The Second Time Around...
Abundant joy, post baby blues, gestational diabetes, moments of pure magic...Welcome to my story of Motherhood 2.0!! As my baby girl Divya turns eight months old next week, I think I am now in a better state of mind to write about my experience of being a mom, and learning about unconditional love, once again! I will not bore you with the obvious stuff, but I wanted to share with you some of the most important observations I noticed as a parent the second time around.
MY HUSBAND AND I ARE MORE PATIENT ... WITH EACH OTHER
You may have heard that the birth of a child brings the parents closer together, but that wasn't exactly the case when our son, Arjun was born seven years ago. Not that Abhay, my husband, and I would fight a lot, but I remember us being very annoyed and cranky most of the time. We were very short with each other back then, and most of it stemmed from the fact that as first-time parents we were putting too much pressure on ourselves, and each other. This time around, I didn't monitor Abhay about how he is holding Divya, or dealing with her fussiness.... he is much more patient with her and is doing a fabulous job, I must say! He is also more patient with me about my mood swings and outbursts (more on that below). He has never been one to use Hallmark worthy phrases, but when I am down, he steps in with chores, lets me take a nap, and most importantly, knows when to ignore me till I come around. And that means a whole lot more to me than sweet nothings.
DEALING WITH BODY IMAGE ISSUES
With both my kids, I gained more than 50 lbs during the pregnancy. No matter how much I watched what I ate, or exercised on a regular basis, I just piled on the pounds. That is when I realized how much our body shape and weight is controlled by hormones! Both times, I tested positive for gestational diabetes. With my son, my sugar levels were a lot higher and they had to put me on insulin. I remember being very shocked, because I was a typical yoga-loving, salad-eating California gal at the time, so how could I have sugar issues! With Divya, I was more careful and my levels weren't as bad. But the thing is even though gestational diabetes disappears after childbirth, losing that extra weight is a giant pain in the a**! It took me 18 months to lose the baby weight with Arjun, and it hurt my self esteem and confidence.
Right now, I am still wearing my maternity clothes, and hate dressing up for an evening out. But then some days these horrible clouds of self doubt will disappear; when I remind myself that I did it once, and I can do it again. I have started my yoga practice, even if I get just 10 minutes every now and then. I have started doing intense workouts once or twice a week. I know its going to be a slow process. Some people drop their baby weight in just 6 weeks, some take 6 months, and for me it might be closer to a year, but working on that mental strength is my goal for now. (FYI, I tried my regular pair of jeans this morning and they fit, albeit a bit snug around the middle ;)
POST BABY BLUES: Hit me after 3 months! Ha
I have never considered myself to be a depressed soul. Maybe moody, but depressed, never. But let me tell you that post partum depression is very real, and can sneak up on you at any stage after the baby. When both my kids were born, I was fortunate enough to have my mother around for an extended period of time. I never felt super exhausted during the initial months because while I was busy caring for my girl, my mom was busy caring for me. It was the most beautiful time I spent with my mom as an adult. With Abhay traveling for work, I am alone most weekdays, but I didn't feel lonely because of my mom. But soon after she left, I felt like I was in a vacuum. Most days I enjoyed being with my little one, especially as she got more interactive, but then there were days where I was just grumpy and sad. Not sure if this classifies as depression, but I know I didn't feel OK. It didn't help that I was reading about wars and mass shootings, not to forget our presidential election. Thank goodness for NETFLIX!! I resumed watching The Gilmore Girls, and followed it with The Office. These shows saved my sanity! I am also fortunate enough to be surrounded with great friends and neighbors, and I can always count on my girlfriends to cheer me up. Being a new mom can sometimes be very isolating, but that feeling is short lived. Yes, seeing your baby will make you happy, but you need to make time for yourself, even if it means binge watching TV!
ON A HAPPIER NOTE: YOU ENJOY THE SECOND CHILD MORE. Even better, you enjoy watching the sibling love!
YES, what they say is true!! The second time around you are not as stressed about getting the basics of parenting right. You know you managed it the first time, and your child survived, so clearly you are a pro at this. We have enjoyed cuddling baby Divya (her name means bright light) and picking her up each time she cries, knowing fully well that we cannot spoil her at this stage. What has been a treasure to watch though, is how my son Arjun just dotes on his little sister. Many folks had told me about older siblings' love for the newborn baby, but it was just magical to actually witness it each time the kids look at each other! Those moments have made me cry more than anything. Of course, I am also aware that this 'magic' is short lived and soon they will be arguing or fighting or avoiding each other, but for now let me have my blissful image :)
So there you have it... my version of this emotional ride! Motherhood brings this enormous capacity for women to rip open their heart to make even more space for their growing tribe. It forces you to be more aware of your state of mind. I count my blessings every day, and hope to do my best as a responsible mom.
If you read the entire post, I thank you very much for bearing with me! If you are a new mom, I hope you can relate to my experience and know that this is a very normal circle of life. If you know of someone who might like this post, especially a new mom, please do share it with them.
To read more of Shivangi Parikh's work go to her website here.