How To Survive the First 3 Months of Motherhood

How To Survive the First 3 Months of Motherhood

The secret 4th trimester

During the first month of my firstborns life – I thought my life was completely over. Don’t get me wrong. I was utterly obsessed with him and felt like I had a renewed purpose. But I felt that was my only purpose. To be a mom. I lost myself – I lost the will to be an individual. I wanted to solely be a life source for him. But what I eventually came to realize – is that in order to provide growth to another life – one must continue to grow themselves.

In those desperate weeks of trying to get him to gain weight and literally surviving off of an hour or two of broken sleep – I was gifted a book called “The Happiest Baby” by Harvey Klein. The book revolves around the tenet that baby’s are born three months early. It is with this belief that Klein tries to explain the necessity to enforce “the fourth trimester.” Meaning, for the first three months of your child’s life you must attempt to recreate a womb-like environment. This means, whenever they fuss – implement the magical 4 s’s – swinging, shushing, sucking, and swaddling. By mimicking the womb like environment you may be able to create … The Happiest Baby.

I tried and tested Mr. Klein’s theory and let me tell you it most definitely works. But, it also sets you up to continue these four behaviours well into the child’s first year of life. Hence the reason I rocked my son to sleep until he was about two – not easy fitting a abnormally long boy onto your 5’3 body three times a day, everyday, on a rocking chair.

BUT- here’s the clincher, the newborn phase is all about survival. You must be able to survive in order to care for your offspring. And caring for your offspring is all about just getting through the day, and then the seemingly endless night.

You love them with every fibre of your being, but motherhood is also a desperately lonely and sometimes trying task. It can seem absolutely impossible to soothe your baby at times. It can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Torturous almost – sleep deprivation can literally kill you after all.

BUT – to get through those first months, here’s he secret to survive – you just do what you got to do. You survive through any means necessary no matter what anyone else has to say about it. You must do what’s best for your child and for yourself – to save your sanity.

But here’s a few more tips I have discovered to be helpful in addition to the 4 S’s.

1. Trial and Error

2. Self-Care 

3. Setting Goals

4. Perspective 

Trial and Error

Baby’s can’t communicate. So unfortunately, all you can do is guess what’s wrong when the baby isn’t the happiest. You try feeding, burping, diaper change, or putting them to sleep. Those four things are their basic necessities. Usually, if they’re bothered- you can settle them by addressing one of those issues. So just keep guessing and trying until you succeed. Until the next hour that is … lol.

Self-Care

I’m not going to sugar coat it. I let myself go with my son. I looked like complete garbage for about six months. And then I looked like I belonged in the recycling for the other six months. I only began to care about my health and appearance after he was a year old. Then I joined a yoga class and suddenly I got my groove back. I grew my hair out once again (never do a drastic physical change when pregnant – you WILL regret it) and I pulled out my makeup bag after allowing it to collect dust for the better part of the year.
This time around, with my daughter, first I get her and my son dressed – after feeds of course. Then I get myself ready – I’m not contouring and curling my hair everyday, but I do apply a tinted moisturizer, draw in my brows, and change out of pjs – which is a big win considering I don’t put much effort into my appearance if my moods not right. But that’s just the thing, even getting ready can improve your postpartum mood.

So don’t stop caring for yourself! Another mini tip is to splurge on some extra hair or skin care products at the end of your pregnancy so you can feel pampered during the few moments you get to apply them in the first few weeks of baby’s life. It seems silly but when even taking a shower becomes a luxury you will appreciate a rich creamy moisturizer on your face at the end of the day.

Goals

This one is crucial. Always, and I repeat ALWAYS have something to look forward to. You cannot get through the first year without setting both big and small goals. The small ones should first and foremost be to survive the first two days, then two weeks, and then two months. It’s a suggestion someone mentioned in passing and I didn’t get it at first – but deep into our first month I get it. You can’t think big picture at first. You just got to get through the first 48 and take it one step at a time after that. Your body is a wreck, hormones out of whack, and without the right support system and mentality you will crumble. Short term goals help you keep perspective for he long term. Which is why you must also set long term goals. For me, I decided in the first few days of my daughters life that I would come stay with my parents once baby was 2 weeks old for about 2 weeks. Envisioning the extra space, help, and change of environment kept me going. It helped me look forward to better days. Set goals for the first month then every few months. Don’t be afraid to take on new projects which keep your brain going. After all, I did write a work of fiction during the first year of my sons life and now I’ve started the new project of journal blogging (mostly on Instagram). There’s no rule that says maternity leave means leaving all aspiration behind. If you keep perspective, you can survive and you can do it all.

It is with the teachings of that wonderful book I read, and these small lessons I have stumbled upon during many moments of desperation that I have been able to keep going, and doing my best while doing so.

