“It was love at first sight!”
Well, not really. Although we love our little one like crazy, and as the days pass we’re more convinced he’s the cutest baby ever created, when I gave birth I wasn’t quite in that state of mind. I was sweaty, exhausted and extremely hungry. I felt joy, worry, confusion, giddiness and yes, love was in there too. I just gave birth to my first child. When I saw our son, I wasn’t sure how to feel. I knew I loved him but he was still foreign to me. He was so small and helpless, not to mention wrinkly.
When we brought him home and as time went on, my love for him grew so much that I wasn’t sure when it began. Giving birth is an overwhelming experience and especially unpredictable for new mothers. So expectant mothers, it may not be “love at first sight” when you first lay eyes on your precious baby, but it’s perfectly normal and nothing to feel guilty about. We all say it and that’s OK, too. The romance and sentiment outweigh the reality.
“We bonded right away.”
OK, not exactly. I always thought “bonding” meant getting to know each other and spending quality time together. So when I heard mothers say they bonded with their newborns right away, I wasn’t sure what they meant. The first few times I held my son it was actually more awkward and scary than a bonding experience. That first week he was barely awake enough to even acknowledge me and I could barely get out of bed.
After those first couple of weeks the fear subsided, and we became more comfortable and in tune with one another. That’s when I felt we truly bonded – changing diapers, nursing, singing and bathing. There’s nothing like a soiled diaper to bring Mother and Son closer together. So after delivery don’t expect too much in the bonding department until you and your baby can really appreciate your time together. Bonding comes naturally as you get to know and love your little one more everyday.
“Breastfeeding was so rewarding!”
Hmmm… are we talking about the same thing? All right, there were those days when I genuinely enjoyed nursing my son, but more often than not, it was tiring and painful. Rewarding would be the last thing on my mind. I know everyone says breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your baby, but I can also understand those mothers who resign early and switch to the bottle.
When I first attempted to breastfeed I needed the help of my husband, my mom and two nurses on duty, and I still didn’t get it. Even when we brought him home I just couldn’t seem to find a comfortable position for either of us. When I finally got the hang of it, I could sit there and play with his tiny fingers and toes all day while he filled his tummy. Then he started teething!
So yes, breastfeeding can be rewarding, and you must appreciate those times that are, because they may come and go. Still there’s nothing like knowing that your healthy baby is growing steadily because you’re giving of yourself everyday. Now that’s rewarding.
“Really? He was an angel? That’s so good to hear!”
Was he really that easy? The last thing a new mother wants to hear is how effortlessly someone else can take care of her own child. I know it’s a sweet compliment when they say this, but there’s a pleasing comfort in knowing that I’m the only one who can soothe my darling baby. It would in fact be more reassuring to hear that he cried a little with other people, and it took a while to get him to sleep. At least I’d know I’m not alone when I occasionally have those problems. If he’s going to be an angel with anyone, it should be me, right?
Of course after a few more times this insecurity fades, and his attachment to you becomes rather wearisome and you only wish someone else could take him for a bit. When we first leave our little one to spend an evening away we all have so many concerns and worries, mostly minor. But as the months pass and it becomes easier to leave him, we welcome those sweet words, “He was an angel.” That is, in fact, what we want him to be; otherwise we’d never get a day off!
“It’s OK, he’s always fussy around naptime.”
Sure – if naptime means all the time! Why do we feel it’s our duty to always state a reason why our baby is crying? Sometimes we have no clue, he’s a baby, and babies cry. If we don’t know exactly why, we feel somewhat less of a mother. His diaper is clean, he’s just been fed, burped, held, rocked, sung to, etc. Then why is he crying? I guess this is where maternal instincts kick in, right? Well, sometimes they don’t and that makes us feel even worse.
A new mother always believes she should know her baby better than anyone else, and when she doesn’t, she feels a little frustrated. This frustration is a momentary lack of self-confidence. You really do know your baby best – and don’t let his tantrums tell you any different. Truth be told, most of the time you’re right on the money in predicting the reasons for his outbursts. Those times that you’re not, it’s all right, you’re in good company.
“Yes, well our pediatrician said…”
All right, let’s face it. Some of us don’t always do exactly what the pediatrician says. Now don’t get me wrong, we do all the important stuff such as immunizations, medications, etc. It’s those little things that tend to slip through the cracks like those nighttime feedings I’ve been advised to lessen, that taste of juice before he‘s ready, those extra long naps which are just heavenly, fruits before veggies, and the list goes on. I know our pediatrician is well educated and knows significantly more about babies than I do, but occasionally I’m just too tired to follow all the rules. And at times my mind is so cluttered that I sometimes forget her instructions even before I buckle my baby in the car. Also, as mothers, we prefer to make our own rules for our children and for ourselves. These choices have never made one child better than the next. In truth, when we have a real crisis on our hands we call the doctor.
Becoming a new mother is truly a wonderful experience overall, and these little things we say are all true to some extent. Motherhood isn’t about saying all the good things; it’s about how you deal with the unpleasant things. We all feel an incredible and unconditional love for our children, and we always want what’s best for them. That’s really what matters when becoming a mother.
As new moms, we are all quite insecure about our untested skills and capabilities, and sometimes we would rather hear about the things that don’t always work out perfectly, as opposed to the flawless approaches which few mothers make use of. None of us are seamless, nor claim to be, but we all do our best, and that’s what shines through in our children and family.