Here’s sharing with you bits of how my life was as a first-time mom (and dad for Derrick) 14 years ago. I was an OFW mom then, with no stay-in nanny/helper around. It was hard. It took me a while to finally get adjusted to this whole new life. Though we were privileged to bring my mom and mother-in-law for the first 9 months alternately, we had to adjust again after they left for good, which was even harder.
To make our lives easier, we had to have a routine and an organized household. That was how I probably trained myself to become organized in many ways ‘coz after that it was only the three of us, and we had to survive the way an OFW life needs to be. Work-house-baby-repeat.
Where I worked for, after giving birth, I was allowed to take one-month maternity paid leave which happened and got over quickly, just like that. But since I had my mom with me a week before I gave birth to Deye, it was easier. During the first month, Deye, unfortunately, was always awake when it was time for us to sleep. Just imagine if it went on like that when I was already back to work, which actually happened for a few weeks. My mom and I had to take turns. She would let me sleep from 11pm till the time I am about to get ready for work. In Bahrain, breastfeeding moms are privileged to take a half-day at work for the first 6 months after delivery, so I grabbed that opportunity which also gave me the chance to catch up some sleep during day time and prepare whatever I had to prepare for Deye.
During that time, my husband was still a hotelier so he’s mostly on broken shift, and needed much sleep to keep going for the rest of his shift. We had no car at that time. He goes to work on a bicycle while I get picked up by our company shuttle. Though we worked for the same group of companies, some things were managed differently. But the best part was we were given a sharing family accommodation with allowances the whole time we were employed as husband and wife.
Fast forward to going back to work finally… That was the time when we had to settle with getting a babysitter. Babysitters there do not come to your house. Instead, you drop the child to her house with all the things your baby would need. So imagine the trust that we also had to build and give.
I get picked up by the shuttle at 8:15am and come home by 7pm mostly, usually up by 5am, prepare Deye’s stuff like sets of clothes, her meals, milk, diapers, etc in a diaper bag. I make sure that everything was literally ready for Derrick to grab when they leave the house. Another set of clothes were also kept ready for changing. I spend the whole day at the office and get home by 7pm mostly. There were times when I’m not able to come home on time, and Derrick would just keep Deye with whoever is available in that building, and send me a message that she is with whoever haha! We lived in a company accommodation so keeping her like that with somebody wasn’t a problem for us. They love doing it for Deye anytime, whenever possible.
Preparing meals for Derrick & myself wasn’t a problem, too. Meals were provided while he’s on duty, and I get to bring home mine from the Coffee Shop, or food delivery was the best way to deal with it. I only keep pre-cooked meals for Deye and just heat it up when needed. That way we always have available meals for her in the fridge should we need to keep her with the babysitter longer.
In between the time, while Derrick’s on break (as he does broken shifts), he would again pick Deye up from the babysitter’s house, serve her lunch, and put her to sleep so he can also catch a quick nap before he heads back to work by 7pm. Derrick spent more time with her doing most of the daddy duties during the daytime.
We only keep her with the babysitter in the mornings for 4 hours the most. My mommy duties officially start at 7pm on weekdays back then. Feed her, play with her, give her a quick bath, wash her bottles, wash our clothes, do the household chores, keep things organized, put her to sleep, and when the last won’t work, then that’s the time I’d play Barney, or put TFC on to keep her occupied, then I can do the rest of my chores. Derrick usually gets home at 1am the earliest then. If I am still awake, then we’d get the chance to eat together, otherwise, we’d see each other again “awake” before I leave for work.
In some cases when Derrick cannot make it home because of functions and all, I just tag Deye along with me to work and keep her in the Junior Club (I worked in a hotel and resort at that time so they have all these amenities). It’s good to be friends with the Junior Club Supervisor you know hahaha! (Thanks Ate Detty, I will never forget those days when you help me look after Deye so I can focus on my office works.)
Too busy, I know. It’s literally a journey for us. It went on like that for over a year before we finally decided to stay home for good – just me and Deye. That was also the time when Derrick joined DHL and got relocated somewhere else. My boss tried multiple times to convince me to stay and offered help to put Deye in a Daycare Center instead while I work, but I declined because I knew it would be a nightmare after work if I did. I also didn’t want to compromise my health, our health, and grab opportunities like that.
If I would go into detail, it’ll sound harder than that, so just go figure and imagine how my life was as a first-time mom 14 years ago. We also had to sacrifice being together as a family to live a comfortable life, and still in the same set-up up to this time. But yes, we survived, and still surviving! I’m just thankful and lucky that I always get the support needed whenever. That also made me train Deye to be responsible and be on her own most of the time when she was just a toddler. At 3, she eats alone, supervised of course. She also did great at school and needed very little supervision.
At 4, before Ishi was born, she’s already adjusted a little. That was the time when I decided to get a full-time stay-in housekeeper and moved into an apartment just near my parents’ house. The rest is another story – with Ishi.