A story of every new mom by Sabina Islam
Dedicated to my best friend Waqar Haider Shah on our fourth anniversarySabina Islam
I was in my early twenties when one day my life changed forever. I got pregnant with my daughter. Life was never going to be the same and I knew it right there. I had to change so much in my life that it felt like I was a new person. Bearing children is not only about bringing a new person in the world but it is also about your own rebirth. The clothes I used to wear were shirking, the food I loved would give me cramps and the people I loved were running away from me because of my mood swings. Like all the other changes taking place in my body, my bowel movement also became irregular. I was always feeling full. Like most of the people in pregnancy who find it difficult to control their bladder, I was also running around all the time searching for a washroom and many people can relate to the urge of finding a place to pee. What they could not relate to were the hours I used to spend in a washroom.
Staying in the washroom for hours waiting for the holy poop to finally come out of me was the thing that bothered me like anything. I was suffering from the stupidest disease “constipation”. I would spend my days locking myself behind the doors of a washroom and staring at the walls and roof of the washroom for hours. I knew every minutest detail of the walls. There was a crack in the wall which somehow resembled a unicorn flying with its wings wide open. What is this unicorn doing here I would think, why don’t you simply fly away? The paint from one of the walls was so soggy and moist that sometimes it would fall on me and made me feel like it was thankful for my presence here. It would send some snowflakes to welcome me in the land of secrets and the snowflakes used to fall in slow motion deciding a place to land safely which was mostly my head and shoulders.
Why don’t you see a doctor? Everyone would ask, well I went to the doctor so many times but nothing could break the spell. Lubricants and food items full of fiber were wasted in abundance and nothing worked for me. I feel piety for all the grapes, prunes, guava and honey that they could not accomplish the mission they were sent on.
Attending washroom became a ceremony. I tried taking a phone to the washroom but this particular ceremony needed such a level of concentration that with a phone you can’t attain the state of perfect concentration. One good thing that the washroom time gave me was the enormous amount of time for thinking. I would think about a lot of things including things related to the baby, losing weight after giving birth and buying some new stuff for myself but the thing I would think about the most was finally I’ll get rid of the washroom imprisonment. People used to wait for me on a dining table; they used to wait for me to go for shopping, calling my name and guess where they would find me all the time.
The day we were waiting for the last nine months was here. It was my due date a full term pregnancy when I came to know that I have to wait for two to three more days. There were no contractions, no pain at all but it was my due date. As it was the first time so the only visual image of giving birth in my mind was that of a scene depicted in most of the movies. You go to a hospital, you scream for a while, you get the baby, and you take pictures with the baby and come home happy. But nothing like that was happening here. The doctor asked us to wait for more.
Waiting for nine monotonous months and now waiting more. There’s a lot of waiting involved in this baby making process and of course, it results in indulging patience in your life forever. The waiting thing was alright but when the doctor said that we should just pray that the baby won’t poop inside my tummy, we were shocked. Can they do that? Don’t they do these things after coming out? The three days that followed were spent requesting our baby to hold her poop till she comes out. “Hold on a little angel, you’ll get a lot of time and space to do that”. The instant she popped out of me she pooped and we were so thankful to her for showing patience and holding it for the perfect moment. So her poop story starts with her arrival.
As soon as you get a glimpse of your baby you forget all about the pain and suffering you have been through. It was indeed a precious moment, a little princess in my lap. My husband was so emotional and overwhelmed with the sight of this little being that he ran away and cried his heart out. She was a complete human being just too little in size, her littleness made her more lovable and adorable. I could not take my eyes off her for so long and she took my heart away. I loved her the moment I saw her. She was not a new person I was meeting, she was so familiar to me that I knew her so closely and she recognized me.
Whoever got to look at her would complement that she was so tiny and weak. For parents, it is so painful to see that people are already judging the little soul who has just arrived. She was also silently listening to all the compliments she
was getting. Unable to speak for herself and wasting her time listening to the same
sentences again and again, she would just sleep and sometimes cry. She would open her beautiful eyes at times and try to look around. She was always different or maybe every new parent thinks that their child is different or special.
