12Th September 2004 is a very important date for me. I delivered a baby, my first, at 4:35p.m after a 21 hour long labor. 14 hours of which were without epidural. That was paisa wasool time for me. I had spent 100$ for a Lamaze class and I being the quintessential Indian had hung onto every word of the instructor and then gone home and done some more research. I was theoretically prepared. Me and hubby darling huffed and puffed and counted breaths and made enough ruckus to scare my usually stoic mother.But I have to admit I survived my jhansi ki rani act for 14hrs thanks to the very class before not so gracefully admitting defeat.I also credit my high level of pain tolerance. By the end of those looooooong 14hrs I was cursing and bellowing and had all the intent to kill those who did not heed my request. I cannot resist a post on my birthing story and will do so in future.
But my intention here is to write about the other 2 'things' that were born alongside my son that day.GUILT and WORRY. Its a package deal.I felt guilty and worried, even before my children were born but it took a different dimension with motherhood.
Actually it had begun even before conception. We decided to have children after 3 years of marital bliss. The worrying started then. I made it a project. I googled everything that had to do with 'how to conceive'. I took temperature every morning and that decided whether we were doing 'it' that night. This strategy meant we did 'it' for just a week in a month. That did not work for a couple of months. Then came Plan B. I decided we must do'it'everyday. Though my hubby was/is young and virile and found me attractive but the sight of a wife waiting for him at the door with "Do or Die" kinda mad glint in her eye was too much for the poor guy. After doing 'it' he usually found me in gravity defying positions which to my mind ensured a safe travel of his swimmers to the finish line. God took mercy on him and I was pregnant by the end of that long exhausting month.
Pregnancy was fraught with worries and guilt of all sorts. The potential damage I could have done to the fetus by not drinking milk, by drinking a cup of coffee, by watching a horror movie, by not listening to the Sundar Kaand, by driving past a sushi restaurant(what? haven't you heard of mercury in fish?)by sleeping on my back,by walking too fast,by laughing too loud,by gaining too much weight one month and by not gaining too much weight the other month, by this and by that..the list is endless.
This only worsens once you have the baby. You could be guilty of holding, bathing, burping,singing yes even singing incorrectly to the baby. Mine started crying when I first sang to him.I suffered from tremendous guilt about having a baby whose weight gain was consistently 'average'. The 'above average' rate of his height gain did not make me feel much better. The fact that I could not fight genetics also did not help. My husband and his family cannot gain weight even if they tried. My baby's father still fits into his high school pants. It makes matters worse when the mother gains weight even by gazing lovingly at a sinfully decadent chocolate cake.
I blamed myself and sometimes others blamed me, at times obviously and then again not so obviously for every major and minor hiccup in this journey. I have realized with horror that my huge over sized diaper bag is minus a tissue on a day when my son's nose refuses to stop its incessant flow. While dropping my son at school it has dawned to me he is long overdue for a nail cutting session. I have debated about taking him back home and missing school versus risking being visited by family services for negligence. I have worried about the alleged links between vaccinations and autism. I have suffered the stares of adults when my child decides to make a scene in a public place. I have been asked umpteen time when my baby refuses to stop his ear splitting, migraine inducing crying "why is he crying?" I have resisted retorting back "if you find out could you tell me" Come on moron if I knew better would I not do something and not suffer this 'I could dig a hole and bury myself' scene.
A crying baby on a plane can also be a magnet for unwanted advise. On my way from Srinagar to Jammu, I heard everything from feed her water to rub vicks on her navel???....This 'you should feed her water' bit coming from a footloose and fancy free 21 yr. old dressed to kill girl/woman. I wanted to hit her on the head with the very bottle of water I had tried forcing past my daughter's pursed lips without any success.
You worry when after 8 weeks of teaching him color recognition you stop at a red light and he screams gleefully "geen,geen" read "green,green". We almost got him evaluated for color blindness.
I feel guilty when one afternoon I decide to skip reading "The Cat in the Hat" and lie to my children about how mamma needs to read her own book because her eyes are hurting. They are still at the age where they can be taken for a ride. I know this won't last long.
I felt terrible when my son first used the word "stupid". I guiltily wondered whether he got it from the 8 yr. old girl next door or I let the word slip inadvertently while addressing his dad.
I am guilty of pretending I did not notice that my daughter had pooped in her diaper and waited for my husband to discover it. You didn't get it. He discovers the poop in the diaper so he changes the diaper.
Then there are the bigger and more important issues I worry about. How to make them a good human being. How to instill self esteem. How to make them confident, happy and compassionate people.
I still do not have all the answers. I know I will never be completely right or wrong. But the best I can do is enjoy them before they leave the nest and tell them everyday that I love them.