(Do young mums have the same issues as the older generation with the pace the society is moving and the changing dynamics? The answers are available in this fresh column by our in – house young mum who shares true life experiences)
Do you recall getting home from the hospital with your precious bundle of joy and then neighbours and well-meaning people came around to see and congratulate you? How was it? I know – you were at border between gratitude at the love and irritation at the inconvenience. Yeah, I have been there and there are really no words in the diary to describe the mixed emotions one feels. Come on, visitations are a blessing when properly done but most Nigerians don’t know how to visit a new mum and expect her to be very active and hospitable with all the changes that is going on with him. For those who are yet to give birth, let me share my experience.
I started having contractions at 10pm on December 26th but delivered the next day, 27th. Although I had a natural birth, my baby weighed 4.4kg and I had a deep episiotomy, leaving the labour room at 2am. By 9am of the 28th, I was released to go home even though I was just coming off my anaesthesia high (story for another edition). Can you get the picture and imagine how physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted I was? So, you should understand that the last thing I wanted to do was receive visitors but there is no choice. As with other new (young) mums in this part of the world, it’s hard to get people to take cues and know when you are not comfortable with some gestures. This is Naija, o and our communalism can be excess.
Maybe the visitors legit believe that the popular saying that the pains disappear when the baby comes out is true and so are confident that the new mum is strong enough to play host. News flash – the pain doesn’t go away. They lied! I felt the pain and couldn’t even walk well or sit well but I still had to play host with a smile. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the time and effort our visitors put in to come but I was tired and in pain. It’s not a small something, o.
But I didn’t have to deal with a lot because my husband stood in gap for me (man of the year!) which was a huge relief. He would host the visitors alone sometimes when I was too distressed to. At other times, I would hear him say ‘they are sleeping’. These breaks gave me time to rest and bond with my bundle of joy. However, away from this, we had a lot of interesting visitors –family, close friends and some neighbors we vibe with, especially the ones that came with thoughtful gifts. This is another point guys, please if you must visit, do so with nice gifts for the baby and its parents.
One of the things I enjoyed was the endless supply of Diapers; I was so grateful that for months we didn’t have to start doing the diaper runs. Those disposable things cost a lot of money! Then there was the cash gift ‘for the baby’ that was also a humongous relief (you know what I mean). We had a visitor who came with a huge hamper filled with provisions, I can’t even tell how wonderful that gesture felt.
Let’s go back in time. I came back home armed with my mum, my husband and my brother in law and had all the help an inexperienced first time mum could need. My mum pampered me so much from delicious mouth-watering meals to hot water massage to sweet sweet gist to sorting out laundry. She did it all and to think she suffers from arthritis but she won’t even hear that she didn’t do ‘Omugwo’ for her Adah. After spending two weeks with us, she had to leave and the plan was that after two weeks, my mother in law would come but it didn’t happen that way. This is another point if you are visiting. At least, offer some help to the new mum.
Anyways, my mother-in -law came eventually. She is caterer and that shot my joy level up. The best part was she did not let me receive visitors much and when they came, she was quick to say – “nobody should disturb Mona. Her body has not healed yet.” She brought all the ingredients needed to make a special South-South delicacy for a woman that just put to bed – unripe plantain boiled in dry fish pepper soup with palm oil on side. It was a wonderful treat I tell you. Then she made another South-South delicacy native soup that was my favorite because at that time I was cleared to eat solids. Small small perks of being a new mum.
But it wasn’t all bliss, don’t get me started on my ‘momzilla’ phase where I couldn’t stand any other person holding my new born especially if the person wasn’t family. I would count to 10 and say “let me feed him” then I would jejely collect my child. What about the face pecking aunties, who are so generous with their pecks? I would cringe. Please when you visit a new mum, don’t peck a new born.
However, asides from the pain that made it hard for me to host our visitors when we got back from the hospital, I enjoyed all the love that they was showered on us. Our visitors went above and beyond. Still, this experience has helped me draw notable lessons. So, when someone I know puts to bed, I won’t be quick to visit. I give them at least a week or two to enjoy the moment before I visit. Also, I never visit a new mum empty handed and even know the things to carry with me.
For me, if I could go back in time, for the first two weeks I would allow my husband host more visitors alone and wouldn’t attempt to form super mum. I would accept more help and sleep when my baby slept (I learnt the hard way). More so, I would cut myself some slack which you should too. So guys, please visit tactfully for the benefits of all the parties concerned.
By Mona Alfa