Motherhood

Oh ho! Liquid gold!

Let me preface the post by saying that this is going to about me and my mammaries, mmmkay? Scoot off if you are not interested in reading all about their exploits.

One thing that I got asked a lot after I had delivered Aidan was whether I was breastfeeding. In short, yes. Besides the many health benefits that breast milk has, it made both practical and financial sense. We can save our pennies on buying expensive formula and it’s so convenient. No need to sterilize and wash bottles, just pop the kid onto your boob and voila! A fed and happy kid!

Before I started breastfeeding, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I had read all about the various pains and problems, like mastitis and engorgement and low supply. But just like motherhood, what you had read about would never adequately prepare you for what is to come.

Thankfully, Aidan latched like a champ the first time we nursed, two hours after he was born. The nurses at Mount Alvernia hospital were wonderful and gave me loads of guidance. He was brought to me every three hours for feeds and the staff absolutely respected my desire to total breastfeed him. Not once did anyone suggest otherwise.

I was lucky that I never faced any real problems when it came to breastfeeding. His latch was perfect on one side and a little wonky on the other – that was readily fixed by a nurse angel during our hospital stay when Aidan was warded for jaundice. The boobies toughened up quickly and by the second week, we were nursing like pros. My only real ‘problem’ is plugged milk ducts, which usually went away after a couple of days, thanks to vigorous massage on my part and my little man’s constant nursing.

So really, we were fortunate in the physical aspect of it all. However, I have to say that most of my mental anguish came from our families.

Perhaps it’s due to the lack of education but our parents’ generation were not brought up on the ‘breast is best’ mentality and both sets of parents seemed perplexed by the fact that we were not feeding our baby formula. I still remember my mother-in-law cooing over a wailing Aidan at the hospital and saying, “Are you hungry? Shall we fix up a bottle of milk for you?”

My in-laws have also been dropping hints about supplementing Aidan with formula milk. They wondered if his lack of sleep was due to low milk supply, and if I couldn’t keep up with Aidan’s needs since I looked “pale and thin”. They would also like to have Aidan on formula so that he isn’t reliant on my breast milk and can stay with them for longer periods of time. My mother has been nagging at me to feed him some formula so that he wouldn’t reject the stuff when we eventually wean him off breast milk. And every time Aidan cries, the elders would comment that he is “hungry” and hadn’t had “enough milk”.

All these aren’t exactly encouraging for a first-time mother who is anxious about feeding her child. As it is, breastfeeding is tough enough for a woman. Do I have enough supply? Is Aidan putting on enough weight? Is he drinking the ‘right’ milk (ie. hind milk versus fore milk)? Is he wetting enough diapers and pooping enough? Is the color of the poop right? All these questions and more plagued my first few weeks as a breastfeeding mama. It wasn’t until recently, when Mr A more than doubled his weight (from when we left the hospital), that I finally relaxed and felt confident about breastfeeding.

I don’t know how long I can keep going at it, especially when I get back to work. My initial target was to breastfeed until the end of my maternity leave, and then for another two months, if possible, making it six full months of breastfeeding. As for the rest of it, we’ll see.

But in the meantime, it’s gratifying to see my little man grow and become the potato that he is today, thanks to the wonder of my breast milk.

Aidan, Motherhood

4 weeks of life with Aidan

Dear Aidan,

And just like that, you have been here with us for a month. Well, make that five weeks actually, but mama here has been so exhausted that she hasn’t been able to sit at her computer and write to you.

In these past four weeks, you have turned our lives upside down. And I mean that literally. I’m up most nights making sure that your tiny tummy is filled with sustenance (AKA boob juice) while your Dad is in charge of clearing your output (ie. changing your – oddly enough – soy milk smelling diapers). We both look like zombies and our eye bags are bigger than our eyes.

We have also looked passionately into each other’s eyes and said, NO MORE CHILDREN.

That’s not to say that we don’t like you. On the contrary, we love you so much that if we could have a second heart, that heart would belong to you absolutely.

But looking after an infant is so, so hard. And it makes us frustrated and unhappy when we don’t know why you are screaming your head off for hours on end. And when you don’t sleep well, I get all personal about it, thinking that it is something I am not doing right. That’s stupid, of course, but that’s what being a mother does to you.

To be perfectly honest, I am not a fan of this infancy period. People tell me to treasure this period when you are so teeny tiny but all I want is to have a baby who can interact with me.

But – and that’s a mighty big but – I have to say that I adore many things about you at this stage. I love how your little body drapes across my chest as you nurse. I love those little sighs that you make when you are suckling away. I love how you grunt in frustration during tummy time (which you have expressed your displeasure towards, loud and clear). I love the cute little sounds that you make when you sleep in my arms. I love your gassy smiles. I love that funny, drunken milk face of yours. I love your little ‘eh eh eh’ sounds. I love those tiny mittens and socks of yours, which we are always losing.

Motherhood has been challenging for me but not a day goes by where I don’t love you. Okay, I may love you a little less when you are wailing away but it doesn’t mean I don’t love you.

I am so thankful that you are here and I know that it can only get better.

In the meantime, forgive us for being bumbling first-time parents and be gentle with us.

Love,
Mama

Aidan, Motherhood

Slowly. But surely.

So. I’ve gone and had a baby, and then I disappear from civilization.

No, not really. Well, sort of.

To be very, very frank (cos that’s how we rock on this blog), I have been struggling with motherhood. And most of the time, I am so overwhelmed and exhausted that the thought of blogging never, ever crossed my mind.

It started when Aidan was almost three weeks old. He suddenly stopped sleeping in the day, no matter what we did. My mama and I would rock, walk, sing, cuddle him and sometimes he would drift off to sleep. And when he did, it was only for 30 minutes or so and he would wake up a complete crankypants. And then we would have to repeat the entire cycle of soothing him again. And if he didn’t sleep well in the day, he would get overtired come nightfall and be a total screaming grouch for hours on end. We would then take two, sometimes three, hours putting him to sleep. And when he finally slept, he would fuss and cry throughout the night. To make things worse, I absolutely have not been able to nap in the day, no matter how exhausted I am.

Can you blame me for being tired?

There are some days when I would ring up husband in tears, telling him that I have absolutely no idea what the heck I am doing and that I am a terrible mother because I don’t know what the baby needed. And then there are days when I would wonder why motherhood doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s not postpartum depression, thankfully, but I just felt like this was something I could not cope with. Every evening, I would sit in the living room and wait for husband to get home because I felt so lonely with an angry baby grizzling by my side.

It’s gotten better and it’s all thanks to my mother. After my confinement period ended, she had to go back to her full time job of looking after my nephew. Rather than sit alone at home and despair of ever figuring out the kid, I decided to pop over to her place for a sanity break. At least I would be fed and have time to shower with her around. Plus, the nephew is such an amusing source of entertainment.

The good thing is, I have sort of established a pattern of Aidan’s sleeping habits. He doesn’t nap well in the morning but come afternoon, he could definitely sleep for at least a 45-minute cycle. If I am diligent and catch him before the cycle ends, he could go on for another hour or more. Of course, I am doing all the things that parenting books warn against: nursing/rocking/walking/holding baby to sleep. But at this point in time, I am just doing anything that gets my kid to sleep. Eventually, he would sort himself out.

I hope.

In the meantime, I am gradually getting used to this motherhood gig and I am crossing my fingers that it will get easier and I will get better at it.

Happy chappy