And then when I conceived the second time, just within a year of having my first, he was more than happy. Happy and sure, it’s going to be a boy this time. Boy, because we already have a girl. Boy, because a family Pandit had predicted he will have two children, and the second one would be a boy. Boy, because that is what everyone wanted – his parents, my parents, him, and, possibly, me”
– Sneha’s account of having a second girl
Started to judge me? How can a mother, more so a woman think like this? That makes me a terrible person, and I know that. I know I should not be feeling this. I am an educated woman, one who quit her career for taking care of the baby, my twinkle. Her gleaming eyes and charming smiles were big enough reasons for me not to go to work and stay at home, feeding and changing diapers. I happily chose that. And my husband supported throughout, even if that meant extra hours at work to compensate for the lost income. Never did he once complain. He understood I was doing this for our daughter, and he was pretty helpful. Seems perfect, right? And then when I conceived the second time, just within a year of having my first, he was more than happy. Happy and sure, it’s going to be a boy this time. Boy, because we already have a girl. Boy, because a family Pandit had predicted he will have two children, and the second one would be a boy. Boy, because that is what everyone wanted – his parents, my parents, him, and, possibly, me
My first born holds a very special place not just in my heart and life, but also in her dad’s. She is the apple of her father’s eyes and her grandparents adore her. But the fact is having a second child was sort of a gamble for me, because I already had a girl, my most precious jewel. However, my second child, a girl again, could not ignite the same feelings in her father and her grandparents. Maybe it was because everyone, including me, had pinned high hopes on having a boy. And when the doctor said “its a girl”, tears rolled down my eyes. Till now I cannot figure out whether I cried in helplessness that my baby was a girl or they were just tears of embracing motherhood once again and finally having my baby in my arms. As I succumbed to a heavy sleep thanks to the drugs I had been administered after my second C-section, I heard my mo ther-in-law’s voice, “Phir se ladki hui hai..”
That voice and those words still echo in my head.
She wasn’t welcomed like my elder one. There were no faces that lit up when she was brought into the room. The phone calls that were being made to inform of the new arrival did not carry joyful tones. There were more ‘hmmms’ than words. In the midst of all the chaos, she chose to sleep peacefully in my lap. There were no balloons in the room, no sweets distributed, no smiles, no happiness shared, unlike the birth of my first one. And while I wanted to shout from the rooftop how happy I was to have a beautiful baby, my feelings were crushed under heavy, gloomy faces. ‘Things will soon be better’, I told myself miserably.
I came back home. Friends and neighbors started pouring in, and I was relieved. At least now I and my daughter would see some happy, vibrant faces. But most of them acted weird – something was different this time. Two daughters, not exactly what the Indian society wants – right ?
A nursemaid was hired to take care of me and the baby, and this middle aged lady had all the secrets to having a boy, should I try again. While my elder one was happy that she had a little sister, my in-laws and parents were adamant that we must try for a 3rd child- it will surely be a boy and will take the family name forward. I looked at my little one – her arrival had unsettled the very modern and delicate balance of my household. Could they live if I had a third girl? I guess not.
For the first few days of her life, she received only my love and affection. Her father was not particularly unhappy, but disappointed, possibly, in me. In the heart of my hearts, I started blaming myself for bringing her to this world- she was better wherever she was. All this added on and I started remaining depressed and feeling guilty. The only light in my world was my elder one who loved her baby sister to bits and would be around her all the time. She was hardly 1 1/2, but she was blabbing her happiness saying ‘baby baby’ all the time. Every time I looked at my two girls, I became overwhelmed. Looking at them, from deep down my heart I wished and prayed that my daughters would grow up and aim to be someone who would put to shame all those who had regretted her birth, to all those who had pointed fingers at God’s decision to send me an angel from heaven for the second time.
Just a month over, I was alone with my daughters and husband as my in-laws went back. I could go to my parents’ house but I chose to stay- despite the pains and the exhaustion both my daughters gave me. I had spoken to them a couple of times and I knew they were embarrassed on their daughter’s so- called failure of giving birth to a boy and also hoped that we gave a ‘third try’
I withdrew from my husband, and no longer cried. My regrets got etched deeply and my face lost its sheen. Though I love my second daughter greatly, I decided not to force anyone to love her. I did not complain, nor expect. I just became a mother all this while, giving her the best I could. For me my second one completed my family, although against many people’s wishes, who wanted a boy.
Soon after, my husband started showing some love towards our baby. It was almost after 45 days that he smiled at her genuinely, shunning that artificial grin, and believe me she smiled back. Somehow he realized we hadn’t done much shopping for the little munchkin, and she was mostly using her sister’s old stuff. He must have felt guilty as a father for denying the little one her rightful, and soon enough there were scores of clothes and toys for her. He started spending time with her, and I began to sleep better. Though it was never the same as the first born, yet, things got reasonably better.
If you look at us from afar, we seem like a happy family of four, constantly weighing the chances of trying the 3rd time. But what if it is another regret?