Taken For Granted

Children are so vulnerable. And so dependent on their parents for the smallest of things. And there’s only so much that we, as adults, can effect…

We take so much for granted in Life.  Good health, sound mind, able senses… the list is endless.

A close friend’s wife delivered a baby boy nearly a month ago.  He was born 2 months premature and weighed just over 1 kg!  The boy has spent the last entire month in the neonatal ICU of a hospital.  For days at end, his own parents could not even hold him in their arms.  Even his food intake was through a drip, until very recently.  Of course, every one says : “The boy will grow up to be a brave spirit.”

As much as I try, I cannot even begin to imagine what that must feel like for the parents. My own 5-month old daughter – Pumpkin – developed a cold and a cough this weekend.  And we were both worried sick.  To tell you the truth, it wasn’t a bad bout at all.  But, as a parent, you feel so helpless watching a 5-month old react to the congestion in her throat, not knowing what to do.  She doesn’t even know what a cough is (this is her first time!). 

It’s the same when she goes for her vaccinations.  Any parent will tell you that babies don’t enjoy getting a big fat prick in their arms every 6 weeks or so.  My daughter is no different.  Any other day, she is beaming with a smile at the drop of a hat !  But the day of her vaccines (and the day after that), she is just not her self.  She just sits there, looking glum, not reacting at all to the usual distractions and entertainment. And that feels awful.

These experiences are all new for me.  I know people always say that there are some things you can’t experience until you become a parent.  Now, I am beginning to understand why.  Children are so vulnerable.  And so dependent on their parents for the smallest of things.  And there’s only so much that we, as adults, can effect.  Ask a parent and you’ll know what I mean.

As for my friend, things are beginning to settle down, and chances are his boy will be sent home soon.  Thank God.

The Invisible Club

There are many things in life that need to be experienced; there is just no substitute for them. Parenthood is one such thing…

There are many things in life that need to be experienced; there is just no substitute for them. Parenthood is one such thing.

There was a time when hiccups in my child would make me nervous. Now I know better. In fact, the last 3 months (yes, that’s all its been) have offered more learnings in parenthood than the rest of my life ! As a result, every thing is now just a wee bit different… in ways I’d never even imagined…

I now understand the sentiment that parents go through when their child gets kidnapped for ransom (earlier they were just ransom movies)… I now feel more sympathy for child beggars on the streets… I am now able to get a better understanding of how a human being would put his life secondary to that of another human being’s – a parent would do any thing for his child…

I am better able to relate to children now. And they, in turn, seem to like me a little more these days ! And, even as I try and prepare myself for the “month 4” and “month 5” phases of my little one, I find other people – new parents – looking to me for advice.

It seems I am now a part of an invisible club – “The Parents’ Club”. And it’s unbelievable !

It Takes A Village

Two months ago, a new born baby came into my life. Until then, I had heard many more experienced folks tell me that my life will change the day I have a baby. I am slowly beginning to realize why….

Two months ago, a new born baby came into my life. Until then, I had heard many more experienced folks tell me that my life will change the day I have a baby. I am slowly beginning to realize why.

The last couple of months have been quite a roller-coaster for me and the mrs. As all new parents, we were thrust into the care of the little one from the first day. As someone wisely said, "Having a baby does not make you a parent, any more than owning a piano makes you a pianist." There is so much to caring for an infant that it simply takes over your life, leaving you with little time for the rest of life’s pursuits.

One obvious impact of this has, of course, been on the blog – posts in the last 2 months have been at all-time low of just 3 entries each month! (I have resolved to fix that soon.) But, more significantly, the learning for me has been about how much we, as human beings, are dependent on predictability and on a routine in life.

As someone who thrives on change, it was quite a revelation for me to come to terms with this new finding. I had never thought of myself as not being comfortable in a situation that does not offer predictability. And baby care is any thing but predictable.

From the time she set foot in our lives, the world revolves around her. We sleep when she sleeps. We eat when she lets us. We watch movies only at home… often in instalments. There is no day or night any more. Sometimes she sleeps for 4 hours at a stretch, and sometimes you cannot think of putting her down, even for a moment.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s not all bad. In fact, one toothless smile from her, and every thing in life seems just right ! Seriously, words cannot describe how … nice it feels to see your child grinning away to glory. Never mind that you don’t know what made her smile in the first place!

But the bottomline is that you cannot do much to make it go this way or that way… you can only make the most of the moment. And we are not used to doing that.

It takes a village to raise a child. It really does.