Motherhood is a challenge. Don’t let anyone make you think you’re being melodramatic or weak. Just do what you need to do, and accept all the help you can along the way. Your mind, body, spirit, and offspring will thank you for implementing these teachings – trust me 🙂

Self Definitions – What’s the point anyway?

The manner in which I used to define myself was based on the grades I received throughout my academic career. I often joked about being a professional student for my entire life. Upon completion of my program I lost that gratification and kind of lost myself shortly thereafter.  However, as always when one chapter closes another begins. Although it took some time of fumbling in the darkness and losing my way a bit I am so glad to have found my way back to literature and as a result just a general feeling of relevance once again. I suppose this is the ultimate manner of increasing ones self-worth. The mind is also like a muscle – the more one uses it the stronger it gets. I feel increasingly capable and in tune with myself now more than ever.

I do have the opportunity to write for publications with a way bigger viewership than just off of my own personal website. These are news outlets such as a particular popular online newsfeed and a certain local newspaper. I choose not to because I do not wish to represent anyone but myself. I want to be able to express myself freely without having to worry about what others may think. I think of my blog as a journal stream of consciousness in which if even one post inspires an individual in some way or another I will feel gratified. Whether what I say elicits a positive or negative reaction is not really relevant because that means the reader cares enough to form an opinion – that’s what matters to me. Sparking critical thought and analysis which may lead to self-reflection and eventual improvement. Because to me that’s what life is all about – a constant uphill battle to better ourselves and learn from one another.

This blog began as a means to get the word out on popular social issues in my local community. It was a tool of expression for topics I felt passionate about and felt there was a dire need for attention to be drawn to them. Since then it has become so much more for me. It is a creative outlet through which I feel better understood. It is a manner in which I feel I can utilize one of my strengths to make a real difference in not only the lives of others but myself as well.

And that feeling – is something no one can ever take away from me.

So I pose the question to you – aside from work (unless you’re super lucky in which your profession and passion are intertwined) what do you do that’s just for you. Something solely for the betterment of your mind, body, and spirit? Comment below or on my facebook post – always looking to be inspired by others!

Settling to Lose Yourself

It seems as though there is a tendency for some women to lose themselves in a relationship. What I mean by this is to be an individual who goes from having idealistic dreams about their futures to eventually lowering their expectations and standards when it comes to choosing a husband. This probably has to do to with societal norms hovering over ones head. Not to mention the more concrete nagging form of familial pressure to settle down and get married just about as soon as you finish blowing out the last candle on your 25th birthday cake. You begin to feel like a ticking time bomb as at every family function you are reminded that you have not yet found “Mr. Right.” So you just snatch up whoever and say “you’ll do” and secretly vow to mould them into whatever closest version of the man of your dreams you’ve been envisioning since you were a little girl (thanks Disney).

In East-Indian culture women are meant to stay far away from their male counterparts during their childhood and teenage years. Parents try their very best to delay “the dating years” until it is for the purpose of marriage – and usually even then after about five dates you’re expected to have your mind made up either way. So now we are deprived of truly getting to know what type of individual we would be compatible with, and we do not have the opportunity to even become comfortable with being around the opposite sex. Unless you spend your time sneaking around in private in which you are not really truly engaging in a open and honest relationship.

So, what does all of this do to us when we are all grown up and ready to “settle down?” Well, I believe it sets the stage for disappointment and you may end up in a situation in which you’re left wondering how in the world your life became a certain way. In my personal situation, I was raised in a very westernized family and had a completely naïve view of what married life was going to be. I hadn’t factored in the possibility of joining a family instead of just marrying someone and riding off blissfully into the sunset of a happy married life with one another. So there I found myself as an extension of someone else’s life, struggling to fit in while still remaining my own person. This can be a tricky and challenging time in life, especially since I decided to not pursue a career in my field of study (boy were my parents ever so pleased with that!) and decided to join the pursuit of my partner’s dream and help him build his business.

Luckily, I have an office job, and one of my “passions” just so happens to be writing, so I realized that I could still hold on to my  identity and keep my own aspirations whilst helping him reach his goals as well. Writing has been such a positive outlet for me and the feedback I receive has been truly encouraging. I am sure this tendency for women to find themselves rudely awakened from their dream-like hopes of adulthood will slowly change as generations pass. Surely I would raise my child to be confident, comfortable, and most importantly realistic in their search for “Prince Charming.” Maybe one day “happily ever after” will not be such a far stretch after all.

However, the real “take home message” here is to never rely on another individual to be the ultimate provider of your happiness. Always keep in mind that by having something which is just your own will allow for an escape from a less than optimal situation you may find yourself in. There is no need to place the keys to your happiness in someone else’s hands, you can make your own future complete. You can still have comfort while not feeling like you’ve settled, you can still be in charge of your own destiny.

Speaking Words of Value

The other day I received a very kind message from a cousin on my husband’s paternal side of the family. She was encouraging me to write more blog posts as she found them enjoyable to read and thought I had a real knack for it. This message couldn’t have come at a better time as I was feeling really down on myself and as of lately wrapped up with emotions and anxiety about becoming a mother in the very near future.

