Confessions of an FTM-1

With the little one sleeping peacefully by my side, I start writing about what I have been meaning to from a long time. Talking about time, I think it put on its fastest shoes in 2016 and is running as if it is being chased by a predator. I freshly remember how I felt when I saw a positive pregnancy test – confused + surprised. I still hold the same emotion with my junior unraveling each of his many talents every day.  As an FTM (first time mom), I feel overwhelmed and can’t help but wonder what a steep albeit good turn life took in the past year. I don’t have to romanticize pregnancy- there are enough movies that do this. I want to confess that pregnancy is not a walk in the park like they show. It is more like a roller coaster. Also, below picture please.

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Here’s a quick snapshot of my journey to motherhood:

The bumpy ride of nine months:

Sure, it was bumpy. Physically, my pregnancy was not exactly a breeze but it was nothing that I couldn’t handle. Emotionally, my pregnancy was a storm- especially to husband but it was nothing that he couldn’t handle (Now you know why I married him). Time went by the usual way- clothes getting tighter (which wasn’t new to me, hehe :D) , hunger pangs in the middle of the night(have them since birth), mood swings (nope, not alien to me) and  wearing loose tops to office so that no one suspected until it was time to reveal. I used to patiently wait for doctor visits, especially for the ones with ultrasound for the little lubb-dub from the machine. Counting kicks after a hot cup of tea followed by a quick walk was always my favorite part of the day in later trimesters. Researching each symptom online, talking to my mom about them the next day and getting a lecture about “how internet ruins one’s peace of mind?” became a routine. Even things going smoothly used to raise my brows sometimes.

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Hubby bought me a few books to read to take the heat off my head (read: his head) and of them, few proved to be very useful. Especially pregnancy books like “what to expect when you are expecting ” and Mayo clinic’s “Guide to healthy pregnancy” came in handy. I had my own relaxation drill too- Looking at babies on Youtube and IG.  I must have seen at least a million photos of different babies on Instagram and at a point, I became obsessed with one baby’s video so much that I couldn’t sleep without seeing it at least once! No, I am not exaggerating even a bit. Have done many such quirky things and I blame it all on the pregnancy hormones. Ladies, hormonal changes is a very good excuse to use when you are both pregnant and weird.

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With firsthand experience, I can suggest the following for a healthy and joyful nine months.

  • Invest in good pregnancy stuff- maternity pants, inner wear, shoes, and a pillow. Might burn a hole in the pocket but it is worth all that. Also, now is the best time to raid husband’s wardrobe.
  • Work out (unless your doctor says no)- It helps to keep the sugars in control and a tired body guarantees some sleep (Be prepared for pee-pee monster to ruin it)
  • Eat well- Golden rule for good health is to eat fresh and in limited amounts at regular intervals. Also, be well hydrated.
  • Contemplate good things- Read good books, watch good stuff and laugh to your heart’s content.
  • Read to your baby- Though it may seem filmy and cliché, it is a terrific way to bond with the baby.
  • Expect the unexpected- Not trying to be pessimistic, but making a baby isn’t as rosy as they show in the films. There can be complications during and after pregnancy , there can be surprises with the ultrasounds, there can be hurdles in the labor too. It is only practical to expect that things may not go as planned and accept the situation with a positive mind. In my case, I delivered earlier than I had planned!
  • Kegel exercises- Do enough kegels because it helps labor and postpartum too. This is something that I neglected and I regret it.
  • Keep some baby stuff ready if not all-cribs , bassinets, strollers and car seats. Choose from the myriad options available and take some Tylenol later because the choices will blow your mind.

I had a pregnancy buddy!

One of my best friends got pregnant just around the same time I did and I am elated that I had her as my  pregnancy buddy. We also took a short trip outside San Diego which I would like to call our own babymoon! We used to talk about surviving our symptoms and our men used to talk about surviving us. A sample conversation between the two couples on a dinner date was like this:

She:   I have swollen feet. I cannot sleep.
Me:  I have heartburn. I cannot sleep.
Her husband:   Rama has weird cravings. I had to run and get her a cake last night.
My husband:  Anu roars like a lion in her sleep. I had to wear headphones last night.

She was few weeks ahead and to my surprise, we pretty much shared every symptom. It was like both of us were running a relay and she was passing each of them to me after an interval. So much that I delivered right a week after she delivered!

