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Becoming a Mom is an amazing, life-changing experience, but it can also be quite an emotional rollercoaster. Whether it’s feelings of anxiety over your baby’s well-being or questioning your own instincts, most new moms experience a gamut of conflicting feelings and emotions that can sometimes be hard to come to terms with. In this Voice of Moms interview, we discuss the emotional journey of being a mom with Delzeen, mom to six-month-old Ryan.
Delzeen, a Human Resource Professional, and her husband Rishad, a businessman and avid biker, embarked on their biggest adventure yet as they welcomed their son, Ryan, in February of 2019.
Q. Thanks for talking to us, Delzeen. We always like to start by asking – what’s the most amazing thing about being Mom to baby Ryan?
Ans. Babies initially express themselves and communicate by crying. So, it can be hard to understand what’s happening or whether everything is okay. Now as time goes by, he is becoming more and more expressive - he smiles, giggles and responds to us so well, it just gives me so much happiness and I’m enjoying every bit of it.
Q. As a society, we often tend to focus on how wonderful Motherhood is, while ignoring the fact that it can also take an emotional toll on the Mom in many ways. Do you think this is true? Have you experienced this feeling?
Ans. Of course! And I know every single mom out there feels it too, but might not necessarily be able to express it enough, as u rightly said, due to societal pressure.
Breastfeeding is a very emotional journey and it has amazing benefits for your baby. But at times, I believe it’s okay to take a break, to give your body a break and give your baby a substitute if you feel your baby needs more. It doesn’t mean that you completely stop feeding - you still do your best - but at times, you can resort to substitutes that are medically proven to be good for your baby. I was fortunate enough that my husband and my mother wholeheartedly supported me to take a break from breastfeeding and supplement with formula at times, especially when we felt Ryan was going through a growth spurt. Yes, it made me very emotional as I felt I should give my baby my own milk, but I soon began to see that it was really beneficial, especially at times when I just couldn’t cope.
That said, there will always be a hundred people out there, distant family, friends and acquaintances,who feel that it’s necessary to ask you questions such as - “Do you feed your baby?”, “Do you get enough milk?” and so on. Even though my first reaction was often one of anger, I realized that they meant well and I would simply smile and say that everything was fine. The constant questions do make you feel angry, upset and irritable, but I knew that I was doing fine because my baby was happy. It really helped that my mum and husband supported me all through, keeping me sane through the process.
Q. What are some of the changes you noticed in your own behaviour/feelings after you became a Mom?
Ans. The moment Ryan was born, my husband and I were absolutely overjoyed. Four days into it and I was extremely overwhelmed. Every time Ryan cried, I cried. As babies cannot express themselves, I was so scared that something will go wrong with him. I eventually realized that it takes time for a mother and baby to settle down with one another. It really took me time to settle down and start enjoying motherhood. Today, I’m loving every single moment, small or big. I have also resumed work and feel quite guilty about spending that time away from him. But I want to pursue my career AND be a great mom. It’s tough but I am enjoying it all.
Q. Since babies undergo so many different changes in the first few months itself, what are some of your biggest learnings from the last 6 months with baby Ryan?
Ans. It’s really important to stay calm when your baby is crying. I could see Ryan calm down faster if I stayed calm.
Q. You recently went back to work after maternity leave. Was this an emotional experience for you? What are some of the ways in which you made the transition easier for both yourself and your baby?
Ans. I’m not sure if it is still easy. It’s always going to be tough and I’m always going to experience the feeling of missing out.
I feel terrible about leaving him. I live with my husband and baby, and my mom lives nearby. So, I leave Ryan with her while I’m at work. Which means that I have to wake him up early so I can drop him off when I leave for work. I do feel that it’s unfair of me to disturb him from his sleep, but I don’t have a choice. He isn’t living the corporate life but still has to adjust to his mom, who is. 😊
Q. How important is it to take the support of your partner/family/friends in navigating motherhood? In what ways do you rely on the people around you to make parenthood a little smoother?
Ans. It’s very important. It’s also essential for those who are part of your support system to spend time together with you and your baby to get a chance to understand baby’s cues and routine. My mother has been with me through it all, so I feel extremely comfortable leaving Ryan alone with her as she understands his every cry and expression, probably even better than I do. It’s also very important for your husband to be involved and I am very fortunate that my husband is hands-on in every way.
In addition to this, it really helps to have mental and emotional support from those close to you. I also had the support of my two best friends, whom I could pour my heart out to whenever I needed. Having them by my side was very reassuring and gave me more confidence to deal with various situations.
I also joined an all-moms WhatsApp group. It was amazing because it helped me see that I wasn’t alone and that all the other moms were going through similar experiences. They would even help clarify any doubts or questions I had daily, so that I didn’t have to call the doctor constantly. 😊 We would meet every evening for our baby-wearing walks, and simply lift each other’s spirits whenever needed.
Q. Although every household operates differently, it’s important to split parental duties in a way that works for everyone. How do you and your spouse share this responsibility?
Ans. We share duties every day. Sometimes my husband handles Ryan at night while I sleep. In the beginning, we would both usually wake up when Ryan cried for his night feed. My husband would change the diaper and then hand him over to me for his feed. Once I finished, my husband would put him back to sleep. He really has been there through it all. Sometimes, Ryan would wake up every two hours for a feed. At that time, my mom or husband would give him formula milk for at least one feed so that I could get some sleep.
My husband insisted I get out of the house every evening, with or without him. Ever since we came home from the hospital, I got out of the house for at least an hour every day to get some fresh air, while my mom or husband took care of Ryan. That hour or two was very important for me, it made me feel a lot happier and relaxed.
Q. What would you say to women currently reading this who are dealing with the emotional upheaval of being a new mom?
Ans. It is definitely very overwhelming in the beginning, but give yourself and your baby some time. It can take up to 3-4 months for you and baby to settle down, and it does get better and better each day. So, hang in there! It gets easier and more fun as time goes by. Of course, some days will still be tough but it’s about learning to accept that and to enjoy every little moment with your baby.