Push! I remember it like it was yesterday. After hoping she would arrive at 38 weeks, and just plain tired of being pregnant, the little princess decided to arrive at exactly 40 weeks. I had been experiencing contractions the night before, but now, things were beginning to get real-painfully real. No one can explain the pain of labour to you. Even when you go through it, you won’t even understand it yourself. After several pushes and no show, my eureka moment came when the doctor said: “Laju, if you she doesn’t come out this final time, we are going to have to do a C.S.” C.S ke? After several hours of labour and an episiotomy, I will now spend twice my house rent on C.S? And so, I pushed like a boss. Like a wailing boss holding on to the hubby’s hands for rescue and to God to strength. And she came out, face up. After all, why should the daughter of a journalist crown with her head when there is a lot to see out there? My doctor seemed to be on a roll that day, making the next most profound statement: “This one looks like her dad o!” Like I couldn’t see or something…Anyways, it’s been one year since Edima Ruby-Grace Iren stepped into (or should I say was pushed into) my life and burst my heart open with love I never knew I could feel.
I know I have a lot to learn, but I can tell you that I have learned quite a lot. So here goes in no particular order. 30 things being a mum has taught me:
God loves me more than I could ever love my little girl
Oh I love that little girl. I can’t tell you how much. But I know that no inconvenience is too big to make her comfortable. But God loves us much more than that. His is more than words; he gave himself for our sins. It’s an anomaly for a mother to forget her child, but even if she does, God can’t forget you.
Postpartum depression is real
I remember when we just got home from the hospital after Edima was born. I was in pain from the Doctors’ scissors, sleep deprived, and feeling ill-equipped. And then…we had to go back to the hospital because she had jaundice. It was a difficult time, add the post-pregnancy hormones to it, a baby who breastfeeds nearly every hour, an endless stream of visitors (I’m truly grateful to everyone who visited) and I was on an emotional roller coaster. If you ever feel depressed, talk to someone about it. Get a family member to watch your baby for a bit and get some rest. Don’t forget that having a baby is not easy, so don’t beat yourself up about not having it all together. Also remember that women have gone through it, so you’ll be fine in the end.
Motherhood makes you feel like you’re strong enough to handle anything
Don’t ever feel like you can’t achieve stuff because you’re just a mother. A mother can do anything! If you have the strength to birth a baby, you can do anything. If you can take care of your child after a caesarian, you’re strong enough for anything. If you have the courage to adopt a child, you should not be afraid to do anything. Even if you’ve never had a baby, the motherly instinct that makes you treat other children like yours is a signal of an inner strength you should not overlook.
All children are different
Edima isn’t walking yet. And yes! She will cut her first birthday cake, hopefully several first birthday cakes, thank you aunties and uncles. It’s alright if someone else’s baby began walking at seven months, but I’m not going to feel inadequate as a parent because of little things like that. The girl is smart, can mimic like a pro, has an ear for music and a smile that can light up any room. Children develop differently, so just be thankful and celebrate your child’s strengths.
Be intentional about healthcare
Don’t compromise with healthcare in pregnancy or for your baby. There are times when I literally spent several minutes thanking God for good doctors. Stretch to give your baby the best health care possible. Don’t compromise on the quality of vaccines you give your baby. Choose public hospital or quality private clinics for vaccination, pharmacies are not the best choice (believe me, I learned this first hand).
There are sacrifices you never thought you could make that you don’t think twice about when you have a child.
This is self explanatory.
Family planning is key
People say God gives children. In a way, they are right. After all, every good and perfect gift comes from God. But God gives rain as well and we don’t just stand in it dancing naked. We realize that if we don’t take cover, we can catch a cold and need God to heal us. You can decide how many children you need to have, you should. Take into consideration the personal preferences of you and your spouse, your financial capability and time constraints. Family planning is not a sin, but having children that you can’t cater for isn’t a very righteous act.
Children need stuff
I have nearly a dozen empty tins of baby formula from this month alone. When your daughter is a picky eater, you give her what she wants, especially when she is not yet one. Save, do the best you can afford and don’t be ashamed to receive help when people offer. This is another reason why family planning is important.
But they need you more than stuff
Present parents are much better than presents, never forget that.
Be intentional about childcare
Don’t just send your child to the closest day care around. Find out the character, the spiritual disposition and the hygienic habits of the person who watches your baby. Be very intentional about childcare. Let whoever watches your baby know that you can show up at anytime, call often, if you have concerns, never be shy to share (respectfully though). If you’re not comfortable, change your daycare plans.
Watch your child, not everyone means well
A friend of mine once had her baby kidnapped from church. Not our church though, but I am always very watchful nonetheless. Thankfully, the boy got away before the kidnapper could abscond with him. Whenever someone I know carries my baby in a public place, I always tell them not to hand her over to anyone else without telling me. I would rather ruffle a few feathers than have my child missing or abused.
Never underestimate the power of hand me downs
Oh my, Edima has clothes like kilode. We only bought a fraction of them. We received some new ones, but several hand me downs from friends and family members. They were in such great condition. In fact, when I went birthday shopping for her last week, I saw some clothes that she was given at really exorbitant prices. Especially if you’re just starting out in life, there is nothing wrong with accepting gifts for your baby even if they aren’t new.
Listen to advice, but you don’t have to take it all
No one knows it all, so keep your ears open. Many times, the simplest advice from the most unlikely source can help you be a better parent.
