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You have an option!

Contributor: Aastha Kapoor Singhania

Someone has rightly said, “motherhood is the toughest job in the entire world”. It comes with a no holiday, sick day and no pay check contract. It also sometimes makes you feel, ‘I’m probably the worst that can be.’ But listen, who wrote the rules? What are rules? Is it something that one should do or obey, or is it what others have told you and one follows blindly? There are no answers because we were never given any. Sometimes our parents seem as confused as we are and the only thing that can save is obliging them for the respect of traditions and culture. The 21stcentury has questioned almost everything that has come by. We all need scientifically proven answers. It should all make sense. Unlike 20 years ago, our generation today is present to what is convenient and what needs to be kept at bay. 

I became a mother in 2016 and that was the most beautiful feeling I have felt so far. Each day has been a new day and my little boy leaves no moment to surprise me. They grow so quickly and today one cannot tell if he was breastfed or formula fed. Every mother and child goes through a different journey; Arhaan and mine was difficult too. Breastfeeding, these days, is a common word, spoken and discussed at many homes, between many couples, and in-laws. London is especially very open about feeding in public, having feeding rooms in malls, and making sure that the new mother feels every bit of comfort in providing that comfort for the child. My husband and I too went for antenatal classes that prepared us for what was to come, especially how I was expected to nurse the baby. My mid-wife, too, came home for 6 weeks after delivery to make sure I was doing it right. But I couldn’t. I could not breastfeed my child- my own son. In my eyes, that was the biggest failure I could’ve had. One takes these things for granted and because I did not prepare myself for this, it came as a major blow. 

Arhaan was born through caesarean and I was told it would take 2-3 days for me to start milking. But my child, who was very under weight when he was born, lost more weight. We all panicked and despite, everyone telling me keep trying, Arhaan would not latch on. I remember my husband storming out of the room, picked up the car keys and left to get formula powder late at night. I cannot forget the expression Arhaan had on his face as he gulped 2 ounces down in merely 40 seconds. He stared at us in amazement, probably wondering, “Why couldn’t you do this before?”. Funny as it was at the time, it made me feel so guilty that I had decided in my mind, that I was the worst mother ever. 

I kept trying and there were some rare days when he would latch on beautifully. The rest of them, he would not have his fill. Every feed had to be topped up with formula, something he relished. Even today, he is a ‘doo-doo’fan. After three months, I gave up and switched to formula milk. Life became easier- I could step out, get back to the gym, started work and was a happy better me. But you know what crazed me out was that one question that people take the liberty to ask- “Are you breastfeeding? I hope you are”, or “Try this food, or that laddoo, or this seed or that leaves”. I found that very absurd, especially when I was not able to breastfeed the way a mother is supposed to. I don’t see why there is a need to intrude into a space that I’ve made quite comfortable for both my baby and me. Women, new to motherhood, need someone to lend them a soothing ear and words that do not make them feel lost in the process. With such vicissitudes raging in a woman, peer pressure can act catalyst to onset of post-natal depression. Please be very careful in how you deal with a new mum. 

It is every mother’s duty to provide nourishment to her kids and her family. No one said it has to be done from the breast. If you can, yes! Why not? If you cannot, there is no harm. I remember when I was preparing for my delivery, the confident me had bought several of those milk-freezing packets, so I could freeze any excess milk I would produce. I was also told how breast-feeding makes you lose all the pregnancy weight. I have friends who were able to follow this step-by-step. Well, no such luck here and quite obviously I had to return the milk bags. 

A happy mother is the ultimate thing to strive for, for if you are not, your baby is not.The problem becomes when breastfeeding becomes a chore and you can’t wait to get past the crucial 6 weeks to get out of it. Go with the flow, definitely trying to breast feed in the first place. However, do not forget that there is a second option to turn to. It is absolutely okay to do so. Don’t let this defeat your strength and take the essence of motherhood out of you.A new mother’s peace of mind is of utmost importance. I can say this as it whacked me out emotionally till good guidance calmed my nerves down, only for the better. Slowly but surely, pace picks up and you can always come back to breastfeeding when you can comfortably. 

I am a firm believer in working things out for oneself. We, as women, get so entangled in what other people think about us and what they have to say.  The day you let go of such thoughts and believe in what is best for you, it’ll be a cakewalk. After all, as a mother one does become intuitive and you will know what you child is like and what will make him/her a happy baby. I want to share something, which I have recently learned from a forum I did early this year. They taught me how we humans perceive a problem. A problem is something, which gets in your way or stops you from acting towards your commitments or goals. Most problems come with a justification. For example, 

I want to write an article but I am too sleepy.

I want to travel but I don’t have the money.

I want to go to a party but the dress does not fit me.

I want to breastfeed my child but I am not able to do so.

Note, how all problems come with a reason attached to it with the word ‘but’. 

What if I now tell you, to replace all the ‘buts’ with the word ‘and’. Lets see how the problems sound now:

I want to write an article and I am too sleepy.

I want to go to India and I don’t have the money.

I want to go to a party and the dress does not fit me.

I want to breast feed my child and I am not able to do so.

The problems don’t sound like problems anymore. They’re mere statements which definitely have a way around them. So what if you want to go to a party and your dress does not fit you. Find another one. So what if you want to travel somewhere and you don’t have the money. Save some. So what you are not able to breast feed. Give them formula. You will stop fretting and empower yourself to amazing possibilities in life. 

The madness does not stop and neither should you. Keep your family and friends close and do not shy away from sharing what you feel. To all the new mums, a new chapter has just begun and enjoy this unconditional love that you both have for each other. This is the best pay check you could’ve ever received.

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