I never imagined my transition from woman to mommy would be a walk in the park. I knew Momlife would show her tides and ripples. But I was totally unprepared for the gigantic mother of a wave it would be. It knocked me off my high-heels and left me washed up ashore, looking dishevelled but stronger (and more enlightened) than before.
You see, I had a birth plan, but Momlife, she had a greater life plan.
Momlife watched as I naively searched the gram, comparing myself to other Instamoms. “I wouldn’t lose myself,” I said, as Momlife had a giggle. I would of course breastfeed my baby, I thought, nodding along in antinatal group as they explained why breast was best. Momlife watched as I quantified what makes a “good” or “bad” mom, based on a set of principles and images off the web, but she just blushed, as she knew better.
Despite my well-articulated birth plan, Momlife arrived a week earlier than planned, with no bags packed, she surprised me at a check-up that turned into a rapid delivery. My placenta decided to quit on the job and detach itself from my uterine wall. My gynae explained that my natural birth plan was no longer an option and I was rushed to the labour ward. I was given a spinal block and prepped for surgery. To demystify any horror stories, the spinal block was totally fine. (If I am honest, it was a welcome relief as I felt the warm numbness rush over my feet.) Prepped for surgery, I cried for a few minutes (mostly from shock but looking back it was also acknowledging the loss I felt as my motherhood plan had changed). I then took a deep breath, said a prayer, and smiled as my dear friend Momlife whispered her greeting.
My daughter arrived within minutes, in an emergency C-section. I got to see her for a few minutes, and then she was gone, wheeled away in the cosy incubator to NICU, with daddy. I lay alone under the fluorescent lights as the doctors stitched me up. There was nothing I could do. Google has no answers for me (well no good answers, just a lot of scary medical jargon). I had to put all my trust in Momlife and follow her plan.
Luckily, our team of doctors were fantastic and two weeks later, after multiple tests (both physical and emotional), our miracle was brought home. But our true miracle started the day she was born, not the day she arrived home. Our happy beginning started when I realised what kind of mom I want to be.
You see, Momlife gave me the greatest plan.
Momlife re-routed my search results from “What baby cream is best,” and “Am I a bad mom if I don’t freeze her stem cells,” showing me what being a mom is about.
I learnt through endless pumping that being a mom sometimes has no return gesture (no sweet suckling reflex). This is because true Momlife asks only for your own validation and unconditional love.
A few of the other moms I met in NICU and some NICU moms I have chatted to since have asked me, “Did the days you couldn’t hold your baby ruin your bonding? Did it affect your child? Looking 5 years back, I have realised unconditional love or “bonding” is not a once off moment, a special date or mommy and me outfits, but rather a lifetime of memories and constantly choosing to love without conditions. Being a mom is trusting yourself and reminding yourself daily to love (self-love included) and create your own #Momlife story. So, while it may take a village to raise your child, your Momlife is your own to experience, to enjoy and to navigate.
Romy Zwiers is a wife, mother of two (a 5-year-old girl and a 2-year-old son) and a lover of storytelling. She has been in the media industry for 15 years, starting out in journalism and later moving into marketing. She currently runs her own marketing consultancy called Immortal Jellyfish.