Photo: Courtesy of Mary Chan
I always looked forward to motherhood. The thought of being a mom filled me with a sense of pride and joy. When I gave birth to my first baby girl, Lianna, I was overwhelmed with a wide array of emotions.
On the one hand, every little interaction with my baby, from seeing her adorable smile to burping for the first time, was new and interesting for me. We took her to a lot of places that my husband and I enjoyed, but the experience was much more exhilarating with our daughter around. It was like seeing a familiar environment for the first time again, but this time through a baby's perspective.
As exciting as it was to be a new mother, there were also a series of hurdles that I had to overcome. Getting used to having a new person to take care of while also adapting to the changes in my own body took a lot of tough work. I also had a hard time trying to understand why she was crying or what she wanted during our first month together.
They say “the days are long but the years are short,” and I can totally relate. It was like running a marathon. I would feed her and put her to sleep, hoping to have some time to attend to my own responsibilities and obligations, but she’d wake again before I was even done.
As Lianna reached the two-month milestone, I had another massive hurdle to overcome. My husband and I were planning to host a traditional celebration to mark her first 100 days. Because of the pandemic, we initially thought we’d host a small dinner with just our immediate family. But as time went on, it was clear that people around us were itching to meet our baby and get together. That’s when we decided to use this as an excuse to throw a big celebratory banquet for Lianna to get all our family and friends together.
In Asian culture, the 100-day celebration is a banquet that marks a baby reaching the 100-day milestone. The Chinese belief is that hosting it on the 100th day will bless the baby with a fulfilling and prosperous life. But more than anything, it’s a party to celebrate your family’s newest member and introduce them to friends and family.
As you can imagine, I did not feel like hosting a big celebration. I was just two months postpartum when we were planning it, and I couldn't imagine myself getting out of bed and getting dressed, let alone going to this big dinner and meeting people without looking like a train wreck. I didn't even know if I could possibly stay awake past 7:30 p.m. The last thing on my mind was to drag myself out of the house and greet a room full of people expecting me to be at my best.
As the scope of the banquet got bigger, my worries grew too. I was concerned about throwing off Lianna’s bedtime, the venue’s bright lighting and my baby’s willingness to be held by others. We also spent a ton of time poring over the guestlist and menu. In the end, we were lucky to have our parents offer to help create the menu and send out the invitations. We also received support from other family members who bought decorations and helped set them up at the venue.
While I did look forward to the banquet and getting to meet the others again, I was also dreading it. Questions that made me doubt myself kept popping up in my head. What if I needed more time to rest? Do I even have enough energy to attend the party? I tried my best to brush it off and instead focused on dedicating my energy to creating a memorable experience for everyone—myself included.
Fast forward to the day of the party, and it went by in a blink of an eye. I was so busy juggling talking to our guests and feeding myself and the baby that I didn’t even notice my fatigue slowly fading away. Everyone was enjoying themselves, catching up with one another and greeting the baby—who probably had no idea what was going on in her adorable noise-canceling earmuffs. Before we all knew it, the party was over, and I was so glad I’d pushed myself to do it.
It was probably just a normal family gathering for our guests, but for me it will be a core memory for years to come. Since I barely left the house for three months after I gave birth, I felt like a butterfly leaving her cocoon. Reflecting on my first 100 days as a new mother, I was proud of myself for overcoming so many hurdles.
But most importantly, I also got a bit closer to my baby. Compared to three months ago, it’s crazy to think that I know what she wants even before she cries now. It’s also comforting to know that Lianna is surrounded by a lot of people who care about her. As she grows older, she will start developing her own personality and become her own person, and that’s really exciting! I can’t wait to create more new memories and family traditions with her.