The Birth Story

Every child loves their birth story. I loved every aspect of mine. The part where my father took to tears of relief and happiness after some pretty intense and long labouring on my mother’s part and especially the part where I was told again and again how desperately they had wanted a girl. Me.

Never mind that my father’s visions of a sweetness and appropriate sparkiness in a pattupaavada were dashed too soon for his own liking.

I have always struggled with Arvind’s birth story. I have struggled with a way to be honest without passing on the sense of despair, the torment and the bewilderment I felt right after he was born. All I have ever wanted him to know was how much he was loved and wanted from the minute he was a cell lining my womb.

His birth was our birth.

We were flung headlong through this tumultous passage into parenthood and before we could pick ourselves off the floor andΒ  focus on nurturing him and loving him, we were sent into the trenches to fight for him and speak his case.

We didn’t have playdates. While other mothers complained about getting through the fogginess of breastfeeding, we were reading articles about brachial plexus avulsion that my grieving father sent me. We started physiotherapy on day 10, there was surgery in the sixth month and life a-twixt it all.

But there is a birth story.

Of a large baby who came as if from a planet rich in iron ore, screaming his protest at his cruel eviction. Nurses marvelled that he suckled so effortlessly. I was so giddy from the experience, so besotted with my new love, so high on every hormone known to man that all I could do was stare at him. His face was never squishy or doughy in the way newborn faces can be. To me, he looked like delicately crafted bone china and every little feature was perfection.

On the first night at the hospital, (the Viking and my mother had to go home) the nurse on duty gently reminded me that I had been awake for almost 48 hours and that I needed rest. I will take good care of him, she said as she wheeled him out into the hallway. I fell into an almost drugged state of sleep only to be rudely awakened by the forceful wailing of a child.

My child. My breasts ached and I sat bolt upright in bed, desperate.

If you haven’t had a third degree tear and a brutal episiotomy, I’m going to spare you that information. But stay away from google is all I will say. And don’t try to walk, because.. well.. you really can’t. At least not without feeling like someone is driving spears through your delicate parts and right through your brain. Nothing pretty here. Move along.

To date, I don’t know how I dragged myself off the bed and hobbled through the room and down the hallway, desperately holding onto something, anything that would take me to my disconsolate son. There was no maternal heroism driving me, only the sheer force of necessity. (There. Motherhood in a nutshell. You asked.) He was bright red from the the fierce effort of his screams, but the minute he heard my voice, the minute I picked him up a held him close, he was completely still.

Like he had been expecting me all along. Like this comfort was the real and only deal.

If there was ever a parental contract, this was the moment I signed on the dotted line and said, “I do.”

The moment I knew I would be up for the whole, complicated deal, no matter what it demanded, no matter what it took.

It wasn’t just love, my darling, I tell him. It was knowing that you and I had come through several lifetimes to this point again. This point we clearly knew so well and recognized instantly.

You were born an old soul, I tell him. Your eyes were filled with knowing then and older people have later marvelled at your dignity, your wisdom beyond your years. Your sense that there is a world of special secrets that you are privy to.

And your father who saw the horror of your birth live, up close and personal and never let on or crumbled? He bounced in the day after, took one look into the crib and said, “Well, if it isn’t the cutest kid EVER!” and after we marvelled over every little part of you for hours, he promptly fell asleep in our hospital bed with you on his chest. Which is pretty much the way he still likes it – you piled on him. Him, drinking it in and loving you with unconditional zeal.

Then there was your grandmother. You were her first grandchild and she will still gloat that she held you before I did. That she knew immediately that you were the most wonderful child in the whole, wide world. You were her birthday present that came two days early and you would grow to be the child closest to her in spirit and heart. On her 51st birthday, she was granted two hours to visit us. I spent a good part of that time pretending to shower and sobbing for everything I could not repair and control. Feeling wretchedly guilty for the crappy birthday my mother was having and all the worry that would now also be a part of her life.

I came out and she was still sitting on the worn hospital sofa, holding you, unable to take her besotted eyes of you and alternately having conversations with you while you slept and sending quiet prayers while holding your tiny arm in her palm.

Turns out that you were the most amazing birthday present she ever received and that it wasn’t as crappy a birthday as I might have thought it was.

If you could have spoken then, you would probably have told me that already.

Happy 8th year, my special little prince. And happy birthday to your Ammamma. Between the two of you, I’ll never be short on lessons in love. Now go listen to one of our favourite songs.

“They never die – that’s how you and I will be”




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40 responses to “The Birth Story

  1. we all are bit besotted with the little fellas as well today. Many happies!

  2. That was lovely and poignant. Happy birthday, Arvind!

  3. Parul

    Happies, beautiful boy. He’s gonna be such a heartbreaker, MGM!

  4. Happy birthday Arvind and his grandma!! Lovely memories, beautifully put down.

  5. Ariel

    That was lovely:) I hope he had a good one.

  6. Mkg

    Happy Birthday Arvind. You are beautiful.
    MGM, you write so beautifully….makes heart aglow.

  7. Chooch

    YAY! you’re back and with another heart-warming post!Glad to hear the hottie had a good birthday-he’s just growing “handsomer”with every passing post!Birthday blessings to his ammamama also:)

  8. I’m so glad you are back!!!!!
    Tears well up. I guess each birth is a miracle, and I am so thankful for the medical and surgical resources that are available today.
    You do know that I love your beautiful sons! Your mother has joined the long list of wonderful people I’d love to meet. And you posted on my younger son’s 21st birthday- truly a red letter day for me!
    Happy hugs, my dear! God bless.

  9. What a comeback MGM!! Seriously. Now I know what I missed all these months.

    Happy Birthday Arvind- You are an awesome son with an awesome mom.

    and MGM, don’t disappear on us again:-)

  10. Belated bday wishes to Aravind and his Ammamma.
    Glad to see you back. You have usch a beautiful way with words.

  11. That was lovely. Hope Arvind and his Ammamma always stay this way, and have many many more happy birthdays…

    And i am glad to see you back- just when i was starting to wonder if you were buried under all that snow!

  12. wordjunkie

    Many happies, Arvind.
    And hugs, MGM. Missed you.

  13. Remembering the moment that brought the news of his birth and the anxiety ridden times thereafter…..but a time that is in the past. Remember also our conversation about you not being able to get round to writing this one. I am glad you did sweetheart…

  14. Eleonora

    Very touching.

    And by the way, it’s great you are back!

  15. *Hugs* Will say more when I stop sobbing πŸ™‚

  16. pxbalak

    Belated wishes to the darling little child who is giogn to break many hearts as he grows up and your mom too.

    And MGM – you have a way with words – absolutely lovely post after such a long time – where have you been?!!!

  17. Ack. I bug you for posts and then I come in late for the party.

    A very happy belated b’day to you Arvind!

    MGM, he looks so handsome!

  18. Got to know about you thru a follower of urz…we’re going to a ‘wanna-be-parents’ phase and mommy blogs are our new party zones! πŸ˜€

    Gotta say Arvind is a complete cutie! Bless him! πŸ˜€

    I read like 5 posts…but first time commenting…this post made me smile and erupt into cheers of joy!

    Would be coming back fr more!

  19. I chanced upon your blog and started reading this one first – God Bless your lil big man.
    His birth story had tears in my eyes as I was reliving my son’s first few days. I think every mother feels the same and you have written it so beautifully. They all know that we will come for them no matter where and how.

  20. Hi, Glad to have stumbled upon you .. lovely posts and so full of warmth. Nice meeting you..will keep coming back..

    take care

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