The 37 weeks gone by have been fascinating in every sense of the word. Filled with anticipated moments, times when our hearts skipped a beat, evenings spent at the hospital for the innumerable checks and scans, the endless list of queries that we posed to the doc, the strange and sometimes funny questions posed to us, the excitement of searching for a ‘name’, to doing all the neutral colour shopping for the baby and crosschecking every moment whether that expansive to-do list is nearing completion!!
These weeks have been a journey in itself; we have stumbled, read up lots of things, had some fabulous discussions with friends and found our ground. We have prepared ourselves for this moment of ‘parenthood’ through processes possible and learning dictums available! However, like everyone says, you can never be fully prepared… we also do not claim to be ready for a perfect ride, but we are excited to be on the ride and experience it as things come along.
Pregnancy like we have experienced has no prototype and every woman explains and experiences it differently. What though were common were the words of caution about being careful, slowing down and even lines like, ‘wait and see, life is not the same, you will have no time for yourself.’ This line is of course true but isn’t that what we have signed up for. Both of us movie buffs, have ensured that we go to as many movies as we can, socialise as much as possible because things will take a backseat for a while and we are good with that. I was warned by a well meaning friend that I should slow down, not travel too much…and all my partying and else can wait and focus on the baby while I was just 6 weeks pregnant. She also said, “you do not want to cry over spilt milk!” While am sure she meant well, I do not agree with the manner in which she put her words across. It almost rang, you will be responsible for your miscarriage if you are careless. In another instance, we were not invited for a dinner because I was in a delicate condition…really!! I mean, haven’t women for centuries borne babies and survived it in the harshest conditions. And here I was doing fine going by my reports and my doc, but people were beginning to make presumptions on my behalf. Always being a strong headed person, this surely did not go down well with me. I was irritated, angry and amused at the same time. Now, when I look back, am amused at their thinking and my reactions too, but I do not think I would have reacted any other way.
We have always lived life by our own terms and are glad that we both think alike on such aspects. We announced the ‘good news’ on a social platform (Prashant is to be given complete brownies and brickbats for it) and were astounded by the multitude of reactions. Most people felt we had announced it too early while we were in the ‘risky’ first 3 months still; some thought we were crazy, and some like us loved it, were happy for us and showed it!! My poor mom bore the brunt of family friends and relatives telling her what have we done to which she said, ‘they are today’s modern thinking people and am sure they know what they are doing.’ While my mom may have herself liked to break the news later, she respected our stand on it.
There were days in the initial three months when the morning sickness came on with full mighty force, but the deal was to walk out of the bathroom and tell yourself this too shall pass!! Pregnancy is not easy and neither is it impossible, each of our bodies react differently at different times and the challenge is to accept and learn to deal with it. I travelled by bus and auto to work almost till the 33rd week and with a little care and lines like, “bhaiya, dheere chaliye/ swalpa nidhaana hogi…all was fine!” I admit that I have been an avid auto user for years and have never really had complaints. The last few days at work, I got chauffeured by my significant other and while a part of me thought this was too much trouble for him, I admit, I loved all the pampering!
While being pregnant does mean making small changes in your lifestyle, these changes can be implemented one step at a time. Being on the higher side of the weighing scale, we had to ensure that I eat healthy and in time and get the metabolism to work better. Did this with about 6 small-meals-a-day, which I still try and do. Have to admit, this has helped my metabolism and also kept the weight gain at a desirable pace and number. The agenda was to listen to doc, stop unnecessarily fretting and enjoy the process. Both of us being foodies have ensured that I eat all cuisines during these weeks. While books say that by about the 21st weekish, the child begins to taste the food you eat through the amniotic fluid, honestly, just feels good to eat different things during Preggy phase. However, one question that kept cropping up was, “So, what cravings are you having? What do you feel like eating? Do you feel hungry middle of the night?” While all this did sound fascinating, my response was in the negative. I DID NOT have cravings or mood swings, Prashant missed the opportunity of having to run to a 24*7 ice-cream/dessert store to pick up desserts for me…guess we did miss this experienceL. A friend of his told him he was having it easy and my BIL quipped, “Prashant is lucky. You have not been difficult to manage.” We would like to believe that those were compliments. However, what we all need to remember is when women go through this, it is a combination of both the physical changes and the mental state. So, I say, the ones with ‘special’ cravings, make the most of it and the ones like me, who do not have cravings, kuch bhi kha lo yaar! Chill karo!
Apart from the quintessential cravings question, the other most common question is on ‘movement’. “So, you can feel it? Such a good feeling naa.”; “It is like football being played, left to right, top to bottom.” “Wait till the movements begin and he kicks (most people would say he), then your sleep will also be troubled”. To my dismay , these questions began about the 22nd-24th weeks itself and all I then felt was a little gas-bubble-kinda feeling, even wondering if it is acidity!! A conversation with my doc and some reading up revealed that this is how you initially feel. Did I have a sigh of relief or what? What is interesting is how women often recollect moments from their pregnancy and do a comparative note with you. I many a times, couldn’t identify with the overzealous attitude towards kicking and movement and put it on the fact that “my parental gene must be little slow”, as I still wasn’t feeling all motherly, in any sense of the word. I have begun feeling, understanding and appreciating the movements may be a little later than most people. You can feel the twists and turns, you can feel the fist in the mid-30th weeks and you do feel the blob of head and the bum! So, we finally concluded that our baby after all wasn’t that lazy. While making this statement, we realised how unconsciously we all begin to compare notes on pregnancy, parenthood and baby aspects! And then consciously remind ourselves the beautiful thought from Dr. Spock’s book, where it is said that we all may have an ideal baby in mind, but our baby is going to be one of a kind, who may not adhere to our standards of ideal. So true, so profound and so simple; yet, so easy to let it pass by.
