Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Motherhood Reflections: The First Trimester (Months 1, 2 and 3)

As I look back at the first trimester (Months 1,2 &3) of motherhood , the one thing that I can definitely say is that time zooms by once you have a baby. It seems like yesterday when we were expecting her and today I don’t know when she entered our lives.
While the science (physics, chemistry and biology all inclusive) of baby-making is abundantly clear, the divine intervention of human creation is probably beyond human comprehension.
Hmmm…. I was just reflecting on how the first three months have zoomed by. It’s definitely been a mixed journey – There have been some highs and lows, moments of pure joy, moments of sheer wonder and moments of disbelief, moments of self doubt and moments of pride, moments of frustration, moments of helplessness, moments of despair, moments of fear, moments of unimaginable strength & endurance and moments of weakness, moments of hopelessness and moments of hope, moments of extreme exhaustion and moments of satisfaction……
Anyways, looking back it’s probably worthwhile to compile my experiences, thoughts and learning’s of the past 3 months.
Respect your body – Pregnancy and childbirth is a unique experience for every woman. The human body undergoes several changes to prepare and adapt for childbirth. You will probably just not feel like you did before. Respect your body, listen to its needs, accept some limitations and give yourself time to recover
Eat well; Eat right – I “truly” realized the value of food, the necessity for a balanced diet (which includes the right portions of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals) and its importance during this phase of my life. It’s extremely important to eat well and to eat right. Not only will this help in your recovery but is essential to give you the required fuel to keep you going through the long sleepless nights
Get all the rest you can - Don't miss any opportunity you get ( though there probably will not be too many) to relax, unwind, sleep and get your feet up. This is vital for your speedy recovery

