I am known to be a positive, cheerful and tenacious individual. But nine months into motherhood, I was finding it too much to bear.
How could I be so blessed to have a child and yet hate my life so much?
Well-meaning friends and loved ones told me life would change forever when a child arrived.
They were right.
My husband and I steeled ourselves for sleep deprivation, copious amounts of washing and the constant changing of dirty diapers.
We are ready to enter this stage of life, we told ourselves. And we would do it sans maid – such was our resolve to be hands-on parents.
No amount of mental preparation or mutual psyching sessions with my spouse prepared me for the reality that is parenthood.
The initial excitement over the arrival of a new life and feelings of overwhelming gratitude to God for this gift soon gave way to deeper resentment than I had ever experienced in my life.
Adopting the breastfeeding-is-best approach that many mothers today advocate beset my breasts with problems I never knew existed.
Although infections such as mastitis and milk blisters on my nipples caused me to wince and cry out in pain at each feed, I pressed on doggedly.
This is good for my baby. I cannot and will not give up, was my mantra. I am still nursing her even as I write this.
When I returned to work after four months of maternity leave, my baby refused to be bottle-fed.
Rather than give in to her hunger strikes, I walked home from work every three hours to nurse her. The six journeys on foot to and from work took close to two hours each day.
I told myself that the treks were worthwhile because I was literally pouring out to fill the life of another.
But the truth was, such notions of self-sacrifice did nothing to reduce the drudgery of it all.
Physical exhaustion gave way to misery. I felt enslaved to my child, who was so helpless and dependent on me for her every need.
Beyond bottle-feeding difficulties, my daughter had a few month-long bouts of sickness.
Whenever we got down on our knees to wipe vomit off our floorboards, walls and clothes, my husband and I experienced the humble work that maids have to do.
Stench, sweat, self-pity and sleeplessness characterised those wretched nights.
Then came my baby’s dislike for food, which made the process of weaning her highly frustrating.
My mother spent hours chopping, boiling and mashing ingredients to make tasty meals and hearty soups.
Alas, the morsels came right out of my baby’s mouth.
I thought I was prepared for all the responsibilities that motherhood entailed.
But by my baby’s ninth month of life on earth, I felt completely snowed under by the seemingly endless challenges that motherhood had heaped on me.
I ought to have known that this new life would give me little time for my husband and no time to do the things I enjoyed.
But experiencing that reality filled me with thoughts of escaping it.
Many nights, as I cradled my baby close and whispered into her ear that I loved her, my heart ached to be released from caring for her.
As a free-spirited extrovert and a journalist, I enjoy the feeling of waking up to a different rhythm every day. I also feel charged packing multiple appointments and activities into a day.
But babies need routine, sleep and attention.
Social events had to go and I could not meet up with friends as frequently as I used to.
There was a constant battle in my heart between what I wanted to do and what I knew I had to choose.
Those bitter battles in my mind sounded like this: You chose to embark on parenthood right? And now, you have no choice – because this is the very life you chose!
This angst was inflamed by a self-loathing for my post-pregnancy physique.
I felt ugly. I longed for my pre-pregnancy figure. Dressing up used to be fun, but it had now become a dreadful daily task of deciding what to wear to conceal tummy fat.
On my lowest of days, negativity consumed me and I wept and cursed my life. However, the emotional outbursts did nothing to soothe my spirit. I just felt like a terrible human being after them.
I was a mother. I had a child. I had a loving, supportive husband who did most of the household chores. There was so much to be thankful for.
Yet, I hated my life. Why, oh why, could I not embrace motherhood?
I shared my inner torment with my husband in July.
“You don’t need to stop living the life you want to just because we have a Singhlet (our pet name for our daughter),” he said.
“But how?” I wailed, as I felt a surge of annoyance.