HUSBAND – Helpful Understanding Simple Brave Amazing Nice Decent
FATHER – Faithful Available Teacher Helps Encourages Reliable
If I had to describe my better half in his role as a husband and father, the above description would be the perfect one.
The way I saw my husband the day before I became a mother and the days following the birth of our elder son were strikingly different. What a difference a single day makes sometimes. Before our baby was born, my husband was my better half, my confidante and the person I chose to sleep next to at night for the rest of my life. After the arrival of our first bundle of joy, my husband was still all those things but he was now more importantly my partner in probably the most important job we will ever have; the job of being a parent.
The days that followed the birth of our baby were filled with sleep-deprivation, panic and fear. The joy and contentment I had felt were suddenly overshadowed by a fear of the unknown; a fear of not being able to take care of a tiny human being who was depending on me 100% to survive. But the minute I thought the word ‘me’ inside my head, I realised that I was being selfish. Just because I physically gave birth to the baby did not mean that there was no one else as involved or as important; a small but significant detail that many new moms tend to overlook. I realised that my husband and the father of my baby was as much a part of the baby’s life as I was.
I saw motherhood at its finest the first few weeks – dark circles under my eyes resulting from sporadic sleep at night, one bath a day, hair being washed on average once a week, non-existent make-up and accessories, and so on. The word normal was erased from my vocabulary for a few weeks and it took a lot out of me to get myself together. But I did it. I had an incredible support system and I could not have survived my first few weeks as a new mom without my own mother. She was up every night with me changing diapers and making sure I didn’t fall asleep while nursing. However my rock and the reason for my sanity being remotely intact during the first month was my husband and baby daddy.
A father’s role in the parenting process is often overlooked and sometimes devalued. The mother has always been known as the primary caretaker but in today’s ‘new age’ parenting, the father is as pivotal as the mother. I don’t mean a father’s influence because in the infant and newborn stage, that does not play as big a part in the baby’s development as it does later on. However I am referring to the added responsibilities a father takes on. Gone are the days when only the mother is expected to change diapers and feed the baby. We see more stay-at-home fathers now compared to even a decade ago. They are not only there to shoulder more responsibilities, but also to provide emotional support. I remember a distinct sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach every time by husband had to go to work in the morning leaving me to my duties as a mother. For me, it was not so much the added responsibilities that he took on which made me want to hang on to him, but more the emotional support and mental stability he provided me with. He forced me to paste a smile on my face which at the time seemed to prove most challenging. He proved to be a rock then and even more when our younger son was born in March this year. Now with our younger son having just completed the first 3 months which are more often than not the hardest, I realised that I felt more human this time around due to my husband having taken over most of the responsibilities with our elder son.
Post birth, the process of reconciling your old self with the new is an endless one and sometimes never complete. But it becomes easier with each passing day if you can include the people around you in your journey and not feel the pressure to do everything on your own. That is where my husband played the biggest role – in letting me know that I did not need to have sole custody of the parenting responsibilities. The bravest of mothers who think they can do it all still need help sometimes.
Sometimes you have to just let someone hold your hand.
“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” – Billy Graham
Popular theory is that our children are reflections of us. We are their mirrors in which they look and see themselves, at the same time also mirroring our behaviours and actions. There is a famous quote by David Bly that says “Your children will become what you are. So be what you want them to be”. Everyone has their own perspective of this. Do I agree with this? Before I became a mother I may have said yes. Now two children later, I don’t believe I agree.
We all come with emotional baggage from various aspects of our lives and mostly, from our relationships. From the time we are children ourselves till we become adults, we experience various ups and downs. Whether it is a broken heart or the death of a loved one, there is always an imprint that is left on us which helps mould the kind of people we become. No one survives life by just floating through on a silver cloud. Everyone has their own challenges to face and hurdles to cross; some more rocky than others. How each person handles those challenges and hurdles is also very different. Some approach the negative situations in their lives with anger, clouded minds and unclear plans, whereas some approach them with reason and clarity. A person’s emotional and mental state is challenged when a negative situation occurs. But what we learn from and how we come out of those situations are what our children will eventually learn and will reflect on them. The impact from our past experiences is what will help us parent our children today.
