By Eloise Enerio Cimafranca, Motherhood Contributor
Motherhood, no matter how much the preparation, is never a walk in the park, especially on raising first-borns. Truth is that, children don't come with a manual. All instructions for guidance are not also fully given to new mothers. Thus, entering into the door of being the 'light of the family' is a combination of self-discovery and peer-inquiry.
As for my experience, I was living away from home when I gave birth to Ely. Since I was islands away from my family and friends, and had zero knowledge of nurturing a newborn, figuring out on my own the 'how tos' has been my thing. Google became my best friend and FB groups for moms like me became my go-to whenever I needed help. It was really overwhelming, yet little by little, I cope up and could eventually do things on my own. It's maternal instinct, I guess.
Then came sleepless nights when I decided to exclusively breastfeed Ely, whom I fed on demand. I did everything a mother would do to provide the best care a child needed. But then, I got so flabbergasted with my tasks that led me to neglecting myself. Yes, there was a time that my looks temporarily did not matter. Then it hit me, PPD or postpartum depression was in my door. I succumbed. Ely was only a few months old then when I was losing my sanity with the routine at home, with a new born, and with no one to talk to who could understand and empathize with me. Knowing that I needed help for Ely and a listener for myself, I then decided to go home to my hometown. This helped me to de-stress a bit and divert my thoughts for a while. Nevertheless, the worst episode of my PPD happened while we were on a ship going home from Leyte then Cebu then to CDO. It was just me and Ely, he won't go to sleep because he was uncomfortable of humidity, and the lights were so bright. It was a long day for me, haven't slept for more than 24, stressed, exhausted, and drained. The crowded passengers made the surrounding hot, and then here was my little companion on top of fussing and crying. Crazy thoughts came to my mind like jumping off the ship or tossing Ely into the dark waters. I battled with those thoughts: laid there, embraced Ely tightly, closed my eyes and prayed. Repeatedly, I called out who God is in my life. I kept on praying until I calmed down. After a few while, Ely fell to slumber.
That short break somehow helped me with what I was going through. I went back to Leyte renewed with an even better perspective on being a new mom. Here's what 2 Corinthians 12:9 says: "But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may rest on me." This reminded me once again that I should not rely on my own self. Instead, acknowledge my weaknesses and rely on God's grace daily. Truly, it was by His grace that I was able to overcome such trial.
A lot of things happened since then, but I vowed to do the best that I can for Ely supporting him to be the kind of person that God wants him to be. To do this, I wear many hats to train him. Things like being a researcher (who provides him excellent activities), teacher (who prepares lesson plans and practices appropriate teaching methods), playmate (who plays with him to make leisure time more fun), cheerleader (who roots and rejoices on his milestones), spiritual guide (who points him to loving Jesus) and a mother (who loves him unconditionally) are surprising titles I never thought to do.
Indeed, motherhood is a tough job. It has no compensation but seeing your child growing to be responsible, respectful, God-fearing, joyful and healthy is more than enough.
To all the new moms out there, embrace motherhood with gladness while relying on God's daily, sufficient grace.
To all those who have mommy friends, take some time to be there, listen and pray for them.