It’s 3 am.
Okay, 3.07 am to be precise.
The only species you’ll find awake at this time – the insomniac, the party-animal, the traveller.
I’m the fourth kind. A new mother.
As I hum a self-made (hardly a) tune to my three month old, I happen to go back in time.
Four years ago.
The day I got married.
I think since the night I got married, my mother and my sister (another mother (then) with one in hand, one in tummy.) bombarded me with books on pregnancy hoping that I might get pregnant on my very first wedding night.
Why? Well, I was 28 then and according to all Indian elders you must have your first child before you turn 30.
So there I was, packing books (as I was moving country after my marriage) on healthy pregnancy, what to do when pregnant, what to do to get pregnant, what not to do to get pregnant, how to get pregnant, how not to get pregnant – never got this one though, probably the only one I had in mind at that time.
Books in Hindi, books in Marathi, new versions, older versions, hand-written versions, Indian versions, all-in-one versions.
Sometimes when I would walk into a bookstore, I would unknowingly walk into the pregnancy section and look for pregnancy in English – you know, just in case I didn’t enjoy the Hindi and the Marathi ones. And yes, I ended up buying one too.
So, by the end of year one I had enough books to help me deliver a happy baby – in my head.
Did I read them?
Of course I did.
Probably from year two of my marriage.
Not because I was planning on having a baby but because I couldn’t bear them staring at me from the corner of my bookshelf. So, I decided to pick one – the very first Marathi one.
You see, I always felt that I wasn’t really great with babies or even toddlers. I couldn’t baby talk to my nephews for a very long time, I didn’t know what to say to babies after a while, I never found immense happiness in gurgling babies or holding a baby never made me broody.
So, yes of course I read the books but for me it was like reading a book on how to get to Mars. Without knowing how far it was, how long it would take, what it really meant or honestly if I really wanted to go to Mars?
But I read every chapter.
Every page, every footnote.
Made more notes.
And many more footnotes.
I thought I was being clever.
Some days I would even wake up in the middle of the night thinking what if I’m already pregnant? And then I would re-read a few more pages, scribble some more notes.
My friends were getting pregnant and ideally I should have sent them my notes but it never really occurred to me. You see, the whole process was so mechanical in my head. Everything seemed like reading fiction. Even when some of them told me ‘I’m 3 months pregnant’, it was a plain ‘yay’ to them.
Honestly, I didn’t know what ‘I’m pregnant’ really meant.
And then it happened, I got pregnant.
And you would think I would have announced it to my husband with a coy smile and he would have picked me up with joy and showered flowers in slo-mo.
No. That happens only in the movies. Bollywood ones.
One early morning, it was more like a whisper, ‘listen the home pregnancy test shows a plus. Go back to sleep.’
So, at least I knew I was ready to go to Mars. Definitely. But still clueless about what it really meant.
So, I continued reading. This time, all over again.
I watched babies, mothers with babies, the documentary ‘babies’, F.R.I.E.N.D.S with babies.
One could say I had enough information about what to expect when you’re expecting. (Yes, another book, which I bought and the movie, yes, saw this one too!)
But that’s exactly what didn’t happen.
What did happen was the most awesome thing ever.
I didn’t remember a word of what I had read, re-read.
I stopped reading pregnancy magazines because they only made me feel queasy.
I picked random autobiographies.
I read about book thieves.
About new countries.
Because now something else had started communicating with me.
All I needed was a mother who could relate to this feeling and help me interpret it and my elder sister and my mother were enough.
And there it was happening.
I was getting inquisitive.
I wanted to know what is it that my body is really trying to tell me.
All I did was interpret my body’s language. One day at a time.
Only now I had begun to truly understand the real meaning of ‘hey I’m pregnant’.
On 01-11-12, the mother in me was born.
Teary eyed, as I held the most precious cliché in my arms, I realised something that no book could have ever told me.
She doesn’t care if you know-it-all or you know nothing. She doesn’t care if you’ve read a dozen books. She doesn’t care if you’re a first mother or third.
Because no matter how much you read or watch, in the end she’s the one who teaches you (in her little ways).
What to do, what not to, how to do it.
All you do is pay attention and interpret her lessons.
It’s like you’re all that your baby needs.