Suddenly, your life isn't yours to live any more. Neither is your body, when it bears the battle scars of pregnancy, and the mammaries become almost free for all the moment the lactation consultant starts pummelling them like a lump of dough to stimulate milk production.
You hold that little being, and suddenly your heart leaps out of your body, and implants itself in that little body - and you're never the same again.
Now all these changes can either be embraced with a smile and the realisation that things can only get better from now on... or in some cases, it can come to a point where emotions (and hormonal changes) run amok, only to surface with a bubble of trepidation, worry and despair, ready to burst with just a single nudge.
Having children can be a beautiful experience, but for a lot of mothers, it is also a period of change; perhaps coupled with a measure of fear, with some needing a lot of assurance that they are perfectly able to be good mothers without losing themselves in the process.
No matter how close you are to the person, I think there is a limit to being entirely 'honest'. It's different when you tell her that the new shimmery blue eye shadow looks ghastly on her, as opposed to telling her that she just spawned a child straight out of the Addams family.
1. "Why is your stomach still soooooo BIG?"
Unless you have a trainer on standby 24/7 and eat like a bird on a diet (thereby depriving baby of necessary nutrients if you're breastfeeding), there is no way that you are going to be entirely rid of that tummy in a week or two. If you're prone to water retention, it's worse... you are still going to look like you're 5 months pregnant after the baby's had. And you think that once the amnio fluid gushes out, you're ready to parade around in a bikini to and fro the nursery.
People like Heidi Klum, Jessica Alba and Halle Berry are not real.
|An hour after waking up post elective C-sect with GA. Next to my chic gynae, I looked like a beached whale. I asked her if she was entirely sure that she found only one baby inside.|
2. "Why aren't you breastfeeding?! Breast milk is best!"
The choice to breastfeed or otherwise is a personal one, and unless the reason is offered without response to any query, it is best to not pry. Many women aren't able to breast feed due to a multitude of reasons, but suffice to say - no mum in their right mind will deprive their babies of the possible best.
It doesn't mean that just because you breastfed the kiddo till he's in high school, it makes you a better mum than someone who is not able to produce enough to feed the little one, no matter what she did.
3. "Your baby doesn't look like you / the husband!"
Er... it's really hard to tell, especially when they come out rather scrunchy and wrinkly, and turning alternately red and black between bouts of exercising their lungs, you know? So what are you trying to say? We decided to adopt and did the hospital stay along with delivery for effect? Or, worse still - a DNA test may be very necessary?
4. "The baby is ugly"
You might think that these words are naturally *not* said to any parent, regardless of the circumstances which prompted the remark, but I have come across some of my friends' brash relatives (read: old fogeys) who thoughtlessly made the comment.
All I can say is: Why?!! That's taking honesty to a brand new level! And being an 'elder' does not give you rights to speak your mind, especially if your wrinkles are worse than that of said ugly baby.
5. "Why your baby so small?"
A standard infant comes along at about 2.8kg - 3.5kg. Take into account the height / length of the baby... and if the baby is tall, it can result in a pretty scrawny looking newborn. It's also a problem when baby doesn't have a voracious appetite, coupled with colic and the usual ailments which plague many newborns.
6. "Why your baby so fat?"
This sentence is followed by: "Cannot overfeed, otherwise obesity can be a serious problem, especially if it spills over till they are older!"
You can't win. Seriously.
|BabyMoo at 10 weeks. Imagine the "why your baby so fat?!" exclamations I've received.|
7. "You so fat now! How long has it been since you delivered?!"
Uh... things change. People change. Bodies change. Get over it.
8. "You should / should not do this / that."
Parenting methods differ with each parent, and every child is unique. Even seasoned parents recognise the need to parent each child differently, in the best way suited to the child's personality. Just like no two persons are alike, no two children are entirely alike. What works on one child may have the entirely opposite effect on another child.
Who made them experts on child rearing, anyway? What's worse is that singles and non-parents are more likely to utter these words and offer unsolicited advice than those who are parents themselves.
9. "You need a break."
We know that being a full time mum is a full time job, with no fixed hours. You are on call 24 hours a day, and you are responsible for everything pertaining to the child. I mean everything - even though the husband does his share, the children are apt to look for mummy when they need comfort and security. Emotional provisions cannot be farmed out, and is far more taxing than physical exertions.
Yes, we need a break. You don't have to remind us.
10. "Now you very 'Auntie'!"
Roughly translated, it just says that you've let yourself go, and allowed yourself to become unkempt and matronly.
So what if we ditched our heels for flip flops? We can run after and play with the kids without compromising our safety. Try changing a squirmy kid's diapers and picking up after them in micro mini skirts... hats off if you can do so while maintaining a semblance of modesty, and the last thing you need is an upskirt video or photo going viral.
I don't believe all of us can look like a glamourpuss mama all the time without having maids or external help to do the dirty work for you. If you can - WOW! Good for you.
The last thing any (new) mother needs to hear are negative remarks, even those said without malice intended. When you've spent the last gazillion hours huffing and puffing to try to blow the baby out, or you're too busy running after the kid to notice that you desperately need root touch ups, you certainly would not appreciate being told in the face that you don't look the way you did pre-baby.
So for those of you who are too quick to judge other mums as being frumpy, or neglecting to take care of themselves... do us all a favour. Keep your opinions to yourself, and good for you if you still manage to look even better than you did before the kids came into the picture.
Parenting is tough work... and as long as we're trying to give and do our best for the children - I think that's all that matters.
Contributing to Sanses: