“I’m tired, moody, irritable, hungry and I can’t find a thing that fits. It’s called pregnancy” – Anonymous
I looked at the calendar today and all of a sudden it struck me that at this time one year ago, I had been suffering from terrible morning sickness. Amend that – there was also evening sickness plus car sickness plus any-sort-of-motion sickness plus most-food-smells-make-me-puke sickness. At times it felt as though I was throwing up all that I had eaten for the last 2 years. Well, I know it wasn’t all that bad – certainly it was not like a certain Duchess’ hyperemesis gravidarum. But it felt bad enough at the time.
What irked me most was how alien my body felt during pregnancy. I thought I had become pretty acquainted with my body in my 32 years. However pregnancy made me feel like there had been some sort of astral projection and my soul had been mysterious plunked out of my body and put into someone else’s. What else can explain all the aches and pains and pins and needles in places that I did not even know existed? I love walking and used to walk marathon distances over weekends before. But now I would have to flog myself to cover the meagre distance from the station to my workplace. And when I did walk, no matter how much I flailed my arms and legs still I would be the slowest thing around!
Third trimester brought with it a fresh woe. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The doctor prescribed insulin that had to injected into my body before dinner and each day I had test my blood sugar level 5 times – each time pricking my fingers. My finger tips would become sore with the multiple tiny wounds. And on top of that, there were the dietary restrictions. I could eat only the most minuscule portions of carbs or else the glucose readings would spike up. I have always had a sweet tooth but now even looking at cupcakes in the shop windows was forbidden. The only thing allowed was protein and I soon grew sick of all the ways in which one can cook chicken – roast, grilled, satay, tandoori, curry, kebab! I have fairly disciplined and stuck to the recommended diet plan to the best of my ability. However even that was not enough to escape the wrath of the endocrinologist. He would look at the logbook where I diligently noted each blood glucose reading and then he would set out to circle in red all those times I had slipped up even in the slightest. All the while he would tut-tut and shake his head sadly, making me feel as though I was a naughty child summoned before the school principal.
In all I could not wait for delivery day. That was a blessing in a way. While other pregnant women worried about the delivery, labour and pain, I had no time to focus on all of that. All I thought was, no matter how painful, at least there would be an end to my present problems and I would be on my way to getting back the normal me!
So when I hear that there are some women who love being pregnant, I can’t really say that I agree with them. The feeling of anticipation and the cute ultrasound pictures are very nice no doubt. And also who does not like the glow and the full head of hair that you have during the nine months? But other than those bits, I cannot really think of anything I enjoyed about the physical state of pregnancy state.
I have talked to friends and colleagues about this. It seems most women who love pregnancy actually love the feeling of being special for the 40 weeks. This is the one time many people make a fuss of them and make them feel important. Their husbands wait on them hand and foot. Hmmm … that alone I guess has tremendous global appeal!
I have a cousin back in India who is a psychologist. She lives with her husband and her in-laws. Though they are a modern family (her hubby is a psychiatrist and her father-in-law a chartered accountant), at her place there was this tradition (enforced by her mother-in-law) that the men in the house got the best of everything – the larger pieces of steak, the bigger servings of puddings, the juiciest of mangoes! My cousin who had been brought up pretty pampered by her family initially found it really hard to digest this bit. When she became pregnant, her mother-in-law turned over a new leaf (temporarily!) and started ensuring that her daughter-in-law got good food for the sake of the baby. So, as you can imagine, my cousin definitely loved being pregnant.
This sort of a thing is common in the Indian patriarchal society, where gender discrimination is rampant. No expense is spared for the education, food and upbringing of the male child – but when it comes to the girl child, its a different story. This outlook is at the root of many evils – dowry deaths, girl foetus abortion, low girl child literacy and many more. It is true that the situation is now improving in many places due to measures taken by the government, NGOs and the media. However it will still be some time before all of India embraces the idea of gender equality. Till then women in many households are brought up to treat men as superiors and they dedicate their lives to making those of their menfolk easier. The 40 weeks of pregnancy is a small window of time when such women get attention from their families instead of the other way around. That is when they are the vessels carrying ‘the heirs’ (hopefully the much-prayed-for male child!) and so they get special attention and good food so that the heir gets proper nourishment.
I am so thankful that I am blessed with a wonderful family that showers me with love and a husband who takes very good care of me all the year round. Yes, he was very caring when I was pregnant but he is normally that way even when I am not. Thankfully I do not need a popping belly to get someone to cook dinner for me or to carry my heavy shopping. I wish this was the case for everyone. Every girl deserves to feel like a princess every day!