I clamp shut when the going gets hard. I clamp up pretty tight. And stay shut until it passes. Only this time around it seemed to last forever.
“Forever” is right. My last blog post was before August of last year. Right around then we started to go through a bunch of tests for Savi since the doctors suspected she had a urinary reflux problem that could possibly be affecting her kidneys. While this was ruled out in a couple of weeks, the stress was immense …compounded by the fact that it was the first time we were dealing with a health related unknown. We came away learning that parenthood is all about dealing with unknowns such as this … hope for the best and prepare for the worst ;) .
We took a breather and celebrated Savi’s first cause we knew the uphill battle with ear infections, colds and coughs we would face with the daycare change soon after. It all went as expected. I was quietly getting bigger as I entered my second trimester with our little Meesha. Ahh, those “qtip like nudges” from within …..beautifully soft and gentle … ( just like her delicate little self lying on my dad’s lap as I type this …). The week 20 ultrasound was close and Pree could not wait to make sure we were having another girl (he was so incredibly certain it was going to be a girl). We did confirm that part but were also met with the unexpected piece of news that our little one has an echogenic foci in the left ventricle of the heart. That finding is known to be a “soft marker for downs”. The doctor suggested genetic counseling and a level 2 ultrasound to rule out any other markers. Our doc tried to calm us but letting us know that this finding is more common now … that they have better u/s machines … it is rare that a single marker is of any significance. We still worried a little. The level 2 u/s revealed nothing of concern. Pree and I were happy and came off believing everything will be fine. If everything is not okay we will still make it okay, we talked. Life will get redefined and difficult but we did not believe it would ever affect our level of happiness. If our lives are indeed meant to take that turn, we will perhaps live richer lives ? (What a strange coincidence …As I type this my dad still sits here, Meesha on his lap, watching “Taare Zameen Par” … a “must watch” for anyone who has not seen the movie…).
Little did I know that once we share this piece of news with the rest of the world, we would have to hear their views and opinions ….they would not always match our views …they would not always support our choices.
Little did I know that how much their opinions would affect me (I rarely have second thoughts about a decision I make) and I would be fraught with doubt, pain, anger and worry for the rest of my pregnancy.
I clamped shut. Real tight. Cause that is what I do best. Cause that is what I needed to do to protect myself and my little one from negative thoughts …like I was saving her …. I am not “pro-life” or anything – I am more “pro-choice” …but in this case I was adamant about shielding this little piece of being from the opinions of the world – no matter what shape or form she came in ….
So I clamped shut and protected our little world fiercely.
As I watch her lying here, next to me, all peaceful and quiet ….I see that she is her own person. I can only hold on to her so much starting today. She is out in her world and whether I like it or not, the world is hers to deal with. Sure, we will care and provide for her …but starting today she will make her own decisions. Very soon she will be like a big sister – soaking up the world with such intensity that eating and sleeping are the last things on her mind!
As I type these words I am unclamping myself and taking a peek outside …these words are like the sunglasses that make gentle the harsh sun …making the transition a little gentler. I walk out with nothing but gratitude in my heart and a list of lessons learned in my hand. Gratitude for having a healthy child, gratitude to all the people who listened and helped me keep the faith….to my dad who prayed everyday and always told me that everything would be fine even on the days that he worried the most. I have come off with utmost respect for Pree – who through this journey did EVERYTHING in his control to keep me happy.
And here is what my lessons learned strip of paper contains:
1. Clamp shut, if that is what you need to do: When you are going through a hard time, you do not owe everyone an explanation. Share what you want to share with whoever you need to share it with to get through your tough times. If people do not understand then it is too bad for them. The reality is that relationships that suffer as a result of expectations such as this one were never meant to be. So clamp shut and relax – if that is what will help you.
2. Clamp shut, but use your support network: Even at times when I clamp up the tightest, I still talk to a few folk. Who I talk with depends on what the matter is, but I have always found that there is a sense of beauty and calm in seeking out people who care for us …they want to be there for us…and I am often surprised as to how much wisdom lies in my support network….be it family, friends or colleagues at work.
3. Give up on the guilt: Nobody cares that you are miserable and guilty about not laying your life out in front of them …so you might as well stop feeling guilty. Everyone is allowed to retreat into their worlds once in a while …and as long as this does not affect your performance in your professional life you should be fine. On the personal side, family is supposed to understand anyways ;)
4. Think positive: My dad and Pree were key in helping me think positive. There is little we can do to change the unknown. So we might as well think positive and hope for the best . Surround yourself with people who think positively if you find it hard to be positive yourself. Protect yourself from negativity of the world ….especially when you know you do not have the spirit to deal with it. Time and again, throughout this pregnancy, Pree and my dad have been towers of strength for me …hiding their own worries and concerns only to be able to be there for me. I am truly humbled.
5. Listen to your soul and fulfill its needs: Do not worry if things you do appear stupid. Do what you need to do to help you get through the times. Pree came with me to India for a 10 day trip in week 25 of my pregnancy. Certainly sounds stupid but the love and pampering I got from family (not to mention my sister from London came to India just so the whole family could be together at one place) …. spending a week with my sisters and my parents (with Pree taking care of Savi) was just perfect. But for that break I doubt I could have kept my sanity through the end of this pregnancy! So do not worry about what people think and/or the money you are spending. We all work hard so we can take a break when we really need one!
6. Be grateful and express your gratitude: Never forget the people who were there for you in big ways and small. People who helped you took the time and energy out of their lives in order to help you and for that they need to be appreciated. You appreciate others for your own sake – not because they expect it. I believe that appreciating a person is a form of externalizing our gratitude …and externalizing only strengthens our own respect for life and the people who have helped us.
7. Learn your lessons and brace yourself for your next challenge: Now that a hard chapter has ended, it is time to enjoy some. My little sis sent me this:
“i wanted to send (this) to you for many days…but waited till i knew everything turned out okay with misha ;-).
see this link, its one of my favourite graphic artists, rutu modan.hope you enjoy it.”
Thanks Meg, I love you too :)