Pregnancy for Idiots: Contest no. 1

It’s about time we had some fun with our pregnancy stories.

Of course, you will, when you read my book, I’m Pregnant, Not Terminally Ill, You Idiot!, but let’s do a countdown till it’s actually out there, for all of you to devour and share.

So here is an idea:

Post your most idiotic pregnancy story/moment/episode here on the facebook page of the book here and the winner gets a copy of the book signed by me, couriered to you anywhere in India. Come on people, spread the word, and get your friends to participate and win! But remember to keep it short. We don’t want women to go into labour reading it!

Go for it!

 

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Much ado about the boob

Just as the hedonism of singledom was measured by serial dating and your ability to play the field, the benchmark of motherhood seems to be: How much milk can your breasts produce?
By the time you are barely done gloating over your newly acquired we-don’t-need-no-underwire boobs, there is a whole big lactation war out there waiting to be fought and won. It is an area where advice will come gushing even if sometimes, the milk
won’t.

Lactation is big business. So are lactation laddoos, special barfis doused in ghee, and dairy-rich food to make you sick. I later found out that all you need is a wholesome diet, and perhaps just enough fluid to quench your thirst – whether it’s juices, soups, water-rich fruit, or herbal teas. It’s quite simple really. The more you feed, the more you make.
But, like many other women, I too was struck by the Methi Police.
It started with an aunt whose daughter had given birth just a few months earlier and she was the current custodian of all things lactation in the family.
‘Ask her to have methi dosas and methi sabzi everyday. Also methi in her dal, soup, maybe salad too.’ She told my mother. My mother told me. I barked.
‘But I am producing enough for the baby, thank you!’
‘What’s the harm with more milk?’
My mother was clearly on a methi mission for the next few days. A suspicious bottle of fenugreek tablets made its appearance. Soon followed methi laddoos, methi parathas, methi dosas, methi kadhi, methi paneer and what have you.
And before I was fenugreeked out of my bones, a screech of caution from a friend arrived. ‘Stop this methi bullshit, else your perspiration and breath will smell of methi and that’s the end of your sex life!’
All methi went out of the window, even though the sex life was nowhere back in sight.

(An excerpt from my book, I’m Pregnant, Not Terminally Ill, You Idiot! Read more about it here.)

Thinking good thoughts, my a#$%*!

In short, nothing in your life has changed, except that there is a spectator inside you who is taking it all in. The only way you can become the epitome of calm is if you stop going to work, travelling anywhere, talking to anyone, and just staying put and listening to Bach at home. Sure, there were fleeting moments of peace and quiet, when the husband would indulge me with his famous calf massage, pour me an occasional glass of wine or beer (yes!), and we would talk to the baby in dulcet tones. It felt like this was the best time of my life and I had never been so tranquil or centred before.
Till I went to work the next day. And found that life and the universe around me was pretty much the same as before. People were still being mean to animals. Trees were still being cut randomly. Drivers were still driving with their eyes shut and their brains locked up somewhere. Rich brats in posh cars were still pretending that a pot-hole-laden road was the expressway. Colleagues were still slacking off. Telemarketing pests and PR executives were still calling you at 2 p.m. Stock broking companies were still bulk-texting me hot tips at 6 a.m. My mother was still whining about my father.
In the midst of all this, you are expected to be this immaculate, calm mother who will give birth to this angel of a baby who will do everything right, stay happy, never cry and always sleep when you want it to. Such babies and mothers don’t exist and the sooner you learn that, the better it is for you. I found that when I came to terms with my imperfections instead of trying to fight them, I was able to be a much better mother.

(An excerpt from my book, “I’m Pregnant, Not Terminally Ill, You Idiot!”)

View the trailer here: http://youtu.be/DHKMZWyLwjI

 

Boob-side story

Before maternity chic became official, women spent a large part of their pregnancy camouflaging their bumps under huge tents or oversized clothes, and ended up looking like bag ladies. Today it’s all about preg-couture, or inventing ways to highlight your new assets- your bump for sure. And definitely your new curves, boobs, hair, skin – whatever looks better than before.

Soon after you cross your ‘look-I-am-still-the-same-size’ zone, which could take three to five months, your anatomy starts protesting. The first shrieks come from your breasts, which are obviously not too happy in the same old bras, however sexy they make you feel. Underwire, which was once the champion of the cleavage (especially for the small-busted), is now the enemy. Every time I wore one of my favourite La Senza bras, I felt breathless, almost in bondage. Sports bras were the next choice for comfort, but your breasts feel strangely vulnerable and unprotected under them.
Eventually, there comes a point when you give in to the ‘support bra’ – those clinically displayed, non-sexy, colourless gear (‘only black and white available,’ they will tell you). When you first look at them, you reel in shock. Which self-respecting woman of moderate style would wear them? They look like your grandmommy’s bras, cover most of your breasts and a large part of your chest. And cleavage? What cleavage? Ergo, you feel like a nun. But, like hell, they are comfortable and make your boobs feel secure and looked after again.

