It’s been 1 and a half month since I started working and being a FTWM. I was lucky that there were public holidays, a few off days for Hadi’s vaccination appointments and a short holiday trip in February, so most weeks are short weeks. It makes my transition smoother and there wasn’t really a shock to my system upon returning to the workforce, since I was most anxious about pumping at work.
A few drama has been happening at work, which made the whole returning-back-to-work experience sucky. In short, my boss tried to kick me out of the team and offered me another position which is totally unrelated to my degree, but then suddenly there was an announcement that the company is splitting into 2, so my transfer was put on hold. During my ML, 1 of my colleague was also asked to leave, 2 were kind of “deported”. So even though it’s business as usual for now, everyone’s morale is low because the company is obviously not doing well anymore and we don’t know if bonus is getting delayed and I will never forget the fact that my boss tried to kick me out in the middle of my ML even though the big company announcement saved my ass.
Drama aside, I was initially worried about managing household chores and new routines once I start work, but bf and I have settled into our new routine pretty smoothly. We are both very involved in getting Hadi ready and sending him to IFC together every morning, and then bathing and settling him at home every evening. I used to be a lot more resentful towards bf in the early months for many reasons, especially when he goes out to work and I am left at home with a baby and expected to manage the bulk of the chores (with hardly any time to rest, while he deserves to rest more because he went out to work *eyerolls*), which I discovered is a very normal and common postpartum feeling. But it’s getting a lot better now that he handles most of the laundry chores on weekends while I sleep in slightly longer since I do night feedings everyday. Surviving on 4-5hr sleeps on weekdays is really no joke. As much as my body is getting used to surviving on very little sleep now, I shouldn’t get too complacent and push myself too hard because my body has crashed from exhaustion. Last week was the second time I fell sick, and I had the worst headache/migrane in my life last Saturday. We did a short weekend road trip with my in-laws to Malaysia the previous weekend and that was partly to blame for my exhaustion as well. Weekends feel sooooo short now and we’re still figuring out how to manage them, juggling between attending social gatherings, visiting our parents, doing laundry, home maintenance, spending quality time together, going through papers and finances, and finding the time to go shop for more baby stuff as Hadi is rapidly growing bigger everyday. Communication and teamwork is really key in making this whole co-parenting thing work. And I’ve learnt to be less calculative, stop sweating the small stuff and to pick my battles for the sake of each other’s mental health. There’s too much mental load already as a mum and having a constant mental checklist of things to do. I don’t have much space left in my brain to bear unnecessary grudges when I see dirty dishes in the sink or used cups lying around everywhere. I am also guilty of not cleaning up after myself sometimes, so we are getting used to picking up each others’ shit with one closed eye.
On breastfeeding, I’m just really happy that Hadi can continue to latch very well when I’m home cos I was worried he would start to prefer bottle over boob. My freezer is still very full with my FBM stash. In an attempt to clear some space, I offered to donate away some FBM, but no one has taken up my offer yet. I even reduced pumping from 3 to 2 sessions at work, which led to a slight reduction in my supply because I hardly get engorged now and fewer/weaker letdowns. But overall, it’s still quite okay and nothing to worry about yet. Pretty sure Hadi will still get to be exclusively breastfed till he turns 6mo. I’m also kind of getting the hang of pumping in office under a nursing cover so that I can still be productive at my desk. I would keep my EBM and pump parts in the pantry fridge and bring them home at the end of the day. I’ve been using the spectra handsfree cups and I initially thought that it doesn’t work well on me, but I discovered that it’s dependant on the bra I use. Certain bras are too tight or too fitting and will not yield as much milk. It also helps a lot to do breast compressions during pumping, which I try to do when I’m not too busy working on the computer. But having said that, I agree that normal flanges are still better than the handsfree cups. I only use the normal flanges at home though.
To keep myself up to date with the whole motherhood and babyhood journey, I have been joining various Facebook groups and mummy whatsapp groupchats. It really helps a lot especially if you don’t have a lot of mummy friends and I gained so much knowledge just by reading people’s posts and conversations even if I don’t participate in them. Some of the groups I joined are breastfeeding mothers support group (my favourite), babywearing group, childcare group, pregnancy group and a mummy’s groupchat for October EDD mummies. Without these resources, I wouldn’t have gained so much knowledge on breastfeeding, childcare matters and protocols, or what to look out for when buying baby gears. Now that Hadi is 4mo, I just realised I need to start buying a walker/bouncer/booster seat, baby mat and the baby cage thingy. Some mummies have already started placing their 4mo on those bumbo floor seat and their babies look so happy in them! I am also starting to read up more on solid food and food preparation for when it’s time to intro solids.
I think being a FTWM and SAHM is almost equally physically tiring. In fact, being a SAHM might be more mentally draining. I’ve also been feeling the mum guilt since I started work because I spend wayyy lesser time with Hadi now. By the time we reach home at 7pm, we have so little time to spend together before his bedtime at 8.30-9pm. In the morning, we only get to see him awake for 30 minutes to 1 hour before we whisk him off to IFC. So in total we only have max 3 hours waking time with him every weekday. As much as we want to spend more quality time together as a family on weekends, there’s so much laundry to catch up on, parents and in-laws to visit, weddings/social gatherings to attend and other chores and errands to run. Because I am spending lesser time with him now, Hadi seems to be growing a lot faster. He is getting more active by the day and carrying him feels like carrying an octopus, with his hands and legs going everywhere. He surprises us with his milestones and antics all the time. Dude even wants to sit in his bathtub by himself and doesn’t like us holding him during bath time.
All in all, it’s been a very rewarding journey. Motherhood is the most selfless job in the world. I remember coming home from the hospital after giving birth and looking at my ugly postpartum body, thinking of all the things mothers have to give up and sacrifice just to bring a new life into this world. They give up their freedom, went through morning sickness, aches and pregnancy discomforts, gained so much weight and stretchmarks, their physical health, hormones and fitness level are never the same again, their boobs changed into weird shapes, flabs everywhere, eyebags and dark circles, dealing with engorgement, blocked ducts, mastitis, postpartum hairloss. And the list goes on. I remember looking into the mirror and not recognising myself and my body anymore. I have changed. Not just physically, but also as a person. Although I can’t quite put a finger on it. As a breastfeeding mum, I feel like my body is not mine. There is an invisible leash that attaches my body to my baby or a pump. I need to watch my diet and can’t eat as freely as I want, because the food I eat is also consumed by my baby. My world revolves around my child now. Everything that I do, it is Hadi first, me later. My needs, my wants, my sleep, my emotions, my everything is put on a backseat. Sometimes it feels like I am losing myself, but I need to put all those aside to make room for only love to give. Truly, you gain a lot more respect and appreciation towards mothers when you become one yourself.
Kan sis dah emo.