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 🙂

How to face the fears you never even knew you had!

When I was younger my sister had this amazingly intriguing video board game called “Nightmare.” Every now and then I had the honour of being allowed to sit in on one of the game sessions between my siblings and older cousins.

It was a great deal of fun. They’d turn down the lights. Play the tape with this dark and dreary undertaker character leading the game on our fuzzy TV screen, and try spooking one another into thinking he was just about to pop out the screen and into the room.

Typically, I’d get too scared about half way through and run off crying but they usually allowed me to partake in the very first step of the game. Everyone had to write their worst fear on a card and place it in the middle of the board. My teenage siblings would almost always pick from the generic list of feared objects and jot down things like “spider,” “heights,” or maybe throw in a funny one like “your face.” And that would be the end of that.

But I recall this one time I was spectating, and one of my eldest cousins wrote down his fear and quietly put it down. Being the cheeky seven year old I was I pounced to sound out the words and my brother peaked over my shoulder and read it aloud to everyone. It read, “to never lose my way.”

For some reason that statement, my cousins deepest darkest fear, stuck with me into the years of my life in which I could actually fathom what those long difficult to sound out words meant.

At the time, he had recently faced some hardships in his life. I suppose he felt he had “found himself” after overcoming them, but still had the fear of “losing himself” again dangerously looming.

I only recently stumbled upon this dust collecting game in the corner of my parents office closet, opened the box, and low and behold that same scribbled statement was still jotted down on one of the players cards.

I began to wonder about my own fears. Was I afraid of being lost? Or maybe I already was and I just didn’t know it. I have come to realize that you don’t typically notice you’ve veered off your expected life trajectory until it’s much too late. But I think it’s safe to say that’s not the case for me. Sure there’s been some unpleasant bumps, and unexpected turns in the road — but all in all my journey is proving to be rather extraordinary.

I encourage you all to think about your own fears, think about whether you’re where you want to be in life. Because sometimes all it takes is some re-positioning to get to where you wanted to be when you were a young kid with all those tomorrow’s stretched out in front of you.

Yes, I know – I’m a old nostalgic soul who always speaks in an utterly dramatic way that has a way of rudely reminding you of your fragile mortality. But I just have this insatiable quest to help others seize whatever moments they may have and feel the utmost happiness in each and every day before it’s too late.

It’s okay to have fears, it’s okay to reflect, what matters is that you’re not too afraid to admit when you’re lost, and care to re-assess the direction you’re headed.

Thanks for bearing with me during my ups and downs of emotional enlightenment. At times, I feel as though I write out my own woes in the hopes of helping at least one individual sort through their own.

Hope you had a spectacular weekend and as always thanks for stopping by!

– Amrita Literature

The Danger of the Comfort Zone

Recently, I attended my ten year high school reunion. Now I don’t know about all of you, but as a kid I always envisioned my reunion to be like those scenes from the movies in which you roll up in an extravagantly flashy car, wearing a ravishing ball gown, and everyone’s jaw drops at how you’ve managed to maintain your petite physic despite being extremely busy with a fabulous career and a picture perfect family.

Was this what mine was like? Not quite. Really what I ended up walking into was a casual pub night in which only a third of my grad class showed up. Mainly, the people who were comfortable in their own skin in high school, proved to still be this way and gathered round to catch up with a group friends who they seemed to all pretty much be in touch with.

But I was literally the only person sitting there out of my previous “circle of friends.” A group of individuals whom due to some circumstance or the other I’ve since lost contact with.

On the nostalgic and quiet drive home I got to thinking – as I most frequently do, about what might’ve caused a large majority of the grad class to not bother to show up.

Did they just not care? Did they have some sort of prior engagement? Or perhaps they just didn’t feel comfortable attending such a momentous event.

