Seeing the World as a Parent


“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.” 

― Debra Ginsberg


It’s been over a year since I’ve paid any attention to my blog. It’s been a momentous year and a half. If I thought my pregnancy was eventful with the Graves’ Disease diagnosis, the last stretch was even more so.

The past year has been the tough. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, filled with love and tears, good times, great times, bad times, miserable times. If child birth and breastfeeding was painful, the post-partum depression broke me. As I fought to keep my grasp on who I am in my changing life, I have watched the world around me crumble and tear itself apart. Bomb blasts, killings, war, violence, I have had to stop watching the news for a while. My already fragile self found it hard to handle all that hatred. I could not bear to see more people suffer. But watching children die has been the worst. Little sparks snuffed out even before they could blaze. And every time, I find myself asking, “Why God, why does it always have to be the children? Why bring those pure souls into this world just to make them suffer the most?” I’m not a religious person. My idea of God is simple: Love for fellow beings. But prayer has been my refuge in times of despair. And how can I not? I have become acutely aware of every parent’s worst nightmare, losing their child.

Image of a parent holding the hand of a child
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The Last Stretch


“I don’t remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.”

Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year


Just as Week 35 of my pregnancy began, I woke up that weekend to an attack of  horrible itchy rash on my pregnant body. The angry rash spread all over without mercy. I went to my doctor during the week, who put me on antihistamine and ordered some blood tests. When I asked her about relief from the itching, she said perhaps I could try cold water or ice? She sent me home with an appointment to see her the next week.

Those two weeks were the worst thing I have experienced. I couldn’t sleep, because I would wake up in the middle of the night to terrible itching, and sit for hours with ice packs over my raw skin, because nothing else helped. The antihistamine did not work, even though it came to a point where I was taking three tablets a day. I tried aloe vera gel, oatmeal baths, oatmeal paste, none of which worked for beyond a couple of hours. I’ve never missed calamine lotion more in my life. In the summer, I was cold and shivering most of the time, from ice packs and cold showers. This went on for about ten days till I found myself sitting on my couch one morning, applying another ice pack and crying. If I couldn’t deal with this, how was I going to deal with labour and motherhood?

The finishing line
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How Do You Tell People You Are Pregnant?


“The world was full of dangers now that she was pregnant: mercury in tuna, hot tubs, beer, secondhand smoke, over-the-counter medicine. Not to mention crazy baby-abducting fairy kings.” 

– Jennifer McMahon


Little toys in a crib
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Thirteen has always been a lucky number for me. It feels strange to say that because I don’t believe in lucky things or numbers. On 13th December 2014, I was far away from Oslo at my parents’ house. That morning, I decided to pee on a stick. It came out positive. I peed on one more stick, you know, just to be sure. That turned positive as well. I calmly walked up to my mum in the kitchen and told her I might be pregnant and I need to do a blood test to be sure. My mum told my dad who wanted to call the whole world that very moment. Fortunately, she talked him out of it.

I had travelled thousands of miles to my parents’ house so I could see my one-year old niece for the first time since she came into this world. My brother asked what was going on. I told him that the sticks I peed on say that I’m pregnant. He told my sister-in-law. We had a hug fest.

The person I wanted to tell first, the person I wanted to share the joyous news with the most, was the one person who wasn’t around. My husband. K was traveling that very day from Oslo to join me. Now you don’t tell a man over the phone that he’s about to become a father, do you? No, seriously, I asked that question. I wasn’t sure what the protocol was. Do I call him? Do I wait till I see him? It seems wrong to tell him over the phone doesn’t it? But how can he be the person who doesn’t know? After a lot of back and forth, and with a little encouragement from my sister-in-law, I called him. He was just about to board the plane from Oslo airport. He sounded excited to hear it. He said he was happy about it. I asked him later what he thought about during the almost 12-hour journey. Did he ponder over impending fatherhood? He is yet to give me a proper answer!

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Why are We Afraid to Fail


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 

― Maya Angelou


When I was in my early 20s, I made a list of things I wanted to do in life, sort of a bucket list. Right at the top of that list were two things I wanted to try at least once in my life – bungee jumping and sky diving. I wrote the list, put it away and didn’t really think too much about it, until recently.

