Friday, June 12, 2009

Of big bodies, short tempers and a lot in between

I’m finally putting pen to paper about my pregnancy -- before the first trimester becomes too distant and the third becomes too overwhelming.
I’ve always disliked numbers, but couldn’t have imagined counting could get so cumbersome -- 2 weeks, 15 weeks, 24 weeks (that’s now)...going right up to 40 (hopefully). I’m bored already, and the larger third is still to go. Sighing audibly, complaining loudly and cursing softly pretty much sums up what I’ve been doing in the last six months. First, it was about how sick I felt all the time, followed by how tired and hungry I perpetually was and now it is how fat, ugly, hideous, gross and clumsy I’ve become. This last bit, I reckon, is unlikely to change for a long time to come.
I’ve said this to everybody who’ll care to listen, but I’ll say this again for the record. Coming to terms with my changing (read, fattening) body has been, by far, the hardest part of my pregnancy. For someone who’s had weight issues all her life, sitting back and watching to pounds pile is just short of torturous. Everyday, I stand in front of the open almirah and groan and groan about how nothing fits me anymore, how I’ve nothing to wear and how I look so disgustingly fat. And to add insult to injury, Viren’s suddenly back to his diet and gymming regime, so I feel like I’m looking like his aunt with each passing day. My g-talk status messages bear enough testimony to my agonised body image every day. Some of them in the last few months have been:
· Ask and you shall receive
· Hog-wards Express
· Shifting centre of gravity
· In the thick of the kick
· Is seeing kickboxing in a new light
· Too posh to push?
· The belle and the belly
There have been many more like this, which my gtalk friends might remember. These messages have made for some interesting conversations with some of my long-lost friends. Most of them went on congratulatory trips which ended with them asking me to send some preggo snaps and me vehemently refusing to do so. I ask them what kind of morbid pleasure will they get by looking at me when I’m at my ugliest.
Through these conversations, I’ve realised how men and women are fundamentally different in their perception of pregnancy. My non-mom friends insisted for a while on the pictures, then laughed at my vehemence and then retracted with some secret ‘tsk-tsking’ about my fatness. The mommy friends went right into the advise mode, enlightened me with some dos and donts, shared some of their experiences making each one of mine seem oh-so-matter-of-factly, and finally signed off with saying I’d treasure the pictures two years hence. Yeah, right!
Men, on the other hand, both -- daddies and non-daddies -- switched to a completely unknown side: the kind and romantic one. Considering that most of my male friends have entered my life on a warpath, in a battle of wits, kind words were rare in our interactions. But once they found out that I was preggers, they seemed to pull out their kid gloves (yes, pun intended) and started pussyfooting around me, as if harsh words would harm the baby. In a way, it was nice to be treated courteously, protectively even, but it got boring after a while. Political correctness does that to conversations and relationships -- it cools them off. And what one is left with is two no-imagination lines as excuses for a conversation : “Hey! How u doin?” and “Ok, take care!”
Pregnancy also is, perhaps, the biggest stamp of ownership on a woman by her man and therefore acts as an excellent repellent. All my ‘flirt-friends’ seem to have disappeared off the face of this planet. Speaking of which, I’m brought back to the man of my life. Viren has changed and remained unchanged in a radical number of ways since January. from the ‘selfish’ man I married has emerged a very caring husband, who’d get up early for me each morning in the first part of my pregnancy to get me that prescribed glass of milk and biscuits so that I wouldn’t throw up. But when the milk and biscuits jumped out of my queasy stomach and I came staggering out of the loo, he’d stand there lovingly with a glass a cold water in his hands. He scolded me for my wrong posture when I complained about my backache even as he massaged it and bought me a pipe to facilitate bum-washing in the Indian loo that’s becoming increasingly difficult to use. Yes, that was the first ever gift he’s bought me after we got married! LOL!
But just as I began to lap up the attention and probably ‘take it for granted’ (a very frequent accusation I am faced with), he stiffens up and reminds me that I should be grateful. It hurts me, but also makes me realise that I should indeed be thankful for the things he does for me, even as I hear stories of unfeeling husbands.
I enjoy the love Vir lavishes on me, but it scares me to see that all he does is strictly for me, and not for our baby. His involvement with the baby goes only as far as the sonography clinic where he sees the little one wiggling around and feeling the baby kick in my tummy once in a while.
Here is perhaps another basic difference between a man and a woman. my ‘small’ boss aptly puts it -- a woman becomes a mother from the time she conceives, whereas fatherhood comes to a man only after the baby is born and spent time with. I just hope the feeling of fatherhood comes upon Viren sooner than later.
For me, of course, motherhood makes its presence felt all the time. Whether it is in sitting awkwardly with my legs apart, or in finding a comfortable position to sleep , or in seeming my tummy vibrate, motherhood is now a 24X7 thingy. parenthood, they say, tries the patience of even the most patient. So it’s hardly a surprise that I’m caught in these desperate mood swings every other day. One day I’m happy and full of gratitude to God that everything has been going good so far. The next day, I’m this grouchy creature who half wished the baby didn’t exist, cursing it for all the misery it’s causing my self-esteem. God, though, keeps up his vigilance. Just as I am getting too vocal with my viciousness, He reminds me of the great gift of health I’ve being given. I end up reading about or hearing stories of the hundreds of women who are either unable to conceive or carry the baby to term or worse things. It takes me back to the time I thought I could not conceive and I remember how terrible that feeling was in comparison to these little tests of pregnancy.
Two people who are super excited about these goings on are Chinu and Sheetal -- the two friends of mine who really love and care for me. Their happiness are for real. It feels good to share my little expectations and frustrations with them. It is fun to speculate around them about the big question -- will it be a boy or a girl. my folks are pretty much convinced it’ll be a boy --- thanks to the bucktoothed family friend cum astrologer’s prediction on my wedding day. Other experienced eyes have also been murmuring something about it being a boy because my tummy is ‘high’ and I’m ‘dark(er)’. Somewhere in the past few months, I’ve also managed to convince myself that it’ll be a boy so that I’m not disappointed if it really is one. But I cling on to the hope for that little daughter I’ve always wanted. In the same breath, I tell myself that whatever it is, I’m never going to do this again. I’m no mother material (at least not yet) and a once-in-a-lifetime experience is good enough for me and bad enough for my vanity. When, oh, when, will I get to go back to the gym? But while I can’t, I’ll religiously pop my pills, grumble about the size and whisper quiet apologies to my baby for being mean once in a while.