Being a first time parent is hard. It’s actually unbelievable how hard it is. My son is a few weeks old at this point, and if I were completely honest, I’ve completely forgotten all that it took to get me to motherhood. My mind is somewhere else. Sometimes I’m here, and sometimes I feel like on another planet. No matter how many people who became parents before you tell you how hard it will be once a baby who’s life you’re responsible for comes, you really don’t understand the hardships that come along the way until the baby actually comes.
When I was pregnant with my son, my husband had this unrealistic vision that he’d still be living the exact same life as he did before he had a child once our son would be born. He kept saying it over and over so many times to so many people that he actually started believing that. He even bought himself a ski pass for the winter season. He told me that he could go skiing once a month for a whole day while I was at home with the baby, and everyone would be happy because I’d get time away from him, he’d get to set time aside for a physical activity that he enjoyed, and we’d meet in the middle ground and spend time together when he’d get home in the evening once the baby was asleep. Obviously, the ski pass will NOT be used up; at least not this winter season.
I myself was in complete and utter denial just how difficult having a baby would be. Compared to my life now, pregnancy seems to have been a breeze, and I had a difficult, high-risk pregnancy. I’ve previously written about my pregnancy journey in numerous blog posts since I made it public back in June. If you’re new here or need a refresher, you can check back to all my previous posts since the month of June to get to know exactly what I’m talking about. And despite how hard I thought it was to be pregnant, I still was naïve enough to be looking for a full time job. I thought all motherhood to a newborn entailed was changing diapers and feeding. How hard could it possibly be? Actually, it’s extremely hard. It’s only easy during the stay at the hospital after the baby is born because you’ve got nurses around the clock taking care of you and the baby, both when necessary by the clock and when you need the help. I didn’t end up getting a job as I planned, and that’s probably for the best. I always want to give it my all and be 100% present in whatever I’m doing. Right now, motherhood is what I’m doing. I’ll be doing that for the rest of my life, but right now, I’m just figuring out my new life as a mother and how to navigate motherhood into everything else that I’m doing. That’s essentially my main priority for the next little while.
Luckily, my husband had a full month off of work as soon as I went into labour. I don’t know how I would’ve survived the first week even without him being fully present with me and the baby. My parents were also helpful, and continue to be a big help, as well as my mother-in-law, who came from Israel for a couple of weeks as soon as the baby was born to meet her first grandchild and to help us out in any way she could. This type of help where people you trust the most help you out with your newborn is so crucial. I’d say it’s even more important than any monetary help. My statement was confirmed by my family doctor when he told me it was important to get help from people who’d already done it (parenting a newborn) before.
It’s especially true for a woman like me – a new mother with cerebral palsy and epilepsy who’s navigating her new life taking care of a baby. I’ve written in previous blog posts that cerebral palsy never really affected me on a physical level, but rather on an emotional level and mental well-being. This couldn’t be farther from the truth once my son was born. I had an extremely difficult time taking care of my baby on a physical level. I couldn’t change his diapers, clothe him, or feed him properly. After a while, I began consistently apologizing to my husband for being so useless to him with the baby. That’s just how I felt my contribution as a parent was at – useless. But then again, what does the word ‘properly’ even mean? Is there even a proper way of doing anything these days, either with your baby or otherwise?
I’ve always been the type of person who never let their disability define them. If there ever was a task I couldn’t do or was more difficult for me to do, I always found ways to go around them and do them differently. As I became a mother, I lost track of that person. Every time my baby cried, I cried, because I felt I couldn’t do anything to make him stop crying. It seemed as though the more I tried to help him, the more he cried, so I stopped trying for a while. With that, I had no connection with my son whatsoever. I stopped caring that he cried or that he even needed his mom for love and affection, specifically through doing skin to skin. Getting all the help that I did gave me a time to recharge and get back to my old self slowly but surely.
Now, almost a month into motherhood, I’ve fully adjusted into my new life as a mom and I can now confidently say that I’m able to take care of my baby independently. It takes me longer to complete all the tasks I have to do and I do them differently than an able-bodied parent would do it, but I do everything I need to do nonetheless to make sure my baby is safe and sound (and happy). But it’s only thanks to all the help I’d been getting these past few weeks that I was able to get past my insecurities and guilt towards my son. It’s only thanks to all the help I’d been getting that I was able to get back to my old self again so quickly, though it felt like forever. That’s why I wholeheartedly encourage each and every woman who’s a new mom to always ask for help and to never turn down help when help is offered. It doesn’t matter if you’re disabled or not. It’s hard being a new mom either way. Therefore, moms always need to support each other and lift each other up.