I was just turning 30, and for long, I had decided I’d go wild on my 30th. The wildest my pocket could afford was Thailand. I was exhilarated, to walk on the same sands that Leonardo DiCaprio did, to get in trouble the same way Bradley Cooper did and to visit the Roger Moored limestone cliff. Yes, I was going to Thailand to celebrate my 30th. Instead, I got a home-pregnancy test which proclaimed I was pregnant. And with those two pink lines showing up, I regurgitated. I suddenly started feeling tired and restless and oh-so-hormonal. I cried and cried and called up my husband, who, knowing me, said, “Do not panic, we will talk about it.” TALK ABOUT IT!? Did he mean, Thailand, or the pregnancy? At that thought, I again projectile-vomited the breakfast and probably dinner from the previous night. There ended my fantasy trip to Thailand.
When my husband returned home, he had already gotten me things I detested whole-heartedly- fruit, protein bars, protein biscuits, a rainbow of vegetables, dairy of all sorts – he already wanted a plump chump. I could tell he was excited and I wasn’t. How can one be excited when one has been retching all day like a cat swallowed a hairball? All I could keep in my mouth were ice cubes. So, we talked in between me gagging and gasping for air, and him instructing me to eat well, exercise and all the things those books say to do. In my mind, I saw red. The first appointment with the OB-GYN was an eye-opener. I was supposed to swallow a sea of pills, not the fun kind either. She prodded and poked and said, “You’re good to go.” I was momentarily happy. I thought she meant Thailand. Woefully, I know she meant the baby. We cut a small cake at home on my birthday, me crying, husband trying to cheer me up, then me throwing up the small piece of cake which had morphed into a yellow and green and amoebic jelly-like goo. So I was back to sucking ice-cubes.
I woke up in the mornings, and first thing I did was throw up at least half a dozen times. Because the smell of the tooth-paste didn’t agree with me, I again threw up. Chocolate milk (YES, CHOCOLATE MILK!) didn’t agree with me, coffee didn’t agree with me, tea didn’t agree with me. So I sucked on ice cubes. I didn’t bond with the slowly growing foetus like soon-to-be-mothers do, not in the first trimester, not in the second, not in the third, not when the baby was out. You see, all this while, I was throwing up, up and away. I would be pretending to work whilst being comfortably parked on my specially-designed-for-pregnant-women chair, and all of a sudden, I’d be retching, yelling, “Gangway! Gangway!” to get to the bathroom. I think I spent more time in the bathroom while being pregnant than any other place.
I’d been diagnosed with a very rare condition of Hyperemesis Gravidarum. My file at the OB-GYN was the bulkiest of all of her patients put together. In the car, out of the car, at the doctor’s, in the park, at work, on the road, in a mall, in a restaurant, just about to hit the toilet, there was not a place I didn’t throw up. I lost weight. People actually asked me when I was five months pregnant, “Are you really pregnant? It’s not showing!” LOL.. Oh how I wanted to hit a chair in their faces. Foods that I once liked, made me recoil in horror. To add to this madness, I also developed Trypophobia. So even flowers and such made me gag. I was a walking, talking, vomit-machine. I’d stopped feeling embarrassed about my condition, must be the mama-bear instinct kicking in. If people frowned while I was retching on the side of the road, the vomit and my hair, swaying together in the wind, I’d just yell at them, “Do you want me to throw up on you?”
The whole phase of shopping for the baby was a blur. My husband was the excited one, so he did it all- the crib and the washcloths and the diapers and the bottles, sterilisers, the swaddling techniques, the nursery, everything. I just ordered a teddy-bear online because I’d heard kids like teddy-bears.(Mine didn’t care for it). I was quietly tucking away the vomit-inducing protein bars to the ants and dogs and whatever creatures I could find and claiming at the end of the day I ate them all. All I could eat was ice cream and ice cubes- that made me realize that my baby would turn out pretty cool, the mother eating all these cold things.
The first trimester ended, the doctor said, the sickness will stop now. The second trimester ended, the doctor said, the sickness will stop now. The third trimester ended, the doctor said, it’s not going to end, you’re a weird one. DUH!
So, all the joys of pregnancy were washed away with a gazillion toilet flushes. There was no glow on my face, just a very frowny sweat. I didn’t have to buy maternity pants. My old pants fit just fine. The baby kicked and kicked, like I was holding him hostage inside me. My abdomen was in constant pain and I didn’t sing or talk to the baby. I listened to a lot of Jack Johnson and now when I hear him, I throw up.
Finally, the water broke. There was thankfully no labour pain, I said, “Cut it open!” It was a little scary, being butt naked, epidural in the spine, a team of doctors, all poking and stretching and going squish-squish in my innards. Finally, the boy was out. A big blob, like from “Stranger Things”. I don’t know if it was the drugs or the “motherly love”, but when he was shown to me in that state, I kissed his feet.
I don’t remember the next few days much, except shouting a lot at my husband, eating like a pig and singing “Like a rolling stone” when I was alone with my son. I still didn’t feel a very strong bond, but there was something that made me wake up every now and then and check on him. People said strange things like, “He looks like his mother” or, “He looks like his father”. What a load of faeces! He looked like a pink blob with no hair. Some even said he had my nose and my fingers. Again, I wanted to tear the curtains down and strangle them. I know they were just being polite, but sometimes, its nice to just leave a pound of cake for the new mother and say, “Enjoy!” All the 9 months of surviving on ice cubes and pills and an occasional pint of ice cream had made me monstrously hungry. So much so, that my husband resorted to formula-feeding (I know, I know, the breastfeeding lobbyists! That magic fountain didn’t work either.) I couldn’t unbury my face from the mountain of food. I wasn’t cut out to be a mother, honestly, but here I was. Singing Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” as a lullaby.
Over time, yes, we bonded, soon after the month (or two) long post-partum depression ended. At the age of 1 month, he knew mother was not to be disturbed when she was eating or while Downton Abbey was on. His father, on the other end, treated him like God. He was more a mother than I will ever be. My son and I bonded over strange things, like smelling fresh oranges, looking in the mirror while eating bananas, dancing in the shower while bursting bubbles, staring at fairy lights, spitting out watermelon seeds, jumping in puddles…
He’s 4 now and I’ve told him the story of my pregnancy many-a-times. He always has two questions:
- Why did you eat me?
- Why didn’t you throw up in the bathroom?
And yes, I love him more than it shows. I have my ways of showing love, and he knows that. 🙂