So I turned 28 yesterday. This is my second birthday as a mother because Noah was born 2 weeks before my 27th birthday. Fun fact: Noah was actually supposed to be due on my birthday. B was excited for this because that meant he only needed to celebrate on one day for two people. Unfortunately for him, that never happened.
Birthdays are a big thing for me and I LOVE celebrating them. But I remember feeling so small and afraid on my 27th. Unlike all other years, I had no excitement in the days leading up to my birthday. And neither did I have the interest to celebrate it on the day itself. I had no mood to want to talk, have a meal, or eat cake and felt awkward during the birthday song and while blowing out the candles. I remember just wanting to stay in my room alone and cry myself to sleep. Nonetheless, I was thankful I had family and friends who celebrated for me. And I went with it because how dare I feel this way when I had people who love me enough to want to celebrate my birthday.
I was 2 weeks into being a mother and was still terrible at changing diapers and bathing Noah. It was also during this period that Noah stopped latching and I figured it was because I had a low supply. We had already introduced formula when I thought I was going to fully breastfeed Noah for a year. We had already given Noah the pacifier even though we agreed not to because he was crying inconsolably in the wee hours of the morning. And I thought I was going to love motherhood, wing it, and feel fantastic except, I did not. Nothing was going right. And I definitely wasn’t feeling right either.
But it is a whole lot different this year. A year of motherhood has changed me and has given me strength. It helped me see that I am stronger than I really give myself credit for. And it is only now that I realize that Noah wasn’t the only one hitting milestones. So was I.
Within the year, I have gotten more confident at caring for Noah.
I have pulled through 6 months of pumping even though it was discouraging to know that I had to pump three times just to provide him with one feed.
I have learnt to cope with the guilt I feel (and still do) whenever I leave the house for work and had to leave Noah behind.
I have learnt to be strong despite a breaking heart while Noah was hospitalized for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and through multiple tests involving big needles stuck into his little hands.
I have brought Noah out alone for a day out or for meals even though my anxiety told me it would be disastrous.
I have become more aware of my anxiety and sought help from a Psychiatrist when I knew it was getting in the way of me being the best mother I can be.
It wasn’t easy but as C.S. Lewis. once said (I have to admit that I heard this quote on Criminal Minds),
“Experience is a brutal teacher. But you learn, my God do you learn.”
So I made it up to myself this year and had a blast.
Mothers, the things you do may not seem like accomplishments. Because as a mother, aren’t you supposed to be able to soothe your crying baby in public? Or easily put your baby down for a nap? Or ease into breastfeeding without difficultly just because you’re a mother now?
It’s wrong to think or for anyone to expect that we are supposed to know how to do this and not fall apart. So much so that little victories like taking only 30 minutes to put your baby to bed is something we don’t bother giving ourselves a pat on the back for. Or worse, for us to think we’re still not doing a good enough job. But you are! You’ve learnt to cope with so many things at a ridiculously fast pace and at an extremely steep learning curve. And all while on insufficient sleep, a never-ending list of chores and/or a demanding full-time job. Yet, you’ve managed to keep your baby safe, healthy, and so loved. You’ve earned every small victory and you deserve to be celebrated. Regardless of it being your birthday or not.
So as I turn 28, I hope to be a better wife, mother, daughter, and sister. But I also hope to be a better me. A mother that knows her worth without having to rely on society to measure that for me. I hope to grow to be strong enough of a woman my son would be proud to call mama. There is so much more I can be and who knows? Perhaps 28 is the perfect place to start.