Attended parenting and childbirth classes:

Folks back in India laughed at the mention of classes. They gave us the classic “did we not raise you properly without all that?” but guess what- those classes proved out to be useful. We were given a trailer of how our lives would turn out to be in the next 2-3months and that trailer is no joke, dear friends. I dug internet like a mouse about pregnancy and labor from day1 but the classes still had some new things to offer. We also met other super cool expecting couples!

Labor:

I had a tough labor and to be frank, husband also took a brunt of it(a very good one). He became equally sleep deprived and exhausted. We exercised, meditated, tried to catch a movie and even sleep through the contractions. He stayed positive but my courage lapsed slowly. In the last leg of labor, it felt like I would be in that room for the rest of my life lying in that position strapped to IV and monitor like a dog with people cheering to do something that I was incapable of. How horrifying that thought is! My midwife tricked me several times saying it was the end but it never seemed to come. I heard from my mother that she had tough labor too and it felt like I was tasting my own medicine. When it was time, everything happened in the blink of an eye and I was holding the baby to my chest next second. That feeling? Empowering.

Hospital stay was fun- three of us in a cozy room living each moment without thinking about the next. Sleep depravity did nothing to us- we kept looking at the little guy without batting our eye lids as he slept peacefully oblivious to the damage he did. Postpartum was (is) very hard and because something beautiful was made, I took it well (sniff). Visitors kept coming and one of my favorite bffs Harshi flew in to see him! We went home after a couple of days with the little one- mature and thankful that things turned out to be ok.

Of course, they spiced up again for us new parents. But, more about them later. Until then, cya!

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The backpack

Do you also have a backpack that is your favorite and which on emptying has restaurant bills from 325AD, one zipper that never opens or has been opened, one pocket which is meant to hold keys and coins but you never use it for them and one water bottle pocket that is only meant to hold this?

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Which backpack carrying grownup drinks water from these yaar?

Anyways, the backpack that I’m talking about is not just a bag with padded shoulder straps and roomy compartments for laptop and clothes. It is a holder. It holds emotions inside its pockets so that people only see the pack and never realize whether  useful things lie inside or simply rubbish. It holds those unsaid words which people want to say but eat instead. It holds those memories which they very carefully treasure like those photos which can never be deleted from one’s phone. Not even when the phone threatens to empty owner’s soul saying “low memory”.

The backpack that I’ve been carrying in the recent years is rather heavy because I packed mixed emotions inside- it is as heterogeneous as a Cadbury GEMS packet. From India to USA, I’ve come a long way (both literally and figuratively) as a person. Mixed emotions because sometimes, my heart says that I miss being that old Anupama and  sometimes I can clearly hear it say “Grow up,  woman!”

Living away from home teaches one to be responsible to say the least. For example, imagine coming home from work to a bed that was left unmade or a penalty for a missed bill. It reminds you immediately of your mother/father’s constant nagging to do somethings on time and her/his warning that that laziness would hurt later.  On a related note, It doesn’t hurt to say that those little acts of discipline that were imposed upon us are really what help us survive the extended stay away from home(with lesser discomfort). Back in those days when my mother used to ask me to clean the dining table while she cleaned up in the kitchen, I used to secretly hope that one day I’d run away to a house where there was a table-cleaning maid.

Living away from home in a foreign land also helped clear a lot of misconceptions that I had. A typical “frog in the well” me used to have some bad feelings about the West that most of the Indian mob have (which I won’t list here because I care for my skin).  And I am so glad today that I’ve been proven wrong! Few things that really impressed me at my workplace about them are how well they own up to their work without a fuss,  how easy and graceful it is to admit one’s shortcomings and how important the distinction between “break time” and “work time” is (talk about work-life balance).  Even on personal front, their sense of forgiveness and welcoming the differences with other person without judging is something that excited me. It is not an exaggeration if I said that I saw this missing in some of my own people.

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I’ve a strong feeling that I was Garfield in my last birth.

Times that make me sad are when I “virtually” attend a family event over Skype. Amidst a thousand  “Can you hear me?” “I can hear you but cannot see you” “I can only see X’s right ear and your finger” “It’s ok , send me the pictures” , I barely get to see the actual event and that quick peek brings out the homesick feeling from the backpack. It’s really hard to tuck this feeling back in. Interesting question (8 Marks): Is quantum teleportation really possible?

I also feel meh that I can never be the same pampered girl I was before marriage. Sure I enjoy the independence and power of running a household as “the queen” but the joy of being a “darling princess” at home cannot be matched. And the fact that kids born in 2000 are hitting adolescence while I’m nearing the ugly thirties is getting to my nerves. Sometimes, I wish I was born in the times of Ramayana or Mahabharata where some people could stay young forever.  Or in the later times say 3156 or 3567 when scientists will have invented some time-halting capsule.