Ten years ago, that would’ve been me. I would’ve shied away from any scenario in which I would be required to mingle and socialize without a security bubble or safety net of friends surrounding me. It was intimidating of course. But, where I’m at in life right now, I seriously didn’t give it a second thought as to whether I would attend or not. I was pretty excited to be able to see so many familiar faces once again, only that’s not exactly what I was met with. Instead I kind of just chatted with a few acquaintances and was happy to know they’re all well into their careers and own unique life journeys.

I just wish more people would push themselves to jump out of their own personal “comfort zones.” Anything that creates a little fear or anticipation within you is generally something you’re going to walk away from with the gaining of at least something advantageous.

For example, just last night I forced myself to attend my very first networking event for writers. The first half hour of the event was intended to be a time in which you introduce yourself to fellow like-minded individuals and hopefully make connections with a few people who might be on the same career path as you.

I say I forced myself because of course just like everyone else I get butterflies at the thought of having to speak to complete strangers in an unfamiliar place and scenario. However, I’ve grown to a point of self-realization where I just don’t allow my nerves to dictate my actions. Even more importantly, I don’t allow my fears of what OTHERS might think of me control what I do and don’t do at all.

I suppose it’s a change which came about when I had my son. Once an entire room of individuals has seen you in your most vulnerable state – giving birth, prior to giving birth, or just after having given birth. Being shy kind of goes right out the window.

Also, quite frankly, I just don’t want my son to think his mom is a pansy. I want him to follow in my footsteps of constantly pushing yourself to face your fears and overcome your social anxiety. I never would’ve thought I would be able to be the first one to approach someone I didn’t know and strike up a conversation. I mean I was the person who silently prayed I wouldn’t be called upon every single day in school. I would’ve much rather just disappeared into thin air than speak up in a room full of people.

But life’s just too short to constantly be afraid. When faced with the decision of whether or not to approach someone, go somewhere new, or do something different. I always question “why not?” Will I lose anything by doing so, most likely not. But to constantly avoid or skip out on things just because it’s easier to do so is to agree to a lifetime of complacency and selling yourself short.

I encourage you, just get OUT THERE. Nothing good will come if you stay within the razor edged disguised comfort of your own inner demons. Push your own boundaries and you’ll be amazed at just how much progress can be made with just a few successful interactions.

Don’t skip out on once in a lifetime occurrences just because it’s easier to sit at home. You may not realize it now, but a day will come when you realize you wished you had just stepped out your comfort zone a little more. Because after all, your greatest experiences are always the least expected, slightly scary, and challenging ones.

Scaredy Cats Never Prosper 

You hear it all growing up. Live life with courage. Be your own person. You’re only young once. And it all goes in one ear and out the other. 
I was one of those kids that was sh*t scared of everything. My own shadow sent me screaming bloody murder the other direction. My parents and siblings encouraged me to toughen up and get out there, “be a normal kid.” But I just COULDN’T. 

I was too scared of the unknown, I felt I didn’t belong. I was anxious. Really anxious. All. The. Time. Nervous cute shyness soon grew into full blown social awkwardness. I kept guards up from people so they couldn’t get to know how “weird” I was. I just didn’t feel like I fit in. The more I distanced myself the more estranged from life I became. I never participated in any extra curricular activities. I never joined a sport and avoided any type of activity which would draw attention to me like the plague. Basically I wasn’t even living life. 
Then I met this outrageously outgoing and fun loving guy. My polar opposite. He loved doing crazy things. He loved being the class clown centre of attention kind of guy. He had a zest for life and made it his personal mission to spark mine up too. 

We dated and as many of you know we got married about a decade later. Well that too was me choosing the “safe” option. I got married before I even set my life up and carved out a individual identity for myself. Now instead of hiding behind my mom – I hid behind him. I was now an extension of him. I just swapped my family for his and carried on being an adult child. Not a good way to live – especially when you are now raising a child of your own. 
So getting married didn’t snap me out of this fear, as didn’t the protests of my family to make something of myself first. I might’ve been a pansy but I was a head strong pansy. I wasn’t taking no for an answer. I thought I could live happily being subordinate to others. That was a recipe for disaster. 

