The pregnancies of social media are vastly different from the pregnancies of real life. Pregnancies are about hormonal imbalance, lack of sleep, dark circles, the ‘pregnancy mask’, vomit, illness, crippling back pain….the list is endless. When a woman goes through this, she just wants to feel better. In my first trimester I leaned into my friends’ sympathising looks, my husband’s proactiveness in taking over the running of the house, and my students’ understanding when I’d be a few minutes late to class. The best pregnancy advice I’ve received also came to me during my first trimester.
My Mohiniyattam teacher, Dr. Honey Unnikrishnan, has been a pillar of support for me. In this video I speak about how Honey was the first person who noticed a change in my body. During one of our online dance sessions, she asked me why my feet were so heavy, was I tired? I said perhaps I was about to get my period in a few days. In a few days I was in Honey’s house cum dance school, and as many of you know, I feel implantation happened during those few days.
When I gave Honey the news she was ecstatic. From then on she made a point coming home every time she was in Bangalore to spend some time with me. She became an invaluable source of information, advice and wisdom. She’s the one who gave me the best pregnancy advice I’ve received so far.
“Remember that this phase is just a part of you, and not 100% you,” she said one evening as we sipped cups of chamomile tea.
“You’ve done so much in life, remember your accomplishments, your achievements. This is not the only thing that’s going to define you. This is an important part, and certainly one of the priorities, but not the only priority. So stay balanced and don’t forget yourself. This is only a beautiful addition to you, not the complete you.”
The Worst Thing I’ve Heard During Pregnancy
I feel the worst thing a woman hears during pregnancy is, “think about your baby.”
I don’t think anyone can stop thinking about the baby (after all that’s what’s wreaking this havoc on our systems). While pregnancy is a time of growth, newness, discovery, it is also a time of uncertainty. Nothing you read or watch (certainly nothing you watch) can prepare you for the actual experience. You’re hungry but too sick to eat. Even drinking water is a challenge. The fatigue is indescribable. To tell a woman to focus on the baby is denying her experience and reality.
Some women are told to eat more than they ever have, because ‘you’re eating for two.’ Some are told not to exercise because of ‘their condition.’ Many are told not to go out or meet too many people because ‘nazar lag jayegi.’ As a culture we are focused on the unborn baby. Once they are born babies naturally become the centre of everyone’s attention, most of all the mother’s. But before that mothers deserve all our attention.
Like one of my friends said the other day, “Happy mothers, happy babies.”