I have always believed that our pasts should not affect our children’s future. Should we think twice and make conscious well thought out decisions about which elements from our experiences should be passed onto our children? Yes, that goes without saying! We all love our parents. Many times I have opened my mouth to say something and my parents’ words come out. It shows that they have shaped me and my approach to how I parent today. However everyone has things they have experienced in their own past that they would rather not re-create with their own children. It would be denying reality to say that a person’s childhood was all smooth sailing. The relationship between mother and child is the most pure and at the same time the most volatile relationship. You don’t agree on everything and every child has a moment where he/she believes that he/she has the best and worst mother. I know I did. There are always countless elements of my relationship with my mother that I would love to pass onto my own children and which will help shape their future in a positive way but there are also some which I would like to keep at bay. In other words, while everyone has aspects of their parents that they hope to re-create, there are certain things they also hope to avoid. I think every mother out there can resonate with this. This could be because we want very different things for our children compared to what our parents wanted for us.
My children are their own people. There are many things in my past which I know I could have handled better. I don’t regret making the mistakes I have made because I have learned from them. However the lessons learned are what I would like to pass onto my children and definitely not the uncertainty I have faced and mistakes made. They will have their own mistakes to make and lessons to learn. I lost someone very close to me when I was young and still in school. The impact on me at that point was of epic proportions and I promised myself that I would avoid any form of attachment going forward. Making a decision like this and especially when still so young was not something to take lightly and this did have an effect on many of my relationships for the next few years. Till today, there is still a part of me which raises alarm bells when I see myself becoming attached to anyone or anything. But this is not an element of my personality that I would like my children to imbibe. Forming attachments is healthy and essential for both emotional and social development. It helps you grow. I do not want my children to prevent themselves from giving and receiving the love, happiness and closeness they can experience from various relationships in their lives, and definitely not because of any negative experiences from my own past.
As mothers we only want what is best for our children and nothing less. A mother’s natural instinct is to shape her children to be exactly like her; its only human. I have seen this personally. However do their lives need to be turn out exactly like their parents? Do their experiences have to be the same and their futures determined by our likes and dislikes? These are the important questions which we as mothers need to think about and which will help determine the kind of people our children will turn out to be.
One thing that I always pat myself on the back about is my ability to still go out, have fun and party like its 2012. I think my friends all know that as long as I have a glass of rose champagne in my hand, I am good to go. I remember that there was a time when some of my friends and I after a gruelling day at work, used to go out every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night! Those were good times and we somehow never seemed to get tired. Waking up at 6 am the following day to kick-start the day and get ready for work didn’t seem like much of a task. We behaved like robots. This was all before my first little bundle of joy came along.
Now after a night out, my friends who are mothers as well and I wake up in the morning grumbling about how one night out has destroyed us completely and all we want to do is spend the entire day in bed. Ok maybe age has something to do with it as well J but a large part of is that we now have little human beings running around depending on us for their own day to start. At this point I know that I sometimes stare at my children with absolute wonder trying to figure out how my life before them had flown by so quickly. I have mentioned in some of my previous posts that many mothers struggle with their new identity once they have children. For me, it definitely has not been a struggle, but I do sometimes reminisce about the freedom that comes with life before children. You are able to wake up in the morning with the entire day ahead of you but with the ability to change the way you want to spend your day. My friends and I often discuss what changes we have experienced in life pre and post children. The changes post children are not all undesirable of course. Here is what I have come up with.
Among all the crazy days, hectic schedules, lack of sleep and minimal amount of alone time with my husband, there is not a thing I would change about my life. I can hardly remember what my life was like before we had our children and I cannot imagine what it would be like without them now. I always like to say that my children make me see things clearly; things that they see with perfect clarity. They are my eyes and window to the world. I am a better person today because of them.
This post is particularly long, so to all my new as well as regular Bubbly Blogcast readers, please bear with me through it :). I have dedicated this post to all mothers out there who are thinking about taking the plunge into motherhood a second time around, already pregnant with their second bundle of joy, or who have just given birth to their second child.
