Oh, so you're a young mother?

By Esther Rachel Lai. - 5/20/2013

Home alone with Kylie, she's watching Elmo & I'm waiting for my lasagne to bake so I thought, why not do an update right now? Have been wanting to do this for the longest time ever but just like many other things, I always put it on hold & ultimately forget about it on a whole. But not this time! So here's ten questions people often ask me upon knowing that I'm a young mother / was a teen mom.

1. Was giving birth painful?
This is the number one question I get from people. Girls especially. Labour pains differ from person to person, obviously & for me I'd say it's not what the tv shows portray. I don't even remember screaming at all. Only moaned & groaned in pain while the husband was beside me was engrossed in a chinese drama series called "Ai" & he kept bugging me to watch. I could only roll my eyes in annoyance. Haha! My labour was only 2 hours worth of pain so I guess I'm pretty lucky! Didn't take any epidural shot but I did take a jab in the thigh to ease the pain & I inhaled a whole lot of that laughing gas cause Kylie was impatiently making her way into the world & my gynae hadn't even arrived yet! I remember the nurses didn't dare put my legs up & they told me "don't push yet! Just breathe the gas!" In the end, Kylie was vacuumed out. My gynae said I was too weak to push =\ I think he didn't even give me the chance to push though. I only pushed once & I didn't even use all my might then. & most people have the misconception that it's extremely painful cause a baby's forcing it's way through your nether regions to get out, but no. That's not where it's painful. It hurts cause of the contractions, which begins even before the baby's pushing it's way out. & it hurts in the lower abdomen not way down below. It's very much like someone's pulling the muscles of your abdomen, tightening it then letting go so you can breathe, & repeating over & over again increasing in strength with each pull. I realize I'm making it sound really painful but to me it was bearable. Maybe if my labour lasted longer then I wouldn't have been able to endure the pain. 

2. What's it like being a teen mom?
When people ask me this question, The first thing that comes to my mind is, "Would being an older mother change the way I feel about bringing a life into this world & nurturing him/her well? I doubt so right? Why do you ask?" I'm guessing people ask cause as teen mothers, most of us had unexpected pregnancies, we didn't have a job, we were still in school & we definitely weren't prepared to be someone's mother at all. For the most part of my pregnancy, I was afraid. Very afraid. Of what? I don't know, just aftaid of the unknown. What to expect when the baby arrives, would I be able to cope, will I make a good mother or would i prove the stereotypes right? But every first-time mother would have the same fears no? I had fears that I don't think older, prepared mothers would face with though. My already many fears were multiplied with things like "what would people think of me?" Or "how am I gonna pay for all of my child's expenses?" "Are people gonna talk behind my back in school?" "Will Shane chicken out & leave me when the baby's out?" I vividly remember crying silently almost every week while Shane slept beside me cause I had all these fears & insecurities. And maybe because of all the hormonal changes pregnancy brought along. When my belly showed though, I learned to embrace pregnancy. Only because I had the undying support from my friends & from acquaintances in school who saw me with a big belly & told me they admired me for my bravery. There were of course, people who'd stare at me when I walked by in school, &   wagging tongues full of gossip but they were a minority. My friends were like my shield. They were never ashamed to walk beside me, when it came to lunch, they'd put me first & ask if I had cravings. Classmates would offer to carry my stuff & even cook for me! Lecturers were extremely caring & they helped me get the financial aid I needed. My family, they stood up for me when relatives asked "why?" & I found strength in God through prayer. Through out my whole pregnancy, I saw through the people around me, who would be there for me when I needed them, & who I really don't need to pull me down further. I learnt to pluck out the weeds in my social circle & be thankful for the many other trustworthy friends I had around me. My pregnancy has certainly brought me closer to a number of people espcially my family. Even before she was born, Kylie has already taught me a number of life lessons and values AND brought a bond between me and several others. Until today, I'm super grateful towards my family and friends. I wish I could express just how much "super" is. It's like I feel so undeserving of these angels in disguise. Today, since my daughter, Kylie's birth, I'm faced with new challenges but things are only getting better. I'm more secure of my feelings, & I'm no longer afraid of what the future might bring. I take each day as it is with Kylie to bring me joy every day. There's not one thing I regret & if I had a choice, I'd choose this path all over again. & through all that i've persevered, I'm made a better person & my faith in God, strengthened. 

