The importance of being the perfect mother. or not.

 

It’s International women’s day today and there’s heated discussion all over social media on whether or not it should be a celebration. Since this blog is on motherhood, I am not going to get dragged into that conversation; instead, I’d like to acknowledge that motherhood has taught me so much about being a woman.

I’m really surprised that the society world over, is essentially patriarchal. I mean, this immense, amazing power that women have, the power to create, is next to only God. Shouldn’t that have automatically made us the more powerful one? ūüėõ Anyway, I digress, that isn’t the point of this post.

I found out really early that I was pregnant pretty much by the missed period and morning sickness. It affected me so much that even the thought of entering the kitchen would make my stomach churn. My husband didn’t so much wait for me to ask him, he took over the kitchen and pretty much every aspect of the dull household chores that I usually took care of. Every morning I’d wake up to a glass of fresh coconut water, followed by fruits and whatever else I could eat. He would have his breakfast in a different room so that the smell of eggs wouldn’t bother me. My lunch was packed, dinner was cooked, boy was I pampered. And do you know what it made me feel like? Privileged. And the moment it did, I found the ridiculousness of the situation. Did my husband ever feel privileged that I took care of all these things on a daily basis?No, he didn’t. So why was I feeling so?

Because unfortunately, that’s what I am. We share equal responsibilities in the house; some days he cooks, some days I do. But how many women get that opportunity?

The moment I realised that there were some (very minor) complications in my pregnancy, I decided, I’d quit my job in Bombay and shift to Calcutta to stay with my parents. It was a huge decision for me as I have been independent for a long time and I’d lose it for a long time, I knew, but I was scared and didn’t overthink it. Being pampered in my house during my entire pregnancy again made me feel privileged. Because I mean, how many women get the opportunity to just sit at home, taken care of, and be pregnant? My mum¬†gave birth and raised 4 children, managing the entire household in the process. She didn’t get half the facilities that we get today. My sister worked until her 9th month. I have no idea how these women do it. I was so tired all the time, even when I literally had nothing to do. Would I have been able to do it? I don’t know. If I had to, I’m sure I would have.

All the posts on FB keep celebrating the hardships women go through. It does need to be acknowledged but an ideal woman is projected as the martyr; who sacrifices everything for the sake of the others. What kind of standard is that? And by that definition, I suppose I am not a woman enough since I refused to go through the ‘hardships’ and took the easy way out. Why is it an accepted thing that despite carrying a child in the womb, a woman would continue doing all the hard work of the household, because that’s what women do, and rave about the man who serves his wife breakfast when she’s sick? Continue reading “The importance of being the perfect mother. or not.”

6 uncomfortable truths I didn’t know about pregnancy

 The world only talks about how beautiful pregnancy is (and it is, no doubt about it) but you only hear about the glowing skin and the luscious hair, and not the other side of the story.

I was in for a shock when I discovered these truths about pregnancy.

  1. Trust your nose and not your craving.¬†In the initial days when I had just discovered my pregnancy, I could smell things I didn’t know had any¬†smell. One day I was craving for KFC. We were in Bombay at that time and strangely there’s no KFC in Lower Parel. So I made my husband go all the way (to Bandra or someplace I don’t remember), to get me a burger and chicken wings. I was salivating at the thought of it. And then I opened the box and the waft of chicken smell entered my nose and immediately made me want to throw up. But I ignored it because I thought I am just sensitive to smell, I’m getting this craving that means my body wants it. Two bites into that zinger burger and I was throwing my guts up. Lesson learnt: Before giving into your craving, smell it first. If your nose says no, don’t try it. I had turned into a vegetarian for almost the entire pregnancy :(.¬†The third trimester I started having fish.
  2. Your abdomen has a big ball of gas in it.¬†Yes, that’s true.God did I hate going out in public. I would sometimes dream that I didn’t have a baby inside me, and I gave birth to a ball of gas. I mean how is it possible to have so much gas and a baby inside your tremendously cramped abdomen, I¬†don’t really know. My ladylike burps started to sound like the growl of a lion, and I couldn’t even control it. And as for passing gas, I don’t even want to get into just how embarrassing that was. Second trimester was a little better, but come¬†third trimester, and it was back in full force!
  3. Hold your pee. How difficult can that be?¬†You can’t even imagine how difficult that is. If you were embarrassed enough by the gas, see what you do about this!! You sneeze you pee, you cough you pee, you throw up and the whole floor is wet. I couldn’t believe when it started to happen in my first trimester, I mean the baby was microscopic, so why was this happening? I have no answer to that unfortunately, except you feel like your bladder is forever full and no matter how much you pee, it’s never enough. Strangely enough, when the baby was bigger in the second trimester, the urge to pee was way lesser. Of course by third trimester, you’d wish to set up house in the loo itself, if it was possible. Indian doctors never advise you on these things so if it’s your first pregnancy you don’t really know what to do! Thank god for obsessive Americans, because of their strange questions all over the net, I knew how to handle all kinds of weird issues! Kegel is the best exercise and I actually managed to control it significantly ( not completely. I mean at least I wasn’t all over the floor when I was throwing up in my third sem). Continue reading “6 uncomfortable truths I didn’t know about pregnancy”

What’s in a (sur)name?

