I have always loved babies. What's not to love about these cuddly little cuties (except during their projectile poop phases) who are nature's live stress busters. My love for them was only marred briefly post marriage when random aunties, uncles, and strangers would ask me when I plan to pop one out. It put me off babies and I'd hold myself from cooing too much at a baby for fear of an aunty appearing out of thin air like a genie and telling me to 'give good news' then and there.
Alhamdulillah when I reached a stage in my life where it seemed okay to add another member to our little family, Allah blessed me with my little Z. Maybe because I felt ready for it, motherhood has been mostly joyous for me. I found giving birth an empowering (albeit frikkin painful) experience. Breastfeeding has been mostly smooth because of good research, great support system, and lots of prayers. After three months Earth side spent mostly crying, pooping, and nursing like there's no tomorrow, Z became more responsive. So the past three months have been great fun as I watch her grow into her fabulous personality.
It's a great privilege and blessing to be able to watch life grow and evolve within you first and then in front of you. It's addictive, watching them blossom. From their first social smiles to their first laugh to when they figure out you can actually walk away from them. This has also added another dimension to my relationship with le husband as we figure this parenting thing out together.
But it would be unfair if I just go on about the positives without shedding light on the other, not so pleasant changes. Especially because so many other new parents are sailing on the same boat.
One of the first changes I noticed was this overwhelming fear and anxiety that took over me from the moment I was given a crying, slimy pink bundle in my hands. How do I keep her alive? What if I drop her as I am climbing up the stairs? How am I going to raise her? How will I make sure she won't end up in therapy for the rest of her life? It was crippling and would have paralysed me were it not for faith that God is the ultimate protector and there's only so much I can do before I entrust her in His care.
The other major change was how I lost complete control over my time and my mental and physical space. Gone are the days when I could spontaneously go for an outing or when an idea for an article would strike and I could write it immediately. I have (maybe temporarily) lost the ability to choose what I get to do with my time. Now it's always Z. I have to think twice, thrice, multiple times before making plans; charting all permutations and combinations of how things can go wrong so I can prepare accordingly. And guys, it's exhausting! All this thinking leads to next to no mental space for my creative cells to function in peace. Just in the course of writing this article I had to stop twice to put her back to sleep. So I have sent the writer in me on a forced sabbatical because I can't write like before. Constant interruptions affect not just the creative process but also your ability to focus on any task you have at hand. A simple meal being prepped takes me twice the time because I would have stop mid chopping, wash my hands, entertain her, and then get back. Repeat n number of times until I am exhausted just from this broken routine. It's deeply upsetting and frustrating (especially the writing part since it is one of the things that brings me so much joy). More so when I also have to do other mind numbingly repetitive tasks to make sure my baby stays safe, healthy and happy. I feel like I am being pulled from all directions and my sanity is stretched thin. Some days I am afraid this is when I will finally snap.
But here's the thing I am realising, I can't change this set up as of now, so there's no point dwelling on how things were. What I can do is work around this to ensure I get to at least one thing daily that brings me joy. Be it reading, writing, spending time on social media, meeting a friend for catch up, or just being by myself for 10 mins with no task or chores hanging over my head. (After having a baby, just 10 mins of being uninterrupted seems gloriously refreshing)
Like I wrote the other day, parenthood is a riddle. No matter how prepared you come, it still puzzles you. One moment you are at the verge of pulling out your hair from frustration and the next you are a melted puddle next to your child's feet because they gave you a drooly, gummy smile out of nowhere. What I am learning to do now, one day at a time, is ride the wave and enjoy the view that I am given at the moment. You reading this, feeling as unsettled as I do- Breathe in, unclench jaws, relax shoulders- we are going to be okay.
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