Once we settled down with the coffee mugs, Nikhil happily took charge of the baby, giving us enough space to empty our hearts. Seeing me looking at her imploringly, she smirked and casually remarked, “I am loosing my sanity. It’s like I am dealing with a hurricane of very conflicting emotions! And very soon I might end up in an asylum, and suck Nikhil into it too.”
“What?” I freaked out.
Is it something at work?
Or is it Nikhil?
Is it motherhood? Was Brishti your choice or a family enforced decision? You are not even 30! You could have surely waited!
Don’t you have any support?….. etc. etc.
Shreya patiently looked on while I blurted out my worst fears.
When I stopped for breath, she handed the mug back to me.
“Tina, the homecoming of this tiny life has changed everything in our life! Our priorities, our lifestyle, our schedule, our financial planning… everything that you can think off has changed. I really can’t say if it’s for the good or bad. But one thing that I do know is, it’s a choice we willingly exercised. And we are loving every bit of it.
But sometimes, these changes do get onto us! We squabble for reasons unknown! Blame it on the hormones if you wish, but since pregnancy, my emotions have been all over. And even though I have so much to do now, with the baby and everything else, still nothing seems to satiate me.”
Her words, or the fresh aroma from the coffee mugs, or the wind blowing on our face – don’t know exactly what it was, but something was soothing my fast heartbeats, and I started seeing my friend from a different perspective. There was a twinkle in her eyes, and it brightened with each word she spoke, as if she was living each word of hers.
She continued after a pause.
“My baby invokes feelings in me I never knew I was capable of having. I love her with all my soul. But in the last few months, I have realized that I can’t let go of my own self in an effort to be the best version of a mother. If I want to shower her with unconditional love, I first need to learn to love myself. It’s almost like I have found myself again in motherhood. And it’s such a heady feeling, that I have decided to make an effort and bring a few changes in my life:
- I won’t hesitate to reach out for help. We may hire an attendant if need be, and catch up on our much needed sleep.
- Breast milk or no breast milk, I won’t freak out. I would much rather focus on her having a full stomach.
- Every day, I will sneak out an hour for myself. It is going to be tough initially, but am hopeful. “
“And, how will you utilize this one hour?” I interrupted.
“Oh! Didn’t put a thought to it really! Well…….I might just sit and stare at the sky, counting the stars… or scribble in my diary…..or catch up with my friends…” she mused.
“So, what else do you want to do?” I laughed.
“Point no. 4. I will try to stick to a schedule. But I will not loose my cool if the baby doesn’t respond. After all, she is not a machine!
Umm… point no. 5. The day any of our parents come, Nikhil and I will go out on a nice date. Be it for an hour, but I will make sure we sneak out some time for ourselves!
6. Since reading is somewhat challenging now, I will get myself a few audio books. It wouldn’t be the same as holding a book, but might provide some respite.
I will take a control of the situation before it makes me lose my rationality completely. Will stop playing the role of a perfect wife always. I mean, why I always need to aim for perfection?”
She might have continued for hours and I would have enjoyed listening to her if not for the baby who started crying suddenly.
My completely aware friend jumped up and sprang out of the bed. As she was about to leave the room, she peeped at me and whispered, in all her naiveté, “Those plans of mine, even if I fail to execute, let others know. Someone might do justice to them.”
It’s 2 days now since I have come back from Shreya’s house. Those few hours with her that night exposed me to some bare truths of motherhood so seldom spoken about! I was fortunate to have a face-off with the other side of this beautiful journey’s initial days.
The biggest hurdle in the new parents’ life, especially the mother, is denial; both external & internal. A mother constantly fights with herself: her thoughts, her mind, her lifestyle, hormones and last but not the least her sleep! The society mocks her and shuns her troublesome feelings, branding them as ‘unmotherly’. In the end, the mother is left with no one, but the husband, to share her inner turmoil (and sadly, not all strike luck here). That husband, who himself is going through a lifestyle shift, then tries his level best to balance it all out!
Parenthood is such that, two adults try to walk a thin rope, holding the most precious life close to their heart. They strive day in and out to give the best to the new member in their life. In fact, everyone around wants to give the paramount to the child. Thus, the unsolicited advice and constant clash of beliefs. It does tend to overwhelm the new parents. And at times it imperative that they put strainers on their ears to filter out all the unnecessary information.
The glaring postpartum depression tops it all. It is nothing new! It cannot be new as it is a biological effect after childbirth. An intense drop in the hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in our body might contribute to postpartum challenges. The intensity of depression might vary and accordingly be treated without delay.
But, above all, during this time, what a mother really needs is love. Lots of it. And a patient and understanding ear.
Let’s park our judgement of her for some other time 🙂
She pampers the baby with all her abilities. Why can’t we pamper her a bit?
To know more about postpartum and how to fight with it, read Postpartum depression – An Unacknowledged Destructor