August 16, 2009
Week 34 – day 1
It’s not yet ‘any day now’, but boredom and certain new perspectives have pushed me to this diary entry of sorts – my fourth in the nine months of pregnancy -- a time for assessment when my life seems to have come to a lull.
August 13 and 14 came and went; and so did Janmashtami celebrations for this year. Also has gone is my half-wish that the baby would be born on either of the days. Yes, that would have been asking for a rather fragile preemie, but for anyone who knows me even by half a measure, would understand my wish. And now that it has gone, I’m perhaps half-glad it didn’t happen. I was reading the papers on the morning of the 15th and came across an article about how the demand for elective births had risen by almost 50 per cent the two previous days. It made me feel rather silly knowing that I too was one of the thousands of wannabe Hindu ‘god-parents’– in the way of wanting my child to be born on the same day as the dark lord and imagining there was something divinely special about the kid. In any case, the number of gods and goddesses and their respective festivals is hardly a problem in this country, especially this time of the year, and I still have Ganeshotsav and Dussehra to look forward to in terms of divine birthing times. And the good thing about these two festivals is that their goodness lasts 10 whole days each. Baby, you got 20 ‘shubh’ days to choose from!
Now, it’s just countdown time with some other minor hopes and yet some more half wishes. I emphasise on the minor and the half here, because the fact that there’s little one can do to alter destiny, has been rubbed into my face very recently.
Swine flu – the fanciest new pandemic to hit the world – came to Pune sometime early last month and decided to make my beloved city its beloved city. As the number of H1N1 cases detected rose, so did the paranoia. But all hell broke loose with the first swine flu death. It began with calls from my parents – the carefully-concealed-concern-in-their-voices calls. In a week’s time, it began to sound like distress calls. ‘Have you bought a mask?’, ‘Are you wearing the mask?’, ‘Is Viren wearing a mask?’, ‘Dad’s really worried’, etc. By the time the news of the tenth swine flu death went around, my parents had hit the panic button. I was ordered to leave Pune at once; my unborn’s safety being the reason of course. So here I am, at my in-laws’ in Mumbai (where the threat is apparently lesser), in a virtual house arrest for the last 10 days, ‘quarantined’ with a lot of love. All my carefully laid-out plans to go on a maternity leave in the middle of September have gone out of the window. And from the looks of it, I’ll be forced to live here another week. Sigh.
Meanwhile, my pot (as Viren likes to call it) has been growing larger, the movements within squirmier, and my clumsiness greater. As the time for delivery comes closer, bouts of anxiety, abandon, impatience, wonder, fear and many such emotions become more frequent. There are good days and bad ones. The good ones are the one of acceptance and the bad ones of denial. Days when I can accept that my body cannot be altered before a certain time, that the pain of childbirth is something millions of women experience and survive, that Mumbai will be hot and sweaty no matter how much I wish otherwise, that it’s ok in my ‘condition’ to not be able to help my folks-in-law as much as I should be, I’m good. Days when I’m unable to accept the fatness of my face, the unfortunate reality of swine flu, the vulnerability of being a pregnant woman, the necessity of having to stay in a place that’s not home and the heat rash and swelling in my feet are bad.
Often, I try to repeat to myself mothers’ advice. ‘Enjoy your free time now, when you can. Once the baby comes, you won’t know night from day.’ So, I’ve been reading, sketching, chatting, watching TV, strolling, eating and sleeping. Basically, trying to make the most of this forced vacation. I spend a lot of time wondering also. Wondering how I’ll cope with this enormous responsibility of a new life being thrust upon me in a few weeks from now. Yes, I chose to be parent, but that choice means nothing now. Nothing, I imagine, can prepare one for assuming the mantle of parenthood. I also wonder about childbirth -- the big daddy of all pains. It’s no big deal, I say. If A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H can do it, I can do it too. I’ll be calm. I’ll not let humiliation take over all the other feelings that will be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. This is just my body. I can be objective about it. My brain is under my control. What starts, comes to an end too. And from there stems a beginning -- a brand new chapter, with a brand new person that will be our child. I wonder what destiny has planned for me. God, zara dekh lena.