A week after giving birth to my first child, a 6 lbs 1 oz baby girl through almost twelve hours of labor and by normal delivery, I am finding that the hardships of being a new mother is not limited to taking care of the baby but also encompasses dealing with family members.

In the week past I have come to think that most family members insist on seeing the baby for reasons other than welcoming the new little human being into this world. They come on personal selfish reasons.

There is the “I wanted a baby girl too but just couldn’t have one” kind. There is the “I just want to know from whom it takes after” kind. There is also the “I want to see what see as many faults as possible in the baby because it will make me feel better about myself” kind.

Why does it matter from whom the baby takes after? Or isn’t there anything else worth talking about? Doesn’t the mother also need some respect and consideration?

I know I made it clear that I didn’t want any visitors during the first week. We as a couple need that first week to adjust as new parents. We need that time to adjust to our new roles, our new responsibilities, our new way of living our day to day lives. We need that time to attune ourselves to the new family member’s needs as well as attend to ours.

I have just given birth. I have stitches from the episiotomy. The wound is in the process of healing and is painful. I am still bleeding and will still be in the next weeks. My pelvic bone and my uterus have to go back to their pre-pregnancy state. I am breastfeeding and my breasts are engorged and painful, and my back hurts. I am in pain. It’s hard to walk, to sit, to lie down, to sleep, to rest and to do everything else. I even have to have someone help me out in putting clothes on. I am aware that compared with other women who have given birth, I am in less pain just because my delivery did not require forceps or a vacuum, nor was it caesarian. It is still pain nonetheless.

I know we cannot turn away visitors, especially because they are family. We welcome visitors because we also need and appreciate any help, any advice, any tips we can get. We are first time mom and dad.

But comments like “Maitim tong baby na to..” and “Si ganyan nung ka-edad nya ganito…” Why compare? To me, all babies look the same anyway. And then after that stage, every human being, every individual is unique. I do not care if her skin is fair or not. I plan to make a little surfer girl out of my daughter and if that turns out to be the case, no one will know what her real skin color is. Like me. I have heard time and again the statement, “Maputi ka pala.” I heard it from my college blockmates after I stopped a semester-long twice-a-week swim in the university pool. I heard it from my co-teachers and new friends I made in Manila a few months getting back from El Nido, after a year of being out in the sun everyday and every weekend from beach to beach and island to island. I heard it from friends after I got pregnant and had to stop surfing. No one in my family is dark-skinned. I being of Spanish descent is yellow-skinned and freckled as are my aunts, uncles and cousins on my mother’s side. In my family, I can be considered the least fair-skinned. So if the baby turns out to be “hindi maputi” that’s not my fault. Then again, if my daughter thinks she wants fairer skin, there is always glutathione and the likes, or all those papaya products. Enough said.

I know the baby does not look like me. My father said so himself. So I do not take kindly to any comments from my husband’s family members about her looks. Parang ang yabang naman, akala mo sobrang gaganda at gagwapo nila sa pamilya. Magbilangan pa kami ng mga gwapo at magaganda sa pamilya at makikitang lamang ang pamilya ko nang bonggang-bongga.

I was really angry. No one has the right to ridicule my child and I certainly will not take it from someone in the family circle.

It seems only right to request that visits not be done until a week or two after the baby is born. The baby does nothing but eat, pee, poop and sleep… and sleep… and sleep. It doesn’t seem right to wake the baby up just so you can take pictures of it with her eyes wide open and it is wrong to take pictures of the baby when she has her eyes wide open and use the camera’s flash. It doesn’t seem right to expect the baby to be photogenic or to smile for your picture or your video. The poor baby can’t even see yet.

***

I read and re-read what I wrote above, thought about it for three days and wrote and rewrote. I really just wanted to vent out.

I thought about how angry I was as I was looking at my daughter’s face, sleeping peacefully in my arms. I could spend hours just looking at her, all in love. When I wake up in the middle of the night to feed her, I look at her all bathed in the green night light and fall asleep smiling, thinking about how lovely she is. I spend hours looking, trying to memorize the various expressions her face makes, knowing that time goes by quickly and she will not be this lovely baby forever. I want to remember all of it. I carried her with me everywhere, had lots of joy, amusement and pain with her the past nine or so months and I do not have to care what people say. It does not matter what she looks like, or who she takes after. This baby is mine, made with and in love, and I will love her no matter what she looks like or what she will become. She can be anything and I will love her with all my heart.

It doesn’t matter. I will not let these things affect me. I cannot. I will remind myself every time people say something about my baby’s looks. There will always be comments about the eyes, the eyelashes, the nose, the lips, the eye color, the hair color, the skin color and I will remember to not hear. Every son and daughter will always be the most beautiful in every mother’s eyes. It wasn’t easy being pregnant, it wasn’t easy giving birth and it won’t be easy being a mom, to a baby, to a toddler, to a grade-schooler, to a teenager and to an adult but there will always be love.

I have proven that love makes us blind. Now I know love also makes us deaf.

Written April 15, 2009

Originally posted here.

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