DIY Confinement: The First Month
This a throwback post, drafted when my 30 days confinement was almost up. Didn’t have the time to edit and post until now. It’s good though, because re-reading what I wrote reminded me of the bittersweet moments then. No matter how tough, hubby and I made it through the first month!
Before I gave birth, friends who were parents told me, “Don’t be stressed over breastfeeding“, “It’s okay if you don’t press on with breastfeeding“, and “Be prepared for sleepless nights“. I took in what they said without knowing the gravity of their words. Breastfeeding is tough – if only I read more about it before I gave birth. Sleepless nights were dreadful – if only I heed their advice and slept more during pregnancy.
Many people were aghast to find out that I was not engaging a confinement nanny or mothers for help, but solely rely on my husband, who is also a first time dad. Many were praising how hands on he is. Apparently, many fathers are still old school and relegate parenting duties to their wives. I’m glad that hubby is willing to be more involved and his work also allowed him to take a month off. Still, there were many doubtful that we could manage on our own. So on hindsight, did we regret our decision of DIY Confinement?
My hubby said it was easier than expected because he went in with the mentality of ‘expect the worst and hope for the best’.
As for me, I think the first few weeks will be tough regardless, with or without a confinement lady/mother. I couldn’t outsource my pain, discomfort and breastfeeding, which were the tough ones for me during the first month. And it could have been worse with mothers’ help, since I don’t think I can stand the barrage of well-intention advice/nagging from them during that sensitive period. I was already bursting out whenever my mother visited and forced her ideas on me.
Also, I think those advice will only confuse us further as we grapple with a newborn and breastfeeding. The internet already has tonnes of information to confuse us. I know older folks tend to dissuade breastfeeding and give some rather obsolete advice like giving newborn water. Afterall their experience was from thirty years ago, either they had forgotten what they know or certain things have become outdated.
Of course, a supportive husband (confinement daddy) made DIY confinement much easier. With confinement tingkat meals, I only had to latch on demand and rest, while my husband bathed and changed diapers for the baby.
Like I said, nanny or not, the first month is a dark period for many new mothers, or at least those mothers I know. Other than the incessant cries of a newborn, there are many other stuff the mother had to go through. From my experience, there was the pain and itch. At the vagina area from the episiotomy and the breast and nipple (milk blister!) from breastfeeding. And I simply cannot forget the pain from the breast massage to clear engorged ducts! To think the massage lady told me of other mothers who went through worse because of their engorgement.
I was also feeling uncomfortable (浑身不自在) from the buckets of sweat, bleeding (lochia) and the tight binder for my bulging post-pregnancy stomach. No matter how mentally prepared I was, I was still surprised and upset over that bulge – it really looks as if I was still four months pregnant.
Back to the sweat. Because of the no fan blowing at me policy, heaty confinement meals and longan red dates drink, I was hot inside out! I was feeling super super hot in the June/July hot summer weather, even though there were days of rain. Oh the sweat all over, the heat rashes around my butt (later I realised it’s caused by the binder trapping my sweat), and the dry coughing because of a heaty body caused by the food. *Shudder* This is coming from me, who is usually scared of the cold. I really can’t imagine wearing long pants and sleeves and no shower. I was almost wishing I could go on full monty. Everyday, I looked forward to the shower (with herbs) and aircon room to sleep in.
Last but not least, the sleepless nights! Most nights, I was waking up every 1-2 hours to feed baby Evangeline, and I will be so glad just to get 3 hours block of sleep! I am someone who loves sleep, so the nights were really tough. I remember the nights when I cried to hubby before going to sleep because I knew I was not going to sleep through the night and would be waking in 1-2 hours time. Oh how I dreaded the wakeful night ahead. Most days, I felt like a zombie and the day just whizzed by. I’m looking forward to the day when things will get better – like what everyone tells me.
Would it have been better if there’s a nanny or mother to help me bottle feed at night? Yes, but I had planned to latch on demand in the early weeks because apparently it is good breastfeeding policy. It’s the best method and time to build up milk supply, clear blocked ducts and avoid nipple confusion. So even if the clock turns back, I will still make the decision to latch on demand (more on breastfeeding in another post!).
However nannies will beg to differ. They will encourage bottle feeding and formula instead. I suspect it is because it will make their nights easier, giving the baby more than enough milk to sleep for longer periods. I had friends who bottle fed in early weeks but still went on to have successful breastfeeding.
After so much griping, I will still say…it’s all worth it! Along with tears of frustration, there are definitely smiles of joy when we looked at this sweetie cutie pie. Really our bundle of joy. And to us, she is the cutest and the sweetest baby. The biasness of all parents! She’s really a gift and blessing from God to us.
God has been teaching/telling me to flow with His Spirit before getting pregnant, and He brought Baby Evangeline into my life to put what I learned in practice! We can hardly fix a plan and schedule with a newborn but only to flow..
I’ve also learned more about God’s unconditional love for us through Baby Evangeline. She didn’t do anything to earn our love, rather her crying proved she’s trying to test our love. Regardless, even in the pain of my breastfeeding and the sleepless nights of latching, I decided to press on. I wanted to give her the best I can – breastmilk and precious bonding time. It shed a little light on how that even though Jesus had to go through the pain and suffering to die on the cross, He chose to do so because of His love for us.
My conclusion after the labour and first month: 妈妈们好伟大.