*This is a long, sappy post so if you’re not into those kind of stuff, then I’m afraid you’ll have to go somewhere else. *
A friend of mine who gave birth 6 months ago finally got in touch with me recently. I was happy as I haven’t heard from her for a long time. We were former neighbors and she’s one of my closest friends in Japan.
I thought she must be really busy with a new baby to give me updates I wanted. Then yesterday, I got a long email and some photos. I read her email, smiled, saw the photos, smile some more and wept. I did not just cry but I wept.
Somehow, I feel that weeping is more intense than “crying” so I’ll use that word.
No, she wasn’t unhappy with her marriage or her baby, in fact, she’s at the peak of happiness, she says, if there’s one called that. She was glowing in the photos, beaming with pride, in full makeup, slim (I have no idea how someone can manage to be slim after only 6 months!) and simply beautiful. Motherhood bliss. I am so happy for her.
On the other hand, I did NOT look like that 6 months after giving birth, almost 6 years ago. Not even close.
Normally, I don’t get jealous of anyone’s achievement or status but this one got me. How can she say she’s been sleeping well (her baby is a good sleeper right from the start) thus not looking zoombie-like as I did and looking very composed in every angle of every picture? Are all babies good sleepers except mine? Do all moms have that radiant “new mommy glow” except me?
Right after we took Pristine from the hospital, she was crying non-stop. I have done several things trying to solve the problem. Colic? No. Insufficient milk supply on my part? No. Still, the crying would only stop for a few minutes and start again. The babe just wouldn’t let me sleep a bit. After a week, I can’t describe how I looked like. I would smack anyone who’s trying to take a picture of me because I looked that bad.
I often asked myself, “what did I do to deserve this kind of torture?”
Then 60 days after I gave birth, the company where I previously worked for gave me a choice when I went back to work: get relocated in another country or else lose my job. The relocation would be too much for my new family since I would be the main provider and it would be difficult for my husband to find a job at the country we will be moving into.
I lost my job.
I stayed home but had to find ways getting a job again because we can’t manage on single income. I would scour the net for infomation while breastfeeding, wake up late at night to check the classified ads, write resumes and answer to emails. Three hours of continuous sleep was luxury.
During the day, I would call for possible jobs but in hardcore work-centered mentality typical Japanese society, no company is willing take in a new mom. It was also difficult because I was choosing jobs that would fit my schedule and I so wanted to get away from IT jobs (my degree) because simply, there is no way I can commit to overtime work with a new baby.
When Pristine was 6 months, I asked my mom to come to Japan so I could enrol in a community college to study something else so I could apply for other jobs other than IT related ones. I got admitted in a nearby school and my everyday routine would include waking up early morning to take a bath to wash away the stinky pasterurized milk smell, breastfeed while taking breakfast, drive to school, go back home during lunch break to breastfeed while eating lunch, drive back to school, manage leaks and sore breasts during classes, drive back home at 4 pm, breastfeed, lull baby to sleep to do my assignments and at night, pump my breasts for the next day’s feeding. That was my routine for six months. I get dizzy just by remember all of that!
While it was tough for me, I think it was tougher for Pristine. I feel guilty not being there for her all the time. I feel bad not being to see her walk her first steps or hear her first words or see her laugh and coo during the daytime – things I only hear from my mom through the phone or seen through videos that my mom took.
I hated that I have to work when she was small. I still cringe at these kind of thoughts until now.
My friend on the other hand, don’t need to work (my husband apologized that I have to work too). She gives all her time to her baby. She doesn’t have to drive to work and back or pump her breasts, store her milk in the freezer or sort them according to dates or endure long times away from her baby. I bet her PC monitor and keyboard doesn’t have milk smears. She looks perfect. I wish I looked like that 6 years ago. I wish I smiled like that.
Most importantly, I wish I only had to concentrate on child rearing rather than bringing some bacon home.
(No you can’ t tell me to find another high-paying husband so I won’t have to work. That is NOT an option.)
Life is better for me now that Pristine is almost six but somehow, what I went through put me in temporary scare to have another child. I always say I would like to have one again but at the back of my head I am scared – for myself and for the new baby.
By the way, the reason of Pristine crying so much was that she was having extreme allergic reaction to milk and eggs – normal foods I ate and passed on through breast milk! I only came to know that when she was 5 months old.