3 – My golden lining during the Covid19 pandemic

My second trimester started towards the end of March 2021. I was very excited when I was told that this is called the golden trimester as the body settles down into a rhythm with the emerging foetus, morning sickness disappears and the pregnancy glow appears. All of it was so true for me. As April started I was feeling energised, comfortable and extremely happy to greet each new day. My family and friends remarked that my face was glowing, and some who did not know about my pregnancy as yet, guessed it on seeing my cheeriness come back and the glow. My Ducky embryo has now grown big enough to be called a foetus.

Covid19 cases were slowly increasing and considering the precious nature of the conception of this baby and the number of vulnerable family members we have at home, we all decided to be extra cautious. The plans I had made to meet with a few friends at home itself were postponed and any dreams of outings were quickly squashed.

As the second trimester began, I took the call to take a break from most of my work. I wanted to savour the pregnancy and with constant work deadlines, that was difficult. The one thing I continue to do is counselling, though I have taken on very few clients. As a counsellor, I realised very soon that lots of information and news about the covid19 pandemic caused me to feel helpless, hopeless and worried. Even though I stopped reading the newspaper, listening to the news and reading posts on social media, we have family and friends who are falling ill and some who have not recovered. My world became narrower and narrower until it focussed just on my immediate family and our lives at home. I stopped attending all webinars and talks related to covid19 – its impact on various groups of our population, etc. This was my defence mechanism against causing unnecessary anxiety which would have a direct effect on Ducky. I have a history of hypertension, so it became crucial to ensure that I lived in a space that caused the least amount of anxiousness. While it goes against my nature to not reach out to help others, I came to the conclusion that in my current situation I will only do more long term harm to Ducky if I do not turn inwards and take excellent care of myself.

Around that time a colleague of my mother’s asked me to visit Dr. Revathi Rajan – a specialist in high risk pregnancies – just to be on the cautious side and make sure that every possible point had been checked out. While I happily went along with my mother’s advice to meet Dr. Revathi, I was really hoping not to have a high risk pregnancy (which mother wants that for their little one). To update you all on the status of the uncertainties that I faced a lot of initially, I am very happy to tell you that I did not panic or question the steadiness of the pregnancy when I was told to visit a high risk pregnancy specialist. There was no trace of uncertainty in me at all. It may sound strange to some of you and possibly like I am preening, but I am extremely proud of the work I did on myself to reach this state of balance. It is critical  to acknowledge the journey we’ve been on to improve ourselves to keep us going on the right path and to motivate us the next time that we falter and need to pick ourselves up again.

Now getting back to the rock and roll part of this journey. Dr. Revathi was really reassuring in our first visit to her. Her explanation was simple – “High risk does not mean that there are complications in your pregnancy already, it means that you just need to be monitored more closely. It definitely does not mean that your pregnancy will be more difficult. I consider all pregnancies as at-risk, until we eliminate factors that could potentially cause issues either early on or further on in the pregnancy.” I was really relieved on understanding this.

Ducky’s arrival into my womb caused some hormones and chemicals to go out of whack. I like to think that women’s bodies come with a manual on how to deal with menarche, pregnancy, menopause, etc. In some women, like me, the manual comes with a few pages missing or some changed. This leads to some organs having confusion on their role during this period of time. When the hormones these organs secrete should increase, it stays steady and when it should be at an even rate of secretion, they either over-produce or under-produce. What chaos in the body!!!! A lot of the times we don’t even realise that all this mass confusion is going on inside of us. It was only with Dr. Revathi’s experience that she put all the pieces of the puzzle together and we realised the extent of these imbalances. The higher sugar levels and rashes / boils that appeared on my bum regularly were all signs of gestational diabetes. A strict diet and medicines (including insulin injections once a day) has given my body the direction it needs to go in. Of course, like any good student, the body likes to stray off the path it is shown, or go backwards and then has to be reminded of its correct direction with a change in medicine dosage. Voila – we are on track for a few weeks, then the rectification happens again – a wonderful cycle!!

