Becoming a parent is commonly imagined to be a joyful and “natural” life event. You should be mature enough to raise a child, it takes a village to raise them. This is especially true for a single mom. I have moments where I falter between excitement and fear. So, here’s how I coped and am still surviving in this vital new role of my life. This is my story.
Unlike women getting ready to welcome home babies with a partner, single moms like me rely on their family and friends to get ready for their new arrivals. Or they are alone. Now that my son is 4, I realize there was a lot I could have done to prepare for single motherhood. How will I explain to this beautiful baby where his father is? Even more pressing: Will I be able to manage his day-to-day care all on my own? How will I catch up on sleep if there's no
one around to watch the baby but me? I was exhausted just thinking about it! Although most new single moms will feel alone at some point, well, I’m not because I’m in good company. Sadly but in reality, Single mothers ranks are growing every day.
I was newly split from my partner. I spent my pregnancy pouring over mommy guides, sometimes tears falling on the pages of my books because most of the guides are not meant for me. I couldn’t send daddy out for pickles or cookie-dough ice cream. I was imagining myself pushing in the delivery room with my partner holding my hands.
The thought of hauling through the grocery aisles in search of junk food made me cry even harder. I spent too much time trying to remedy my unhealthy, codependent relationship with my partner, instead of getting ready to be a single mom. I wish I’d put all my energy into self-care.
Preparing the Nursery:
Trips to the baby superstore can be difficult for solo moms during the first weeks home, so it is important to get stocked and set up as early as possible. First month of my pregnancy, I bought and stocked everything for my new-born, except the milk formula, because I want to feed my baby through my breast milk. From tiny clothes to stroller and crib. It was difficult for me and my Mother to go back and forth to the baby shop, but I can only rely on myself and my mother.
My mother was there to accompany me to doctor’s visits during my pregnancy and afterward. As a single pregnant woman, I was jealous seeing pregnant women accompanied by their husband or partner. At the last quarter of my pregnancy, I had a bout with gallstones that I didn't know all along.. It turned out to be a mistake and I really suffered a lot.
One month before my due date, I had bad cramping and I really almost collapsed when the pain attacked me, below my chest. I could not breath and I had a severe cold and cough at the same time. I didn’t have a plan B. My mother rushed me to the nearest hospital, She thought I was going to burst. I didn't feel any pain coming from my tummy or womb. I felt too much pain from the right side of my womb, down part of my breast, and pain really continued for almost 24 hours. My physician arrived and advised me to have an ultrasound on that side. Then found out that I have a 1.5 cm stone inside my gallbladder. The doctor told me to put me in CS to pull out the baby first out of my womb for them to give me oral medicine for my gallbladder or undergo a laparoscopic surgery. If not, my gallbladder will burst and will put the baby in danger. I felt like he threatened me. Then the doctor said they can only save the mother but not the child. I was very confused, scared and down that moment when the doctor explained to me the worst case scenario. I have to decide, I can't afford to lose my unborn little one. For 3 hours I was in OR (not in the delivery room) to undergo CS. After that moment, all I wanted was to see my baby, but they immediately placed my baby in the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) inside the incubator. Then I slept for 10 hrs. I was just sleeping the whole time while my baby was struggling with his life. The next morning, the physician told me that my baby needed to stay at NICU for at least 3 weeks for him to survive.
If you are a first-time mother, it may be difficult to predict how you will react when the time comes. After spending months agonizing, watching DVD's about women around the world giving birth in the squatting position, how to push hard, practicing to push from the diaphragm. It turned out, everything was just a practice because I gave my child life through CS.
The Postpartum begun:
Over the next few weeks after I brought home my baby boy, the sleep deprivation started to destroy me. I’ll never get a full night of sleep again. I want my life back. I was crying while trying to rock my 2kgs baby boy, I said "I’m so tired it hurts.” I shuffled through the days and nights of nonstop nursing, burping, and changing, attempting and failing to continuously get 6 hours of sleep or even a nap. My nipples, two spots of shooting pain, felt like someone had scrubbed them with steel wool. I felt like they were ready to burst. My crotch burned with raw tears and stitches. My gallstones were aching. Every time the baby cried and fussed, I wanted to scream even with help from my family (My mother was there) and some friends, I was more exhausted than I’d ever been. Though I was prepared (I thought I was) I never thought it would be that hard. So as time went by, I started to shake all the time. I was freezing even though it was summer and we were having a heat wave. My clothes were always soaked with sweat and milk. I stopped being able to sleep and prayed for the tired feeling to go away. I would lie awake and think: I have to go back to work in a month. How the hell am I going to do that? I’m going to lose my job. I need to pay all the bills from the hospital. All these years, I thought this was what I wanted. To have a child in my 30’s. To be a mother. Well prepared, emotionally and financially.
Other things in a woman’s life may make the depression worse, such as financial or marital problems. Postpartum depression (PPD) is really a serious illness or health problem. Whether you have a Cesarean or a vaginal delivery, you will still have to require regular check-ups with your doctor after. I took some herbal medicine to reduce the size of my gallstones. Then I tried the "flushing remedy". Then thank GOD, I made it! I did not undergo laparoscopic surgery which I can't afford. The most important thing an expectant single mother can do is to be informed and begin to rely on people. Maybe this means rounding up our family and friends. The key is to start early. As a single mother, it is vital to set up a support network before the baby comes. For some people this means family members.
My mother was very supportive and very critical. My baby is the first grandchild. It has been great to have my mother with experience to help me a lot. I remember, when JR would cry for hours in the middle of the night. At one point, when I was crying out of frustration, my mom came in and rocked him to sleep. For others, like me, our parents may be too old or simply unable to fill such a new role, but still giving their support to us, to show us how to be a mother with compassion.
Realization is one of the keys, You have to realize that being a good mom is your choice. Your baby is your greatest gift ever in your life. You have to get back to your life. Not your life before, but a life of a mom. You need to support your baby. Not just by feeding him, but you need to support him all the way. So you need to work hard. I was afraid that he might be affected by my depression in different ways.
Online selling is a big help.
In order to survive in this new role of life without the help of my son’s father, I need to work hard, earning money by being employed is really not enough for us. I also need to double my effort. So, I entered the world of online selling. My first try was gold jewelry like necklaces, rings, earrings etc. The first month was okay. I earned a lot, because gold accessories are more expensive. So I have a bigger share or commission once I sell. Of course it helped a lot for me, buying the necessities for my baby. I thought it was going to be smooth all the way, but I had e a client who ordered a piece of male necklace but he didn't pay me. I was cheated by that customer with a big amount of money. The supplier had to stop the supplies or the order, and asked me to pay that amount first. So I learned from that expensive mistake.
So then, I switched to reselling some baby new clothes and some pre-loved items for babies, beauty products, gadgets and sometimes delicacies. I just post it on my Facebook page or message privately to all my close friends to offer my products. It's not every day I get customers, but you need to persevere to sell your products for you to earn. Sometimes you feel discouraged when your products are haggling at a very low price.
Being a single mother is not easy. You have to be a vacuum (cleaning all the mess), nurse, chef, storyteller, and slayer of monsters while fulfilling all the duties of dad. You have to manage your time not to be late or absent in the office or to gather all the ordered products from your suppliers, and deliver it to your customer on time.
Single moms have to do it all, all the time. We never really get a break. We can never relax. There is no one else. We are all we have. We are all our kids have.
Now, I work as a call Center Agent, which means there’s a lot of hustling added on to my already busy day. I'm awake all night while my son is sleeping and while I want to nap in the daytime, it’s not always easy to nap while you have a little boy climbing on you like you’re a jungle gym. Or having to get up in the middle, to wash him up after his restroom or making his milk. My son is 4 years old, he’s already nearly four feet tall, and he’s like a little Energizer bunny, so I’m constantly feeding and attending all about him.
Today, my life now is very challenging. I have to take care of my child in the daytime and I have to work nighttime at the office. So, while he is sleeping, I am away from him. I’d rather choose that arrangement, for my eagerness to give him a life that’s meant for him and want him to be raised with all the love surrounding him. Being new in this role.. I have to achieve every role and follow rules. Not to fulfill my choice but because I love my purpose in life. So, to all single moms out there, being single forever really matters. You can do it alone. We can do it alone.