Ducky and I have a lot to celebrate in this article. We have successfully completed the first 2 trimesters, i.e. 24 weeks, and we have only 1/3rd of our journey left before a whole new set of adventures begin. Can’t believe how fast time the golden trimester has gone by and I’m not ready for this part to end. I have no doubt that by the time I reach the last month, my discomfort will be so much that I will be having lengthy conversations with Ducky, trying to get her to come out quickly and start the next phase. Well, until that time comes, I am thoroughly loving every single moment and awaiting Ducky’s next kick or punch with lots of anticipation.
As a girl, there was always the understanding that when I get married I would move out of my parental home. That is exactly what happened 7 years ago when I moved in with my husband (Prasanna) who lives with his parents. It’s been a wonderful journey learning to live with a new family and I love the fact that both my families live in the same city, just a 20 minute metro ride away. As my pregnancy progresses and more monitoring of some parameters are needed, I decided to spend more time in my parental home where I not only have my mother as a gynaecologist to take care of things, but also my grandfather, grandmother, her sisters and my father to provide additional TLC (tender loving care). It has also been a wonderful opportunity to spend a few solid months here with my parents and grandparents. I was having a chat with my grandmother when it struck me that for a married woman, this is the only time when society ‘approves’ of her staying in her parental home for months at a time. In that sense I am very lucky that there is a beautifully cooperative relationship between my two families.
During my 3rd month of pregnancy, I decided to take off from the diploma in autism course that I had started, so that I could relax and enjoy the pregnancy. An unexpected gift of choosing a slower paced life is the time that I’m spending with my grandparents (who are in their 80’s and 90’s). The pleasure and joy I get at the end of each day, where I’ve spent a majority doing things with my Tata and Pati, is immeasurable. From sitting in silence with both of them to listening to various music concerts with Pati to arguing with Tata about myriad issues, my soul is well satisfied. Folks – if you get a chance to take time off and just hang out with your loved ones (especially the super seniors), grab the opportunity with both hands. If you are like me, I can assure you that you will not regret the decision and will love every moment. Ducky’s journey is all the richer for the inputs she is already getting from her great grandparents.
The covid situation in Bangalore took a turn for the worse around mid April and lockdowns were put in place. Suddenly the 10km distance between my in-laws house and parents house felt like ‘so close yet so far away’. This has meant that Prasanna has not been able to actively see my expanding belly and participate in all the little bits of excitement that Ducky creates throughout my day. We are constantly in touch via video calls, but it’s very different from living together in the same space. For those of you managing long distance relationships, I’m sure you understand what I mean.
Another impact of the lockdowns and the pandemic has been that my in-laws haven’t been able to play an active role in my pregnancy either. While my parents and grandparents have started forming a bond with Ducky, by having conversations with her; my in-laws haven’t had that chance yet. They are a crucial part of Ducky’s life and we have been brainstorming ways through various tele-communicative platforms to have them join in on this. No doubt that Ducky is going to be used to quite a variety of voices, tones, decibels and languages by the time she is born – after all she is being brought into the joint family fabric that we all love and live in.
As women we routinely believe that the father is not actively involved during a pregnancy. Let me explain as to why I think our perspective is skewed. For starters, as the pregnant partner, there are constant changes that I am feeling in my body which my husband can definitely not fathom or understand. We both enjoy talking about all the little changes happening to me, but I am living these changes every moment of every day. While my focus most of the day is on Ducky, is it fair to expect my husband’s focus to be on the foetus too? Just because he is not thinking of Ducky a majority of the time, does it mean that he is not involved in the pregnancy at all? Absolutely not – it’s just that our levels of excitement and involvement are different. I also confess that in the initial few weeks I became very proprietary about my pregnancy – didn’t want to / didn’t know how to get Prasanna involved – and then felt that he was not taking any responsibility. Have you also felt like this but pushed it under the carpet as other emotions took over?
While there are no major outwardly signs of the pregnancy during the first trimester, I had a lot of morning sickness, which kept reminding me about Ducky’s presence in my womb. For my husband, the reality of the pregnancy and baby had not hit him as yet. His life continued on, mainly unperturbed. He was, of course, there to take care of me when my morning sickness was especially bad – but in those times it felt like I was just not well. The first scan that Prasanna attended with me was the neucal translucency scan done at 12 weeks. It was an eye opener for me to see how real the baby felt for him at that moment when he not only saw the ultrasound probe on my belly but also the corresponding images of our baby with very distinct arms, legs, head, etc on the screen.
