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by Rasana Atreya
I didn’t realize how unprepared I was for motherhood, until I hobbled into our home, husband in tow, the baby clutched to my chest. The baby’s gender was a shock to begin with. I have one sister, followed by 9 girl cousins. The fact that the baby could be a boy had simply not occurred to me. I’d not even bothered with boy names! (Fortunately, my husband had.)
In fact, when my husband helped the baby into the world and announced the gender, I don’t think it sank in for a full minute. I started blankly at my husband’s grinning face till he brought over the baby. That’s when I had my first revelation - babies could be boys too!
Back home with the baby, I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t lie down, I couldn’t anything – if you’re one of those who’ve had an episiotomy, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
My husband, meanwhile, was so excited to be a dad, that when the baby needed his first diaper change, he was quite beside himself. I was happy to let him do the honors. My husband bent over, and undid the diaper – and got a direct hit from our son. The baby had decided it was a good time to pee. My husband, not having been episiotomized, was ecstatic!
6 weeks later, when I could finally settle comfortably on my butt, colic happened.
My husband was of course back at work. He’d come home only at 7:00 p.m. By that time, I’d be wearing out a path from the front of the door to the end of the street, while my son cried and cried and cried. He did this everyday for 6 months, until he suddenly decided to stop.
Two and a half years down the road my daughter happened. If my daughter had been my first born, she’d have been an only child – there’s no doubt in my mind.
Since I’d had a pelvic-bone fracture a couple weeks before, I was forced to go the C-section route. I say forced, because after the horror of my first labor, I wanted to see if all that pushing-and-panting really got easier the second time around. But alas, that was not to be!
Anyway, C-section was duly scheduled. And then, I went into labor. (Can’t tell you how much THAT pissed me off). So in between labor pains I was prepped for surgery. My daughter was born raving hungry. Half hour after birth, well before my anesthesia had worn off, she’d polished off two bottles of formula. So much for mother-child bonding over colustrum!
My mom-in-law came over to help. She spent the night in my room, eager to help care for the baby. When my daughter got up, the baby gave such a loud cry, the nurse came running in. She looked accusingly at us. We swore up and down it was nothing we did. The nurse looked her over, but could not find anything obvious. In the meantime, the baby kept up her periodic eruptions.
Finally the pediatrician was called. My daughter obliged with another of those terrifyingly heartrending cries. My pediatrician looked at me pityingly and smirked, “Your daughter is fine. She’s just loud!”
That little terror is now 3 ½, and my son will turn 6 this December. My son is still whiny, my daughter still loud. And together, they’re something else. Yeah, motherhood is rough.
I still wouldn’t have it any other way.