As a first-time mom, the writer shares her daunting experience the first time she was completely alone with her baby overnight and how she struggled.
Last December, I was about to spend my first night alone with my 10-day old son. As a first-time mom, everything about the baby made me nervous. I kept questioning my ability to take care of my newborn all by myself. What if he wouldn’t stop crying? What if I collapsed from exhaustion? What if I needed the toilet whilst holding him?
My sole responsibility was to get my baby through the night safely. Even though anxiety ate at me, I calmed myself by repeating: “How bad could it be?”
My night started peacefully at 8:00 pm. The baby was fed, burped, and asleep. Twenty-five minutes later, he woke up crying: slow cries with abrupt pauses. What was wrong? Was he hungry? Did he need a diaper change? Was he in pain? Parenting books described 7 cries, but to me, they all sounded the same.
I tried changing his diaper, which calmed him and made me realize he was uncomfortable with his wet nappy. Twenty-seven minutes later he cried again. I picked him up and tried soothing him by singing Humpty Dumpty, Fairouz, Madonna and even Eminem songs. Yet, he only calmed down when I sang Happy Birthday. Oh, my son. The Happy Birthday song is eleven months too early. Every time I put him down thinking he was asleep he’d start crying again. My arms ached from carrying him.
Around midnight, he finally fell asleep and I decided to go to bed myself. Little did I know that the night was just beginning. Every time the baby cried and became fussy, I got out of bed to check on him and calm him down. By the sixth time, I started feeling dizzy. This wasn’t going to work. So I moved him to my bed despite the fear from co-sleeping stories I heard of. To be safe, I built a fortress of pillows around the baby so I wouldn’t fall asleep on him.
With his third stretch of crying at 2:45 am, I started feeling bitter as my exhaustion was so profound. At 2:57 am I was considering who to be cruel to and call: my mother or my husband? I was specifically bitter at those perfect moms in social media. They didn’t even have dark circles under their eyes. How is this even possible?
Suddenly, around 5:20 am, he went quiet. The most amazing thing happened immediately after: he smiled whilst looking directly at me. My heart melted at the marvel of that perfect moment. I couldn’t think of anything more perfect or beautiful than that moment when the baby smiled. That smile may have been a relief after finishing his ‘business’ but it was magical. Despite nearly collapsing from exhaustion, this was worth it, a million times over. Nothing compared to it.
To every first-time mom out there who is doubting her ability to take care of her newborn: it is scary and tougher than any book ever mentions. You should only deal with it one day at a time. And do not be afraid because your natural motherly instincts will kick in, for there is no greater love on earth than that between a mother and her baby. Trust me, you can do it, one day at a time.
Shurooq, an Emarati from Dubai, has been on a journey of self-discovery ever since she shifted career from Science to humanitarian where she found joy. Her interests include traveling and foreign films. Shurooq’s column is influenced by those distinctive moments that give a deeper perspective on life.