On hearing that Prasanna and I have been apart through most of the second trimester, my friend (who is a mother to 2 beautiful girls) stressed on the importance of the father’s role during the pregnancy. With her first pregnancy, her hubby wasn’t as involved, but with the second one, he was around more often, thereby forming a connection with the baby in-utero itself. She explained that there is a very different bond that he has with each girl (though they are close in age) which he attributes to the time he spent with the baby during the pregnancy itself. Gives us both food for thought as the third trimester begins.
I remember how excited I felt when during one of our nightly calls (a few weeks ago), Prasanna said good night to both me and the baby for the first time. That small gesture meant so much to me and the sense of partnership between us deepened significantly for me.
A part of my work in the field of autism is with families with young children. One of my recommendations to the parents is that they spend as much time as possible with the child, especially till they are 3 or 4 years old. Babies and young children’s minds are as absorbent as a sponge at this early age and as parents, it is our duty and right to provide the right materials for them to soak up. Realizing that this is my chance to practice what I preach, and with my family and Prasanna’s support, I have decided to not work full time for the next few years. I will do a little bit of counselling and arts based therapy, just to keep in touch with those skills, but nothing so vigorous that my whole day is filled with appointments and sessions. I have no qualms about taking a break in my career just as it was skyrocketing in all the right directions. My logic is simple – we want children and that means putting in all the time and effort needed to do what is needed. What is the use of having a baby, presenting her to the grandparents or nanny to take care of and running off to work? Of course, I’m speaking from a place where a second income is not needed to cover our basics. We are extremely fortunate to have all our basic needs covered and therefore be able to think about all of this.
Wanting to also play an active role in the upbringing of our baby, Prasanna has taken the call to work part time too (a few months down the line). I’m ecstatic about this. Yes this means that we both won’t earn as much as some of our friends and colleagues are doing, but is it comparable to the quality time we will both get to spend taking care of our baby? Have some luxuries become so essential to us that we can’t function without them? In my mind, there is no doubt at all. With ‘roti, kapada and makaan’ well taken care of (with so much more thanks to our generous and supportive families), our focus is on nurturing Ducky as she takes birth into this rollercoaster of a world that we live in.
My whole family is involved in spoiling me. My mother buys me various ingredients that I am loving cooking with while my father ensures that I don’t do anything related to housekeeping. My mother-in-law cooks my favourite foods and Prasanna brings it across, in the process surprising me with his visit. My grandmother indulges me in my choice of music and watches cooking shows with me. I have been told to just love life and do only those things that I enjoy. What a wonderful situation to be in. I’ve got to add that this is another once in a lifetime experience (I’m having several of them at the same time) which I am enjoying to the fullest. What a lucky girl I am. I am quite sure that for the next few years (and possibly the rest of my lifetime), I’m not going to get another chance where my sole focus is on myself (and in extension Ducky).
As Ducky and I roll into the 7th month (wow!!! I can’t believe that we are already entering number 7), planning for the all important bangle ceremony has started. I love my large extended family and was really looking forward to having them and our friends at a fun event where we celebrate Ducky’s growth in my belly and our customs. And you know what happens next, right? The covid pandemic!!!! What a dampner. I keep reminding myself to be grateful that my family and most of our friends are safe and sound, but sometimes it just gets very frustrating that I can’t celebrate this pregnancy the way I had planned for years – no going out to restaurants, no meeting extended family and friends to show off my ever expanding belly and no big celebrations. Anyway, I pull myself out of this funk very quickly so that I can enjoy what is possible and don’t miss out on these moments. A small intimate gathering has been planned for the bangle ceremony and I’m very excited to participate in this and be blessed by everyone. After all – uptil January this year, I didn’t think I would be in this happy situation and I don’t want to miss out on the excitement of this once in a lifetime journey.
And with these future plans, Ducky, Prasanna, my family and I take your leave this time. The next chapter in these duck tales will focus more on Ducky’s intrauterine adventures as her next growth spurt takes off.
p.s. – I use the feminine form of address for my foetus – as he is within the word she. We won’t know the sex of our baby until it’s birth
Take care…Cherio and stay safe.