Close your eyes and think of that moment that rocked your life, one that changed you inside out, one that changed the way people looked at you forever after. Feel the emotions that drown you when you think of that moment in time. Enjoy the paradox as you struggle to decide whether it was another lifetime or did time fly away too fast. If you are a mother, it is most likely you are thinking of that moment in which your baby was laid in your arms for the first time ever!
One year back on a breezy Bangalore evening, amidst surging impatience and excruciating pain – the love of my life had arrived. There is a plethora of useful literature that guide new mothers on cruising through the first year and the objective of this post is not to compete with those at any level. It is only a chronicle of what I can recall of this fantastic new adventure. It is my humble dedication to new moms around the world who are all rocking their new job, and express my admiration (and envy) for any mother who is able to do it all and still look graceful in the process!
The Year One Journal
It is funny how that first meeting seems a lot more romantic post-facto! The actual moment, real time, was more about body fluids than brain waves. The only emotion I recall is one of relief actually, to have successfully delivered the whole thing, with all expected parts, to the right address. The minutes and seconds of that day fuse together in my memory as one of heightened anxieties and awe-inspiring discoveries. There was that reassuring feeling that others, more experienced people, can now take care of her. But also a quick realization, dipped in morbid fear of inadequacy, that despite all the cumulative experience in that room, the only person whose help she wanted was the naive, uninitiated ‘Me’!
So I got over the baby jaundice debacle (a more common problem than you would think), learnt to appreciate that poo has no color/texture/frequency bar, started to feel some amount of control in the first fifteen days – when BAM – Self meet Colic, Colic doesn’t care! I have this indelible memory of my better half running around my living room, with a screaming baby in his arms, singing ‘Bhaag Milkha’ for motivation, at 3am in the morning. We made innumerable trips to the ER only to be sent back with dismissive smirks that roused in my heart serious doubts about the efficacy of medical science. I swear I will personally root for a Nobel Prize for anyone who finds a solution to baby colic. These were months plagued with severe sleep deprivation, self-doubt and self pity. And then one day towards the end of this phase, my baby girl put all that to rest by looking deep into our eyes and spreading her mouth into a big, warm toothless grin.
In the world of gaming, most great games wedge in an easy level two to give the gamer a false sense of achievement, to hook him in and make him a slave. Months 3-6 constitute level two of parenthood – the baby started sleeping nights (OMG, sleep!), she could move in a couple of dimensions only (basically immobile) and was a charmer. And my hubby & I thought we had got the hang of it, almost snuffing arrogantly at parents who were struggling with kids any bigger than the size of their forearm. I floated back to work considering everything settled and tucked in.
Thank heavens that a crawling, giggling baby is such a heart-warming, gut wrenching, adorable vision. ‘Cause how else are you going to unconditionally forgive (secretly enjoy even) the shenanigans of a human being that singlehandedly turns your home upside down. One morning baby was in the kitchen swimming in a pool of cooking oil. By the time I salvaged the situation, she was gagging on a rose petal beside an overturned vase. And this wsnst even the worst day. The highpoint was that i dropped a couple of dress sizes without having to see the insides of a gym building.
There were moments were I fell short of the ideal mother and yelled at baby to behave. There were moments when I wished she was a quieter baby. But I would happily buy a lifetime of her mischief in exchange for every second of her suffering. My baby had a hard time at daycare – picking up infections and getting low with fever in the last lap of the year. But she recovered and was alert enough to pick her first word cognitively. It was, wait for it,…. apple! No mama, no papa – just Apple, which obviously led to my very logical motherly conclusion that she is the reincarnation of Jobs.
And thus was spent my last year – learning and unlearning, adapting and evolving.
Happy birthday sweetheart! And thank you for being patient with me as I grow into the mother that you deserve.