Well, it has been a long time since my last post and have I been busy! Nothing special, just the usual - a bit of travel, a lot of knitting and sewing and cooking and visiting, along with my already busy routine work. Many a time I almost started my post and couldn't.
Sometime back my sister-in-law asked me, "Why haven't I seen any new posts, Akka?" "Ever since R was born I have been busy," I replied. She had a hearty laugh and said, "But they are in the US and you are in India." "I am simulating having a new born baby at home," I said. Jokes apart, until few years ago it indeed was a busy time to have a new born baby at Indian homes. It is not very different in these days except that most women prefer to stay back at their homes and ask their mother or mother-in-law to go ever and help them.
Then, the whole house would be bursting with activity with so many people to help around. Activities begin from the time the news arrives that the daughter is pregnant. Discussions are held as to who should be asked to come and stay for those few months when the baby is born and the new born and mother are confined (the delivery is known as confinement in most places). There are always aunts or grandmothers who are free to come and spend a few months to be of help in the family. When the daughter is brought home during her 6th or 8th month of pregnancy, every care is taken to see that she is comfortable and eats well and exercises lightly. (Expectant mothers of today have no such luxuries, what with having to work almost until the date of delivery so that they could have all the leave available after the baby arrives). The maid is given special instructions to make herself available at all times.
"How will I contact you if my daughter goes into labour late in the night?" my mother asked our maid one evening, when I was expecting my baby at my maternal home. I burst out laughing and my mother said, "why are you laughing?" I said, "if I go into labour you should be calling the midwife and not the maid." "Don't worry about what she says Amma, what does she know. You just come to your backyard and shout my name, I will come," said the maid. She lived about a kilometre away and we could see her house from our backyard across paddy fields and a canal. Sure enough the maid was the first one to be informed as the lady went into labour. She is the one who would make all arrangements for the lady's comfortable delivery and keep things ready for the midwife and take over from the midwife after the baby arrives. She would sit with the new mother and baby and give them all the nursing care and also take care of bathing the baby and the mother . The aunt who had arrived for help would be coordinating between the new mother and the main household and taking care of the food and medicines of the new mother and the baby. The house would be in a perpetual state of activity like buying the herbs for the medicines and preparing the medicines as per tradition and boiling the bathing water for the new mother with herbs and preparing the massage oil, etc. And of course there were festivities when the baby arrived. On the 7th day the paternal aunt and grandparents would arrive with bangles and anklets for the newborn baby. This function is known as Kappu. Naming ceremony on the 11th day follows if the father of the baby is present. The baby is put in the cradle for the first time on the 28th day. The festivities would go on and on.
I was reminiscing on all these when my own adorable and perfect grandchild arrived though he was halfway across the globe. And yet my handsome and charming son made sure that we did not miss out on any excitement by calling us each minute and giving us the status report from the very minute the gynecologist advised my daughter-in-law to get admitted in the hospital for delivery. He even made me listen to the first cry of the baby. Our days were spent here in India wondering if the baby slept well, fed well, how the new mother was, how were they managing, etc. So every evening and morning we would be sitting in front of our PC chatting with our son and asking questions about the happenings there and he in turn would patiently answer all our queries. Though it is not a tradition there, my son's mother-in-law graciously agreed to come and spend one month with them to be of help to them with the new baby.
As I said, the first few months after the baby arrives are very busy and critical especially in the case of the first baby as the mother is not experienced in taking care of the baby. This is especially true in the nuclear family set up, as the children do not get to see other babies growing up. Whereas in the olden days, there were always some little children in all the families and also in the neighborhood. And like I said, there was always help available to take care of all the needs. The first thing my mother asked me after my grandchild was born was, "who is giving bath to the baby?". It was a big question. I asked the same question to my son even before the baby was born. "We will take care ma," he said. Though my mother has 7 children and more than a dozen grandchildren and great grandchildren my mother does not know to give bath to a baby. We always had a maid to do that. My son sent me a movie of him bathing his son.
Today's youngsters are very very accomplished I should say. My daughter-in-law is managing the baby and home all alone and has no complaints. My son is able to manage his busy schedule at workplace and come home and take care of the new born baby and other requirements and also keeps us informed of all the happenings there on a day to day basis.
We all wish them a healthy and happy and long life.