The Pregnant Woman
Sanchita sat down near the balcony ledge. It was a plush green space which reminded her of the verdant greens back home in Allepey, Kerala. Whenever she was in a quandary, she used to come and squat here comfortably. The sight of the Hudson river made her nerves calm down. The serene waters sometimes reminded her of the backwaters at home. Her dubious mind would then be pacified and her perturbation put to rest.
She was married two months ago. To her best friend. Her soulmate. She had dreams and aspirations. She was not ready to settle down so soon, but he had convinced her to leave Frankfurt and to settle in New Jersey. Things were progressing at a transitioning level when all of a sudden the news hit her hard. She wasn't ready for this. How was it possible? They had taken all the necessary precautions.
The morning greeted her with two bright pink lines on her stick.
PREGNANT, shit ! she thought.
Although she loved children, she wasn't ready for motherhood yet. She felt she was too young to assume such a huge responsibility. She pondered hard. Life was so unpredictable.
She waited for Sharad to come home that night.
"Sanchita, what is wrong? Why are you so dull? You haven't picked up my calls too, are you ok baby?" he asked her.
"No, I am not okay." She trusted the stick into his hand.
One look at it and Sharad too was perturbed. Surely this wasn't a part of their plans. But this is life, after all, sometimes it does throw a spanner in the works. But it could turn out to be a beautiful interruption after all, on second thoughts. He smiled thinking of a chubby and dimple faced version of her in a frilly frock. That did sound so appealing.
"Sometimes, life has different plans for us. Sanchi, I won't force you to carry on with this pregnancy if you do not want to. But I would urge you to think about it in solitude and then arrive at a decision." he told her. In his heart of hearts he did wish she looked at all the possibilities before arriving at a prudent decision.
"Sharad, I don't want this, what do you feel?" she retorted.
"Sanchi, I feel this could be a beautiful surprise for us. However, I don't want to go ahead if you don't want to. Sleep on it tonight. Take the call tomorrow and I will support you through your decision, whatever it might be." He hugged her tightly.
The night passed slowly for both of them. Each was in a dilemma of their own. Sharad was sceptical and Sanchita had no idea of her future now. On one hand she wasn't entirely against the prospect of having children and on the other she was career conscious too. It did not help that she had absolutely no inkling of how to balance both. No one does, do they?
Sharad was on his way out the next morning, when he saw the little white cup on the dining table.
"Brace yourself, The stork has come" It read.
He turned around to see her smile.
"I have no idea how the hell we are going to see this through, but let us do it" she announced. She had decided to take a leap of faith.
The first trimester
"Yeowwww, things taste bitter, morning sickness and my breasts hurt. This is not something I expected" she told her friend at work pressing her skin with hot towel.
"This is how it is baby. Pregnancy is different each time and for each person. It is ok to feel these things and it is ok to be angry at oneself too. It is a mixed bag of emotions and motherhood a roller coaster ride. So work around things a wee bit. Take things slowly, don't exert yourself and keep hydrated" she advised Sanchi.
Sharad was as supportive as possible. The evenings saw him rubbing her feet, massaging her heels and ankles, making her lemonade and staying by her side on some bad days. Things were tumultuous on the work front but she managed to get by.
THE FIRST ULTRASOUND
"That is your baby. The size of grain now. That's the heartbeat. Feel it, cherish it, cherish the life inside you," It seemed as if her doctor knew exactly what was going on in her mind. She did not feel anything. Yes, it was wondrous how this speck of grain grew up so big but her insides felt numb, devoid of emotions. She smiled, dryly.
The Second Trimester
She felt amazing of late. The morning sickness had finally bid farewell, her breasts did not hurt and she fell in love with her curves and augmented breasts. She wasn't flat chested anymore.
The mirror reflected a tiny bump protruding from her belly. She felt butterflies in her stomach. She felt something. It disturbed her.
"What is it doctor?" she was anxious.
The doctor examined her and told her everything was fine. "Never MORE better" in fact.
"The fluttering feeling was your baby moving. Yes dear, you just felt the baby move," she said reassuringly.
Sanchita felt herself warming up to this new entity in her belly. She felt protective. It was hers forever. She clutched her belly tight as she walked out of the clinic. A mother, in true sense was making her way out of a chrysalis. Life does work wonders. Ain't it?
The office space saw her surge of energy, passion and emotional upheaval work to her advantage. She was promoted in due time to take on further responsibility.
"Will I be able to manage Sharad? I did not expect this. I mean who promotes a pregnant lady in the second trimester, knowing very well I will be availing maternity leave soon?" she asked.
"Your pregnancy is a phase, it is not a disease or an impediment to your calibre. That is the reason you have been promoted. So stop doubting yourself." He was confident of his better half.
Things moved now at a fast pace. Sanchita was slowly falling in love with her bump. With her persona which was going to embrace motherhood very soon.
The Third Trimester
It was getting tougher by the day now. Her energy levels stooped low. But she continued working. Frequent trips to the bathroom, milk overflowing from her breasts, protruding belly and Braxton Hicks started kicking in. In short, her body was preparing itself for motherhood. She went along with what her body communicated. If it wanted rest, she took rest. If it felt ok, she pushed herself to work. The office arena proved most cooperative. Inclusion and diversion was one of the key attributes prevalent and her health took the paramount importance in both the personal and professional spheres.
The nights witnessed Sharad looking after her, making her comfortable, pampering her with the hot chocolate with marshmallows that she craved for, getting her to take hot rubs, soothing and caressing her body. She felt like a Queen. They were intimate at times, but intercourse depended on how she felt. Somedays she was a vixen whilst other nights saw her exhausted body immersed in deep sleep.
The due date came and went. No sign of baby. Well, this one is surely taking time, they smiled. Her water broke eventually and she was admitted for delivery. Although her cervix was dilated fully, yet a Caesarean was in the cards for them. The reason? Fetal distress!
As she was wheeled to the operation theatre, she took one last look at Sharad. She was palpitating, scared and emotional. She wanted all this to get over soon. She was having panic attacks about her surgery.
Twenty minutes into the surgery and she was greeted with the sweetest sound in the universe. Her precious bundle had arrived. It was a boy. A chubby and dimpled boy. Just like her. As she held him for the first time in her arms, she felt divinity. She felt raw. She felt protective. She felt HAPPY.
She did not feel less of a mother on not having a natural birth.
She did not think about what the world had to say.
She did not bother at that moment on how she was going to maintain an equilibrium between work and family.
She just felt joy. Pure and unadulterated joy. Motherhood comes naturally. Yes, she prepared for it, she knew what to expect when she was expecting. She had read books, taken birthing classes and had even a doula booked for delivery.
But life as always had thrown curve balls. Yet she had no qualms now. She was in pleasure even in her pain. She slept blissfully with her little one and her spouse beside her that night. They welcomed the little addition in their family with pomp and grandeur.
She was now a MOTHER.
What to expect when you are expecting is authored by Heidi Murkoff. It has been my bible during both my pregnancies. Her subsequent books based on the first year of motherhood is also adept at making novices feel like experts, I included.
To have a baby or not is the choice of the couple. To marry just because one is pregnant again is the discretion of the people involved. To abort or go ahead is the decision of the mother and father. Let us all understand the choices that everyone has and respect them for it instead of being judgemental. Pregnancy or Motherhood is an individual's choice. Let them exercise it.
It would suffice to say, at the end of it all, it was an absolute pleasure writing this blog as an ode to her insightful book.
Do share your experiences with me and shower love on this blog as always.