My younger son is 8 weeks old today. Raising a child is hard and has countless hurdles we need to cross, however raising two has its’ own challenges as well. How ever much you prepare yourself for motherhood, you never know what hit you until it actually rolls around. Being a new mother is terrifying and confusing, not knowing whether what you are doing is right or wrong. I remember receiving enormous amounts of information from my family and friends on what I should and should not be doing. I made my life more complicated by Googling every small doubt which more often than not, contradicted what I had already been told. But over a period of time I felt myself get clarity on the various do’s and don’ts of motherhood. I finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel.
The thought of being pregnant a second time was even scarier than being pregnant with my first. I was confident when it came to the day to day activities like diapers, feeding etc; after all I still had the experience from my first. Putting aside my crisis in confidence in my ability to care for two young boys, what kept me up at night was whether or not my elder son would accept the new addition to the family. How would he treat his younger brother?
My mom raised my two sisters and me during a time where nannies were almost unheard of. However I think we all turned relatively normal. I salute my mother. A close friend of mine has three children and I always tell her that she is a super star. Looking at her calm and composed exterior, one would not even think that she has any children at all. I realised that maintaining that peace is an acquired trait which not everyone can accomplish. Many mothers have a head full of grey hairs solely from trying to prevent any tantrums from their elder child around the new baby. This was my biggest fear.
I was lucky enough to have friends with multiple children who were able to guide me on how to handle the dynamics between my elder son and baby, based on their own personal experiences. I owe them my sanity!
There is alot you can do to help your elder one adjust to a new baby in the house without there being any jealousy, hitting or regressive behaviour. Here is a list of measures I took to ensure my elder son did not lose the feeling of security he had –
So to all you rock star mothers our there pregnant with your second child or have just had your second child, don’t be afraid and don’t expect only negative and regressive behaviour from your elder ones. Hold their hand and stand by their side while they get used to the idea of sharing their mother with someone else.
I hope my post has been of some help. I know I couldn’t have done it without some help from my own family and friends.
Marriage and parenting are two of life’s biggest commitments. Every girl is ‘expected’ to grow up, get married and have children. Every married couple sets their own timeline in terms of when they want to take the plunge and become parents. For some, that is sooner than later. There is no right or wrong time to have children. Whatever those timelines are, the reality is such that balancing marriage and parenting can feel like a constant struggle for many.
My husband and I took a conscious decision to wait a few years before adding a child into the mix. Apart from not being even remotely ready to have another tiny human be 100% dependant on us, we also wanted to take the time to get to know each other again in a new setting. What do I mean by that? In India, the concept of living together before marriage is almost non-existent. I think most of you will agree that a relationship pre and post marriage is not the same. To be completely honest, some relationships change for the better and some for the worse. Getting to re-discover each other in the new environment and each other’s living habits takes time, energy and complete dedication and focus. I don’t believe that I would have been able to achieve that with a baby around so early on in our marriage. In short, we wanted to live life as only husband and wife for some time, and not as parents.
It is extremely easy to put your marriage on the back burner once a baby arrives, without even realising it. Many people believe that having children ruins a relationship. My view is that it definitely does slow things down a bit but it doesn’t knock you out. You can bounce back. It is a mother’s instinct to prioritize her child over everything else in her life; sometimes to the extent of letting the role of a parent take over her entire life. For some, being a parent becomes their main identity since taking care of a child is all-consuming.
For me, my marriage has always come first. I am a proud mom of two healthy and happy boys who take up most of the space in my heart and head. They have a good amount of structure in their lives and are content children. But would they be happy and content if their family life at home was not? My first thought would be no, they would not be and it would have a profound impact on them.
In most homes, the husband usually bears the brunt of an exhausted mother. I won’t lie by saying that I have never taken out my irritation towards my son, on my husband. In spite of there being multiple shared responsibilities between my husband and I, there are still moments where I am the only one who can provide my children with what they need. Occasionally, you need to walk away without saying what you really want to say, stemming from the irritation or situation with your child. Being a parent isn’t easy, and sometimes there is no point in bringing up some annoyances which could lead to dredging up other things, which in reality isn’t really bothering you at the moment. In other words, pick your battles.
