I am Meera Vasudevan. I conceived at the age of 31 and became a mamma at 32. My son Arihaa was born in Goa on 22nd June 2014. It was a gorgeous sunny Sunday in an otherwise drowsy rainy season. So, apart from being a proud mom to an extremely adventurous and feisty 2-year-old boy, today I am a working woman – an actress, a writer and an aspiring film-maker.
It’s my nature to be prepared with complete research and analysis for anything I take up in life. I assumed that being a mum was a similarly researchable project which I could figure out easily and my life would go on, give or take a few hours of parenting per day.
Boy! Was I in for a surprise! And it all started with having my own boy!
Before Arihaa was born, I put in a year’s research into pregnancy and childbirth. I read books written by Indian doctors that are purely practical and applicable to our unique culture whilst providing enough information about the latest tests conducted internationally. I swore by Dr. Gita Arjun’s ‘Passport to Pregnancy’ and Dr. Nutan Pandit’s ‘Pregnancy – The Complete Childbirth Book.’
Thanks to these books, I conceived in the very first ovulation cycle that my husband and I started trying. I knew the tests that I was scheduled for in each trimester and the precise function of each of these tests. I had the list of exercises to perform for a stress-free labour and also the exact steps that a woman goes through during labour. I could keep pace with my obstetrician about the developmental milestones on my embryo-turned-foetus-turned-baby.
It was a blessing that my doctor was very impressed by my enthusiasm as a Primi mom and she urged me to continue my research. It would have certainly helped if I had support in the form of pregnancy support groups with other (pregnant) women at the time. But that was unavailable. So, note to myself! I have to do this for other would-be moms. Anyway, I endured and learnt that walking was a blessing for the unborn child and it most certainly helped guarantee a normal birth. I prefer normal birth and therefore, I had my mind focused on channelling my child through the gateway of my womb and out into the world.
As weeks turned to months, I made the effort to connect with my unborn child. I read to him (yes, I knew it was a him already by intuition) from Indian epics like The Srimat Bhagavatam at a fixed time each evening. Every time I took his name, he leapt and I felt a little happy kick from the inside of my belly all the way till my ribs! We had already made a connection and I looked forward to seeing my beautiful child in my arms, soon…
I walked for over an hour each day as I was informed that I had a tall baby who would feel better spaced out in my tummy if I helped him make that space by walking around and stretching a bit. Breathing had become intensely difficult. I needed to sit up and sleep and it was very thoughtful of my husband to make me a mountain of pillows with side cushions piled high so that I could literally sleep like a monarch.
I have to admit here the role that my husband played at the time. He lived through my pregnancy just the way I did, only without the belly. He was extremely cautious, removing obstacles out of my way and stocked the house with all possible multi-vitamins and food-stuffs. He was well-organized with all the files and paper-work, ready with the hospital bags and he even discovered a special vaginal exercise to help stretch the hymen to facilitate the dilation at the time of labour and to reduce the possibility of an episiotomy. We were almost successful! His participation helped immensely as he is well-aware of the importance of wellness, health and nutrition, being the son of a highly experienced warden nurse with an experience of over forty years.
We had our birth plan ready and handed it to all the authorities at the hospital so that we were all on the same page when the moment arrived suddenly. Finally, on Sunday, 22nd June 2014, two days after both our parents had joined us in Goa, my water broke at 7am. My mother-in-law and mom set about on the all-important task of feeding me a dosa as a last pregnancy wish! I consumed that dosa, more out of love than out of hunger (causing much distress through labour hours later. Note to myself: warn other would-be mothers to avoid eating heavy food pre-labour!)
By 3pm, my contractions had still not begun and dilation hadn’t started. My doctor was a bit worried but in keeping with my birth plan, she didn’t push the idea of medical induction for a long while. After that, exercising caution to prevent harm to my child, we agreed to the medical induction and by 4pm, the wild contractions began. For two hours, one body-wracking contraction followed another from an initial time gap of half hour to five minutes between contractions.
I felt life leaving me and returning each time a contraction hit me and churned my uterus around. I call it a near-death experience that every woman must go through to truly become strong! Throughout I refused any other form of anaesthesia (epidural). I wanted to endure the whole thing in its purest form possible. After just 2hrs, at 6:10 pm, I delivered a crying Arihaa as my husband, who was holding on to my right hand, watched him arrive in flesh and blood. He clasped my hand tighter and weeped like a little girl… Meanwhile, my mother and mother-in-law quickly made off with my sparkling clean and pure new-born son, to celebrate.The ordeal was done and I felt a bit relaxed, albeit in agonising pain from the stitches. Now that Arihaa was already part of the outside world, I agreed to take anaesthesia.
Bathed, cleansed and refreshed, I lay back in bed in my suite, eyes shut in gratitude, when I felt a cool, moist thing placed on my extended left arm. My son – pink, dewy, misty and asleep – cozied up to me. I placed my thumb into his palm that opened up instantaneously to wrap me in and envelope me in his warm embrace. I sighed, deeply! This is what love feels like, in person… I felt him and I realized that I can never be the same person again.
No book, website, personal advice or any other form of research can prepare a new-born mother for this new phase of her life. I was all on my own and more than happy and willing to find out what lay ahead for Ariha and me.I love my journey so far and I hope that by my effort, experience and continued research, I can help other moms relate to me.
Love and live life to the fullest and enjoy each and every aspect of it mommies!