Things I Will Tell My 2-Years-Ago Self
Thanks to Facebook, I was reminded of what I was doing exactly a year ago from today: Planning my daughter's 1st birthday! I can't believe it's been a year already. Win has grown so much over that short span of time. I can already see a glimpse of her personality, which unfortunately most of it she inherited from me . Hehe.
Her coming 2nd birthday also means my almost 2 years as a new mom. I guess its true what other moms say that it gets better. There are still a lot of challenges when it comes to taking care of a baby who's transitioning to toddlerhood, but I think it's because I know my daughter too well that I can take everything in stride. Somebody told me that taking care of a baby/toddler seems like an easy task based from what they have seen from me. Maybe because they see me with no house helper yet I'm still able to work as a freelancer. A big HAHA! It definitely wasn't/isn't! I overcame a lot of challenges along the way. Whenever I think about it I can't believe I was able to go through them all. If I ever see my old self from two years ago, I'll give myself a pat in the shoulder and tell myself "You'll do a great job, don't worry" - and a bunch of other things as well:
1. Don't give in to doubt - this is true during the start of my breastfeeding journey. When Win came and it was time to nurse her, I wasn't really sure if she was getting anything from me, mainly because I don't see any milk dripping. I was so doubtful that I almost believed those who said: "wala ka naman atang gatas " and "parang gutom pa anak mo". Good thing I have bought a book about breastfeeding before I gave birth which had saved me from totally giving up. I just don't want to accept that I can't do it. I did gave formula for the first two weeks along with my nursing attempts, but on the third week I was able to totally eliminate it. Breastfeeding may be natural, but its not the easiest thing to do -well - at first. I think a lot of moms just need to overcome that initial struggle, a ginormous hump created by self doubt, lack of knowledge and uninformed society. Once a mom defeats that - a harmonious breastfeeding journey begins. Even now I get: "may nakukuha pa ba anak mo sayo" or "bigyan mo na ng nido/anchor etc" comments, but I am so secure of what my body can produce to be bothered with any of those.
2. Don't give in to fear - As a new mom, being scared and fearful is only natural. But you know what? Some of the fears are baseless and new moms can definitely make do without a lot of those. I used to fear that Win will be too hard to handle when we go out to travel. If I held on to that fear til now, I may have rotted myself inside our condo and never let Win see and try new things. Exposing your child will always be hard at first - and truth be told - most of the hard work needs to come from you, the caregiver. I need to make sure I always have everything at hand, I need to always anticipate what my daughter may need, I need to try multiple ways to try to calm my daughter (because the usual technique may not be as effective) etc. etc etc - all of that I have to deal with while being in a new environment where I'm not comfortable with. I call it positive stress - it's good for me and good for my daughter. Babies are highly resilient, trust me. Sometimes what you think your offspring can't do simply reflects the fears you have as a mother.
3. Ask for help- but not too much - I barely had a helper ever since I gave birth. My mom used to come to the condo the first week when Win was born to teach me how to give her a bath, etc but after that first week she totally left me on my own. Haha. Now that I think about it I can understand why she did it. You really need to be alone with your child so you can exercise your natural instinct as a mother. I think those who received too much help didn't get enough opportunity to tap into that instinct and develop enough courage - which may result to a fearful mom. Was it hard being alone with a baby? DEFINITELY YES. Before I can't even go to the bathroom to pee, poop or take a bath. I would often cry from hunger because I can't get up to eat or drink since Win was asleep nursing. I can't think well because the house was just dirty. But you know what? Those challenges pushed me to be resourceful - to think of ways on how I can accomplish those tasks. Again its a learning opportunity. The moment my daughter can held her head up, I slinged her to my body, rode the tricycle and went grocery shopping. When Win was 4-5 months I have relinquished the job of cleaning and cooking from my ever supportive husband and was able to do those house chores myself.
4. Make your husband your ally/partner in crime. Involve him.- I was so blessed to have a husband who truly believed I can do it and was willing to give his 101% to help me realize just that. There are a lot of times that I snapped and shouted at him, but he was always patient with me. Hehe. I just can't imagine going through all of that without him, really. My daughter also benefits from having such a responsible and hands-on father. I just know she'll grow up to be a papa's girl. Make your husband you teammate - confide in him and tell him what really bothers you. Let him in your worries and hopes. It's the only way you two can survive after having a baby.