My first steps into motherhood
On September 10th, after a whole night and half of the day contractions, at 15:45 in the afternoon my daughter was born. And just like that, in a blink of a moment when I saw her face for the first time, my whole world was changed.
Nothing can quite prepare you for the emotional whirlwind of having this tiny little human in your hands after carrying her for 9 months. Feelings of happiness, relief, pride all mixed in one big cocktail of emotions running through your body all at once.
She was so tiny! She weighted 2,960 kg when she was born and was 52 cm. We spent 3 days in the hospital after which we were discharged and ready to go home.
For the first couple of days she slept tons and I just laid beside her and soaked in how precious she is and how she is finally here.
Along with the happiness there were also really strong feelings of fear and over protection. To be honest, all those post birth feelings caught me off guard. I was oversensitive to the people around me and I felt very vulnerable. I felt that silence and peace are the things I need the most for myself and the baby. I wanted to breastfeed exclusively and when the milk came rushing in, it was a whole new struggle for a week, in which I felt like my attention was everywhere apart on my newborn. Combine that with little sleep and for me, it was a recipe for emotional downfall most of the days. Emotionally and mentally. I cried a lot.
Having suffered from depression couple of years back these feelings scared me a lot. I was afraid that I am not giving my baby what it needs. I was afraid of something happening to her during night when I can't keep my eyes on her. I had trouble sleeping even though I was exhausted. Everyone kept saying I should rest when the baby sleeps, but I couldn’t do it. I do not know if it was because I was not used to slow down, or because all the hormonal changes I was going through but some days it was impossible to nap "on demand" or to settle myself to sleep.
Come week three and things became more challenging. Saša started throwing up during and after feed, being more agitated, made horrible sounds in sleep and started crying a lot more. Turned out she was suffering from reflux (infant reflux occurs when food backs up (refluxes) from a baby's stomach, causing the baby to spit up). We made all the suggested adjustments - elevated her crib, elevated the diaper changing station, I've fed her in upright position and more frequently and some days it would do the trick, others it wouldn't. The only time when she seemed not bothered by it would be when she was sleeping on us, which made it pretty hard to do anything apart holding her - and since she was in pain, that is what we did. Some days were and still are very hard and challenging, but all her smiles made all my struggles so worth it.
First month passed like a blur. She was progressing well and gained more that a kg. She is now 2 and half months old and she changes every single day now. It’s like she grows with a blink of an eye. Now that she is 2 months old she coos a lot, cries if she is pain or hungry and smiles so much. She is a very happy baby which fills my heart so much.
I do not have much free time on my hands now days and my life in these two months changed drastically..but I’m trying to do my best, for her and for me.
Some of the I'd give to any mum-to-be, would be this:
1) Start reading baby books in pregnancy.
As silly as this sounds, I’ve spent pretty much all my pregnancy reading about changes my body goes through, about exercising in pregnancy and about labour. As much all of this was beneficial at that point in time, it did not prepare me for what is coming next – nursing and baby’s needs after the blissful first two weeks when all she did was sleep.
2) Take “me” time every day. Whether is even 15 min, take it for yourself. Go for a walk, take a long shower or read a book in silence. Baby feels all your emotions, so if you are stressed out, the baby will fuss more and be more agitated than usual. I started meditating 10 minutes each day and it helps me keep calm even when she has long crying sessions.
3) Don't be shy to ask for help. This is something I have struggled myself with, as I am more like "I can do it all by myself" kind of person. But the truth is, first month or two are hard and there is nothing wrong in asking for a little help. It comes in handy to take a break even for a little while. Don't forget that you have stepped into a completely new role, your life has been turned upside down and you are sleep deprived, so give yourself a little break. Ask your friend, your sister or your mum or mother in law- if they've been through it, then they know how challenging it can be.
4) Ask for advice but always listen to your intuition. You will get million advices, some good, some bad, you will read thousands of different opinions and experiences but know that what worked for someone else, does not mean it will work for you and your baby. Your baby will let you know what works for her and at the end of the day – you know your baby better than anyone.
5) BE PATIENT. This is something I keep reminding myself. Specially because my baby is suffering from reflux. Some days that even means taking it minute by minute. I know that everything will pass sooner than I expect it and I will look back and think where did the time go. I already do.
I've learned that motherhood means a lot of sleepless nights, lots of worrying and that your heart grows million times bigger.
I've learned what it means to love someone unconditionally.
Motherhood gave my life a new dimension.