Once upon a time, a mother was helping her seven year old daughter prepare for a scholarship exam. “Hyakutake is the name of the comet”, said mom to which the kid daughter replied: “When I grow up, I am going to name my kid that”.
Fast forward 21 years and here I am. This is my story of making baby steps in motherhood. And let’s start with few disclaimers. This is not an article where I justify the choices I made: like the ones you see on how great it is to be a stay at home mom or what a guilt ride it is to be a working mom or such stuff. I am also not trying to glorify pregnancy and motherhood here. This is just a light-hearted take on what I went through in pregnancy and after, laced with experiences that are made of same stuff as wonderful memories. Also, I did not write this in a day. I wrote this as a journal for several weeks of pregnancy and also after, and lot of people asked to read that. Now, that is too special and private to share, but at same time I want my friends and well-wishers to feel part of my journey. Then, it struck me, as to why I cannot condense it all in few words. And here we are.
# It all started in my head- I mean I conceived the baby in my head first (dubbed as project Plan B, B for baby, irony is it was always the no:1 plan). You know how it is for dreamers, they always have these references for what an experience is likely to be- I had a version myself- a concoction of what I saw in movies and read in books. I always thought when I do get pregnant, I am going to jump up and down with joy, my husband is going to sweep me off the floor- you get the drift. But, none of this happened. I was alone when I found out and all I did was sit there silently for some 2 hours- occasionally looking at the mirror, I saw a different me- one with a full heart and a tiny relieved kind of smile on lips- I was content and I waited patiently for my husband to come back from office. That moment I realized this is not just a life changing moment, but I am changing too.
# The part of world I come from, everyone has a say on what goes on in your life- and I mean literally anyone you could probably run into. So, after marriage everyone asks when the baby is coming and when it passes 3 years of marriage people are no more subtle or dropping hints- they tell you things explicitly- like you are not trying enough or you have to meet a doctor. Many such occasions I swore upon God that when I do get pregnant, I am going to wave it on their face and say screw you (moms are not allowed to swear, but there are exceptions). But, when I did get pregnant, I did not bother because I realized this is not an achievement or a trophy. I chose to share it only with people who I thought cared. The other day when I was around 8 months pregnant this girl who often commented on why I am not having kids, while others who married later overtook me, pinged me. She wanted to know if there is any good news and I told her work is going on really well. What she wanted is to have a jibe at me and I let her have it.
# Love and support flew in from all directions: from unexpected people, in unexpected forms. I never knew so many people would actually care for me with their presence, thoughts, gestures, food. I mean just not parents, relatives, friends and colleagues, even total strangers like the auto rickshaw/cab drivers, house keeping staff at office and people I met in the super market were so considerate. It was overwhelming and to say the least the most humbling experience for which I will forever be grateful.
# Again, it differed. It was not hunky dory like you see in Bollywood movies where a pregnant woman is glowing, gushed over by husband and family, she is divinely happy and even invariably knitting a sweater. I mean you puke a lot- you look, feel and smell bad; you also have to do all the work because you have always been the strong independent woman. I also began to feel a difference of attitude towards me- I mean one day you are this strong, competitive, independent woman that all want to speak to and the moment you are having a baby, there is a gear shift- you have to mellow down, you are less competitive and also needs to settle down. Now, that was a bit disheartening because I really do wish people do not assume things about you and force it on you, rather support us to take the path that comes naturally to you. You know what is worse if you show some emotion- good, bad or neutral- people just call it mood swing- I mean, I wanted to scream at them- this is not a mood swing, but then I would only confirm their theory, wouldn’t I?
# And the fatigue gets to you. You are struggling to remain at top of things- there are so many doubts and you are second guessing yourself. It happened to me; I really thought I am not good enough for some responsibilities. Someone was kind enough to suggest I take a break, relax a bit and come back face the problem, which I did and with a bit of positive reinforcement, I got my steam back- my self-esteem improved. During this phase, there are lot of people who I reached out to- some said I am just cribbing and I need to buck up; some said pregnancy is such a normal thing, a phase and I just need to cope; some said I should let some things go and I cannot have it all. A note to self from my experience here is whenever someone comes to me with a problem; from now on at least, I am going to acknowledge that there is a problem and not deny them an opportunity to deal with it. Often, all people want is a sounding board- it is lame to think you can solve something for someone; you can only enable them to.
