Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Dad is Born

When Nikhil told us he was going to be a dad, I have to say it took some getting used to. I mean we are talking about the most fun and flirtatious guy in our team and if one had had to pick a middle name for him, let’s just say it wouldn’t be Responsibility. The father-to-be himself harboured many such insecurities and, like most men I know, wondered ad infinitum about whether he was ‘ready’ to be a father and whether he would truly suck at it…

Well, baby Suhana has arrived and Nikhil is proving himself so wrong that it would be funny if it wasn’t so darned cute. He has also been sharing his early experiences with us and it’s so nice to see a new dad’s perspective on fatherhood.

Since he does not have a blog, with his permission, I am putting two chapters of his Memoirs up here – one from before the baby was born (hilarious) and one from just after (one of the most awwww-inducing things I have read in a while)…

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Before

For a person, who has been in management all along, I have learnt to look out for “red flags” when a new job role is described. The two words which tick off alarm bells in my mind are “challenging & rewarding”. Challenging basically implies that the job is so tough that the last guy got sacked and rewarding means that you won’t get paid or appreciated much so learn to enjoy it anyway. As you read below, I will tell you why this is important.

The first time I realized that fatherhood would be tough, was when my wife asked me to join her for a baby preparation class curiously titled “Breast Feeding”. I was not really sure why I was supposed to attend this class but then one does not argue with a hormonal, pregnant wife!

I was particularly concerned because some of my friends had warned me of this new trend in the US, where fathers use an artificial breast, filled with expressed milk, clamped on to their chest and feed the baby with it. It is supposed to help in better bonding between father and child. For Gods’ sake, what happened to good old fashioned football or cycling or even playing horse- horse!! This was a direct threat to my masculinity and I was very nervous.

As I tentatively opened the door and entered the class, I found myself the only man amidst 4 women - the instructor (a pretty lady), 2 other heavily pregnant women and my wife. The husbands of the other 2 women successfully maneuvered themselves out of this class by using that most successful excuse of all time – “something important has come up at work honey”. Being the only man in the room resulted in very appreciative glances from all the women around. This did not seem so bad after all. And then it happened.

In one swift motion, like a Samurai warrior attacking his opponent, the instructor took out a doll from the drawer, placed it close to her chest and looked me in the eye – “So Nikhil, what do you think about Breast Feeding?”. I was taken completely by surprise, a deer caught in the headlights. What was I supposed to say? Was this a trick question? It’s quite obvious that men don’t think about breast feeding. We do think about breasts (a lot), but clearly her question was not about my favorite fantasy. And so I took a deep breath and then confidently proceeded to make one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I said “Breast feeding is what women do to children”. There was a deafening silence in the room followed by a look of horror all around. I could just see the venom in their eyes. “What an insensitive asshole”, “Is this all he can say about such a beautiful thing?” My wife gave me the “you-are-so-screwed-once-we-get-home” look. I could almost hear a screeching buzzer sound in the back ground, with Amitabh Bachchan’s baritone going “Nahin Mr. Nikhil, Galat Jawaab

The instructor sensibly decided not to ask me anymore questions and I was more than happy.

What followed after that was completely unbelievable. For the next one hour, I heard these women talk about their breasts, sharing the most intimate details, feeling them up, pointing to them and describing various parts of the anatomy of their breasts! Sounds like the fantasy of every 16 year old guy right? WRONG! It was the weirdest thing ever to happen to me and left me with a completely different perspective on the female breast. I don’t think I can look at them the same way ever. Hell I can’t even say the word Br… well it’s the fleshy organ that covers the mammary glands of the female sex in homo-sapiens!

The second class I attended was more encouragingly titled “Baby Care”. I realized by the end of the class that it should have been titled “How to handle a shitting machine”. 80% of the class was on the potty habits of infants and believe me they do a lot of it! The high point however was when the instructor taught us how to make a Nappy from a square piece of muslin cloth. I realized that I had a natural talent for making Nappies. This surely somewhat redeemed me from the fiasco of the first class. Making the Nappy also suited me just fine. Having being educated in Economics, I know the merits of division of labor. One person makes the nappies, while the other one changes them. I would proudly be the Nappy maker. That night I discussed my approach with Pallavi. It turned out to be a wrong move.

The final class was on Labor. This class happens in a very tiny, air conditioned room, with just enough space for 3 people. I went inside along with Pallavi and the instructor and soon found myself lying on the crisp white mattress between both ladies. This seemed to be getting quite exciting and I was looking forward to what happens next! It turned out to be the most humiliating experience of my life. In order to better appreciate what my wife was going to experience and to help her through the painful labor process, I needed to experience it first hand myself!

And so I found myself lying on my back legs raised in the air, chin on my chest, taking rapid breaths, as the instructor and my wife went “Push! Push!” What happened next is too embarrassing to describe and I will leave it to your imagination!

And so, armed with a new perspective on breasts, deep knowledge on infant shitting habits and a humiliating attempt to feel like a woman in labor, I was now prepared for what has been generally described as the most “challenging yet rewarding” assignment in life – Fatherhood!

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After

I am struggling to explain how one feels when you first lay eyes on your baby. I guess in a way its like seeing the woman you love the morning after – what you see is not too pretty but it still looks like the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.