If you found support bras gauche, wait till you get to the nursing bra stage. These are fitted with torture straps (or so they appear to be) in front that allow you to release your boobs, one at a time, without having to undo the bra. I thought it was too much technology for a bra, but a few months later, when I was trying to balance a baby on my boob, prop up a feeding pillow and unhook a bra at the same time in order to nurse, I was thankful. I personally found them comfortable, but opinion seems to be divided on that.

(An excerpt from my book, “I’m Pregnant, Not Terminally Ill, You Idiot!“)

Fertility politics and other horror stories

Pregnancy is not always cute. Not to everyone. Because the one thing a pregnant woman reminds you of, in an in-your-face sort of way, is that she is pregnant and you are not. Or that she is married (for the purpose of convenience, I haven’t included pregnancies out of wedlock) and you are not. Or she is fertile and you are not. Or she is having sex and you are not. Or she’s in for the long haul and you are not. Or she is simply ready and you are not.
Unlike marriage, boyfriends, affairs or relationships, which can be camouflaged and on which information can be shared only on a need-to-know basis, pregnancy is out there and very public. On one hand, it makes things look bright and beautiful (at least to the couple involved). But it also changes the dynamics of relationships – at work, among friends, in your social circle, in the family – sometimes resulting in turbulence.

If you have a full-time job, you’ll be spending at least a third of your day at work. A pregnant woman with her belly prop somewhat rocks the oestrogen atmosphere in the space  around her. When I got pregnant, it was almost like I had betrayed the rest of my ilk at work and would no longer be synchronised with their biological cycles.
It was official. I didn’t belong. I was an outcast. I ate too much, peed too much, tired too easily, sat too much, felt sleepy a lot, yawned too much, and smiled a lot. No one told me any gossip anymore, hardly anyone bitched to me, no one asked me if I wanted to ‘hang out’ after work. People tend to think you are too zoned out to want any of this when you are pregnant.
Most other mommies at work pretended they didn’t remember what it was to be pregnant (if they had a baby three or more years ago). They looked at me like I was part of some lofty science experiment. It’s like smug-marrieds totally forgetting what it was like to be single.
On the other hand, to single women, I was a reality check. Is this what it will come to? Can they see themselves doing this? Or does it totally scare the shit out of them?

(An excerpt from my book “I’m Pregnant, Not Terminally Ill, You Idiot!“)

I’m Pregnant, Not Terminally Ill, You Idiot!

I'm Pregnant, Not Terminally Ill, You Idiot!Today, I held my second baby in my hands. It felt surreal, perhaps a bit more surreal than when I held Re for the first time. It also took longer to make than Re, but it was immensely more satisfying. The book will be in the stores soon, and you can pre-order on any of the portals below at fabulous discounts. Here is an excerpt, to begin with:

