I have been away from blogging for an unforgivably long time and it is with considerable gritting of my teeth that I have forced myself to burn the midnight oil and tap away at my laptop keyboard in the hopes of churning out a meaningful post after such a long hiatus. Yet I do so with trepidation for as each strike of a key resonates across my quiet room, I warily look around at the crib next to my bed where a little bundle of seemingly inexhaustible energy reposes. Yes, dear readers, it is her that I am wary of rousing with the clickety-clack of my keyboard, my little daughter, who lit up our lives with her arrival some 5 months previously. As any new parent would affirm, disturbing a sleeping baby is no less dangerous than insulting a Hippogriff; it might be the last thing you do, for the next few hours at the very least. Writing and blogging had taken a back seat as I had struggled to cope with the exhilaration and exhaustion of being a new mother, battling bouts of self doubts or simply looking, in awed silence, at this living, breathing, exquisite creation of mine. Instead of perusing my earlier hobbies and activities I found myself scouring through websites offering parenting advice, religiously following all posts on the multiple parenting groups that I signed up for on Facebook or simply being content with snapping hundreds of pictures of Her Majesty, the princess of my heart. In the glow of motherhood it is easy to forget your own dreams and aspirations and that is what I was also guilty of doing. But I realise I need to pull myself up, not only to quench the fire of ambitions raging in my own heart but also to set an example to my little baby, to teach her how to fight for and realise her own dreams.
Since I did not intend this post to come off as philosophising or self rhapsodising I was having trouble deciding what to write about. That’s when I recalled a conversation I recently had with a friend whose baby boy was born some four and a half months after my little angel. We were talking about how everyone just talks about the pain of of delivery but never speaks about all the other important stuff. So from one new mother to those who are yet to embrace motherhood here is a guide to what you can reasonably expect when you are expecting and beyond. As for those experienced hands, do take a moment to read through and laugh reminiscently.
Planning for a baby
So you are married for 2,3,4 or ‘n’ number of years and you have finally stopped tuning out your mother / mother in-law / random aunty at a wedding when they bring up the B-word. Probably it was when your heart melted on seeing that cute baby in the stroller at the supermarket or when you shed a discreet tear or two when the baby kicked an “All Izz Well” chanting Aamir Khan in 3 Idiots. And so, that night, you turn to your husband and tell him, almost shyly, “I want to have a baby”. Well here’s the kicker ladies, ten to one you are going to have one super freaked out man standing / sitting / lying next to you. No matter how often you might have spoken about family planning before, the moment when you make that decision will be greeted with raw, unadulterated fear. And its not only the prospective Dads who are susceptible to this. You will find yourself alternating between ‘should we or shouldn’t we’ until you find yourself just gritting your teeth and taking the plunge. The idea of having an actual human being whose whole existence depends upon you is indeed a scary prospect and let no one tell you otherwise. No amount of analysis can actually decide if you are ready to be a parent or not so ultimately its better to listen to your heart and your body and just do it!
The plan is set and implemented. Voila, you have that positive pregnancy test and you want to jump in joy. Only you can’t because you are too scared you will hurt that little life inside you. Get used to this feeling ladies for you are doomed to feel this way for the rest of your lives. Never again will you be able to take any decision or do anything, big or small, without thinking of how it can impact your child. Every time your tummy aches after a meal during your pregnancy, you will spiral into a guilt trip. The leftover food that made you throw up will admonish you for not eating right. Even your innocuous cup of coffee will recall to you the articles you read about caffeine being bad for your baby’s development. Add to it the feelings of self doubt that will assail you time and again, questioning your ability to be a good mother, and you have the perfect recipe for a meltdown. Good news is you will be the perfect mother for your child for when you carry that baby inside your womb for nine months, you create a bond that is, simply put, unique. And with every kick, every sleepless night due to nausea, heartburn, backache, swollen feet, this bond will only strengthen. This time is made beautiful both by the smiles and the tears it brings so enjoy every moment, good or bad.
I cannot comment on a scheduled C-section but yes a normal delivery is the most painful thing you will ever go through. It is impossible for me to describe how the contractions felt for I have never been subjected to such pain ever in my life. And yes, we are made to survive it. Our bodies grow towards this point so that we can withstand and forget the pain of childbirth. It takes a moment, the time taken to place that squealing, blood encrusted baby in your arms, to forget the hours of labour that had made you contemplate killing your husband for putting you through it. Don’t worry if the first sight of your baby is not how it is described in books. You are exhausted after an arduous delivery and you may not feel any overwhelming feeling of love on seeing your little bundle of joy. That doesn’t mean that it is not there. I was pretty much blank when they gave my daughter to me but when we had to readmit her to the hospital after a week for neonatal jaundice it felt like a part of me was being ripped off, that too without anaesthesia. So cuddle your baby without any worries and one day you will be rewarded with a smile that will make you melt like ice cream on a hot summer day. By the way, remember that alien like being that you had seen in those ultrasounds during pregnancy? Your baby will still look like that when s/he is born so you should probably discard those Anne Geddes images you might have conjured up in your minds during your pregnancy!
This is the big one and the one least talked about. As my friend remarked, more than childbirth itself, it was the postpartum issues that are harder to erase from your memories. Your stitches hurt when you sit or lie down and standing for long tires you out. You are losing blood, you are weak and your baby won’t just stop crying. You are exhausted from trying to keep up with the baby’s constant nursing demands and just want to sleep. Fat chance of that for even if you are one of the rare lucky ones whose babies sleep long stretches at night, you yourself are so attuned to them that even the faintest of whimper will wake you up. But when things are that bad they can only get better and they do. So stick out those first couple of months and get others to pamper you fully. Take rest whenever you can and let hubby dearest take over the household duties for a while. Hold those tiny little hands and feet and congratulate yourself for bringing a new life into the world. For when that little baby falls asleep in your arms you will realise that all that pain and discomfort was worth it, every minute of it.
Author-speak: Stay connected with me on Facebook