Motherhood, that’s what surprised me most. I could not recognize the person I was after the birth of our daughter. This was not in a bad way but in the best way possible. The minute I held our child in my hands, my life changed. It was immediately enhanced. I found another reason to live and discovered my higher purpose as a woman. I sobbed like a baby when my baby landed on earth. If you haven’t had a chance to see the video, please click on the link below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPb1sE2Zw7w
She was the most beautiful tiny human being I had ever seen and we were her parents. God had entrusted us with the life of a human being. I kept questioning why God would trust us with such a big mission until the moment I held her in my arms. What surprised me was how quickly the fear and doubt about motherhood just went out the window. My motherly instinct instantly kicked in and it all started to make sense.
After 3 nights at the hospital, we went home, and man-oh-man was I met with one surprise after the other. Let me tell you about them:
I cannot tell you how many times I had to check if she was breathing. Some nights we would co-sleep, and some nights she would be in her cot. Regardless of where she slept, I would put my ear close to her nose just to feel that tiny breath against my skin. I calmed down when I learned that this is very common amongst new moms. Newborns are generally erratic breathers. This is called ‘periodic breathing’, which happens when the infant has pauses in breathing for a few seconds. This is followed by a series of rapid, shallow breaths then the breathing returns to normal. As normal as it is, it is quite nerve wrecking. Especially if you aren’t aware of this during your first few days at home with your newborn. Your main prayer becomes: “I hope I don’t kill her, amen”. One other thing that alarmed me was her constipation. She would only poop once or twice a week and a lot of sources informed me that this was abnormal. Turns out it was not. We live and learn.
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When baby T turned 2-months old, I was shocked at how different she was starting to look. I even made comparison pictures and my mind was blown. It felt like it was only yesterday when she was a newborn and could not hold her head up. I still look at her newborn pictures today because I tend to be quite nostalgic. My advice, enjoy the newborn phase. Hold her, smell her, keep her on your chest. Because before you know it, she will be 8 months old. She’ll be so busy moving around like a little bunny that she won’t be interested in laying quietly on your chest.
I’ve always been the skinny girl with a sexy figure and a flat tummy. The perfect summer body. I was unfortunately not one of those women that snap right back after pregnancy. You get your Beyonce’s that don’t look like they just gave birth, and then you have us, that have the tummy flap and stretch marks as evidence that childbirth happened. I was so hard on myself for the first few months after birth. I’ve had to learn to fall in love with myself again. I’ve had to change my terminology. They weren’t “stretch marks”, they were “love marks”. These love marks will forever be a reminder that I was blessed with the strength to carry a life. So if you are a new mom or you’re expecting, I say: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!
A random woman came up to me to ask me if I am formula feeding our girl when she was about 3 months old. When I said no, she attempted shoving her child’s bottle in my daughter’s mouth “just to see”. I rudely jumped in and blocked that from happening. I made a decision that I would exclusively breastfeed T for as long as possible, and I had no idea who this woman is, or what right she has to “just see”. My biggest problem is that certain moms have a way of making new or first-time moms feel like they are doing a crappy job. So many moms told me that my baby isn’t sleeping because I’m starving her. How would I starve my own child??
In hindsight, it is always encouraging to have positive moms who would check in with me now and again and ask how “their” baby is doing. If I was having a tough time, they would give positive advice. Parenting is difficult, and we learn from experience. I have therefore established a healthy network of good friends that I can contact if I need some advice.
Therefore, prepare yourself. Women will be constantly giving you unsolicited advice, like the lady that approached a mom in Woolworths to tell her to stop putting shoes on her daughter’s feet because it will delay her walking. It’s a reality I have had to deal with. How do I deal with it? Just smile and wave honey, smile, and wave.
Truth is, your world changes, and so do your priorities. The friends you went jolling with every weekend aren’t interested in listening to your stories about how many times your daughter pooped, or how her sleeping habits are changing. You lose those friends, and you’re okay with it. Anyone that knows me knows how easy it is for me to connect with people and make friends. It’s become equally as easy for me to acknowledge that we are now journeying through different paths in life.
I’ve loved a number of people in my life. I love my family, I love my friends and I love my life partner. I thought that only one form of love existed, until motherhood. I experienced love in its purest form when Tshimo was born. I was usually a nonbeliever in unconditional love between humans. Only God loves unconditionally. Human beings come with terms and conditions. Romantic love, particularly, has a lot of conditions. I will love my partner forever on the CONDITION that he respects me, remains faithful to me and treats me like I mean the world to him. God? God loves us- flaws, sins, blemishes and all. No conditions! I became likened to a god. I loved unconditionally. She kept me up for about 20 hours a day, but still, I loved her. She cried and I had no idea why, but I still I loved her. One day she will probably throw a tantrum in a shopping mall, and I will love her. She will also have a “do-not-enter” sign on her door in my house, but I will still love her. I would give a limb for her. The thought of anything bad happening to her, or someone harming her makes me sick. I discovered a pure version of love. And I love it 🙂
Thank you for sharing this journey with me 🙂
Written by: Karabo Motsiri
Edited by: Thando Bella Khoza