My labor was a long and tough ride which seemed to go on forever. And by forever, I mean 19 hours, which is a lot of pushing and screaming that one could take. I remember the day precisely. It was a Wednesday night when I was in my living room watching TV. I got up during one of the breaks to get some popcorn and enjoy the rest of my late-night series marathon. As I was walking toward the kitchen, I felt a gush of fluid hitting the floor. My water broke. To my horror, my husband was working overnight. Yeah, the one time he had to be there! Thankfully I had a narrow window before my contraction started to occur. I booked myself a cab, grabbed the hospital bag, informed my husband and headed straight to the hospital.
After a night of painful contractions and pushing, and a brief discussion of maybe doing a C-section, my cervix finally dilated to 10 cms. After a long and tiring labor, I finally got to hold my baby for a while. We had skin-to-skin contact and I breastfed her shortly after. After a few suckles, she fell asleep on my chest and the nurse took her away.
Later I woke up to the sound of the nurse who was trying to wake me up. “How long have you been sleeping?” she asked in a serious tone. I had no idea what day it was or for how long I passed out.
“How many times did you feed her?” screamed the nurse again. I was frantically looking for a clock that would give me some clue on how long I have slept.
My eyes wandered to my little munchkin and to my surprise she was in deep sleep. “Wake her up and feed her now. You have to do it every few hours.” She was muttering something under her breath on her way out.
And just like that, the first day with my baby was ruined with the nurse screaming at the top of her lungs accusing me of being a bad mom. Though she didn’t say it out loud, that’s exactly how I felt. I gently woke my angel from her sleep and breastfed her as I was told by the nurse. My eyes welled up with tears as I was caressing my baby while nursing her. ‘I had already failed as a mother, and I’ve not even left the hospital yet. Great!’
Breastfeeding my daughter was easy. We had a great bonding time, and I cherished every moment I got to hold her in my arms. And whenever I wasn’t nursing her, it was nap time for both of us. And because help was right around the corner with my mom and sister staying nearby, I could get plenty of rest during the initial few weeks after birth.
When fellow mommies of my new mom tribe were complaining of being sleep deprived and exhausted, I had an entirely different experience. I didn’t want to rub it on their nose about how I could sleep like a baby. And so I would play along a bit and pretend to be sleep deprived as well.
But I had a particularly hard time when I had visitors in the house. And let me tell you, we had more than a few. “Why is she sleeping so much? Is this normal? ”
“Don’t you think it’s time to wake her up and feed her?”
“Does she wake up at all? Babies are no fun.” said my little niece.
“Don’t you think it’s time to wake her up and feed her?” said another.
“I don’t think you are feeding her enough. Here’s my doctor’s card. I think you should go and see her once.” is my favorite.
Even though I knew that my baby was fine and that she was healthy and happy, I couldn’t stop wondering if I’m not feeding her enough. There were times when I would wake her up from sleep and tried to force-feed her. She would get cranky and ended up crying every single time. Then I would feel bad that I ruined her precious sleep. I finally realized that’s just how my baby is. She sleeps a ton. And rather than being worried about it, I made the most out of it. I slept, read books, didn’t allow as many guests as before, cleaned up the house and did laundry.
Others can’t help giving you advice or sharing their wisdom about motherhood. And though they do it with the purest of intentions, it may not always be right. And if you think it’s ruining your sleep and sanity, think twice before you blurt out how much your baby loves to sleep.