21 July 2011, by Mandy Loh
Nope, I’m not going to give a detailed account of the development of my baby. You could read about that in numerous web resources out there, because most newborns develop more or less the same way (and frankly, it’s rather boring at this point because they don’t really interact with you. They just feed, sleep and cry). Instead, I’m gonna talk about the week-by-week development of a mother.
First of all, I’m giving myself a pat on the back for surviving the first 6 weeks of motherhood! 🙂 Some might say time flies, but really, it hasn’t. Especially since I’ve had the “pleasure” of experiencing most of the 24 hours of each day. I’m amazed that it IS humanly possible to survive on this little sleep, night after night. I’m also surprised that I haven’t turned into a cranky zombie, and am actually pretty cheerful in the day. (In the dead of the night though, I would sometimes wish I could just disappear into a black hole and escape the endless night feeds!)
So anyway, although I’m not Dr Miriam Stoppard, here’s my take on the adjustments and developments that a new mother goes through, with my personal experiences thrown in!
The euphoria of bringing forth new life, the fruit of love between a husband and wife, provides sufficient positive energy to offset the incredible tiredness, aches and hormonal fluctuations that a new mother goes through. It is best to get some help to get through the first 2 weeks, because the new mom, having gone through labour and now starting breastfeeding, needs all the help she can possibly get!
I won’t elaborate more on this phase because I wrote about it in my previous post on the Motherhood Initiation.
This is when things slowly get better. Somehow, the body begins to adjust to cope with the demands of motherhood. For example, it gets easier to fall asleep after each night feed, because the body KNOWS that it needs to cherish every single possible minute of rest.
The mother becomes more confident in handling her newborn, and realises the cute little bundle is not as fragile as previously imagined. Physically, the body has recovered quite a bit from the strain of childbirth, and most of the aches and pains would be fading away at this point.
This is also the time to plan for and throw the all-important first month party, to officially “announce” the birth of the child. Yet again, our Chinese tradition and culture throws a lemon into the pickle, by forcing bewildered new parents to actually plan a party in the midst of coping with one of the biggest life-changing events ever.
That being said, we had a very lovely party. The key to success is to K.I.S.S, or Keep It Small & Simple! We invited mostly relatives and some close friends. But you know, even then, we were completely wiped out by the end of the day!
I’ve realised though, that through the process of organising the party, I had the chance to experience the love and care of my closest and dearest. My sister, whom I love to bits and adore more than anyone in the whole wide world, did something really special and extraordinary for me. She baked a batch of totally awesome and very professionally decorated cookies as door gifts for our guests! Check these out!
Our wonderful social group friends also helped out by doing a photo-shoot of Cristan when he was 2 weeks old, so we had lots of materials for simple and great decor!
Believe it or not, this is yet another period of adjustment, because whatever additional help had been rendered to the new parents, more often than not, ceases after the first month! As such, there is a rapid acceleration of development, as the new mom takes on the caregiving role in earnest, and becomes much more independent and confident.
Personally, I experienced this huge adjustment after my confinement nanny left. In the first evening without her, I crumbled into a weepy nervous wreck as Cristan cried inconsolably and we had no idea how to soothe him. I cuddled him in tears, feeling awful and thinking that I would never be able to handle this thing called motherhood on my own. Thankfully, Tim managed to calm our baby down (it took about an hour) and later on, calm me down.
That night, I managed to survive the night feeds and diaper changes, and from then on, my confidence had been slowly growing. Today, I’m proud to say that things have fallen more or less in place, and we have even managed to step out of the house a few times to go shopping with baby in tow!
Yep, we’re doing pretty well! And looking forward to even better days ahead! 🙂