Confessions of a Bad Mom
As I type this it’s 3AM on a Saturday morning, I have just changed a full diaper, completed a feed and the baby is back in deep asleep. I crave a glass of wine as I have not tasted alcohol in over ten months now and it shows! Soon I will be able to enjoy the taste of freedom in the form of fermented grapes and probably want to dance on a few tables after three sips.
See the title of this post stems from a book I am currently reading, one I had packed in my hospital bag when I thought labour would mean a spot of tea while I wait to dilate… I can hear my friend Mary in the background laughing with mirth at me. In a perfect world I was meant to read this right after giving birth, while in my hospital bed as the nurses aided and abetted an expensive staycation. But that was not the case, shit happened literally and figuratively.
Giving birth is not for the faint hearted. The hospital is not trying to keep you longer than a day, your baby will also not be taken to the public nursery as a precaution to prevent spread and you don’t get visitors to hospital. If you know anything about giving birth, you appreciate any help you can get while in hospital and the baby is still very small and scary.
I’m glad that I finally picked it up though, 6 weeks postpartum with the helpful nudge of KPLC who subjected us to a full day black out. I have been laughing at how relatable our main character is in her early days as a mum and it nudged me to pen down my two cents because one month in…I am now an expert on motherhood and everything in between. (I hope the pandemic has not handicapped your sarcasm detection valve).
Speaking of the pandemic, it is obligatory that I remind you to mask up, get vaccinated and maintain social distance…else you will be sent home with a baby ten or so months post lockdown like some of us. Giving birth in the middle of it all has had its challenges especially for a first time mum like myself.
Everyone focuses on an epidural for labour. What the movies should really be telling you is that episiotomies are a bitch! I mean someone just slit down your vagina and then sewed it up like a home science project, it is bound to stir trouble and that’s a natural birth, imagine CS mums! Me I am a true advocate for less suffering. Just because our mothers sat in a sitz bath with warm water and salt does not mean we have to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors.
The first step in being a good mum is taking care of Number One- myself. I got myself medicated as soon as possible because you will hate waking up to pick a wailing bambino at 2am if your vagina is a throbbing mess. The cream I had, worked wonderfully to numb my pain. I was as cheerful as a housewife on her third glass of wine. I am not one to dispense medicine over coffee so talk to your gynae about available options you have for such a disposition.
BREASTFEEDING IS THE GHETTAUX!!
It is like learning to ride a bicycle, you must fall many times before you learn to ride properly. There is a lot of emphasis on postpartum depression, it is a valid concern for new mums post delivery but right up there with it, we need to discuss breastfeeding. This, I have to say was the most challenging part dare I say more harrowing than the pain of giving birth.
See baby is learning and so are you. No amount of research could have prepared me for this part of motherhood, and in my first week I was ready to switch to a fully bottle fed breast milk baby. My nips were cracked, latch was not perfect and I could not tell how much was enough. My first week I held baby and whispered over and over in his ear,
‘We are both learning honey, I have never done this and neither have you. Please be patient with me.’
Also babies are generally very lazy. Picture yourself after twenty five trying to get over a night out with drinks and debauchery. It’s the same for babies, they prefer to be fed with their eyes closed and fall asleep at the boob A LOT. In fact you risk losing your ear when they scream at the inconvenience of being woken up to do virtually anything that involves opening of eyes.
I could not say it enough but get that mum a lactation expert as a gift, first week after giving birth. That and a night nurse service. It took a visit to the paediatrician to reassure me that I was doing fine. I hope you are getting better at giving baby shower gifts.
Breastfeeding 2.0 is where the money is at. See in my first week after waking up constantly to feed and feed and feed, I blacked out really and could barely lift an eyebrow. These humans thankfully come with a settings button for lazy nights…I knew someone had my back.
The thing about my body is it tends to shut down and re-energise when its most inconvenient. I am that laptop that decides to update and stays at 99% for what looks like an hour before finally installing updates and turning back on. My partner, bless his soul, would happily hold and soothe the baby in case I needed that extra 10 minutes. Eventually almost too naturally after I had given up trying to reboot system mid upgrade I pulled out my boob while lying down and told him to put the baby. Baby fed, I slept, Daddy watched. We swore never to repeat what had happened that night to anyone.
Until I Googled it the next day, because mom was guilty!. Turns out during my first night in hospital they tried to tell me but I was too scared to share a bed with baby to realise and missed the whole cue. Also the fact that they saved a newborn’s life on New Amsterdam by putting it to latch on its passed out mother kinda validated this choice for me. This is not expert advice so please do your research.
