Oh-kay, so I am nominated for the Mad Momma Award for the Best Blogger Dads in the World. And I am expected to give an acceptance speech for that!
First things first, I am not more articulate than her OA. I am just ruder – so I manage to get in sound bytes while he is saying his “excuse me”-s!
I have – at different points of time – described my adventures during “our” pregnancy but MM obviously has not read this, this, this, this, this and this.
But nevertheless, I will try to construct a sequence of the emotions that I felt during and after the pregnancy.
When my wife told me for the first time that she is pregnant, my first reaction was doubt. It is a very natural reaction of any Sales Manager when he sees a jump or drop in sales. I wanted to ask, “Data correct hain?” I mean, was she sure that the second pink line on the home pregnancy tester was not a misprint or something?
It wasn’t. The good doctor confirmed it. The immediate reaction was one of mild regret – oh damn, that means we can’t go to the Bollywood Night at Zero G this Wednesday!
And a bit of uncertainty… can I handle this? I was reasonably sure that I was okay with the whole idea of having a tadpole in the house. But would I be able to make it into a frog with the same ease as my parents? I was not sure. Actually, I was quite sure that I was not ready for it.
Unfortunately, we had a miscarriage the first time. And it was only then I realized how much I wanted the baby. The overwhelming sense of loss was when I became certain that I wanted a baby. Ready or not, here I come!
Frankly, if it is the first child, then you do not know what to expect and you are too busy hoping all will turn out to be fine – so there is no time to be too ecstatic. And never believe the other cliché of expecting parents – “I don’t care about the gender of the baby as long as it is healthy”. Every body wants a specific gender and since there is no honourable way of finding that out in India, a large amount of gender-specific rejoicing gets curtailed.
I am reasonably methodical and completely tension-free about most things in life. (But that doesn’t mean I will look the other way and whistle if you mess with my Calvin & Hobbes albums. Grrr!)
So, emotions are not part of my life for most of the times and the pregnancy was no different. The same people who tout Valentine’s Day as a Great Festival of Love also propagate questionable theories about parent-child bonding. The missionaries of this gospel include people like Hugh Grant, Ross Geller and other such edible men – who insist that peering into your wife’s private parts when the doctor is trying to conduct a medical examination is conducive to parent-child bonding.
This led to a whole lot of exasperation – as I was required to attend classes on pregnancy and childbirth. I solved this in the same way I did it in engineering college. I bunked the classes and photocopied the notes from someone who didn’t! (I even used the notes to direct my wife’s breathing during the actual labour – but she abused me in vile language at that time! I did attend some classes – of which a description is available here.)
The emotion felt during the medical aspects of the pregnancy was one of relief – as our doctor turned out to be more authoritative than my wife and she overruled all her arbitrary notions with an air of finality (which I can only aspire for)! She did ask me whether I would recommend use of medication during labour to which I asked her back, “What would you do if you were in my place?”
She suppressed a smile and said, “I would recommend an epidural.”
“I will do the same”, I said gleefully!
I think relief and trust go hand-in-hand when you find an expert!
The so-called sense of wonder during the pregnancy is more similar to the reaction somebody has to a snazzy car or a cool gadget. When I first saw the perfectly formed heart about the size of a coffee bean beating in perfect rhythm or the ten glowing dots of the bunched-up fingers, it was less of a sense of achievement that I had something to do with it. It was more of a feeling of amazement that all this was happening automatically without anybody having to control the whole process.
There is also a pretty deep sense of fear – whether I will be able to afford the baby. When the fees of a normal engineering college or business school (or for that matter, bail amounts!) are compounded at the standard rate of inflation, then the realization dawns that my saving will finance roughly 17 minutes of college. So, we tried to act disciplined and did not binge on eating out for one weekend. The Hilsa Festival at Oh Calcutta brought this to a hasty end!
So, if you call taking out an insurance policy and buying diapers preparation, then we were prepared for the baby!
What I was completely unprepared for is the actual process of labour & childbirth – you have your wife screaming at the top of her voice, the gynae trying to out-shout her and assorted people in masks hanging around the room!
Then as suddenly as it begun, a lump of flesh was pulled out and plonked into my arms. A cursory job of cleaning had been attempted so the piece was rather slippery and at 3 minutes of age, it was rather frail. I was completely unsure whether I will grip too strongly and squash the baby or will I be too flimsy and drop it? I guess these first moments of dilemma are an apt representation of the greater drama of parenting that unfolds in the future!
Scared, yes! Tired, very! Thrilled? Excited? Not quite… those are clichés reserved for heroes of Rajshree movies, where the entire family goes around the mulberry bush singing songs to welcome the male progeny.
When I get home from work nowadays, my son turns around and looks at me. He takes a few seconds for the recognition to happen. And then, he gives such a bright, ear-to-ear, toothless grin that it lights up the room.
Excited? Nope, but I do look forward to this every day.