So where’s that bring us now? That brings me to finally finding something that’s mine. Literature. The love of words and all the power they hold within them. The ability for one excerpt from one well written phrase or one line from a movie to just transform your entire day. And that’s exactly what I set out to do with my fiction novel I am writing. Perhaps it won’t amount to anything – or maybe it’ll be everything. But I do know I don’t want to be afraid anymore. And that’s what this book is for me. It’s me getting myself out there. Without being so damn worried about what others think. 
So for me, the fact that I’m writing it makes it a huge success already. 

And to those who support me, thank you, you all are the ones who push me in the right direction. The direction of moving onward and upward. Not shying away or hiding from the “scary” and unknown. 
Thanks for all the support. And as soon as my books done I can’t wait for you all to enjoy it as much as I am enjoying pouring myself into it. 
Have a wonderfully restful Sunday.

 
– Amrita xox 

 

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

I feel like being a woman means reinventing yourself every few years or so. You hit Highschool – well you best be careful how you act around the opposite sex because you are responsible for the title you may be given if you’re just too friendly. You graduate – okay time to either make something of yourself or go to post-secondary but be ready to juggle familial responsibilities and personal goals. Alright there’s those wedding bells – well throw out everything you knew to be true because the hat you’ve got to wear now is one of submission and wiping the slate clean altogether.

And the biggest change of them all – motherhood. Often times I find myself browsing my various social media feeds which fill up a lot quicker on the weekends. Most of my peers are a.) Traveling b.) Partying c.) Having romantic adventures or d.) All of the above. So naturally sometimes as I’m just about to warm up another bottle near midnight I feel a twinge of sadness or longing for my carefree days.

I wonder where that girl went who no matter what the next wave of life washed upon her and brought on she rolled with the changes and magically metamorphisized into what was required. But now – your existence is completely just to provide love and nurture to another being and keep everyone else around you happy as well. Don’t get me wrong – I love my son more than life itself. But I’ll tell you I went into this whole parenthood thing completely naively.

Sometimes it’s such a feeling of panic and loneliness to know there is just never any off switch. It’s a 24/7 and 365 day job which has little reprieve or breaks in between. Then comes all the unnecessary nuisance and drama which comes with living in a East Indian construct and attempting to find your way as a new mom. At times it can feel nearly impossible and very trying.

Then there’s the guilt. The never ending guilt of motherhood which just keeps on reappearing in one form or another. If I do get a break – I feel it’s unfair for me to not be caring for him myself. If I get him to finish his feed quicker than usual I feel like I’m force feeding him. If he remains occupied with a toy for longer than usual I fear I am neglecting him. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. There is just no way to feel like you’ve got it all under control.

Prior to experiencing this myself I did find it unfair of just how much your life changes once your married and how little a mans does. Other than he stays in a few more weekends than usual (if you’re lucky). But now I see that it carries into every facet of life. A woman is just expected to accept what’s required and carry on happily. But sometimes that’s not always easy to do and you just feel like crap because it’s all just too much.

So what’s a girl to do? I suppose you just accept what you can’t change and you change what you can. You must always be constantly looking for ways to improve and accept your new role and chapter in life. Unlike other phases of life being a parent to a small vulnerable individual is actually only a small sliver of your existence. As time goes on your offsprings dependency decreases and you’ll find your autonomy once again only now you won’t know what to do with your time. It’s almost
like you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. And once it’s gone – you’re left wishing for yesterday instead of being so focused on tomorrow.

Just something to think about. What are your thoughts on the “cookie cutter” way of life so many of us girls seem to be following these days? Would love to hear your opinion in the comment section below :).

Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage!

I feel like these images my sister-in-law (Erin Sandhu of Ek Art Photography) took perfectly capture the love my husband has for our son. We are so lucky we get to have all these moments frozen in time with all these photoshoots!

