Let me begin with saying that it was not just my wife who was expecting. The two of us were working on this life project together. I didn’t know how to handle every hormonal situation, but just being there, listening, talking, comforting, caring and loving her; made me feel more involved, we were a Team!
We had been trying for just a couple of weeks. So when Arushi told me that she was pregnant, my response was “you’re kidding me! Already!” rather than an emotional and more appropriate “Oh my God, we’re having a baby!”.
Even though it was a planned pregnancy, that doesn’t mean that I was prepared for fatherhood! I thought I’d have more time… I’d do my research, read books on parenting, and seek the wisdom of the more experienced. Now the clock had started ticking.
Arushi had her list of things she needed to do and I had mine…I sifted through Amazon looking for the best books for pregnancy and gain knowledge, after all my reading material had a new theme. ‘Origins’ by Annie Murphy Paul, ‘Brain Rules for Baby’ by John Medina and ‘Be Prepared- a Practical Handbook for New Dads’ were the 3 books that I read to get prepared for what was coming. The app Ovia was another indispensable tool that kept me informed on the progress of pregnancy and provided me with a window into what was going on with my wife- mentally & physically. (The app’s weekly updates would have this fascinating comparison of the size of the growing baby with a fruit or vegetable). We both shared so much in this phase – Good food choices, healthy habits, baby’s weekly development etc. Honestly, this gave me a sense of being part of the pregnancy.
First few weeks flew by fast, informing family & close friends. Then came the morning sickness. No one warns you about the morning sickness! Don’t fall for the innocuous sounding name. It gives you a false impression of something like a mild nausea in the morning. It lasts all day long, everyday for a month and can be quite extreme. Needless to say, Arushi wasn’t in a good mood during this phase. And I learned very quickly, never argue with a hungry pregnant woman.
The morning sickness eventually subsided. We had barely let out a sigh of relief when Arushi started experiencing Sciatica pain. I received daily critical feedback regarding my back massage skills for that period. Bought new massager, tried yoga, off-the-shelf pain medication. Only thing that ended up being somewhat effective was professional massage. The pain thankfully went away after about 3 weeks. So, advice for husbands- if you are not good at massage, surprise her by taking a massage class. She’ll appreciate it a lot. I also got to practice my photography skills as Arushi wanted to document her bump. Easiest way to earn some brownie points!
It’s a baby boy! We found out in the 8th week itself. It was a surprise for me to know the gender so early in the pregnancy (through non-invasive prenatal test). The news all of a sudden made me realize the huge responsibility that I was about to take on. Now, apart from being a good father, I needed to be a role model for a tiny man. Just like my father had been for me.
Second trimester went much smoothly. It was also an exciting time as we got to see the baby for the first time during the ultrasound. Trust me, it was quiet something to be able to see a fetus grow and move inside the tummy. It was a transcendental moment. We had read how important it is for overall health of the baby that the mom stays active. That inevitably meant that I had to stay active. I would typically work out a couple of days a week. But now, Arushi was dragging me to the gym or the park, everyday. At first I complained a bit, but then I figured, if I wanted to run around with my kids 10 years from now, I could use the exercise.
The third trimester was when the baby weight gain accelerated. And with that, Arushi’s attempts to stay within the healthy weight-gain spectrum also intensified. I tried to comfort her anxiety about weight by pointing out articles mentioning that every woman has a different weight gain curve, and just because she had gained weight rapidly during past few months didn’t mean that she’ll continue to gain weight at the same pace.
Our weekly activities and projects started as the final weeks started getting close. We started buying stuff for the baby. My DIY nursery project of putting together the crib, nursing chair, dresser and decorating the nursery was in full swing. We had our maternity photo shoot. Our friends threw us an amazing baby shower and we ended up with more baby stuff than we could’ve asked for. We also did the hospital tour. Being familiar with the inside of the hospital, definitely made us feel more comfortable when we eventually went there for delivery. We read more stuff on the internet and flipped through a couple of handed down parenting books. We also watched a few videos online, as we agreed on not doing Lamaze classes or any other parenting classes.
Our hospital was 10 miles from our home. I was antsy about what we would do if it baby decides to come during rush hour traffic. And of course, that is exactly what happened. I got the call at work from Arushi at 4:00 pm saying that she thought she was having contractions. It took me 35 minutes to get home and then it took us another 50 minutes to get to the hospital! Arushi was surprisingly calm and asked me to relax and kept saying she was fine throughout the drive.
An experienced friend of mine had given me a simple piece of advice -” trust your doctors & just follow their instructions.” And that is exactly what we did. After around 6 hours in labor Arushi finally got the epidural. The nurse informed us that based on her progress, the baby would come sometime in the morning. “Cool! I can amuse myself by reading my baby’s horoscope.” As I looked up for the date online, it occurred to me. Tomorrow is Friday the 13th! “Oh crap! We are going to have a Friday the 13th baby! Can’t we do something to get him out in the next one hour?” Of course the nurse said no. But, for those of us not suffering from triskaidekaphobia, you’ve got to agree- it’s a pretty cool day to be born on! For the rest of you… stop being silly.
“It’s time to push, Deep!” Arushi said excitedly while waking me up at 4:30 am. The nurse started to get the things ready for the delivery and within 5 minutes, Arushi was pushing, with me on her side holding her hand. I was truly amazed at how brave she was at that moment, shivering and pushing and focusing, all at the same time. She pushed for an hour but as she was running a fever and the baby’s heart rate was climbing, the doctor made the call to do a C-Section. We knew ahead that this could be a possibility. We were now faced with a situation that we had hoped wouldn’t arise. Again, I just followed the simple advice and put my trust in the doctors & nurses. After all, we were at one the best women’s health hospitals in the nation.
Arushi was wheeled away to the surgery room while I was dressed up in scrubs and asked to join later. In what felt like an eternity, a nurse came to get me. This was the first time I’d ever been in a surgery room. It was very busy, with everyone very focused. That’s one thing that the movies definitely get right. Arushi was on the operating table, wide awake and there was an opaque blue curtain across her waist blocking the view below. Boy was I glad for that curtain! I had been quite calm through the entire labor. But I don’t think I could have handled seeing her being operated on or seeing her in any kind of pain there.
About 10 minutes later, at 7:05 am on Friday the 13th, I heard the cries of my baby. I instinctively knew that he was going to be alright, even though the doctors had informed us that he would need to be taken immediately to the NICU for monitoring. No baby bawling with a lung strength like that had could possibly have anything wrong with him (he still likes to give us displays of that lung strength every now and then). He was quickly wrapped up and the nurse handed Arushi the baby. It is a beautiful sight to behold. A mother’s first expression as she holds her baby for the very first time. Soon, the baby & I were immediately escorted to the NICU while Arushi was being stitched back. By the time I could gather my feelings and realize what was going on, this little 7 pound human, our son, baby Vir was placed in my arms.
I was a changed person- for the better. I was now a father.
By – Deepanshu
P.S – I am currently reading ‘Baby Sense’ by Megan Faure and Ann Richardson and refer to ‘Baby 411’ for all the wisdom, advice and answers we seek as new parents.