Unfit for Pain, Misfit for Mothering?

Enjoying the phase of pregnancy

Like every mother to be, I spent my days languishing in bed, listening to music and reading pregnancy hand books. I’d like to mention here, that this was only during my first pregnancy, where apart from all the excitement, I was in a new state of emotional and mental well being, glowing skin and a dreamy air of an anticipated motherhood. My second pregnancy saw much less of the previous fieriness and zeal, to be honest.

Contributor: Devyani Chauhan Bisht

By the time I was in my late second trimester, I had almost devoured the internet and my favourite pre-natal book called ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’. Being a mother for the first time, my doubts were endless. In fact, any inputs from my own mother telling me I was over-doing on the information overload bit fell on deaf ears and my stubborn head refused to listen to her. She was a Mom alright, who raised two healthy children, but I had to do my bit too, right?

I still don’t know what exactly it is with first-time pregnancies that you are willing to go beyond yourself for every discomfort and collecting bits and pieces of trivial facts. My pregnancy feeling like a piece of cake, I transitioned from trimester to trimester with more courage and élan each time. My spirits were high, and having attended all those prenatal classes with my obstetrician, with her descriptive details of each month, what changes to expect etc, I was gaining more and more confidence, and mustering all the strength I could, to be prepared for the big day. Little did I know, that I was to face a challenge soon.

Get ready for those dreaded ‘internal checkups’

Prenatal check-ups come with their own hidden agendas, the ‘internal exam’ was a totally alien concept for me. Not that I had not heard of it, I definitely had, but the experience of it was to make a significant mark on my remaining term. As innocently as I had walked in for an internal check-up, I kept telling myself that it’s not going to be a big deal; but, I was horrified. Sensing my fear, my doctor, explained the importance and even went to the extent of saying that she could declare me as ‘unfit’ for a normal delivery if I was unwilling to “co-operate” with her for this. This is when I realized how little my threshold was for physical pain, in fact, it still is. But could I help it? No. Was I willing to go through it even after being offered an “opted C-section”? No. I most willingly and readily “Chose” a C-section. I saw nothing wrong in opting out of an ordeal I didn’t want to go through. Had it been a different time, and no options available, maybe, perhaps, I would have to. But I saw nothing wrong in choosing the easier option. I mean, what’s so wrong about it anyway?

Welcoming in the little one

So, here I was, with my bundle in my arms. Looking in her eye, and thinking in my mind, “This is just the beginning”. I now realise how with every step, post pregnancy, a new challenge awaits a mother. Belying everyone’s images of happy mothering, the image ahead of me was not exactly a sweet one. Minus the sweet face of my baby, nothing added sugar to my postpartum blues.

While all the earlier books I had read on childbirth and baby rearing, and the graphic details on each topic, in reality, it was a completely different story. Breastfeeding being termed as the most effective way for bonding with a baby, I failed to establish that bond with my baby via that method. People all around me gave me enough ‘gyan’ on the significance and importance of breastfeeding, but I hated it. How much ever I tried, I could not bring myself to enjoy this so called ‘blissful feeling’ described by many mothers. What was so blissful about it I failed to understand it then, and I fail to understand it now. Owing to the stress and unhappiness with which I tried it, my baby probably understood my distress and got as distressed as me. I realised that we were both unhappy. Once again, defying the norm and a bunch of poking people, I was to opt out of this as well. I was quick to put her on the bottle, thus making myself at peace and in-turn putting my baby at peace as well.

Breastfeeding or bottlefeeding…it’s what a mother decides

Over these years, I have been asked by a couple of new mothers, so harrowed and distressed by this thing that’s so stressed upon. While I don’t debate on its immense value for babies, I don’t in any way think it has to work well for all mothers. Some like me, may simply not want to do it. Does it give sufficient reason to raise a doubt on my love, accountability and responsibility as a mother? I surely do not think so.

Choices play a vital role in everything you do. Working by force suits nobody, least of all a new mother, who is as it is facing larger than life changes physically, emotionally and mentally. In my opinion, you should stick to things what works best for you and the baby. People come and go with their endless inputs and suggestions. They won’t be there with you while you struggle and tackle them though. They may be quick to judge, but know one thing, as long as you think you are doing your best, you don’t need anybody’s validation on your levels of mothering.

Contributor: Devyani Chauhan Bisht

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Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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