“How are you?”
I’ve heard this ritualised greeting a thousand times, in which I’ll usually reply “I’m fine” or “I’m good”. After all, these 3 words is just a verbal handshake and perhaps a cordial conversation starter.
But when you just gave birth to a human being and people (especially your family and friends) actually do ask you this question, you jolly well know that they are concerned for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Which is why I didn’t know how to answer their question.
Because there is simply no concise way to describe the feeling of exhaustion after going through the entire labor process, the pain from the contractions, the energy used up while pushing a human being out from your lady part, the soreness from the stitches down there, the weakness that plagues your entire being, and the immediate maternal responsibilities that ensue. Oh, all these while taking care and nursing a newborn, which introduces an entire set of problems: latching, letdowns, sore nipples, cracked nipples, small nipples, inverted nipples, undersupply, oversupply etc.
Basically, once you deliver a baby, your body is no longer yours. Your every physical being, while being hurt and wounded, is devoted to the physical needs of your newborn.
It is madness. Which is why for most Asians, we practice post-natal confinement where the new mom (like yours truly) stay at home and recuperate, while the confinement nanny, mother, or mother-in-law help to take care of the newborn, meals for the new mom, and miscellaneous household chores.
So that was what I did for the past 28 days.
Unfortunately, I had a problem. I didn’t know how to rest during the first week of confinement. At night, I nursed Shay every 2 hourly, and in the day, I found myself meddling with the household chores, just because of my obsession with cleanliness and territorial issues. So basically, I was just living on maybe 3 to 4 hours of sleep everyday and as a result? Crankiness.
I was irritable and irrational at times, sometimes even weepy and needy. My poor husband couldn’t stand my drama (or baby blues) and lashed me with the cold hard truth; that my crankiness stemmed from my sleep deprivation, and it was pretty much own doing as well because I didn’t rest when I was supposed to. This wasn’t the only episode of irrational and emotional outburst, and I honestly didn’t know how the husband could stand me. But we managed to work it out. I started trying to rest more in the day just to maintain my sanity and emotional health.Week 3 & 4 however, took a slight upturn, as we pretty much formed a little routine with my Mom’s help. And with this routine, I looked forward to breakfast, my own bath time, and having a banana as an afternoon snack. I know these sound silly, but truly, moments like these are the only “Me Time” I get to do something that is not baby related.
Looking back, it’s been 4 weeks since Shay entered into our lives and honestly, we haven’t worked out all the kinks of parenthood. Everyday is a learning curve, and I am still a work in progress as a new mom. But I’m sure we will manage somehow.
So if you’d asked me how am I?
I’m still learning. I’m still coping.
Regardless, thanks for asking.