It has been more than 3 months since the life-changing morning when I gave birth to my baby boy. It was life-changing indeed, where do I even begin?? For starters, I was never prepared for a baby to be crying so much, to be feeding so often and to be sleeping so little (well, at first). I still remember the night of the delivery itself, it was around 3+am when it was all over and my baby was placed in a bassinet next to me. Saucer was lying down on a nearby chair as he was also exhausted having been up and at my beck and call.
The boy who changed my life
At one point, the medical team left and the midwife told me to get some rest. I was still in disbelief that I had actually given birth to a baby, so it was hard to fall asleep. But soon, fatigue kicked in and I started to doze off, and that’s when it started. Baby’s second cry (the first was when he just came out) resounding in the room. Saucer went to pick him up and rocked him, which worked. Then he put the baby back in the bassinet, and within minutes the crying started again. Saucer carried him again and repeated the process until he ended up holding the baby in his arms instead because the little rascal would start wailing whenever he’s placed in the bassinet! We took turns with the holding so we could get some rest and this continued until the wee hours of the morning. Needless to say, our sleepless nights had already begun.
The next morning, Saucer went home to freshen up and rest while I was transferred to the maternity ward. As expected, baby was crying most of the way there in his bassinet, which was really starting to stress me out. Once we were there, a nurse taught me how to breastfeed him, which managed to settle him down. But putting him back into the bassinet had always been a tricky thing to do – gently and slowly so that he would not wake up. Throughout the first night, he woke up quite a few times crying loud and my only way to console him was to breastfeed. At one point, I fell asleep while breastfeeding him, just because I didn’t have any sleep at all for that 2 days. And I startled myself waking up worried that I had dropped the baby off my bed. Yes, it’s true and it’s not funny. I was actually looking forward to go home because at least my mom and Saucer would be around to help out.
The next few days at home were similar – baby cried, breastfed baby, held him and rocked him to sleep, put him down in his cot and he started screaming again. Repeat the above. I carried the baby so much that I eventually developed the De Quervain syndrome / mummy’s thumb. (As of now, I am wearing a thumb splint every night before I go to bed hoping it will make my thumb better.) It was beyond tiring! And having to do this the whole day and night made me a constant, moody and grumpy mother. I couldn’t even tell day from night because that’s how often the baby woke up. When she’s not cooking, my mom helped with the rocking part so that I could rest. But not for long, because he would start screaming every 2-3 hours, which, after deducting the 1 hour or so of feeding him, eating my own meal, going to toilet, shower, etc, I was really only left with 1 hour or less to rest. I used to be someone who was able to sleep easily and soundly, but ever since the baby was born, my ears became so much more sensitive. I would be startled awake with the slightest noise, and even mistook the chirping of the birds as the baby crying. I became this paranoid person who was afraid of the slightest sound. Every time I had the chance to lie down on my bed, I would force myself to sleep because I knew that the baby would be awake at any time and I simply needed to sleep while I could. But of course, the more I stressed about falling asleep, the harder it was to actually sleep. And I ended up not sleeping at all before the baby woke up again. And when I did fall asleep, I would sometimes startle myself awake thinking if I was still holding the baby and whether I had dropped him. Yes, I think how I felt was pretty close to depression, and I wasn’t shy to admit it. That’s why when my mom left after the first month, I thought I was going to be miserable on my own with no help during the day.
Thumb splint for De Quervain syndrome
But surprisingly, having forced to be on my own actually made things easier. During the second month, I had more time to observe the baby’s signs and cries without distraction from others, and very soon I managed to get him into a working routine. It was mainly eat, play (awake time) and sleep. The sleeping part was the most challenging of all, for he still refused to sleep on his own without being carried. I just had to persevere and repeated the process of putting him down on his cot over and over again until he finally got the message. And when that happened, I couldn’t tell you how liberated I felt. It was as if I had achieved something extraordinary! Many people had suggested me to use baby sling or carrier, but I was adamant. I wanted to try to get him to sleep on his own instead of having me to work around him. And I was glad I stuck to it because now he is able to nap on his own in the cot, while I was free to do house chores/rest.
That was just with the day time naps. The night sleeps were still horrible. Saucer was the designated baby rocker, where he would hold the baby and rock him to sleep then place him down. However, there were still times when he lost his patience, especially after repeating the process over and over again only to be met with a wailing baby whenever he’s put on the cot. It took us the longest time to be able to break the habit of holding him to sleep, but somewhere after the 3rd month, I was able to get him to sleep on the cot without rocking. Don’t get me wrong, he would still be whinging for a few minutes, but that’s much better than a resounding cry at night. And slowly but surely, I was becoming a much happier person with better mood. I stopped startling myself awake in the middle of the night now, and I am much less stressed about going to sleep. Indeed, when people say that it can only get easier, it is quite true.
Little J is quite a stubborn fella. Whenever I put him on tummy time, he never stopped struggling to get up. The longer I let him on his tummy, the more angry he became and he would start yelling. That’s why I could never put him to sleep on his tummy even though I wanted to give it a try. And now, his latest obsession is sucking his fingers. Whenever he had the chance, in his fingers went to his little mouth. I’m guessing this is a sign that he could be teething soon, which is another stage that I should prepare myself for.
His favorite hobby
As of now, it has been 3.5 months since that fateful morning when little J was brought into this world. From being a stressed and moody person, I gradually learnt to accept little J for who he is and to always stay positive. I am much happier now, and it shows in him! During the first couple of weeks of having him around, I used to look forward to going back to my ‘old’ life, to go back to work, to have a normal social life and to send him to child care. But after spending so much time with him now, I am dreading the day I return to work and not having him around. I have tried short trips out on my own without him and they are just miserable. I can’t imagine how it would be when I start working full-time again. I guess that’s a bridge that I will only cross when I come to it. For now, I’m happy to wake up to little J with his big smiles every morning!
Little J and his smiles