How You made me a mother…

Dear Baby Girl Nirva,

I hope this blog post finds you sleeping peacefully with your tummy full. I hope you are not too cold and shivering or too hot and sweaty. I hope the room temperature is just right. Wishing you a good night’s sleep. Today has been tough for you, your tummy, and us. I should probably eliminate caffeine from my diet.

This letter was crafted while I was rocking you to sleep after the long rough day that you’ve had. You are already making ‘imma wake up anytime’ noises as I am typing this down. It’s a little past midnight; we have had a rough couple of nights. I wish a good night’s sleep to be upon us, for you to gain weight, and for me to reduce my pregnancy tummy. PS: I fit in my pre-pregnancy denims and am back to my pre-pregnancy weight.

I remember the night we decided on your name. We had not planned a baby yet but we had zeroed down your name and gender (as if it were in our hands) already. We always knew we wanted a daughter. A few months later we realized we couldn’t wait any longer to hold you in our arms.

I remember the day we learnt that you were on your way. It was day 1 of week 6. I had a strong intuition that I was pregnant since Week 3. It was as if my mind already knew that We had conceived. I felt your presence. We were in Illinois in week 5 and I refused to pick up my own luggage. Baba was furious but being the gentleman he is, picked up all of my luggage along with his. I did not want to risk your health by doing anything that I wasn’t supposed to. I became a mother that very moment – I wanted to protect you even when I wasn’t sure you existed. One night (while in Illinois) after a late night round of cards with the extended family, I told Baba about my pregnancy intuitions. He laughed it off. We reached home (Chandler) a few days later. I doordashed a pregnancy test at 7 AM. And Aai’s intuition was right. You were on your way. Baba was asleep when I broke the news to him. I can never forget the smile on his face. We told both Aaji-Ajobas the same evening. They guided us throughout the pregnancy.

Millions of tests followed. Fatigue had set in along with the mood swings. You dictated what you wanted to eat. We decided to navigate our relationship, life, and eating habits around it. Bed time had changed to 7:45 PM to supply you the energy you needed to flourish. I had just started working as well. You triggered a house search – a place that we could all call ‘home’. The week 8 ultrasound went great. However, delta variant was at large. Both Baba and I had covid symptoms in Week 9 (though we never tested positive). We prayed incessantly for your safety. We quarantined and worked from home for a few weeks. We wanted nothing but for you to be safe. Week 12 appointment was good. Soon we entered second trimester.

It was a lazy Sunday morning and you were only 14 weeks old. I opened my eyes at 8 AM. It was too early for a Sunday (then). Baba was sleeping peacefully. I decided to go back to sleep too. 15 minutes later, you moved and indicated that you were hungry. That was the first time we felt your presence in the tummy. I immediately woke up and fixed you breakfast. I looked forward to feeling your kicks every day for the rest of my pregnancy.

Week 15 brought an almost hit and run. I was glad you were safe. A few weeks later, we had to go to the emergency room. Thankfully, you were safe. More tests followed. Meanwhile, all the offers that we had put on houses had been rejected. Baba and I were dejected. Maybe we weren’t meant to buy a house. A few weeks weeks later, we casually went to see a house in a newer and unexplored area. It was love at first sight. We paid the deposit on the very next day. You had a place to call home now. Mama flew out from New York to help us move.

Things became heavier once we moved into the new house. It was week 20 of the pregnancy. The shopping spree started. We became regulars at every major retailer. Aai would sit on the floor of every aisle she walked in. That is how the knobs for your bathroom were selected. Walking had become difficult. Energy was hard to come by. I felt the constant need to rest and sleep.

Third trimester introduced us to Braxton & Hicks, sciatic nerve pain, acid reflux, infusions, sleepless nights, prodromal labor, and even more doctors appointments. We were sent back several times from the OB triage. I had all the symptoms of pre-labor for 3 weeks but you took your own sweet time. Finally I went into labor at the end of week 41 and you arrived.

I can never forget the first time I saw you… actually when You saw me. My epidural had almost stopped working and I was in tears. The nurse picked you up and put you on my chest as soon as You were born. You immediately turned your neck (don’t think you are supposed to be able to do that at minute 1, but you did) and looked at me. That was the first time when I saw you. Both of us were crying. Actually, all three of us were crying. A tear rolled down Baba’s cheeks when he held you for the first time.

It has been an absolute pleasure to see you grow in the last 7 weeks. You love stories, badbad geete, and talking in general. You already say ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’, ‘Oh wow’ (or at least that is what we hear when you blabber). You have disliked all of the formulas that the pediatrician recommended. You always know where the camera is. You’ve visited Grand Canyon and Bearizona already. You hate being covered. You dislike being swaddled and napping in general. You are gassy at times. Your smile lights up the room.

