She’s eight weeks old now; our precious Gong. Eight weeks! Her father and I have kept another human being alive for eight whole weeks. It’s been one hell of an interesting ride, and I’m coming out of it feeling like a real badass. Yeah, I’m a bad bitch. A bad cow if you will. I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Can you tell? I went and watched Girls Trip last week, I got a mani-pedi on Monday so my nails are looking good, I had a sip of wine since October 2016 on Tuesday evening, on Thursday Gong slept in her cot for about an hour and a half (a record) and I’ve just had lunch of ugali and mayai and read my book a little. Life’s good. If you ignore the niggling itch in my scalp that just won’t go away. Who cares about that when I’ve also just managed to express 60 ml of milk after nursing her? I. Cannot. Be. Touched. Right. Now.
I’ve learned many, many things in the last 11 months since I found out I’d managed to get knocked up at 30, contrary to my plans (read, I didn’t have any plans, I just didn’t think it would happen). I’ve said it many times, I’m finding motherhood a big challenge, and sometimes I want to hand the baby back and pretend I’m only mother to my struggling cactus, which has survived many moons despite me. But then she smiles and coos and I forget how sleepy I am, and how badly I want to just chill with junk and a book or a good series.
I hear moms say they don’t remember how life was before they got their babies. I don’t understand it though, because my memory is very crisp. I had freedom; sweet, sweet freedom. I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I didn’t have this stupid, stupid breakout that’s leaving me with dark spots around my jawline, and while my tummy was never flat, it certainly wasn’t the pooch I have now.
At times, when I’ve had a particularly rough day, I miss it, and I dream of how nice it would be to have my old life back. But then I hear her cry and I’m jolted back to my new reality and I get up to attend to her, inhaling that sweet baby scent and shushing her back to calm while I switch on the white noise app to play her the soothing sound of waves crashing against the beach, which she enjoys. On those days, I think of my new IG and blog fam, the women – both mothers and those still enjoying their freedom – who take a few minutes to send me messages of support, telling me how pretty our baby is (I do not tire of being told that, so don’t stop), sharing their own experiences and helpful tips and telling me not to worry because I’m being the best mom I can be to Gong.
On those days, when I’m sitting on a fresh cushion (I’ve taken to rotating positions on the couch because my fat ass is creating dents in my seat), breastfeeding for what feels like an eternity, I tell myself to take it easy because nobody can be a perfect mom.
I’ve already accepted that I will probably never be the woman who pumps even 300ml in a day; leave alone those YouTube moms who are doing 1200ml a day with ease while breastfeeding on schedule and sticking to a rigorous meal plan and workout routine. The other day I expressed 125ml in about 45 minutes after switching from the Avent Single Electric (which was crap) to the Medela Mini Electric pump (my new bae), and I felt like I deserved an award.
I’m the mom who bathes my daughter every other day instead of daily; who forgets to apply special lotion to her sensitive skin twice a day as directed by the doctor then lies to the doctor that she’s been doing it at least once a day to avoid reproach, when she knows that sometimes she doesn’t even do it once a day because she’s too tired to remember.
I’m the mom who asks herself whether it’s necessary to change the diaper in the middle of the night, and proceeds to let the baby stay with it a little longer just to catch a slightly longer snooze, rationalizing that her bum is protected by that Zinc & Castor cream that she slathers on at every diaper change.
I’m the mom who cusses when the baby wakes up 15 minutes into her evening nap because she wanted a short break to take her second shower of the day and chill with her Lover and baby daddy a little; the one who has not been giving the baby tummy time every day as instructed by the books and mommy forums, because the baby hates it and the mother figures that babies in shagz are not forced to do it and are still able to support their own heads with time.
I’m the mom who doesn’t burp her baby sometimes, just to avoid waking her up when she dozes on the boob; the mom came close to drowning her spawn during bath time (that flipping the baby to wash her back manoeuvre is a trial), but realized almost immediately and corrected it like a super hero.
But I’m also the mom who is now eating and drinking all manner of things in an effort to boost milk supply, never mind that it’s meant shelving her weight loss plans and spending a few moments each day reminiscing about her pre-baby body. I’m the mom who has learned to talk to her child in that silly high-pitched voice and make faces just to entertain her, which is in stark contrast to her real personality and the resting bitch face that comes with it.
I’m the mom who is trying her best to express milk regularly, even when her nipples are sore and she finds it a mind numbingly boring task, and is only able to get 20ml after a feed sometimes; the one who sings and hums to her baby even though she cannot carry a tune to save her life and knows she sounds really bad doing it.
I’m the mom whose phone is full of her daughter’s pictures, who is obsessing about creating a beautiful nursery for her so she can live in comfort even if she doesn’t know it yet; the one who shamelessly shares pictures of her daughter with the world, in the low key hope that some advertising exec will see them and cast her in an ad so that she can start making her own money because financial independence is important (and her parents wouldn’t mind it if she paid her own school fees).
There are days when it feels like all I’ve done is breastfeed all day and tried to get the baby to sleep, and I’m tired and my shoulders hurt and I’m in need of a massage. It’s on days like these that I think of all the things I do to keep my baby comfortable (and alive), and I wonder why people say there’s no such thing as a perfect mom. Yet here I am.
If you don’t believe me you can ask My Lover, who this morning said the sweetest thing to me while burping the baby: “If there’s any perfection I’ve seen in a mom, it’s in you.” And you know what? I believe him. I am the perfect mom to my sweet Gong.