Thursday, June 25, 2009

That Time, This Time...

The interesting thing about being pregnant for the second time is that you have something to compare it to. And interesting things always provide fodder for blog posts. So here’s some of the things that have been different for me in the second pregnancy:

General Health

The first pregnancy was completely uneventful. To start with, I didn’t suffer a single day of morning sickness. Now you might think that this might be because I have blocked out unpleasant thoughts thanks to pregnancy amnesia but I remember very clearly the lack of nausea being a source of worry, an indicator that things weren’t progressing as well as they should have been. Well, this time atleast I didn’t have that to worry about since I was plagued by a general feeling of nausea and malaise through my first trimester…

Also, while pregnant with Ayaan, I didn’t have any issues that required me to take any medication other than the standard multivitamins and supplements. But this time around, I got a horrible throat infection and resultant hacking cough that called for two rounds of antibiotics before it went away.

Fitness

I was quite a couch potato through my first pregnancy. I was working longer hours then and that along with a much longer commute didn’t leave much time for exercise. I did attempt some half-hearted walking on the weekends and signed up for a pre-natal class to learn some exercises, but overall, I would have to say that I spend most of my free time horizontal.

This time, we have become members of a club nearby and the one form of exercise that has always been more of a delight than a chore – swimming – is now easily accessible to me. The work and the commute have been lighter too, allowing me to slip in a morning swim atleast 4 to 5 days in a week. And I can feel the difference. My weight gain has been slower, as evidenced by the scale and the fact that I am still comfortably wearing my wedding ring which came off in the fifth month last time thanks to fat, swollen fingers…

Food-wise too, I am being a lot more circumspect this time. Having treated pregnancy as a license to eat everything in sight the last time and having paid for it in terms of unnecessary extra weight, I am trying to seriously avoid junk food. I carry nuts and dried fruits to work to satisfy snacking urges and prefer a cheese sandwich to a fried snack, even at home. The fact that I have an absolute aversion to sweet stuff this time around also helps.

Physical Appearance

This one is short and sweet. I jumped an extra bra size compared to last time. And my tummy popped out a lot sooner - people were offering me their seats right at the beginning of my fourth month this time around.

Fashion Sense

There’s no easy way to say this. I was a frump in my first pregnancy. My sartorial choices included shapeless tops from FabIndia, oversized salwar kameezes, some maternity wear that my mother picked up from the US (only they were a size too big), some very poorly designed maternity pants I picked up at Mumbai store and whatever I could raid from the husband’s closet. I wasn’t particularly upset about this since there really weren’t any other alternatives available.

This time, I have decided to go in for a much more ‘yummy mummy’ style of dressing. It helps that Mothercare has launched their maternity wear in India – and while their clothes are not exactly at the height of fashion, they are still a huge improvement on what was available in India earlier by way of maternity wear. The current styles in tops too have a lot of options in lycra and empire waist lines, so I have been able to pick up stuff from regular stores that double up quite well as maternity wear. And last but not least, a fortuitous international work trip allowed me to pick up some good maternity wear, like these lovely maternity jeans that almost don’t look like maternity jeans.

So yes, I am comparatively rocking this pregnancy when it comes to looking fashionable and might I even say, hot!

Energy Levels

Much, much lower this time around. When pregnant with Ayaan, I would come home from work and fling myself in front of the TV, where I stayed till I went to bed. Mornings were a leisurely start to the day where I cashed in my pregnancy chips by insisting on breakfast in bed before I moved my bones. This time around, I am up at the crack of dawn to get the brat ready for school and my day ends only once he is in bed. Plus, I am trying to be more active with the regular swimming. So I feel utterly exhausted ALL the time. And the house is a mess. I can’t even summon up enough drive to put away the ironed laundry, which usually piles up in a mountain, to be tackled on the weekend. Forget about laundry, all the books I’ve read in the last month are still lying on my bedside table/ drawer since I haven’t been able to muster the motivation to pop them into the bookshelf.

Need for Information

Last time, I was positively ravenous for information on pregnancy, birth and caring for the baby. I bought the bible of pregnancy of course (What To Expect When You Are Expecting) but I also bought Spock on Pregnancy, a book on pregnancy nutrition, another on breastfeeding and atleast three books on childcare that I can recall. In addition to this, I signed up for Baby Center’s weekly mails – which told me what I was supposed to be feeling in minute detail and gave me weekly updates on what the baby was up to.