After a few months of her birth, we came to know that she was lactose intolerant which meant that she could not digest any sort of milk which has lactose in it and unfortunately all sorts of milk have lactose in it except for the ones which are specially formulated lactose free. This thought that the only diet she could take was milk and she cannot take milk in its fullest foam would disturb me a lot. Every time she would try to take some milk out of hunger and she would poop. The situation sometimes became so worse that she would poop while her feeder still stuck between her lips. I would wash her and on the way back to the room she would poop again. It was all poops I could think of, pooping while feeding, pooping while sleeping, pooping while crying and pooping everywhere. I knew that she was suffering and it was breaking my heart so much that at times I would cry imagining that this pooping is going to kill my child.
People around you talk about motherhood as a soothing feeling of bringing a little human being in this world, the tiny hands and toes, the angelic smiles, the sense of accomplishment, the little warm hugs and kisses. No one tells you about other things which you should also know about like sleepless nights, crying for no reason, postpartum depression, taking care of your mental health and of course, poops.
I was going through such a mental turmoil that I abandon everything I liked. There was only one thing I could think of and that was how to slow down this endless series of poops. We were working on the selection of an appropriate brand of lactose free formula which could suit her. A cupboard in the corner which was full of lactose free formulas from all brands and on the top of the cupboard the jar of formula we were trying on that particular day. This part of the cupboard was always messy with white powder spread around and visible patches of water. Some parts of it were covered with a paste of water and powder which was sometimes so stubborn to clean that I had to scratch it out. This corner was also important because I used to stand in this corner mixing the prescribed amount of powder and water wishing that, may this one works. I would close my eyes and say some sacred prayer or verse and blow it on the milk as if a psychic was practicing some sort of magic. She used to cry a lot and with hands shaking in a hurry I would spill some water or drop a spoon full of formula on the experimental cupboard. There was no pediatrician unvisited and still, there was no difference. Most of them would say that it will get better with time. She will grow up one day, eat other food items, rely less on milk and build immunity towards certain things and she’ll be alright. Doctors should be a source of comfort to parents you never know how precious their words can be.
There was a fight going on somewhere in my mind, a part of my soul was accusing me of something I was unaware of. I didn’t know what mistake I was making, I didn’t know where I was wrong in taking care of my daughter. Other children of her age were gulping ounces of milk without being affected by the amount, whereas mine would take an extra ounce and start giving it back to me. I couldn’t understand the magic other moms had.
Maybe I’m the one who is not eligible for this thing. While I was already guilty other people were reinforcing the same thing again and again. Wherever I would take my baby two things would happen for sure, first people would complement she was tiny, underweight, lanky and petite. I would answer their questions as if it was my duty to justify things. Then there would be a second round where people would bestow us with unwanted and illogical suggestions.
Most of the criticism comes from the people who are the most ineligible and undeserving. I mean there should be criteria that you should have certain qualities to criticize others. I sometimes think that people should be a little more kind towards each other because you don’t know what I am already going through.
This was a time when I realized the importance of personal space in my life. Maybe people should work on reserving their comments to themselves. A harsh comment can hurt someone beyond words, especially when it is about children. It takes time to understand that no one other than you in the whole world knows better about your child. You know the best about your child and you are doing your best to make things better so no one should have the guts to look down upon you.
“The greatest thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”
I heard this quote somewhere but don’t exactly know where. The thing I love about this one is that it talks about the happiness of the whole family where parents love each other and sow love in their children. If I had to define my husband I would define him as a very loving, caring and sensitive person who could easily feel your pain. Sometimes you had to tell him how a certain situation feels like and sometimes he would just look at you try to figure it out himself. The nature of his job was so exhausting that he couldn’t help my agony even if he wanted to. He would come home trying to hide the entire workload he has been tackling all day long. He would try to soothe me and the baby whenever he could because he was the only person who could see how drained and worn out I was. It was not a love marriage it was an arranged one where we did not even know each other properly but it was so beautiful that my husband became my best friend. the process of understanding each other was slow but it worked well for us. we learnt how to live around each other happily.
The most annoying and hurtful thing is the unending ability of the world to judge you and if there’s a person who wouldn’t judge you in any situation then you should close your eyes and sing the melody of finding your best friend. A friend in my view is someone who likes you when you are at your worst and who is not judgmental. My husband became my support system, family, friends and everything and the only possession we had was our little princess.