 

Whenever people ask my baby’s name and I tell them what it is, they look at me as if I’m forgetting to say something. Then they look slightly uncomfortable and with an awkward ‘uhh…ok’ they quickly change the topic to how cute she is and start cooing¬†at her. I’m of course talking about random people who either don’t know me at all or know me very little.

Seeing them feel uncomfortable over something as silly¬†as a name really makes me want to laugh. My daughter doesn’t have a surname. Before I get into the whys and the wherefores, I’d like to tell you that people also feel uncomfortable by her name. And that really stuns me. And this has happened with people I know. So they know I am Hindu and sort of forget (conveniently or otherwise, I don’t know), that I married a Christian. My daughter, therefore, is bound to have a little bit of both right? Isn’t that what they should have expected?

She’s called Thea Nalini. We chose the name very carefully thinking about how both sides of the family will take to it. Unfortunately, though, one side of the family emphasises on the first name and the other side on the latter. So much thought put in the naamkaran¬†didn’t come to much use. And I feel a tad bit bad about it because I thought Nalini isn’t an obvious Bengali name (and therefore shouldn’t have been a problem for his side of the family). And Thea is such an easy name to pronounce- it doesn’t change to sound something strange in Bengali (my elder sister’s daughter is called Adaa and a lot of people I know can’t quite pronounce it right and it ends up often sounding like the Bengali word for ginger, so most people refer to her as my sister’s daughter. No one really calls her by her name when she’s referred to in the third person). So, to avoid this situation, we chose a fairly simple easy-to-pronounce name, and my side of people aren’t still comfortable to call her by her first name. I guess because it sounds foreign? I don’t really know. Continue reading “What’s in a (sur)name?”

Gallivanter baby

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My baby’s first trip

A week before she completed 3 months, we decided to travel. I was feeling so claustrophobic and depressed for being stuck inside the house for so many months. Last two months of my pregnancy, I was so uncomfortable that the only trip I¬†made was to go to see the doc. And after the baby was born, the story didn’t change significantly. My husband came back home for his winter vacations and the minute he landed, I told him if I don’t go out of town I am going to go mental. I need to see open space, I said. Since the sea isn’t very far from Calcutta (that’s where I stay), we decided to go on a short trip. My parents were excited too. I had told them about parasailing and boat rides in Digha and both, one 74 and one 68 really wanted to try their hands at it.

We decided we won’t go to the crowded Digha beach, but go to Udaipur beach which is not so popular and therefore, less crowded. It’s also right at the Bengal-Odisha border and all adventure sports happen in the Odisha side of the beach. We drove down. I was a little jittery going for a 4-5 hour car ride with such a tiny baby. But nervous as I was, I didn’t really care. My elder sister travelled to the hills from Delhi when her daughter was only 49 days old and my eldest sister went on a road trip with her daughter when she was 2 months old. My daughter was older than both before her first excursion so surely nothing could go wrong?

Well, nothing really did, actually. We had a near perfect trip. Whatever went wrong, was because I am a rookie mommy and didn’t quite plan ahead.

Things I didn’t do: Continue reading “Gallivanter baby”

Cry baby

I thought I¬†was turning into one: a cry baby that is. Those hormones would¬†play up occasionally, and then, her father’s in a different city, working. I had¬†a tiny little baby who would bawl her guts out, sometimes just out of total frustration because I just couldn’t understand what she wanted. And¬†this attempt at deciphering her cries, especially in the middle of the night, had to be done by me alone. Of course at day time, she wouldn’t give me half the trouble because I had help. She would only bawl in the day time on those days when her ayah wouldn’t come or my mother would be out of the house. All this combined together was a sure-shot mixture to get me burst into tears at the¬†drop of a hat. Since all of this is behind me now, I think I have successfully cracked the cries and I have graduated from being a cry baby to a pro mommy. I am of course talking from the experience of having a 3+ month old baby. I don’t know how her cries will sound and what they will mean in a few months, but right now I am my baby’s master cry interpreter ūüėõ !

