#newmum My baby and I: love at first sight (NOT!)

becoming a mom- Parenting resources by ZenParent

As a child I loved collecting dolls. Just collecting. Not dressing them up, or playing house with them. In fact, most of them ended up with missing limbs, poked-out eyes, and worse, one dysfunctional eyelid. They looked straight out of a horror movie. A lot of girls I knew mothered their dolls. They always wore neat clothes, with all limbs intact, and the eyes fluttering the way they should. Even the fibre curls stayed on their heads. Mine were bald, if not beheaded. Mine painted a grim picture of me as a mother. Back then, it didn’t matter, of course.

The thought haunted me years later, though. I was sitting in the wheelchair, waiting to be taken to the operation theatre. It was nearly time. Time to cross over to the next world. Now was not the time to doubt myself, yet here I was, mildly worried about the prospect of being cut open, but hyperventilating at the thought of being put in charge of another life. All those maimed dolls stood in front of me, mocking me. They seemed to be sniggering. Soon their voices grew faint, as did the loud cling and clang of instruments. Last thing I saw was the bright light overhead. I was about to become a mum. Even the word seemed alien.

When I opened my eyes again, the world seemed twisted. The sounds and the sights overwhelmed me. I wanted to scream and ask everyone to get out. Instead, I smiled and nodded a thank-you at what sounded like congratulatory words. In what looked like a tray, something wriggled. I remember feeling nothing but exhaustion, and pain pulling the insides of my stomach. The voices seemed to echo, even the whispers asking, ‘What is your name? How are you feeling?’ pierced my eardrums. I turned to look at the tray. Something whimpered. I passed out again.

The hospital room was our first formal introduction. I had tears in my eyes. Not of maternal love but of great fear and guilt. At that point, contrary to the million advertisements that we see, no strings of my heart were being tugged at. The strings were madly strumming a song of pain thanks to the stitches. I knew I was supposed to want to cuddle the baby, but that wriggling mass in the cradle looked far too fragile, and the after effects of surgery were still very much present. So, for the first few hours, we stayed in our respective zones, coming together only when the nurse came in to help me feed him.

becoming a mom is a process- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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People started coming in and with them came rotting heaps of suggestions – what to wear, how to hold the baby, what to eat, temperature of the room – everything was touched upon. Amidst the chaos, the wriggling mouse gave voice to my feelings. He screeched the loudest screech a few-hours-old infant can pull off and silenced everyone. The nurse shooed them out and deposited him in my arms. I think I saw a hint of a smile. That moment I knew we’d get along just fine.

Ours was not love at first sight. We sized each other up and figured that we were each other’s best bet. Years have gone past. I still get truckloads of unsolicited advice. However, we have developed a socially acceptable way of tackling it – smiling and nodding works better than screeching.  My journey began with me tearing the first page out of nearly every book on motherhood. Maternal love is not instinctive. It is okay to be lost for a while. The glossy magazine’s picture of a salon-fresh mum holding a squeaky clean infant is a myth. I nearly fell into the trap, judging myself against scales that do not exist. I am a mother. I make mistakes. And I didn’t come with pre-installed software to love a baby. Some of us come with a built-in app and some simply do not. We write our own programs, pirate a few bits from here and there, and continue to develop the darned motherhood software all our lives.

So if you are out there, expecting your first baby or the fifth, and you have doubts clouding your mind because you mutilated dolls as a child, you are not alone. Do not let the expert naysayers and advisors, now abundantly found online, make you feel inadequate as a mum. That wriggling bundle in the tray might seem alien right now, but soon, your life will be taken over by him or her. There is no right formula. There is no perfect method or theory. It is just you and him. It was just me and him. We defied laws. We made our own and so will you.

Click here to read the confessions of an exhausted mom.

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