I just put Arya down for her first nap of the day, thankfully it only took 25 minutes for her to fall asleep vs. the 45 minutes it’s been taking. Hopefully, my baby girl sleeps for at least an hour and the second cold she’s caught in one month won’t hinder her from getting the rest she needs and the down time I pray for. I should probably do a little 10 minute exercise with the resistance band I bought from Winners the other day or perhaps try some yoga, but all I really want to do is plop my un-showered self onto the couch and let Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan entertain me for an hour.
10 months into being a new mom, I’ve never been so tired, unfit and anxious. When I look back 11 months ago all I can think is “wow was I ever ignorant”. “Can you believe you’re getting a year off work, that’s so exciting” is what people said to me right before I went on maternity leave. I was the pregnant woman telling herself that she would spend the next year learning how to play the piano and build a website, oblivious to the fact that the new addition to my family would require my full attention, 24 hours a day seven days a week…every day, every hour, every minute. My mother’s personal experience of having four kids that always slept and never cried blinded me to the reality that not all newborns are the same and maybe just maybe, my experience wouldn’t be as…blissful. Not only did I suffer from pre pregnancy ignorance but I also had what my sister-in-law calls a “baby moon”. Two weeks postpartum, my little one slept anywhere and all the time while breast feeding like a champ, I even organized two yoga sessions in my basement while she snoozed upstairs in her playpen. My dream experience quickly went up in flames as of week three when Arya went from being the model newborn to a complete nightmare. Literally overnight, she stopped sleeping, eating and cried almost constantly. When she would finally close her eyes for a catnap, anxiety would strike hard at the thought of her waking up and crying again. I remember throwing the breast feeding pamphlets in the garbage thinking to myself that “we were made to do this and it would be easy”, only to meet with a lactation consultant three weeks in because my baby would scream at the breast. When I told my East Indian mother Arya had acid reflux, she laughed and said “who ever heard of a baby suffering from acid reflux”… “Um…only about 50 per cent of parents mom!!!” According to her, I was supposed to have spent the month after delivery at my parents’ house eating ground fenugreek and carom seeds along with warm turmeric milk…not doing so was apparently my downfall.
As a new mom I was mortified, petrified, mystified. “Why didn’t they teach us about baby sleep issues in prenatal classes?” (Note, the expression “sleep like a baby” is complete BS!). To make matters worse, it seemed every other baby was sleeping through the night at like four days old! While Google claimed that my reality was the norm, real life seemed to be contradicting all the articles I spent my days reading. I even booked an emergency appointment at the clinic only to have the pediatrician explain to me the three week, three hour, three month syndrome defined as colic; uncontrollable crying for three or more hours a day from three weeks old to three months…essentially the “we do not what the f*** is wrong with your baby so let’s call it “colic” syndrome”.
Needless to say, I still don’t own a piano and my husband had to contract out the construction of his website. I didn’t spend the last 10 months as planned but rather dedicated myself to sleep training this beautiful, little creature that turned our life completely upside down. To all those that told me I was getting a year off I say this, “I have never worked harder in my life, and frankly have never seen the fruits of my professional labour as much as my parental labour.” I also want to recognize all the moms of generations past, particularly my own mother. They did not have as much information at their disposal and, in some cases, as much help as we do. Not only did they have to go back to work sooner but many had more children than most of us today could handle. I have a lot to learn about being a parent and, admittedly, as much as I love my daughter, I’m’ still not in a place where I can write social media posts about the “miracle and blessings of being a mother” but she takes two naps a day now (I wrote this article while she slept!) and, typically, sleeps through the night so I’m getting there!
Disclaimer: to new parents, studies show that many parents lie about their babies sleeping through the night.