You see, babies come wrapped in all sorts of indescribable gore! If one had not seen enough videos and spoken with other parents, you would actually look at the baby and go “What is that? Is it human? Did my wife make out with a monkey on the sly?

But as they clean them up and you begin to see her face, there are myriad emotions that hit you.

Disbelief – How could I have contributed in producing something so beautiful?

Curiosity – Why does she have this here? Why does she have that there?

Relief – Everything seems to be in order - 2 eyes, 1 nose, 2 ears, 10 fingers…

Fear – She is so tiny. How am I going to take care of her?

And then they slowly hand over the baby to your arms.

Pride – That’s one helluva beautiful child!

Confidence – Don’t worry girl. I am not going to let go. Nothing can harm you now.

Love – This is going to be a lifelong love affair…

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Here's wishing Nikhil, Pallavi and Suhana all best for what promise to be some seriously challenging and rewarding times ahead. Take it from someone who's been done, done that - the rewards beat the challenges hands down!

29 comments:

  1. Y're right Ro. This is one of the funniest and the most awww- inducing post i've read in a while.

    i laughed out loud at the pretend-labor bit. hahaha.

    Nikhil should get a blog pronto. Congrats to the brand new family.

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  2. Truly an awww-inducing account. many happy days to them.

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  3. Can't recall if I've commented before, but I enjoy reading your blog, Rohini :) (Nope, am not a Mom)
    And this post left me all goosebumpy! Thanks for sharing this and kudos to your friend.

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  4. Ro, I think Nikhil and Pallavi went to the same classes in Pali that I did....it all sounded eerily familiar!! Great job :-)

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  5. aw, you're right it was definitely entertaining and aw-inducing. wishing them all the best for the challenging and rewarding times ahead!

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  6. Awwwww sho shweet..definitely aww-inducing..Makes me understand hubby's reactions :)
    Thanx for sharing..
    here's wishing the new parents all the best in the coming days..and also many many happy times with baby Suhana

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  7. i am repearing th others
    awwwww
    thanks for sharing!
    all the best to the 3 of thm

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  8. Nikhil went to the class with his wife ? My husband is so going to hear of this. Again and again ! And the second part is beautifully written - lucky Suhana ! Maybe you should ask Nikhil to be a daddy blogger - we'll hear more of Suhana then!!

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  9. What a lovely post!

    And you gotta believe me when I say I was laughing out loud holding my stomach (and I was at work reading this) when I read this part -

    "And so I found myself lying on my back legs raised in the air, chin on my chest, taking rapid breaths, as the instructor and my wife went “Push! Push!” What happened next is too embarrassing to describe and I will leave it to your imagination!"

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  10. Anonymous8:01 pm

    lovely post! your friend nikhil can certainly write. was giggling away. congratulations to nikhil and his family.

    sarah

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  11. congrats nikhil and pallavi! Nothing beats parenthood. I was rolling on the floor when he described the birthing classes. altough to have him lie down and push was a bit much :)

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  12. Nikhil6:47 pm

    Hi All,

    Thanks for your comments on the stuff I wrote. They have left me feeling energised and encouraged to write some more. Have written about 6 chapters and will figure out a way to share it with all of you :)

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  13. This was lovely, Ro.
    Nikhil, eagerly awaiting further chapters.

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  14. hilarious and awww-inducing indeed!

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  15. ROFL! What an excellent post!~

    Awwwwww... Congrats to the new family!

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  16. Hey Ro, pass on the congratulations from another anari pair of parents.

    V and I were used to toddlers. Which is no preparation at all.

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  17. bloghopped here and just couldn't resist commenting...

    What a great well written post. Congratulations Suhana, for having given birth to proud parents...:)It sure looks like its gonna be quite a ride!!

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  18. Def awww-inducing... very sweet.

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  19. Hilarious! And sensitive! I kind of pity what men have to go through when they are having a baby these days. Before I get chappals hurled at me, I know we women have the toughest part - making the baby and then getting it out in one piece, but I think wanting the father to go through labor is kind of pointless!

    Really don't like when couples say "We are pregnant!"...I mean, sure you can say that if your hubby is pushing a baby out too...otherwise...its just "I am pregnant and we are having a baby"

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  20. oh - wow- nikhil does have a way with words- all teh best to him and waiting to read his next 6 chapters

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  21. so funny and cho chweet!

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  22. Am forwarding this to Philistine hubby. Brill.

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  23. Hilarious ! Brilliant !

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  24. ROFL. too good. tell the man to get a blog. and stop trying to get away with guest posts. write us something.

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  25. Very familiar - got here through OJ too! And very touching. Women are always like this i guess... but men change after they realize they are actually capable of doing something so constructive. Nice!

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  26. kunju's mom4:33 pm

    HILARIOUS!! congrats Nikhil.. am sure your next six chapters will be equally entertaining and awwww'ing... looking fwd to it... cheers!!

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  27. Anonymous6:16 pm

    hilarious..i'll visit regularly

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  28. :)

    i had SUCH a laugh!!!! this was just brilliant!!! :D

    congrats to N and biwi and l'il suhana!!!

    and we look forwrad to reading a lot more from him!!

    cheers!

    abha

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  29. The Nikhil series is just too hilarious!!! And they've just started- imagine what all fodder Suhana is going to provide the man for his blog! :-D

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