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.