3. Aren't you afraid that your husband will leave you since he got tied down so early?
It might seem incredulous but even though we're young, our marriage has come to a point where I trust him entirely. So much so that he can go overseas with a group of guys. & the guys can do their whatever nonsense but I have faith in him that he wouldn't put our marriage in jeopardy simply because he loves Kylie & I. I can't find a reason to why he'd risk having something good for temporal ecstasy. & besides, if Shane really does leave me for someone else, well then, I'd say he never deserved me in the first place. I can pick someone of better calibre then him anytime & he knows it. But he also knows that I don't & I won't because I love him. Likewise for him. You know what they say, 'what's a relationship without trust?'

4. Are you planning to have a second child?
I'd love to! But not right now. I want to be able to give my children the best I can give. & undeniably, that means I need to be financially stable & that's still not where Shane & I are yet. We still have a few years to go. Goodness, Shane hasn't even gone to NS yet! So yeah, as much as we both want Kylie to have a sibling, we'll have to wait out a few years first. 

5. Don't you feel upset or anything when you see your friends enjoying their young & free lives while you have to stay home & watch over your kid?
Quite frankly, I get kind of offended when people ask me that. It's as if they're telling me that Kylie's a burden but as much as I hate to agree with them, there are time where I wish I could live life like a carefree young adult, go out as and when I like & have all the free time in the world on my hands. I do think about how my life would be like now if I never had Kylie but that's not to say that I regret any of my decisions or that I'm upset being where I am right now. It's only human to ponder how life would turn out had I made a different choice then. I've mulled over it umpteen times & played out make belief events in my head of "life without Kylie" & I've come to a conclusion. I think I would be in a pretty bad state, partying, spending money like there isn't a tomorrow, rebelling against my parents and having endless night outs. So if I may say, I think Kylie might have saved me from myself!

6. How did you lose all that weight after pregnancy?!
Okay, I'm not saying I'm slim but this lines up as the second most asked question. I don't have many pictures of when I was pregnant but here's a few.

This is me in May 2011. That's 6 months on.

My baby bump was still well hidden beneath my clothes & if you didn't know, you wouldn't even think I was pregnant.

& here below, is me in late July 2011. 8 months, almost 9 into my pregnancy, my belly really started to show.

& you can tell, that apart from my huuugggeeee belly, the rest of my body is still slender. I attribute it to my appetite through out my pregnancy. Unlike most pregnant women who ate double their normal portions, I ate HALF the normal portion. 3/4 of the time, Shane had to help finish my food & even his mom said I ate a lot more when I wasn't pregnant compared to when I was pregnant. It's not that I was weight conscious or anything of that sort, but I really just didn't have the appetite to eat, I'd feel full after a few mouthfuls. Don't know why either. But Kylie came out a strong and healthy baby with no health problems whatsoever cause despite my mediocre appetite, I took my prenatal vitamins every day without fail, took cod liver oil to boost her IQ and drank my prenatal milk once every two days so Kylie had all the nutrients she needed! So yeah, I didn't do anything to lose weight except maybe religiously breastfeed Kylie for 2 weeks straight, cause I didn't have much fats to lose in the first place! I grew from 50kg to 68kg(?) during the span of my pregnancy but that extra 10 over kilograms were all Kylie, the placenta, & all that amniotic fluid and stuff. My face was a little puffy though, water retention I guess but that went down in less than a month.

