Dear struggling mom,

There is a word in the dictionary that describes the process of becoming a mother. It’s called matrescence. (Still largely unexplored in the medical community)

Well I didn’t know that until recently but am glad they gave some due to the mother who goes through a lot but often is ignored or tends to ignore herself. 

A lot of us are having or have had our own share of challenges in having a baby. Everyone’s journey is their own. You can’t really compare it with anyone else’s. But I think it teaches you to be kind and empathetic to the fellow tribe of women who have a baby or who may not have one out of choice or otherwise. 

My own personal journey of having a baby was not very easy. I struggled to conceive because of certain conditions. I have had PCOD since I was 23-24 years old. After a lot of medications and tests, I realised I would need surgery before I could have a baby. The yearning to have a baby for a couple of years and this whole journey to get there just made my dream more distant. And the whole mental toll it took was quite a challenge. Nor was the pregnancy journey easy. I weighed my least ever in life during my full term. I was unable to eat anything until the end with severe nausea. I remember surviving on just chapatis and dry fruits. I couldn’t deal with any food smell. Towards the end, I was put on complete bed rest and the last two weeks before I delivered, it was particularly challenging. I remember doing weekly scans as my baby movements were not felt. And then, 3 weeks before full term, during a scan, I was asked to be immediately admitted and go through an emergency C section. I remember family just appearing for me within seconds at the hospital and being by my side. 

For some the maternal instinct doesn’t kick in immediately and you don’t connect with your baby right after. Very rarely do we say a mother is born, most often we say a baby is born with the entire focus being on the new child. But as a woman, a lot changes for us, physically and mentally and to a great extent how we lived earlier. I am glad that for me, the maternal instinct did kick in but I think the extremism of it did cause a lot of havoc in my mind. 

I remember not being able to feed my child for the first month. And the extreme maternal instinct that had set in, made me very guilty. So guilty that I had slipped into depression soon after my delivery. Each day for the first month, I felt helpless, consulted lactation experts, had to be counselled, would keep crying and just penalised myself for being a bad mom. But when I think of it now, I think I had built this whole pressure of wanting to breastfeed. It also followed by not wanting to give milk via a bottle to the little one. So all I did along with weeping was pumping milk and feeding the baby every two hours with a diya and one month later, yay! I managed. And then I exclusively breast fed her for 1.5 years. When I look back, I feel I penalised myself too much and honestly there was no need to. She would have grown up fine, no matter what I had chosen to do then.

It takes a lot to bring a human to a new world. But often there is a lot of judgement around everything a new mom or a to-be mom does. A lot of unsolicited advice is available for free, always! Which can be overwhelming because everyone has an opinion based on their experience which is always different for different people.

I wish I didn't feel so lost, lonely and guilty in my new journey as a mother. 

But the one thing that it taught me is kindness and the fact that I have no right to judge a mother for the choices she makes as we’ll never know what’s her story.  

So here’s what I want to say for whoever is struggling today just being a mom… create your own tribe that hears you, cheers for you and shows up for you without judgment. 

For the ones who are reading this and have women around you who are on this journey of matrescence, support them and be kind every chance possible. Even to strangers with little babies on a flight or in a restaurant. And if you don’t know how to support, just don’t judge, and trust when she says she might be struggling even with all the help in the world.

Let’s give matrescence a real place in our day to day conversations by normalising the process of becoming a mother as a process filled with way too many life changes that deserve kindness, acknowledgement and truly the understanding of the whole society.

From a mom who struggled.

Dipna Daryanani
Tagged: motherhood