am a seven-week-old mother.
My little person turns seven weeks tomorrow. It has been seven weeks of learning, unlearning and re-learning. Seven weeks of breastfeeding, burping and changing diapers on a daily basis. Seven weeks of panicking and taking deep breaths then going back to panic mode.
Bathing a seven week old baby makes you cringe
I never imagined that such a little person could be bathed in the ‘gigantic’ basin I had bought without breaking any of her bones. The image of the nurse holding her fragile bones as she cleaned her, is fresh on my mind. It made me cringe as I wondered why an infant had to bathe. I no longer do that. Showering, as I have discovered, is the perfect antidote for tiredness, fussiness and sleeplessness.
Sleep becomes the ‘unseen’ guest that occasionally stops by
She would not burp with ease in the first few weeks. I would sigh helplessly as I tried to get her to burp. Try doing that at 1 a.m. and you will understand why it is possible to be sleep-walk to work at 6 a.m. Do it for a week and you develop an acute sense of hearing. You can hear the random leaf, drifting from a branch to the ground. You can hear the heaves of the neighbour as they toss and turn in bed, savoring the sleep that you are currently estranged from. The crickets in night, the wayward drunk, the cars finding their way home, you capture all of it. Sleep becomes the ‘unseen’ guest that occasionally stops by for a recharge before swiftly moving onto greener pastures. You become the crazy person who runs after it while chanting like a Bollywood star.
I spend hours talking to her though she cannot respond
A child robs you of your sense of time. You barely notice the hours go by. You record the first smile; treasure the first time she stared at you. The poop and the pee in the dead of the night don’t make you flinch a muscle. Why do we lose that as adults? A child smiles at nothing. No one considers it awkward. An adult smiling over nothing is considered crazy, weird or both. No wonder the world is such a mean place. I digress. I find myself captivated by every little act. Her ability to turn her head, her fixed gaze at an object, her fart, her mild grasp of my forefinger: every little act is precious. I value the silent moments as she kicks and grunts on her play mat; content in being her companion.
Even though she cannot respond yet, I spend hours talking to her. She simply rolls her eyes and moves on to the next item on her agenda. I am slowing down after years of being in a hurry to grow up, go places and do things. For the first time, I am slow and I am proud of it.
Parenting is about panicking
Seven weeks of parenting make you realize parenting is about panicking. Is the water too hot? Is she warm enough? Has she had enough milk? Why is she still crying? Has she had enough sleep? Or is it too little? They say Google is your friend but motherhood teaches you otherwise. Google is the friend you call as a last resort. For every piece of advice on the internet, there are three or four contradicting pieces. Looking for advice on the best way to put your baby to sleep? There are parent led sleep schedules, baby led schedules and parent-baby led schedules. There are experts to back every method and experts to counter methods. There are chat rooms with camps of content parent-led schedule followers and content baby- led schedule followers.
Google is your friend if you know what you want from a friend. Do you want to confirm your biases or discredit them? Google can help you do both. Do you want to affirmation for your decision to keep her hair or cut it? Google cannot help you with that. You have to make that decision.
There is no exact science in the instinct zone.
Speaking of decisions, there are tons of decisions I have had to make for my little person. Those who have walked this path before me reliably inform me that a mother’s instincts are never wrong. They are right to some extent. Unfortunately our instincts have pruned and dulled over the years. One woman’s instincts can be completely off the charts. Mother instincts of another woman can be exact to a tee. There is no exact science in the instinct zone. You do your bit in the best way you know how.
Now I know why some mothers swear by one brand of diapers over another. I know why others keep off certain brands in spite the fact that they are highly recommended. I know why it is important to wake up in the dead of the night and check up on my little person. Certitude is overrated. Faithful steps in the moment are what count.
The other day, I had a panicky moment. I called my hubby who said something I live by. He said, “Our job is not to be the best parents. Our job is to be there for her.” That is all I want to do for her for now.