The Madness of Motherhood: A Mother Never Wins

If you think being a woman is hard, try having kids. From the moment you publicly announce your pregnancy, you will signal to the world that you are awaiting advice from every second jackass who thinks they know best. Of course, then you have the child, and those people decide they need to up the ante because every decision you make is public property. Seriously, no one cares that no one has asked. They'll give your their opinion in excruciating detail anyway.

You simply cannot win.

Are you a working mother?

"Oh my God! You are neglecting your child!"

Are you a stay at home mother?

"How nice to have that luxury!"

7 months into this motherhood gig, and all I have to say to everyone who has an opinion on my choice is:

When it comes to parenting, there is truly no formula. Babies are the ultimate education in never making plans, because the universe sees your nicely laid out Stalin-esque 5-year plan, laughs, and BAM! BABY! You, too, will eventually (maybe in 20 years when the child leaves home) laugh at how thoroughly annihilated your plans were. As such, you really do learn to roll with the punches, and every family will do what works best for them. As with most things, the grass is always greener on the other side, and you won't just get judgment from random people, but from other mothers as well. For some reason, it's always first-time mothers who have the most holier-than-thou, judgy attitude towards your choices. I can't count the number of times I've been met with, "I wish I could be a stay at home mum, too!", or "Don't you think you should have a nanny? My kid thrives with one!"

What people don't realise is that everything is a choice. Yes, you too can be a stay at home mum, and it doesn't have to have anything to do with having all the money in the world. Everyone makes sacrifices, and not having a nanny is a choice I have made as well. 

Being a woman is truly the most cruel joke nature can play on you. The expectations placed on us these days are unattainable. We truly are expected to do it all, from working to running the household. And if you don't excel at everything, well, then you're just not trying hard enough. I can safely say that this is the most absurd ideology ever. You will always, ALWAYS be compromising on one front to excel at another. If you give your all at work, you'll undoubtedly miss your baby's bedtime, or your child's performances at school. If you give your all at home, your work will suffer. The idea of balance as a working mother is laughable. Yes, there are women who do it all, but they often have help to pick up the slack. 

I know this, so I chose to be a stay at home mum. Not because cutting our household income in half is the preferable stance, but raising my daughter my way is more important to me.

When you make this choice, it comes with consequences as well. It truly does go deeper than "I can't buy that new branded handbag.". It comes at the expense of interacting with a small baby all day, everyday, without seeing a single other adult except for your spouse for days on end. It comes at the expense of giving up a career your worked so hard at, and excelled at, to channel your energy into shaping a tiny blob of a humanoid who will probably never appreciate it. It also comes at the expense of your sanity, and every relationship you have cultivated to date. There is a whole other level of madness in the shift of your identity from fully-functional individual to full-time mother. 

In the last (almost) 7 months of motherhood, I have lost so much of myself. After 30 years of being a self-centered person who didn't need to worry about anyone else, this has been a difficult transition. My days now revolve around an unpredictable schedule of naptime, feedings, diaper changes, and entertaining something that doesn't have a clue what I'm saying. Objectively, this sounds horrible, but then that little blob learns to smile at the simple fact that you're spending time with it. And it learns to hold your hand as it's falling asleep. 

Yes, my priorities have changed in leaps and bounds. I no longer want the latest makeup product on the market, or the most killer pair of heels. I don't have the time or energy to put on makeup, and wearing heels is a distant memory for me. 

And I wouldn't change it for the world. I would give up every luxury to do it over again. Watching the little creature grow and learn new things everyday, and being able to see it through brand new eyes is its own reward. I love sharing the joy of food with her, and seeing that she's going to be a foodie. I love that it's still years off that she's going to be too cool to hang out with me, and for now all she wants is to be with me all the time. It validates you when you give up everything, and the baby strains to look through the little window to catch a glimpse of you in the kitchen. She needs me now, and I will always be here.

But...and this is a big but...It kills me some days.

The days of endless crying, neediness, and teething. The days when she's up at the crack of dawn. The days when she won't sleep, and then I can't either when she does. It's frustrating and maddening. It takes its toll. There are days when Pinata is too busy with work to sit and have anything but a 5 minute conversation, and that means I've only been communicating in babbles for days. All that education gone to waste. 

When it gets overwhelming, it pays to walk away. I've learned this the hard way, and through someone else's eyes. Pinata told me to my face that I'm in infinitely better mother when I take some time out, and then come back. Because you really have to. When you are consumed in the downward spiral of the sheer insanity of motherhood, you need to step away to regroup. The prevailing advice is that if you feel the need to shake your baby, step away and let it cry. The same goes for your tolerance level. Everyone has their very own breaking point, and mine tends to be when I've had no reprieve from the baby for 48 hours straight. It's at this point that I leave her with Pinata for an hour or two, head out to sit in a cafe, and catch Pokemon. 

