September 8, 2009

Black , white and grey.. my bond with Appu

I have been reading through a lot of mama blogs lately and I am amazed at the ease with which the majority of women seem to embrace motherhood. To be very honest, mothering never came to me naturally. There was a lot of effort from my side to develop this and Appu defintely would have been affected by this. My relation with Appu has passed through various phases.

I conceived Appu in January 2003 - 5 months after my marriage. We had decided that we would try for a baby after 6 months of marriage. In the fifth month, we thought we will just have a go in test mode and it clicked. We were very happy about it mostly my mom who was beginning to get bored immensely in our new house as both of us used to leave of work early in the morning and she was alone in the flat without many friends.

Pregnancy No 1
Pregnancy no. 1 was celebrated a lot and I was pampered to the hilt by mommy and B. I also missed no chance be pampered by them. I was literally carried like a precious gem on their palm. I was goaded with all kinds of nutritive food supposed to be good for the baby. Since I have always been a food lover, this was easy for me and I also used to tuck in a lot of junk food for which I had developed a super craving. Needless to say, by the 5th month I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and put a low cal low sugar diet. I am guilty of not following the diet strictly. I had a huuuuggge tummy and was tired all the time. I had this horrible grey tinge and absolutely horrendous pigmentation which left me looking as worse as I could. Fortunately work was not very hectic during pregnancy.

My due date was Oct 12th and inspite of various efforts at inducing the labour there was no success until Oct 15th. Thats when we agreed to go in for a c-secn the next day. The surgery was carried out at Zulekhs Hospital Sharjah by Doctor Shoba. Now after c-secn no.2, I can definitely say that the first one was not a good experinece at all other than the moment when my daughter was pulled out of me and I hear her throaty cry. She was the most beautiful newborn I had every seen with lovely fair skin, mop of jet black hair, pouty rrrreeeeddd lips and chubbiest rosy cheeks. She weighed a whopping 4 kg and the doc said that it would have been almost impossible for me to have delivered her. I was totally amazed that our baby could be so amazingly gorgeous. Both of us are reasonable good looking but she was way above my imagination. I remember saying "Shes sooo beautiful" and tears filling up my eyes.

Bonding or lack of it
When I was bought to the room after surgery, B was there with mommy holding the little girl proudly. Ever since then, my girl has been hers. Not that I grudge her for t but at times it has been painful. I never realised this then and I was most happy at having someone to take care of the baby as I was preoccupied by the horrible pain I was in and the yucky saggy tummy that I will never be able to get rid of. The 4 days in the hospital went by with a lot of visitors, me trying to cope with the pain, seeing my mom, B and my relatives cuddling the baby and commenting on her beauty. All during this time, my daughter was formula fed and I was not concerned about trying to feed her even once. To make things worse, I had flat nipples and no matter how much the nureses tried, the little girl would not latch on. I couldnt care less about it and I thought that I would deal with the pain first and set the breastfeeding right once we go back home. How wrong I was! During the days at the hospital, other that the first moment I saw her, I never felt any overwhelming emotion or love towards the little girl. I liked her, she was cute, she was my baby..thats it. I used to be amazed when people talked about the bond they had with their unborn babies, newborn etc. While I was pregannt, I did not feel any special bonding with the baby and I was just going with the flow. The magic did not happen even after the birth.

Breastfeeding woes
We returned home and mommy took charge over the baby completely. I was just reduced to a bystander. I did not feel bad about it at all that time and was thankful that I could get good rest. I never felt at that time that I would regret this so much later. Once home, as decided in the hospital, I tried to feed her and we were in for a huge disappointment as my daughter would scream at the breast since she could not suck. I was an am quite particular that babies should be reared on breast milk and this situation was a huge blow to me. I was sad that I could not provide my daughter with breeast milk. I knew that I could succeed if I tried and kept her at the breast through out the day. Needless to say there was a lot of wailing and howling and mom and B could not stand this. Their response was that I was simply notproding milk and hence should not bother and make the baby cry so much in hunger when formula is around. I knew they were wrong but I was a new mom, young (24 years) with absolutely no knowledge of kids. I must say mom and B were most unsupportive of breast feeding. But I was adamant and wanted my daughter to be fed on breast milk at any cost. (This ws more a matter of personal satisfaction at that time). Almost a month went by with my daughter being fed purely on formula. I was having horrible post natal depression and this was fuelled by inablinilty to breastfeed. I considered this as a personal failure and a shortfall in me the woman. I used to have terrible fights with mom during this time probably due to the fact that I was unknowingly resenting her taking over what should have been my role. B was kind of supportive during this time though but not much. After lot of surfing, I came across La Leche League. The psots gave me confidence and made me realise that I could still try and breast feed my daughter. I discoverd Medela and after a lot of product study, I decided to by Medela Pump In Style breast pump. It was quite expensive but it would definietly be worth it. I started using the pump and all I could get was a trickle of milk from my breast. Mind you, it was almost 30 days post delivery and I had not fed her a single day to her satisfaction. I held on to La Leche League and Medela as if my life depended on it. This was through constant reminders from mom and B about the money wasted and discouraging words as if my effors were useless. I was finally rewarded for my efforts and my milk supply build up slowly but steadily and I was able to offer a complete feed. By the time it was time for me to go back to work after amterntiy leave (70 days approx), my daughter was fed completely on breastmilk except for a feed of formula at night. At any given time, there would be 4-5 bottles 120 ml bottles containing breast milk in our fridge. Mom and B appreciated my efforts thoroughly and had to take back their earlier negative criticism. It was nothing more than a personal victory for me. During this time, I was too engrossed in getting this issue sorted to enjoy my daughter or to get bonded to her. I used to play with her as I would with any other cute little baby.

