No, Thank You. I may LOOK Pregnant, but I am NOT!

Madam, aap pregnant hain kya? Oh no, Not Again! I am at the security check booth at the airport, and this is the umpteenth time the CRPF guard on duty has asked me this question before scanning me. Anyway, from now on, I will just have to suck in my tummy and hold my breath for the few seconds that she scans me. Apart from, of course wearing flared clothing that stays far far away from the body!

There! I have admitted it! Admitted to my ridiculous shape. Those who have been reading my blogs will know that I have been baring my heart quite a bit. But believe me when I say, that admitting THIS was tougher. Tougher, because I could have easily remained anonymous on this online blog. Many you have not seen me and many who know me, saw me ages ago. When I was really different.

I was not always like this (i.e. perpetually pregnant looking). In fact, majority of my life I have been underweight and used to being called names such as chhotu, chhutki, virus (I am assuming due to size and not temperament), hangar (clothes seemed to hang off me) and hearing jibes such as – are you from Somalia? or How do people even take you seriously (with this kind of size and structure)?! On top of that diminutive frame was a small face, which meant I never looked my age, often younger than my younger sister. And of course, not to forget the Just About 5 feet height.

But I didn’t mind. Not at all! While some of my friends of similar size and structure did not like being small, I just loved my small frame! I was in college when my cousin gifted me T shirts meant for boys aged 10-12, and I was delighted. I firmly believed that all good things come in small packages. So no body image issues, none at all.

Mind you, I loved flaunting my pregnant belly both the times I was expecting. It is just that when the baby is out, but the fat remains, things aren’t so sexy anymore! I was almost underweight when I conceived the first time, and after having Arnav, I slowly lost weight over the next year or so and settled at a decent weight, with a little bit of a muffin top. Yes, I did mind not being able to fit into pre-pregnancy clothes, but it wasn’t so bad anyhow. Plus, to go back to that level, one needs to be NON lazy, committed to working out and remain disciplined about it. I knew I didn’t have it in me. So I made peace with my body.

[While we are on the topic of work out though – let me digress and share with you my experiences of gymming. So the first one was, when the movie Road released. This was 2002 and I had just started my first job. I was Super impressed with Antara Mali’s flat Abs and decided I wanted one too. I stayed in a working women’s hostel at the time and joined the nearest gym that I found. I told the instructor my area of interest i.e. my abs. To my dismay though he instructed me eat bananas, paneer and milk – basically to gain weight. Needless to say the proposed diet plus the hard work ensured that I didn’t last long. The other two experiments with gymming were after the first baby, when I still had some hopes of coming back to original shape. But after losing money both the times, having taken membership for 6 months, attracted by discounted rates, and barely making it to the gym for two months or so, I decided to confront the truth. Gymming is NOT my piece of cake. Gymming saga ends here.]

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Anyway, so seven years later, I conceived again, and twins this time. I looked up pictures of women pregnant with twins – and believe me their tummies were HUGE! My doctor told me that there will be a time when I won’t be able to look down at my feet! And it all excited me!! I took pictures of my growing belly every month and shared with friends and family! And by the time I delivered, I am not exaggerating, I pretty much looked like a beached whale. But it didn’t worry me. Of course, I will be huge, I am carrying two babies. It will go once they are out.

Unfortunately, it didn’t. I waited patiently over months, waited for the fat to reduce, but it didn’t. And, it looked different from the muffin top I had earlier. It was a weird, apple kind of a shape. so of course I googled. And found out about Diastasis Recti. This is a condition that affects pregnant women – mostly after second pregnancy or in case of multiples. Both boxes checked in my case. So what happens is this, the ab muscles, whose role it is to keep your guts from falling out, become weak and get pushed apart. See how. WARNING – graphic ahead.

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This was a revelation for me. And for other moms facing belly fat issues – please check if you may be suffering from the same condition. It is important because regular exercises, yoga etc. may actually make this worse. To me this was a great piece of news – because now I could tell anybody who suggested a work out to get in shape, that it is not an option for me!! That trainers who know how to deal with DR are far and few in between (to tell you the truth, I haven’t bothered checking).

So where does that leave me? I am back to getting used to my current body shape, buying large, flared clothes and munching my cheese toast and bhujia. And of course I dream about a tummy tuck/ abdominoplasty, which seems to me the easier way of getting back in shape. Though I haven’t bothered finding about that either, given all the warnings I have received from everyone I shared the idea with.

But those who are more conscious and disciplined than I am, please do the following:

  1. Figure out what your body needs – fat reduction, muscle toning, or is it the specific case of Diastasis Recti. If so, please make sure you have the right trainer and doing the right exercises. (linking something here that I have not tried myself)
  2. Diet control – avoid crash diets, our bodies need all nutrients, including carbs and fats in the right proportion. Focus on a lower calorie diet, rather than omitting certain food types (e.g. fat, carbs) and Do Not try to lose weight too fast. Your body will get it all back eventually. You can look at this app, I found it interesting.
  3. Do a full body check up, including hormone levels and thyroid functioning. Sometimes, weight gain (or loss) can be due to those imbalances.

