In Times Like These…

Being pregnant is a beautiful experience. For those of you who follow my blog and have read my pregnancy posts, I have described in some detail what it all feels like. But, what is life after pregnancy really like? Well, it is of course quite different for different people for sure. This is my own, very personal experience.

Going into Labour

That particular morning, I woke up with a start knowing something was about to happen. Sure enough, my water broke I went into labour at about 4:30 am. And there started the crazy roller coaster ride my husband and I went through over the  next 24 hours. In all my excitement, I went knocking on my mother’s (she was staying with me to help with the pregnancy and prepare for the baby) door and yelled for her to wake up. I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait for my husband and mom to get ready to take me to the hospital. En route, I was excitedly chatting with my mum and asking her what it would be like after the baby arrives. Needless, to say my husband was also pretty excited. So we finally get there and we realise that my medical file was left neatly on my work table at home, by me naturally (I was so excited that I forgot the one thing my husband put me in charge of!).

But all was forgiven and my husband headed back home to get the file, while my mom took me to the gynaecology ward. I was super excited (an understatement), not just for the arrival of the baby but also because I have never really been admitted in a hospital before (a weird fascination I suppose). I have been a caregiver for my parents when they needed it, but have never really been admitted. Every single aspect of going into labour was a joyride for me.

When my husband returned, at around 6 am on a Friday, we set about to calling our close friends and family.. Every call was a happy one while we annouced that I was in labour and expecting a child shortly. What I won’t forget is how excited my co-sister sounded even though I had just woken her up that early. Until that point, I don’t think my husband and I realised how much my brother-in-law (his brother) and my co-sister were rooting for us (for we live across town from each other; we rarely meet). They made my day.

The hours pass on…

And so it went, induction of labor pain and the mild contractions that started soon after, the doctor visiting me every few hours or so. Through all this time, I was pretty relaxed in my hospital bed and my hospital gown (awfully uncomfortable to wear, actually) and couldn’t wait to meet my daughter or son soon. And suddenly, I was walked to the labor room and it was time.

And then it happened…

I wont get into the nitty-gritty of labor pain, because it is truly beyond imaginable. But, after quite a struggle, we had a baby boy. While I was mildly disoriented, I won’t ever forget the little sounds my son made and the very first sight of him after the nurses cleaned him up. I also vividly remember the joy in my husband’s voice (and he was with me throughout).  And I still hear all this in my dreams sometimes.

The next thing I remember is standing in NICU while my dear baby was hooked to all sorts of monitors and being examined by a throng of specialists. I distinctively also remember my husband beside me, in so much emotional pain and he realised (being a practicing surgeon), faster than me, what was really happening. Considering that I had just given birth, I was asked to leave the NICU and rest. I refused to go of course, but, I had to. I settled into a chair right outside, and started praying (for those of you who know me, know that I rarely pray, if ever at all). I have never clung on to hope like I did that night. With the beeping monitors as my backdrop, the tears eventually started. We knew what was to follow.

As I sat there waiting, a nurse came and sat quietly next to me. I don’t know why she did that, because she wasn’t a part of the NICU staff, but she just did. She sat there, saw my tears and held my hand. She had absolutely no idea why I was crying or that I had just come out of labor. But, she sat there. Silent tears gave way to hysterical crying and she stood and she held me for god knows how long. She didn’t ask a single question. I still don’t know her name or what department she worked in. But I owe her.

Eventually, my husband pushed me to go back to the ward and rest. My mom and I after a lot of protesting did just that. Within a few minutes of reaching the ward (I couldn’t walk very fast), my husband called us. It was over. If ever I have heard my husband cry, that was it. Over the phone. It was then 12 am, about 20 hours after my water broke.

The next few hours went by in a blur. We were in shock, and I was torn, watching my mom, my husband and my son.

The calm after the storm…

Calm. Not peace, but a quite, almost sinister calm came over me. I don’t know why, but I was suddenly clear, confident and taking care of people around me. It was weird. Little did I know that it just meant something broke inside me that day. And it was irreparable. It still is.