# I realized soon enough that by planning too much for future, we were not focusing on the present. I was letting go of all the beautiful aspects of having a baby. The only happy thing that I was doing was writing the journal which I totally enjoyed and also the ultrasound scans where I could see and hear it. But I wanted to feel a real connection with the baby, so I started reading stories to it. I and my husband also started discussions on little things, the sweet nothings. Stuff like what would baby look like, who would it take after, what features of each other we want the baby to have etc. I would say that it not only brought both of us close to the baby, but also brought us together as a couple. We also had so much fun planning and executing a maternity photo shoot and that was when I saw my husband the most excited. I understood that his way of connecting to baby and fatherhood came only when he did something that he enjoyed, and I should in future also let him find things that he feels part of, rather than push him to do things I do. But, one thing he unknowingly taught me was that we also need to be part of each other’s activities how much ever you dislike it. I read stories to the baby and often ask him to as well and he will brush it off. One day I had puked a lot and was very exhausted, lying down and he picked up this book and read a story to the kid. It was the happiest moment in pregnancy for me.
# Throughout you might have seen me refer to baby as “it”. That’s because I don’t know what the gender of baby is. I mean everyone I met had a guess on what it could be. I was always intrigued, not that it matters a lot whether it is a boy or girl. I tried to figure out based on popular myths, some statistics and patterns, Chinese calendar and what not. Everything threw up a different result. To be on safe side, I did follow some little kids around: boys and girls, tried to chat them up to see what are the latest trends and fads, what do they like and dislike etc. I feel fairly confident that I will be able to gel in whether it’s a boy or a girl, as this continues to be the biggest and sweetest mystery ever. We will know when we know 🙂
# Now, how do we name the baby without knowing the gender. Never a problem with parents like us who thought of it while sitting under a tree in college campus. If you have read ‘Love story’ by Erich Segal, Jenny and Oliver comes up with the name Bozo while thinking of having a baby. We also came up with a random name long back and it kind of stuck with us through out the years. So, that was pretty much easy, was it not?
# My weirdness quotient increased manifold during this time: from weird dreams, to being weirdest couple in the clinic waiting room or the weird jokes that I would crack and that no one got, I was totally on a full on crazy mode. Honestly, I enjoyed exploring this crazy side and I could mostly get away with it. My husband also said I was smothering him with love and attention, and I could not help but think if this is all due to hormones and if it stops when I deliver baby, I would indeed be missing a lot.
# If I were to look at everything as a whole, there has been so may ups and so many lows, there are so many things that I want to be exactly same and so many things I would like to change. I realize now that bygones are bygones, but it is never too easy to accept that- there are lot of things I wish I did and there are lot of times where I wish some people were there for me. But, life is such. I think as a person we will never ever be satisfied, best is to make best of what we have really. But it is not easy, we always think about what we don’t have than focus on what we have. Acknowledging this does not make someone selfish or needy. I believe a person can be only truly happy if first of all, they accept what their heart yearns and goes about getting it done. So if it means you need more time with your spouse or family or a little get away with your friends before responsibility comes in: that’s what you pursue. But trick is to find the right balance (I am still working on it I guess).
# I could go on and on, but I have to stop somewhere and I will with “mother of all motherhood feeling” I faced. So, some people: near, dear and those I really don’t care, walked up to me and randomly say: you are going to be a cool mom, awesome mom, tiger mom, moron mom, stay at home mom, working independent mom etc.
So what kind of mom am I going to be?
Let me tell you world, what kind of mom I am and will be are not for you to decide. It’s for my baby to realise over time.
My son, I can only hope that you understand that everything mom did, does and will do is with best intentions in heart and that I will strive my best to be the best mom I can ever be.
I will forever be a “work in progress” mom!