Having been married for 8 years now and 3 of those as a mother, I have learned that there are many ways to maintain the closeness in a marriage while being a parent. Date nights (try to talk about things other than your little ones), weekend getaways and spending some quality time with each other lying in bed and watching TV are only a few of the many ways to give your marriage some much deserved attention. I also make it a point to go out with my friends and WITHOUT my husband! Friends night is as important as date night. I strongly believe that space is key in any marriage and being glued to each other 24/7 is never the answer. The point is to re-discover who you were BEFORE you had children.
If there are mothers out there who feel enormous guilt in putting your marriage and life ahead of your children, it’s OKAY! We need to keep reminding ourselves that happy parents make happy children, and happy parents come from a continuous nourishment of the marriage.
One of my all time favourite quotes is by Howard. W. Hunter, who said “One of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother”. There is a reason the quote says father and mother, and not husband and wife.
I always take a certain amount of pride in calling myself a mother. According to me, it is the hardest but most rewarding job that I have ever committed to taking on. Post college, I have worked in the IT industry as well as the Agricultural industry; both vastly different in their requirements and job descriptions. The skill sets and life lessons that I learned from both jobs were extremely different. There are some skills you learn from a job which may be relevant to that particular job but cannot be applied anywhere else; and then are those ‘traits or qualities’ you acquire which sometimes actually change you and become a part of who you are.
Motherhood, as I am sure you all agree, is a continuously evolving process, requiring mothers to adapt every now and then along the way. There is no start and finish line. As a mother, there is never the question of having learned enough. At every step, new qualities are developed and adopted, and some maybe qualities that you already had but after motherhood they become honed.
Different mothers have varying qualities which they think have helped them evolve and become what they consider to be a devoted and committed mother (notice I didn’t use the word good, since I do not believe that it is as simple as describing any mother as good or bad). I am not going to be unrealistic and try to make all the mothers out there feel better by saying “you have everything already in you to be a perfect mother” or “don’t worry you are already doing an amazing job so don’t ever change.” No, I don’t believe in those statements. Like I mentioned earlier, motherhood is an evolving process and evolution equals change.
Here is my list of top 5 qualities that have changed me, and which I have internalized after becoming a mother -
1. Never back down
Growing up, I was always more of an introvert than an extrovert. I think most of my school friends who are still in my life today would vouch for that. I was shy and unassuming. This shyness always led to accepting things the way others wanted them without any regard for my own wants and needs. I wouldn’t call it selflessness but more of a pushover.
Working in the corporate world is when I learned to ‘toughen up’ so to speak. More so once I became a mother as well. I learned persistence, a trait which comes in handy as a mother! In the face of absolute resistance coming from my son in certain situations, I have learned not to give up and let anything deter me. There are challenges and obstacles we face with our children every step of the way as mothers. I have learned to never back down.
When I was young, I expected everything and everyone to revolve around me. I think like most of the youth, I wore partial blinders most of the time when it came to others; it was mostly about me and my wants and needs. Weren’t we all like that once upon a time? My parents did their job by teaching me that showing concern for other people and caring about their wants and needs as well would make me a good human being. They set good examples for my sisters and me. At that point, I never believed that anyone could be 100% selfless. That was of course until I became a mother myself and then I finally understood what my mother had always talked about, and what it felt like putting someone else’s well being and wants and needs, ahead of mine. Being selfless is a quality that automatically is embedded into your personality as a mother, whether or not it was already present before. I realised that every thought in my head began with “would this be suitable for my children?” Every step I have taken and will take in the future will be to ensure my children’s happiness and safety.