Times like these…

It is always in times like these that you notice the people around you. The people that have stayed, the people that rush (yes, rush; like it happened to them), the people that continue to care. I won’t ever forget my brother-in-law and my co-sister mourning and crying like they had lost their own; I guess in a way they did too, nor will I ever forget my cousin (brother), who rushed as soon as he heard and accompanied my husband through what had to be his toughest journey yet.

Losing a child at any stage in your life, be it a miscarriage or a loss like ours, a few hours after birth, is an indescribable feeling. It numbs you, it shatters you, it changes you, almost kills you, but eventually makes you stronger.

 Pranav, my baby, where ever your beautiful soul is, we love you.  

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Abstract Conversations- A Little of Everything and Nothing

Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative

Oscar Wilde

I, like Mr. Wilde, believe that conversation by itself should go far beyond the talk of weather, in the sense that we use the weather as an ice-breaker maybe. Fortunately for me, I have come across so few of these types of people who resort to the talk of weather (more like an excuse for real conversation). This maybe partly because I am introverted and avoid speaking too much to someone unless specifically asked something or if we have common interests.

More recently, I had the pleasure of spending some time with one of my favorite aunts (who resides overseas, so such chances are few really). Considering that I am a child to her and that she has watched me grow up, this point in my adult life has seemed the most appropriate for us have deep, thought-stimulating, and intellectual conversation.

I have at some point always known that I associate with this aunt of mine the best (hence, my favorite!), among all the other close family members. Coming back to our recent catch-up, there were several things that I learned and took away endearingly from the conversation (yes, one conversation, that ran for several hours, with a few mundane breaks along the way).

As this is a story told, let me introduce you to my aunt first. She is a biologist who taught biology (genetics more accurately) for several years abroad and is also an enthusiastic researcher. That apart, she is one of the most avid readers I have ever come across (enough said, I suppose) which gives her that unique outlook on life and all other things we deal with every day.  

I hold avid readers in the highest regard, simply because there is a multitude of perspectives you gain with every book you have ever read. Also, it familiarizes you with current concepts and gives you an edge in most topics that form good conversation. Readers are simply underrated in the kind of information they gather and hold (but, this is another issue for another day!).

And thus, began our conversation, starting with the books we are currently reading, to what Kindle subscriptions we have, what kind of books we borrow in Kindle and so on. The conversation took a pleasant turn into ground realities. Talking of recent pain in my life, we started to discuss how the world works. More, accurately, how the world is programmed to work. A very interesting perspective from my aunt were about leaders and followers. Leaders, she says are those that can automatically question any limit put across and possibly find ways to beat it or better it. Followers on the other hand are those that do not engage on that level, but rather are content with accepting what is given to them. This thread of conversation then led to a discussion of how we are programmed genetically. Leaders and followers are the way they are mainly due to their genetic make-up. Certain gene combinations may tend to categorize our place in the world. Now, I have never really thought this way before and the information given to me was simply mind-blowing. But having said that, for the sake of argument, there is another popular train of thought which states that ‘leaders are not born, they are groomed’ rather. Though I did want to discuss further on it, we found ourselves drifting to another interesting conversation.   

To tread lightly here, we discussed the existence of a higher power. Her opinion once more surprised me, in that we almost think alike (her opinion is better thought out than mine is). The very semblance of religion we have, and the existence of a higher power may be a psychological exercise for minds who need the idea of someone guiding them (like followers) and for those who question those very boundaries it may be merely an exhaustive tool that makes little sense (like leaders).  Though my opinion was loosely along the same lines of questioning the very existence (I mean no offense, and this is just my opinion/view), speaking to my aunt really gave me a deeper understanding of how the universe works really and what we all are in this seemingly infinite realm. I, for one, use religion or rather the rituals of religion as a semblance of familiarity. In the sense that I was brought up is a slightly orthodox household where rituals formed a very important part of our routine. Through my more challenging times, revisiting those rituals (imbibing them into my routine) because they remind me of my childhood (a simpler, carefree time), restores my sanity to some extent. Going back to what is most familiar to you, can do that for you. However, this does not stop me from keeping up with the times or adding logic and science to the ideologies I have been taught. My aunt says, the minute the word belief is used, it would mean that there is no room for other points of view. Now, this I am inclined to agree. What do you think?