The only thing that has survived to the second round is the What To Expect and even that is being read cursorily. Last time, I pored over the entire book just after I bought it and read each month again just when it had started. I think I stopped short of memorising every detail in the book and could have answered a quiz on pre-eclampsia, placenta previa and cocaine use during pregnancy amongst other things. None of which, I might add, had any relevance or connection to me or my pregnancy…

This time, I pick it up once in a while when I am between books, leaf through the questions for the month I happen to be in (sometimes having to catch up with two months at a time) and read the answers only if they apply to me. For example, I know that the question ‘The baby is kicking so much. Could it be twins?’ in the sixth month chapter can be safely ignored.

Bending the Rules

I was paranoid about following ALL the rules the last time around. For example, I think I started wearing flat shoes and stopped wearing underwire bras the day the two pink lines appeared in the home pregnancy test. I stayed away from pork entirely due to the tapeworm scare. I never ate salads outside home for the fear that they might be improperly washed. And forget about imbibing even a sip of an alcoholic beverage, I didn’t so much as take a bite of anything cooked in a wine sauce.

Now, I am a little more irreverent about the rules. I continue to wear my sandals with 1-2 inches of heels, particularly on days when I know I won’t be doing much walking; and I plan to continue wearing them till I find them comfortable. The same applies to the underwire bras. I do eat the salads if I know I am at a trustworthy establishment and am not above gorging myself on a well-cooked pork sorpotel. And my doctor has permitted me a weekly glass of wine/ beer and while I am not swigging the stuff on a weekly basis, I happily have a glass of wine when I am out for a meal with friends.

Hmmmm.... I felt like I had a more examples of how the second pregnancy is different but the one thing that remains the same is ‘pregnancy brain’ {thanks Talena :) }and the rest of these seemed to have slipped my mind. More as and when I think of them.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

WaterWorks Inc

Here’s the thing. I don’t really do tears. Sure, I cry sometimes. Mostly out of anger and frustration and more often than not, directed at the husband. But overall, if you knew me, you would agree that I am rather practical, bordering on unemotional. I like to say that I have the sentimentality of a rock. Well, apparently pregnancy hormones will melt the flintiest of rocks. And cause a flood of tears not seen before in these parts* (except when Ayaan is denied something he wants).

I give you a sampling of the events of the recent months:

Situation 1: Another Kind of a Mile High Club

Jai and I were on a flight to Jaipur and we were going to be meeting Ayaan after a gap of two weeks. Jai decided to tell me that my mother told him that she won’t be bringing Ayaan to the airport to receive us since it would mess with his dinner time. This simple announcement over, he went back to reading his book only to look up a few moments to find big, fat tears rolling down my cheeks. Of course, he assured me that he was just kidding so that I would get a surprise when we landed. Now, you’d think that would be reason enough for me to stop crying right? Wrong. I wept for another five minutes for no reason known to anyone and to the utter discomfort of the guy sitting on the other side of me.

Situation 2: Morning Melodrama

One bright and sunny morning, I went into Ayaan’s room to wake him up for school. Now most days, he beats me to it and wakes up himself and pads across to our room. On the days that he needs to be awoken, he is grumpy to say the least. And it was no different on this particular morning. He peered up at me and said ‘Tu Ja’ (Marathi and Hindi for ‘get lost’) in the his rudest tone. Now this is a common occurrence and depending on his rudeness and my patience levels is dealt with anything between cajoling, scolding and spanking on my part. Not on this day, however. The instant these words left his mouth, I felt my eyes prickle and five minutes later, Jai walked into the room to find me sitting on the floor and bawling in a most heart-broken fashion. And the effect of this on my loving son, you ask? He was magically transported into a brilliant mood and was laughing at my theatrics and egging me on to ‘Cry some more’… though to give the devil his due, I don’t think he has ever seen me cry for real, so he probably thought I was putting up an act for his viewing pleasure…

Situation 3: The Not-So-Professional Business Traveller

Having overslept and rushed to the airport counter 25 minutes before the departure of my flight, I was politely informed by the Jet Airways lady that the flight was closed. This being the first time I have ever missed a flight, I was understandably bummed and then again I started to feel that unmistakeable prickle in my eye. And when she informed me that the next flight was all sold out, the dams burst and before I knew it, I was dripping enormous tears on the check-in counter and the Jet lady was veering between trying to look sympathetic and shifting uncomfortably in her chair.

