As a first-time expectant mother, during my first pregnancy, I had often fantasized about the first days of my motherhood. How overwhelming it would be when the doctors place her on me the first time; when she would smile at me; when she would hold my fingers; when I would watch her sleep serenely; when we’ll go for a quiet stroll and much more as we both cherish the motherly bond as how Google images depict when ‘mother’ is searched for. Browsing baby and pregnancy websites used to be a favourite pastime then. However, I didn’t care to read about C-section (because I was confident I wouldn’t have to go through it), breast-feeding (because babies are born with the knowledge of it), postpartum work-outs (because it’s as easy as a pie to slim down) and baby blues (because I am not of that kind!).
Reality wasn’t as kind, however!
All of a sudden, one morning, all my ‘motherly’ dreams turned upside down. I was informed I had to undergo an emergency C-section. Before I could assimilate what was happening around me, my son was out. It was my first experience being admitted in a hospital and it was for an unexpected major surgery instead of the labour I had fantasized about. An IV drip, a catheter and twenty-four hours of lying in one position tied me down physically in addition to the struggling emotion of coming in terms to the fact that I didn’t birth my baby the natural way. As though not enough, the doctors decided to bring him to me only after taking a ride around the expectant family. Nevertheless, he didn’t fail to overwhelm me when we met first. Did you also notice that reality replaced the she of my fantasies to he? Alright, baby is here but where is the milk? 😯 The knowledge which I assumed my baby will bring by birth, was declared to be my potential after all. While the father could watch him from a distance because he wasn’t trained in holding a baby, I should have learnt by now how to nurse the new-born. Further worse, the elders in an Indian family wouldn’t give the freedom to a new mother to learn ‘mothering’. I was expected to become a mother overnight as equally as I was stamped inexperienced in the same. Well, why am I still looking five months pregnant? With the cut in the middle of my body it doesn’t seem promising to begin work-outs anytime soon. Does that mean I can never fit into my old salwars again? So when I go for a stroll with the baby, am I going to still present the bulky me? Wait a minute, first of all, when can I begin heading out of home? Before that, can somebody please tell me why the baby is crying? Thus shuttling between the states of overwhelming, non-acceptance, disappointment, anxiety and balancing, I soon fell into an intense emotional trap in the first few weeks.
This could be my personal tale. However, most new moms can relate to some of such difficult emotions with their first baby. Especially, with moms like me who had an unexpected cesarean, ‘baby blues’ could be more bitter. It really isn’t about the cut and the scar. It’s a sadness of not having birthed your baby by yourself; it’s a shame to have not proved your mothering ability, it’s a guilt of not undergone the pain and exhaustion and it’s an apprehension of being judged for whatever which I don’t know how to explain. In fact, four years past now, when someone happens to ask me how my son was born, I carry a subtle remorse with my answer.
At the core of these emotional battles what makes baby blues blue, is the feeling of bereavement. It takes time to accept that the new one everyone else is happy to meet, is the same with whom you had grown a secret bond for forty weeks. It is like developing a relationship with somebody distant and when one day you happen to meet the person, it feels awfully strange. The feeling of being separated from that missing being from my bump must be what I realize now as baby blues which is an untold, unexplainable and unidentifiable emotion of new mothers.
The good thing is that baby blues don’t last long. In a couple of weeks after childbirth, the soreness of nipples subside, we come to terms with the sleeping schedule (that there can be no schedules) and we put the weight loss part aside as we slowly start to sink into the ‘motherliness’. And the bad thing is that you cannot be comfortable talking about it to anyone because first of all, you wouldn’t be stable enough to define your emotions and even if you try, your emotions will be invalidated on the grounds of all other women who have survived it centuries after centuries.
But eventually, one day when you come out of it, you come out much stronger than ever before. With the second time, despite having become a victim of a medical carelessness of the doctors during the surgery, I survived without emotional disturbances. Perhaps, with the arrival of a girl, it was all pink instead of blue 😆 I was aware and I was prepared and that’s what women really need in order to keep themselves away from baby blues.
Please share your experiences of baby blues below. Your words might comfort another new mother who is going through it now.