You have signs for everything You need. We are still trying to learn them. You have taught me more in the last two months than I’ve learnt in the last 30 years of my life. Being your Aai has been the most fulfilling role of my life. You make me a better human being, daughter, wife, and mother every day. Thank you for being born. Thank you for choosing me to be your mother. Thank you for being our bundle of joy.

Love you forever and always. Aai.

#wontEatWillTravel – Rocky Mountain National Park

Venue: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Duration: 1 or 2 days
Best time to visit: Pretty much all around the year.
Accommodation: Estes Park or cabins around the national park. Denver or cities nearby could be a good option as well.

It was a last-minute trip. We did not have a list of things to do for the long weekend and had decided to go with the flow. The itinerary is as below. You have to make reservations to enter the national park and can only enter during those hours. The link to make reservations is here -> https://www.recreation.gov/timed-entry/10086910.

Day 1:
A few must-visit places –
Estes Park: This place is slightly outside the national park. It is a busier area with beautiful lakes, breathtaking views, and loads of restaurants and shopping areas.
Moraine Park: This spot is on your way to the Bear lake corridor. Moraine Park offers abundant wildlife and breathtaking views of the snow-clad mountains.
Bear Lake: This one is a short 0.8 miles walk in the park. The lakes were still frozen and added to the beauty.
Dream Lake & Emerald Lake: The trail starts from the Bear Lake trail. It can get trickier due to the snow.
Trail Ridge Road: This drive offers gorgeous views of the mountains. The views from the overlook spots are stunning. The Forest Canyon overlook has panoramic views of Hayden Gorge, Gorge lakes, Longs Peak, and Stones Peak.
Alpine visitor center: It is the highest visitor center in the US. The alpine ridge trail is an easy, 0.6-mile hike that takes us to the panoramic views of the entire national park.
Alberta Falls: This is one of the popular waterfalls in the park. This 1.7 miles trip takes around 1-1.5 hours. It could take longer due to snow.

Day 2:
The second day was reserved for the Royal Gorge Route Railway trip, Garden of Gods, and Pike’s Peak. You can book the rides here –> https://www.royalgorgeroute.com/. This spectacular 2-hour train ride takes through the Colorado Rockies and tracks the river along the way. The open coaches guarantee you a ‘Chhaiyya Chhaiyya’ feel. We could not do Garden of the Gods and Pike’s peak due to hailstorms but they are must-visit spots. We ended up celebrating our friends’ engagement instead.

More things to do in Colorado:
Colorado has varied landscapes. You could ski, snow-shoe in Aspen, hike in the Rockies, do kayaking and river-rafting in Canon city, or enjoy a hot-air balloon flight in Lafayette. If you feel adventurous you could do ziplining, via Ferrata, take an aerial gondola, or ride the world’s scariest sky coaster. Visit this website for more –> https://www.colorado.com/. A few pictures from the trip –





#lessonsOfLife

I grew a year older and wiser this month. Here’s a list of things I’ve learned in the last year –

  1. I am fully capable of living on my own… in the heart of downtown… alone… \m/
  2. One can sleep after watching a horror movie because… (see the next point)
  3. Sleep is the most important thing ever.
  4. Earplugs work just fine for the early morning trash trucks.
  5. Some things are just not meant to work out.
  6. People change.
  7. People leave.
  8. Some people leave for a reason. The reason stays even after they’ve left.
  9. Work is life but life is not work – however you want to put it.
  10. Mental illness is real.
  11. Medical bills are huge. Be fit. Stay fit.
  12. ‘Me’ time is a real thing. You need ‘Me’ time.
  13. French fries are an acceptable lunch option.
  14. It is absolutely fine to fall asleep while at movies.
  15. It is okay not to party on a Friday. You can be a homebody if you want to.
  16. It is not okay to be indecisive. Decisions are important.
  17. Let go and move on.
  18. Forgive and forget. Don’t get back in touch though.
  19. If you think you have “problems” in life may be read a newspaper or watch the news for 5 mins. Follow the theory of relativity. Your problems are the uber first world problems most people would die to have. There would be at least a million people on the face of this earth who would be more than happy to live your life.
  20. Family is the real deal.
  21. Travel makes you wiser. Travel as much as possible. #wontEatWillTravel
  22. Milky way is beautiful. Try star-gazing as much as possible.
  23. Netflix is chocolate cake and amazon prime video is the icing on it.
  24. Live life with no regrets.
  25. Past is in the past for a reason. Never turn back. You are not going there.
  26. Some people do not understand the concept of ‘olive branch’ and it is not your responsibility to you to teach them.
  27. Your mood should never be dependent on the people around you. Stay calm. Stay foolish.