Baby grows
Mom used to take excellent care of the little girl and she was and still is the apple of her eye. It made my mom young again and there was so much fulfillment in her. I was never too involved in my daughters development. I used to lover her, play with her etc, but ther was no intense feelings. She too was undoutebly attached to her ammoomma. There was no much improvement in this until she started nursery. Most of the time, she would be with mom at home or at her friends' place, mom would be teaching her the nursery rhymes, alphabets, film songs, developing her social skills etc etc. She was a very smart, healty and cute baby adored by all in our aprtment building. She turned over at 4 months, teethed at an early 5 months, started talking early, walking at 11 months. She knew her alphabets well (English and Malayalam), a lot of old film songs, had a lot of friends and admirers. Mom and her were inseparable and still are. All our shopping, outing etc were done alone and all our friends used to say that we are lucky since we could roam around like newly married couples inspite of having a baby. I never felt anything was amiss here. I always was happy as I knew she was being well cared for by my mother much better than I could ever manage and that she was not losing out on anything.

Discovering Mother and Daughter Love
We decided to put her in a playschoiol when she was 2 and a half and I started looking around for a good place. This was one of the first things I struggled to do for her. Went to a lot of places and finally found Little Feet Nursery. (This nursery has played an important role in moulding my daughter and I would recommend this place to all). Me and my little girl started becoming close from here on as we used to sing the rhymes, songs etc together, I used to work hard at dressing her up for the weekly fancy dress, etc. We used to have story telling, reading sessions and we both started becoming close for the first time. I fell in love with her at this stage and from then on she became Appu for me. No one else calls her Appu other than me. Though she still needed mom for security and her daily routine, she became close to me as well. This got better and better with each passing day. In gthe meantime she was grwoing fast. She was put in DPS and was enjoying KG. I was enjoying her developments. Slowly she started sleeping in our room and even allowed me to do her bathe her, dress her up for school etc. I was enjoying this mothering and that is when I realised what I had missed. However, instead of crying over spilt milk I decided to make the best of each day. By now I was absolutely besotted by my daughter. I was strict with her and was the disciplinarian at home, however she was reasonable and somehow even admired me at time I guess.

Pregnancy No 2 - Receiving time
There was a reversal of roles during my second pregnancy. Appu was the one who was pampering me and making me feel special. She was very happy about the baby coming soon and used to avoid any tantrums that she knew would upset me. She was an angel I was proud of having such a sensible and caring daughter.

A U turn??
After Aarush's birth there has been a lot of changes in our relation - negative changes I should say. I will detail this out in another post. I blame it for my insensitivty to a little girl's insecurity. I need to make amends soon before things get worse. I do not want these new changes to be stamped in her mind and want to go back to our earlier caring loving days. I think I should be appreciating her for the lovely elder sis that she is so far and the love that she has for Aarush instead of picking on her at all times. I shoudl still see her as a small child and take out from my mind that she is the big one now. After all, how much can my little girl grow in 40 days. She is still a small one and I need to treat her so. My apologies once again Appu for being so insensitive towards you. Its a phase and will end soon. My little princess you will always be.


Sangi said...

Hi! Chanced upon your blog and read through this post. Finally, a post that talks about bonding not being immediate or a gush of red hot emotion! While I did not go through a lot of what you did, the bonding did not come immediately to me. I thought I was a horrible mom. There is some conspiracy to elevate motherhood so high up that stuff like this is not spoken about much/widely/at all! No one told me! Thanks for your honesty. Finally! :-D

Sandhya said...

Very true Sangi...nice to know that there are others like me out there.