Looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses
The word 'mother' conjures up visions of beatific Madonnas smiling down at the infant in their arms; of warm hugs and comfortable laps; of someone who is always there to wipe away your tears and be your safety net; of someone who always gives, expecting nothing in return. But this is what people see from the outside and what they expect every mother to be like. Consequently, when a woman becomes a mother, she automatically assumes that she will live up to these high standards because the 'maternal instinct' is supposed to be inborn. In reality, motherhood is a rocky road, littered with a hundred obstacles and this always comes as a rude shock to a new mother.
Another pretty picture is of a man carrying his baby, giving her the bottle, playing with her, changing her diapers, etc. This would be the dream dad, but such men are still in the minority (even though there is a rumour that men are becoming more sensitive). It may take men some time to feel comfortable around the baby or they may have no time to help because they're working. Mothers should try to include them in baby activities as far as possible, but not expect too much.
A 24-hour job
It is not unusual for new mothers not to feel the expected rush of maternal love on being confronted with the crumpled, red creature that is their long-awaited baby. They are probably too busy recovering from the or the effects of the anaesthetic if they've had a caesarean. In that condition, it must be difficult to feel anything at all.
It's smooth sailing at the hospital with the nursing staff at your beck and call and friends and relatives pouring in to coo over the baby. But reality bites once the new mother goes home. Suddenly, she's the one who has to nurse, feed, change, and soothe the baby and this is besides having to get on with the rest of her life. The fact is that without help, looking after a baby can be a truly daunting task. Life will become an endless round of chores at a time when a woman's energy is at an all-time low.
I want my life back
A new mother will have to get used to arranging her life according to the baby's convenience. Babies do not care that you've just fallen asleep, or that you're in the middle of dinner or that your hair's a mess because you haven't had the time to go for a haircut. It can be more than a little irritating and quite difficult to get used to.
A new mother's hormones are in a state of flux. This, coupled with the fact that she's not feeling a 100% fit and is trying to adjust to her new round-the-clock job as a mother, can often lead to feelings of depression. It is quite normal to find new mothers becoming teary or irritable for no apparent reason. It's not a sin for them to long for their carefree pre-baby existence and to resent being tied down.
Women often think that they will recover their hourglass figures within a few weeks, once a seven or eight pound baby stops occupying their body space. But this could take up to a year plus a strict regimen of exercise. In the meantime, new mothers are stuck with protruding bellies, no time for grooming, their old jeans still lying abandoned in a corner of the cupboard. In short, feeling frumpy and grumpy.
Mothering comes naturally
New mothers tend to worry about the fact that they fumble when changing a diaper or don't know what to do when their baby gets fever for the first time. This does not mean that they are lacking in the maternal department. Bringing up a baby is pretty much a trial-and-error process and all those people showering advice and criticizing your mothering technique, are people who have probably been as inept in their early days of motherhood. There is no correct way of doing things. Every baby and every mother is different and you have to find what works best for you.
It is the greatest folly to think that life will be the same after the arrival of a baby. How can it? There is a whole new person in your life. Yesterday you were yourself and a wife. Today, you're a mother in addition to the other two. Your relationship with your spouse and the way you look at the world is bound to change. And this is not something you slide into smoothly. As in all kinds of change, there will be a lot of push and pull, ups and downs. But you can handle it better if you know what to expect.
If the preceding paragraphs have led you to believe that the arrival of a baby coincides with doomsday, that was not the intention. Remember forewarned is forearmed. While motherhood is an experience that should not be missed, it is definitely not a bed of roses.