Married – Battalion led by mother, grandmother and older aunts reminds you about the biological clock that is ticking away and their longing to hear the patter of little feet. Some relatives do not speak to you anymore after you politely tell them that you want to wait for five years at least before you have a replica (or a fusion) of your personalities in your home.
Pregnant but not sure – Am I? Am I not? You take the test, mad at the world because you have to pee on a stick.
Pregnant? – Could this be a false alarm? Normal feet, normal fingers, normal tummy, excellent appetite and no nausea. You look up the first signs of pregnancy on the internet while the boss is out. Maternity clothes look depressing.
Pregnant – Blood test confirms the truth. You are pregnant. Do not know whom to call, what to say, what to eat. You have never suffered from nausea, so you wouldn’t really know if you had severe nausea now; but feel guilty when colleague tells you that when she was pregnant, she vomited several times and had to be hospitalised with an IV.
The first sonogram – Having cold Jell-O rubbed over your tummy in an air-conditioned room has its perks. You are overwhelmingly happy. Childbirth is a breeze. You laugh at Magda in Bridget Jones’s Diary, who wanted a natural childbirth, but after the first contraction yelled out, “Give me the drug, you fat cow“. Worried; because on the screen, your baby looks like a peanut that got lost in a grocery bag.
Pregnant and showing – Mom is visiting; forcing you to eat right or eat for two, depending on her mood. Someone suggests twins. Anxious – might feed the same baby twice while the other baby starves. Reminds self that the scan definitely showed one baby.
Pregnant and really showing – Hunt for a Lamaze Class in Dubai. Find none. Find a great doula instead. Count movements and wake up your sleeping partner and girlfriends to discuss the various types of foetal kicks.You are waddling into your building. Every Mrs Tom, Mrs Dick and Mrs Harry you meet is touching your belly. Toddlers are asking you strange questions and you wonder why you do not have that maternal instinct yet.
Pregnant and showing real big – You go for coffee mornings with other expectant moms. The question you REALLY want to ask but are not asking: How many times would a newborn do potty at night? Another insightful query from self: Wouldn’t these newborns need solid rest in the night after all that cute cooing? Make an elaborate birth plan. Decide you do not want an epidural but would like to be offered one (for the sake of humanity) Choose aromatic candles, flowers and music for your labour room. Best friend buys some candy that would stop your mouth from drying out. You know you have best friends for a reason.
Baby shower – Family and friends organise a wonderful baby shower. Think breast pumps look like medieval torture instruments and are insane. Friends assure you that the only thing insane at the shower is yourself. Sports-mad, so family takes you for Dubai Rugby 7s. You go on the condition that there is a doctor available. You share Rita Rudner’s view point that life is tough enough without having someone kick you from the inside.
Pregnant and waiting – Pray that your favourite gynaecologist would not go on leave. Baby is literally kicking up a fuss. Hope this will not become a habit in due course.
Getting to be good at pregnancy Math. (If Rita is due on 15th, then my baby will be 3 months older than hers and 1 month younger than Madge’s …) Internet article confuses you – 40 weeks divided by 4 weeks is not 9 months but 10 months. Am I supernatural? And if I give birth to a 10 pound baby, does that mean I lose 10 pounds?
Shopping for baby clothes – Have bought baby things – toiletries, receiving blanket, mittens, hats, swaddling cloth and a Diaper Genie. Scan said baby boy, but the coin you dangled over your belly moved from side to side, meaning baby girl. So nursery is decorated in favourite colour yellow, to be safe than sorry. Computer table is disposed off to make room for baby’s cot. Baby may now come as it pleases.
Pregnant and still waiting – Doula tries to induce labour through castor oil massages and herbal teas. Baby is staying put. Need a hand to turn on your bed. People are offering you seats in church during Sunday Mass. Most pregnancy and baby care books have been read from cover to cover. What to Expect When You are Expecting, is right by the bedside – along with the Bible. The neighbour’s cat is banned out of sight. The hospital bag is packed. You wonder if you should leave it in the car? Maybe not. That would not be hygienic. Move over to the bathroom side of the room as that makes the frequent toilet trips easier. You stay clear of women who frown at you when you worry when you’ll ever go out for a dinner with your family again.
You compare due dates with other women you met at the clinic. Apparently all of them have delivered and some of their infants are ready to teeth. You decide to choose a baby name.You decide that this would be the time to think about the process of giving birth. Friends rush you through the pain bit. A mean woman tells you that her friend once had a friend who was in labour for 38 hours and did not even ask for an epidural. You hear a similar tale from another friend and hope they were both talking about the same person.
10 days past your due date – Doctor decides to induce labour. Labour expected to start by 8 am the next day, but there is no stopping the baby, who suddenly decides to race through at midnight. Doctor husband has gone home to get mother.
Labour – It is like menstrual cramps, they said. It feels like gas, they said. All lies. You forgot the candles and the glass candy and forgot that something called a CD player existed in this world. Aunt struggled to time the contractions, hold your hand and videotape the birth at the same time. You let the doula stay where she was. There was no way she could get here from Abu Dhabi in time. The gynaecologist had said that women who have large feet tend to have larger pelvises. You had often looked at your size 10 feet hoping that this was true. At least she did not lie, because you thank God for a 4.1 kilo baby born normally, 4 hours after labour was induced.
One look at him and you wonder why the angels in heaven did not envy you the right to hold this little person, who is PERFECT.
By Linda Joseph Kavalackal,
Christ & Co.