Coming back to my backpack, it also has a dirty chamber where all my dark feelings go into. Lack of self-control to begin with. Along with easy loss of interest and deep brooding over certain things (tch..tch) , a teeny bit of jealousy lies underneath this pile of garbage. These feelings are like the shopping bills trash that never leave the bag.  I constantly try to throw each of them out of the bag but it is still heavy(This is why I stoop a little, you know). I am society fearing so I am generally tight-lipped ( and hence tight-zipped) if I were to use these.

I know that everybody’s backpack isn’t necessarily same as mine. You know what they say- to each their own.  But anyway, here’s a suggestion to everyone including myself- Travel light because it is a long journey!

A labour ward

source: guardian.co.uk.

(Wholly inspired by a friend’s article)

“Aren’t you excited?” Deepthi asked me as I was putting on the white coat with no much interest on my face. Genuinely I was not excited. I was plain scared. I know it is a miracle that a living being is born, fed and safely guarded inside the mother’s flesh for  nine months and it is this miracle that keeps the generations alive. But the delivery of her baby is definitely the most traumatic test a lady can ever take.

The OBG(Obstetrics and Gynecology) posting for the year started that day and I had to observe deliveries as part of my learning. Deepthi’s enthusiasm made me feel like a sissy and I entered into the much dreaded labor room with my hand clutching hers. The doctor was gently patting on the patient’s legs and yelling at the top of her voice to push the baby out. The patient was a young woman probably in her late twenties and was writhing in pain with loud screams. The screams and yells started roaring in my ears and at a point I felt my heart beat was much louder than them.

“Look the baby is coming out!” One of our classmates noticed it first. The doctor’s face lit up at its sight and she told us that it is called the crowning of the head. Each of us was asked to come forward and take a glimpse of the miracle. Deepthi finished her turn and took my hand in hers. I leaned forward deciding that I would just peek. I saw a small blood covered head that was struggling to come out. Suddenly I felt the whole room was turning upside down and I realized it was nausea.

“Take a deep breath. Relax and try again.” Deepthi whispered in my ears and I followed her. I leaned again and one of our classmates pulled me back. The last words I could hear were “Take her out of this room.” I was taken to the rest room where I threw up in the sink at every recall of the little head. Tears gushed out from my eyes and I started wailing.

“Hey, its alright. You’d be okay. You’d be a good doctor.” Deepthi comforted me with her hands on my shoulder.

I firmly decided that I wanted to be a good doctor so I pledged to myself that I wouldn’t panic again. We went back to the labor room and saw that it was not yet complete. I did not blink my eyes and whatever I saw left all weird thoughts in my mind. “Isn’t it human to pass a law that child births should be banned and adoptions be encouraged? If this how a baby is brought to this earth, how can one even think of hurting/assaulting it? Those who do infanticide should be made to deliver ten females as the penalty. How do some women deliver twins and triplets when it is so difficult to get one come out? How and Why did God get the size proportions so wrong? The baby is never going to come out. ”

The baby was almost pulled out or rather pushed out and the jubilant look on the doctor’s face confirmed that whatever has happened was not a conspiracy against woman kind. She cut the placenta and handed over the baby to one of the attendants who took it away to some other room.  Soon we dispersed from the labor ward and I called up my mom to tell her that I had successfully survived watching an obstetrical delivery for the first time.

“How was it?”

“I still cannot believe that I did not get a syncope.”

“(Chuckles) Do you remember that your grandmother bore thirteen children that way?” she reminded.

“We should build a temple in her name.” I said and I meant that. I heard my mother laugh aloud and I suddenly felt I was missing her at that moment.

“Mumma..I love you.”  I said wholeheartedly.

She smiled again and said “Love you too.” I hung up and brushed aside the tear that rolled down on my cheek.

 

Return of the king!

Yellow and ripe
as big as my palm,
Worth all the hype
for it’s straight from the farm.
 
Comes in hundred sorts,
each has its own smack.
Dad brings them in lots
Mom puts them up in the rack.
 
Its scent all over,
doesn’t keep me in peace.
Like a fly I hover,
to devour each piece.

From:fish-cooking.about.com

“Keep it to the last”
Mom passes an order.
I finish the rest items fast
drooling over its odor.
 
Slowly one by one
I relish the cut pieces.
Now that I won,
The feeling finally eases.
 
Good fruits are just few,
This is the return of the king.
Summer I love you,
Good bye dear spring.