression or baby blue. Go out even if you don’t feel like it. Now I know why at the pre-natal classes, they will encourage you to go out.
2. Your baby will need you, all the time. And you will need your baby as well, both emotionally and physically. In fact, both you and your baby will comfort each other in times of stress. It’s so heart-warming and I guarantee you that you will get a hangover that lasts for quite some time.
3. Your life will never be the same. Expect changes to everything from your relationship with your husband/partner, your circle of friends, etc. More importantly, you are now responsible for another human being so your priority in life has changed (or at least for the next 18 years until you empty your nest, that is if you can get your baby to move out).
4. Everything becomes so time-consuming but you are forced to live in the moment. Everything slows down which allows you to appreciate the little things in life like taking a shower for example. In fact, you realised that everything you have taken a lot of things for granted. What a fantastic life lesson, isn’t?
5. You finally know what unconditional love is. Happiness is now at a different level and even if you don’t buy expensive clothes, bags and accessories, you still feel like the happiest person on earth (until your baby decides to make a big sh** bomb, ahem let’s not get into more detail).
6. You feel guilty, all the time regardless of what your decision is. Whether you choose to stay at home, take a full 12-month maternity leave (like me) or go back to work straight after birth, you will feel nummy guilt. What you need to know is, feeling guilt is okay and it shows that you care a lot about your baby (otherwise you wouldn’t feel such emotions in the first place).
7. You now know why some mums do the things they do. I used to think one of my cousin’s wife spoils her daughter too much. Why not let her cry? Why rock her for? What is it with using TV and smartphone to stop kids crying? Now I have a baby of my own, I finally experience the emotions of a mother when her baby cries uncontrollably (I’m not saying it’s the right things to use those unhealthy means to settle your baby though).
8. You feel judged almost on everything related to your baby. It’s so strange but once you become a mum, everyone suddenly become interested in you and how you lives your life. I’m meant everyone from the strangers at the supermarket, your long lost relative, neighbors, your in-laws, your aunt and of course your parents. Entering Motherhood is the most vulnerable time of a woman’s life (in my humble opinion at least), however, we are subject to unwelcome societal judgements. Yes, motherhood is not easy!
9. Flexibility is the key ingredient to being well-adjusted into motherhood. You will drown in motherhood if you have too many should’s and must’s in your life as it is most likely that things will not happen in accordance with your expectations and you will feel heavily disappointed (trust me: I learnt it the hard way).
10. Your child is a reflection of you. They mirror you so if you feel tense, they will feel tense as well. Likewise, if you are happy, they will be happy as well.
I’m so glad that I have shed some light on the unexpected aspects of being a new mother. Like I said earlier, my aim is to give you a preview to what you are about to embark so you can readjust your expectations of motherhood. It is not to scare you or to persuade you that motherhood is a dangerous territory (well at least, maybe if it relates to the sh** bomb situation).
I struggled to adjust to new motherhood because there was a big gap between my expectations and reality. So I hope you take a moment to a reality check of all your expectations and develop an open mind when entering first-time motherhood.
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