Nothing really prepares you for the agonies and pleasures of being a parent. And by that, I mean no amount of books, videos or unsolicited advice can entirely prepare you for parenthood. While there are the obvious things like managing expenses and sleepless nights. I do wish I knew about some of the not so obvious and not often discussed matters of motherhood.
1. The Birth Plan
- A birth plan is an outline of your preferences during labour and postnatal care; a concept common in the West. I have read mom blogs of mothers recounting how their birth experiences were in contrast to that documented.
- While the concept of a birth plan is quite rare in India, today, women are increasingly choosing to communicate their wishes and goals to their doctors.
- Though I did not document my birth plan, I had discussed with my doctor and partner about the possibilities and expectations of natural birth. Hence, I did not know what to expect when my doctor told me that I had to go in for an emergency C-section.
- My pregnancy was free from complications until my 32-week scan when I was indicated of a low fluid level. I had not prepared myself for an operation, I did not know what to expect, I had not packed my bag or the baby’s bag and I had a million unanswered questions.
2. Bonding With the Baby
- When I was expecting, I recall a mother telling me how she held her baby for the first time and the feeling just changed her entire life and she bonded with her little one instantly.
- My experience was quite in contrast to that. One, because I had stitches, I could not sit up and hold my daughter until the next day. Second, I did not bond with my daughter at once. It took me a lot of time and patience. I was tired, groggy and in so much pain that I just wanted to be left alone.
- Looking back I wish someone would have told me that it was ok. Bonding with your baby can either happen to you instantly or over a period of time, and either of this is OK!
- During the last few months of my pregnancy, I was excited and looking forward to the experience of breastfeeding my baby.
- I imagined it to be a cakewalk. My breastfeeding journey was filled with perils: an inverted nipple, a fast let down, cracked and bleeding nipples to name a few.
- Experimenting with feeding positions, trying on nipple shields, tears from both ends, and one month later, we were pros at breastfeeding.
- Mental health by itself is a taboo in our society, so God forbid a mother complains about her mental health. While I was aware of postpartum blues and depression I was not prepared for what I was to expect.
- My postpartum blues hit me as soon as I gave birth. Early unexpected labour coupled with a preterm baby took a toll on my mental health.
- I remember waking up with fits of sweat and imagining my baby had turned blue. I would constantly check if she was breathing. I wouldn’t be able to close my eyes at night due to the fear that something bad was about to happen.
- Luckily I had great support at home. My family made sure that I spoke about my fears and their reassurances helped me cope with this phase.
As the saying goes “Embrace the unexpected”; motherhood and being a parent is filled with unforeseen experiences. My daughter has taught me life lessons in the past 8 months that I haven’t been able to gather in all the years before that. But I remind myself that it’s ok to fail, it’s ok to lose patience and it’s ok to parent one day at a time. So, what are some of the things you wish you knew about when you were pregnant?
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