One of the most exciting moments has been the ‘name hunt’ phase!! What is in a name? You ask us and we say, lots if the parents to be have some defined thoughts and ideologies in mind. We had a few things- the name should not have a religious connotation or be a synonym for any god’s name from any religion; the second name/ surname should not connote the community, the name should be short and have an abstract meaning- could be based on any element, nature, qualities etc. The reason the search became difficult at some level was because the criteria were abstract in the sense, most name sites gave names by nation/language/religion/gender. We realised that some of the most common names across countries had something to do with god, holiness or purity! We were being a little particular and also trying to see how the name sounds, whether it fits in with the second name in mind; whether we want a middle name based on a personality who has influenced our thinking/ ideology. Bongs have nick names/ pet names; our identity revolves around it and this was obviously one of the things that we discussed. Finally, after weeks of discussion, we have decided not to keep an official pet name but if the grandparents want to use a name of their choice, they may.
We are consulting at a premier birthing hospital in the city that is extremely pro-active at making you feel like this is the best experience of your life. Our choice of this hospital was guided by the fact that the gynac we knew was consulting here and she had been recommended by my parents family doc of 25 years!! The trust was the deciding factor and of course the fact that we liked what the hospital was promising. We have had workshops and sessions where antenatal aspects were discussed, birthing stages were told; the role of the partner was discussed, breathing exercises were taught; basic activities with the baby have been discussed and we have been taught how to do simple baby things. Many naysayers may say, this is fancy marketing gimmick, we have moms and massage ladies at home for all that knowledge and age-old-gyan. However, our experience was that we came back home with a lot of learnings, feeling confident about being involved parents and feeling good about the entire process. What we personally like the most is that they are very particular about the husbands being involved at every stage of the pregnancy, including witnessing the birth of the child. Prashant sure is excited and has warned me of a ‘selfie’ soon after. There are many people who may also raise concerns about the rate cards at this hospital and how today young couples want to pay for fancy pink and blue balloons and decorated rooms, all I can say is this is a very personal choice for a couple and financials are comparatively similar to other top hospitals. We cannot comment on any other hospital and their services because this is our first time; all we can share is we are happy with what we are parting with and the services and personal care we are receiving in return. The learning has also encompassed debunking many a myths. I was asked to have ‘kesar’ with milk everyday because that is what women who are pregnant must do but I did strongly refuse it. The reason kesar is advocated is because it is believed to ensure a ‘fair’ / ‘white’ child! Also, eating papaya can cause heat and miscarriage. Scientifically, this is not proved (thanks to the nutrition session from the hospital) and so a myth that we succumb to. I did enjoy some ripe papaya during my pregnancy. So, eat the melons and the papaya. The more colourful that plate of food in front of you, the better it is.
We all grow up seeing our parents, other parents, friends as parents and take away some of the things that we would like to do like them, some learning we would like to emulate. These are all ideal situations because no two children are same and no two parents are same. But where there is inspiration, you lap it up. We have seen around us some of the most doting parents, indulgent parents & chilled out parents!! Hoping we shall also find our connect and our style of parenting as we brace ourselves for the little one to arrive. And like a very dear friend, very practically responded to one of my innumerable questions, “Massage ke liye olive oil use karungi. Kaun sa loon?” and pat comes the reply, “wahi, jo buy one, get one free ho!”.
As a work life balance researcher, it is a completely different ball game to read all the fancy literature and then see your friends living it 24*7. I have women friends who are fabulous moms. The working moms work literally multiple shifts ensuring their careers grow and their children still get all the attention; friends with two kids who are like super-moms literally!! While there are moments I may be cynical about their advices, I do admit that they are speaking from their experiences and choices and I respect that.
Whoa…that is been a lot I had to say about my thoughts and our experiences. I have saved the most precious account for the last. Being married for almost 6 years (oh yes, we are wondering what if the little one is born on the 6th anniversary date that is in a few days…wicked smile) to my best friend (sounds cliché I know, but no other way to say it), who over the years has filled my life with love, happiness, excitement, adventure and madness…this phase has also been fun and fulfilling. He is as involved, excited and eager as I am and has made me feel precious every moment of the way. The changes have been easy to embrace, I have felt confident about the roundness that I have become and absolutely loved every moment of this Preggy phase. Yes, there have been moments when I have been a tad bit low on the enthu-meter but am not gonna be harsh on myself about that. Prashant is currently on a ‘baby-break’ and this possibly is one of the best things that has happened. Yes, the reactions have been aplenty, from what is the need to why now, when a baby means more expenses and people absolutely missing the point! We chose to do this because this gives us time together and nothing can beat those initial moments. And like I always tell him, his parental gene is surely more active! So, here we are in the 38th week, looking forward to the next few days and eagerly awaiting the arrival of our little one!! Life will change; it will be 24*7; routines will go haywire; lot of things we plan and will for, may never happen…but we are set for that journey, we are ready to make those choices and enjoy this lifetime of an experience. Life comes a full circle in a heartbeat!