My dear daughter,
This is something that I wanted to write down for a while now, and now that you are all grown up and running your own home and paying your bills, figured this would be a good time as any.
One day you and your husband will hope to grow your family. My hope is that you will re-open this letter and appreciate my two cents it contains. I cannot wait for the day for you to be a mom and go through the circle of life that we are all destined to on this earth. Maybe you will gain insight from my own story of how you and your brother and younger sister were born to me and how each of our stories are very different yet very same. It has been the same since time started.
You were born to me when I was 23 years old. You always gasp and shake your head in disbelief when you hear and in retrospect I do too. Your dad and I were very young and very alone in Belgium. Recently moved, and thank heavens for my father’s insistence on learning a foreign language while I was still in school, I managed some French. We were alone with absolutely no family or friends within any respectable distance. There was NO internet either. I know, am a dinosaur and there you go clucking your tongue at me again.
All I had as a support system was
- My gynecologist – a regal Dutch lady who spoke fairly good British English with whom I met once a month.
- My mother – whom I spoke with once a week as phone calls were quite expensive.
- Your dad – who was as clueless as I or even maybe a little more.
- My own head and my love for biology and all things medical.
- A book on pregnancy that I picked up during my 12th week.
You and your brother turned out fine and healthy, and topped the charts, much to our pride and joy.
When you decide to have your baby, things will most likely be planned and very different from my experience, and obviously too.
You live in an age where the information is flying at you and around you at all times. There’s so much of it and with all the good intentions. The internet is your good old aunties, grandmas and neighbors giving you advice, magnified million times over. There will be conflicting experiences, horror stories on pregnancy, doctors and even of the immediate family. It is but natural. Human tendency is to retain or speak up on things that have affected us adversely. The pleasant experiences don’t mark a dent naturally, unless we bring it upon ourselves to retain and hold onto. Isn’t it funny how our brains work?
I cannot tell you to stay away from it all. That would be a hard task unless you coop yourself in an ashram or the middle of an abandoned island. You will be faced with a deluge of a variety of information. Though one does wonder how versatile our minds and the race in general to take the most basic of a human’s role in this world and turn it into a spectacle of sorts.
The more we learn, the more there is to calm.
What I can however advise you is to stay grounded. I believe each of us has the capacity to understand our body’s wants and needs. Having a baby is no different. Despite the science involved, this *is* a miracle. To procreate and to nourish for the 280 days that we shelter and care for this beautiful only real partnership product is a miracle. It is a responsibility. Possibly the only huge one that we shoulder singularly as a mother. So, be aware. Aware of the changes that will come your way. Accept them with an open mind. Don’t fight it, let your body tell you when to relax, eat, drink and move.
While I was pregnant with you, I walked everyday to the station to change a tram and a bus to reach the Universite, where I was taking French lessons. Regardless of rain or shine (which there wasn’t muchof!) I wore my shoes, dressed warm and carried a backpack with books, apple and water. It provided my body and brain an exercise. When I was carrying your brother and you were all of 11 months old, I did the same. Put you in a pram and pushed you around, on trams and buses. Exploring the city, the stores and the museums whenever possible. Staying busy is a boon. I liked the freedom of doing things at my pace.
It helps qwell the demons of doubts and questions that serve not much purpose.
It’s a pleasant time to be pampered, to be fussed over and some women will thrive on it. Our lives and families are different. Some of us are too ingrained to not accept such fussing too. Allow that if you find yourself at the receiving end of such luxury. However, bear in mind that you are not *sick* or *unwell*. Most of us like to be independent, to manage our lives without asking for much assistance. The balance is fine line. Walk the line with thought and care, coz you are responsible for your choices.
Do you remember the time I was pregnant with munchkin? She was our surprise after you two. She was born during the internet age. When forums, [regnancy websites and everything in between from here to India, was available at my fingertips. I did read them. I bounced around, till I realized that none of it added any value to the basic common sense that really is all that is required for a safe pregnancy. I am not brushing away the knowledge and the precautions enlisted, I just don’t see the point to having so many sites around filled with various anecdotes, advice, tips and more! Women have been giving birth forever.
Pregnant the third time, I felt very tired as I was running around with your activities. Through all of that I had agreed (long before I discovered I was pregnant) to play a role, a very spirited and energetic character in a Kuchipudi dance ballet. I checked with my doctor. She in fact, was surprised I’d ask, as the intense dance steps were something I was used to anyway, so what was different now?
I continued rehearsing. The performance date was when I was 18 weeks down. I enjoyed every bit of the time on stage. Playing Bhasmasura was and still is one of my best performances so far. If I had chickened out, I’d have missed the feeling of satisfaction and pride that I now experierence when I look back. Munchkin turned out just fine, and as an added bonus thrives on music and rhythm. Win-Win.
That said, don’t be foolish to do things that go against your body’s natural rhythm. Signing up for kickboxing classes, or digging up the whole backyard for a vegetable garden for the first time, is well, pushing it.
Be cognizant dear. Be aware of your body and accept the changes. Allow yourself the freedom to indulge. At the end of the day, do not forget who you truly are. A fine young woman who is adding on the role of a mother. Does not mean you give up on the rest of the roles you play, the most important one being you.
Take care of yourself, my baby, coz there’s only one of you. Stay strong in your mind and heart. You are part of this wonderful circle of life, take pride in your role and carry it through with panache. You are capable of it and more.
With lots of love,
PS: This post is in response to the call for entries as seen below:
PPS: The post is just a style of writing. Not a personal post by any means. As in, it will be awhile before my daughter will be reading this. At least another decade.