Being a new mommy was a lonely business. I’m not sure if my feelings were a result of the baby blues I was experiencing but during the initial days, I felt enveloped by a deep sense of loneliness.
I’m an only child. This means that I do not have siblings whom I can turn to for help; neither do I have parents who can lend a hand as my dad has passed away and my mother is of poor health. This made me really envious of those who have strong support from immediate family during the confinement period.
How about the mother-in-law? Unlike some moms-in-law who try to intrude upon married couples at the birth of their grandchild, mine is from the opposite camp. Strangely, though I’m not close to her, during that period, I actually felt upset by her seeming lack of concern, and even questioned my husband about it. He said she was afraid her help would be unwelcomed. But she could have at least asked, that would show she cares, I retorted, desperate for some sign of concern and empathy. To be fair, she bought me some Chinese herbs and brewed longan red date tea for me when I was staying at the hospital (hubby asked her for help as he had to accompany baby and me in the hospital, while also trying to finish up some preparations at home as baby was born three weeks early).
Then, I thought perhaps I could find solace among friends. But somehow, those whom I’ve counted on for support just weren’t there for one reason or another. I felt extremely disappointed and let down; it was enough to make me question the meaning of friendship.
But in the midst of all the misery I felt, comfort and support did come, and from people I’ve never expected.
One evening, my husband’s ex-colleague and his family came visiting. I’ve been seeking advice from the wife regarding breastfeeding since coming home. Knowing the problems I faced, she bought me a nursing pillow; she reckoned it would help me to better nurse my baby. It was so thoughtful of her! Having breastfed both her daughters, she also asked me to call her any time I needed help. She became a great source of encouragement by generously sharing with me her knowledge and experience in breastfeeding. Without her, I think I would have given up and my baby would have been deprived of the best food in the world!
Then another friend visited. A mompreneur with two very sweet girls, she is also helping to manage her husband’s business. Yet not only did she find time to drop by, she even went out to buy me a nipple shield as I told her about having really sore nipples. I was so touched!
In those very lonely moments, it was little sweet gestures like these that kept me going.
As the days went by, I learnt to cope with the new challenges of motherhood and began to feel less moody. But the loneliness did not go away. By then, my hubby has returned to work and I was getting sick of the monotony of feeding and changing diapers. I craved meaningful interactions with another adult. I felt silly carrying on monologues with a small infant whom at that point, did not even know how to coo. I was also wishing for people whom I can turn to for advice, but I feel bad for always approaching the same few friends.
Eventually, my search for support led me to join a mommies' group in a local forum. It helps that our babies are all about the same age and are going through the same developmental stages. I’ve never thought that I would find support from a group of strangers. But I guess mommies share a certain special camaraderie and it was easy for us to build bonds.
Since then, I’ve attended two gatherings and took part in two sprees where we enjoyed some really good discounts off baby products. I'm also planning to sign up for a baby programme conducted by one of the mommies so my boy can get a good workout, be stimulated by songs and music and learn some baby sign language. But secretly, I'm also looking forward to mingling with other mommies, exchanging parenting tips and enjoying all the other cute babies!