**

‘You will know when you become a mother,’ my mother always told me.
‘Why should I wait so long? Tell me now, I will understand,’ the cheeky me would always retort.
‘No, you won’t,’ she would say, almost resignedly. ‘You just wait and watch.’
And so I waited.
It is very difficult to point out exactly when motherhood begins.
Is it when you finally decide you don’t care if the bra is ugly or not, but it bloody well be comfortable?
Is it when your husband’s boxers suddenly become the most comfortable underwear ever?
Is it when you suppress the urge to scream ‘ASSHOLE!’ at the biker who overtook you from the left in peak traffic, thinking, What if the baby hears?
Is it when pulling your boob out in public becomes the most natural thing to do, and you don’t care if the taxi driver is taking a good look in the rear-view mirror while your partner is desperately looking for something to cover you with?
Is it when you realise that your breast is the solution to all cries, big and small?
Or does motherhood begin when, a week after you missed your period, you finally decided to take the pregnancy test?
Or when you surreptitiously bought the pregnancy kit from the chemist, rushed home to douse it with your urine, waited
with bated breath for the verdict, and decided, yes, there must be something growing inside me?
Or when you were pacing up and down the house, waiting for your husband to come home so you could tell him, ‘I have some news!’?
Or when you held a report in your hands that enlisted the potency of the pregnancy hormone in your body?
Or when the sonologist pointed to something on the screen and said, ‘Can you see that? That is the baby’s spine!’? When you squinted your eyes, trying to look intelligently at a visual you could make no head or tail of? When you mumbled a ‘Yes!’ just so you don’t end up looking like a cold, non-maternal bitch?
Or does it all begin when you felt the first sign of movement within you? The first kick?
Or the day you ate an ice-cream cone and heard someone devouring it inside you within seconds?
Or when you suppressed the urge to run across the street with your very pregnant belly and decided to wait for the green signal instead?
Or when you were handed, along with a baby, a card that read, ‘Infant of (your name here)’ at the hospital, post-delivery?
Or when you turned over in bed, and decided you have to be careful, as you might roll a tiny someone else over, or crush him or her?
Or when someone infinitesimally small latched on to you and began to suckle, and you and your husband gave each other a we-made-this look?
It is hard to decide exactly when you become a mother.
But this book is not about motherhood really. For starters, it is about you, and not about the baby. The you that sometimes gets
lost in the whole pregnancy and motherhood journey. The you that can be angry, sad, silly, excited, confused, wicked, rude, girl, slut and everything un-mommy. The you that is spending lonely nights, tossing around in bed with a heavy belly, while the husband is watching television. The you that is silently cursing, muttering, wondering why sleep is so elusive when the world is expecting you to ‘talk to the baby’ or ‘think good thoughts’.
The you that sometimes looks at your significant other and wonders: Is that the father of my child?
The you that shudders to think how much your life is going to change with motherhood. And how irreversibly.
The you that hasn’t really fathomed how to do motherhood.
The you that sometimes wants to make it all go away – the man, the marriage, the pregnancy – and be footloose and fancy-free again.
The you that knows that soon, your goals and ambitions may not be a priority and that you will always have to put someone else’s interest before yours.
The you that is excited and petrified about motherhood, yet has no clue what it really means.
The you that will wonder (mostly in anger), Now why didn’t anyone tell me that?
The you that will never be the same you again.
This book is about the Jekyll and Hyde of being pregnant. And being a mother. It’s about the happy stuff, but it’s also about the ugly stuff – the stuff that makes you mean, even vicious, while still feeling oodles of love for the thing you just created. The stuff that makes it okay to kill anyone who comes in your way of doing things the way you think is right for your baby.
Because it’s far from rosy out there. And it’s not about knowing when your ‘foetus’ will be the shape of a lemon, an avocado, an aubergine or a pumpkin. Or when will it grow a heart, a brain,
lungs or kidneys. This book is not about finding out how to get your body or your sex life back.
I only summoned the courage to write it when my husband read a sort of chapter and told me it had him riveted. And he wasn’t even pregnant.
Perhaps it should have been written during my pregnancy. Or during my baby’s initial months, in real time, when one could feel it all, much more intensely.
Perhaps. But it would have been too raw, too real, too debilitating.
A friend even suggested I get pregnant again and do it like a diary – he just escaped getting disfigured by me.
So it took time. It took healing. It took really long to feel ‘me’
again.

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The beatific mom and other scams

( I wrote this as a column for Hindustan Times  Chickwit in July 2010. I was a new mother then, although I feel as much of a newbie now)

 

Something is expected of women when they become mothers. They are supposed to turn into these calm, benevolent souls, anesthetized at some level to negative emotions like anger, greed, ambition, scorn, spite and other such, and instead acquire calming auras and kind bosoms that will forgive all.

No such luck with me. Although I did have some fleeting out-of-body experiences that belied my true self. So the husband is frequently nonplussed to find that my fangs are still as sharp, the mother continues to pray to her gods and goddesses to keep me calm and help me mind that tongue, the sister continues to soothe me with Reiki, the homeopath wonders why I am still keen to change the world and friends are constantly surprised to find that I haven’t lost my spunk and motherhood hasn’t changed me in a bad way.

Needless to say, I am a total misfit in mother-toddler groups where people ‘bond’ over song, dance and babies, and I always have this what-am-I-doing-with-these-women feeling. I don’t see women or individuals, what I see is a mommy blur, and what I hear is a non-voice. And then I realise how much more of all this there is to do, with playgroups, nurseries, play-dates, schools and whatnot. But the son loves my feistiness and my quirks, and flashes his million dollar smile in approval, so all is well.

I am reminded of a recent incident where my reluctant fangs were forced to be on display again. I receive a ‘to many’ email promoting a website that does reviews of mommy-baby products and is looking for “experienced mommy writers” to do them and purports to “pay handsomely” for your posts apart from showering you with freebies. I do something totally out of character. I hit “yes, I am interested.” Now I am not a freebie girl, but strange things happen when you become a mommy. For instance you buy a packet of chicken nuggets for he-who-loves-his-meat just because there’s a free Toy story toy tucked inside somewhere (which I still haven’t found by the way).

Back to the mass email. I get a reply saying that I have to send a sample review and if they approve it, I will be paid a princely sum of Rs 100 per review. Now, you will well understand why this could have aggravated me, so I will not go into that. What amazes me is the reply to my aggravation, which says that most moms do this not for the money, but for the greater good of the community, and how nice it would be to exchange information like this, and so may I please appreciate the larger purpose of the whole thing? What further amazes me is that not a single mommy on that list speaks up.

I pray for my fangs to retract. They don’t.