Spreading the Love

My bestfriend gave me a surprise visit this morning. It’s my first time to see her after I’ve given birth.

We’ve known each other since we were twelve years old and shared most (if not all) of life’s highs and lows. She’s the one who taught me how to hug and she cleaned my bedroom (by throwing away a lot of my useless stuff) way back when I was emotionally lost. Describing how much our friendship means to me deserves another post, but for now, suffice to say that she can, and would, and many times did, bite my arm really hard for whatever reason, and for the life of me, I can’t get mad at her for it. Haha.

She’s a mom too. She had CS too. Twice. She breastfed her two school-aged girls who I love so dearly. And she’s a working mom—the Head of School (aka the Principal) who often goes to work in sneakers. I think she’s one of the coolest mothers I know!

She opened the door to our bedroom gingerly with that big grin so characteristic of Miss Noelli.

“En!” I shouted in a whisper (if you know what I mean, because my baby has just fallen asleep).

We hugged tightly—she, in her fresh shirt and jeans, hair still a bit damp from the shower; and I, in my sleeping clothes from last night, the front of which still damp from leaking breastmilk, and my unkempt hair hard as a “bunot”.

We had a very short conversation that to the best of my memory went something like this…

“I’m so happy to see you!” Tears welled up in my eyes behind my wide smile.

“Don’t cry (yet?). I can’t stay long.” She had to go to school and just dropped by to bring a camera attachment-whatever for Jerome. She promised to be back in a couple of days with her girls.

I almost sobbed. “It’s not easy!”

“You’re doing good, Rice.” She hugged me tighter. I felt then with certainty deep in my heart that she knew.

Just like that, she knew and she understood.

She knew that I was referring to having a new baby with just Jerome and me to get by during the nights, to being a new mother, to not being able to go out of the house, to doing nothing else all day but breastfeed and change diapers, to being crazy in love with my baby and smelling her every moment, to loving her so much that sometimes my heart actually aches, to crying over my baby’s diaper rash, to wanting to be with my little girl ALL THE TIME and yet missing work too, to worrying about what-if’s….

She understood the emotional roller-coaster I was going through.

“I haven’t taken a bath.”

“It’s okay.”

I held back my tears and we both looked at Tala sleeping in her Moses basket. “I just put her to sleep. It’s one of my daily triumphs, En—to put her down…”

“Without waking her up.” She finished my sentence for me still grinning and looking lovingly at my baby. “YES, Rice!”

Knowing that she knows how I feel and where I am today made me feel ready. Ready for what? I’m not exactly sure. But she made me feel that I was READY and that I CAN.

I felt like a medical student ready for my OSCE. Or a left fullback football player (my old position in high school varsity) prepped for the championship game. Or a new driver ready for my first long trip on the highway. Or a new yoga teacher finally finding my own voice.

Oh, I felt like a warrior ready for battle!

Come to think of it, I’ve never been a real warrior but I believe that describes more accurately how I feel—after all, I’ve never been a mother until now. I am now a warrior ready for the unexpected challenges of battle.

Just in time! One of my challenges today will be spending the rest of the day out, which will be Tala’s longest time out of the house to date. We have our Bible study this afternoon and dinner out with my in-laws the evening. And because my bestfriend made me feel ready, I will power-fix my hair (however I am going to do that, haha!) and put on some lipstick.

Thank you, dear Lord, for En-en!

This post is a shout-out to all mothers who make newbie moms like me feel good about ourselves!

Thank you for your encouragement and sympathy. Thank you for letting us know this is hard but truly worthwhile—that this too shall pass. Thank you for reminding us that it will get easier and every moment of having a baby is beautiful! Thank you for your kind words and helpful gestures (e.g. don’t worry the rashes will go away; it’s okay—here, the inner garter of the diaper serves like a wall; your nipples will heal we just have to get your baby to latch properly; don’t be shy to ask, you’re having “momnesia” and it’s normal; sleep when the baby sleeps ha so you can rest; hi Rai, this is not a phone consult, the kids are fine, I just called to ask how you’re doing; just call if you have any questions, just call if you need anything…). Thank you for your understanding and words of affirmation. And for showing us that being a mother is indeed awesome!

One day soon, I will visit a new mother, and I too will spread the love.

P.S. Thank you very much also to my husband’s daddy friends who spread the love too by sharing their stories and words of wisdom with Jerome, giving tips on how to support us wives, lending us a ref, and for cooking for us—you know who you are!

By Raissa Paje-Bayawa

Raissa is a first-time mom and her new experiences as a mother inspires her to share stories with other parents. She is also a pediatrician and breastfeeding counselor practicing in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. She dons another hat as a yoga instructor for kids, pregnant women, and postnatal moms.

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