Take all the help you can – It’s probably the one time in life when you wished you had a hundred hands. You are not super human - If there were a zillion things which you can do & should do, there will also be a zillion things that you can’t do & shouldn’t do. You are human and a vulnerable one many times. Do accept that it is humanly impossible for you to do everything all the time.
If anyone offers help, just welcome it. And if you still need additional help, just ask for it. An extra help here and an additional hand there will always be a welcome relief
Don’t overdo the shopping bit – It’s so easy to go overboard with shopping baby stuff, especially if it is your first baby. Buy the essentials. Be practical about your spending and control your purse strings. Your baby will grow very rapidly in the initial few months and out-grow all his / her clothes after a few wears.
Also, you will also get loads of gifts. In my experience, I have observed that people tend to mostly gift clothes and baby care products during the first three months. If you do share a close equation with people who you know will gift something to your baby, it’s probably good to mention to them stuff that you need. You can easily avoid repetitions and possibly value the gifts better.
Remember that your baby will be part of your life for several more years to come and you will get ample opportunity to spend all the money that you have. Also, that as the babies grow they are also able to understand and appreciate all that you buy for them
Get the Massages – In my experience, periodic massages in the first 3 months do wonders in your physical recovery. Of course, do consult your doctor for specific advice based on your case
Release the negativity - There will be moments of self-doubt, occasions when you’ll wonder if you can ever get it right, moments when you will look at awe and admiration at all other mothers and wonder if you will ever be as good, times when you wished you can disappear into thin air or that the earth below you splits wide open and swallows you up, times when you will probably just want to re-wind the clock 20 years back or 10 years ahead, times when you will question if you are ready for motherhood (Trust me you will probably never be fully ready. You just take the plunge and then swim along. You’ll figure out if you go with the flow) – simply because it’s a new (especially if it’s your first baby) and a trying life experience. As long as these are occasional passing emotions, I guess it is just fine. We all go through our low moments. Learn to just accept / ignore them. Speak about it, if it makes you feel better. And try and release the negativity, in whatever way you can
Focus on yourself and the baby – This is probably one of the best advices my doctor gave me. Here’s what she said “Be practical and focus your energies on yourself and the baby for the first three months. This is vital for your recuperation and long term recovery; and is also crucial in building your baby’s foundation and immunity for life. Don’t think, worry or fret about anything else.
Be clear on your priorities and constantly keep reminding yourself of this every time you find yourself unclear of what you need to do
The moments shall pass – While parenting is a shared responsibility, there are certain things in the first 3 months that the mother is solely responsible and accountable for. The task of being responsible for another human can be both daunting and exciting at the same time. This is probably one time when it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed with everything.
There will also be times when you will be surprised / shocked with your own reaction, response and behavior – sometimes possibly to the extent that those around you may prefer to disown you!!!! Remember it’s a combination of physical exhaustion (lack of proper sleep on a continuous basis has a significant impact on every dimension of life), physiological changes and a range of deep human emotions which you are undergoing.
The one thing that I used to tell myself very often is that there have been zillions of women who have been through this before me. And they have somehow managed to sail through, so can I. Also, a continuous reinforcement of the message that nothing really lasts forever gave me the strength on many a gloomy day. So while the present moment may seem all so daunting, remember that it shall pass & you will figure things out. Just go with the flow
Let go of order, perfection and control – And say welcome to disorder, imperfection and complete loss of control of your life. Your immediate surroundings will probably be in disarray most of the times – there will be baby stuff scattered everywhere you can see. You also will feel like you have no control on your life – probably as you can’t plan anything, do things that you want to do and because your daily routine will be governed primarily by your baby’s erratic needs. Also, simple day-to-day activities which you could finish in a few minutes will take hours, and sometimes will simply have to be left undone
Don’t push yourself – If you can’t do something (either because you don’t have the energy or because you have been medically advised), then just don’t do it. Pushing yourself at this phase of recovery can have lifelong implications on your overall health and well-being. It’s probably just not worth it. So take it easy, and don’t push yourself.
Listen to your doctor’s advice – It’s very important to listen and follow your doctor’s advice religiously during the initial few months.
Don’t ask for too many opinions and advise from too many people (doctors included). They invariably tend to be different and will leave you all the more confused. Learn to filter all the advice that you get – plain logic and common sense is a good filtering criteria
Take the medications prescribed by your doctor– calcium, iron and vitamins.
The one thing that irked me the most was that any ache or pain (back ache, shoulder ache, weakness, etc.) I cited to my doctor was met with a knowing look followed by a standard response “It’s all normal and part of the recovery process. Did you think motherhood is easy? What did you expect???” .To which I always used to say “I expected so many things, but definitely not these aches and pains...”. Anyways, now when I look back all that I can say is that the aches and pains definitely do get better with time.
There’s no one way, There’s no right way – Parenting is both a science and an art. Especially the first three months will probably test you in every life dimension.  And just like there’s no single way and no right way to master any art, so is the case for parenting.
So don’t worry or fret too much about getting everything right all the time – there will be times you get it right and times when everything will go wrong.
Your baby is unique –A lot of your life experiences in the first 3 months depend on your baby – essentially on how much he / she cries and how much he / she sleeps. Just remember that your baby is unique. So just let him / her be. Don’t compare. Don’t judge. Don’t expect anything in specific.
You are unique – Just like the baby is unique, so is the mother. I’ve seen all kinds of mothers recently – overly obsessive, overly chilled out, overly protective, overly cautious, overly sensitive, overly…...
Each of them is unique in their own way. And deep down they all do have a sense of maternal responsibility and do what they believe is in the best interest of their baby
Your new best friend should be a new mom – Find your new best friend. Someone who has been a mother recently (say with a baby who is 6 – 12 months old), is willing to share her experiences & tips and you can reach any time of the day / night. There will be times when you need to ask a basic, silly question to times when you simply need reassurance to times when you just need someone to listen to your woes. And no one can better understand this than a new mom. I was fortunate that I had many people from friends and family (especially my sister) who are new moms themselves, so help was always a call away.
Recalibrate your expectations – Of yourself and your spouse.  Be realistic and practical on what you expect of each other. Also, while it is important to be cognizant of the expectations of those around you (family in specific), there may be times when you will probably not be able to live up to everyone’s expectations.
Get the basic paperwork done – This includes the following
1) Birth Certificate
2) Passport
3) A bank account

Also it’s probably a good time to start thinking, planning and investing to secure your baby’s future
Trust your instincts – A mother’s instinct is usually right. So trust your instinct
And lastly, be open and enjoy the experience. These are probably the most pure and magical moments in your journey as a mother. So cherish then while they last!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment