I just had a baby around 3 months ago. The Hubba had just gotten a new job, which pays handsomely.
Just a tiny setback though – he has to be away from me and the baby for about 3 weeks each month. He travels abroad, leaving me to cope as a new mother on my own.
‘Careful what you wish for’ – this rang true for us. I’ve prayed for a more stable income to support our growing family and get us out of debt. God indeed works in mysterious ways. Our prayers had been answered, but not without sacrifice.
Sacrifice number one – I had to put my career on hold to be a (still) freelancing, stay-at-home-mom. We couldn’t bear the thought of sending our baby to a nanny or babysitter. There are just way too many horror stories about them.
Sacrifice number two – The Hubba had to leave home for long stretches at a time. Sometimes he has to work in remote areas, and there would be no contact for days.
So, yeah, I am a wife. But I’m also sort of a single, new mother to a 3-month old baby.
Here’s how I cope with it:
Always have an emergency contact
My mom has always been my rock, but she lives quite far from me and I can’t rely on her driving all the way to my house at night. It’s important to get someone reliable and dependable to be your emergency contact and on speed dial.
He or she should be reachable even during odd hours. The Hubba has entrusted my running coach, aka surrogate dad to watch over us both, and the fella is always ready to help out.
He’d check up on us from time to time and would drop by the house to pass some groceries, supplies and food. So far, (touch wood), there’s been no ‘real’ emergency yet.
Unless you count me being at my wit’s end trying to put the baby to sleep as an emergency.
Let friends know of your situation
They can serve as the emergency contacts as well, checking up from time to time. My friends sometimes take me and the baby out when I feel too cooped up in the house. We go for a cuppa, a meal, window shopping, or just a stroll in the park.
Be sure they are trustworthy though – remind them not to publicise you being home alone. This can happen just by them updating their FB status and tagging you!
On a similar note, you need to remind yourself not to upload a similar status, no matter how ‘emo’ you might be. Trust me, going 3 weeks without The Hubba and not having a real adult conversation can make one feel down in the dumps.
Train the baby to sit in the car seat
My baby makes a big fuss whenever I’m out of sight (such a drama queen in the making). This makes it harder for me to leave her.
As much as friends help out, I need to get out of the house to run errands on my own too. The only solution? The baby needs to go into the car seat.
She hates being in it and would often throw a tantrum. I had to train her to be okay with it. I managed to soothe her by gently reciting some Quranic verses and singing in silly voices.
I started off with short trips to the markets and banks, before venturing out further. I discovered that feeding her properly and making sure her diapers are fresh also helps.
Today she still needs to be cajoled into her seat, but sometimes, she sleeps like a baby (pun intended) just 5 minutes into the drive.
Fill the days and nights with routines and activities
Another coping mechanism I discovered is to set a routine for the baby. This involves regulating when she wakes up, feeds, bathes, plays, naps and so on. Routine helps the days pass faster.
I also occupy myself with things like house chores, work, tasks etc.
Before I know it, it’s already night time.
Learn to relax and keep calm
Though I’m used to being on my own, it’s daunting to be alone with a baby. It’s another human being to think of. Babies are smart, and mine can sense if I’m nervous or anxious. She’ll mirror it with her own behaviour.
For example, I was dead nervous on going out with her for the first time, and she sensed it. The first time we were out, she wouldn’t stop crying. But after a few short trips, I’ve learnt to calm myself down. Babies are excellent imitators; when she saw me relaxing, she relaxed too.
Equip yourself with information and knowledge
Whether it’s about the baby, the house’s maintenance (loan payments, plumbing etc), or car maintenance – get as much info as you can.
The Hubba always reminds me of all these things before he leaves for work, and we’ve set up a reminder on the required monthly payments. He even got me to do a demonstration on how to change flat tyres and check on the oil. Man, that’s hard!
This life that I’m leading now gives me a different set of challenges. Me and the baby are both learning to be with each other 24/7, and it’s a never-ending process.
I still haven’t quite mastered all these coping techniques and skills yet though. Hey, baby steps okay?
For more articles by Nazmie, read My Wife Is a ‘Queen Controller’, but I Am Ok with It, and Things You Shouldn’t Mention to a First-Time Mom.