When it comes to disciplining our children, it is extremely easy for mothers to fall off the cliff. We talk about two distinct approaches when dealing with tantrums - rational explanations and yelling along with punishments. The most ‘ideal’ way most mothers would like to adopt is the rational explanations. Easier said than done right? We all have our weak moments when we just want to hurl abuses at our children during their episodes. I don’t think there is even one mother out there who can deny this. I realised over a period of time, that in order to be successful (sometimes not always) at attempting rational explanations without flying off the handle, an abundant amount of self-control was required. This ensures that nothing is said which cannot be taken back; that point of no return is not reached.
4. Being fair
Question: How does a person know he/she is being fair to someone? Answer: He/she puts himself/herself in the other person’s shoes and then makes a decision. I wonder sometimes if every time we utter the phrase “this is not fair”, we really know what it means. I have never practiced the art of fairness more, than after I have become a mother. This is not just me but I would think all mothers, try to see most things from their children’s point of view. The world is a strange and different place to them so putting ourselves in their shoes would give us a clearer picture of why they do certain things. This, rather than just assuming that they are being manipulative, would go a long way. I would always want my children to think of fairness and integrity, when thinking of me.
5. The Power of positive thinking
In one of my earlier posts titled ‘The Law of Cause and Effect’, I talked about how everything has an equal and opposite reaction. When you direct positive energy at someone, minimizing the negativity, the same positive energy gets thrown back at you. The power of positive thinking is something I have tried to practice every day from the time I became a mother. This also links back to the self-control mentioned earlier, which can aid in pushing negative thoughts to the back of our minds and bringing the positive thoughts to the forefront for our children to experience. Putting everything else aside, I want my children to be happy individuals. Period. I am not going to shelter them from the challenges that they will face in life, but I do want to teach them to approach every situation in life with a positive mind, so that they can be a better version of themselves.
It is a mother’s basic maternal instinct to protect her offspring, both from physical as well as emotional harm. We are always looking out for our children to ensure that they never have to go through any pain and suffering inflicted by anyone or anything. Our children’s happiness is first and foremost on our list of accomplishments as mothers. I have always wondered though if complete and absolute protection from emotional pain is a positive thing.
Let me explain what I mean by that. The line is thin between ‘protecting’ and ‘sheltering’. Sheltering equals over-protecting. Many times the line gets blurry because the two overlap. I ask myself all the time and rightly so, what my main hopes are for my children. What qualities and skills do I want them to possess, to enable them to have a fulfilling life? Like all other mothers, I of course want my children to be happy, healthy, safe etc and have all the dreams they dream of like every mother out there. But what I feel is important and sometimes lost somewhere along the way of them growing up, is their ability to deal with pain and suffering and emerge from it that much stronger. No one gets out alive without facing challenges. Giving my children the skills from a very young age, to overcome obstacles and be resilient, is key.
When it comes to protecting our children from physical harm, for example with our young ones, we try and make sure they don’t go and trip over their own feet trying to climb stairs before they can walk. So to protect them, we install gates all over the house. This is something as mothers we are obligated and trained to do. It is instinct. This does not have any bearing on their emotional state of mind but more on their presence of mind. We teach them to be cautious the next time around. This is protection, and not sheltering.
We as mothers, often feel that protecting our children from any potential hardship means actually preserving their emotional well-being. I am not sure how much I agree with this. I truly believe that a child’s emotional state is developed from infancy. The development takes place from experiencing positive as well as negative feelings throughout the child’s life. Getting pushed around by bullies for instance, is a stressful and sometimes painful situation for any child. One would view this as a negative situation. But the way he/she is taught to react by the mother makes all the difference. There is protection - teaching him/her to face the situation head-on and strategise on how to handle the situation in the event it happens again. Then there is sheltering - hovering around and complaining to the class teacher, which leads to the child being completely unprepared for handling future altercations, if any. The former way, the child is being exposed fully to the negative event at hand, and the latter, the mother is shielding the child completely by putting the responsibility of solving the problem on the teacher.
