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An emotional rollercoaster

Pregnancy does not come alone and all its accompaniments never let you forget even once that you are carrying.

A relative’s family came home the other day with a large piece of chocolate cake. Handing over the box to me,the couple’s eight-year-old son told me: “This is for you.” A moment later,he suddenly seemed to remember something and added: “It’s actually for the little one inside you,he will like it.” Very new to such utterances targeted at me,I blushed,and was embarrassed too.

This was in January when I was only halfway through my first trimester. Now,17 weeks down the line,the feeling seems to have finally started sinking in. The awkwardness is gone when people look at my belly and ask: “Which month?”

Pregnancy does not come alone and all its accompaniments never let you forget even once that you are carrying. But it still takes some time to adjust. Even though your tests are positive,since there is no visible change in your body as far as appearance is concerned,and you don’t yet feel the existence of another life inside either,the first trimester keeps you in a confused state. It may sound funny,but I did a home test again in the eighth week for my mental peace. Mood swings take your emotions to new highs and lows. Experts blame it on the hormone levels,which remain at peak during this time and calm down to some extent by the second trimester,when you start making peace with your emotions,treating them more realistically.

The realisation of ‘being pregnant’ is a different feeling altogether and in my case,it has been a roller-coaster ride of emotions — from the very sad feeling of not being able to give the good news to my loving grandmother who passed away a month before I conceived,to the relief that I am finally expecting the expected. Throw in the great feeling of making the near and dear ones happy,who had been waiting for the news for long,and also that of the satisfaction that those who had called me cursed (yes,such people do exist even now) have got their answers,and you have the heady cocktail that makes such an understatement when referred to as a ‘mixed feeling’.

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And once you are settled with the feeling,comes the challenge of accepting the impending motherhood. As a careerwoman living in a nuclear family,I was never an ideal wife who would cook three fresh meals every day and keep the house spic and span. In fact,my classmate-turned-friend-turned-husband,who has known me long enough,was quite sure (maybe he still is) that I would forget to feed or bathe the baby,who would meet the same fate as did all other things that I brought home with care only to never use them again or let layers of dust accumulate on them.

Jokes apart,the thought does unnerve me at times if I will be able to properly discharge the duties of a mother. Besides,there is a sense of loss that I will no longer be able to lead a carefree life as I have done till now. I remember going to office with 103 degrees temperature,or a very bad cough and cold,a sprained ankle and right after a tooth extraction. But the baby’s minor stomach upset can keep me away from work. The travel buff in me may have to take a backseat for some time — a fact with which I cannot promise to cope in a dignified manner.

Fear is an overwhelming emotion that is part and parcel of pregnancy. The fear of miscarriage makes you extra cautious in the first trimester,but once you cross that phase it is time to encounter the other types of fear — of the obvious,of the unknown and of the ‘what-if’s. A major one in my case has been whether I will be able to smoothly carry off the pregnancy till the end. While the growing discomfort in the body — cramps in legs,backache,pain in the lower abdomen due to stretching of ligaments et al — is already giving me sleepless nights,both literally and symbolically,another fear that gives me goosebumps is the possible mode of delivery — normal or C-sec,with both options making me nervous.

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With the doctor prescribing new tests on every visit — double marker,triple marker et al to detect any genetic or other disorder in the baby — fear of the unknown keeps you on the edge. I was all teary eyed while reading up on the purpose of a double marker test and the suggestion if its result is positive.

And when it comes to the fear of what may go wrong,your mental state will be directly proportional to the level you will stretch your imagination to. What if I slip in the bathroom? What if I start having pre-term labour? Is this mild swelling of fingers in the morning a bad sign? What if the doctor is all wrong in saying that it is okay to climb so many stairs every day? What if the labour pain starts when I am alone in the house or at an unearthly hour? What if… My imagination runs quite wild,sometimes making me nervous,though I manage to dismiss the negative thoughts most of the time. 

A pregnancy guide I am referring to (What to expect when you are expecting,by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel) says some amount of worry is unavoidable,but you should take note if it takes the shape of panic.

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Let me share a few tips that I was given on how to handle all these varied emotions:
* Keep your blood sugar levels in check
* Eat well
* Learn to relax (I am too lazy but you can try Yoga and other exercises after consulting your doctor)
* Check caffeine intake (it’s better to stay away from all cola drinks)
* Remain active but take adequate rest
* If a homemaker,do ensure some sunlight in your life
* Pre-natal depression is common,but needs treatment. Speak to your doctor at once

First published on: 28-03-2011 at 10:20 IST
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