I have noted them down on the basis of how they sound:

  1. The attention cry (sounds like- Aiii): Pick me up or talk to me or play with me, or carry me/ hold me in a certain way, not the way you’re holding me right now-that’s what it essentially means. It could be at any point in the day or night. If you don’t pay attention, it could turn into something much worse: to point 3¬†or even more scary; point¬†4. In the initial days, I would always ignore this point which used to be my biggest mistake.
  2. The cry of pain (sounds like-Owaaain): This one was the easiest to understand as I could see her face contort, the lips forming the sad face expression. This one, at least in my daughter’s case, isn’t a very loud one. It just sounds like the whole world’s burden is on her tiny shoulders. This cry only happens when she is in genuine pain. Calming her down from this cry is the most difficult and frustrating. And this could also break you down into tears. It could sometimes take hours as sometimes no matter what you do, the pain/discomfort doesn’t go away as fast as you’d like it to. Of course figuring out where or what is causing the pain/discomfort is a Herculean task and if it isn’t addressed soon, it could quickly become point 3. Continue reading “Cry baby”

The milky way

I wake up from a nightmare. I was in a room, panicking and surrounded by women and children. They were all looking at me angrily and asking for milk. I was¬†blank: what milk were they talking about?Before I got to ask, my question’s answered. Your milk dummy. I had no idea why I was supposed to give my milk away but I was¬†panicking. I don’t have so much milk! What was¬†I supposed to do? Before I know it, I wake up, thankfully, only to find my daughter hungrily sucking her thumb. She’s got her i-need-my-sleep genes from me I think, as she doesn’t even wake up to ask for milk at night. She just sucks her thumb vigorously and mewls a bit. I am supposed to be alert at all times and even when I am asleep I have to keep my ears open for that chug chug sound. Constant vigilance-that’s my motto. I rub her feet, check her diaper, coo at her and extremely reluctantly she opens her eyes and stares at me. By the time I’ve got my feeding cushion on, she grunts angrily saying (I think), it’s been more than five minutes since you’ve been up, where’s my milk? I hurry as I don’t want her father to wake and neither do I want her to start screaming. She’s making that face, Mishka, hurry up now, I tell myself. I quickly pick her up before the scream leaves her throat, and start feeding her. Immediately she starts to cry as she has zero patience. She doesn’t even want to wait for a minute for the milk to come. I coo at her, she gives me the look which says, fine I’ll try to be more patient but the milk better come soon. She suckles for a minute then looks at me and howls. I look at her puzzled: ab kya hua? It’s the I-don’t-want-milk-from-this-side cry. So I quickly change side and offer her milk from her favourite side. She suckles for 10 minutes and then I hear a slight snore. I look down to see my baby’s gone off to sleep! I burp her, pat her cheeks, rub her feet, hands, nothing helps. There’s a saying in Bengali: ghoomiye kaadaa (literal translation: one who sleeps so deeply that he turns soft and mushy like¬†mud) and that applies to her completely. There’s not much you can do to wake her up.I sigh. It’s going to be a long night. In two hours, she’s sucking her thumbs¬†again.¬†She was so good for several weeks, where she would have a proper feed at dinner time and wake up once straight at 5 am. And now she asks for milk every three hours even in the daytime. I am panicking, is my milk not enough for her? But if she wasn’t getting proper milk she wouldn’t be putting on weight so steadily, would she now? I just have a healthy, hungry baby in hand, who’s turned my milk supply into a nightmare for me.This is going to be a long week, methinks.

C-Sec or normal?

There was no question about it for me. Of course I’d go for normal delivery; I didn’t even give it a moment’s thought. My eldest sister had her first child when she was 38 through normal delivery, surely I could do it too?My second sister was tricked into c-sec by her gyne, so there was no way I’d trust these doctors. I was going to quit my job and shift base to my parents’ place for the duration of my pregnancy so I decided I would do my own research and listen to whatever my doctor said with a pinch of salt. I found a good gyne almost immediately after coming to Cal. I told her right at the beginning that I wanted to go for natural. The minute I said it, she discouraged me. You have rheumatoid arthritis, she said, you may not be able to push properly and I will not use forceps. Forceps? Just the thought of using those to pull out my baby freaked the life out of me. However, her discouragement made me even more determined to go for natural. I, who hated exercise of any form, started doing yoga. Lara Dutta’s prenatal yoga workout is brilliant by the way. The exercise routine was great for me. There were some bits that I couldn’t do because of my arthritis, but even for that there was solution in the workout. Then my husband’s cousin shared an absolute brilliant 4 and a half hour video on childbirth and related breathing and pushing exercises with me. For the last four months of my pregnancy, I practised everything as suggested in the video to the T. I wish I could share that too here but I don’t have the online version of it. I had read up that rheumatoid arthritis actually benefits from the pregnancy hormones and if that were to be the case, why would it affect me at child birth? I took my medicines (I was only allowed HCQS and my calcium medicine through my pregnancy) diligently. My gyne asked me to get my heart checked (apparently RA affects your heart) and everything came out normal. I was excited and happy, all prepared for normal delivery. Continue reading “C-Sec or normal?”