Monday, 20 January 2014

If I knew then, what I know now - early parenting

If I knew then, what I know now, I would have left my newborn child in the hospital and fled.  Yes, I would have held my hanging gas distended cesareaned belly in my hands and waddled out of there posthaste.  I would have sunk my stiff throbbing post-operational neck into my shoulders and scurried out of there.  I would have taken my aching hacking breathing-tube lacerated throat and whispered it out of there.  And that would have been my one and only birth.  They would have been calling my “mteja” phone number and putting out an sos for the lost mother of Baby Me.

I never knew that;
I would one night at two am, consider going to park outside what my mother called disparagingly for a long time “a night club”, paying the watchmen a protection fee, in a bid to get just four straight hours of uninterrupted sleep. 
11pm to 5 am with a two week old colicky baby is hell on earth and will bring the strongest man to his knees and the woman to just flat out prostration.
A three kilogram child could weigh a ton by morning after a sleepless night.
A pj-ied mother, five days after a c-section, would shock the reclusive Muslim Indian neighbor, by slowly climbing into a car at the break of a sleepless exhausting pain filled wide awake night, to drive to the chemist, to buy colic drops.
I could habour fierce hatred against my spouse and feed the grudge with tiredness and lack of sleep, as I paced the floor with colicky wailing puce faced two week baby, because the spouse comes back home one minute after the appointed time.
I could be driven to silent sobbing crying pleading, “baby just tell me what you want and I will get if for you, but just stop crying”.
I would one day strip my less than a month old child butt-naked in the middle of cold sitting room, looking for something that must have been tenaciously biting him because he had wailed incessantly for more than 3 hours.

I never knew that a nutrition cycle would become a major item of interest to me.  I never knew that;
What, when and how the baby ate and drank needed to be monitored constantly, and would have an effect on all our lives all the time.
What the baby ejected - poop consistency, duration and colour would be an important topic of numerous conversations after no sign of poop for 5 days.
Changing a diaper could turn into a major bath invent after finding poop all the way in the hair – I have yet to work out the physics of this.
Potty training and sleeping dry through the night happens when the child decides it’s happening and has nothing to do with training.
The baby urine sample collecting gadgets would be impossible to use, until you learnt that it did not work well in conjunction with a diaper, and that by the time you learnt this, the antibiotics would already have worked and the lab test was irrelevant.
I could differentiate between vomiting and regurgitating, and calmly wipe out the “gurgi” from the nose and continue burping the baby with no worry.
We would be threatened with admission, because of baby’s successive appearing symptoms taking us to hospital 3 times in 24 hours – apparently there is some rule somewhere that a patient visiting the outpatients more than two to three times in 24 hours should be admitted.

I never knew what fear was; I never knew what hope was; until I gave birth and watched my future start to live separate from me.  I also did not know that;
A minute could be so long, and a day so short, and that the most important time in the world was now, so to stop thinking about what else I could be doing, or how much faster this would be without the child’s help or resistance as the case may be.
The children would take over my life and that my time would not be my own, my spouses, or my employers any more.
I would wonder what the hell I used to do with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year before the children came.
I would not be able to shower properly for years, for every time I stood under the shower and turned on the water – I heard the sound of baby crying.
I could wash bits of my body in rotation because there was never enough time to scrub my whole body at any one given shower opportunity.
I would get used to showering with my head out of the shower curtain, singing silly rhymes and making stupid noises to the most company needy children ever born.
I could calmly do my toilet business (silently or as loudly as required) as I conversed with a wide eyed child.
At one time my bathroom would become a haven of peace, the last unchilded bastion, where I would even retire to eat and drink undisturbed.
Wearing yesterday’s soiled and stinky pyjamas today in the afternoon, was not because I was a lazy slovenly woman, but because there was just no time or energy to change let alone take a bath.

I never knew that I needed to be alone sometimes, until I could no longer be alone.  I never knew that;
If you had baby with me, they were company and I would never feel lonely or be bored.  Tired, grumpy, fed up, but never bored.
I could endure continuous uninterrupted 24 hours and more, with one person – touching, nursing, changing, bumping, tapping, rubbing, spooning, bathing, with no break at all, and not go stir raving crazy mad.
I would one day offer to look after a friend’s house for one weekend just so that I could be alone with absolutely no one to talk, in quiet silence.
That I would do the little dance of joy after babies were dispatched with their baba, maids forced to go for their off and me alone in the house, sitting on the sofa, doing nothing, thinking nothing, mindless but in silence.

I never knew that I did not know my body.  I never knew that;
I would cease to consider my breasts as private, and sit in a room with people and just let them hang out there as they did the work they were made for.
Baby gums biting on a nipple would hurt like that, and that small jaws could clamp so tight and just not let go.
I could have my hands, nose, ears, eyes and teeth fiddled, pulled, prodded and pinched, and count these as developmental milestones.
My body had the ability to walk around the house cleaning, moping, wiping, folding with one hand, because the other had was holding “baby who cannot be put down and cannot be carried in sling” on the hip.
My arm and shoulder load bearing capacity would increase progressively with the increase in size and girth of the baby and carrying 13 kilos of pre-schooler halfway through the walk after “carry me carry me my lega not amoving” would be no weighty deal at all.

I never knew that sleep was a big issue, and that;
Sleeping for 6 hours straight would become a luxury and not a given.
Babies did not tumble accidentally into asleep, but were persuaded, rocked, held, rubbed, ignored – all in a bid to make them sleep - sleep training they call it.
The thought of a child’s bedtime would send my body into “sweat and tremor” mode as I wondered how long it would take today to get the child to asleep.
I would one day declare “bed days” as a major item to look forward to once a month, where my foot would only touched the floor for quick trips to the loo, and my phone call to the house phoneline pleading for nutrition, or keep the noise down, was the only contact allowed between the rest of the house and I.

I never knew I would have to pick and choose the lines to draw, the boundaries to set.  I never knew that;
Once the line was drawn, I should not, could not change the line.  Not an millimeter of change was allowed – the child would get confused. 
I could not fight a child to eat, never ever!  And food held in their mouth could mash and water but never be swallowed or spat out. 
Lines were important, even if I did not want them, and if not present or were removed, the child would look and seek for them to gain comfort,
And when the drawn line was crossed, no matter how hard it was, no matter how harrowing it was, no matter how long it took, the showdown battle must rage, and I must win so that baby grows right. 
A two year old has a mighty will of iron.
A three year old is very manipulative and can twist your puny little mind.
A four year old has tales that are stranger than fiction, but must be true, so I better believe them.
A five year old thrives on telling fibs and seeing how far they can stretch the truth.
They are all their own worst enemies and police each other more than is required, little guerilla major generals each and every one of them.
They can gang up against me, that united they stand, divided (which happens as soon as I spell out the consequences) they fall.
There always has to be a winner, for everything.  Walking, eating, playing, smiling, shouting, so long as it leads to accusations, counter accusations and finally tears.
Tears are for free.  Crying is for free.
I will never know what I else I could have known, should have known, would have know, over the last few years, and I thank the Lord for that kind mercy.  

image from 
Edited; 27th January 2014