At first, I was constantly complaining about my days and nights but then came a time when I was crying secretly. He would listen to every word I uttered and understood that I was becoming weak emotionally and mentally. I was crying for no reason, I was angry for no reason; I was upset and devastated for no reason. Maybe there was a reason which was not superficial It was deeper. I was suffering from postpartum depression.
Coming from work, cheering me up, taking me for a walk, talking to me constantly, tolerating the tantrums I was throwing and telling me every time I felt insecure that he was there for me. He dragged me out of the hell I was going through. He was healing me slowly. It was his love and care that I started feeling happiness again. I hope that he has a story of his own an untold story, which he’s afraid to reveal because he’s afraid of hurting my sentiments.
I was feeling much better now and trying to take care of my daughter. I was trying to heal her because I knew it in my heart that she has been suffering because of my depression but then I realized that healing her before healing myself was not possible. You cannot heal someone carrying a wound. You have to cure yourself first and only then you can focus on healing others. My daughter was absorbing the vibes from my cured heart and gathering happiness around her. She was happier than before more playful and becoming better miraculously.
When you try to look for happiness it knocks at your door. Knock Knock, an invitation from a friend. It was a short drive to a friend’s place where we were invited for dinner with a few more couples. We were reluctant to go when we heard about the plan. It was a one night stay at a hill station, a bonfire, staying up late at night and enjoying the weekend. Everyone was calling us, trying to convince us to change our minds and join them for the fun night. After much discussion, we were finally ready to go.
It took us a whole day to think about every possible thing we could take along. so I packed her clothes which were a lot more than were required for a day, her rocking chair, electric kettle, blanket, multiple sheets to wrap her, socks, the softest homemade food that she just started to eat, a few toys, her own utensils to feed her, a small iron, some basic medicines like a mild painkiller, saline drops, rash cream, thermometer, her bedding and lots of diapers. We were not much confident because it was much easier to manage things with our daughter at home. We were going to a new place much colder than where we used to live. With thousands of thoughts about the new place which might trigger her digestive system in some way or she might catch a cold and with all the queries and anxieties we finally left our home.
For the first half an hour we were so quiet thinking about our trip that the only thing we could hear was the faintest snoring sound of our daughter who was fast asleep. I loved music but lately, I developed a habit of not listening to any kind of music at home except for the nursery rhymes my daughter liked. our car was the only place where my husband and I, with mutual consent listened to music for a while. He was also fond of good music and thankfully his taste of music was not too different from mine so we could enjoy a good music time together.
We had our own philosophies about music; I believed that we can like any kind of music regardless of the language and culture it comes from. For me the rhyme scheme, the rise and fall, higher and lower node and prosody were important. My husband, on the other hand, liked the music he could comprehend and understand completely for him enjoying music was related to words, verses and lyrics so he couldn’t enjoy music from other cultures and languages. I was always the DJ playing music in the car while he drove singing the song focusing on the lyrics.
The dinner and stay both were amazing all the insecurities about our daughters’ health and her reaction to a new place vanished because of the caring people around. Everyone knew that we were reluctant to come so all of them provided us with the best they could offer. We were comfortable and enjoying ourselves after so long. That’s the beauty of unconditional love. The people who love you unconditionally make you feel comfortable, they provide you with the best, they try to facilitate you and they take care of your peace of mind without expecting any favors back.
They took care of our daughter like their own, insisting us to spend some time together. This was after a long time that we were going out without our daughter as we were sure that she was in safe hands. We were walk lovers since we met for the first time so we went for a walk. It was a short walk but so meaningful that it stirred a feeling of thankfulness in us. We were thankful to each other for whatever we did to make each other happy. We were thankful for our dedicated efforts to live peacefully together in happiness and sorrow. We were thankful for becoming each other’s back. We said less but felt so much, sometimes it is good to say less to leave things unsaid because you know that the other person knows. Every step we were taking through the hilly path was beautiful. The moon was at its bloom and sometimes hiding behind the clouds, the atmosphere was becoming colder so we went back to join our friends again.
