My baby girl, Vedu (Veda actually) is sleeping in her crib by my side. We crossed the 3-month hurdle, or the dreaded fourth trimester as they call it, on 3rd April. And now would be a good time to finally write about the mom in me. I’ve had this blog in mind ever since we thought of starting a family. But I didn’t want to write about it back then or during my pregnancy or even after she was born. Trust me, it was a good decision. If I wrote about it earlier, it would not have been a complete picture of my feelings and the transition that I went through. This is going to be really long that I am going to do this in two or even three parts, although when I would publish the next part is a huge question mark. Please do bear with me.
(Fair warning: Not all of you would enjoy this rant!)
If I have to start from the very beginning, I should start by saying I was a complex person when it came to wanting kids. I knew I would want to be a mom someday probably and I even had the names picked out when I was 14 years old. But at the same time there was a part of me that didn’t really want to have kids either. There were multiple reasons for that. The most important and the simplest one being, I wasn’t all that fond of kids. Yeah, I used to like infants who would just look at me or give me adorable smiles, as long as I didn’t have to sit with them for long and get bored. I had a borderline dread of being near any kid who was older than two years and used to fight with them shamelessly. Honestly (and you may hate me for saying this), I used to think of most of them as monsters. I know I will pay for it sometime later. But hey, I’m just being honest. I guess I didn’t want a kid who might end up being a ‘monster’ for others no matter how well I raise her. I know! Pretty lame reason!
Another reason I dreaded having a kid was pure selfishness. I loved the life Hari and I had. It was complete and splendid the way it was. I didn’t want another person coming into our life. I didn’t want to lose the quality time and quality life, if I may say, that we had. I didn’t want to share him with anyone else, not even a baby of our own, because I was his baby, I was the one supposed to be pampered and loved by him. And even when Hari was away at work, I treasured my ‘alone time’ when I could read, write or just sit on my couch sipping on a cup of coffee, thinking about something or the other to my heart’s content. I wasn’t sure I wanted a baby tagged along and spoil that.
But sometime after we completed 3 years of marriage, we started getting a feeling that maybe it’s time to start a family. It wasn’t pressure from family or anyone else. It wasn’t that our life was incomplete suddenly either. It just happened. Hari left the decision completely to me and said I was free to choose whether and when to have kids. He wanted me to be absolutely sure before we made the leap, if at all we did. That was when I realized I didn’t dread having kids anymore. Being around my niece and the overwhelming love I’ve always had for her kind of made me want to have one myself. But then I started having apprehensions of whether I would be a good mom. I didn’t trust myself to be “mommy material”. On top of that, things that I went through in my childhood made me worried if I would be able to protect my baby from such evils and help her learn to protect herself.
The more I thought of these, the more scared I got. But the more I thought of these, the more I also realized I really wanted to have a baby. We talked a lot about the difficulties we would face when a baby came home; but we were ready to face that and think of the positives. And once I got an assurance from myself, I couldn’t wait. I must thank God at this point that He didn’t make us wait at all. The first month after we started trying was unbearable, because I didn’t know if I was pregnant or not, but had all the symptoms of being pregnant. The hormone change took a huge toll on me and there were days when I used to sit and cry for 20 hours at a go, with short naps in between. The anxiety of “what if I’m not” added to it. The day when I finally took the home pregnancy test after I couldn’t wait any longer, I was too scared to look at the “pee stick” and asked Hari to do it. I would never forget the smile on his face which told me what I’d been waiting to hear so anxiously. I broke down and cried uncontrollably. Only this time, they were tears of joy.
We had to go for the Viability scan twice as she was not ready to show herself in the first scan. For the one week after the first scan, I kept worrying if everything was okay. And then a few days before the next Viability scan was scheduled I had a little bit of spotting. We knew it was common; but decided to get it checked anyway. That day in the MICU we saw her for the first time – a tiny blinking spot! It was then that I understood it was possible to love something as small as a pinhead.