In the early stages, examples are set by the parents; especially the mother. I have seen my elder son watching me very closely for my reaction every time something upsets me. By letting my emotions flow and expressing my true feelings about a negative situation, I am teaching my children that negative and stressful events will occur from time to time, that they need to be confronted head-on without turning your back on them and pretending like everything is fine, and that it’s ok to feel pain because it only makes you stronger. Many people are of the opinion that nothing negative should ever be expressed in front of children. Is this true in every case? I don’t believe so. For example, if there is a death in the family, I would not want to shelter my children from knowing what was happening. Instead, I would want them to understand the situation and furthermore, understand how to manage their feelings and cope. Age appropriate explanations are of course required, but an explanation is definitely important. Removing them completely from negative situations growing up, will only create insecurities, uncertainty and fear for when they will have to deal with something similar later on in life. Pain and suffering is bad, but the lesson to be taken away from it will only make our children that much more resilient.
Emotions need to be regulated. Pain and suffering is sadly a part of life, a truth which my children need to learn early on, and this can only be done by exposing them to it, leading to development of emotional feelings. None of us want our children to be thrown into an unpredictable world. The development and regulation of emotional skills is crucial for children to protect themselves.
We can shelter our children by not preparing them for the world that we expect them to live in. Another way to go is to protect them by preparing them and exposing them to reality from early on in their lives. As mothers, we all want to do what is best for our children. Even if what’s best is not within our comfort zone, buffering our children from stressful, negative & painful situations is not enhancing their well-being for the long term.
As Robert H. Schuller said “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do!”
What are your views on this? Please feel free to share your thoughts on what you would do at home with your children!
Punctuality has always been a strong quality of mine. I am not trying to flatter myself; it is something that my friends have always joked about growing up. I have always landed up at a friend’s house either at the time specified or maybe 5-10 minutes earlier than scheduled. In today’s world (especially India) of being fashionably late, 4 pm rarely means 4 pm, but actually means approximately 5.30 pm. However for me, 4 pm always meant and still means 4 pm. It runs in my family; most members of my family are the same way, we end up at the airport 3 hours before a domestic flight. You would think that I would change to be in line with everyone else, but I am actually quite proud of this quality as I feel it adds a certain amount of discipline to my life.
I wanted to talk about this because I feel that it has affected most aspects of my life, including of course motherhood.
When we were pregnant with our first son, as most first-time mothers do, I spent hours and hours on Google, reading articles on baby sleep schedules, feeding routines etc. I wanted to know when the baby would start feeding according to a set schedule so that I could set his routine in place; set a certain time for his morning feed, massage, bath, naps and so on.
Now I am sure many mothers reading this post can relate to what I am about to say. I was a complete Nazi with my first son. The ‘eat whenever, have a bath whenever and nap whenever’ policy never settled with me. I thought that having a set routine with set times meant sticking to them come what may, not realising at the time that the world would not end if the schedule varied here and there by 5-10 minutes. At that point in time, even a 5 minute delay for lunch time or bath time was a catastrophic event. If he went down late for his nap, I would start to get fidgety. I was completely obsessive about his routine and sometimes it got to an unnatural level. The reality was that the delay made no difference to anyone’s life; my son was happy as long as he got his food somewhere around the time normal people eat lunch, and was not made to starve. These kinds of incidents led to many an argument with my support system and my son’s other caretakers, but actually the only person in distress was yours truly. I had become my own worst nightmare. I was a momzilla.
As a first-time mom, any and every small deviation is made to seem like a mammoth issue. I personally feel most first-time moms are wound up tight, and I was leading the pack. Over a period of time, I became more flexible and learnt to take things in my stride. In hindsight, after my second one has arrived, I keep wondering why I had made my life more stressful than it needed to be. I realised being a stickler for routine was one thing, but being an unreasonable stickler for routine was completely different altogether. I guess that is why practice makes perfect (although I don’t think ‘perfect’ can be applied to anything when it comes to motherhood).
With my second son, I am now just the opposite. Yes, as a mother, I am still a little OCD with many things, but toned down by many levels. I have to keep reminding myself of the following:
Hello to all my Bubbly Blogcast readers! Apologies for the long break in my posts...I was busy pushing another tiny human out of my V card. He is now 2 weeks old and looking a lot less like a little alien creature and more like my husband.