Amongst other things, I have also been sniffling at sappy movies like Message in a Bottle and getting teary-eyed at an animal rescue programme on Nat Geo. Darn! I miss the old me. This is one thing I will be happy to lose along with the pregnancy bump. Now if only I could keep the cleavage :)

* I met a friend for lunch who reminded me that these events are not as unprecedented as one might suppose. She remembers from my first pregnancy that I drove home from work bawling half the way because the traffic jams upset me. I, of course, have no memory of this event. I guess this what they call pregnancy amnesia, when you subconsciously block out events from your pregnancy and childbirth experience that you don't want to remember and that might sap you of your motivation of going through the whole thing again :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

In Conversation with Ayaan about the Baby

I am happy to announce that the brat has moved on from his gory obsession about his mother being cut up and we have been having a lot of fun, stimulating conversations about the baby. I am going to record some of them here for posterity...

On Gender Preference

Ayaan: Can we get a baby brother?
Mama: We can’t choose, baby. We will only know when the baby comes. What if it is a baby sister?
Ayaan: Well, ok then.

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On Gestation Periods

Ayaan: Mama, when is the baby going to come?
Mama: In October.
Ayaan: *brings his calendar* Show me on my calendar
Mama: *marks out 24th October on his calendar* The baby will come around this day
Ayaan: No. no. That’s too far. Can’t he come in June?

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On Equality of Discipline

While watching TV and being told to move back…
Ayaan: When the baby watches TV from too close, you shout at him also and tell him to sit back, okay?
Mama: Okay

After a little accident, followed by a scolding from Mama…
Ayaan: When the baby does susu* in his undies, you shout at him also, ok?
Mama: But when the baby is small, he can’t control his susu and he will do it in his diaper. So we have to wait a bit for him to grow up and learn to do it in the potty
Ayaan: Ok

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On the Biology of Pregnancy

Dinner table conversation…
Ayaan: Mama, when the baby does susu inside you, does it come out in your undie? Then do you have to go and change your undie?
Mama: No, baby. We all have a bladder (you have one too), where the susu collects till the bladder gets full and then we go and do susu in the bathroom. So the baby’s susu also goes to Mama’s bladder and comes out when she goes to the bathroom. (OK I know this is not technically true but I didn’t think he would get the whole peeing in amniotic fluid thing just yet)
Ayaan: And what about foodie? How does the baby eat foodie?
Mama: When Mama eats, some of that food goes to the baby. There is a pipe from Mama’s stomach to the baby’s stomach and the food goes directly to the baby’s stomach (again, a gross simplification but I don’t think I know much more than that either…)
Ayaan: Does the baby eat carrot?
Mama: Yes. He eats everything that Mama eats.
Ayaan: Does he eat chappati? *rinse and repeat till he runs out of his list of known edible items*
Ayaan: But Mama, you don’t eat chocolate and meetha** things? You must eat some otherwise the baby also won’t get any meetha things to eat…

After he bumped into my knee…
Ayaan: Sorry. Baby got hurt?
Mama: The baby’s not in my knee. He’s in my stomach…
Ayaan: But he must be going for a walk to your knees sometimes, na?
!!!

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On Sharing:

While playing in his room:
Ayaan: When the baby comes, I’ll keep my toys in this drawer and the baby’s toys can be in that other drawer.

While eating his post-dinner chocolates, which he gets to eat on Mondays and Thursdays
Ayaan: When the baby comes, we’ll give him chocolate on Mondays and Thursdays also
Mama: But when the baby is small, he won’t have any teeth so he can’t eat the things that you can. He will have only have milk till his teeth grow.
Ayaan: Ok. But when he becomes big and his teeth grow, then we’ll give him chocolate on Mondays and Thursdays?

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Preparing for the baby:

After we read this book, which had a page on feeding the baby and mentioned that some babies are breastfed and some are bottle-fed.
Ayaan: Mama, when our baby comes, we will give him milk from a bottle, ok?
Mama: No, baby. I will feed him from my breast like in the other picture?
Ayaan: No, no, the bottle is better
Mama: But the milk in the bottle is not as healthy as the milk in Mama’s breast
Ayaan: Ok. But when the milk in your breast gets over, then we will give him a bottle, ok?