Even though the first trimester proved to be miserable with me vomiting around 8-9 times a day and being bedridden out of the weakness that followed, I sailed through it with Hari’s help. He made sure he did everything at home alongside his work and ensured I didn’t feel guilty about not doing much. The control freak and workaholic that I am, I hated the feeling of being stranded in my bedroom, not being able to do anything around home. The only thought that kept me going was that it was all for the baby. That thought helped me pull myself together by the end of the trimester and I got better. Although the nausea stayed on for the rest of my pregnancy unlike for most women, I wasn’t uncomfortable anymore. I kept myself engaged and fit by doing all the work at home myself. It made us confident that we would be able to handle things by ourselves even after the baby came.
My ‘alone time’ at home was not really ‘alone time’ anymore. I kept talking to the little one inside all the time to such an extent that I’m sure she must have had her ears tightly shut while she was inside. I kept telling her everything I was doing, whether it be cooking or cleaning or even taking a loo break. The kid next door used to look at me in astonishment seeing me talk to myself during my evening walks in the corridor. I can never put in words the excitement when I felt her move for the first time, although it was a faint fluttering inside. I couldn’t wait for Hari to feel her kick although it took another month before she decided to let Acha feel her movements. She was so very active inside almost all the time by the 6th month and we could see bumps and waves on my tummy as if she was swimming rigorously from one side to the other. By the last trimester, I had gotten so used to having a tiny human being move about inside me, kicking sometimes as if in response to what I was saying and having an actual conversation with me. There were even occasional bouts of crying thinking of how I would soon miss that wonderful feeling of carrying her inside always. With every scan, we saw her grow from the spot she was to a real baby. We even saw her face in the 3D Growth scan in the 7th month. Seeing your baby’s face, even before she is born, is not just a technological marvel; it is tremendous joy too!
By the 8th month, we knew she would be along much earlier than we had expected. Every time I had a tummy ache due to acidity Hari would run to grab the car key and I would have to ask him to relax. It was on Jan 2nd that I went into labour. We were so looking forward to a normal delivery and everything seemed conducive for that. But after 24 hours of normal and induced pain, when I just wouldn’t dilate and she was struggling to come out, we decided to take her out. It was not easy, bearing the contractions and then going through a C-section. But having Hari right by my side and the excitement of seeing him hold our little one soon helped. Apart from the tremendous shivering due to the local anesthesia, it didn’t feel at all like a surgery. The doctors and Hari and I were having a gala time cracking jokes and making guesses at whether it would be a boy or girl. The moment we saw it was a girl we beamed and said “Veda it is”. It was a dream come true, having a baby girl as our firstborn. In fact, we were so happy it was a girl that I don’t think we even looked at her face properly.
I must say at this point that although I’ve heard almost every mother talking about how the moment they saw their baby for the first time was the most rewarding moment of their lives, I didn’t feel anything of the sort. Yes, I was very happy she was with us. But I still don’t think that was the most special moment of my life. The first time I felt motherly warmth towards her was when I was back in the MICU and she was brought to me to be fed. When the “aayah” held her while she suckled for the first time, I saw her tiny hand placed gently on my breast. I kept looking at the long, but tiny fingers and smiling. That was the moment it struck me, “Oh my! This is my daughter!”
The one week after we had her gave me a feeling that life ahead was not going to be too difficult as everyone was telling me. The C-section did nothing to my body. I was up and about around 12 hours after the surgery and my stitches healed in a week too. No one would even believe I had just had a baby, that too in a C-section. The postpartum blues that I knew I was prone to and was dreading didn’t show up either surprisingly. We were coping pretty well with the new status of being parents too, especially since Vedu was no trouble at all. We were all set to go to Kerala in three weeks for her official naming ceremony. We had decided that I would stay on for a couple of weeks after Hari came back to Hyderabad and be back to our new life by Feb end and start afresh. I just couldn’t wait for the three of us to be alone at home and enjoy the tiring job of taking care of her all by ourselves. Life seemed great. Little did we know it was about to change drastically in another week.
(To be contd..)