Sunday, November 15, 2009

Serving the infantry…

Week 7

When I was pregnant, experienced mothers told me that a baby is better in than out. I rubbished them. But I take my disbelief back. I’m a seven-week-old mother now and I’m not ashamed of officially admitting that babies are better in than out!

Yes, not being pregnant has its merits. I’m most certainly celebrating my little successes like getting back into a pair of jeans, not feeling like a freak show and being able to sit with my legs together among others. But, there’s a whole new list of things to whine about. Motherhood is a tough game, and as they say, a 24X7 job.

The first couple of weeks seem like a blur now. Recuperating from the cesarean section, most of my focus seemed to be on trying to bathe with a plastic sheet wrapped around my stitches, my obscenely huge tummy and that cruelly tight abdominal belt. Jishnu slept most of the time as most newborns do and was a welcome break between feeds. Feeding him has been one of the most time-consuming tasks. This child of mine has displayed an exceptional talent in dodging ‘the burp’ since birth, which ensures that I or someone else has to hold him up for long stretches of time. In the meantime, I’m making most of that breast pump to relive engorged and painfully full and leaking boobs. It’s week seven now and the burp continues to evade us.

Another thing that has been evading me is sleep. But that’s true of every new parent and caregiver, I guess. My mom-in-law refused to believe that I was once capable of sleeping through a marriage party passing our home. During our 3-week stay in Mumbai, every whimper by the baby would wake me up. It’s so bad now that I’m beginning to hallucinate in the bath. Even with the baby sleeping peacefully outside, I seem to be hearing sounds of him crying. Sheesh!

Hallucinations are still ‘dealable’, but there have been days that were so bad, I’ve almost felt suicidal. At the risk of being labeled a bad parent, I’ve even voiced my wish that I never had him. Some of the greater stressors were our trip to Mumbai by car when the baby was just twelve days old, the thought of having to feed in public during our flight to Nagpur when he was just over a month. The most painful day yet was when we took him for his first vaccine schedule. The injection was supposed to cause pain and fever for the next 2 days. But nothing could have prepared me for the rough, sleepless and helpless night of incessant crying. Not even the doctor, who had wished me luck for the next 48 hours as we left the clinic. I was heartbroken.
But there have been moments of reward too. Seeing a ‘first’ everyday can be a lot of fun. His first response to sound, his first moving of the head, his first cry that sounded like ‘maa’, his first smile and in a funny sort of way, even his first pee and poop on me are memorable. There was a lot of pride in seeing him gain weight, gain cheek and girth. I was brimming with joy when his first tiny shirt felt a little too tight for him. There is a huge sense of satisfaction in knowing that my baby is growing up fine. I can’t help but feel smug when people tell me that he is a good baby who really gives no trouble. And oh, I check my Facebook account ten times in a day to see what people have had to say when I post pictures of him!

As he grows each day, so does the mom in me. I understand more the essence of parenting, which incidentally comprises of the smell of milk, pee, poop, wet nappies, fresh diapers and a hell lot of Johnson’s baby powder.