Baby & Me

Joys of Motherhood

My daughter and I slept through the first three days of her life. We were exhausted. And little did we know that it was the quiet before the storm. It would be last time either of us slept through the night. Pregnancy is a trip and you might be tempted to think that delivery is the end of the hard road. You would be wrong. It’s the beginning of an ever more challenging journey.

As a first time Mum, everything is a learning curve, and every curve is steep. In hindsight, pushing a melon through a pin hole was a temporary discomfort that lessened as soon as baby made her entrance into the world. On the other hand, taking care of a newborn is complete chaos.

If I had known that motherhood comes with a spontaneously replenishing dose of worry, I might have reconsidered. And yet, I look at my daughter and I know for sure that I wouldn’t trade her in for anything, least of all a stress free life. That’s the trick that God plays on us. The love that a mother has for a child endures all. It grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let go no matter what.

So. After three days of leisure in the maternity ward, we’re back at home and already I’m running on empty. Sleeping is not my portion. Life has become an endless cycle of breastfeeding and diaper changes. My first frustration is baby’s belly button. At this point, it’s a wrinkly protrusion that looks like the blackened skin of a rotting banana. Beneath it, there’s a pinkish looking wound. Naturally, I’m afraid that her intestines will come spilling out and I’ll have a pile of human matumbo to contend with. Please Lord, don’t let my baby die.

I’m still preoccupied with her belly button when suddenly, she becomes colicky. It’s all very dramatic really. She’s grunting and groaning and bending her wee body in half. After watching her do this all night, I decide to take her to the emergency room. It’s 6.00am. The doctor is very nice. It’s normal for newborns to have problems with gas, she says. The baby will grow out of it. She prescribes something to help baby bring the gas up and sends us on our merry way.

Over the next few days, the medication seems to help but she’s still grunting and groaning and bending her wee body in half. She’s even began to choke and gag. Yep, babies do the strangest things. It lasts for about a month, and every week of that month, we’re in the hospital telling the next doctor what the last one said. The consensus is that there’s nothing wrong with her, that she would grow out of it. On their recommendation, I give up milk, drinking chocolate, oxtail soup, mixed porridge, cabbage and beans. They say that everything I eat ends up in her breastmilk and cutting out ‘gassy’ foods would greatly aid her healing process. And it does.

She gets over the colic but then she starts spitting up milk. Please Lord, don’t let me kill this baby. Everything that goes down her throat seems to come up. It’s normal, they say to me. She’ll grow out of it. Hold her up for 30 minutes after every feed and burp her like gas is going out of fashion. And yeah, put a bib on it.

In time, she gets over that too. Things begin to settle. I’m not afraid of drowning her in the wash basin anymore. Not checking to see if she’s still breathing every 10 seconds. And the little angle has begun to flash her signature, wide toothless grin. Oh, bless. Life is beautiful. But then she goes and gets a rash. An ugly, angry looking, red rash. My heart sinks. I go online to consult with Dr Internet and within minutes I’m convinced that she has skin cancer. Yeah, the web is not your friend. The local pharmacist prescribes something for dry skin conditions. It works for a while but the rash comes back. Eventually, we change all her body hygiene products and start on a new regime that seems to do the trick. Her face is as smooth as her bottom again.

Sigh. All is well with the world again. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the joys of motherhood? They keep on coming. The mad, crazy times keep on rolling. Lord knows what I’ll be dealing with next.