Her words got me thinking – why is it that some people have the tendency to lift others higher, while others feel the need to only tear you down? It’s very rare to come across genuine and kind-hearted people these days. However, I realized that I grew up thinking that everyone always has everyone else’s best interest at heart. It’s a cold but hard truth to learn that oftentimes that really is not the case. Jealousy, bitterness, and grudges usually tarnish relationships among family members and friends alike.

I then started to wonder about what type of “vibe” I gave out to others. Sure over the last few years I have become rather recluse and closed myself off to close relationships with people as a result of the realization that most individuals just simply don’t care for your problems other than just being curious to hear your life is not the perfect image it appears to be. But was I guilty of this too? How many times a day did I see someone (usually via social media) with a better body than me, a seemingly better relationship, clearer complexion, fancier car, or a better career and I had negative thoughts towards them simply because of that?

Had society’s coldness towards me, froze my ability to feel good for others too? This tendency to speak negatively, or wish to bring others down, it becomes somewhat of a cycle then does it not? That’s the energy you put out to others – so that’s what you receive back, thus creating a rhythm of negativity and self-destruction. As I reflect upon what kind of child I wish to raise, and what type of values I wish to instill upon him or her I realize I must become more conscience of my words – and more attentive in my attempts to uncover why others may not be as kind as I think they should be.

Perhaps just taking the “higher road” and being kind regardless of how an individual treats you is the way to save yourself from become no different than them. Maybe we need not care if anyone has “the same heart as us” but protect ourselves from becoming just like them. Ultimately, you never know when your words might be the words to change someone for better – or for worse.

Wow, YOU wrote that?

It started about midway through high school, when I actually started caring about academic achievement. The entire class would be eagerly waiting to receive their test scores of our last exam. Everyone would be saying how they’re sure they failed, expressing regret over not studying more, and promising to do so for the next one. I too would sit there anxiously, but pretty confident I most certainly did not flunk the whole thing. Pretty much as soon as the teacher would slide the papers into our hands everyone would start questioning one another – “what did you get?”  I never really had much interest in sharing marks but one day one of my friends flipped over my test which I had tucked away under a binder and her eyes shot wide open – “YOU got 90%?! YOU’RE SMART?!” She shouted it as more of an accusation rather than a statement. This gathered a whole lot of attention and pretty soon I was dubbed as the surprisingly smart girl of the school.

This reaction followed me all the way to University where low and behold someone would catch a glimpse of one of the marks on my papers or exams and have pretty much that same standard reaction. I initially responded to this by brushing it off and rationalizing it as a fluke. But then something strange started to happen, I started to receive grief for getting good grades. It seemed like it actually ticked people off that I would study just as much as them, but receive A’s and A+’s. This is when I decided to change tactics and start getting defensive.  Whenever someone would raise their eyebrow and give me that snarky remark about “well, you don’t even need to study, you’re going to get a perfect mark anyway” or “why are you even stressed about the test – you know you’re going to ace it” I felt genuinely offended. I began to wonder what exactly was it about me that gave people the initial impression that I just couldn’t possibly be “one of the smart ones” and that if I somehow did sneak into this classification of people – that I didn’t really deserve to be there?

I graduated with a BA in Psychology – but still was never able to solve this mystery. Now, as I have tentatively stepped into the blogosphere – I find myself facing these same questions once again. Except now, it is not just my barely acquainted classmates questioning me; it is my friends and family who are shell-shocked by my ability to string words together in a semi-decent fashion to convey some sort of meaningful message. My blog is by no means where I want it to be readership wise and my writing is far from perfect – I am completely aware of that. However, I am fairly proud of the response I have gotten thus far. The views and comments I have been receiving  has even given me the confidence I needed to begin submitting articles to my local South Asian Newspaper. Needless to say, finally stepping out of my shell and being comfortable enough with myself to put my very personal thoughts out there in this form of expression has had a pretty fantastic outcome. The only thing that irks me – is the people in my personal social circle – cannot seem to comprehend how little ol’ me could possibly be the person behind the screen.

“I had no idea you were smart!” “What’s your education?” “So like, does someone edit it for you?” “Wow, you wrote that all by yourself?!” These are just some of the things I heard from people after I hesitantly began sharing my posts to my personal Facebook page.

Perhaps it is my miniature sized appearance or my quiet demeanor, regardless of what makes people determine these snap judgements I’ve learned to realize it really does not matter. The truth is we all do it – we all mentally categorize people into the groupings of where we think they belong based on our biased opinions of them.

For my fellow bloggers – how do you feel about sharing posts with your immediate social circle? Were you apprehensive about doing so at first? Have any of you ever experienced this feigned shock in reaction to your writing abilities?

Comment below and feel free to share if you can relate!