We live in a fast-paced society. People are so engrossed with their own day to day affairs and have their heads buried deep inside their mobile devices. Nobody is bothered about anything else besides themselves.
When you take a step back into the Susegad village of Goa, it’s the complete opposite. Everyone wants to know what is cooking in your kitchen. Surely many of us have experienced this scenario in the rural parts of India, joint families or traditional families. When you come of age, their very first question to you is, “When are you getting married?” Once you are married, the question that follows, “When do we get the good news?” Well, I myself couldn’t escape both these questions. Now that I was married and going to have our first baby, all eyes were on us.
My holiday ended with our little bun in the oven. Although the pregnancy was confirmed with the aid of a home test kit, we were still sceptical. We scheduled an appointment for our first scan. I was scared and had random thoughts flashing through my mind. I had heard of many cases where the baby’s heartbeat was not traceable and so couples had to terminate their pregnancy. Thinking of it broke my heart. I was too weak to handle a miscarriage and so I prayed, “Lord, take your own time, but give me a healthy baby”.
At the hospital, we explained the whole situation to our doctor and he suggested we first proceed with the scan. The room went quiet, all I could hear was the low humming of the machine and the loud pounding in my chest. I could see my tensed husband twitching as I prepared myself for the worst. As the doctor proceeded with the scan, we both locked our eyes at each other, all of a sudden, the silence was broken- it was the relieving sound of the baby’s heartbeat on the scanning machine. The doctor turned the monitor and showed me the first glimpse of our baby. One glance and I knew I was blessed. The doctor called over my nervous and even more confused husband who was trying to figure out what was happening. He couldn’t control his excitement and he hugged the doctor instead of hugging me and thanked him. I laughed and said, “Doctor, baby looks quite big”. And he replied. “Yes indeed, you took your baby globetrotting for two months. You should have been on medications by now”. Nevertheless, God was great and he had us and our baby protected, as she was fine and healthy.
Back home, we broke the good news to our families and they were thrilled. The thing about living in a village is that news spreads like wildfire. In a couple of weeks, my entire village knew that we were having a baby. Advice from the old and the young started pouring in. The elderly folk or should I say the experienced started to give their advice. Each time they met me, they would have something new to share. I sometimes wondered if they just made things up, just for fun. Most of their advice didn’t have any scientific or logical explanation, they were based on superstitious belief. I was advised not to play cards, as they were afraid that my baby would grow up to be a gambler. I really don’t know. Some said I should wear white or light coloured clothes, as that would keep my baby calm (well I kind of agree to this, as it kept me calm and in a good mood, so happy mom, happy baby).
Then started the gender prediction. People would come up to me saying, small tummy means a baby boy. Others said, glowing skin means a baby girl. Well, the most hilarious one was when a lady said to us, “You surely will have a baby girl as the father of the child is gaining weight.” I don’t know how far it’s true but we were blessed with a baby girl and yes, my husband was gaining weight during my pregnancy.
More advice poured when there was an eclipse. I was not allowed to eat, drink, toss or turn or even scratch myself during the peak hours of the eclipse. Poor me, I found all of this simultaneously annoying and amusing. However there are certain things that we youngsters cannot change, so it’s best we respect the requests of the elders and let the phase pass.
My first trimester came to an end, listening to all the superstitious beliefs and following them to a certain extent (I always tried to find some hidden logic) hoping I would have a safe pregnancy. What followed next took us by surprise. It was a quiet afternoon, we finished supper and were ready for a siesta. My husband was lazing on his hammock as usual. It was then that I realised I was bleeding and screamed in fright. All I could say was, “I think we have lost our baby”.
My husband jumped on to his feet, calmed me down and rushed me to the hospital. For the entire journey, we didn’t utter a word, I just prayed in silence. No sooner than we reached the hospital, we were taken in for an ultrasound. Scans revealed that the baby was out of danger and as we looked at the monitor baby stretched her hand out and made a very clear hand gesture of peace. We couldn’t help but burst out laughing as it was an absolute icebreaker.
Doctor explained to us the whole case of a low lying placenta and said that it was a common occurrence during pregnancy. That’s when I was given bed rest for an entire month.
That one month was the most difficult for me, as I was dependent on my husband for everything. He reminded me of our marriage vows, “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love and honour you until death do us apart.” He took care of me like a mother would take care of her child. Every day I would silently cry looking at how he would care for me. And so I decided that in order to make things easier for him, I would sacrifice my long curls as they were difficult to manage. My hair was my pride but it was nothing compared to my husband’s struggles. Before I could get a haircut, he said, “Love, you don’t have to do this”. I just replied, “You don’t have to do this either”.
My pregnancy had a lot of ups and downs. It’s true, a baby brings the parents close. Months of sleepless nights, labour pain and my pride – my hair was all forgotten when I held our baby in my arms for the first time. Every struggle was worth it. Our marriage grew stronger. It never tore us apart rather it brought us closer each day and made us realise that marriages are indeed made in heaven. This is the man I want to grow old with.
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