The Firsts for First Time Moms
Experience is said to be the mother of wisdom. I would go a step further and say it is the "queen mother" of wisdom. When you become a mother, the person within you begins to change, the people around you also change and an instinct develops in you that is so natural, it's hard to imagine what things were like before it.
As a first time mom (FTM), there is no prior experience or knowledge of course that you can tap into to help with the journey ahead. Even though you are probably surrounded by a lot of people who share their own experiences, graphics included (thanks YouTube!), some of which you'd probably rather not hear (or see!), your own experience will be so unique in its own right and you may even forget some things people told you until it happens to you. So here are a few firsts that I experienced and want to share. No graphics included! Okay, just a few.
This condition is defined as the auditory notion that a child is crying every time you try to shower. Literally, as soon as you step into the shower, the very first sound you hear right in the middle of soaping up, is a baby crying. A baby that probably had you up all night and all morning and who finally fell asleep a few mere seconds before heading for the shower. After the shock of it, you probably tiptoe out of the shower, soap and all to make sure you're not 'hearing things' only to find out that you are in fact 'hearing things'. This is one of the first welcome signs to motherhood. Welcome!
First sleep through the night
The first few days of having your newborn at home can turn you into quite a mom-bie. I hardly remember the first couple days. Between the residual effect of the meds, the constant insomnia and unending sound of a baby crying, those days got lost to time and space in my memory. What I cannot forget though, is that first night when he slept pass 2 am. I woke up in a panic that I hadn't heard the baby cry for the past two hours and of course I thought the worst had happened! SIDs! (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) I believe he was somewhere between four and eight weeks old and sleeping in his own crib in his own room. I know, it probably sounds a little early to have been putting him on his own to sleep, but I was acting on advice at the time. So I shook my husband awake and he said he checked and the baby was fine. Of course he must have been lying through his teeth! So I ran and checked for myself! Check 1: The crib was still in his room. Check 2: He was still in his crib in his room. Check 3: His tummy was moving up and down. Check 4: I felt air blow on my hand when I held it in-front of his nose (some mothers choose to use a glass object instead of a hand to further confirm by condensation on the glass. The choice is yours!). As it turns out, the child was in fact still breathing! Then I was thoroughly confused! Why was he still sleeping? This is the second welcome sign to motherhood. Welcome!
Early days of breastfeeding
Normally, you hear that breastfeeding is a wonderful bonding experience between yourself and your baby. Sometimes, it almost sounds like it should be such a magical and epic moment of your day like a scene from a movie with a line like, "As the sun nourisheth the earth, so doth a mother nourish her young - the seed of her womb." One thing, however, that I did not pick up from that movie is that when your baby actually gets a good latch onto your nipple like a leech from the Amazon, there is an intrauterine cramp that pangs on your nipple strings like a buck toe on your pinky toe! It hurts like hell! Even though it lasts for only a few seconds of forever (!), it's a pain like no other. It happened to me every single time he latched for at least eight weeks of forever! This is the third sign. Welcome!
Post Partum Depression (PPD)
This is sometimes a sensitive issue to talk or write about and I don't think that I even understand it in it's entirety either. I think some mothers who go through it don't understand it very well either or are in denial and neglect to address it. It is said that if you don't know the purpose of a thing, you may just end up abusing that thing. I translate that in this instance to mean that if you don't understand the purpose of certain phases and stages in your life, or even acknowledge that that phase of your life existed or even happened, you may just end up misconstruing that whole stage of development in your life and miss the point. Which is in a sense an abuse of it's purpose, since that was not the intended 'use' of it. I believe the purpose of it for me was to show me how frail I was or my mind was at one of my most vulnerable times in life.
Let's come out of the deep for a little bit and back to the shallow. When I was on maternity with my first, I grew increasingly upset at the slightest of things that my husband would do. Whether it was that he left an uncovered empty baby bottle on the bed or left a broom in the passageway or washed when I told him not to or served my food in this bowl instead of that or just because he sleeps right through the night and I can't because my crazy thoughts keep me wide-eyed awake! Whatever it was he did or did not do, he was wrong for doing or not doing so in my mind. Plus on top of that, I didn't have the best first-time birthing experience and my mind was playing tricks on me with that as well telling me that the doctors messed up my insides somehow and probably left a gauze or scissors inside me and I would develop some form of underlying condition that would shorten my lifespan by at least 10 years...yeah. See why I had trouble sleeping at nights?
The point is first that the mind is a very powerful force field as I'm sure we've heard numerous times and with direction, guidance and power steering, it can take you places, both good and bad. The second point is that post-partum depression can come in various forms, shapes and sizes. It's a bit like the effect of alcohol and how it can bring out different qualities in 100 different individuals. The third point to note is that you are not alone in your struggle which may or may not be a source of comfort for you depending on how you look at it. The fear for me was in sharing my experience and not being understood. That is still a fear for me in many other regards. The way I see it now is that I could possibly save lives with words. So this is the reason I write. In a sense, it sometimes feels like how Anna Nalick puts it in her song "Breathe":
2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
So if I write it all out then it no longer poses a threat to the life it belongs to. I love that.
There are so many other firsts that I could write about but I'd rather hear more from you so please share some of your firsts in the Comments section below for the benefit of other first-time moms. I'd love to hear your first welcome signs to this wonderful world of motherhood!
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