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Tanushree Desai writes about how she’s rather parent her own way with her husband, after unexpectedly becoming a mom following a long infertility treatment.
Pregnancy and parenthood aren’t all a bed of roses, but despite all the toil, what one experiences on the way is a joyful bumpy ride, which empowers a parent from within, and transforms them absolutely, as an individual. Everything seems quite worth it, when they hold their squirmy wiggly little angel in their arms for the very first time, or see them growing up, by leaps, every single day. They are in absolute awe of this divine living being bereft of any malice: so pure, so gentle, so unconditional.
While this journey may still be relatively smooth for a lot of women, it’s far more testing for a few. Needless to say, their respective partners too have their share of turmoil, dealing through these trying phases. I wouldn’t say that these couples are unfortunate in any way. It’s just that life has its own way of churning up situations in front of us, for us to learn and grow, living through them. Every journey is different. Every story is real and special.
Here is our story of years of battle with infertility, to finally becoming parents, and choosing to bring up our child in the way we want to.
I battled for more than a few years with infertility. It begun when I was expecting for the first time, and it turned out to be a blighted ovum. A few months later, when I started to bleed profusely during my periods and was crippled with excruciating pain, I was diagnosed with chocolate cysts in my ovaries. I underwent a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy for cyst removal, during which the surgeon suspected me of having pelvic tuberculosis, and insisted on performing another office hysteroscopy within the very same week. We weren’t sure of what was happening, and so we went to a few more doctors, before settling for the one who we stayed with until the birth of our child.
I had to undergo another surgery and all TB routine tests to rule out tuberculosis. But this wasn’t it. My AMH (Anti Mullerian Hormone – which is an indicator of ovarian reserve in a woman’s body) was very low, and the doctors told me that natural conception at my age was next to impossible and I must go for the infertility treatments – IUI and IVF.
Initially, I was put on a hormone replacement therapy for the thyroid and were given pills to bring my sugar and iron levels at a baseline for them to start the treatment.
It took me some time, to get mentally prepared before I dived right into it. I took about two months to go back to my doctor with an adequate amount of confidence – that I was ready for it finally. In the meanwhile, I joined a ballroom dance class to take the pressure off my mind. The treatment began, and a series of IUIs failed. Every time I lay on the hospital bed for the doctor to perform the procedure, tears came rolling down my cheeks, because of the pain – not physical, but emotional. I always asked myself – why me?
Then we moved to the process of IVF, which was far more intimidating and strenuous – everyday hospital visits, with hours of waiting, scanning process, and injecting myself every day on my own. It took an immense amount of toll on my emotional health. But I kept going. Because I wanted my baby so very badly. The embryos formed were of great quality but were suggested to be transferred in the next cycle to improve the probability of a pregnancy. Weeks later, the reports said – it was weak positive – which meant I wasn’t pregnant.
We blew up a lot of money during my treatment, and insurance didn’t cover anything except one of the surgeries. I was recommended a month’s break and a restart of the entire procedure once again. I didn’t have the spirit to go back to it, with no certainty of the outcome. I had a full-time day job, which I literally had taken for granted, with my perpetual unexplained absent-ism. So I decided to move on with my work and get back to a normal life.
They say – you know it when you are ready to become a parent.
Though we never did an IVF again, we just couldn’t leave behind the thought of not having a child. So we started to research about adopting a child. And a few months later, to all our surprise, we did conceive naturally. It happened when we had stopped thinking about it completely, and had given up on the ‘natural ways of baby making’ mission. My pregnancy period wasn’t a breeze either, but at least, it was successful and our daughter was born through a planned C-section.
Like any other newborn Mother does, I too saw my life changing, in the blink of an eye.
For most of it, I was really prepared mentally, being in this process for way too long. But some of it just threw me off completely. And it was not my hormones, or postpartum depression, or cracked nipples, or sleepless nights, or slow recovery from a C Section, but this feeling of being reduced to someone whose only role earlier was to get to a stage to deliver a child, and now it was just about nursing her child for hours.
Everything else that did matter equally but wasn’t biologically dependent on me, was supposed to be taken care of, or supervised by everyone else. By everyone I mean, just everyone. Maybe it was just a figment of my mind, and none of it would have actually affected me as much if it wasn’t happening particularly in that phase of my life. But I couldn’t ignore what I felt.
And soon enough while I was progressing on my journey of motherhood, I found my solace in many support groups on social media, where women apart from discussing their baby’s health and hygiene, also vented their anger out, through long, conversation-like posts. The feeling – that you aren’t alone – is satisfying at many levels, but it brings in, an instant relief, and a wide smile, on your seemingly unhappy sullen face.
