In any Indian household, the celebration of special events means togetherness. The Eid celebration that year also happened as planned, but with more vigour and excitement. Just like every year on Eid, a Salman Khan (Bhai) flick kicks it off at the box-office, in same annual ritualistic manner, we also kick off the celebration at home with the new family (hum saath saath hain!). This year was different though, I was pregnant, and travelling was questionable.
Travelling can give any mom to be sleepless nights. In our case, we were supposed to take a 6 hour long journey. Even though we had the option of taking the overnight train (which is better, because you can rest you back), my husband and I weighed our options and decided to make the chair car, day time journey. The thought of using public urinals frequently (as the baby inside starts growing it puts pressure on the bladder) especially in the night made me dismiss the overnight journey. The Shatabdi mail did not disappoint (this country has its railways figured!). We were offered good quantity and timely meals, keeping my stomach full throughout the journey. The seats were large and with good leg space (though I missed carrying a pillow to support my back). There were minor issues, but we managed. Having said that, I suggest instead of ignoring travel altogether and self-imposing a lock-down during pregnancy, small changes here and there can make the journey easy.
When we reached Bhopal, I reminisced about how during the initial years of our marriage going about the city was a routine. The city is famous for its two lakes known as upper lake and the lower lake. Our post dinner long drives were mostly visiting the bada talaab which could make anyone feel the quintessential freshness. My observations this time hovered from noticing the transition from a free spirited life of cozying couples (obviously well within the conservative boundaries of the city culture) to the families with small kids (even infants) running hither thither while the parents happily captured these loveable moments.
The second trimester in the pregnancy is the easiest part of the whole 9 months. The initial discomfort of morning sickness starts to lessen. The appetite begins to grow (which means hogging on delicacies without guilt). In case of some ladies, the baby bump starts to show (be prepared for the pleasant smiles from strangers – hopefully women). The news (bun in the oven) can be made public without any fear. So, my mom in law officially introduced me to the close relatives as ‘the mom to be’. The warmth of good wishes started to flow.
The inevitable part of any pregnancy is advice and stories from experiences (solicited and sometimes unsolicited), which people around you begin pouring. Even though I was anyway never into heels, I was advised against it. My mother in law kept a check on my water consumption (very crucial for the floating being inside me). My father-in-law took the role of the provider, getting various fruits daily – especially oranges (incorrigible craving back then). Of-course dear husband was always around to check on me for any stress, especially when I was at the in-laws. This period gave me a perspective about the pampering a woman starts to receive when she conceives. It is overwhelming when everyone around you is being so caring and loving, as long as your mood swings are in check. I don’t think any woman will mind being the center of the attention (reality check – nothing lasts forever hence enjoy while it lasts!).
I decided to explore the streets of Bhopal amidst the Eid festivities. There is no doubt that the ambience of the city matched with my inner feels, a sense of peace and happy me. The smell of fresh dry sewaiyan emanated from every alternate shop. The decked up streets of the Bittan market with varied items on display gave a classic overview of the city culture. An important thing while venturing out during pregnancy is to keep a check on one’s apparel choices. The free flowing anarkali kurtis with matching juttis were the best option to go around for me, without fretting about the city heat (and sometimes the heat within). I took advantage of the pampering and shopped enough to satisfy the shopaholic in me. One of the special buys were the beaded batuas (pearl embossed purses), a specialty of the bazaar and I got two, one for myself and a miniature version for the baby to be.
As the months pass, the body starts demanding more attention. I was spending major part of my day at work and so I changed few things to suit my comfort. Ergonomically speaking, I got my seating changed and realized the value of a good chair with a cushiony back and an extra small chair to rest my swelling feet. Thus, making my workplace a comfortable place to be for the coming months.
The month of June and July in an academic institute is relatively relaxed, just what a pregnant woman dreams of. I tried to relax as much as possible. I resorted to reading and believe me so, the days seemed to pass quickly. I was reading different genres in fiction and non- fiction. Elon Musk gave me an insight into massive space possibilities and the ‘Girl Next Door’ was a fast paced gripping thriller. I also experimented reading some Indian writers like Durjoy Dutta and dealt with rough days by quoting excerpts from ‘The Subtle art of not giving a Fuck’ (something that will stay with you in the early days of motherhood as well).
One book that stood out for me was Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’. It broadened my perspective about womanhood (before plunging into motherhood). As a woman we are conditioned to fill somebody’s shoes, no matter how tight they are; and act like nothing happened. There is high level of expectations and we end up falling in the trap of presenting the perfect us in everything we do. We tend to tire ourselves in the process. I made a promise to continue treating myself with as much love and care as I was during the pregnancy days.
Side note: The arrival of a baby is most definitely a beautiful addition to life, but what a woman should not forget is her own identity. Whether she is filling roles of a wife, a mother, or a top notch employee in her workplace, she should strive to be a happy person first.
I literally jotted down some hard core points mentioned in the book. Whether those were implemented or not, well you will find out in the future blogs. My advice to anybody waiting for the baby would be this – If you are into reading, then do it for your mental peace. It will not only take your mind away from an ensuing anxiety and the discomfort, but will give you perspective on there being more to life than just you and your baby. Look what I did there, I gave an unsolicited suggestion, looks like the pregnancy grew on me too and now I think I am also worthy of passing on recommendations!