The first day at home
Someone once said that when a woman finally becomes a mother, she would come to appreciate her own mother more.
I never grasped its full meaning until my first day at home with Jamaine.
When I woke up that morning, I knew a tremendous challenge lay ahead of me: I had to take care of my baby while I took care of myself.
Before Jamaine was born, I always told my mom that I could take care of my baby and I did not want to burden her or anybody else for that matter. I was confident that Kernie and I can handle everything down pat.
But as the reality of the situation sunk in, it dawned on me that we couldn’t. I was still in so much pain so moving around wasn’t easy.
More than that, I suddenly felt clueless on how to take care of Jamaine.
She seemed so tiny and fragile, I was afraid I would break her or hurt her should I make one wrong move.
My mom helped me get through my mommy jitters. I tried to remember everything as she taught me how to feed Jamaine, wash her bottom, change her nappies and give her a sponge bath.
It was like being in “Mommy Preschool.” And I was determined to make the grade.
I watched my precious baby intently. I patrolled her crib like a girl scout armed with nappies and a breast full of milk ready to respond for any cry of discomfort or hunger.
But I learned this kind of vigilance can sometimes send one on a panic attack.
Jamaine seemed peacefully asleep when she suddenly jolted and let out a little cry, squirmed, stretched and flailed her arms and legs. I tried feeding her but she wasn’t hungry. I checked her nappy but it was all dry. I carried her and tried to rock her back to sleep but she won’t stop squirming.
I was ready to cry in frustration if not for a loud tooting sound minutes later. I felt a warm gush in her nappy that put all my fears to rest. As it turned out, she was just trying to poo.
Lesson learned: not all cries are a cause for alarm.
As I was getting a crash course on mommyhood, Kernie was equally determined to be the perfect house husband. He went to the market and cooked “real food” (our term for home-cooked meals) for lunch and dinner.
He played with Jamaine and couldn’t get enough of her. It was fun seeing this other side of him as a doting father.
The real challenge came at night time. I was careful not to get into a deep sleep in case I might not wake up when she cries.
I expected I might have to wake up every now and then to feed her or change her nappies. What I didn’t expect was that I would have to be awake almost the entire night.
My cute little Jamaine suddenly transformed into a feeding-peeing-pooping machine.
She was hungry every two hours and peed and pooped right after. It was like a never-ending cycle of feeding, cleaning and changing nappies.
And just when I was about to enter Lala land, she awakened and stretched her arms and legs as if to welcome a bright sunshiny morning.
But it was only 3 am.
My eyes were drooping fast but I tried to rock her and sing to her every song I ever memorized. I looped my lullaby playlist 4 times over but no amount of singing could make her go back to sleep.
I could say I’m a veteran at all-nighters but this one almost knocked me down.
She finally fell asleep at 8 am. I hurriedly tried to get some shut-eye knowing she’ll probably wake up for a feeding two hours later.
It was just our first day.
I know I’ll have to gear up really hard for more sleepless nights for the next five years.
I'll just have to take it one day at a time.