What was even more surprising for me was that, women of all ages, with kids more than one, or having kids who were adults already, too were battling with this menace of being advised on parenting all the time. While reading those posts, my heart sank. I couldn’t wrap my head around being stuck in this kind of a life forever. This was not something I was told before I brought my child into this world. This couldn’t have been my way of life in the future.
I started to voice it out to everyone around me about the way I felt. I expressed my gratitude to them for everything that each one was doing for me, but also made them understand, how important it was for me to be the way I wanted to be. I wasn’t asking for much. I just wanted to do everything for my baby myself. I wanted to experience the joy of every small thing we did together, which would also help us to bond better and outside of a feeding routine.
It took some time even for my own family to realize, what I felt, and how I wanted to experience motherhood in my own way. I don’t blame them, because they did everything out of love and care for me. But I too wanted to do everything for my child, out of love and care for her. Slowly, they let me in my space, as soon as they realized our happiness is most important and is above all.
A healthy and a happy mother only can bring up a healthy and happy child.
My husband has always been a strong support at every step. We two were always on the same page when it was about parenting. Our families, who we love to bits, have always stood by us in every aspect. And this time too, it wasn’t too late for them, to let go of their preconceived notions, to embrace the change that we were trying to bring in, with regards to parenting.
I and my husband took over the charge of my daughter completely from giving her a massage, bathing her, putting on her clothes, changing diapers, washing her clothes, feeding, taking her for doctor visits, taking her out for strolls, cooking her food ourselves, putting her to sleep, reading to her.
Most of the manual part of it was supposed to be done by a nanny, by design. We refused this arrangement and we were happy to spend all our time with our daughter. Our parents helped and supported whenever we asked for help. And they started to look beyond the logistics, and started spending more quality time with their granddaughter.
My husband, being an exception – unlike many men I know, never really differentiated between the responsibilities of a mother or a father and to date continues to be the same. He does it because that’s how he wishes to be. He enjoys being with his daughter, as much as possible.
And isn’t that is what, new age parenting also about?
It isn’t just our families, but everyone around us, the newborn parents, do play a role, in make this precious phase as memorable and happy for the parents.
For us, since the day our baby was born, we have, only at times, come across advice to us on parenting, for free. But it’s quite amusing how we tend to believe that everybody else’s life is just our business. We take it as our duty to give others gyaan, even when they are not really interested. Everyone, right from the maid, watchman, neighbours, colleagues, to Pummy aunty from the US who visits you once in a blue-moon, deserve your attention. Mind you – they all wish the best for you. They are your well-wishers who, all appear almost at the time when you don’t need them at all; you want them all to just be away for time indefinite, or keep their advice to themselves, and impart their knowledge only if you ask for it.
It’s unfortunate but true, that it’s seldom understood and respected by the people around us, that after all that the parents go through, for bringing a child into this world, they definitely also know what’s right for them too. It’s called parental instinct. And for all the right reasons, these rights are fully reserved with the pair of parents who belong to the child, and no one else, beyond them.
We need to first understand and realize that none of the ‘help’ is really appreciated by the parents, and hence, the best way one could help is to STOP with immediate effect. Give advice, guidance, and suggestions only if the parents ask for it. In the digital era, there is no dearth of information, if one is looking for any.
There is also the Gynecologist or a Pediatrician who have burnt their midnight oil for years to help the needy in the most appropriate way. Why do we all underestimate them? Why do we think that age-old methods and techniques are the best way to go?
Don’t get me wrong here – I am not saying they aren’t good, the question here is of consent. Has the Mother or the Father asked us for advice or suggestions? They are best left alone to manage their worlds all by themselves. They would rather be happy, if we just told them that we are there if they ever need us.
Become a support system, only if you wish to really help. Offer help in a way, that they would genuinely be appreciate or for which there is dire need. Respect the fact that every parent and child is different and there is no one particular way of bringing up a child. There is no one formula. There is no automated way. It’s a continuous learning process. This relationship too, needs continuous nurturing like any other.
When we do not care about what happens between two people in a relationship, why does the existence of a child bother us so much? Yes, its said that it takes a complete village to raise a child, but the only difference that can make or break it is the attitude of the villagers. Be kind. Be supportive. Be helpful. That’s all is ever expected. We can surely do this much for the new parents around us, isn’t it?
And if you are a new parent, and you think you too are stuck in this quagmire, please know, you aren’t alone in this. Feel free to voice it out to the people around you. People who matter and love you the most will respect your views and will always support you.
More power to all of you. Happy Parenting!
A version of this was first published here.
Images source: Tanushree Desai
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views. Individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times. If you have a complementary or differing point of view, you can request to be a Women's Web contributor too!
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