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 🙂

Strangers In Their Own Homes

It’s a well known fact that it is customary for adult children of certain ethnicities to continue to live with their parents, well, forever.

There’s no concept of moving out once you hit 18 or even farther into the future of setting your parents up into a nice retirement home when they’re too old to care for themselves.

It’s like a never ending pact, we raise our young, only to grow up to care for those who raised us.

It’s a nice sentiment isn’t it? To have such a high regard for our elders that we keep them close no matter what.

I recall a interview a few years back in which the mega Bollywood stars Aishwariya Rai and Abishek Bachan were on the late night show which was then hosted by Jay Leno.

He teased and poked fun at them for still living with their parents. Aishwariya snapped back by saying, “well our culture doesn’t believe in dumping our elders into homes and going about our lives.”

There’s more of a familial unit. A responsibility to put back into the world what was given to you, complete the circle of life if you will.

Now this is all fine and dandy under one extremely important circumstance. In order to all live under one roof, you all have to be mutually respectful to one another.

No one family member should have precedence over the other.

I see a whole lot of people treating their grandparents like second hand family members. They grumble and moan when they ask them for anything or to be taken anywhere. Their request is usually for a five minute trip to one of three places – the temple, doctors office, or the bank. How hard is that? It doesn’t have to be such a nuisance.

I remember being the EXACT same way with my grandmother. But then her days became numbered and I realized I shouldn’t take her presence and wisdom for granted. I realized that when she looked in the mirror she didn’t see a demanding old lady.

She saw the lady who built things with her own hands, singlehandedly fought off home invaders in her beloved home in India, worked day in and out for her family, and raised and watched four generations grow from her name.

Each “old person” has a story to tell. Each moment of crankiness, or request, or repetition of the same story has MEANING behind it. Don’t be too young and naive to appreciate that.

I think where it’s all going wrong here is that we are staying together for the wrong reason. Because we care more about what people outside our homes think rather than those inside. We keep our parents and grandparents close because well that’s just the norm. But no one sees how they’re being treated behind closed doors.

Pensions being cashed in by the youngsters, groceries not being shared, huffs and puffs when asked for help. They’re spending their last days bound to their homes because no one has time to take them anywhere. They’re forced to ride the bus, their bikes, and walk in the rain because once again no one has TIME. The only reason you’re on this earth capable of having ANY time is because of them so the least you can do is spare a few moments for them too.

It is no fault of their own that they can’t adequately care for themselves any longer. They are our roots and were our wings when we needed them to be, now it’s time to return the favour, and for all the right reasons.

Don’t make them feel like a burden. Help them remember their youth by sharing your own. Bring them into your world. Don’t shove them into a corner of ostracism and unkindness.

November 25th 

Two years ago today I lost my grandmother. The days leading up to this life changing event were some the most intense and painful times I had ever experienced. But as through any difficult experience it ultimately led to growth and change – for the better. At the time it felt like this was something that I was never going to be able to “bounce” back from. I felt forever changed, this much was true. Although time did heal the pain to be much more bearable there is no denying that things changed drastically after the head of our family left this world.

Now after having a child and so many changes having occurred since my grandmother left us I have realized one key thing – family is everything.

I feel like a lot of us grow up taking our family forgranted. We feel protected by them and their so much a part of our daily life that we see them as permanent fixtures which could never be taken away or change.

What ends up happening is you get a little bit older and wish for some independence and autonomy. When that doesn’t happen we blame them for all our shortcomings and distance ourselves from them.

During this time we might feel like we are “finding ourselves.” But really we are just experimenting with being on our own without our families.

Eventually you grow old and wise enough to realize that this is what life’s all about. Either being close to family or when the time and circumstances are right – creating your own.

I truly believe a lot of the meaning of life begins and ends with the strength of a happy family. If one has a strong base to grow from and always return to, they will be more well rounded and better functioning individuals.

So take a look around you and appreciate what you have. And if you don’t feel what you have is enough, then you can always create your own family and spread love and light through your own efforts.

I was thinking of my grandmother today and just felt like putting up a post for her. She’s the one who made me realize just how important it is to keep the cycle of life going. Love you forever Bibi, hope you’re happy wherever you are.

When Time Stops

It’s those little moments when suddenly you go from being in a whirlwind trance of going about your daily routine to being stopped dead in your tracks. You are shook so hard by the news of some event or the other that it pulls you out of your little bubble and to a wider perspective. You remember who and what really matters and now dinner plans or other little trivial details of life really don’t matter anymore.

Well I had one of those defining moments and boy it hit me hard. Last weekend I was caring for my baby and prepping for his next feed (pretty much the purpose of my entire existence since he’s been born) when I received a phone call with news that rattled my whole reality. The details of exactly what that news was I would rather not discuss but let’s just say it was one of those things that leaves you feeling sick to your stomach and unsure of how to react. Whenever I am faced with such circumstances I usually switch to “autopilot mode” and control my emotions and just do what needs to be done.

So I handled the situation as best I could. I remained composed on the exterior while containing my extreme fear and anxiety on the inside. Luckily in the end everything was okay and the situation ended up with as optimal a result as possible.

What the point of this rather elusive story is the fact that it’s easy to get wrapped up in the mundane details of day to day life. What we all seem to forget and are so importantly reminded from time to time is that the things we worry about most are usually not what matters most. We have to remember to wake up appreciating each day with our loved ones, being grateful and making the most of the time we are given. You never know when you’re going to receive that one phone call which just changes it all and threatens to take away the base upon which the little things which we are so consumed by are built upon.

I know this post is a little random and ambiguous but I just felt like sharing my thoughts, which are rather all over the place since I am still slightly shaken by the incident. I just hope you all take away from this to remember what’s important, and don’t wait for time to stop in order to stop wasting it.

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.