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The entrance of my son into my life has made me understand why they say a lasting marriage requires you to fall in love with the same person multiple times. With life’s changes and ups and downs you see new aspects in one another which will either make or break you as a couple. You either grow together and become stronger, or you falter and grow apart.

I have known my husband for a very long time – over a decade. In my first year of marriage everything felt so exciting and new that we were finally “together together.” After sometime I felt like there was no way I could possibly love him more. I believed I knew everything and anything about him. His likes and dislikes, his pet-peeves, the childhood stories which he would repeatedly recount and I would smile along as if it was the first time hearing it. Everything felt very comfortable. We knew each other inside and out and everything felt very routine and safe with him.

I was never expecting to learn new things about him or see a new side to him be brought out by the birth of our son. I knew he was patient, kind, and caring but now he simply amazes me with just how loving he really is. He manages to care for him wonderfully while working without any days off or breaks. He is determined to succeed not only in the professional world but as a father and husband as well.

I sometimes catch myself watching the gentle manner with which he handles our son. It is in these moments I am falling in love with him all over again. I can definitely say he’s handling it all a lot better than I am. And in my moments of weakness he is my strength and he is the one who gets me through, helping me to always remember the big picture – that times of hardship are temporary. Now, as we all find our way as a family and I have seen the way for which he cares for both of us I feel sure that although it may not always feel like it, we are all going to be okay and only grow deeper in love along the way.

My Pregnancy Journey: Lessons Learned

The reason I call pregnancy a journey is because to me that’s exactly what it is. You begin with certain beliefs and perceptions about how things will be. Then the reality of the experiences end up leaving you completely changed along the way. I have outlined the main “lessons” I believe I learned on my path to motherhood during this 9 month period of rapid growth and development for not only my child but me as well!

#1 

How very little some people know about pregnancy. 

I know it’s a shocker but guess what – engaging in a conversation with a pregnant woman does not mean regular conversation etiquette goes out the window. You don’t point out the obvious – “wow you’re huge!” You don’t sit there telling birth and labour horror stories. Even worse, do not tell a pregnant woman about instances of stillborn births and miscarriages. Trust me, there’s enough stuff floating around in their minds they don’t need this as well! Lastly, this ones more relevant near the end but incessant pestering about the due date is truly not necessary. A pregnant woman most likely already feels like a ticking time bomb. She does not have any control over when this little one is going to grace the world with his or her presence. First time mothers (like myself) have never been through this before so obviously as excited as we are to have and hold the baby at last there is also the aspect of sheer terror. Personally, I am petrified of all that comes before that blissful moment so no I don’t want to make light of when it’s going to happen – it’ll happen when it happens!

#2 

How different things were from how I thought they were supposed to be. 

I am not sure how it is for other expectant mothers but for me issues began during the “secrecy period.” What I’m referring to here is the time frame before 12 weeks in which you do not typically announce your pregnancy because things are still fairly touch and go. This time period was absolutely horrid for me as basically anything that could’ve gone wrong to add stress to this time – did. I was faced with situations that lead to a whole lot of altercation and unnecessary nuisance. Many other things fell into place in just the incorrect way to lead to absolute misery for a few months. However, there is always a silver lining! These eye-opening “events” have actually become something I appreciate. I learned about resilience and the need to summon your inner strength and patience when you need it most.

Upon learning I was pregnant I spent a lot of time dreaming of what my child was going to be like (as I am sure most expectant women do). A big part of this was wondering if I was having a boy or a girl. I looked forward to the time of sharing this news and announcing the gender in some cutesy “Pinterest inspired way.” However, due to familial requests it was decided that the gender of the baby would be kept a secret or to not inquire about it at all. I’m not superstitious nor do I believe in the ill will of others so this was something I felt I was deprived of. I don’t like having an inflated sense of self-importance so I didn’t see the big deal in sharing the gender with others. The lesson in all of this is that it does not matter what preconceived notions you have about how you will deal with your pregnancy in respect to others, when the situation arises for compromise – sometimes it’s easier to just go with it!