Initially, I felt incredibly guilty about this. I mean, I don't work as much as I used to. Motherhood is my sole career at this point in time. Why do I need a break? Because babies are the most demanding bosses in the world. You can't ask them for a lunch break because they have no clue what the hell you're saying. You also can't tell them to stop crying because you will attend to them in 2 minutes. They need you, and they need you now! So, I have learned that walking away does make me a better mother, despite what anyone has led me to believe. It's the crushing weight of these expectations that outsiders put on us that gets to us. It has nothing to do with what's actually best for the baby. 

So yes, I have made these choices, and they work for me. If you have an opinion on them, please refer to the diagram above. 
Althea: Now Catering to Future Shopaholics (feat. Megatron)

These days, it feels like Megatron is receiving more parcels than I am! Now that Althea is carrying baby products, I have a feeling it's about to get far worse!

[Meg, I told you to stop shopping online!]

So, what did she get to add to her growing stash?

[Moonic Goodies for Healthy Baby Skin]

Moonic is a hypoallergenic Korean brand that doesn't use artificial substances in their products, and aims to protect the naturally beautiful quality of baby skin. We all know Korean skincare is topnotch, so why not start your little one off young? 

In this package, there are 3 exceptional products from the brand. 

[Moonic's Cure Bath (RM87)]

The main ingredients in the Cure Bath are Ceramide, Hyaluronic Acid, and Gamma PGA. Each of these aim to strengthen and protect skin by preventing it from being stripped of moisture. It also contains lavender essential oils which help to soothe and calm your baby from an aromatherapy perspective. If you're worried that it might be too heady a fragrance, don't fret. It's very light and perfect for just a touch of calm. I'm really excited to see if this will help Meg stop fussing during nap time!

[Moonic's Cure Oil (RM104)]

Their Cure Oil seems really promising because it is meant to protect the moisture barrier, as well as soothe irritated skin. As I mentioned in the video (also found below), Megatron currently has some dry patches on her stomach, and I'm hoping this will help with them. Baby massage is excellent in general, and this is really good for their hair as well. It contains apricot oil (soothing), jojoba oil (to promote health), and lemongrass (soothing). It's a product that can be used in a number of ways. You can add a little to your baby's bath, you can use it for massage, or you can use it as a body oil at any time. I tried it out on Megatron, and even though I may have pumped out a little too much, it absorbed beautifully into her skin without leaving any scent even. I quite like how it feels on my skin as well. 

[Moonic's Cure Balm (RM25)]

This multifunctional balm is a product I'm really curious to try out. It has 3 main uses (but I'm sure you can find more):

  • Helps to heal and moisturise dry skin
  • Can be used for hair nourishment
  • May be applied to bug bites to help with irritation and aid healing

It's small enough for me to pop in my diaper bag as well. For some reason, mosquitoes love Meg, so I have to be rather vigilant about dealing with her bites, and this will come in really useful. The product description does state that it's safe for use on your baby's lips, so I'm assuming it's safe to ingest which makes me feel a bit more comfortable about applying it to her skin. 

[Exciting Times!]

Of course, it wouldn't be a box of goodies without an unboxing, so here you go:

[Meg's First YouTube Video]
The Madness of Motherhood: The 5 Books Every New Mothers Needs

While there is nothing that can take the place of experience where taking care of a tiny human is concerned, it really does help to be as prepared as you can possibly be when your spawn descends on you. 

In those early hours when you've been up for almost 48 hours, and the little monster won't stop screaming, being armed with as much theory as possible helps to give you a mental checklist to run through. Of course, there are days when that just won't help, and you will want to kill yourself and your child in a murder-suicide, but hopefully the fact that these books were written to be sleep-deprivation friendly will help ease the burden a little!

This list is arranged in order of what you will need. Hopefully you will read the first and third before the baby comes, and not have to speed read them in the dead of night while breastfeeding your baby because she decided to kick her way out early

1) The Happiest Baby on the Block - Harvey Karp, M.D.

This book is the first thing you (AND YOUR PARTNER) should read when you find out you're pregnant. Then read it again, and again, and again until you have committed it to memory. It works, and you won't see how well until you try it for yourself with the screaming little monster who just won't stop.

Essentially, it details Dr. Karp's 5 S's baby calming method which entails swaddling, side position, shushing, swinging and sucking.

The book details each of these, and the different variants of them you could employ. Of course, the method here will only work until your baby is 3 months old because it activates their in-built calming reflex. It truly is magical and it makes me sad that this book isn't tucked into the new baby kit hospitals give out. I really, really wish I had discovered this earlier than I did, but better late than never.

2) The Shit No One Tells You - Dawn Dais

This book took me through my long nights of marathon feeding sessions, and a baby that just hated sleep. It's like having a best friend who tells it like it is, and it really helps to have some commiseration while you're trapped in your private little torture chamber with your tiny torturer. 

It's written hilariously with a lot of truths in-built, and it just eases the severity of what you're going through enough to stop you from selling your child on eBay.

3) Baby 411 - Dr. Ari Brown and Denise Fields

This is a truly excellent reference book that's extremely user-friendly in that it has a question and answer approach to it. It deals with all your major questions, and ensures that it's easy to refer to should you need a quick response to something in the dead of the night (always the case, isn't it?). It's co-written by a medical doctor, as well as a parent so it takes into account both perspectives. 

4) Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child - Marc Weissbluth, M.D.

This is the book you're going to need when your baby hits 3 or 4 months and becomes too damn heavy for your to rock to sleep. It's what you're going to want to read when the advice in The Happiest Baby on the Block runs its course.

While I lucked out and didn't really have to implement nights of hearing the baby scream her head off (please don't stop sleeping just to spite me, Megatron), this was the least averse method I read up on, and it seems to have had excellent success with all and sundry.

What I liked about it was that it covers baby sleep cues, so you know when your baby is getting tired or overstimulated before they start wailing inconsolably. Following this advice, it's helped me to put her to bed before she gets overtired and then becomes too difficult to sleep on her own. 

5) Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care - Benjamin Spock, M.D.

This is a really good all-rounder because it will take your baby through to their teens. Dr Spock was the original touter of formula as the cure-all, and for that reason, he's gotten a bad rep, but in truth, the book is really accepting of your choice of parenting style. 

I like that it provides brief glimpses of what's to come, and you can easily refer to the chapters corresponding to your child's present development in 3-month snippets. It also has a chapter on weaning, which was really helpful as a reference point. This book is updated every few years, so definitely pick up the latest copy when you get round to it. 

I really found all of them very useful because I was wholly unprepared to be a parent. I read most of these on the Kindle app on my phone during the first couple of months of having the baby because I hadn't gotten round to it before she was born. I don't recommend you do this, though it does help to kill the time!
The Madness of Motherhood: Musings of a New Father

This is a short article my husband wrote on his experience with becoming a father for the first time. 

When you really think about it, no one ever really talks about what the whole experience of becoming a father for the first time is like. Sure, at some point in your life there will probably be a well meaning fellow or fifteen who will tell you that it’s wonderful or that they breezed through it like it was nothing. All with the caveat that your mileage may vary. I learned the hard way how much variance was actually involved in that mileage.

From the beginning, it was a complete surprise. Neither me or my wife were actively pursuing the idea of parenthood. In actual fact there were some factors that would have made it difficult; if not impossible, for us to conceive. So when I got the message that the test had come back positive, my first reaction was that it was a false positive. It’s only when multiple tests came back with the same result that it dawned on me that this was real. And even then this was hard to come to grips with. This is basically a declaration that your life as you know it is done; should you choose to continue, and you are expected to make an ‘all in’ decision right there and then.

Even after we chose to keep it, the days immediately following the decision were a weird cocktail of manic excitement, trepidation and self doubt. And just when you think that you finally have a grip on the situation after a couple of visits to the OB/GYN, the hyperemesis hits. In hindsight apparently this was a common occurrence in my wife’s family, but at the time it felt like we were the only ones in the world inflicted with this. At the time I thought that this was the most traumatic time in my life. I would spend day after day watching her being unable to keep any food down, eventually only subsisting on sugary drinks like a human hummingbird. Everyday I would be worried that I would get the call that something might have happened to her or the child due to this.

One emergency hospitalisation and two glucose drip treatments later, we reached the second trimester and for those few months everything seemed fine. Foetus was healthy and my wife was able to keep down some solid food. Everything looked like it was going to be okay and I would be cruising into parenthood battered, but unbroken.

Then at 5 am on the 26th of February 2016, it all fell apart. I was woken up by my wife telling me that she has been in pain for the last few hours and to drive her to the hospital. Not overly sure how we got there, but we did and the nurse did a routine measurement of her vitals and calmly stated that she’s probably having contractions. Both of us thought she was joking. It was 6 weeks before she was scheduled to deliver. More measurements and some more prodding and poking and the nurse made the call to contact her doctor and admit us for delivery. The only thing going through my mind was how impossible this situation was.

Her doctor arrived within 30 minutes and did his own examination of the situation. He then declared that the child was in breech position and she would be born one way or the other within the hour and he was recommending emergency C-section. I won’t bore you with the mechanics of what happened immediately after (you can read all about that here), because 6 months later it all still feels surreal. But try to imagine all the stress of being told you were going to be a father, add to that all the stress that I felt during the 3 months of hyperemesis and multiplying that by some ridiculous factor, and it would probably only barely come close.


Being in the operating theatre knowing that at any moment either your wife or your child could die. Watching the surgeon cut her open and move her organs around to extract a tiny human. Feeling relieved that said human started crying almost immediately. Followed by days of worrying that something might be wrong with the child because of the extremely premature birth. In all honesty, I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop. For some overpaid specialist to tell me that she is in someway defective.

But for all that, every time I look at her I am irrationally happy. Whenever she smiles at me; even though I know it’s probably more her mirroring our own behavior, my world just brightens. That she’s healthy and surpassing nearly all the milestones for babies makes me wonder how much good karma I’ve actually amassed in my life. The fact that her mother has taken to motherhood seamlessly and is excelling at it despite her own reservations at ever becoming a mother. This child has beaten some long odds and is currently making our lives better and brighter every day.


So yes, this is what becoming a father was like for me. Your own mileage may vary.