I have known my aunt all my life, but the like-mindedness in how we think was a real eye-opener in this visit. Considering that there is a large generation gap between us, our wavelengths were perfectly in sync. These bits of conversation made me aspire to be an exceptional conversationalist like she is, one day (maybe someday, if I ever can reach that standard).

On a more mundane aspect, I got the best recipes for a very simple, yet tasty rasam (the best I have ever had, besides my mom’s Mysore rasam!) and an egg curry my husband simply loved (a harsh critic as far as my cooking is concerned). Well, aunts I guess! Making you a better person, is what they do best. I wish to one day be a similar aunt to my nephew as my favorite aunt is to me now!

Jayanthi Perima, this one’s for you, and to the deep impact you have always had on my personality, both now and over the years.

Conversation should touch everything but should concentrate itself on nothing.

Oscar Wilde

The Stuff Dreams Are Made of…

Sleep has never really been a favourite activity for me. For some, sleep is almost a hobby and some (like my husband) can sleep anytime, anywhere. Honestly, that is a gift. Sleep is often elusive for me and I often find that I can function just as well irrespective of the number of hours I have slept. Strange!

But talking of sleep, what I do like (when it happens) are dreams. I am sure that all of you reading this have experienced dreams at one point or another. Dreams for me have always had therapeutic value. But, before I get into that, I must confess that I love interpreting dreams. Wait! Before you jump into any conclusion, let me also add that I’m not a professional interpreter of dreams. Having said that, I do my due research for whatever is out there, before I come to a conclusion. But, that is just me.

Dreams have a way of gripping you; emotionally, physically and even your intellect to some extent, if you remember it. It is said that most people forget what they dreamt about when they wake up and even more so, as the day wears on.  While that may be true, I am certain that everyone has had dream experiences that have reached into their soul and has stayed that way.

One of my most endearing dream memories are the ones that have my father in it (especially after his passing).  But, other recurring ones I have are of water and my hair (separately).  Water dreams typically refer (apparently) to calmness, success and emotions in general. Of course, all of this is in relation to how you see the water in your dreams, is it turbulent, are you wading through waves in the sea, is it still like a lake, or a gentle brook? All of these may have special meanings.  I, on the other hand, firmly believe in what is most applicable to my waking life. This may be more of a deeper psychological analysis on my part and I do agree with Freud or Jung that dreams have psychological ramifications. But, I also to some extent agree with the ancient interpretation that your dreams are trying to communicate something with you (from another dimension or not is debatable).

So, what are your dreams trying to tell you?

To delve into different viewpoints,  dreams could just be a culmination of your day or your present situation in general, a deeper message on repressed feelings or desires, communication from beyond, or plain old biological defense. Personally, I have experienced each of these, when considering any form of interpretation. When it comes to dreams, I have a near photographic memory, which makes it easier to take time and research on what I saw/felt/heard and how I reacted in my dreams. Dreams on my hair is usually associated with my bad hair days and how I felt about it during the day. But, it could also be my mind’s way of dealing with the emotional aspect of it , that I may have ignored.  When I say communication from beyond, I am not referring to communication from the divine or any such. For me that only refers to my dad trying to communicate with me. This, of course has two dimensions to it.

Taking my recent job change as an instance, I was looking for some sort of change from the usual monotony of my present life and decided that a job change will do wonders for me. Before doing so, there was a lot of emotional turmoil and endless discussion with my husband.  What really made me go for it, is a dream in which  my father is showing me that change is good, much in the same way that he would when I was young. Now, this could be his communication with me from beyond, but it could also mean my own (unknowing) emotional dependence on my father.  My intellect urges me towards the second dimension of emotional dependence, but can we really tell for sure?

The therapeutic nature of dreams

Every time something good or bad happens  in my life, it reflects in my dreams.  Even my monotony and routine does.  Trying to interpret what I dream about has taught me introspection and humility in abundance.  Humility because, when stuff happens to us, we tend to magnify it quite a bit and often project some sort of self –importance because of it. Introspection or self-analysis to a large extent, tends to deflect that importance and put a lot of things in perspective. Doing this has also helped me accept my ground reality a lot better than I normally would have. My reactions are now more measured and non-impulsive because of the ability to break down and analyze my surroundings.

