2 – Rock and roll: Here we go

As the days went on, my uncertainties about my pregnancy definitely reduced, but it reared its ugly head once in a way. A few days after my 6 week scan (where I saw and heard my baby’s heartbeat for the first time), I woke up not feeling nauseous at all. It felt very strange for me as for the last two weeks I had always woken up feeling either mildly queasy or extremely queasy. While my nausea remained absent that morning, my sense of worry increased significantly – “Had something happened?”, “Was I still pregnant?”, “Why was I not feeling nauseous?”

I was back in my parents house that day. My mother had the opportunity to go to Ramnagar to talk to the panchayat head about sustainable menstrual hygiene and was therefore not there to allay my fears. I thought hard about what I could do to see if things were going alright and finally decided to get another b-HCG done – it was still early enough in the pregnancy that the progress could be seen this way. My partner in crime – my father – and I plotted. We didn’t want to worry anyone in the house, least of all my mother at that point. So while my father covered my absence at home, I went to the laboratory and gave my blood for testing. We waited impatiently for those few hours, trying very hard not to show our worry to the rest of the family. Results finally came and the levels were as they should be. Yippeeee and Phew!!! My father and I both sagged in relief on seeing the report, thankfully sent online – so we didn’t have to wait those additional few hours for the print out.

My mother got back late that afternoon and we confessed our deeds. Amma stared at me a few minutes before falling off into gales of laughter!! Instead of enjoying the respite from morning sickness, I had unnecessarily spent the whole day worrying. Turned out that that one day was the only non-nauseous day I had for the next 3 weeks….

That evening my mother sat me down and strictly told me that my worry had reached the stage where it was making me do counter-productive things. I had to learn to relax and believe in the pregnancy. A few days later my co-sister, who had previously lost a pregnancy in the first trimester but went on to have a beautiful baby girl, messaged me. She explained that by holding myself back and questioning the pregnancy at every turn, I was actually sending negative vibes to my embryo – and that is not a good thing to do at this early stage.

This was a turning point in my journey of uncertainties. My general sense of positivity that had been locked away in that box I mentioned previously celebrated in joy, pushed and pushed against the locks I had put on it and finally came out in a rush. I started feeling more like myself – this was the longest I had ever felt pessimistic about something and hadn’t realised how much of an effect it had had on me. I felt less moody, did not snap at the family for all sorts of small things and definitely felt more like the usual Kannika.

To me it felt like this was where my embryo and I started syncing with each other (of course, it is way too early to feel the baby, but you can sense things, right). We synced on all kinds of levels. And I developed many superpowers. All my sense organs become very powerful and incredibly accurate –  my nose leading the pack, picking up the slightest of smells and immediately sending frantic messages to my stomach to start its work that is synced with the baby. Yes you guessed it – the stomach’s job was just to upend all of its contents, which it did extremely well. I realise that most women go through morning sickness and it is nothing special, but I could not resist writing about my experiences and sharing it with all of you. I’m also keeping it as a reminder of what I went through. I am very sure that once my baby is in my arms, I will have not only forgotten what I experienced, but I may even deny having gone through this rock and roll phase.

Over the first few weeks, my stomach tuned in to the senses of smell, sound and movement and earned a PhD in coordinating with all three of them at the same time. I just had to hear the mixie coming on or see my 18 month old nephew running round in circles for the stomach to start. I started to lovingly call it my washing machine and everyone in the house started checking with me on my condition for the day by enquiring about which level the washing machine was on.

My imaginative powers also came into play very strongly at the same point – just when I wanted to focus on something else, it would play out the images of a washing machine doing its work and in the spin cycle too. This did not help matters at all. My friend – Daamini – decided to call my baby ‘Ducky’ – for all the quacking that I was doing.

I am an arts based therapist working with children with autism. Since the pandemic started, my sessions went online. My sessions involve a lot of music creation and movement and of course dearest Ducky objected vehemently. Not only could I not do any of the activities, I couldn’t even describe them for the children to do nor could I see them doing it. Work in this space came to an abrupt halt.

Just as the IVF treatment started in December 2020, I had joined a 2 year diploma course in autism. Remember that I had taken the call to continue with my life, activities and commitments until such as time as things moved on this front. It just so happened that online classes started at point itself and we started understanding about very interesting topics like perceptions and types of learning. Ordinarily I would have loved these classes – they were all planned as activity based ones and were great fun. But you know what happened next, right? I couldn’t look at any of the activities shown during the classes, nor could I try them out. My washing machine would start working and if I did not log out of class immediately, even just the teacher giving instructions to the class would send it into spin mode.

