When was the first time I felt guilty? Yes, it was the very next day after I found out that I was pregnant. I debated whether to have morning coffee. Not for the next nine months. And a few months after that while breastfeeding. I remember occasionally when the urge to drink a strong cup surged in me, I would slowly walk to the kitchen, take the coffee bottle out and take a sniff. It was bliss. I would have an odd cup once in a while too, all the time thinking whether this would harm my baby. It was a fight between gratifying my tastebuds and keeping the baby safe. When I would indulge myself, I would feel guilty as hell and swore that I wouldn’t do it the next time.
The guilt started with coffee. Later during the pregnancy when I couldn’t stay back late in the office, I would feel guilty about not giving my 100% to my work. I used to seethe internally when my colleagues left office before time, without completing their daily tasks, and when I did the same during later stage of pregnancy, I felt guilty. Suddenly, work was not the priority anymore.
I couldn’t help out much at home, no cooking, no cleaning. Pregnancy exhausted me. I felt guilty about not being a substantial contributor in household chores. I started feeling inadequate, poorly and not the perfect person that I was.
I thought this would improve after the baby came but it only got worse. The first week after the baby was born, I felt like my life was only to feed and change the baby. I wasn’t allowed to watch any tv, nor go out, and not to exhaust myself in any activity whatsoever. I always thought that after having a baby, I would feel elated and be over the moon. It was actually the opposite. To make it worse, I had a C-section. This made me feel even more guilty about not being a woman who could endure the labour pain. It made me feel small and cowardly. I wondered for days whether it would make me any lesser a mom as I didn’t have a normal delivery. But, now that I think about it, I think my expectations about labour were wrong. It is to expect the unexpected.
Going back to work was again a very hard decision. At one hand, I was happy to be back into my world and that made me feel guilty. Is it right to be happy about leaving back your baby while you do and enjoy work? It has been drilled into our psyche that women are essentially caretakers and motherhood is the best thing to happen. Once you have kids, nothing else should take a priority in your life. Having this thought constantly at the back of my mind, I felt very uncomfortable having to work. I wondered whether my baby is happy at home without me and though he showed no outward signs of being unhappy.
Before travelling to Scotland, relatives warned that he would feel lonely with no one around. But I waved a hand across shushing them by saying that, he will come around. He will have me. I consoled myself by saying that the weather would do wonders for his health. And that he would enjoy. The first week here, we both got brilliantly bored and even caught the cold. I wavered about my decision whether it was right to come here or would he have been better back in India. But sometimes, the mother’s instinct is right. Touchwood, he has taken to the weather pretty well apart from that soft cold. And his tummy is fine after the change in food.
With him being quite a handful, I do get time to do other things such as cooking. If done, it is sparingly. I feel guilty about not being able to provide fresh food to my husband who is a foodie. I wonder whether he feels am not the perfect wife and mother to be able to do both. I often wonder, how our mothers and grandmothers did it. That too with more than one kid. Is it the same with this whole generation, or am I the only one lacking in multi tasking?