The process of regaining confidence was slow but it was teaching us lessons for a lifetime. We were taking our daughter more and more to different places leaving her loaded diapers as a souvenir of her prestigious visit to that place. The motherhood thing, where you’re not allowed to feel disgusted by anything related to your child is alright but everything takes time. I don’t know if other moms think about this the same way or not but there’s a tendency in children to poop exactly at the time their parents are about to eat or talk about something really important. They can sense the significance of the event and poop.
. You learn slowly to get interrupted by the sight of poop and deal with it one on one. You learn slowly to forget about the stinky mess you have just witnessed and join your food again. It takes time to train your mind and move on as if nothing has happened. Moms are not superhuman they are human beings like anyone else what makes them superhuman is their unlimited and unconditional love for their children.
Love will never be sufficient because the more you get it the more you want it. Time to time we need love to function properly. Refilling the container of love is important, especially the mothers of young children need frequent refilling of love. In the quest of loving the little ones and nurturing them, the mothers who are stuffed with love need refilling. The generous supply of love which they bestow upon their child can also make them feel exhausted.
Like an empty jar, they go to sleep finally putting their baby to bed and trying to regain some energy to look after their child again. People around them should contribute a penny of love each to fill the jar of love again. A mother has the power to generate love, she takes the bits of love and multiplies it so that she can distribute it again. The slower filling of the love jar and filling it with criticism censure and hatred makes it difficult for the distributor to distribute it evenly. She should be cared for, loved and appreciated, even a smile can work.
Believing in God and praying hopefully is amazing, you already know that you’re going to get what you are praying for. Pregnancy and giving birth make you pray more and stay connected to God more. Bringing a new soul to the world is a wonderful experience, the connection between the creator and his creation strengthens with this arrival. You wish for more beautiful things without the fear of not getting them. When I was expecting I would pray for my baby’s health and wisdom the most and I knew it that I’m going to be blessed. By the time my princess was one I could see that I have been given more than what I asked for.
Time passes so swiftly that you don’t realize the flow of time especially when you are a parent it flies. It was her first birthday and we were so excited that we couldn’t sleep. It was not a very fancy birthday but everything related to the birthday was planned and given proper time. I started to make props for her birthday almost a month before her birthday, sneaking time for making those little things was also a task. I would put her to sleep and make all the little flowers, letters of her name, the number one and other things. We saved some money to buy her the dress of our dreams and shoes of course. We found the dress so easily that we went to a shop and loved the dress as soon as we saw it but to find the perfect shoes for her we had to roam around a lot. Everything was beautiful she was looking like a little fairy, the decoration was perfect, the food delicious and most importantly the happiness she was spreading around were amazing.
My daughter started to walk earlier than her age fellows around, comparatively she had the most number of teeth on her first birthday, she was singing happy birthday song most loud and clear, dancing around happily, she knew she had to blow out the candles, she could even sense my happiness and sadness. The most intelligent child everyone would say.
You live in any part of the world you’ll find a species of people who think that it is their birthright to inform others about what they lack. Unfortunately, we were surrounded by a lot of members of this species. Ignoring all the intelligence my daughter had, all the things she used to do which were bigger for age, this species would target how weak she was. There were days when she looked healthier to us, a bit round and chubby but to people who were always there to criticize, she looked weaker than before.
No matter how exposed you are to negative comments if it is about your baby you always feel bad. Parenthood is also about listening to a lot of unnecessary pieces of advice, comments, and comparisons you don’t like. You learn to avoid and shut the flow of negativity with time. It takes time to realize that every child is different in his way and respecting the differences is important. Only a mom can comfort a mom, Becoming each other’s strength and soothing each other in hard times can cure hearts.
In one year we also went through a lot of poop, poop produced by our little one and the poop people showered on us while raising our child but in the end, we all survive and come out of hard times. Why make things poop for others? Why giving people poop when they are already having enough? Let’s make things easy for each other, let’s not give each other a judgmental poop, let’s not give each other a poop of criticism, let’s understand each other and make the experience of parenting pleasant. Let’s give lesser poops to moms because poops and moms are already best friends.
The author is a graduate of International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI). No part of this story may be copied or reproduced without permission of author.