7. Is breastfeeding pain?
YES. This I won't deny. The reason why I stopped breastfeeding Kylie after about two weeks was because it hurt so bad & it was damn tiring. I actually cried cause it was so painful! I let Kylie latch on the whole two weeks that I fully breastfed her & it was maaaaadddd painful cause after the first few days, the skin on my nipples started to tear from all that sucking so it was an open wound. Worst part is, despite that, I still have to let Kylie latch on because we didn't buy a breast pump & I didn't intend to start her on formula milk. Every time I put her on, I'd wince in pain. Aside from that, my breasts were SO engorged with milk that they were rock hard. Like how it a flexed bicep feels. Milk would overflow & soak the mattress whenever I slept and my boobs were so sore from all that engorged milk. Even though I had a rather good supply of milk, I finally gave up after two weeks & gradually switched to formula milk entirely. It was extremely tiring as well, Kylie would fall asleep drinking & when I take her off my breast she'd wake up & cry so I have to let her latch on again then she'd fall asleep & the cycle repeats so I didn't know if she had enough to drink or what. & in the middle of the night, even when I was dead tired, sleeping 2-3 hour intervals through out the day/night, nobody could help me with Kylie when she cried for milk in the middle of the night cause I'm the only one who had the milk! Still, if I had the chance to go back in time, I'd have breastfed Kylie for a longer period of time & invest in a breast pump, maybe breastfeeding wouldn't be such a torture then.

8. Any special meaning behind her name, Kylie Danielle (Joseph)?
Joseph, needless to say, is Kylie's surname. & as for choosing to name my daughter 'Kylie', it's pretty much simple. Shane & I both liked the name. It's the ONE name we both agreed on after days & weeks of throwing hundreds of names at Shane asking him "how's this?" or "how's that?" & surfing the net for unique names, pretty names, meanings behind names. Among the few I considered (but Shane threw out the window & went "ew!" immediately) were Cheyenne (pronounced Shy-anne), Sherie, Chelsea...I've a thing for girls' names starting with a "ch" or "sh" sound or ending with an "elle", just sounds very feminine to me. But not quite for the baby daddy. There is a tiny reason to why I chose the name Kylie apart from just liking it but it's rather personal, & on the most part, it's just cause we really liked it. Another name we really liked was Alexis. We were deciding between Danielle or Alexis for the middle name but in the end, Danielle won us over because Shane's late grand dad's name is Daniel so it has a little sentimental meaning for him & his family. & also because I found it very appropriate that the meaning for Danielle, feminine for Daniel, meant "God is my judge". Throughout my pregnancy, there were times where I felt like I was judged & with prayer, God gave me the strength & boldness to face people and be proud of my baby bump because knowing that God is the only one who can judge me, gave me a whole new sense of courage and a heightened self-esteem. I still believe that I am only here today, happy where I am because the God I serve has held me through my lowest & brought me out of it. All that I am today, I give God all the praise & glory.

9. How is it like living with in-laws?
To be honest, I wasn't very thrilled to move out of my parent's place & in with my in-laws. & for a period of time, I was bitter about it. There were times when I got really annoyed just because I still wasn't used to his family's way of doing things but things are more or less alright now. It all boils down to compromise & giving in sometimes. & in looking at the pros of staying with my in-laws versus staying on our own. The grass will always seem greener on the other side so I often put things in perspective for myself, & this phase will come to pass too. Soon, Shane & I will get a place of our own & I know that there will definitely be some things that I miss about staying with his family so I might not entirely love it here as much as I'd love to stay with my parents or on our own, this still is family, and this still is my home. So I'm learning to cherish the time I have left living here with them.

10. Any regrets?
Nine questions and an essay later, we've finally reached question number ten! Gosh, I'm drained. Kylie has gone from watching elmo to being whisked away to dream land. Took me a good two, almost three hours to write this post & you think I'd have any regrets? haha! Nope, no regrets at all. I may get angry and upset at Shane sometimes but we've always worked things out. I might have said some spiteful words & him as well, but we both know we've no regrets to our decision to have Kylie (or at least for me. But I'm pretty sure he feels the same.) Had I set my heart on another decision, I think that would've been the biggest regret of my life. I love Kylie, & I love the family God has blessed me with. To be this blessed, this happy, it's impossible not to believe that it's all God's plan & blessing.

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