This summer, my cousins visited me in Oslo. One of things we thought might be fun to try was the Oslo Summer Park. It’s a climbing park where you walk on ropes between tree tops at varying heights, following set routes. Some of the routes also include zip wires. You get some basic training before you get to try out the actual courses in the Park. So at the training level, I climbed up a short rope ladder to a wooden platform. I had a harness that secured me to the safety line above. I was a little over five feet above the ground. I stepped onto the rope. The rope shook violently and I froze. I couldn’t take one more step.

 

Image that says Do not fear failure
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Vulnerable

My poem “Vulnerable” was published in Oslo Writers’ League anthology, All the Ways Home. The themes of the anthology were ‘Crossroads’ and ‘Identity’. I submitted this poem under ‘Identity’.  

All the proceeds from the sale of this book is going to Utdanningshjelpen, a charity in Norway that sponsors education for children in countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Mozambique and Ethiopia. Everyone who was involved in the making of this book, volunteered their time and talents to make it happen. If you want to read soulful and poignant stories and poems by some very talented writers, do go buy the book and support a great cause.

All the Ways Home can be bought on Amazon USAmazon UK and The Book Depository.

 

Book cover of All the Ways Home

When I was a child, I had many falls, 

Did I ever pause to say, I fell once so I will never walk? 

My skinned knees and heart never filled me with shame,

I just dusted myself and skipped about again. 

 

The tender heart does not hesitate to beat, 

For fear that it might break, 

Yet when I love and don’t know if it will last, 

I build a wall and throw it away. 

 

Whom do I fool by denying I hurt? 

Am I scared to feel at all?

I walk away from all that I cherish,

So eager to hide from who I am.

 

I lost someone I love,  

I will numb the pain with drink and food. 

The one I love might dump me soon, 

I must beat them to it too.

I fear the disappointments relationships might cause,

So I expect the worst from them all.

They rejected me at the job interview, 

I’m a failure when my dreams fall through.

I will shout at you till you see there’s only one right, 

My illusion of control makes me feel strong. 

 

If I had love, money, fame, and friends,  

Would that be enough to make me feel whole? 

When I have a dream that makes me happy,

Why do I hold back from fighting for it more?

 

So I lay bare my vulnerabilities,

I am just tired of not being me,

I let go of all that I thought I should be.

I will let you see who I really am,

I will learn to love the imperfect me,

It’s the only way I can truly be free.

 – Srividya Karthik

How Do Memory-Triggers Help Us?

Ever walked down a road in a hurry and felt your heart race in panic when you saw someone pass by, because they reminded you of a person who broke your heart? Ever seen a flower and felt sad because someone you lost gave you the same kind of flower years ago and you preserved it within the pages of your favourite book and never looked at it again? Was there ever a time when you picked up a stranger’s pen and felt overwhelmed by emotion, because it revealed a never-remembered image of seeing your dead father use a similar pen when you were a child? Human mind has a curious way of associating things and memory-triggers remind us of those emotions and memories that are buried deep within us.

So why bother with something long forgotten? Why care about something that reminds us of things that perhaps we would rather not remember or talk about? Because accepting who we are and what our life means to us, starts with facing all that we would rather forget. It’s about accepting our flaws and forgiving ourselves. It’s about realising that just because we put ourselves out there once and it did not work out the way we thought it would, it doesn’t mean that we should fear being vulnerable again.

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Be Vulnerable, Be Free

It is not the critic who counts. It is not the man who sits and points out how the doer of deeds could have done things better and how he falls and stumbles. The credit goes to the man in the arena whose face is marred with dust and blood and sweat. But when he is in the arena, at best he wins, and at worst he loses, but when he fails, when he loses, he does so daring greatly.

-Theodore Roosevelt

Have you ever stopped yourself from writing that book that you always wanted to, because you were too scared of what others might think or that perhaps nobody would like it? Have you ever told yourself you’re waiting for the right moment to apply for your dream job because you need more time to prepare, when actually, you were afraid of being rejected? Pursuing a dream takes courage. But we all deny ourselves what we really want because we are terrified of rejection. The fear of failure is so strong that it stops us from even trying. I should know, I’ve done that many times. Being vulnerable is never easy. But  But I watched a TED Talk by Brené Brown on The Power of Vulnerability, which changed my perspective on failure and vulnerability.

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