I’m a Mom Now, and I’m Figuring It Out

I’m a Mom Now, and I’m Figuring It Out

Five months after giving birth to her son, Issa Perez Gandionco writes down all her thoughts about being a first-time mom.

As of writing, I am officially five months and 14 days post-partum, which in mom terms means my son is already 23 weeks and at the start of his fifth leap*.

My son, Nolan North, is fast asleep and I can confirm this because when I’m not trying to find the words for this article, I am checking on him through the baby cam. Actually, this is a lie—sometimes I type while looking at the baby camera (He just moved. He’s still asleep though, so that’s good!).

Edit: he woke up and I had to feed him to sleep for at least 15 minutes. I’m already tired, so I think I’ll make coffee before I proceed.

I’m back—

I like to think that my motherhood journey began the moment we found out we were pregnant. Although I am only officially celebrated this year, I count the days of my son swimming and kicking around my belly as a prelude to the real thing, if I may.

Having said that, I would definitely have to say that my motherhood journey has been nothing short of unique. Aside from the fact that I got pregnant during a worldwide pandemic, I also went into premature labor at 32 weeks and was confined to a bed for the last four weeks of my pregnancy. 

What I had imagined being the last hoorahs of me going out and experiencing life without a child turned into days alone in a labor room (without a cellphone, I must add). When we finally got home, it was endless murder documentaries, sponge baths, and being pushed around in my computer chair because I, by all means, was not to get up.

By God’s grace, I eventually made it to full term (yey!) and a bloody patch in my underwear on the 11th of November meant it was finally time to bring my little dude into the world. A part of me hoped we’d make it in time for 11.11 so it’d be easier to remember his birthday, but a part of me also really wanted to milk the Shopee sales.

By no doing of my own, I was eventually induced on November 12, 2022, and after four hours of pushing, four poops, and two shots of epidurals, it was decided that I could not push out my baby and Nolan North P. Gandionco was born via C-Section.

I, on the other hand, was diagnosed with cephalopelvic disproportion, a condition in which the baby has trouble getting through the birth canal because of the size or shape of the mother’s pelvis.

I read somewhere (Facebook) that a C-Section is the only operation in which a woman goes through major surgery, but is expected to stand, nurse, and care for her child as soon as six hours after giving birth. The most I can remember was feeling like my insides had been beaten up so bad, being terrified at the thought of just having experienced my first major surgery but also desperately wanting to be wheeled straight away to the nursery so I could see, feel and feed our son. I didn’t care how much it hurt—I just wanted him with me as soon as I could.

Life following that seemed to be a whirlwind. Our usual late mornings slowly turned into us greeting the sunrise. My husband and I danced with each other to put our son to sleep, as well as we danced around each other when it came to house chores and navigating our new roles as parents. Dirty diapers, sleeping rotations, bottle sterilizing, feeding schedules, doctor’s visits, Googling everything, and the endless amounts of unsolicited advice—yep, we experienced them all.

I want to say we knew what we were doing because we waited two years to have a child and we also had nine months to prepare for him, but the reality was most of the time, we were merely winging it, freaking out, and overthinking in the process.

Eventually, we got the hang of things—North was sleeping in his co-sleeper at night. I could hug my husband while I slept, and life felt pretty good… then typhoon Odette happened and everything just went to shit. 

As a condo-dweller, I almost feel unworthy of saying that life after the typhoon was hard because I know we had it a lot better than others, but when you have a one-month-old deep into his first leap, you can’t help but play the victim. I’m not gonna lie—the nights were hard, but the scorching heat was the hardest and as soon as our electricity was restored, our AC has barely gotten any rest to this day. If you ever wondered where all our money went, I will personally hand you our VECO bill.

Recently our son has decided it was time to grow teeth and that his favorite chew toy of choice is my boobs. For the past week, I have been nursing bleeding nipples and have been wincing through the pains of feeding. In case you haven’t caught wind of it yet, we are helper-less parents and therefore I am trying to avoid bottle washing duties by all means. If that means feeding North through all this pain, goddammit, I’m going to do it. Which reminds me, I need to learn how to make kamote puree after this.

Honestly, I could go on and share a million stories of what our lives have been like since Nolan North came into our lives because every single day is a wonderful adventure with him around. You will laugh, you will cry and you’ll say, “Wow, it really isn’t easy.”

I’m sure this article isn’t too far off from any other first-time parents’ article you’ve probably read in the past because the notions are all the same— parenthood isn’t easy. But if I’m being completely honest, I only remember bits and pieces of the hard parts, because what I remember the most is North nestled on my chest sleeping the afternoons away. I remember him slowly waking up and me being the first one he sees and the little smile on his face when he’d see it was me. I don’t remember how long it takes to get him to sleep but I remember the synchronicity of how our chests rise and fall with him laying on top of me

My husband’s recollection of our first night with the baby roomed in is me feeding with an IV line attached to one hand. The bed was too high for me so I had to sit in a chair to feed in, and I practically had no sleep. But from where I was standing, I mostly remember looking at him the whole night, struggling—yes—but mostly thinking, “Damn, I can’t believe we made a baby and that he’s finally here.”

I know parenthood has had its hard times for us as a couple. My husband and I haven’t been on a date in the last five months, and we’ve had our fair share of arguments like many new parents do, but that’s not what I think of when I close my eyes and replay our life lately.

Instead, I see us peeping through the door when the baby wakes up. I see us singing nursery rhymes in the living room and juggling strollers and baby bags on our way out to family days. I see my husband telling me how proud he was of me for birthing our child and that I’ve never looked better when I couldn’t bear to look at myself in the mirror. I see myself having just had a baby with my best friend and it’s the best feeling in the world.

I’ve come to the conclusion that motherhood, at least to me, feels like being in a constant state of overwhelmedness. As self-critical as I am, I have never been harder on myself as a mother.

I constantly feel like I’m not good enough or that I’m not trying hard enough, that I didn’t do enough research about the best high chair, or if using a walker actually causes more harm than good. The list goes on and on and on.

Sometimes I’ll find myself in tears because my thoughts get too loud and I just need that release or my husband to help me rationalize things and let me know that I’m doing a good job. Then there are times when I can’t help but pat myself on the back because we’ve managed to not just keep our son alive but we’ve also kept him safe, healthy and I’d like to think happy these past five months all while doing it on our own, working multiple jobs, and in the middle of a pandemic.

What I’ve realized from my very short (so far) stint at motherhood is that you can read all the books, blogs, and reviews, and hear all the unsolicited advice in the world. But at the end of the day, motherhood is never a one size fits all thing. My son has the “best spoon for babies” and yet demands to be fed with a silver spoon for adults. Everyone strongly advised against co-sleeping and yet once I’m done writing this article I am going to slip into bed with North in between Paolo and me, and against everyone’s will, gi anad nako akong anak nga kargahun [I let my child get used to being carried] because one day I won’t be able to do that anymore. Even if the next years might be harder because of that decision, that’s a mistake I am willing to make.

Motherhood is overwhelming, but at the end of the day the baby is put to sleep, the dishes are cleaned, the bottles sterilized and the work is eventually done, and I am ready and excited to do it all again. Of all the places my crazy life could have led me to, I am happiest that it has led me here—milk-soaked, often frazzled, but so full of love I could poop rainbows and butterflies.

Speaking of poop, I have a diaper to check!

Happy Mother’s Day, Momma’s, chug a bottle of beer- you deserve it! <3 

*Babies go through 10 leaps in mental development in the first 20 months of their lives. With each leap, babies gain a new perceptive ability enabling them to develop new skills.