May 2011 When I first found out I was expecting, I fervently prayed to God for a little girl of my own. I filled my heart with images of all things pink and pretty, bows and ribbons, dolls and kittens. When my little princess entered the world with a mighty cry and the doctor spoke the three most beautiful words I have ever heard, ‘It’s a girl!!!” I knew God was looking after me. Having never had anything to do with babies all my life, it was the most amazing feeling to have my baby in my arms, and find out that she fit!! It felt as if I had been holding her all my life. Suddenly, I remembered something I had once read; every time a baby is born, a mother is born too. I knew my life as a mother had begun and for a moment it felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. My groggy mind was racked with anxiety about my absolute ignorance on how to take care of a fragile baby. I wondered if I could just escape quietly, leaving someone able to take care of my precious bundle. But when she opened her little eyes and looked at me, I knew I had to be there for my little one, be her strength and nourish her body and soul with my all. As we brought her home, and our house started filling with the thousand and one things needed for a tiny baby, I was amazed at the speed with which things were changing. Where we once went shopping for ‘grown-up’ things, now we scanned the aisles of the super market for the best things to eat and play for the baby. Where we earlier discussed office deadlines and the bunch of emails pending in our inboxes, now all we could talk about was how the little one smiled in her sleep or turned over to her side by herself. Before I knew it, I had gone from a carefree young wife and software executive to a mother whose world was filled only with thoughts of her precious little one. When my husband and I named the baby Navya, an amalgamation of both our names, we hoped and prayed that all the good things in us would find a place in her life. And indeed, she has taken after both of us in her nature as well. While Navya is an easy-going and happy baby most of the time just like her dad, she seems to be a little high-maintenance like me on some days. She tastes her food with great precision like her father while she loves to ‘read’ her books like me. As days turned to weeks and then months, I saw my little one go from a little, crying bundle to a walking, talking person!! Everyday brought with it some new act of mischief, some new corner to be discovered, some attractive toy to be broken. As I look back at the hundreds of pictures we took every day, I am amazed at how much Navya has changed over the year and a half of her life. But more than that, I am wonderstruck at how much I have changed as a person. I have discovered I can be as strong as a rock when something threatens my child and can melt like jelly at the slightest worry about her. I can stress about the most trivial details like toys lying all over the house and then forget about the mess when the baby is crying because she hurt herself. I have also learnt how important a good night’s sleep is, as all mothers of little ones will vouch!!! I have seen my senses get sharper as I stay on alert for the next table my girl may try to climb or the next shelf she may open. I am also up-to-date with all the programmes on children’s channels that keep Navya glued while I get five minutes of peace for myself! Who hasn’t had an occasion in her life where your mom says the dreaded words “You will understand when you have a daughter”? I’d give a royal roll of my eyes in that situation and get right back to whatever I was doing to annoy my mom in the first place. Today, when I think about my own child, I know my mother was right but not completely. She must have had her share of unique experiences with me as a baby which may be totally different from what I am experiencing in my role as a mother. I may even end up saying these exact words to Navya, but I also know that when she has her own little woman, she may feel the truth of those words in her own special way. As Navya grows, I feel myself growing too, in a way I cannot explain in any language. But it’s a feeling every mother understands when she goes to sleep at night, tired but contented with another busy day making sure that all is well with her baby. Divyaa Nandan Nair, Bangalore
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