When he was at my mum’s place in Jaipur, he found one of his old baby hair brushes. And decided that he will keep it for the baby.
Ayaan: Dekho***, Mama. I kept this brush for the baby.
Mama: Very good. Why don’t you tell him? *pointing to my stomach*
Ayaan: *to my stomach* Baby, I kept this brush for you.
Mama: The baby said ‘Thank You’

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Catching Out Mama’s Lies

A few days after the brush episode…
Ayaan: Mama, what is the baby saying now?
Mama: *having completely forgotten about the previous conversation* Sweetie, the baby can’t talk yet. He will start talking only after he comes out and grows up a little. In fact, you will have to help me teach him.
Ayaan: But that day, you said that he said Thank You…
Mama: Er….

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*Susu = Pee
** Meetha = Sweet
***Dekho = See

P.S. We are not talking about the baby in any particular gender but Ayaan tends to use the male Hindi verbs when referring to him, as do I. Hence the baby has been referred to as a 'he' in the conversations above, which were conducted in a mix of Hindi and English but I have translated for convenience and easier reading for all...

Monday, June 08, 2009

On Being Pregnant and Sick

If you are hypochondriacally inclined and your symptoms start off with a painful, sore throat, you’d best stay away from Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, especially if you happen to be in the neighbourhood of page 382, which contains this reassuring (not!) paragraph:

"The scariest, most-out-control bacterial disorder of the moment is a disease called necrotizing fasciitis in which bacteria essentially eat the victims from the inside out, devouring internal tissue and leaving behind a pulpy, noxious residue. Patients often come in with comparatively mild complaints – a skin rash and fever, typically – but then dramatically deteriorate. When they are opened up, it is often found that they are simply being consumed. The only treatment is what is known as ‘radical excisional surgery’ – cutting out every bit of
infected area. Seventy per cent of victims die; many of the rest are left terribly disfigured. The source of the infection is a mundane factory of bacteria called Group A Streptococcus, which normally do no more than cause strep throat. Very occasionally, for reasons unknown, some of these bacteria get through the lining of the throat and into the body proper, where they reap the most devastating havoc.

So far, it appears the flesh-eating bacteria have spared me ;)

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It’s probably also best to stay away from Google. While my Google search on whether my violent coughing can actually harm my baby in anyway was reassuring, I also ran into links which made me doubt every bit of medication I was taking to feel better:

  • On the antibiotics my doctor prescribed: “The effects of Phexin free prescriptions/Rx during pregnancy have not been adequately studied.”
  • On the Strepsils I took to soothe the dratted throat: “The safety of this medicine in pregnancy and breastfeeding has not been established, but the manufacturer does not consider it to be hazardous. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for further information.”
  • On the cupfuls of ginger tea that I have been ingesting to feel better: “As a diuretic, (tea) increases the frequency of urination which may cause reduction in your body fluid levels leading to dehydration.” That explains the severe dehydration headache I got a couple of days ago…

Only the Crocin I was advised to keep the fever down seems to have no scary sounding words to be discovered on Google…

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Getting sick during pregnancy is not fun. Being sick rarely is, I know, but fun but the misery of being sick whilst pregnant is something else:

  • You can’t take any of the really good stuff that would just nuke the germs away.
  • Energy reserves, already running low, drop to levels where it seems like just taking another breath is not worth the humongous effort it requires.
  • The violent coughing gives you the occasional, worrying cramp.
  • Your appetite dies on you. You go through the day and realise you never had breakfast. Eating even the smallest of meals is an exercise in willpower. And eating less than what you were eating when you were not pregnant clearly cannot be a good thing

The only good thing was the enforced rest brought the baby’s movements to my notice, something I’d been worried about not feeling earlier…

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And then just when you think things can’t possibly get any worse, the boy catches the bug from you. My poor baby has been so sick. He had high fever for two days in a row, followed by a day of reprieve after which it came back even higher. We did a blood test and an x-ray and all seems to be fine so the diagnosis is that it is just a particularly bad throat infection.

The fever seems to have finally passed *fingers crossed* but the hacking cough persists, as does mine. If there was a championship coughing event, the mother-son orchestra we keep up all night would be a serious contender for gold!

It was heartbreaking when I couldn’t take him for his x-ray and blood test, because I am not supposed to go anywhere near an x-ray machine in my condition. With the additional spurt of fever-induced clinginess, he was most distraught that I wasn’t going with him and bawled all the way to the car. It already felt like playing favourites between the children and the second one is not even out yet!

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Apologies for the whine fest. Hope to be better and back with more cheerful stuff sometime soon.