Friday, June 21, 2013

Younger brother to an older sister.

Different sibling combinations have certain inherent dynamics associated with it. I have often talked about my fondness for the sister-sister combination as I believe this relationship only gets better with different phases of life and is not impacted negatively by additional people in our lives over time. I do have a younger brother as well and I treasure and guard that relationship with my life. I may not talk a lot about it, but it means a lot more to me than I had ever imagined. My younger brother is someone I can talk to, yell at, boss around, pamper, feel protective about, feel responsible for, scold, care for, constantly try to correct/fix, listen to, learn from, love, and most importantly, someone I am very proud of – for the person he is and the way I have seen him stand up for people, things & ideas he cares for!

Now that I have one Samaira and one Rehan, I do often wonder the kind of relationship they will share. To some extent I resign to fate and their individual personalities to govern the dynamic of this relationship. That said, I do understand I can play a role in attempting to somewhat shape that dynamic – successfully or not, will be determined years from now. But I do know that the relationship I share with my siblings is mainly due to the relationship my parents share with us and the relationship they share with each other, in addition to what they tried to teach us about the brother-sister-sister relationship. All my life I have witnessed my parents put our family at the center of their Universe. And that experience governs my relationship with my siblings.

I have a younger sister and a youngest brother. Another side effect of being a younger brother to two older sisters is that he had to re-use some (read most) of our stuff. In a place like India, where gender and color pairings don’t necessarily go hand in hand, it seemed somewhat more acceptable to do so. The pinks and the greens and the blues didn't have any biases or gender-connotations associated with it, not sure if it is changing now though.

A few weeks before Rehan was born, Siddharth and I did have a discussion about which of Samaira’s stuff should we reuse for Rehan. Siddharth was pretty unapologetically clear about reusing almost everything that is in good condition. I had a mental block of not using the pinks and the peaches, mostly because I was a little apprehensive about what people would say. While I knew my reasoning was somewhat flawed, it was kind of hard for me to overcome. So we ultimately settled on not using Samaira’s all-pink outfits for Rehan, but use all the swaddles and blankets that are in good shape.

As a result, we ended up using Samaira’s Aden & Anais swaddles for Rehan, just because they were so good and pretty well maintained. I convinced myself that the dominant color in those swaddles is red and not pink, and it can’t be that bad. But everywhere we go now, mostly doctor appointments thus far, most people end up thinking that we have a baby girl and not a boy – thanks for the non-blue/brown/green colored swaddles for our buddy! This isn't to say that we don’t have blue stuff for Rehan. Rehan has his fair share of blue-color, monkey prints and other neutral colors/patterns. But whatever said and done about the color and pattern stereotypes in most places, I am rather glad that we chose to reuse some of Samaira’s stuff without being blinded by these stereotypes. I like that Siddharth’s head wasn’t muddled with these typecasts because deep inside, even I don’t see any substance in that. I was just more ready to given into the cultural labels. 

So while we swaddle our buddy in reds and peaches, we do have blue too, I swear :) !

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Sweetheart, Rehan :) !!!

Let me put it this way – I think both my kiddos prefer my in-person company over in-my-tummy company.

May 29th 4:45am: It’s all too vague, yet all too distinct. I wouldn't have known the difference between full-bladder pain and labor pain, if it weren't for my water breaking five minutes after I felt it for the first time. While I made it to my 35 week 5 day mark this time around, my desired delivery date was more like July 6th (and if you care, you can do the math to figure out how much past my due date I wished I had gone). Oh well. In spite of that, we were quite ready for this to happen so early. We had our bags packed – for the hospital and for Samaira, neatly arranged in the car, for several days. We had talked to our friends about the full algorithm that we would follow to figure out where Samaira would go while we were at the hospital. We had shared Samaira’s full day schedule with our friends so they know what to expect…kind of. Logistically, we were ready for this to happen several days before it was supposed to.

We figured we had at least 5 to 6 hours before our boy would show up since that’s how long it took from water-breaking to actual-delivery during Samaira’s birth. We called our friends R & A, who were going to take care of Sam during our hospital stay and then we headed to the hospital.

May 29th 5:20am: We were at the hospital by this time, I think. On the drive to the hospital, I was already timing my contractions and they were less than 3-4 minutes apart and about 30 seconds long. Once we were at the hospital, I remember one of the first things I told them was that if I had a back labor then I want an epidural. I had started to feel the pain in my back and no way on earth was I prepared to go through another back labor without any drugs! However, the entire staff at the hospital was busy checking me into the system and was asking me questions about my full name, my allergies, last OB appointment, etc., while my contractions were beginning to get closer and somewhat intense.