Ultimately, dreams simply ground me and keep me sane (besides my husband, my rock). It helps me better understand my own psyche and how it works. Dreams can mean different things to different people, so let my interpretation give you some perspective, but let it not stop you from asking,

What are dreams really made of?  What does it mean to me?

Remember the Time… Of Memories Past.

Memories, funny things these can be. You never know if an incident or just a chance occurrence will be etched in the deep recesses of your mind as a memory forever, or whether it will get discarded as soon as it occurs. Fast forward into the future, you look back and you are in awe. In awe that these moments are truly yours to treasure and in awe that they have a soul-stirring effect on you. Looking back on my life thus far, I definitely have a truckload of memories. Out of these, there are many that have stayed with me unwittingly.

A thought unforgotten…

On a sunny yet pleasant autumn day in Bangalore (it can get picturesque), my friend and I sat rooted in my car, catching up.. We had met up after a while and there was lots to share. After the usual was over, we just sat there in comfortable silence. I may not remember her exact words or what we did really, but I remember her presence. I remember thinking that these are the kind of friendships worth having. Something about the friendship lingered and stayed with me. But, I never really thought that this would stick in my memory forever. Looking back now, there was nothing unusual about that meeting. It was just two friends catching up (I don’t even remember what we talked about!). But yet, it stayed in my mind all these years. So, I guess memories are more than just the fun and laughter. I think the secret to making these memories is that we stop trying to make them. In this instance, we were just being ourselves, and in the moment really. It was not forced, we were not scrambling to capture it in any form, nor was I aware that it will stay with me years later. Those are the best kind of memories if you ask me.

Fun and frolic long forgotten…

There are, of course, memories tucked away in your mind and mostly long forgotten… until something comes along to jog that memory. It could be photo albums, trinkets you find that you may have safely stored, but thought lost, situations that take you back and so on. For me, every time I visit my mother and the house I grew up in, I am reminded of memories locked away in the corners of my mind. My favourite activity is looking through photographs from the albums (yes, I come from that era and yes, holding them feels amazing). Every time I do, I am reminded of some fun time from my childhood that gets me going. I know that in general, childhood for everyone is often the most unforgettable, but, do we really remember very specific instances anymore?

As a memory keepsake my mother gave me my dad’s favourite bureau (those oh-so-famous Godrej ones) when I got married. It is one of my most priced possessions thus far, to the extent that I have retained all of the blemishes collected over the years; well, almost anyway. I recently got a broken handle fixed. Way back when, my sister and I were fond of playing ball in our parents’bedroom (mainly to sass our parents because it was banned). One such time, in all this fun, I threw the ball so hard that my sister jumped out the way and the ball happened to hit this bureau. The door dented in a little and the handle broke. Well, so much more than the handle broke that day, it was all hell too! I played innocent (of course!) and pointed fingers at my sister (between us, I was the bully!). Sadly, that did not stop my parents from going completely ballistic with their punishment for me. I can still hear my mother screaming at me like it was yesterday. I am pretty sure the neighbourhood does too.

So, the day I got this handle fixed, I was both in splits and in tears, all at the same time. It has been at least two decades, if not more and I use this bureau everyday. Yet, it was only when the handle was replaced, that this memory was stirred. Associative memories can often catch you off guard and set you off on a wonderful trip of mixed feelings. What’s not to love?But when such associative memories take you back in time, it would be nice to pause, look back, and relive that experience.

Experiences with Time

For those you who have been keeping up with my blog, you probably know a lot of the important phases of my life- the good times and not-so-good ones. I have come to learn that in the future you will associate these experiences to specific times of your life. Your memories are really what quantify your time here. I have hit rock bottom more times than I care to count, (yes, I am not that old… and yes there is much more to life!) but, I know now that I derive my strength to live my life on my terms from these memories; good and the not-so-good. Moments, hours, days, months and years… just rolling on by.

In the now…


 
Alone in thought,
By the gentle breeze of the country side,
Filled with the melodies of life,
Of the past so seemingly lost,
Yet found again,
In the trees that wave me past,
Meandering through the light of the night,
An endless rhythm that taps the soul,
A sense of having lived through the days of today ,
In the days gone by,
And in the days yet to come,
 
A beautiful sway of the heart,
To the hum of an idyllic engine,
Moved again by a gentle breeze that courses through your veins,
While I ponder on,
Alone in thought,
Of glorious days past.

