It has only been 8 months but already parenting has taught me some things about myself and the people around me that I doubt I would have learned any other way. I would like to share with you what they are, thus far:
1. I’m not as squeamish as I used to be. – Yep, the sight, smell, subject and sometimes feel of poop, puke, pee and snot don’t gross me out as much as it used to. Since having our Little Miss, I have been pooped, peed and puked on and proceeded to clean said baby up before even attending to myself and other pieces of furniture her emissions have landed on. I have dug around her nostrils for bogies. So yeah, I’m a mom now and I have no (more) aversion to such things. (Note: As long as said stuff are from my Little Miss).
2. That said, I have also learned that I definitely have germophobic tendencies when it comes to the general well-being and health of my Little Miss. – If you have any intention at all of coming near her, to touch, hold and play with her (OR her toys), you better make sure you have washed and cleaned your hands. Yes, that includes removing the dirt underneath your fingernails.
When we are out with the her and she needs a diaper change, I wipe down the surface of every changing table before I place the rubber mat I’m then laying her on. Afterwards, I wipe down the rubber mat and wash it with soap and water as soon as we get home.
Also, my mom and (married/mom to a toddler) sister have both observed on separate occasions that I wash my Little Miss’ bottles TOO thoroughly. Like, is that even possible? To be too thorough? I genuinely wonder at this.
3. I could live with pink. – There was a time in my life (actually, this was until after I had my chubby-cheeked girl) that I absolutely abhorred the sight of pink. I’m not ashamed to admit it was the reason I was primarily hoping we’d have a boy (aside from the fact that I have NO IDEA how to ‘do hair’, as I’ve almost always had short hair, but I digress). When we found out we were having a girl, I even went so far as to adamantly say, “We will NOT dress her up in pink, we will NOT buy anything in pink for her.” To which My Man replied, pleading, “Are you crazy? Please, please don’t project yourself on your yet unborn daughter.” Recently, I found out where this repulsion stems from when
a nightmare a picture of a much younger version of me surfaced on Facebook. In it I was wearing an all-pink ensemble – from shirt, to shorts to, OMG, SOCKS! – at a family event. I’m still trying to think up ways to get back at my mom for that atrocity.
BUT, since having our Little Miss, I have had a change of heart towards pink, just because SHE looks absolutely adorable in it! I only hope that one day, she won’t hate me for dressing her up in an all-pink outfit and her photos wind up on the internet. Lol.
4. Not having a perfectly cleaned, organized place doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. – During our life together BC (Before Child), My Man would teasingly refer to me as Mrs. Clean. Growing up in a family where cleaning the house (daily) is the norm, the fervor with which I would attack dust in every nook and cranny of our cramped living space baffled him, whose family was more laid-back in that aspect. He wasn’t at all surprised, he knew this about me waaaaaaaay before we even got together and got married. However, it exasperated him that it was something he was required to participate in. He resisted it in the beginning and it took him a while to adjust to how determined I was to (have him) keep everything spotless and tidy. I was constantly in a sanitizing frenzy. Organizing our stuff, folding laundry, wiping down – with the aid of my trusted and beloved Pledge or Lysol products – every surface (visible or otherwise), sweeping and/or waxing the floors, scrubbing down walls and for all of this, I had a schedule. Sunday was laundry day, Monday was folding and putting said laundry away, everyday was sweeping/dusting day and Saturday was general cleaning day – bathroom included (Note: In the interest of keeping everything truthful, I have to state that we have someone who does our laundry, cleans the bathroom and cooks for us).
Nowadays, I am lucky if I get to sweep our floors twice a week. And I’ve learned that, guess what? It’s ok. Don’t get me wrong, I still try to maintain a hygienic, healthy space for the Little Miss. But I have since stopped sweating the small stuff, adapted a more relaxed schedule and spent the time I could spare sleeping instead of cleaning. Or else I would have probably gone crazy(ier).
5. Flexible is my (new) middle name. – People who know me well, know that I thrive on routines and planning. As evidenced by #5, I had a timetable for almost everything. So when I found out I was pregnant, of course, I made the following (laughable) plans:
Plan #1: Have an easy pregnancy.
What actually happened: First off, I had what is called hyperemesis gravidarum, which rendered me completely useless, caused me to lose 11lbs within a span of 2 weeks and put me in the hospital twice during my first trimester. I also wrote about that experience here.
Then through a routine blood typing during my pregnancy, it was found out that mine is O Rh negative which could possibly cause complications due to Rh incompatibility – not for the first baby, but for subsequent ones. Thankfully, God through modern science now has a solution for this in the form of Rhogam. It is sooooooper expensive but also worth it!
Plan #2: Give normal birth.
What actually happened: The Little Miss was too big for my birth canal and I had to undergo c-section.
Plan #3: Breastfeed at least until The Little Miss reaches 1 year of age.
What actually happened: After everything I’ve tried, the supply ran out a LOT sooner than I wanted – I was only able to breastfeed for a little more than 1 month after all.
Plan #4: Keep the Little Miss’ care-taking all to ourselves.
What actually happened: Even in the beginning, this plan was destined for failure. Since I had an unplanned c-section, the Little Miss and I had to stay with my family for a week after the birthing so that I could recuperate and she could be taken care of by her doting grandparents. More on this in items #7 and #8.