The night I delivered, I was lying in the hospital bed reading one of the magazines the nurses had given me. I came across an article a mother from Germany had written on postpartum depression; a condition which a large percentage of new mothers experience, post delivery. We are all of course familiar with it; whether we have gone through it ourselves or not. The author of the article spoke about her symptoms and severity of the depression, how it affected hers, her family’s and her baby’s life the first few months. The article got me thinking.
Depression is something we always think only others go through and could never happen to us. We sometimes talk about it as if we are narrating a scene out of a movie. So I wanted to dedicate my post this week to this topic, and to a milder version of depression which many new moms don’t even realise they are experiencing, called baby blues. There are so many websites out there which give moms advice on the symptoms of baby blues and how to overcome it. But I wanted to dig a little deeper so that if any moms out there want to share their voice on their experiences, they can do so without any hesitation.
I have personally seen baby blues set in faster and more frequently among new moms. I am not sure if it can be contributed wholly to ‘hormonal changes’. The thing I want to say first is this – baby blues is not something that you can control, whether it is your first, second or third child. It is not something that is right or wrong. Some of the feelings associated with becoming a new mom (other than happiness, excitement, anticipation, joy etc), are those of anxiety, loss of identity, loss of your former life and fear of what lies ahead. These feelings can stem from not having enough help those first few weeks, struggles with nursing, feeding every half hour etc. Sometimes there may not even be a reason for these feelings. If these feelings are not communicated and ‘vented’ to a family member or friend, they tend to fester and eventually lead to sudden crying outbursts for no reason and a general overwhelming feeling of sadness. I am not going to go into the symptoms as there as many.
Coming home from the hospital with a newborn is always an emotional event, stirring up mixed feelings for the mother. Dealing with those feelings by surrounding yourself with family and friends, and talking about them is key, to keep the baby blues at bay. Bottling those feelings up and feeling embarrassed to talk about them, is what pushes many new moms to experience baby blues. It’s ok to not be ok. If you are not ok, say so!
Many people have a very ‘blissful’ picture of motherhood in their minds. They believe that motherhood is made up of only hallmark moments. When reality kicks in and the baby is born, the hallmark moments blend together with the hoard of challenges of motherhood. No one is ever ready for the hurdles motherhood presents; we can only prepare for it to the best of our ability, without knowing fully what to expect. But many times because that perfect picture in our minds is torn away by the reality of becoming a mom, the fantasy is shaken and the gloomy feelings become overpowering.
I had a very mild version of baby blues after my first son was born, although I didn’t know it at the time. I just thought I was an overly hormonal new mom. Pushing myself to breastfeed when I couldn’t because the doctor said so, nanny issues the first two months and other things contributed to it. There were days of never-ending crying outbursts, nearly zero appetite, mood swings and an overall feeling of loss. But at the end of the day I had my entire family around me forming a wall of support. Now after my second son was born, the day we came home from the hospital, my family and I popped open a bottle of rose champagne, and celebrated us having become a part of what a friend of mine aptly called – ‘The two boys club.’
When we decide to have children, as parents, we have our own aspirations for them, and desires of how we want them to grow up. As the world develops, we make choices changing with the times, that affect our children and hope that they learn from those choices which will sometimes have both, positive and negative consequences. We also look at the country we are raising our children in, and sometimes wonder if this is the right place for them. We judge the levels of safety, protection, opportunities, resources etc for them in our country. We look at freedom of speech and the freedom to make choices; not only do we judge the opportunities that they will have growing up, but also as adults.
Womens rights have been a long standing issue and point of discussion, all over the world. From education and the right to vote, to working women, equal pay and violence, womens rights have become fundamental human rights. They have become a way of life in most countries and have changed the way countries work, for the better. Having said this, there are still countries where women are denied their rights in many areas, and India is one of them.
