When I began writing this post, I wanted it to be an experience sharing of sorts of what transpired during my journey of becoming a mother and immediately afterwards. The joys and insecurities of a young mother and the highs and lows of this very dramatic change in life. But as I began writing, I realised I wasn’t really expressing any emotion completely but jumping from one topic to the next to keep the post short and interesting. In the end it was neither of the two. So now I’ve decided to divide this post into 3 parts and delve deeper into each emotion and not worry about any word limits. During pregnancy and after, I read a lot of blog posts by young mothers as a means to find emotional support and I hope my posts can also make an interesting read for someone especially in as confusing a time as bringing a new life on earth. It’s difficult for me to express intimate emotions openly and so it has taken me one year to finally write this post, well that and the fact that after a baby there isn’t time to do much!
Let me start from the beginning. It was an unexpected pregnancy. I had wanted a baby but not exactly at that point of time, in fact I had timed the baby exactly one year after it actually happened. But then there never is a perfect time. I had been thinking about becoming a mother since I took a prenatal class during my yoga teachers’ training course. It was the first time that I actually really felt that I would like to be pregnant. So I decided to do a prenatal yoga teachers’ training course, you know, just in case that I get pregnant, I wouldn’t want to stop teaching yoga and I can continue teaching pregnant women. The prenatal course was an eye opener of sorts as to what being pregnant can really be and how wonderful and not scary it can all be. I had a plan ready about how I would like my pregnancy to be and how natural and in what way I would like my baby delivered. Immediately after the prenatal TTC I went for a vipassana course and during one of the meditation sessions decided that I would like to name my daughter Sadhana. Besides it being a lovely spiritual name (a term coming from the yogic tradition and it refers to any spiritual exercise that is aimed at progressing towards the very ultimate expression of life in this reality), I also had the reason that every time I have feelings of self doubt in my spiritual journey or every time my ambitious self feels that being a mother has left me with little time to pursue my other goals, I would remind myself that she is my ‘sadhana’. As long as I can help her be a kind and happy person, I should be proud of myself. What if I had a boy you ask? Well, I never thought I will have a boy. And within a month of this vipassana course I got pregnant!
Like I said, it was unexpected so it was a huge surprise for both of us. And I’m embarrassed to say this but my first thought was, OMG, I’m not ready to put on weight yet! Well after the initial denial and craziness and a whole trimester of pretty serious morning sickness (which lasts the whole day long), we landed in France. The plan was always to have the baby in France and settle down there and build a yoga school and a life that revolves around yoga. Getting pregnant expedited the whole process.
Once in France, we began to look for information on assisted natural births and were lucky enough to find a mid wife who would do exactly that and in a perfect setting as well. I ate well, did yoga, went for swimming and even meditated regularly. It was beginning to look like a perfect pregnancy and we were getting very excited about the whole natural birth process where we wouldn’t even involve a doctor. The scans were all very good up until the seventh month when the doctor said that the baby has not grown much since the last scan. We rushed to the hospital to find out more and still unsure of what was happening, I was rushed into an emergency caesarean at 32 weeks. Until then, my biggest fear had been that I might ask for an epidural during delivery and now here I was in need of a caesarean! Fortunately for me, that evening the anaesthetist and the obstetrician on duty, both spoke English. The whole ordeal of being in a hospital where no one understands your language requires another post in itself. I remember crying in the nurse’s arms while the epidural was being administered to me. Finally it was sinking in that I’m having a baby, in a very violent manner, something that I absolutely did not want and also that my baby is very premature. Of course there was a faint happy excitement as well. We had not tried to find the sex of the baby so that would be a big revelation and our baby was coming now!!
Sadhana was born weighing 1130 gm but breathing on her own and crying like a full term baby. The doctors were surprised whereas I didn’t even know that they were expecting her to not be breathing without support. She was not shown to me immediately so I didn’t even realise how small a 1kg baby can be. The only news to me was that it was girl and she had hair on her head! My Sadhana was born!!
A few hours after surgery when I could finally go to the neo natal unit to check on her, I remember being shocked and scared to see how tiny she was, like a baby bird, so fragile. It was so scary. And so began our journey at the hospital for the next 7 weeks trying to get her into a healthy weight to be able to take her home. It was a difficult period for me even without being worried about the wellbeing of my baby, which I didn’t realise immediately because I was so occupied with Sadhana. The first thought after the initial chaos was that my pregnancy was kind of hijacked from me. I wasn’t even allowed a full term pregnancy. It felt so unfair. I didn’t even get to have a baby shower or a pregnant photo shoot. The next thought was what did I do wrong? I don’t drink or smoke, I took care of my eating and I even did yoga and other exercises. I kept blaming myself not knowing what I could have done differently. Was I too stressed about changing countries, did I not exercise enough, did I exercise too much, did I travel too much and the questioning went on. Along with it came a different form of insecurity, what kind of a yoga teacher doesn’t have a natural birth? What will I tell people when I teach them yoga, I’m kind of a bad example for prenatal yoga!
It was difficult at the hospital, the language problem, the new country, away from all my family and friends and the very bad hospital food. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, I now know how lucky I am that Sadhana was completely alright in every other way except her weight. But at that point of time I felt cheated out of my pregnancy and my natural delivery and imprisoned in a foreign hospital with bad food and an unknown language. And to top it all I was even struggling with breast milk, another thing that I very passionately wanted to do.
I had no idea breast feeding was so difficult. And having a baby 2 months in advance doesn’t help that. I struggled with a breast pump for a week before the first sign of milk began to show. It took all of my patience and determination to continue breast feeding her until the age of 1 at which point I stopped fighting the inevitable and let her be. Now she drinks goat milk!
Sadhana recovered wonderfully, after seven weeks at the hospital we were allowed to bring her home.
I think in some way I’m still embarrassed of the fact that I had to have a caesarean. I know its not my fault and it wasn’t in my hands. Life happens. My job was to do my best, which I did. I did my yoga and meditation, I ate well and rested well. At 32 weeks Sadhana was breathing without any support and as a baby she was one the calmest babies anyone had ever seen. I like to proudly tell people that it was because of all the yoga and meditation I did. Even now, as a little toddler she is the most smiling and happy child one can have.
As to being a good yoga teacher, I feel this experience has given me the sensitivity towards mothers that cannot have a natural birth, something that I didn’t have earlier. I think deep down I always felt that not having a desired pregnancy outcome or complications in pregnancy were always our own doing. I now know that that’s not the case. Life happens and the best that we can do sometimes is just let it unfold the way it’s meant to. I’m more sensitive and more prepared to help a fellow pregnant woman than I would have been had this not happened to me.
I know I didn’t get to keep Sadhana in my womb for 9 months but I held her in my arms at 32 weeks when she weighed only one kilo. The day to day, long hours of skin on skin to ensure her physical and emotional growth, are no less joyful than having a full term pregnancy and definitely more intimate! I would have liked to reach full term but now that all is well and good, I think I have no more complaints and I’m beginning to accept what happened. Maybe soon, I will look back at the whole experience with a smile and forget all the hard parts. 😊