13 July 2017, by Siau Jiahui
“Will she know who her mother is?” I asked innocuously as my mind went blank.
“Of course she knows!” answered Ti in bewilderment.
Ti, my domestic helper, has been with us since Little T was 2.5 weeks old. After the confinement auntie left, Ti and I shared the main responsibility of taking care of the little one in the subsequent months.
Though younger than me, Ti is the veteran in infant care and childcare in our household because she has three children who are already in primary schools! Whereas for me, let’s just say that I’ve been learning on the job since the birth of my firstborn in September 2016.
Taking care of a newborn/infant was a huge challenge for me and even more so when I had DeQuervain’s Tendonitis, also known as Mommy Thumb.
There had been instances when I was carrying Little T, I could feel the tendons on both wrists snapping out of place, and almost lost grasp of my baby! Consequently, I left most of the baby care to Ti who, fortunately for me, did a good job and put my mind at ease.
However, up till now, I still am not sure if the decision then was a right one.
When Little T was between three to four months old, she had gotten incredibly close to Ti. Ti and I used to take turns in coaxing the baby to sleep every night but during most of that period, Little T would wail and struggle when I carried her before bedtime. Ti seemed to be the only one who could better coax and pacify her in the evenings.
When I had officially returned to work after four months of maternity leave, I would rush back home every evening because I was yearning to spend time with my little darling.
However, never did I expect that my own child would reject me.
Almost every evening in January, after her last milk feed of the day, I would carry Little T and try all means to coax her to sleep but she would cry and cry and cry.
Each session could last up to 40 minutes until she was clearly adamant and desperate with her struggle and I was clearly exhausted and exasperated from her rejection.
Left with no choice, I would ultimately pass Little T to Ti who could somehow eventually manage to soothe her and get her to sleep.
Helplessness and dejection caused me to end each hopeless night with a heavy heart; and then I would light up this secret little fire within me and tell myself that “maybe it’ll be better tomorrow”.
Until one evening, I really couldn’t take it anymore.
Little T’s face was changing colour from the violent crying and after I passed her to Ti, tears flowed down my cheeks uncontrollably. I headed to my room, sat in a dark corner, and called the one whom I could pour out my woes to…
Other than my mother, my BFF who’s a mother of two, patiently consoled me and explained to me that since Ti was the main caregiver, my baby would inevitably be closer to her.
Yes, I had heard of similar occurrences but when it actually happened to me, my heart shattered. I’m the mother. I should the one whom my baby is the closest to, but why wasn’t my ideal scenario happening?
My BFF further quoted anecdotes of friends and shared with me that most, if not all working mothers, encounter similar problems but when the child grows older, things would eventually work out.
She even remarked that someday my daughter would be sticking to me like glue and I might be the one craving for me-time then! Thus, while hopefully waiting for that day to come, I should still do whatever I could to strengthen the bond between me and my only child.
The next day, Ti approached me cautiously while in the midst of clearing the household chores and shared with me her own experience of her children being closer to their grandmother who was their main caregiver. She also gave me suggestions on how I could bond with my child.
Taking the advice of many mothers, I made changes to our lifestyles. Little T would sleep in the daytime and nighttime with my home-worn tee wrapped around her little pillow to familiarize her with my smell.
I would spend more nights with Little T and be the first person she saw in the middle of the night or early in the morning.
I would remind myself to be more patient and positive even though my solo presence still made her cry before bedtime. And many more little adjustments here and there just to make sure that Little T accepted me more and more.
After some time, it did work! It was absolutely rewarding when she finally slumbered with my company. =)
Though this happened months ago and things had improved significantly from then onwards, it still brought tears to my eyes when I recalled the sequential events that had occurred then…
It was heart wrenching.
No mother would ever want to face this kind of rejection.
Hence, to all mothers who are in the same predicament now, please persevere. There’s a rainbow always after the rain. =)