By Hannah Azlan
Recently, my articles for The Level have been sporadic – and there’s a good reason for that. I’m now a mother to a two month old baby boy. Maternity is my newest adventure, and my coworkers have unanimously agreed that my take on maternity is a) hilarious and b) deserving of its own column. Thanks guys.
Instead of attempting to condense all my pregnancy-related ranting into a coherent article, let me kick this off by telling you five things I’ve learned since welcoming my son into the world.
Maternity Leave is Not Maternity Leave
I thought that two months off meant time to rest. You know what I mean, it’s leave. I’m not at work. Maybe I’m a workaholic, but I figured I’d have time to work on some personal projects in between figuring out this whole mom thing – work on this zine I was brainstorming, organize my apartment, so on and so forth. This was not the case.
My schedule is dictated by this tiny human being who can only cry to get my attention. (In fact, he looks vaguely offended every time I don’t give him my undivided attention – I’m not sure if this is a baby thing or just a product of my DNA.) Hafiz says I should count my lucky stars that he doesn’t talk back yet, but I’m still tired. Which leads me to my next point:
I Am Always Tired
At one point, I made a visit to the office. It was 2pm, and I was on my fourth cup of coffee. Matt asked me to slow down, and I snapped at him that I am feeding my child an upwards of 8 times a day. I sleep in two or three hour intervals. People say nap when your child naps: this is a lie. I was lied to, I want to angrily cross this sentence out with a red pen in every parenting book ever.
During my antenatal classes, the lactation nurse said that new moms should resist the temptation to over-caffeinate as whatever we eat ends up becoming nourishment for our child. Also, we learned that the caffeine could either give our child diarrhea or a caffeine rush. Myth debunked: neither has happened, and I’m still tired.
My Body Has A New Normal
You know those women who seem to fit into their pre-pregnancy jeans as they’re being discharged from the hospital? Yeah, no. I’m not that girl, and I kinda hate people who are. I went from being a size 2 to a size 6. At the time of writing, I had a minor meltdown upon realizing that I only owned ONE pair of pants that could fit my postpartum body. (My obstetrician did tell me that she lived in maternity clothes for eight months postpartum, but actually living it was Not Fun)
On one hand, I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to being a size 2. On the other hand, I don’t want to spend money on new clothes if I do shrink back down. I also need pants that aren’t sweatpants and shirts that I can actually wear out of the house. That being said – I need to spend money on other, more important things.
Your Priorities Shift (Drastically)
I mean, no duh. I expected this. That being said, I did not expect Mommy Brain to take over so completely. I might still be my usual grumpy self, but I’m also grumpy about so many other things. I’m also anal-retentive about things I wouldn’t have cared about, ever.
I refuse to wear things that a) aren’t nursing-friendly or b) aren’t machine washable. Everything I own ends up with some kind of baby body fluid on it, so anything that requires dry cleaning is out. I need to know where the parenting rooms are in any mall I go to, and if they’re not nice ones – forget about it. There’s no small amount of outrage if I find a diaper brand that works out to more than 80 cents a piece or if I find my usual brand cheaper in a different supermarket.
My Emotions Are Still Weird
The stereotype is that girls on their period are super emotional due to hormones. It stands to reason that pregnancy hormones are equally, if not more potent since they’re coursing through you for nine months instead of the week or so that you’ve got a period. After you have a baby, you have to deal with things like stitches (if you’ve had an episiotomy or in my case, a c-section), discharge that may or may not scare you and the remnants of your pregnancy hormones.
I watched an episode of Drop Dead Diva (available on Malaysian Netflix, in case you’re wondering) that involved a kid who wanted so desperately to be adopted and ended up sobbing in my living room, cuddling my son. The recent Nhaveen and Zulfarhan cases fill me with so much anger and dread because what if that happens to my son? Also, resist the urge to Google your child’s symptoms. A simple query of ‘baby diarrhea’ or ‘rapid breathing + eye rolling’ will lead you to ‘12 Types of Baby Poop and What They Mean (With Pictures)’ or the Internet telling you that your child might be having a seizure. Both are terrifying.
I’m not sure if this is postpartum hormonal Hannah, or Mommy Brain Hannah – one might fade in time, the other will not.
In any case, being a millennial mom is just another phase of life that I’m entering. There’s a pretty steep learning curve, but hey. I wouldn’t trade my son for the world.