before kenneth arrived, i had never been within one hand distance of any baby for more than half an hour. babies and i opted to be mutually exclusive to suit each others tastes. needless to say, i was totally unprepared for the variety of challenges that motherhood threw at me.
to begin with, i didn’t know that babies need to be fed round the clock for the first 45 days or so of their life. their stomachs are only as big as a walnut when they are born, and hence the need for the almost constant feeding. i remember the precise moment when the baby’s doctor told me to feed the baby every two hours without fail; i asked her “even at nights? that frequent, eh?”.
my son made sure that he got my undivided attention even more frequently than every 2 hours every day. those first few weeks were a blur and they left me dazed and stressed and almost ready to call it quits on motherhood. i remember resenting the fact that fathers had it very easy; nobody expects them to take care of the newborn at all. a mother on the other hand has to answer a whole lot of questions from doctors and “well wishers”, receive unsolicited advice, trim the baby’s ever growing finger nails, change diapers, keep count of wet and soiled diapers, feed round the clock and in general lead miserable lives until they get a hang of motherhood.
just about when i was getting a little depressed with my perceived “failure” to be a great mother, two little miracles happened. one day, as i sat watching him or singing to him (i don’t remember which), the little one smiled. up until then, he would smile only in his sleep, but this time, he smiled because of something i had done and at that moment, i was willing to believe that maybe the baby liked me a little after all. that smile was also the forerunner for some melodious cooing. i loved listening to his coos in response to my silly rhymes and songs.
and thus it was, that after nearly two months of his arrival, kenneth matthew jacob stole my heart forever after. a switch flipped on somewhere in my heart, and whereas i had gone about motherhood thus far out of a greater sense of duty than unconditional love, after that magical instant, it was all about love and nothing else. the sleepless nights, incessant nursing sessions, aching arms, bouts of fever and soreness — everything paled in significance as i marvelled at the human capacity of loving and being loved.
no wonder they say that the birth of a child brings hope to the whole of mankind. the smile of a helpless baby can melt the hardest of hearts to sheer mush and that is the power of all encompassing love.