I could hear everyone laughing and having a good time at the dining table. After a long time, Daal Baati was prepared by my mother-in-law.
I was really eager to be a part of the family laughter and enjoy one of my favourite dishes cooked by her. It had been 20 days since I delivered my first child – a healthy baby boy. But, currently I was in the period where any enjoyment, be it eating good food or coming out of the room and sitting with everyone, for the first 40 days is considered bad for the health of the mother as well as the baby.
I was feeling just fine – my stitches weren’t paining anymore, I was comfortable with the feeding process and my recovery was well on schedule.
Though as a norm, I had to be in my room. Even though I was happy that I had a baby now and wanted to enjoy every moment with him, but at the same time I wanted some ME time.
I wanted to get out of the room and breathe in some fresh air.
I wanted to eat something different, something delicious as I was tired of eating the same khichdi and daliya.
And then after a few days I realized that I was just getting sadder.
I was cribbing about everything.
I didn’t like this phase.
I hated everyone for treating me this way.
I tried to explain to my mother-in-law and the other elders of the family that I was doing well and there wasn’t a need for such restrictions anymore. Even my doctor had asked me to start eating whatever I wanted and lead a normal life. But the elders never heeded to what I was saying.
I overheard someone saying “Ajkal ki ladkiyo ko do din ghar me baithna pade to pareshaan ho jati hain. Maa bananna itna aasaan nahi hai ab samajh aayega.” (These days girls can’t stay at home for even two days. It’s not easy to be a mother. She will understand now.)
For them, the more you sacrifice the better mother you are.
No, I am not complaining about my mother-in-law. She loves me a lot. She is a wonderful lady and was only treating me the same way as she would have treated her own daughter – bound by old thoughts and traditions.
Even my husband didn’t understand what I was trying to say. He joked away saying you must be the only one who is complaining for being asked to do nothing and rest.
I was eagerly waiting for these 40 days to get over but they seemed to stretch on forever.
The air in my room had become stale and every breath reminded me of it.
I was bored of constantly looking at the baby but never had the guts to say this to anyone. If I had, they would have labelled me as the worst mother who was bored of her baby in the first month itself.
Even though I had always heard of this phase, I never thought this will take such a toll on me.
I think these restrictions and everyone’s expectations from me made me feel lonely and started pushing me into depression.
I completely agree that a new mother should take complete rest and eat healthy food but that is for keeping her physically healthy.
What about her mental health? My 40 days are about to get over soon and I know I will lead a normal life after that but a few questions are still bothering me:
When every mother is different, every mother takes different spans of time to recover, some might have a few complications and hardships while others may have a smooth delivery and post-partum period then why everyone is treated the same way?
Why still the age old practices are given more importance than the doctor’s advice?
Why sacrifice is considered a pre-requisite for being a good mother?
Why can a mother not decide the time period she wants to rest based on her conditions?
Why is a mother asked to resume her duties immediately after 40 days when she is still not physically healed and others are asked to follow restricted 40 days when they are fine much before that?
I am looking forward to know your thoughts…
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