It’s okay to be ‘just a mom’
For a long time-three months is a long time in my book-I was just a mom. No work, no ministrations, no time to work on my bright ideas. Just breastfeeding and changing diapers and soothing a baby who would cry endlessly as soon the clock struck 4:30 pm and could continue till night time. Then wake up every hour after that to breast feed. She doesn’t do that anymore though, just for the first few months (lol). Understand that there are some phases in your life that require your undivided attention and they are much more than worth it.
Find time for your marriage
Having a baby doesn’t necessarily make all the troubles in your marriage go away. In some cases, it can intensify them. So be intentional about your relationship with your spouse. New issues might arise like you spending all your time on the baby and expecting your spouse to understand, or wondering why he is not helping out as much. Don’t sweep it under the carpet. It might take a few months, but make sure that at least once in a week you have an exclusive ‘couple’s’ time even if it’s just for an hour. Please resume your bedroom duties(winks) as soon as you’re up to it. Sometimes, there is a fear of sex after having a baby. Just be sure your doctor okays it, then relax and enjoy yourself.
On exclusive breast feeding
Edima was exclusively breast fed for six months. Health practitioners say that exclusive breast feeding for the first six months of life is best for your baby. It’s true, but it is not easy. For some mothers, it’s downright impossible either because of health reasons or work constraints. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t breastfeed exclusively for one reason or the other, just make sure your baby is getting as much breast milk as possible. However, if you want to breast feed exclusively, here are some tips I think can help:
a. Invest in a good breast pump
b. Begin storage long before maternity leave is over
c. Invest in electricity
d. Express at least twice a day
e. Breast feed as much as possible
f. Introduce the bottle on time
g. Rest every chance you get
Save your baby’s money
A friend of mine said she’s been saving all the money gifts her son received since he was born. I’m so glad she is my friend and both our kids are friends too. Lol. I haven’t got to that stage yet, but I know enough to tell you that it is good to keep some savings aside for your baby’s future.
You need help
Especially if you’re a working mum-even if you work from home-you need help. Start weighing your options even before your baby arrives.
When you get someone, never forget that person is someone’s child, treat her right. Let discipline be fair and not vindictive. Ensure that she is well fed and clothed.
Be thankful for grandparents
Grandparents are people who you’re sure your parents, but spoil your child so much they make you doubt whether they are your parents because your parents never spoiled you like that. Phew! Seriously, if your parents are still alive, do your best to ensure that they are involved in your child’s life.
Don’t feel guilty about ‘me’ time
It’s alright to have a little time to yourself once in a while to pray, rest or get some things done. Plan ahead. Get someone you trust to watch your baby for a few hours. But make sure that you invest quality time with your baby before and after.
You don’t have to stop breast feeding to lose weight
Whoop! Whoop! I finally lost all the baby weight. This tummy seems to be taking a whole though *rolls eyes. I’m trying to get back to my pre-wedding weight now, and I am still breastfeeding. One misconception people have is that you have to stop breastfeeding to lose weight. It’s not true, especially if you’re losing weight on a healthy diet and exercise. My daughter was about nine months old before I actively started trying to lose weight. A friend of mine started when her baby turned six weeks. Go at your pace, but just remember that you’re more likely to get better results if you start early. Make sure your body has recovered from pregnancy and then get your groove on.
Children don’t care about perfection
You aren’t going to get it one hundred percent right in parenting. Being human, you will make mistakes. The important thing is to have a heart for God and for your child, be willing to make sacrifices and take corrections.
The power of a praying mother isn’t just a book
Be a praying Mama. That’s one of the best gifts you can give your baby. Learn to pray the right prayers for your baby. It’s alright if you want your child to be rich and famous, but it all counts for nothing if he or she doesn’t know the Lord.
Jesus was right about having a child-like heart
She is getting better now, but my daughter doesn’t really like to eat. You can feed her right now, and she would cry and be very mad at you. But the next minute, she would stretch out to you to carry her. Children know how to forgive and forget. They also have a way of trusting people that can only be termed ‘childlike.’ Imagine how life would be if we trust God that way and forgive those who hurt us just the same.
Don’t wait a second longer to get responsible, time flies faster than you think
Just yesterday, I was mummy’s little girl. Today, I’m a mum myself. Learn responsibility. A word is enough for the wise.
Do the right thing. Kids are like sponges
Children learn very quickly. And they learn more from your actions than the words you say. Be a good example.
Children know how to find germs, please ensure that your environment and everything related to your baby is kept clean at every time. Also learn to baby proof your home. I just read last week about a little girl who passed away from taking her mothers’ pills by mistake. Be sure to keep things that may hurt your child out of his way.
Mothers’ are for loving
I’ve always celebrated my mum, but being a mother makes me understand her sacrifice and labour of love even more.
Multi tasking is a super power
I think it’s a super power women are naturally endowed with. For example, right now, I am sleeping and writing this at the same time.
Motherhood doesn’t define me
I love being a mother. But that’s not what defines me. Christ does. Before I was a mother, I was complete in him, and when Edima is grown, I will still be complete in him. So if you’re a mum in waiting, you don’t have to have a baby before you fulfill purpose; your purpose is Christ. Your baby will come, but while you wait remember that you’re complete in him.
What would you say being a mum has taught you? What lessons have you learned from your own mum. Please don’t fail to share in the comments section.