How motherhood has shaped me
In this week's guest post, Kanmani shares how the experience of motherhood as shaped her so far. If you are expecting a new baby, consider exploring our new lesson series: Guide to Newborns for Expecting Parents. If your state offers this lesson series, you can find it on the Lesson Categories page of wichealth.org.
Motherhood! One term to encompass so many different roles! Life as a mother is a myriad of experiences and responsibilities. I can say, from the very early preterm birth of my little boy, that nothing prepared me for the roller coaster ride that motherhood has been for me. When it comes to health and one’s body—pregnancy, labor, lactation—these are all things one expects to experience. And even though plenty of women have gone through these processes and there is a ton of medical information about them, each individual pregnancy, labor and all other related experiences, can only be defined as unique to each mother and child.
Being able to trust my body through a pregnancy, labor and lactation, especially as a first-time mother, showed me to trust elements greater than myself and marvel at the wonderfully complex, yet perfectly orchestrated symphony of nature and the body. Having a preemie at 26 weeks meant that he had a feeding tube, a ventilator and needed pumped breastmilk.
The ventilator meant that my baby could not make a sound for about 1.5 months. He would cry, sneeze and all, silently. I was lucky enough to hear him cry as soon as he was born. But it took 1.5 months, after he was born, for him to get off the ventilator and start making sounds. Now, as a 3-year old, he makes sure he gets himself heard!! ;0
Pumping milk was a journey all its own! Between the pressures to provide milk for my preemie and my body’s ability to produce the milk, without having had a third trimester in my pregnancy, the milk supply was not sufficient for what my baby needed. Thankfully, there have been women who donated milk. I am eternally grateful to the milk donors, whose precious donated milk provided nutrition and sustenance for my newborn, as I struggled and coaxed my body to pump more milk. As a 26-weeker, breastmilk was very important for the growth and development of my baby. Eventually, he was able to transition to a stage where he could receive both formula and milk. I kept up with giving what I could, for about 7 months. I am proud to say that I did not give up and provided him as much breastmilk as I was able to. We did try for my little one to breastfeed directly. However, having to catch up on his weight and lung development, the strain of breastfeeding was too much for him, it seemed. We finally made it through all those stages and WIC helped with the special formula he needed.
The transition to solid food, albeit a little anxiety-provoking, was an enjoyable experience overall. I experimented with preparing a variety of baby foods at home. Being vegetarian and having a focus on getting my little one on the growth curve, meant that I judiciously planned his baby food meals to include enough proteins, fats and carbohydrates. I also tried to expose him guardedly to a variety of different types of foods so that he may not have allergies due to not having exposure. I am not an expert on allergies, but just tried to use my ‘mom-sense’ to figure out what to give him safely.
Once he was on to more regular food, our kitchen has become a lab of world cuisine experimentation! We have creatively made ‘pizzadelia’ from frozen tortillas and ‘waggle’- a combination of a waffle and a bagel! From beetroot medley mixes to home-made banana bread, our little guy has been our royal ‘customer’ from our active and dynamic kitchen and home cuisine lab!
The challenges from motherhood are aplenty of course. But like someone once told me, parenting can be both one of the hardest and one of the most gratifying things one ever does in life! And this has been true for me so far.
I am very grateful for the experience of having carried and delivered my boy, nurturing and nourishing him and seeing him grow. He has taught me to be happy over little things and helped me re-experience childhood joys once again. He has taught me to be patient (or made me aware of my lack of it!) and prompted me to grow as a person.
More than anything, he has made me realize just how much love I am capable of. He has enlivened our home, enriched our lives and brought a whole lot of joys (and toys!) into our household!
His smiles and lovely face brighten me up, no matter how my day has been going. Every other concern seems to melt away when I see his bright smile and sparkling eyes of wonder.
Motherhood has made me grow up, test my own endurance, patience and faith and helped me realize just how much more I am capable of than I had been aware of!
Motherhood is an experience I cherish and truly treasure!
This blog was written by one of our guest WIC mom bloggers, Kanmani.
Hello! I am a mom to an active 2 year old. When I'm not chasing after him, I enjoy the outdoors, painting, writing, reading and movies. I am also a music buff and enjoy many genres of music. My latest passion is cooking. Find my cooking tips, recipes and motherhood experiences on my personal blog, KanmaniWrites.com.
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