May 29th Sometime between 5:30am and 6am: I don’t remember much of the timeline and the order in which things happened during this time. But I know that our friend A showed up at the hospital to take Sammy away for a few days. I also remember that nurses were attempting to give me an IV for something before they could give me an epidural. The on call doctor had asked the nurses to call her when the baby was ready to come out.

May 29th Sometime between 6am and 6:30am: I went from 8 cm dilated 10+1 cm dilated and the on call doctor wasn’t going to get there on time, although she was trying her best. The nurses then called an OB from another practice. He decided to stay on the side until he was really-really needed, so he wasn’t stepping over the on-call OB’s shoes. Pretty thoughtful I must say. But not helping me! Needless to say, Siddharth was with me through it all. Can’t imagine things any other way. As I continued yelling at everyone around me to get me the epidural, he was focused on giving me some relief in any way he could. He kept telling me “it is just a matter of few more minutes…before you know it you will have our son in your arms…all you will need is one or two pushes.” Such a nice and thoughtful statement annoyed me a little bit back then and I responded “you keep telling this to me but nothing is happening…I am still feeling the just stop saying this again and again.” Having been there done that, Siddharth knew to expect this kind of a reaction from me in such circumstances! 

May 29th 6:37am: Our on-call OB hadn't showed up…but our baby boy’s head definitely had. So the other doctor finally decided to play a more active role as we welcomed our boy in this world!

Obviously this is my version of what happened and what I remember. Siddharth knows and remembers much more. It happened all too quickly for me to process and digest. The nurses put our boy on my chest right away…and I remember saying, at least 5-6 times, “I delivered a baby”. It was almost a cry for my own accomplishment of getting through the last couple of hours. But then I finally focused on him…and I started to cry. His tender skin, vulnerable cry, beautiful eyes, approachable fingers, beautiful lips, and almost an ET like appearance made me fall in love with him like I didn't think was possible. I wanted to squeeze him tight, except his amniotic fluid covered body would slip out of my hands if I tried that. I did fall in love. I felt so blessed. And I felt so relieved!

Relieved…for feeling the way I did. I have rarely articulated the fear of having a boy. But I totally had it. It has nothing to do with the fact that shopping for girls is more fun, or that you can dress them up in all kinds of fancy ways, or the boys have the stereotype of being rowdy and callous, which I understand is exactly what it is – a stereotype, and even if it is true then it is not one of my fears. But it had to do with something I just cannot put in words. I can relate to girls. My sister has two daughters whom I LOVE more & more each day. In fact, my nieces are the first set of kids ever that made me believe that I could really love kids, especially because prior to that I was never a mushy-gushy-kuchi-ku kind of a person around kids. So a boy felt like a totally unchartered territory in every sense of the word. Thank heavens I did not get to choose the gender of my baby. As I stared into his eyes for the first time and for several seconds…I could see how he is a soul that just belongs. Belongs to me. I was ecstatic to be falling in love with him! And to top it all, within the first hour, my little Buddy was already showering me with smiles. I couldn't have asked for more J.

One thing Siddhu and I struggled (I more than he) with was the name. Siddhu had one name picked out for our son even before Samaira was born. I had never fully accepted the name and kept trying to come up with other options. But nothing ever stuck. It just didn't. I couldn't believe how hard it was to pick a boy name! We did have our own way of referring to him before he showed up, most commonly as our Binku monkey. But in that moment of holding our Buddy for the first time, it just felt right to go with the name that Siddhu had picked for him so long ago! So we named our little Buddy - Rehan. It just felt right.

One truth that is truer than truth is that child birth has the potential to bring you closer to your spouse. I experienced it during Samaira’s birth, and I experienced it during Rehan’s birth. I feel like our bond strengthened a little bit more that day.

Life with two kids is clearly very different. We are much more sleep deprived. In these early days post-delivery, most of my focus is on Rehan and getting used to a very elaborate feeding routine several times a day. Siddharth is left to take care of Samaira and any and all paraphernalia. I am pretty sure as days go by, we will find some sort of a rhythm in our little chaotic-world. But that day is not today. There are moments though. Moments that seem to be perfect with nothing to distract from their purity. A beautiful site of Samaira and Rehan sleeping next to each other made it feel like it’s all worth it. Behind my sleepless nights, post-delivery recovery, dark circles, weird eating schedules, and everything else that follows – I am a content mom.

Welcome, Rehan! My sweetheart! Samaira, Siddharth & I love you.