Back home from the hospital, there was some adjusting to be made and I was not ready.
My mother-in-law moved in with us, even though I heard that culturally it was supposed to be my mother doing the moving in. We don’t roll like that where I come from, plus Cynthia and I agreed that it made more sense to have her mother with her after childbirth.
With someone else in the house, I had to make some lifestyle changes.
Cynthia and I used to dress down at home, like birthday suit dress down, but now I had to make conscious efforts to wear clothes around the house. A small price to pay for the help and support she brought.
They talked to each other almost like equals but with respect. Back when we were still dating, Cynthia’s mom would ring her and she would answer with “What’s up?” This fascinated me then, but I was on the outside looking in. Now, we lived in the same house and breathed the same air, I was always confused as to how to respond to her or what to call her.
Growing up, my mother was my mother and we had an adult-child relationship. We called her mma or mama, and replying with “ma” was the verbal measure of respect.
With my mother-in-law, I tried “mummy” like Cynthia, but that didn’t roll off my tongue smoothly. I considered “grandma” but that only worked if I pretended I was speaking for the baby or to the baby about her. I tried “what’s up” once and, even though it didn’t make it past the thought phase, I swear I felt my mother’s disapproving look all the way from her house.
While completing the setting up of the baby’s room, a few things became clear to me:
- We didn’t really need a baby’s room, except as a place to put his things in. We made a bigger bed that held a regular sized mattress for the adults and a smaller mattress on the side for the baby. From the first night home, I was bounced to the smaller mattress.
- More than half of the things we bought for the baby would not be used. Although we had the wisdom not to buy clothes in 0-3months and 3-6months sizes instead of new-born, we had booties, hats, socks and swaddling blankets that were instantly too small for him or too warm for Nigeria. We also had two baby carriers where only one would do, and even the one we used only once or twice. I recently packed up his cot which only served as a holding cell when he started crawling – but that’s in the future.
- Babies differ.
The nights were not as bad as I expected. I was promised sleepless nights and an endlessly crying infant, and while I slept less because we had to feed him every two hours, as soon as he was fed all he wanted to do was sleep till the next feeding time. His routine didn’t vary much during the day. Only two things made him cry: hunger and sleep. The first was easily resolved with a nipple in his mouth, for the second I found that my voice worked wonders.
I would rock him while singing Bez’s ‘My Baby’ and he would fall asleep. A little bit about my singing: I am tone-deaf and can’t hold a note, but my baby doesn’t mind. In fact, Cynthia once tried singing this song to get him to sleep and it made him cry harder.
I know one day he will realise how awful a singer I am and maybe ask me to stop singing, but until that happens, I will enjoy my audience of one.