#3 

The surprises involved with the medical/physical aspect of pregnancy. 

The number one physical struggle I dealt with was accepting all the weight gain that comes along with carrying a child. I have always been fairly petite so people’s free for all comments about my rapidly expanding waist line was probably the biggest struggle. Once I hit my third trimester looking down at the scale and seeing such a huge number hit me like a ton of bricks. It seemed people were amused at seeing me look so different from what they were used to. If only I could’ve been as intrigued by it as well instead I allowed it to make me feel insecure and unattractive. This is something I wish I had a better perspective on as it is silly to fret about numbers on a scale when those are directly translated to the health of your child.

As if bodily changes weren’t enough my skin decided to regress back to it’s preteen state which yes was also brought to my attention as if I was somehow at fault. As my hormones calmed down from their spikes and falls so did my skin troubles so at least I won’t be looking like a teen mom anymore. Another major unexpected physical aspect to pregnancy is how the farther along you are (and bigger you get) – the more you can literally feel your bones shifting and separating. I feel like Humpty Dumpty and need somebody to put me together again!

Lastly, although this seems like a rather small physical change in the grand scheme of pregnant life – it was rather difficult for me to deal with the fact that you’re a human pin pricking cushion for 9 months. With all the blood tests and injections I have actually (kinda sorta) overcome my fear of needles.

#4 

The surprising amount a pregnant woman can worry about just about anything and everything.

My number one issue in this category is stressing about work. I don’t have a 9-5 I have a 24/7 as I work within a family business. So I feel super nervous about leaving everything up in the air not knowing if my duties and responsibilities are going to be adequately handled. Not to mention it’s been increasingly difficult to even keep up with things in the state I’m in now. I know I won’t be able to jump right back into things too quickly after having the baby regardless of my desire to do so. Letting go of my need to control is definitely a major lesson learned which I have not quite mastered yet.

Another culturally related factor – I feel rather nervous about is the imminent loss of privacy and changes with boundaries. At times I feel rather apprehensive about how life is going to change once the baby arrives. I am currently used to it mostly just being my husband and I. But in the Indian world once a little one comes into the picture your marital partnership becomes more of a group circle. I suppose it’s all about finding a healthy and comfortable balance of knowing when to accept help and when to do things your own way.

#5 

How over 9 months your perception, expectations, and experiences change drastically.

The moment I learned I was pregnant I was filled with this overwhelming sense of love, strength, and protectiveness toward this teeny tiny little individual growing inside of me. Then, rather quickly, out went the rainbows and butterflies and this warm fuzzy feeling turned into a general feeling of shitty-ness ALL THE TIME. Naturally, I became more focused on the physical aspect of things. Then came the kicks and movement. There are no words for this experience. It is like the ground shifts from underneath you and things suddenly become very real. Other then that the second trimester is rather uneventful. You nearly feel like yourself again. Winding down to the end the third trimester involves big changes in emotions, physical pain, and discomfort. I was not prepared for pain to come so much before labour. However, I have to admit it is pretty unreal how a woman’s body just instinctively knows what it needs to do to adjust to all the changes of carrying a child and to prepare for their arrival into the world!

#6 

The way in which your relationship will change and grow along the way as well.

The biggest change out of all this is how much my husband and I have grown closer which I did not even think was possible after 10 years together. He’s been my rock and without him there’s no way I could be handling everything this experience has entailed. He talks me out of my crazy moments. He encourages me and reminds me what this is all about. He tells me I’m beautiful countless times a day despite my changed body and demeanor. He picks up the slack with housework and dotes on my every request. He’s just been simply amazing and I feel 100% confident in beginning my journey of motherhood with him by my side.

So I know this wasn’t exactly a typical “pregnancy story” post but I felt like I had to share the good, the bad, and the ugly if I wanted to be completely brutally honest – which is how I try to keep all my writing! I am sure with all of the major changes just around the corner a lot of this will become irrelevant and I will be learning a whole new batch of life lessons which will leave me changed once again!