It was meant to be a regular checkup. I was eight months pregnant but yes, I did not look like it. I worked out regularly and it helped me ‘not show’ when I was supposed to be ‘showing.’ The doctor did a series of tests and told me that the water was less than adequate for the baby to survive for the next one month and I would have to deliver the baby at the earliest. The delivery was scheduled for the next day and it happened to be 14th February, almost like a cliché!
For a hardcore romantic girl like me, I was sad at having to bid goodbye to Valentine’s Day forever. I knew from that year onwards, 14th February would only stand for my little one’s birthday. While our families were celebrating the arrival of their grandchild, here I was, almost heartbroken-it was my last day as a woman, not-yet-a-mother. I could no longer be as carefree and independent as I had been till date.
At times, I really wondered whether my adamancy of working out, not eating healthy and quietly denying to myself that I was pregnant were signs that I was not ready to be a mother. After all, I was not even thirty years old, in good shape and leading a pretty good life with the one I love. Was I ready for the changes that came with motherhood?
As scary as it sounds, these were the thoughts I was having until the time I was rolled into the operation theatre. I had a pretty normal delivery and then a tiny little person was kept next to me- it was my baby. And the first thought I had was, well, where were the overwhelming maternal instincts I had seen in movies when mothers would burst out in tears looking at their baby? The second thought was, well, is it a boy or a girl? A tiny, underweight baby girl who looked nothing like me. She was born with a small hole in the heart and within moments of coming to the world was rushed to the children’s ICU where I would get glimpses of her once or twice a day.
Even then, I did not have the outburst of love for ‘my’ baby. She came home a week later and then started the most difficult two months of my life. Being underweight, continuous nutrition was imperative. I had been told to feed her every two hours, day and night. It meant doing nothing but being at home and feeding her day in and out. For an independent and rebellious girl like me, this was no less than home imprisonment with an unbelievably painful task at hand- no one says out loud but breastfeeding is very painful. I went through the motions of sleeping with her, feeding her, learning to hold her right, changing her diapers and trying to lead a little of my old life, as well. It was not easy at all and amongst the countless blogs and articles, I have read on parenting-not one talk about this. I hate it that all articles romanticize parenting and childbearing. It is not easy and I have no qualms in admitting this.
I did not fall in love with my baby on the very first day. It took me close to a month to feel like she was my baby and I was her mother. Yes, from the very first day, we belonged to each other but we ‘fell’ in love gradually. I experienced my first emotion of overpowering love for my baby when one evening, she woke up from her nap and looked around the room and howled. The room was empty and I rushed to calm her loud wails. I thought she was hungry again. But, she just wanted to be held by me. Her tiny, still wrinkled finger held mine and she looked at me with her beautiful brown eyes and I was hooked for life. I knew then that I was now a mother and this tiny little soul were not just my responsibility but also a person I gave birth to and promised to love and cherish beyond life.
It has been nearly two and a half years now and life has been a series of ups and downs. That tiny tot has grown into an adorable, naughty little toddler and today I cannot imagine that I had any doubts about bringing her into this world. Life without her seems, nay, is impossible.
It is my humble advice to all expecting and aspiring mothers that motherhood is not easy. As far as my experience goes, parenting does not come naturally. Like everything else in life, it is a slow and gradual process of stumbling, learning, failing and overcoming the failures to enjoy the fruits of raising a baby.
While I have written several articles and anecdotes in my ‘Dear Diary’, it is only recently that I thought of blogging and sharing my experiences with others.
Please feel free to contact me with any suggestions, ideas, and feedback in the comments section below.