The first few days in hospital were bliss. There was a lactation consultant and nurses to call to latch him on correctly... and all the 'back end' work was done by the fabulous nurses and their assistants. I had visitors to keep me entertained, and half the time, the little one was asleep.
Then the enormity of the situation literally kicked in on the first night we brought him home. He was screaming non-stop because he couldn't latch on correctly and I didn't know how to turn his head to guide him. He wanted to be carried all the time, and refused to let me sit down even as I carried him. He started hiccuping, and the hubs and I panicked, worried that he was going to choke at any moment.
I was exhausted, and truth be told, it was really hard to look at the bawling, screaming, kicking little baby with doe eyed wonderment and love overflowing from my very being. Many a time I was so tempted to yell back... simply because I didn't know what he wanted. I was frustrated, I craved sleep, and nothing I did seemed to settle him in any way.
Thankfully, I have a husband who is more level headed than I am, and also perhaps because he wasn't assailed by the hormonal changes which undoubtedly made that entire period so testy. He sat me down and while I sobbed, told me that we are trying our best, and BabyMoo was screaming and crying because he didn't know how else to let me know. He didn't know how to tell me if he's hungry, or too hot, or too cold. He didn't know how to tell me that he wants me close, and perhaps that he would like to sleep on his right instead of his left.
It's our responsibility, as parents, to try to figure it out.
Fast forward, 24 months later... we are still trying to figure things out, even though it's so much easier now that the boy has learnt to express his emotions, needs and wants better. We're able to talk to him, he's able to understand us, and he is slowly learning that he cannot simply get all that he wants with a grunt and a shriek.
Being a Mum is more about diaper changes, night feeds, baths and rituals. While these things can be perfected through time (I can even change the boy in under two minutes in extreme conditions!), one is constantly learning to not only live with the addition to the family, but to deal with the roller coaster of emotions which come about courtesy of parenthood.
I can take care of him, but to truly love him explicitly, unconditionally, I must learn to let go of my expectations of myself, and remember who I live for. I must be there for him when no one is looking. I must give to him without expecting anything in return. I must sacrifice what I want or need, for his greater good. For someone who is used to getting her own way and doing things her way, it's not an easy task.
Thankfully, these all come with the brand new title which is bestowed upon us the moment we hold them in our arms. Being a Mum changes a lot of things, believe it or not - the most major one being that for the first time in our lives, we truly are willing and able to always put them before ourselves. There are no second thoughts when it comes to their well being. We give what we can, when we can.
I remember a story which my Granny told me a long long time ago, perhaps when I was still in preschool. A Mum, being poor and not having enough for dinner that evening, took the last piece of beancurd and divided it equally among her husband and 3 kids. She had none, claiming that she had her dinner when the neighbour shared some dishes with her earlier. But of course - she went hungry so that her husband can have something to eat after a hard day in the fields, and her three children could have more than if she were to share it with them. Back then, I could not fathom why she had to tell an untruth, and have even gone so far to ask my Granny why her husband could not earn more so that they need not share the piece.
My Granny told me, wise as she was - that one day, I will know exactly why the mother did so, perhaps when I have a family of my own. I remember being angry and upset because I thought my Grandmother told a story 'halfway', and didn't want me to know the reason why.
Now I know.
Now I know.
Motherhood is a funny thing. It goes far beyond teaching, learning, and setting a good example for the kids. It cannot be measured by the blood, sweat and tears which inevitably comes as a package, along with the kid. In times like these, when I've had happy days and not so happy ones... my heart knows that motherhood is a beautiful gift. It's a painful trip, a tiring phase, and there are days when we think that we got more than we bargained for. But as much as it can break your heart, it heals it, too, and this has made me more open to love, sacrifice, and the beauty of our vulnerabilities.