“I always thought I knew a lot about being a mum. After all, I had many close friends who were mums, and I thought I knew what it would be like to raise a child.
I had heard all about breastfeeding problems, had my views on co-sleeping and bouncing a baby to sleep. In my head, we would have an angel baby and I would implement all the stuff I’ve read in the books.
As it turns out, I was in for a surprise when I found out my baby was a demanding milk guzzler who would cry suddenly to be fed like we have starved him for days. He takes forever to fall asleep — flailing his arms while screaming his lungs out and hated to be put down.
The first two weeks were overwhelming even with a confinement nanny. The pressure to instantly become a competent mum left me in quite a mess. I had to deal with recovery from the biggest operation of my life, coupled with my milk supply in overdrive — which left me with sore, rock-hard boobs (I even had trouble sleeping on my side). As I was getting used to broken sleep, I was still struggling with learning how to calm an incessantly-crying baby I didn’t understand!
“Nurturing another human being 24/7 and constantly problem-solving and trouble-shooting meant moments of feeling emotionally and physically bankrupt.”
My brain was always buzzing with how to solve the next baby-related problem, while trying to keep afloat physically and emotionally. I didn’t want to admit that I was not doing so well, even to my husband. I wanted to be that put-together positive mummy I always imagined becoming.
Running my own business also meant that on top of the chaos happening at home, there were emails that needed to be replied, designs that needed to be pushed out and issues that needed to be. Plus, I had to be there for my team members.
In my drastically altered world, even though I didn’t know how to say it then, I needed my husband to be an endless river of love and support for me. Even if I had very little to give in return.
Nurturing another human being 24/7 and constantly problem-solving and trouble-shooting meant moments of feeling emotionally and physically bankrupt. An involved father and an encouraging husband was absolutely essential for my sanity.
Read on to find out what Jaime’s hubby did during his paternity leave to ease her burden.
My husband, Justin, took his paternity leave when our child was born to help out around the house with things like laundry and groceries. He also took one week of shared parental leave after the confinement nanny left to help me make the transition to dealing with the baby without an extra pair of hands. I honestly believe, this change would have been so much more isolating and harder without him around.
During that one week, Justin made it a point for us to go out as a family for walks or meals. To get me accustomed to using the car seat, packing the diaper bag, feeding and putting baby to sleep while on the go.
It encouraged me and boosted my morale as a scared new mum to have him help make decisions and help us move forward as a family. Those weeks with him around made all the difference, and gave me the courage to progress as a mum.
We are blessed to live in an age where involved fathers are the norm, rather than the exception. I believe paternity leave is not just meant for dads to spend time with their children but to utilise it to love and understand their wives and be a helping hand.
It’s an integral role they play as their wives transition into a whole new world and take on the most significant responsibility of their lives.
Paternity leave made a huge difference in the early days of my mummy-life. Even today, every gesture and policy to increase dad’s time with the family — such as legislating the second week of paternity leave, shared parental leave, childcare leave and work-from-home arrangements — goes a long way in the journey of parenthood.
“Every gesture and policy to increase dad’s time with the family — such as legislating the second week of paternity leave, shared parental leave, childcare leave and work-from-home arrangements — goes a long way in the journey of parenthood.”
Mummy-life is a mix of joys and struggles. It is eye bags, hearts bursting with love and pride, problem-solving and trouble-shooting and bouncing between bleak, gloomy days and victorious sunshine-y ‘ok we can do this!’ days — all rolled up in one. And I’m told this emotional ride never ends!
Today, as a working-mother with a 4-month-old I am striking a better balance and getting better at motherhood every single day. My little boy also learns and grows with me. He has grown leaps and bounds from the early newborn days, not just in size (he is one chubby little guy!), but also in independence and maturity. The developments and milestones he has achieved and is still achieving, fills my heart with so much pride.
As I was always told during the early days, it indeed does get better. Babies grow, and they learn, if you let them and teach them how to. I really do want to send some digital love across and encourage new mums or mums-to-be. Know that feeling overwhelmed is so, so normal and just a part of the process. Soon, when the sunshine peeks through the clouds, you’ll be on the other side with all the mummies that have gone before you, and sharing the same story to help other mums too!”
Jaime Lee, 31, is married to Justin. She is the founder of The Paper Bunny and mum to Jonah, 4 months.
This article is in collaboration with HeyBaby
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