A home pregnancy test is truly a great invention, based on a bit of chemistry and ingenuity. A tiny splotch of colour informs you that you are well and truly pregnant. In the privacy of your bathroom, you can shriek with shock and disbelief or squeal with joy. A pathologist can, of course, give an official confirmation, but nothing beats the suspense a home pregnancy test puts you through. Face it, you’re going to be a mom!
Of course, part of the surprise element of a pregnancy test is that not all pregnancies are planned. Stable, sensible people who meticulously plan each and every move in their lives, have been pleasantly undone in this one area, and their motto of having enough money for a baby has often been pushed out the window. Most often the sequel is similar: a set of moony-eyed adults day-dreaming about the baby they are going to have.
Once the couple climbs down from cloud nine to eight or seven, certain logistical issues stare them in the face, especially if both happen to be working. The trend in most metropolitan cities in India is toward nuclear families and that creates its own set of pulls for the couple.Often, talking to friends across the divide – those who have decided not to have children and those who have children – helps in making you feel part of a community. While your decision need not be based on their experiences, hearing friends and relatives talk about their own parenthood choices can raise new issues for you to consider.
The most important issue is of course that of a support system. The readymade support system that came with the joint family earlier is no longer present in cities. So, who are the people to fulfil the supporting roles of a mother/mother-in-law and elderly aunts and uncles? Will it be mother and mother-in-law by rotation and unmarried sisters-in-law during college vacations? Or will it be a new kind of arrangement that relies on the strong connectivity of friends?
The other issue that often assumes importance for a working couple concerns a reordering of their “freedoms” and “constraints”. How much of their life will remain theirs after the arrival of the child? How will the rhythm of existence be affected?
For the working woman, getting pregnant means having to deal with several pragmatic issues like planning work in a way that does not stress her out completely. That might mean an adjustment in working hours and maybe a temporary farewell to career concerns.
Budgeting finances is a mundane though crucial aspect of the run-up to motherhood. Getting registered in a reputable nursing home that does not shout caesarian at the drop of a hat, planning for the ultrasound that gives you the first glimpse of the life growing inside you and many other tests that squeeze you liberally, is all part of the game. The doctor’s fee, medicines, the delivery, the hospital stay – all of these have to be factored in with the help of your bank balance or someone else’s as a timely gesture.
Then there is another worry to crease the brow. While hoping for a normal delivery, contingency plans have to be prepared for a last-minute caesarian that may need more days of recuperation time in the nursing home or hospital.
After a normal delivery, a woman is back on her feet in a day or two. In a caesarian, she is expected to be in bed for at least a week and take life a little slow after that for two months to give her tissues time to heal. Many first-time mothers move over to their mother’s home to get a well-earned rest. Mothers with young children to look after and send to school need to identify someone who can stay over and help with the baby as well as the housework.
And it is in the gestation period of nine months that all these issues run like a well-worn film track in the couple’s mind. When they finally usher in the new arrival into their lives and household, they can be forgiven for doing a volte face by wondering why they were confused in the first place.
Pregnancy test shows that you are Pregnant!