I’ve started writing this post at least 3 times before and, as if on cue, the second I complete the first sentence, Elhaan wakes up from his nap with a cry or decides he doesn’t want to be on the playmat any more and would like a feed instead. Yes, I have now officially joined the ranks of parents who use their children as excuses for not doing things! :)
On a serious note, nothing nothing- NOTHING- could have prepared me for the first 6 weeks after the birth. It was the most ‘challenging’ (read: horrible/difficult/painful) time of my life. Every day seemed like a challenge and I didn’t know what had hit me. The first month seems like a blur now. Had it not been for Mama and Ami (Asim’s mother) who were both here, I really don’t know how I would have coped.
The first month was an emotional rollercoaster ride. Some days would be good and I’d feel better and happy and then there were days when if I wasn’t crying, I felt angry at the world for not preparing me enough and my poor husband would be at the receiving end of my mood swings. All my fears and preparation had been for labour and delivery and I thought what came later would be the ‘fun’ stuff. Don’t get me wrong- childbirth was hell but I’d mentally prepared myself and in fact I exceeded my own and others’ expectations of me by going through a completely natural procedure without getting hysterical and actually declining an epidural when it was offered to me (insane I know!). So yeah, labour was 19 long hours of torture but I kept thinking “this is it and then it’ll be ok”. You can imagine my anger and shock when the next weeks weren’t ‘easy’ to put it mildly. Yes, I’d heard of sleepless nights but thought that would be the worst of it. I wasn’t prepared for the stitches, the pain, the infections, the exhaustion, my body feeling like it had been broken and torn, not being able to breastfeed without crying, the baby crying for hours on end and not being able to figure out the reason. Everytime I woke up Ami or Mama at an ungodly hour in tears myself to hand over the baby (having fed him, changed him, rocked him but still not getting him to stop crying), I felt like I had failed as a mother. Also being cooped up indoors for weeks on end made me so depressed. The only time I went out in the sun (thank god the weather was good in March) was for doctor appointments. I didn’t have the stamina to manage anything more. At those times, I felt like I had been in some underground tunnel all this time while the world was still the same and going on at its normal pace. Those hospital trips would cheer me up like nothing else!
The antenatal classes I had attended now seemed like a joke. They focused on things like the benefits of breastfeeding and made us practice on dolls for dressing our babies! I specifically remember asking the midwife if breastfeeding would be painful and she reassured me that as long as the baby is properly attached, it shouldn’t be painful at all. Oh was I in for a rude shock – crying and dreading every feed! To be fair, she may have mentioned cracked/sore/bleeding nipples and thus stressed the importance of correct attachment, but considering myself an A-student I looked at the pictures on the pamphlets and thought, of course I’ll manage this! Ooh pride really doth come before a fall.
Everyone told me once I’d survived the first 6 weeks, things will miraculously start getting better- and thank god they were right! Today Elhaan is exactly 8 weeks old and things have definitely begun to settle down. I think I’m getting the hang of it. Tiredness and sleep deprivation are still constant complaints but I don’t feel so clueless any more. For the most part I can now figure out if Elhaan is crying because he’s hungry or if he’s cranky because he wants to sleep or have his nappy changed…and then of course there are times when I have no idea!! :)
(At this point Elhaan has opened his eyes from his nap and I think I will have to bring this post to a hasty close)
What I need to start focusing on now is regaining my own health. I’m gradually gaining my strength but still have a long way to go. My aim is not to fit into my size 10 clothes again although that would be amazing (I’m a plump size 14 at the moment even though people reassure me that I look pretty much the same), but I would like to be able to walk up the stairs, go for a walk or tidy up the room without feeling like I’ve run a marathon and sit down with aching knees. Hmm and getting rid of this potbelly would be nice. The stretch marks are another story though- not much hope there except they will get lighter after 6 months or so. I guess I have to learn to love and take pride in them as my ‘battle scars’. I’ve started going out for evening walks with Elhaan in his pram. That’s my favourite time of the day and the good thing is he loves them too! I get a bit of a workout and fresh air. If Asim isn’t with me, I may catch up with a friend on the phone while walking which is nice too. Elhaan just loves being outdoors- he’ll look at the trees and passersby with fascination and doze off after the first 10 minutes or so. The minute we enter the house though he wakes up and starts crying but that’s because all that ‘exercise’ makes him hungry and wants a feed. So yeah we’re getting into a bit of a ‘routine’ and I’m beginning to enjoy it!
Watch this space for more updates :)
ps. Elhaan decided to continue with his nap and I may be able to take a quick shower or change my clothes. What luxury!