• Sudeshna Sen

The fourth trimester -Week 2

Updated: May 20, 2020

If there are two things I can say about week 2 of parenthood, they’re these:

  • In the hope of supporting natural births, the NHS, NCT and every pregnancy book didn’t prepare me enough for an emergency section - I am so sore and incompetent both physically and mentally, that it sucks!

  • Why does this baby not sleep in the night?

Ha, you want details? I’ll give you details. So, I had developed a temperature in surgery. The doctors hadn’t been able to establish what it was but had put me on antibiotics irrespective. As I was gobbling down medicines even 1 week from birth, the mid-wife on the visit discovered that my wound was infected. They realised that that’s what had happened in surgery. So, I had to go back to the hospital for most of week 2 as well, struggling with soreness - from the wound and from complete incompetence of getting the baby latched for breast-feeding.

Interestingly though, I was blessed with a good milk supply. And thanks to Amazon, I bought myself some breast pumps. But my god, expressing 8 times a day isn’t a joke! And then you actually have to feed, put the baby to sleep, rinse, and repeat! Basically catching a moment of shut eye was getting incredibly tough.

BUT I had my mum and dad around to help out, which made everything incredibly simpler! I didn’t have to cook. Or clean. The husband could focus on the baby and me instead of running errands for us. Having a child made me appreciate my parents and their sacrifice - as parents, and as grandparents. It made me realise the value of Asian “joint-family” units where the baby belongs to a larger set of people than just the parents. It made me look at my Asian tradition in awe and make me want to tell the world, “Make up with your parents if you don’t get along. They’re so much more than you thought them to be!”

Anyway, I digress - but that’s the nature of parenthood! It keeps digressing you from your corporate career, and then you’ve to bring it all back by being intentional. And also by being present with both your children and your work - one at a time.

Coming back to sleep - I wasn’t coping well without sleep. And this tiny little being refused to sleep in his Snuzpod. Thank god I have a supporting partner who got up with the baby and fed him expressed milk- by the time I got up from lying position to semi-sitting position, it was already an eternity of crying! Also, bed rails - they should be on baby wish-lists for mums recovering from a c-section. As far as I was concerned, I created a contraption that included a step stool from Ikea, my side-table completely cleaned up and several pillows to prop me up and help me get out of bed. In about five minutes from when the baby needed being picked up.

I remember sobbing to my husband about the incompetence I felt that was engulfing me. As he changed nappies, I was putting my feet up because by the time I could get up, I would no longer be needed for that task. Have I ever felt like that in my corporate career? Nope! Not a single time. I felt incompetent. I had worked through the impostor syndrome. But this is a whole different level of incompetence. And pain. One that the society glosses over because there’s a baby at the end of it. And yet, this is something that throws so many women right into the heart of postnatal depression. Thankfully for me, I had my support system in place. Because of the complete geek that I am, I had planned for this! A few things that definitely helped me get through were:

  • My husband - May the power be with the man! He’s a legend and a true blessing for both my life and my career.

  • My parents - I had planned for them to come over and spend some time with us. I know this isn’t something that’s popular in the western culture. But it is extremely common in Asian cultures and it is how the family ties are so well-knit. Also one of the main reasons you find several successful Asian women in business.

  • My NCT mum’s group - I couldn’t have asked for a better set of parenting classmates. The ladies have truly been a phenomenal support system when you’re moaning at 3 am in the morning when everyone else is asleep.

  • My work family - Most of my ex-colleagues with children helped me get through the crying and the moaning. The biggest tip I got from my work, and now life mentor, is, “If you can’t explain the crying, it’s most probably a burp. So keep burping!” As for my current colleagues, thankfully for me, my MD is as ambitious a lady as me. And she talked me through my pregnancy about what to expect. So reaching out to my work-family was easy. Because they were there, without expecting back even a picture or a call.

  • Meditation - If there is one thing you will take from my coping strategies, take this one. Meditation will ground you like nothing else can. And even 5 minutes of breathing helps immensely when you’re in continuous stress.

Also, goes without saying that if you are struggling with postnatal depression, please get in touch with your health-care professional immediately.

This article is a part of a series by Sudeshna Sen. Sudeshna heads up a team in her corporate career and runs The Abundance Psyche to help ambitious professionals navigate their career dilemmas. Take the Quiz to get a step closer to your dream career.

All opinions published on this blog are the author’s own.

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