I’ve got to write here that being told to take insulin injections did not faze me out at all. My grandmother has had diabetes for nearly 40 years and we have been giving her insulin injections 3-4 times a day for the last decade. However the strict diet threw me for a loop for a little while. I was asked to not eat any root vegetables or anything with a sweetener (sugar, jaggery, dates, honey). Lots of greens and different kinds of dals, brown rice in the mornings, chapatti in the evenings and skimmed milk were advised. I was also told that the only fruits I could have were orange, watermelon and muskmelon. Absolutely no mango!! My mind and stomach immediately started throwing a tantrum – I dreamt of mangoes and craved for the taste of it very intensely over the next few days. It didn’t help that the mango season had just started and friends who have farms with mango trees started sending us crates of mangoes. My taste buds helplessly looked on as mangoes started arriving home in well packaged boxes. My super sensitive olfactory system would immediately know when a mango in the whole lot was ripe and I would tell my family to eat it asap. Everyone was extremely cooperative  and ate them up quickly so that I was not further assaulted by the scent of ripe mangoes.

A brilliant idea came to me during one of my food dreams. My birthday was coming up soon and my immediate family was gathering (turned out to be the last gathering of the season). It had been a long time since I had baked and I felt like cooking. So why not make a mango cheesecake from which I could have a small piece? I was thrilled with my own idea and when I told my mango cravings about my grand plan, they danced in joy. I thoroughly enjoyed my one slice of mango cheesecake and felt sooooo happy.

A craving for brownie was the next one to start banging its drum. I have so far resolutely refused to listen to it – the health of this baby cannot afford too many deviations from the diet plan given to me. And this is when the rocking journey went rolling downhill slowly.

I started to thoroughly enjoy food from about the 15th week and was grappling with all the food restrictions in place. At that point I sat down and looked at all the food we regularly eat and listed all that I could eat / those I could eat with modifications. The list was a lot longer than I expected and my stomach was a little mollified. I even started to eat the food I liked in the quantity I wanted, trying very hard not to apologise to the rest of the family if I had devoured a good portion of that dish. My father’s sense of humour struck here – he has decided that Ducky is going to be multigrain – as I am going against my usual grain of functioning to take care of her.

However my mind refused to accept the restrictions in place – from the food to the safety measures being taken because of covid19 to the lockdown that had been announced in Karnataka. Despite the privilege of living in a spacious house with a garden, I suddenly felt claustrophobic and felt all the walls closing in on me. Our beautiful garden space held no appeal either. Though I am a homebody at heart, my mind started screaming that it wanted to go out, visit people, eat at restaurants and see new faces. My pregnancy hormones joined the band and the crescendo of wants, needs and cravings reached an all time high. The heat of summer in Bangalore added to the discomfort I was in. I felt like tearing my hair apart. Over the last year of covid19 having impacted all of us, I’m sure that you may have also gone through many kinds of intense emotions too.

Just as all this was going on, my brother’s family and I moved to another space to isolate as my grand-aunt (who lives with us) came in contact with another relative who tested positive for covid19. Away from my regular routine and familiar environment, my mind was able to calm down and focus on what is important – this pregnancy with the outcome of a healthy baby. It felt like all the thoughts that had been creating chaos in me, pulled themselves into a box and firmly locked themselves into it. Wow!!! I felt free and not like an irritated bear ready to snarl at anyone who came into my path.  

My little Ducky came back to the forefront of my mind and not just my desires and wants. Suddenly my intense cravings seemed insignificant. All things that I need to do for Ducky’s healthy journey in my womb became my priority and also did not seem like that mammoth a task. This brief period of time where all restrictions felt like a huge burden on me had passed.

Smooth waters prevail as I continue to sail through the golden trimester. Due to the nature of the covid19 infection, a lot of plans and dreams I had for my pregnancy and the birth of the baby are changing. My next write up will explore these, hopefully with a happy and satisfied Mama and Ducky at the end of these changes (which are truly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but do play an important role in the meantime). Also Ducky continues to grow and all her developments are so exciting – can’t wait to share them with you all too.

Until then do take care of yourselves. If you are infected with covid19, I hope you make a full and fast recovery. And for those wonderful people who lost the battle with covid19, we miss you but hope you are happy and free of pain wherever you are now.

Tata, Cherios

p.s. – I am using the feminine form of addresss for the baby as he is within she. We will not know the sex of the baby until her birth.

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