It Happened One Night

For months, we had anxiously awaited the day it will finally happen. And when that day came, it still managed to take us by surprise ! In fact, we had ordered a movie home, and intended to see it later that afternoon. But we soon discovered that Life had other plans for us…

For months, we had anxiously awaited the day it will finally happen. (The expected date was 8th Feb) And when that day came, it still managed to take us by surprise ! In fact, we had ordered a movie home, and intended to see it later that afternoon. But we soon discovered that Life had other plans for us.

Just as we finished lunch at 2 pm that lazy Sunday, her water broke ! It was going to happen today, we told ourselves, almost silently. We were not supposed to panic. The drill was that we should get to the hospital within 2-3 hours of the water breaking. And we ended up using all that time.

Soon, we were making our way to the hospital, and luckily, there wasn’t much traffic on the way. It felt like the whole world was taking an afternoon nap while we were going through our most eventful life-experience. It almost did not seem fair… except for the fact that there wasn’t much traffic on the way.

The hospital staff were most helpful and courteous, and we soon found ourselves in the pre-labour “Waiting Room”. But, since her contractions were still far apart, all we could do was wait. So we shifted to our designated room… and waited.

I tried to crack some jokes to lighten the mood, but so far, the wife was doing alright. She was calm and not stressing out, which was good. Of course, that comfort was not meant to last long. The funny thing is, until that afternoon, we didn’t even know what a contraction would feel like. We had had none. We had read all about them, and how each contraction starts at the lower back and moves towards the front, and how you’re supposed to do a cycle of breathing exercises when it happens. But it was all theory. Until now.

By about 6 pm, the contractions became more frequent. By 10 in the night, they were happening every 3 minutes. That’s when we shifted to the “Labour Room”… to wait some more, of course. The only difference was that there were a few gadgets there to help monitor the progress of both mother and child. There were no gadgets, however, to help the pain. And the pain kept getting worse. Luckily, we remembered to ‘breathe’ with each contraction, which helped some. Every 3 minutes, she would get a contraction. And every 3 minutes, it would hurt a lot. And then it would subside. This went on for nearly 6 hours…

Then, the pushing started. And she was taken to the “Delivery Room” for the final part she had to play in this Miracle of Life. There was struggling, and pain, and blood…

And then, at 3.58 am on the 2nd of February 2004, a baby girl was born into our family !!!

Soon, sms messages were being sent to friends and family, informing them of the newest addition to our family. And I found myself surprised at how glad we were that we had had a normal delivery and that every thing was normal. Never in my life had any thing ‘normal’ meant so much !

I have heard many talk of the birth of their child as a momentous event in which “your whole life changes and you feel all these emotions at the same time”. For me, it was a humbling experience.

To hold a new born child in your arms, a child that is so… ‘complete’ in all respects, someone who started life as a single cell, is nothing short of a miracle. What did we do as human beings? Sure, the mother carried the child in her womb, while the father provided support. But, with all the technology and scientific prowess we can muster, we cannot “create” a single cell, let alone bringing to life a self-healing, self-sufficient, intelligent, human being !

As much as I try to break it down for myself, or for you, that night will always stay imprinted in my mind as a “miracle”. Living proof that there is a God, whatever name he goes by. There is just no other way to explain it.

P.S. We have since named her “Khushi” (i.e. ‘joy’).  Elsewhere on this blog, she will be known as “Pumpkin”.

A Time For Miracles

Yesterday was Christmas – a celebration that marks the birth of a very special baby.

Like every year, this Christmas too was a family event for me. Going for the customary mass in the morning, lunch with the family in the afternoon, along with the usual decorating of the tree, partaking of sweets, etc.

What was different was the fact that this will be our last Christmas as just husband and wife. Next year, this time, there will also be a little baby of our own to witness the festivities !

I am told that it is due some time this Feb. I am also cautioned that babies tend to have a mind of their own, and that the actual delivery may be any time plus or minus fifteen days.

To be honest, it still hasn’t hit me. Sure, there’s been a lot of reading up on the subject, and a lot of talking to others "more experienced" than us in this department. Off late, there has also been some shopping for baby clothes and preparing the house for its arrival. I even tested a script-based page that provides automatic updates on the development of the baby, week to week!

But it still hasn’t hit me. And I wonder what it will feel like when it does.

In the meanwhile, the wife keeps getting bigger and heavier. And I keep searching for more websites that help us get comfortable with this…phenomenon… this miracle called "Life".

P.S. : Isn’t it funny how, with all the science and knowledge in the world, no one can still pinpoint, at what stage Life begins?