What comes to mind when I say - the most challenging job ever undertaken in life?
|“There's no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” ― Jill Churchill|
If I were to answer the question, I'd say being a mother. Yes, it wins hands down among the several other things I have ever done or attempted to do in life. At least, up until now. I'm sure being a father is no walk in the park either but only a father can share that side of the story.
Anyways, back to motherhood.
Come to think of it, I always did know that being a mother wasn’t easy, far from it actually. The difference now though is I’m experiencing it first hand. It is high octane stuff, mind you, with not a moments rest. Yes, believe me.
It's tough and exhausting. But that's not all there is to it. The perks, of course, are wonderful too. There is that warm cuddly feeling unlike any other you would have ever experienced, that love for your offspring.
Well, truth be told, nothing in this world is that simple, right? You need to work for, more or less, every damn thing.
You know if there is one job in this world where the very prospect of failing cannot even be entertained but where failure still is inevitable on occasions, it’s called being a mother.
The maternal instinct. It is said that women are born with it, well, at least, most women. But I don’t really know. I wasn’t the kind to love spending time with kids voluntarily, not at all. Neither did motherhood define the ultimate goal of my existence. But today, 3 months into this job and after carrying around this little bundle of joy for 9 months before that, I’m unable to even imagine life without her. Having said that, being a mother is not enough for me. I need to be other things as well.
So, how’s this journey going?
Well, I’m learning. Each day I’m learning something new. Sometimes I’m in awe of my own ability to take care of this new life entrusted to me while at others I’m annoyed at the silly mistakes I make.
Sometimes, I wish babies came with a manual written by the Almighty above so that I could follow it to the very last detail. What to do, how to do or what not to do. Of course, there is no dearth of resources and advice but you know what I mean?
So, without that manual how does one tackle decisions in motherhood or rather parenthood?
Of the many things that my husband and I had decided early on, one was to rely completely on our doctor when it comes to M's health. I mean, who could know more than a doctor right?
Things like using a diaper, for example. Almost everyone, including the doctor from the prenatal classes, advised us against using diapers regularly. We were told to use cloth nappies instead. In fact, they stressed on the fact that we shouldn't go for the former unless absolutely necessary, like going for an outing, etc. But we chose to confer with our pediatrician first, after all, what did we know, we had never taken care of a baby before. Here's what he told us - No issue at all as long as we keep changing her in 3 to 4-hour intervals, that way she wouldn’t be affected. Hence, we have been using diapers all through. And it is very convenient for me too.
Then there was the talk of applying kajal to our newborn’s eyes. Again, we sought our doctor's advice on the matter and he said not for the first few months we shouldn't. So, till today, we haven’t applied any on her.
Okay, I just realized that we probably came across as parents who call the pediatrician at 3 in the morning for the silliest of doubts but I assure you we aren't. We just choose to trust the doctor more. Makes sense?
But even parents are fallible, you know?
Sometimes even after listening to the doctor, new parents may end up making some mistakes. I know because this I learned very early on.
Now this is not easy for me to write or admit because as a mother you don’t really like to make mistakes. Yes, I remember writing once out of frustration that I should be allowed to make my own mistakes. This was after being bombarded with unwanted advice. It is my own journey, being a mother, and I wanted to do things my way, still do. I still don’t want unsolicited
advice from every new direction. But, having said that, I don’t think I’d like to make mistakes when it comes to her. Avert them, if possible, really. But I did eventually make one, first of many more to come, I suppose.
So, this is what happened.
When M was about a month old, she developed diaper rash. Quite common among babies, nothing that needed alarm bells to be rung. But still we immediately consulted our pediatrician (during normal hours and also during an already scheduled visit!) about what to do. New parent anxiety, you could call it. Anyways, he suggested we use a nappy cream and that we did. Simple, right? But not quite.
I ended up applying more of the cream that I should have. So, instead of comforting her, my actions caused the rash to spread. Babies have very sensitive skin and my mistake hurt my little munchkin. I still hate myself for letting my baby go through the pain. But thankfully, S realized what was happening and I, horrified at what I had done, looked at him for the next step.
What did we do?
S had read somewhere that coconut oil is best for a baby’s skin. So, we stopped using the nappy cream and switched to coconut oil instead. Apart from that, we also gave her nappy free time under the sun. And what do you know? The rash disappeared in a matter of days and ever since then it hasn’t returned. Touch wood.
But I do know it will probably happen again as long as she keeps wearing diapers, which she will for quite some time in the foreseeable future. The difference now is that we know what to do.
So, our takeaway from this episode was to seek our doctor’s opinion, follow it and at times even try those harmless tips and tricks we would have read or heard about.
Of course, all that still does nothing to the guilt that I harbor for not doing my job properly. It’s silly because I know I’m bound to slip sometimes. Only I need to be careful that it doesn’t hurt her in the long run or cause her harm in ways that can’t be reversed. But I guess a mother’s heart isn’t quite willing to forgive her own self. Well, at least, not just yet.
So, tell me, do you have any such stories to share? Or, am I the only one to have faltered?
Labels: MommyTalks, Motherhood