Living in India, each woman rightly has her own opinion on various topics concerning mothers and their rights, like abortion or female infantacide and therefore the law against sex determination. Is abortion 'right' or 'wrong'? Female infanticide in India due to archaic beliefs of a certain section of the country, led to a nationwide ban on sex determination while the mother was still pregnant. How did this help? One would think that the inability to determine the sex of the child would increase the female infanticide once the child was born. Mainly due to the fact that the mother and her family were not given the right to determine the sex while pregnant. If they had been, maybe they would have made a choice to abort the baby by the legal 20 weeks (which also has its restrictions to an extent). Whether or not giving families the opportunity and right to make this decision during pregnancy, again has debating views. But is that better than giving birth and then resorting to female infanticide?
Abortion and female infanticide is not the main topic of my article. I bring up womens rights and a mother's right, due to the Surrogacy bill which has been passed, and has been a disappointing and controversial topic for women throughout India. For years, the surrogacy laws in India have been undergoing continuous revisions. It is common knowledge that surrogacy in India has been embraced by people all over the world. It has been a popular avenue undertaken by many celebrities as well. Therefore in the past, there have been no strict terms and conditions regarding the marital status and sex of the person wanting to have a child through surrogacy. Women use surrogacy as a business, becoming a surrogate birth mother only for commercial purposes. Are there opposing views on this from people? Of course. Some believe that women should be able to do whatever it is to support themselves, whereas some believe that becoming a mother just to 'sell' the baby (even if the child is going to a good family), is an unthinkable thing to do.
There are women who have no other source of income for reasons we as outsiders may not be aware of, and have therefore decided to become surrogate mothers, even though they may not already be mothers themselves. Who are we to judge? Surrogacy clinics regulate this process and if they do it right, the process is smooth ensuring that the birth mother gets what she needs and the baby is given to a good and happy family.
In November 2016, a bill was passed to abolish commercial surrogacy, at the same time imposing restrictions on who can actually be a surrogate mother and who can adopt a surrogate child. The only reason that a couple can even consider having a child through surrogacy, is if the couple is infertile; removing a couple's choice of how they want to have a child. Over and above this, unmarried women, single parents, homosexuals and couples living together, cannot consider having a child through surrogacy.
India has always been a country where the systems and processes in place are 'imperfect', for a lack of another softer word. This is not to say that other countries aren't; we have a million examples staring at us right in the face even today to prove this. But living in India, I can only look at some of the tainted systems, here. When faced with a serious, sensitive and challenging issue, we more often than not have a tendency to push aside the actual issue at hand and focus on the surrounding non-essential points, just to make things move faster and arrive at a solution. Are we addressing the main issue in this case? Surrogate clinics and agencies have not been registered till now and therefore face a lack of regulation, thereby leading to encouragement of exploitation of surrogate mothers by them. They have also been known not to provide copies of contracts to the adoptive parents. Is this something that surrogate birth mothers and adoptive parents need to suffer for?
Where does the real issue lie? Is it such that, like other systems and processes in India, this too cannot be streamlined and regulated on a deeper level, with the easiest route to a solution being taken? Why take away the rights and choices of unmarried women, single parents, childless women and homosexuals all over on how they want to have a child? How is allowing a single parent to adopt from an orphanage or agency, different from adopting a child through surrogacy? How is taking away the right of a woman regarding her source of income, a sign of fairness?
When our children grow up, I am sure we all hope that they are not denied any fundamental rights when addressing the way they want to have children of their own. Married or unmarried, married or divorced, homosexual or heterosexual, I would want my children to be able to make their own decisions, without obstructions at every corner.
Questions can be thrown at the existence and features of the Surrogacy bill from all angles. The sad part about this is that we call our country 'The Better India'. According to me, the word 'better' should signify strength, good health, compassion, happiness, freedom and most of all, development; development of our country to reach new heights that other countries have. With bills like this being passed and even considered, I worry for the future of my children in today's India.
What are your views?
Hi! I'm Antara and I was once a 'let's get the party started, consume a bottle of Rose Champagne on the weekend' kind of girl. Now at 33 and a mom of a teddy bear looking 2 year old boy (with another little bundle on the way), I am still that 'let's get the party started, consume a bottle of Rose Champagne on the weekend kind of girl.'