During the first few weeks of having our newborn home, I tried to go back to the comfortable routine I had for myself. Oh yeah, I tried REALLY hard, pushed myself to nearly superwoman heights and ended up frustrated, sleep-deprived and cranky. It was like I was in a permanent-state of PMS and guess who got the short end of the stick? My poor Man was almost at his wit’s end, thinking he’d left his sane, sensible, loving wife at his in-laws’. It took quite a bit of time for him to grill sense back into me and in the end, I gave in and admitted to myself that routines and a newborn didn’t mix so well. So I have since realized the absurdity of clinging to my ornery ways. Mostly because our Little Miss taught me well enough that she is, to some extent, The Boss. For now.
6. You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance. – Franklin P. Jones
Having our Little Miss is the best thing that has ever happened to me and My dear Man. She has brought so much joy and love to our small family, it’s hard to imagine life before we had her.
Having said that, the time we have had with her thus far has also been peppered with confusion and frustration. I’m not complaining though, compared to other stories I have heard, she has been a relatively calm and easy sweetheart. But there were, and still are, times that she would cry and cry and I’d have NO bloody idea why when I had already changed, fed, burped, sang to her and held her. Finally, 3 months later and ready to cry of disappointment at myself, my Little Miss and the world in general, I discovered and joined an online resource/community for mothers. Reading through the other mothers’ posts gave me a sense of relief to know that I wasn’t the only one feeling helpless and incompetent. It irked me to no end though to read stuff like: “In time you will learn to interpret the meaning behind your infant’s cries and you’ll be able to react accordingly”. A FAT lot of help that did me then!
Seriously though, when I thought my patience was wearing thin, I found I had more of it in me. Of course, it definitely didn’t hurt to have a very involved and hands-on partner to pass the wailing baby to when things got a bit too intense. Oh, and guess what? After a couple of months, I did learn to interpret what some of those cries meant!
7. Date night with My Man is just as important now as it was in the days BC. – I was ecstatic during the days leading to October 12. My Man and I were both eagerly awaiting the arrival of our Little Miss, so much that we didn’t really want to be or go anywhere after she finally decided to join us. But like a lot of people have pointed out, it is healthier for us as a couple and as parents to spend some time alone.
The first time we went out on a date by ourselves, all we did was think about our Little Miss as we watched a movie and talked about her while we ate dinner afterwards. We missed her so much that we hastened (to my mom’s) home so we could be by her side! Slowly though, we have learned to value the opportunities we do get to spend together and use them to reconnect not just as Daddy and Mommy, but as husband and wife. We are very grateful to our families who generously take over the care of her so we could go out on date nights.
8. I love my (immediate, extended, in laws’) family, more than ever. – They have been nothing but a supportive, generous (in more ways than one!), truly caring, loving bunch who have been a constant source of strength, guidance and wisdom for us. I count it such a blessing to know that our Little Miss will grow up loved, cared for and guided by such amazing God-given individuals who have been called together to form this FAMILY. Ugh, here come the sprinklers. :'(
9. My parents deserve an award for the way they raised us. – I love and respect both my parents, and now that I’m a mother myself, I appreciate the sacrifices made and the values instilled in us as we grew up to be the people we are now. Long story short, Mom had me when she was 18, Dad was 19, and over time I was joined by 5 other siblings. We weren’t at all rowdy or reckless, but we weren’t (and still aren’t) perfect either. We got into the usual scrapes, argued like cats and dogs, sometimes talked back to our elders and sulked when we didn’t get what we wanted. Always, they would be patient and loving, but firm and solid in teaching us right from wrong.
I will forever treasure and be grateful for the fact that they taught the 6 of us to respect, love one another and the people around us. My mom most especially taught us the love of Jesus by being a great example of it. Now that we are adults and the twins are college-age, a lot has been said about the fact that we get along EXTREMELY WELL. I now understand that my honest, open relationship with my family is not exactly the norm in the world we live in. We strive to resolve conflicts or misunderstandings by communicating and trying not to let our emotions rule our rational thought. We are genuinely concerned for one another’s welfare. We may not see eye to eye on everything, but we know that we’ll always have each other’s backs. It is our prayer that my better half and I will be able to raise our mini-me’s with the same regard for people and a real relationship with God.
10. Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. – Elizabeth Stone
It’s hard to say for sure when it was exactly that I fell in love with our Little Miss – the first time I heard her heartbeat, the day we found out we were having a girl, or the first time I laid my eyes on her. As cliché as it sounds, watching her grow up right before my very eyes, I cannot help but be overwhelmed with love for this perfect creature. Everything she does, everything that happens to her affects me in such a grand scale that’s hard to put into words. Some things leave me feeling elated beyond belief: the first time she smiled, laughed, clapped her hands, turned over to her stomach, uttered gibberish, sat up, pulled herself up to stand, planted wet kisses on my cheeks – these all made me feel a mixture of delight and a dull ache in my heart knowing that I can only have these moments of her babyhood for another couple of months, so I cherish them all.
It also sometimes scares the living daylights out of me. The time she fell off the bed was the most frightening we have experienced thus far. This is but a small bump in the road, I know. There are lots of adventures waiting for us, and I pray the good will far outweigh the bad.
As a parent, the bitterest pill I’ve had to swallow is the fact that no matter what I do, at the end of the day I cannot guarantee my Little Miss’ safety. Not everything is within my control. It is such a relief then, to rest in the knowledge that God loves her more than I, My Man, or anyone else on the planet can ever profess. I’ve learned to live each day lifting her up in prayer, trusting that His plan for her, His daughter, my Heart, is perfect.
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