There is this white reclining chair at home that became my go-to during these washing cycle times. Of course, I had to sit ramrod straight in it and not move for an hour or two to allow the stomach to settle down. Most days my focus was only on getting my washing machine to stop and I was not able to do anything else for a majority of those days.

My parents’ friends had planned a bird watching trip to the Sunderbans and they all went in end February 2021 (the second wave of Covid19 had not as yet hit us by then). My brother and sister-in-law moved in with us so they could help take care of my grandparents and me. Being so far into the wilderness, signal and network were very spotty so the few phones we got from my parents were treasured. During one of the calls they explained that every day they were taken to the islands by a boat. When network allowed it they even sent a video of their day, which I was to show to my grandparents. I was not able to even finish watching the first of the videos they sent. Just the thought of them on a boat sent my world rocking and crashing through high waves!!!

I also started to feel like the ‘princess and the pea’. My body become extra sensitive and even my mattress started to feel lumpy. My body became hypersensitive and all sorts of textures started bothering me. As most of my energies were involved in taking care of my nausea, I just didn’t have the wherewithal to analyse what textures were causing me trouble. I just tried to get away from that texture as soon as it started bothering me. One of the first bodily changes that happens during pregnancy is that our breasts get tender. This started happening to me by week 8 itself and it added to my overall discomfort. My tongue didn’t want to feel left out and started tasting all sorts of nuances in food, which previously did not make a difference to me. I suddenly became a picky eater.

My love affair with carrots was very short lived too. By the end of week 7, it firmly went into the category of unpalatable foods. Till date, the taste of carrots as a main component in a dish makes me want to throw up!!! Such fickleness….

I also started to sleep longer and longer – which was very surprising as I was always a light sleeper and 8 hours was the maximum I could sleep through a day. Suddenly half the day was spent sleeping and I felt like I could continue to sleep longer. My mother explained that this was the body’s way of coping with the intense morning sickness. I felt extremely sleepy at all odd points of the day – thereby giving the body a break so that it could collect it’s energies. My husband – who loves to sleep – decided that this was the baby’s way of saying that it has gotten his genes, and I should be prepared that it will be more like him that me –He He He He!!!

There are very few overt bodily changes during the first trimester, to remind us that we are pregnant and carrying another human being. So my dearest Ducky would find the oddest of situations to remind me. I was taking Hindi classes for a young girl with autism and we were practicing writing all the alphabets with maatras. To teach this girl the differences in the maatras, I would exaggerate the sounds so the subtle differences could be easily picked up by her. This meant that I was stressing on the syllables, drawing them out and projecting my voice a little louder. I had finished my bout with morning sickness that day, so felt that it was safe to take the class that late afternoon. But by the end of the 30 minute class, my stomach felt like it was rolling, pitching and the washing machine came on!! Oh boy – I was incapable of exerting myself even this little bit.

One of the funniest symptoms of my morning sickness was yawning. I could yawn 3-4 times a minutes with each yawn lasting upto 10 seconds. And this could carry on for 2-3 hours at a stretch. Therefore there was no chance of me finishing any conversation or trying to complete listening to something. So between weeks 5 to 9 of my pregnancy, I was a mass mess of yawning, nausea, supersensitive skin and tastebuds, an extraordinary olfactory system and an over-active imagination. If I was able to make my bed, eat some food and bathe – all in the same day, I felt like wonder-woman.

As suddenly as my morning sickness started, it just stopped one fine day towards the end of the 10th week. This time I did not panic or worry that I was not feeling nauseous. I was confident of Ducky’s presence in my womb and felt positive about the pregnancy. I had even started making my lists of all the people I would call to tell about my wonderfully good news, once the 12 week mark was crossed.

As I write about my experiences, I can now imagine my little Ducky as she gleefully rolled around my uterus when the washing machine regularly came on early in the pregnancy. Imagine my uterus as an amusement park – and Ducky having her fun going on the roller coaster!!! (I use the feminine form of address for my embryo – as he is within the word she. We won’t know the sex of our baby until it’s birth). Thankfully writing all this now does not cause me any discomfort – I had to wait until now before I could put down these thoughts.

Well with that the first trimester was done and dusted with. While it feels like time went by fast, in the moment each day felt like it was dragging on and I used to wonder when I would feel some semblance of comfort and balance again.

My next write up – coming up in a few weeks – focuses on my progressing pregnancy and the impact the unbelievable Covid19 situation in Bangalore has on us. Ducky continues to rock and roll into the second trimester and we both have many different kind of adventures as our journey goes on various twists and turns.

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