the first month of maternity leave 

Dr Harvey Karp from the Happiest Baby on the Block shared this theory that human babies are immature at birth, compared to other mammals. human babies’ brains are only 25% of their adult size, while other mammal babies’ brains are between 60% to 90% of their adults’. human babies are born 3-4 months earlier, before their heads become too large to pass through the birth canal. that’s why this period is sometimes referred to as the “fourth trimester”.

our first month at home has been about getting to know Watermelon and her temperaments. the first night at home, she wailed and wailed instead of falling asleep. NG and i stared at her blankly as we exhausted the different soothing tricks we learnt during our childbirth class — none of which worked. i was so desperate i almost wanted to Phone a Nenek for some emergency help.

on hindsight though, i would have given her the boob. i didn’t at that time because i had this notion that newborns feed every 3-4h in the early days, and i had just fed her. i didn’t know that babies can want feeds that are 5 min apart. but now i do. ha! and also the day that Watermelon becomes inconsolable by the boob will be the worst day of my life. it’s been a great solution for almost everything hurhur.

luckily we didn’t have anymore wailing + panicked nights. nonetheless the first few nights were still scary. i took things night by night, and learnt to adjust to her various behaviours. some nights i was sooo tired during feeds because i hadn’t napped enough in the day. other nights were quite shiok because she slept relatively long, usually when she’s beside me in bed. there was one night in the first week which was a good night because she mostly slept in the cot. the thing i still struggle with is getting her to sleep in her cot peacefully. it’s something i really want to work towards for the long term, but i think i’ll give us more time coz some nights i really don’t have the perseverance to re-nurse her to sleep after she wakes up crying in the cot. hai~

i also noticed that she seemed calmer around both our mums and my makcik urut. apparently babies can sense if you’re anxious or scared, so i tried to work on my ~energy~ in the initial days, as abstract as that sounds. tried to be more calm and firm, especially when swaddling her. makcik urut even joked that her hands have handled so many babies that Watermelon can probably smell her “members” and therefore feels relaxed/assured by it. lol!

but yes going by the fourth trimester theory above, sometimes i pity her also lah. nine months of being in a womb and suddenly out in this big, open world … because i miss my pregnancy, she would have been welcome to stay longer. notwithstanding the problems that will arise from that, this is just my fantasy talking ya. so sometimes i will “manjakan” her and let her sleep in my arms, on or beside me, so she knows that i’m still around for her.

i hope she will gradually learn to be more independent though coz if we really go the infantcare route, ain’t nobody going to do these for her there 😔

other than that, breastfeeding has been going relatively well so far, alhamdulillah. the sweetest parts are to be needed and to be able to give. the least savoury parts are when she wants to nurse AGAIN! and when she wants to nurse during my meal time … almost every time.

i swear babies take a pledge in the womb underworld that goes like this:

we will to eat when they want to eat, and will wake up when they want to sleep.

i try not to worry about my milk supply, and instead trust that my body will produce enough based on our direct latching. i’ve not tried pumping yet. i also consciously try not to be overly stressed or upset though this is sometimes hard, very hard.

my confinement food is catered by Nar Bakings’ and Culinary. so far i’m quite happy with the service, though i also don’t have high expectations because it is after all, confinement food. i’m just glad that i get to eat balanced meals and that i don’t have to cook … for now. (cue: horror movie music)

i also opted for a 7-day post natal massage. i was scared that it would hurt but it turned out to be so gooood. it was such a nice treat for myself. the breast massage was the most painful to me, but it helped prevent engorgement and blocked ducts — two things that i don’t know much about, especially in the early days — so i didn’t mind. i cried when the 7 days ended. and sobbed a little more when i saw that sweet makcik urut left a little envelope for Watermelon. heh, hormones!

other first month achievements include watching the Korean drama Goblin! heard friends raving about it and decided to reserve it for my maternity leave. NG taught me how to stream the videos on our TV (i’m so left behind on TV technology) so seeing Gong Yoo’s face on our TV instead of my phone screen is just urgh! 😍 am currently watching Reply 1988 after seeing a few people mention that it’s one of their all time favourites. it’s funny how much TV i’ve started watching.

i almost can’t believe i’ve been a mum for one month now! some days i still have a bit of an identity crisis, wondering how to juggle my new responsibilities; why women  have it tough when new dads have it seemingly easy; and when my hips will shrink back and stretch marks fade… 

can’t wait for her to start smiling and recognising us. till then, Watermelon you sleep lots, get chubby, and grow back your hair ok!!

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7 thoughts on “the first month of maternity leave 

  1. Boobs is still the solution for most things at 18 mths haha! But yeah watch your baby and never the clock (when it comes to duration and interval of feeds) and trust your body cos I feel pumping adds unneccessary stress when baby is feeding well directly. You’re doing so well mama!!

    • haha awww i guess there’s nothing more comforting than being super close to your mama!

      yeah agree, i feel it’s better to be oblivious to how much milk i’m producing and instead take cues from baby who will unlatch herself quietly 😌

      when did you start pumping to start your stash before returning to work?

  2. There will be growth spurts or random days when baby latches practically non stop all day, and that makes mothers doubt their supply.

    I started pumping about 2 weeks before. Cos Danyal drinks so much I couldnt get much each time so I just accumulate slowly. When I’m at work, I pump today for tmr’s feed. I have no idea how much is enough so I just give what I can pump, plus he was already on solids at that time. I actually don’t have a freezer stash except for a few emergency packets.

    • ooh… ya that’s the other question i have, how much BM do i have to pump once i start work. it’s good to hear that you give whatever you pump, coz i was chatting with another mummy who pumps 450ml for her baby. i then asked her how she arrived at 450ml, which sounded a lot to me. maybe that happens to be what she can pump coz she doesn’t strike me as one to fret over her supply either.

      also when did you start bottle training Danyal?

      • If I’m not wrong I leave about 360-400ml per day.. I calculate by 120 ml times 3 feeds that I’m away. Haha totally not accurate cos Danyal doesn’t drink 120 ml at one go.
        I didn’t bottle train him :/ I really avoided pumping and I just thought… ahh he’ll take the bottle when he’s hungry. Turns out he drank very little the first few days. When I started solids, I also introduced a straw bottle and he got the hang of it after a few days, and soooo he drinks milk out of a straw bottle/cup hahaha, never took bottles. And he drinks bit by bit throughout the day, the same way he latches when he’s with me.

      • ooh that’s interesting, that he skipped milk bottles and jumped to straw bottles. the class we attended recommended to introduce bottles at 4 weeks if we plan to return to work. sounds early to me, and i’m in no hurry to start pumping 😬 thanks very much for sharing your experience! appreciate it lots 😊

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