My daughter Aliya will be one month old tomorrow. The whole family is happy and grateful for her, she’s such a wonderful bundle of joy. She’s brought so much love and happiness to each member of the family like no one else has done before. She, too has totally changed our lives. People say one’s life will never be the same again once a baby is born to a family. Indeed, my life has totally changed, both in expected and unexpected ways.
Expected were the sleepless nights, and the baby sharing our family bed, and the change in shopping priorities and the endless diaper change and the date nights to be minimized. But the unexpected are the ones that really, totally are taking a toll on me now. Emotionally, spiritually, physically.
Don’t get me wrong, I of course love and am in love with my daughter. She’s an answered prayer and I deeply want to spend the rest th her, togethe with my super loving and patient husband Romy. But the adjustments and changes are just so draining that I always feel like crying. Actually, since Aliya was born, I’ve cried more times in 4 weeks that I did in 4 years when I was still without child. Even when I was still pregnant and hormones and emotions were expected to go wayward, I was not this weepy, impatient, irritable, frustrated, and disappointed at myself.
You see, there are a lot of things I am faced with now that nobody ever told me to expect. Nobody told me breastfeeding could be so tiring, draining and challenging. It so ties me down that I just have to squeeze in mealtimes and bath times and brushing my teeth! I have never watched a full TV show in 4 weeks! I have even developed gassiness by the constant exposure of my tummy each time I pull up my shirt to feed her. Also, nobody told me it’s neither natural nor easy to shoot a baby’s mouth on a mother’s nipple. Angles, tongue placement, listening for swallowing, counting the suckling, baby’s body positioning, my own body’s angling, are just some of the many things I have to look out for each time I breastfeed. For the side-lying position, which I always use, it’s not easy to prop oneself sideways, one hand under a pillow, then making sure she’s angled tummy to tummy with me, at the same time making sure her head isn’t tilted, looking out for her mouth’s positioning, listening for clicking and suckling and swallowing, at the same time balancing myself so that my breast don’t get too high or too low for her, then pressing on my other breast which always leaks whenever I feed with the other, then reaching out for a towel to cover my tummy lest I develop colic myself, as well as for another pillow to support my aching back! Whew! Sometimes I feel like I have to be superwoman to achieve all that!
Positioning isn’t the end of it all, though. Because once she starts feeding, there are times that she’d cry as if somebody’s taking her away from me, and would squirm and be fussy and would push me and kick me, right at the spot of my caesarian wound!
Bottle feeding is not an easy job either. I am particularly frustrated whenever she’d show hunger cues, like rooting and putting her fist on her mouth and then I’d respond by giving her the bottle and then she’d reject it. Her tongue would push the nipple, or if ever she takes in the milk, she’d only spill a good amount of it on the side of her mouth. It breaks my heart to see the milk go to the towel or her pillow when she should be taking it in for nourishment and growth.
Burping is another thing that frustrates me. I never thought I’d consider a hassle this supposed to be simple task of burping a baby. First, it takes a lot of effort to get up in the middle of the night carrying the baby and waiting for forever for her to burp. Secondly, it disrupts her sleep and her mood. Nursing her usually puts her to deep slumber. But each time we’d take her up for a burp, she’d wake up again, disrupting what should have been a long and restful sleep. Is there any other way to burp baby without having to carry her and wait for that much-awaited sound of releasing gas?
When I was still pregnant, what I thought I’d find difficult when it comes to taking care of baby was changing diapers and not having enough sleep and cleaning her poop. Now these things are no longer big deal to me. In fact, I look forward to changing her diapers (whether cloth or disposable ones) and cleaning her poop because it only means she’s getting adequate food thus the ability to pee and poop regularly. What I thought would be hard were actually not. And what I never thought difficult, particularly feeding (both breast or bottle), are the tasks that I now find painstaking and frustrating.
As they say, welcome the unexpected. I guess a better way of saying it is embrace and adjust to the unexpected. We new mothers have no choice but to do so. We can just console ourselves that this isn’t going to last forever. Breastfeeding is not an eternity. Diapers are not forever. Babies grow. My baby Aliya is growing. And I know there will come a time that I will just have to look back to these tiring and challenging times and be grateful for God’s grace, thankful that I have an Aliya to do all these things for.