Pregnancy- A Life is Born

Ah! Finally, after the trying and testing first and second trimesters, you have reached the pinnacle, the third trimester! This is pretty much the last phase of your pregnancy from months 7 through 9. Personally, this was the most enjoyable part of the pregnancy for me. I thoroughly enjoyed feeling my baby move around (it is that much more intense as the baby grows), and also that I got to interact with him. These last three months usually pass by quickly and even before you know it, it is D-day.  

What You Should Know…

For all those first time mommy’s to be, the third trimester while exciting is also daunting. You will find yourself going back and forth feeling excited, anxious  that you are about to become a parent and once you get a hang of the idea, you might tend to worry about the kind of parent you will be. Feeling anxious or being worried is very natural and remember that you should not feel guilty for either of those things. Being pregnant (and in your last stages) can be stressful in itself. I, for one, was overwhelmed almost throughout and couldn’t hold back tears every time I felt anxious. What did I do? I would spend a while every other day talking to my husband about how scary all this seemed. I was repetitive no doubt, but talking helped a tonne and took some pressure off! Phew!

Exciting Times Ahead

Besides the anxiety, the third trimester can be rather fun-filled. It is also baby shower time! We had a rather traditional (tam-brahm style) baby shower that involved all the aunts (friends and family alike) adorning you and blessing you with glass bangles. I realized glass bangles, with its wonderful mellow sounds is particularly soothing for the baby. On stressful days at work, I would jingle these bangles and my baby would respond with either a kick (if resting) or slowing down intense kicks (if hyper active). Though these were subtle responses, it felt like I was talking to my baby and he was talking back to me. He already made me feel like a good mom! Besides all the celebration frenzy, a long leave of 6 months from work also in store for me. Truth be told, I love what I do and the thought of taking a 6 months break was quite scary for me. But, a week into my maternity leave made me realise that this time off is so essential to bond with your soon-to-be born child. I spent the last two weeks before child birth simply sitting around and chatting with the little one. The joy it brought is indescribable.

So, Child Birth…

In these last few weeks, you will feel your body slow down naturally, and you will also look and feel enormous, so the sluggishness is rather justified. Think about how much energy you and your baby need, now that the tiny pea sized life is almost a full-grown infant! There will be times when you will feel the energy drain from your body. During these times I adopted some pregnancy yoga and boy, was it a life-saver. You don’t need to get bendy (and trust me you can’t); just sitting with good posture and taking deep breaths gives you some relief from these frequent bouts of fatigue. If this is not your thing, slow strolls for about 20-30 minutes also does the trick. What also helps is to eat healthy. My choice was always fresh fruit which energised me instantly and also didn’t cause heartburn (yes, this is important!). But, you could turn to nuts, yoghurt or even some ice cream! All of these habits eventually prepare your body for child birth, so watch what you do and what you eat at this time.

It was very early in the morning (about 4 am) when my water broke. Yes, I was sleeping, and I jumped out of bed as I realised what was happening. After the fear passed, excitement kicked in… I was in labour. This was really the culmination of the last 8-9 months of creating life, nurturing it and finally bringing your child into the world. What I will also never forget is startling my husband awake when my water broke. His initial confusion giving way to excitement at that moment just spoke volumes as to the magic of this time!

The drive to the hospital and some hours of labour after that are a blur, but, as I was taken into the labour room kicking and screaming in pain (an understatement), all I thought about was seeing my child. An excruciating 50 minutes later, our son was born. As the nurse approached me with my son and the second I saw him, all the pain and discomfort melted away, just in that instant. It is amazing how your mind and body work in this regard. I have never felt anything like it before and it is something that I will never forget. No doubt that our lives will have many more moments of pain and joy, but, seeing your child for the first time as he stepped into this world, just… stays with you forever.

Pregnancy- A Life Grows

After an eventful and exciting first trimester, my transition to the second thus began. The second trimester is roughly the fourth, fifth and sixth month of pregnancy, in case you as first time mommy’s to be are confused about the whole trimester thing. Having lived the experience, I have now come to realise that the second trimester is by far the best! I say this because I had the most fun during this period. But be prepared to be overwhelmed, because some first-time experiences were quite awe-inspiring and most certainly unforgettable in this lifetime!