Incase you’re wondering, babies have a wonderful geo-locater that ensures they feed with minimum inconvenience such us opening of eyes.
Babies are like car engines; they make all sorts of weird noises but they’re probably just fine until they’re not. It took us all of one week to go running to a paediatrician and have our bundle checked for defects…see every night when we put him down to sleep all the sounds of infancy came to life. Things we would otherwise not have noticed during the day when the house was chock full of activity.
After a few sleepless nights my partner was sure there had been a mistake and our baby had not been checked properly. When I say mom knows best, it was because I had been consulting the powers that be (other mums) and I had nothing to worry about but Daddy needed to hear this from an expert so off we went to get him a 4000 bob reassurance and a prescription for Vitamin D3 for his mild jaundice.
We are grateful to have a present father in our lives, most men just throw money at the problem and do little else. If I’m being honest the first few weeks at home I was mostly stunned from the episiotomy and struggling to see beyond the painful breastfeeding sessions with my baby to form a bond. If anything I referred to him as an alien and it took a minute before I could say ‘my son’, it also did not help that babies have as much personality as a rock their first few days.
Baby’s biggest food advocate has been his dad. It has been a running joke that he is actually the baby’s mom while I just gave birth. Most nights are bearable because he changes diapers and does the bicycle wheelies to relieve the baby of gas or learnt how to burp him. Their connection was instant, I could feel his protective shield form immediately when the baby was born. We have had a good laugh many a time particularly after a sleepless night, I wish we could laugh at our money problems in the same way. For this he has earned himself a nice new pair of socks for Fathers Day. XD!
EVERYONE will tell you that your choices as a parent are valid no matter what those choices are. This same everyone will judge you for those very choices you make,
This is an expert review from a mum who has had to search for pictures without a pacifier to share with everyone in order to spare herself a lecture on why they are not good for baby. Listen Karen I did my research and weighed the pros and cons and guess what I decided Karen…say it with me MY BABY…MY CHOICE. I will deal with the consequences later.
You don’t have to do everything in a prescribed manner. I mean obviously listen to experienced mothers but also filter this advice with the help of your own research. Whatever worked for someone else won’t always work for you and some other tricks that have stood the test of time will work perfectly for every baby except yours. Not a mum in my inbox telling me that I am all over the internet and I need to take a break. Or that baby os too young to be bottle fed.
First of all it took all nine lives for me not to snap at them, breastfeeding has also taught me not to be in a rush to unlatch while baby holds you at ransom with their gums. If somehow we found a way to make it work for us without the downside you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.
I constantly have to remind myself this when I am tempted to descend on a new mum with my wisdom in the mummy Whatsapp group I am in. I think the biggest mistake we make is burdening our experiences on others.
Personally, social media is an escape. A space to create and I am present for the baby when I need to be and whenever I am online its because the systems in my house are in such a way that I am actually accepting help. Another piece of advice people dispense but will quickly judge you for accepting.
Remember ladies, taking care of NUMBER ONE is paramount. YOU are number one.
Speaking of differences, babies are a mirror of your genes. Before all these pandemic nonsense, my partner had been filming me and threatening to release these clips to the world in a vlog titled, Living with Grace. The vlog would see the peculiar habits of an Instagrammer exposed to the world. Let me tell you Maina, this boy while he might look like his father farts just like his mother and I am proud.
I do this thing where when I eat where my face is scowled at the plate as If I have been angered by its contents. There are 1M videos of me eating and guess what Maina, our baby has that exact scowl right before he latches. Genetics. Of course it’s dangerous to place certain personality expectations on the child and we constantly check ourselves not to impose who we are on him but most other times it is 100% entertaining to see ourselves in the little guy.
If you are to take anything away from me today, POOPS ARE ESSENTIAL. You will fall into the rabbit hole quicker than Alice never to be rescued again.
One last thing, this is very important. Whatever you do DO NOT LOOK AT A NAKED PENIS WITHOUT PROTECTION. If it’s not your son peeing at anything and everything exposed to him; it is your partner risking Christmas and New Years sherehe over small small pleasures of the body. I heard my partner talking about having another one as if he wasn’t there when they scooped my poop from the delivery table along with my dignity. Seriously though talk to your doc about contraceptives sooner rather than later. Russian twins are a thing, and while we love babies some of us appreciate the distance that is the privilege of family planning.
Baby is stirring so I will leave this here today, see you again soon.