Of Choices and More…

8:00 AM: I left for Trader Joe’s to buy cucumber as instructed. Fire sounded very serious about picnic plans and I wanted to prove my support. We left for the hike soon after the successful purchase of every item from the list. P.S: None wants to play with Fire.

11:30 AM: The Baby (read: Fire’s niece), Fire and I reached the trailhead after having fought with traffic and found a parking spot (#theStruggleIsAlwaysReal). We started the ascent.

11:45 AM: The name of the trail had rung a bell before but I decided not to jog my memory.  20 minutes into the hike and we reached a bridge. Everything came rushing back to me. I had already 2 of my facebook display pictures clicked here in two different outfits with two different group of people. This was going to be a hattrick for me – 3 consecutive years to the same place with 3 different groups of people. Not cool. Should take this as a signal and try different hikes.

1:00 PM: Fire led the troupe as usual. Baby followed her and I was at the tail-end. The hike got busier as the day and hike progressed. Dogs of all sizes made a point to annoy me. I tried to distract myself by eavesdropping.

Two friends/colleagues, both probably in their late twenties, walked a few feet behind us. The conversation was about the risks they had taken in their lives and relationships. And then something one of them said caught my attention –

Friend 1: But then, I can’t even imagine how my life would have been had I stayed back and continued my job…you know…

Friend 2: Yeah, me too. And I think it is wrong to think like that. When you doubt your life choices and decisions you are in a way disrespecting yourself.

4:00 PM: We reached the trailhead, drank hot coffee and drove back to Seattle.

That sentence about doubting life choices ran in infinite loops in my brain. I had been doubting my decisions for a while now. Every time I saw the numbers on my credit card bills, salary account and student loan account I doubted my decision of coming to the US to pursue my dreams. Dreams are expensive. I could have avoided the debts and the hassles and tension. Every time my grandparents were sick and hospitalized I questioned my choice of leaving India. I wasn’t around when my grandfather passed away. I shall be forever guilty about that. Guaranteed, I would not have been in the position I am at had I not taken the risks. There is no way I could have achieved what I have had I not taken the risks. But still, I do try and imagine how my life would have been had I not taken the steps I did. Maybe life would have been better… or maybe not.

That made me realize… when I doubt my own decisions I am disrespecting myself. Whatever path you chose to walk on was your choice. Just because you had hiccups does not mean you made the wrong one. You gotta walk till you reach the destination. In the end… whatever the deal is… you gotta face the consequences and own up to it. Period.

 

 

Wiser on the run…

June 6, 2015.

10:00 AM: It was a sunny Seattle morning and was going to be my last one in Seattle for a while. I was on my way Portland- 3 months at the Nike headquarters. I was excited. I boarded the train. It was going to be a scenic ride.

I noticed her while still struggling with my carry-on luggage. She was pretty and old; her eyes spoke volumes about her suffering; her body language screamed fear, yet her elegance stood out. I know I am no psychologist, but she was an easy read. She looked at me and said ‘Hi’ with a broad yet faded smile. We started talking.

We spoke at length about how we make decisions in life, our relationships (failed and current) and her marriage and mine. She lived the life I fantasized (for a vacation) and I lived hers. She lived in a shell, having an alcoholic for a husband. And I always lived in mine. She never had kids and asked me about mine. I said ‘sure’! I didn’t know why I said that. I quickly calculated her age and mine and realized she was old enough to be my mother!

I had been soul-searching recently and she answered some of my ‘should I? should I not?’ questions. She asked me to wait. We take a lot of decisions to achieve (emotional, physical, financial or mental) stability in life and parking decisions may not be an option in a lot of situations. But she asked me to wait. And I found that to be a better idea than jumping guns. The conversation made me ponder about all the pressing concerns of mine.

What if I decide to stay single all my life? What if I decide to live by myself all my life and not care about what the world had to say about it? What if I gave up the job I disliked? What if I give up on relationships that have been hurting me?  What if I could just say no?

Every word of hers made me wiser. Her voice deepened as she spoke. She regretted her decisions in life and so did I. I am sure all of us have regrets. What is a life without regrets?

Time flew. We reached Portland. She was walking back into her unnerving life and her disappointment was evident. I was sad to let her go. We hoped our paths would cross again. It was a goodbye. How I wish I could keep her with me.

I felt privileged to have had such an impactful conversation with a stranger. It’s funny that we find answers at the most unexpected places. It’s almost as if every person you meet has a purpose. We actually learn something from every person in our life. Maybe ‘meant to be’ has more than one meaning. Maybe some paths are meant to be crossed and some journeys are meant to be taken. That’s how we grow.

Until next train ride…