As the Trimester Begins…

Entering into your fourth month, you now are out of the delicate period of the first trimester and starting to show just a little bit. You don’t really gain weight in the first trimester, but all that changes here. One day I suddenly started to feel like was carrying a bag of water in my belly and more importantly I started to show! It was more than exciting and I did spend some time admiring my growing baby (and belly!). A month or so into this period, I slowly started to feel flutters in my tummy, the kind that makes you feel like you have butterflies in there. At first, I did not know what it was and carried on as usual, but, as the flutters started to get intense I realised what it was. It was my baby moving around! Though it was too soon for my husband to feel it externally, he would still place his hand on my tummy hoping to catch even a tiny move. Magical does not begin to describe what we felt.

What Comes After?

At around the same time, we were scheduled for our second ultrasound scan to check for anomalies in the baby. If you are a first time mom like me, then you would tend to go into this scan a bit apprehensively. While my mind was working overtime during the scan, I remember the doctor turning the monitor toward me and showing me my little sweet pea, slightly moving around in my tummy. It wasn’t just that though, we also heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time since I got pregnant! Our hearts most literally skipped a beat just then. But accompanying this excitement was disbelief and awe. We just couldn’t believe that we made this living being that was growing inside me with it’s own heartbeat. I cried that day too.

Other Stuff You Feel…

With all these big changes, come changes in your body also. This starts with weight gain. Don’t be alarmed with a steady weight gain that you will see through this trimester and into the next. Taking cue from you, your baby also almost doubles in weight at this time. With my weight gain came heartburn too. Anything I ate caused heartburn at this stage and more noticeably at night. I would sometimes wake up crying in the middle of the night from severe heartburn and would then throw up. After this happened a few times, I was told that drinking milk before sleeping can ease some heart burn at night. I also tried light second trimester yoga. It worked wonders for me!

At this time, you would experience an improvement in your sleep patterns (I know I slept fitfully, except for when I had heartburn issues), and your fatigue may also be reduced.  You may have the most energy during this trimester. This is also a time when my body naturally could only rest when I slept on my sides. Remember that carrying a water bag feeling? Lying on my back just made me uncomfortable and lying on my side meant using more pillows for my tummy and legs. Though concerned at the beginning, my doctor assured me that this was normal and even insisted that lying on my left side was better for the baby (I could also feel more movement this way). So, there you go!

Are You Ready for Your Babymoon?

For us, this pregnancy was the greatest birthday gift we could ask for (my husband and I are a month apart), especially since we had planned for this pregnancy in every possible way. It was sheer coincidence that our birthdays occurred through this trimester. So, we decided that it was a triple celebration and planned our babymoon. We didn’t go far (as travelling long distance was a bit uncomfortable; another joy of pregnancy!) and opted to spend a weekend at a beach resort. As a couple, it was honestly the best vacation we had ever taken considering that we also had our baby on the way. Though early, we started talking to our baby on this trip. I remember staring out to sea and just gently rubbing my baby bump as I spoke softly and explained what I saw to my baby. It was even a rainy weekend at the beach for us, which made it all abundantly more beautiful. However, planning for the babymoon wasn’t all roses, because you do have the heartburn issue which may make eating outside a bit challenging. Also, I still had some remnants of my morning sickness well into my second trimester and also had major hunger pangs throughout the day irrespective of the meal I had. But, the good news is, if you are driving to your destination, you can stop as and when you please along the way and also pack some of your favourite snacks to keep nausea and hunger at bay. The key to a great babymoon, as I discovered, was in how comfortable your travel is. And, once you get there… it is sheer bliss.

The second trimester is definitely more intense than the first, in terms of how much of your baby you actually start to feel. But, emotionally, it can also trigger some pretty strong feelings. You could start to feel like maybe you haven’t planned enough for parenthood or the type of parents you are going to be. Rest assured that these feelings are natural and you have nothing to feel guilty for! Especially since your pregnancy is about to reach its crescendo with the last trimester. Here, you feel every move, every kick, every hiccup (oh yes!) and so much more as you prepare for the magic of child birth. Are you prepared for this final phase?