But those like me, sit back and relax, your body shape doesn’t determine who you are anyway.

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Lotsa Love and Cheer!

 

 

 

 

Grieving the Loss of the Perfect Child

From the time a baby is conceived, parents and close family start weaving their dreams around it. How would it look like, a girl or a boy, what kind of a person will she grow into and so on. We all have our image of a perfect baby, the perfect child. He is an embodiment of our dreams and aspirations.

When we found out we were having twins, we were ecstatic. Images of fun filled laughter, two little babies gamboling together, two pairs of little feet running around the house, filled our minds. We loved watching twin videos on YouTube, tickled with the thought that this fun would soon be ours. When Abeer and Anvay were born – we talked often about how they would turn out when they grow. Abeer, the attitude kid, looked set to become a Rockstar and Anvay, with his perfectly proportioned body was going to be our super model. We imagined the two boys and their same aged cousin, in their early twenties at Arnav’s wedding. Three lanky young boys, having the time of their lives.

But now I am not so sure if these images would ever become reality. Because unknown to us, while we celebrated the birth of our twins, Anvay had sustained brain damage. Anvay, the healthier of the two, who was not even a likely candidate, had sustained brain damage. I have no clue, what happened between the two minutes between the time they both came out, that led to this. Their birth was apparently normal. The doctors did not find any anomaly. In fact, they did not even do an MRI when Anvay was discharged (which they did on Abeer) from the hospital – I am assuming because nobody expected what had happened.

The news that your baby is damaged is devastating to any parent. Devastating is actually putting it very lightly. It rocks the world of the parents. All the dreams, hopes and desires come crashing down. The process of grieving begins. Yes, it is grieving. You grieve for what could have been, what should have been and why it isn’t what should have been.  The parent grieves for the loss of the perfect child, the imagined child. A parent will typically go through all the stages of grieving – denial, anger, bargaining, grief, and eventual acceptance. I recently read a blog from a parent who writes about grieving for a child she has not lost.

I like to believe I am stoic. And I am, to the extent of being able to control my emotions outwardly. I took the news as normally as possible – showing concern, but able to hide the panic. Reading pages after pages on his condition and internalising all the good and bad scenarios. I managed to harden myself to the extent of being able to talk about it without losing composure. I told a few friends/colleagues – but I opened my mouth only when the instinct to break down had been pushed down to the depths of my stomach. I can proudly say that I managed to explain his condition as objectively as possible. The discussions with the neurologist were kept as matter of fact as possible – even humourous.

 

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But grief has a way of coming out. You hold it tightly at one end, it will slip out from another. I remember watching Dunkirk and realized I was crying – it had nothing to do with the movie. Sometime on a plane – watching Hello Zindagi, I discovered my face was all teared up. I can’t remember the number of times I have cried sitting in the backseat of my car, safe in the knowledge that my driver doesn’t have eyes in his head. But I learnt to let the tears flow. They needed to come out, for us to be able to move ahead and plan for Anvay’s recovery, with a clear head.

Anvay was 6 months old (corrected age 4 months), when his pediatrician said that his muscle tone is high. It made no sense to me. He then went on to say something about spasticity – which rang a bell in my mind. Spastic? Does that not mean mentally retarded? (it does not) I was immediately horrified and the image of a helpless, mentally retarded child went through my mind. And laughably, one of my thoughts was whether he would ‘look’ normal. That, really is the least of my concerns.

Once we got the MRI done, we got a confirmed diagnosis of PVL – a form of white matter damage in the brain. Our pediatrician (he is a great guy) told us not to worry. He had seen many cases, where children with PVL after initial years of struggle went on to lead perfectly normal lives. Though he was concerned about his CVI – which is a visual impairment where the eyes can see but the brain cannot perceive. But when we found out that Anvay was also having seizures, also known as infantile spasms, he sounded pessimistic for the first time. And that I think also finally sagged my spirits.

However, there is hope. His spasms seem to have been mild and were treated within one month. They have not recurred since and we have our fingers crossed till he turns two. He is improving – albeit slowly – but that is expected. He is rolling now, holding things in his hand and the other day, he ate a biscuit on his own. Every little step he takes is a cause for great happiness. He is a very happy baby and has the loveliest smile – it makes our day when he smiles at us. His naughty little personality has also started to shine through!

I talked about our dreams crashing. But I had also started the new year with a new hope. We are rebuilding our dreams. I believe in the human spirit – that it can rise up to any challenge and overcome it. I am sure Anvay and we will find a way. If one door closes, there are many others waiting to open – we just need to be willing to look for them…

Anvay IS my perfect child – as different and as unique as my other two….

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