The plan was that we would have a beautiful baby who would give us dimpled smiles when we needed to be entertained. At other times she would entertain herself.
The first couple of days put us on alert as to how life would change. I was recovering in my hospital room and D was with me. We had earlier talked about how we would have the baby rooming-in with us instead of keeping him in the nursery to promote bonding and prevent him from catching infections other babies may have.
This became the first of the noble parenting rules we were happy to break. (I suspect there are more we are going to keep breaking).
I was tired, in pain and deeply in need of a continuous twenty four period of sleep. Yet when the baby was in the room, all we could do was to stare at him wondering if he was ok. Not to mention babies have a wide range of noises designed to keep the new parent on edge. We quickly sent him back to the nursery and settled down to rest. However it was soon clear that the baby had to be fed every two-three hours and that meant I would not get more than an hour or two to nap. Everyone advised that the way I had to handle this was by sleeping when the baby slept.
A brilliant plan with one flaw. The last time I had slept in one-two hour stretches myself was when I was a baby. This meant over thirty years of practice of getting my eight hours had to be ignored. Ha.
Strangely, six weeks later I am doing exactly that. Sleeping when the baby naps and not doing too badly. I think this is what is called survival instinct.
A baby’s digestive system is a fairly straightforward mechanism. They eat and then they poo. Sometimes doing both at the same time (Yes, disgusting). After we got back home, we were a little concerned that the baby had not done a repeat performance of his pooping for a couple of days. Anxious, we finally called up the doc and made an appointment for the afternoon. Then, lo behold, a spectacular performance occurred in the morning. ‘The baby has pooped’, the cry rang out from D, who was in charge of diapering. I repeated it to everyone in the house and ran to see with the eagerness of a Beatles fan of yesteryears. I was glowing with motherly pride. Infact I was glowing with pride about how I had such natural motherly instincts that I could glow with motherly pride at the thought of my baby pooping.
Then I saw the actual job and gagged.
Unfortunately my ‘natural’ motherly instinct still finds diapering a bit loathsome and considering we have just embarked on a journey of a million diaper changes, this is a bit tricky. For now, I am happily letting D or my mom do the needful most of the times.
Most of my friends entered motherhood long before me. Most of them also call a spade a spade. So I was prepared for the hardships of having a baby. Sleepless nights, constant crying, no social life, yada yada.
My friends were right and how. There is no understanding what ‘sleepless nights’ mean till one gets to experience them. When you stagger out of your bed bleary eyed at 3 a.m. night after night, you really, really wish you were in a parallel universe where you did not have to do this.
Yet, what I had not managed to figure out from them was the utter joy of having a baby. This, like the sleepless nights, can perhaps only be experienced to be understood.
When our little fellow emerged into the world and was tossed on my chest, I experienced a moment of ecstasy so profound, I am not sure I have been there before or if I will ever be there again. D, later told me that he had never seen me look so happy.
The ecstasy may never be repeated but there is still plenty of joy. Watching a baby’s gassy smiles, watching him roll his eyes upwards, watching him stretch before sleeping, watching him look innocent after a poop explosion. Everything is so undeniably cute.
I think it gets better. Now, he has started to recognise me and flashes big grins when he sees me at close quarters. I feel like a million dollars when he does that.
Here I was all set for the hardships of having a child but here I am, a totally smitten mother.