I was twenty three when I had my first son. I had no idea what to expect. Sure I read every book I could get my hands on and recalled all the information I had learnt during work experience and through studying child care. None of these prepared me for being a parent. I had to work out what he cries meant and I thought that as his mother I should be able to calm him whenever he was unsettled. I had so many unrealistic expectations of myself, of what being a mother is all about this made the first six months much more difficult than it had to be.
Every decision I made from the moment Master J was till around six months I second guessed. Was I making the right choice for him? Was making the choice not to breastfeed him after three weeks going to ruin his start at life? Was holding him so he would nap for more than an half an hour mean I would be holding him when he was two? Was he thriving? It didn’t help that I had no support around at this time. I didn’t have anyone to tell me you’re doing okay. I cried a lot during those days. I was tired and I felt lost. I should have known how to do everything for him, it should had come naturally to me.
I made quite a few calls to parent helpline during those six months and even know they would tell me that I was doing fine and I was making the right choices it still didn’t make a difference to me. I wasn’t an expert they were. They knew what to do and I didn’t. Master J was a terrible sleeper. When he did sleep it was for thirty minutes. How was I supposed to keep a clean house and have time to look after myself? When he was awake for those two hours in between he wanted to be held all the time. It was exhausting. My routine became get everything you can get done while he’s sleeping but nothing to loud that it will wake him. I was scared to leave the house, what if he started screaming and I couldn’t settle him?
I spent long nights walking up and down hallway while pushing Master J in his pram to get him to sleep and then watching him because you must not leave a sleeping baby in a pram without supervision. It was around I took him to the doctor for check-up when suddenly he started screaming. The doctor looked at me then laid Master J on the table and started feeling around his tummy. He told me that my son had colic and with the help of gripe water he should grow out by his first birthday. So was colic was responsible for all the screaming. I asked the doctor how was I supposed to help him. He responded with your son knows you’re trying to help and that’s what’s important.
The gripe water didn’t do much for us but it was getting better as he got a little older. He started sleeping through the night but I still had to hold him to get a decent nap. My last call to parent helpline was the first time I ignored the experts. I did their controlled crying, offering him yogurt and not milk before his day naps. They told me he was my son and I knew him better than anyone else and it’s true I did. So I made him bottle held him while he drank and put him to bed.
I had my second son at age twenty eight. Everything was so different this time even the birth was different. Master T was born by c-section instead of natural like his brother. The only two things these boys shared was the hate of being wrapped and and not breastfeeding. Once we got home Master T was a great sleeper and though his feeding wasn’t great he was happy to be held to sleep on our chest or to sleep in his bassinet.
I have to admit I was a little hesitant at first with how I would go this time around but it amazing how much support can actually help. I think having Mr C home for almost three months was so helpful especially when recovering from the c-section. He helped boost my growing confidence. It had been five years between the boys and there was so many things I had forgotten.
Once Master T’s feeding was corrected his sleep was even better and he started sleeping through the night most nights. I was much calmer this time around and I’m sure that babies pick up on that. I know every child is different but I was surprised just how different the boys temperaments were and my situation was very different this time around. I could tag team with Mr C if it was getting too much and I was able to sleep whenever I needed it.
I was no longer that scared first time mother who had no idea whats she was doing. I did things very different. I parent both boys differently. I learnt a lot being a mother to two boys who both had very dissimilar first years. I even fed Master T tinned baby food sometimes which I never did with Master J. Would it have taken me longer to trust myself if Master T had a been a difficult baby? I guess I won’t ever know. I do know however that being five years older, a little wiser and knowing that Master J and I survived his first year practically unscathed and having so much support the second time around that I became a confident mother.