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Making pregnancy meaningful
Shefali Tsabary |
May 15, 2006
First-time mother and toddler-survivor Shefali Tsabary's book, It's A Mom, is a refreshing guide for all those who are going to be moms for the first time. We present an excerpt:
One of the things I should have been told during those first months of pregnancy was: 'Quit worrying about what is going to happen. You will never know that. All you know is the present moment. Focus on you.'
Part II: Are you ready for motherhood?
If only I had known the precious months of pregnancy were really meant to be about me; not a million thoughts about what it was going to be like with my baby, just me. That I was only going to have nine more months to be the person I knew myself to be. That these were the last few months in which I would be able to connect to who I was because, God knew it, once the baby came, I would lose myself completely. These were the last few months I had to prepare for the surrender of the self that motherhood would bring.
Yes, these were important months, better spent on myself than wasted on the thousand illusions I had about what it was going to be like. Of course, since I didn't know this then, I happily wasted them on my illusions.
Examine your expectations
If there is one lesson I have learnt through my journey into motherhood, it is to examine my expectations -- constantly. These include expectations of the world at large, my husband, my child and, of course, myself.
We often put ourselves under the greatest mental pressure to reach some sort of ideal -- someone we believe our mothers to be, perhaps. Having watched countless Hindi movies, we have inculcated the image of the 'perfect woman'. Of course this woman is almost always a flawless mother and we decide that, like her, we too will be the best, the saintliest, the strongest and the most sacrificing.
I can still remember the great fantasies I used to have about the kind of mother I would be -- gentle, patient and all-knowing. I would know exactly the right thing to say and would never, ever lose my patience or temper. I would always be available and put my child first.
The thought that I would ever be anything other than this kind of mother never crossed my mind. Ah! The sweet indulgence of fantasy!
We imagine that through our baby we will feel the sense of completeness we have been longing for. We imagine that it will solder the distance between our husbands and ourselves.
How wrong we are!
Our baby will do nothing of the sort. On the best day it will bring us great joy but also bestow in equal doses a great deal of exhaustion, impatience and despair.
We will expect the special attention from our husbands to continue forever and we couldn't be more wrong. Very soon they will be as tired as we are as impatient, and just as harried. So we must enjoy their increased affection and even demand it for it will be short-lived.
And we mustn't forget to savour in slow motion the attention given to us by our mother-in-laws, for one day we will think we imagined it all. But, most important, while we watch our pile of conscious or not-so-conscious expectations pile high, we should be prepared for having almost none of them being met.
I hesitate as I write this because while educating ourselves is vital in this journey of unknowns, it can also serve to tailor even more rigid expectations of what our unique birthing experience needs to look like -- or should look like. So I caution all who are at this stage of the process: educate yourselves, but also watch out that you don't box yourselves into a tight corner, hoping for your experience to be exactly like what you have read or seen on TV.
As far as is feasible, you should explore all avenues open to you regarding the final birth, such as having a nurse or a mid-wife present, or delivering at home, in the hospital or the local birthing centre. These options are more limited in India than in other countries but, nonetheless, it is important for you to at least be aware of all your options.
You need to be as active as possible in your medical care and not presume that the doctor knows best. All too often we (and our husbands) simply relinquish our care to doctors. This is not always a wise thing to do. We should ask questions and challenge assumptions if we need to.
Researching the Internet about other women's experiences was particularly useful for me in at least imagining the kind of 'woman in labour' I wanted to be. I wanted to be calm yet focused, have long showers and be surrounded by music and poetry.
I used the word 'imagine', right? You guessed correctly; this is where it all stayed -- at the level of the imagination!
However, my research did help me dictate to my doctor when I wanted to take pain medication, which kind, and how often. Read: A lot, any kind and as often as possible!
Part II: Are you ready for motherhood?
Excerpted from It's A Mom by Shefali Tsabary, published by Penguin India, Rs 195.
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