Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tit-à-tête

If pregnancy makes you shed your inhibitions (I actually posed in a bikini top for a mommy and baby magazine in week 37), motherhood destroys the last vestiges of it. May be it has to do with the fact that the whole of womankind now has a claim over your body and how to rectify (or optimise) it and therefore, nudity (part or whole) is never an issue for starters. Neither is talking about stuff as it is.

But the one thing motherhood doesn’t really prepare you for is a strange phenomenon called lactation politics. It’s as though every woman and her cow (pun intended) has an opinion (or some advice) on your lacto-barometer. Which is why questions like “Are you producing enough?” or “Is he exclusively breast?” or “No top feed?” or “Have you started pumping?” pepper every conversation, no matter whether the said party is one or six degrees of separation.

The problem with nursing is that whatever you do, you are upto scrutiny. ‘Have access, will ask/tell’ seems to be the norm. So your place in the mum hierarchy is decided by whether the baby latched on instantly, whether you have to supplement with formula, or are rich enough in the milk of human kindness (aarrrgh!) not to, and further, how long do you intend to nurse, when will you wean, are you having enough oats/methi/juices/milk/Bournvita/badam/whatever, have you turned to the bottle yet, etc etc.

It takes gumption to get this intrusive, I thought, but turns out, I was wrong. There is no such thing as subtlety in titspeak. Yes, I remember I said no Mumwit, and one reader has actually complained that I am not wicked any more, and that makes me a little concerned. But this, I couldn’t resist.

Asking a woman if she’s doing well on the milk-front is like asking a man if his sperm count is okay, or whether he is getting an adequate erection. Would anyone do that? So why is it legitimate to subject the woman to such intense scrutiny?

On the other hand, may be it’s an opportunity for hitherto marginalized women to re-establish themselves in the power ladder through their lacto-quotient. “I could feed the whole of Bombay”… or “I have enough reserves for six months” or “I am leaking all the time” makes them look good vis-à-vis seemingly over-achiever mothers who have otherwise been ahead of the game.

While me, still basking in my 34C glory, am just happy to have enough for my little one.

And if anyone ever asks me about a rainy day, my answer would be, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Anything more than what my infant needs is really a waste.”

Therein ends my tit-ology.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Boyzone

“At least he doesn’t have to wax, unless he turns out to be one of those metrosexual cleavage-flaunting weirdos,” I thought and sighed, amid cries of “Congratulations, it’s a healthy baby boy!” at Breach Candy hospital, where I was attended to by an all-boy doctor squad. Since I was rooting all along for a girl, in this column and otherwise, I was a tad disappointed. The husband however made me see the brighter side. “Now you have two men to bash in your column instead of one,” he said. Ah well, we’ll see. Anyway, the bloke has inherited my curly mop and my cleft chin, so that’s reassuring, I thought.

J however made me feel better about the new Y chromosome in my life. “Look at it this way. The good looking guys get the girls, the nerds get the good jobs. He sure has the looks, and he will have the intelligence, at least genetically, unless he screws it up by not reading, or some such. So he will get the girls and the jobs. That’s a win-win. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the hymen.”

Shudder. I never thought of a girl so metaphorically, but he had a point. “Believe me, if she is pretty, the day she steps out in those short skirts, you’ll start having them palpitations, and make dagger eyes at all within vision,” he further explained. He also believes that for a girl, not getting a prom date (God forbid) leaves a deeper scar than a boy not making it to the school football team. Trust J to always come up with a gender theory for everything.

His theory, and it suits me fine, is that since it’s a boy, the job of making him a man is not mine—all I have to do is see him through infancy, and then it’s up to the father. So whether it’s football or cricket practice, archery, or whatever is cool then, it’s not my responsibility, so that’s kind of cool.

Although I’d rather his elegant fingers pick up guitar strings or a paint brush, rather than a Play Station controller, it’s a risk I have to live with. “At least there’s 50% of me, so it can’t be all that bad,” is my only consolation to myself. But each day, as we (father, son, and I ) do family time, I am constantly wondering whether the ambient sounds of Elder Scrolls Oblivion (the husband’s latest PS3 addiction) is going to subliminally corrupt the mind of the infant.

The simple fact is, every boy wants to be exactly like his father or exactly unlike him. Both ways, the dad is a great role model. We’ll see. At least that’s what they call having your boy and having you too.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yours, hormonally

Yes, I’m back, and no, motherhood hasn’t mellowed me, much to the disappointment of some and sundry. It’s as though they expected me to acquire this ‘touch me not’ aura that new moms seem to cultivate, avoid expletives and questionable language (one of my friends who can only speak sentences that begin and end with the f… word told me he stopped using it for a year after becoming a parent), and turn all soft and somber, chuckling only at baby-related things. Sorry, but that isn’t happening, although I find my little boy Rehaan quite amusing, as he alternates between his Manoj Kumar pose and his Rahman pose.


Which is why this column is not turning into ‘Mumwit’ any time soon and I am not going to be writing about the different hues of poop or the nine ways of tying a nappy, or burping a baby or interviewing a maid, neither am in going down the clichéd yummy mummy road.

Two weeks post my turning mom, people in my universe are surprised when they find me taking calls, reading while nursing, shopping, cooking, answering emails, logging onto facebook, uploading pictures, changing status messages, lustily rooting for Roddick with my baby in tow, while the whole world (including the husband) went ga ga over Federer. I reason it out in my head by thinking, “As long as I am performing my mommy duties, there’s no harm entertaining myself on the side, is there? After all, I have a life!”

Their reactions range from shock to disbelief. “What? You are up and about?,” said one who came to the hospital.

“I can’t believe you answered the phone,” said another. So dude, why exactly did you call me.

“What’s a good time to visit?,” is another common enquiry. Well, I am still figuring that one out, but if you can come and hang in there, or entertain me while I perform my motherly duties, you are more than welcome, any time of day or night.

“Motherhood has not mellowed you one bit,” remarked a third, on my acidic response to a comment on facebook. No, and why should it?

Blame it on the hormones. Fortunately for me, the feel-good ones took over. So oxytocin and prolactin and more estrogen won over corticotrophin and the other bad guys, and as my uterus shrinks back to normal, here I am, feeling bouncy, with no visible signs of post partum blues exactly two weeks after birthing. (My poor mom! Her last chance to sober me down has also gone down the drain.)

My point is, I would have the benefit of doubt even if I was feeling any other way. Like my best buddy J says, “Hormones are a girl’s best friend.” What makes hormones such a great thing is that they tend to legitimize every conceivable state of mind—a privilege that men don’t have—and this unfortunately, is a conversation I cannot have with my little boy for a long, long time.