The first pregnancy is always extra special. It’s a roller coaster 9 months of unbridled joy, expectations, anticipation, mood swings, fear, and unadulterated joy again. It is the last 9 months of your life where you will be the focus of everyone’s attention before that adorable little brat comes and usurps your place. Truly, the first pregnancy can be the best of times and the worst of times. But what if you were expecting, or had to deliver, right in the middle of the world’s biggest pandemic and lockdown?
First time mum-to-be Payal Bhattacharya writes …
So! There goes that first pregnancy.
The one that you can’t ever have a second chance at!
Anyone who knows me, knows how obsessive I am about my own birthdays, how I’m planning them for months (sometimes a whole year) in advance! Ever since I can remember, I have been obsessed with babies. I was that overexcited child at your cousin’s wedding who would sit patiently with a stranger’s baby on their lap and play with it for hours! I have literally wanted a child of my own since I was a child!
I have also always found pregnant women adoooorable! So you can imagine the amount of planning that went into everything that involves me being pregnant! Especially the first time!!!
The way my bump would look, the clothes I would wear through my pregnancy, the baby shower games, my Godh Bharai…. I’ve imagined every teeny, tiny, silly little detail for 30 years now!
It is only now, when I actually am pregnant, that the rose tinted glasses are coming off.
Nobody told me pregnancy was actually just one miserable symptom after another for a whole 9 months. No one shared how isolating & lonely a journey it can be. No wonder you crave the extra pampering & attention! This was the time my parents and in-laws would go out of their way to give in to any cravings I had (and God knows I’ve had many!)
Except, bang in the middle of my pregnancy … came the LOCKDOWN.
As an artist, I usually work alone and so am generally always by myself. That’s why I decided to get off my lazy arse and join a Pre-Natal class just before the lockdown. Firstly, so that I could share this journey with other women going through more or less what I was. Secondly , and more importantly, just to be able to meet other people at some point in the week instead of being by myself all the time.
You know what they say about Murphy’s Law. I paid up, attended a few sessions, and Bam! The Lockdown.
Now, the best I can do is rise through the miserable symptom of the day, finish my chores & cooking & cleaning & actually motivate myself enough to work out a little bit so my hips & back don’t groan through the night! (No amount of Kegels will stop me from peeing a little every time I sneeze or laugh too loud though!!!)
I will admit though, that given the current circumstances around the globe, my husband and I have gotten a pretty good deal. We don’t have help but we have a roof over our heads, running water & we both know how to cook! That’s more than most people!!!
We’re also using this time to spend so much time, just the two of us, before the baby comes along & life takes a 180° turn on its head!
But there’s so much left up in the air.
We were bang in the middle of renovating the home to make another room. We tore down all our cupboards, packed up all our belongings into cartons, got in an architect to carve out extra space for our newest little member … and it was all on schedule and due to be ready well before the baby came.
What we are now left with is an empty room that looks more like a construction site than a baby’s nursery.
Now I’m generally a happy soul and will make anything work. So I’m not too worried yet. We have another room (phew!) And so what if a crib can’t really fit next to my bed without blocking the way to the bathroom. I’ll make it work!
There are much bigger things to worry about. Everytime I speak to another pregnant woman their panic seems to travel through the phone & get to me!
There’s so much we don’t know about how this child will come into this world. Is a hospital safe? Will I make it to the hospital? Will my partner be allowed to accompany me? Will they bully me into a C-Section because they want to save time & don’t have enough staff? While I write this, I can’t get through to any sonologist for a very important scan I’m due for!
Will the lockdown end in time for both sets of parents & siblings & friends to come see the baby? What if one of us actually becomes Covid positive????? Okay I’m going to stop going into this hole I’m digging for myself!!!
So I’m great most days and am actually appreciating the peace & quiet that I know won’t last very long. The time I’m getting with the husband all to myself! But some days my entitled self does feel bad about the fact that I’m not going to have that Godh Bharai I always dreamed of (I’ve even bought myself a sari for the occasion!). Or that beautiful pregnancy photoshoot I have always imagined.
This week began like that, with a permanent black cloud over my head.
And it seems that black cloud had descended upon most of the country. On Wednesday morning, I woke up to the news that an actor I loved, Irrfan Khan, had passed away. Minutes later my mum called to tell me her favourite uncle who was a doctor himself had passed away due to a stroke. Moments after that, through the tears, as I was consoling my mother, I suddenly pictured myself in that beautiful yellow Shikaargah sari I had bought for my Godh Bharai. Surrounded by family & friends on a tiny screen on a Zoom call. Being able to include everyone who’s abroad & wouldn’t have been able to make it. So what if I can’t have them showering me with flowers & gifts. They can definitely shower me with love & blessings & lots of laughs … & that’s more than I can do for me & my first baby & I will not let this virus take that away from me!
Artist, Calligrapher, Co-founder Tura Turi, doting aunt and soon to be mum, Payal Bhattacharya is currently making the most of the lockdown by painting, baking, and eating for 2.