Category Archives: Trying days

The bullshit of “mild discomfort”

So as a part of this quest to diagnose why we are not pregnant yet, the doctor suggested a HSG test. As any brave woman would do, I asked her how painful it would be and if it can be done under sedation. She casually mentioned I would feel ‘mild discomfort’ just like regular menstrual cramps. Now as someone who has gone through menstrual cramps over 200 times (quick Math FTW!)  I was like I can totally deal with this!

By now you would know that for any procedure, I prepare as though I am the one performing it instead of being a patient. So I began by reading up on the dye, the mechanics, possible side effects and everything suggested mild discomfort but also most websites had this sort of weird declaration about how different people have different pain thresholds. Only WebMD mentioned serious pain but then they are also the ones who suggest cancer or Lyme’s disease anytime I key in a symptom so…

Warning 1: The billing lady

As I was paying for the procedure, the woman at the billing counter asked me who I had come with. I was of course by myself since I don’t typically expect the husband to stand guard for such things. She looked a little taken aback and asked me if I want to reschedule when he is available. I held back my wise-ass, “my uterus waits for no man” comments and handed over my card.

Warning 2: Declaration signing

As I was waiting in the hall, another staff member came up to me and called me on the side. She asked if I had come with someone. When I said no, she looked at me nervously and pulled out a declaration form for me to sign. The form basically stated that I was completely aware of this procedure; I have chosen to be unaccompanied and shall not hold the hospital responsible for anything.

Warning 3: Painkiller injections

I was then sent to receive painkiller shots. While I am happy to share that I am a firm believer in drugs when it comes to pain, but two painkiller injections? That left me wondering why we are trying so hard for “mild discomfort”.

Procedure: The unhelpful helper aunty

The procedure happened in an X-ray room and here also there were three other people in the room apart from the doctor and one helper aunty. The doctor asks me to relax (a hard thing to do in that position) and begins injecting the dye. Now let me tell you that I have had some pretty severe menstrual cramps, I suffer from frequent migraines and I have walked into a solid concrete wall and a giant tree (not making this up), so no stranger to pain. But this was someone twisting my insides like tying a water balloon for Holi. The worst thing was the helper aunty chuckled and asked me that if I cannot handle this, how I will endure the labour pain.

Realization: HSG was designed by men for women

As with how I deal with most of my issues, I came home and sought revenge by Googling to see if there are ANY tests that involved injecting anything into a penis and don’t hold your breath – there are none. No surprise there so I then looked up on Wiki to answer the question who the fuck decided it was a good idea to check for blockage in fallopian tubes like you would add Drainex to your sink. It then dawned on me that this was once again that time in history when two men got together and decided to devise a test for women because you know…who understands plumbing better.

Things I wish someone had told me:

  • Take someone with you. Someone who is okay with snot, tears, cursing and holding hands.
  • You will read that it sometimes is easier to get pregnant just after the HSG test. Unless you are into Immaculate Conception, this will not happen since you will hate men for a while and sex will be out of question
  • The “mild cramping” after the HSG will feel like you are carrying four women’s uteri during their period
  • Visit forums instead of generic websites with Getty Images photos. Women tell women things when things get shitty (not the helper aunty though – she hates you!)
  • If you are mad at your non-existent baby and are questioning if any of this is “worth it” – it is normal and you are not a monster

I know…you are welcome.

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The Day After

It is the next day.
Pink pamphlets torn,
Full price mani-pedi &
Fewer floral messages
On my phone.

Their job has been done,
Their purpose served.
What more do you want –
A pat on the back or
For me to lower my gun?

Stop whining and playing your card,
Waving your flags fighting for a cause.
You have it easy at every turn on the way-
Climbing the ladder,
Sleeping your way.

Go back into the box I drew for you
Say the words I spoke for you
Feel the feelings I told you to feel
Give me your body,
To choose for you.

You are afterall defined by me
A wife, sister or daughter
Or a slut if you are free.
Come on my dear, don’t ask for more
You have a whole fucking day that I don’t.

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Multiple versions of me

Being self-aware and having voices in your head is a bitch. Truly. I am having one of those days when the grass pretty much looks greener on everyone else’s lawn. I woke up disbelieving that it is already Friday and a complete sense of dissatisfaction over what I have accomplished this week. I was supposed to have figured out some gym where I could work out balancing my new life, I was supposed to have had a break through at work, I was supposed to have helped someone I know with job hunt, I am supposed to have stopped eating wheat to get healthier and I was supposed to have done 4 days’ worth of laundry, which I have parked in the other room so that it doesn’t prick my conscience when I wake up. Yet, it is Friday already and quite frankly other than alarm icons on my phone, which remind of these things not much has changed.

As I was sleepily sipping on my coffee this morning and going through other people’s lives on Facebook, the wave of disappointment was palpable. I saw someone standing on yacht with arms outstretched and I immediately wished two things – being on a yacht and having gorgeous arms. I waved to no one in particular in my living room and my arm jiggle only made the voice in my head sharper. I saw another someone post about their graduation from one of the universities I had gotten into and the voice in my head again nudged saying, “that could have been you”. Of course, there were two articles on MAGGI followed by the indignation around processed foods which reminded me how I should not be using any “fast-cooking” solutions but only healthy alternatives, which take a couple of hours of effort. The final post I saw was on  ISIS cutting out water supply in some parts of their territory and I felt like absolute scum on the face of this earth for being so shallow and wallowing in self-pity while the world is in shambles.

I have Facebook “friends” who are on the boards of non-profits, who are getting funding for their start-ups, who are moving to countries I someday hope to visit, who are experimenting with new styles of working out which I would kill to try, who have amazingly bronzed legs and who are vacationing with their parents and kids in tow. It is a struggle to remind myself that all these are not one person and surely not everyone is cracking it. When I swipe through my phone, all these amorphous facts just come together as one big ball of things I am currently not doing. The rational me knows that lives on Facebook is just a sliver of most of these people’s existence. One voice in my head mocks me for being so full myself while there are kids who need a better education but the other voice also constantly claws me for not doing enough on any front.

I am not a hotshot racing the corporate ladder, I am not a passionate entrepreneur who is doing her bit to fix the world, I am not an effortlessly chic woman who eats vegan bagels after a TRX class,  – I am just me who knows that there are many, many more just like me but is also vain enough to wish that I was more.

P.S: This wasn’t a post to make me feel better about myself by fishing for compliments. I just wanted to let the other ‘Me’s know that you are not alone.

When good news is never good enough

Hi Aunty

You met me yesterday at that family function in the temple. I am sure you remember me. I am that woman who is almost thirty and have been married for five years now. Yes, yes the same one who does not have children or any good news to give yet.

You pulled at my cheeks and reminded me that you last met me during my wedding reception (which was a close and intimate affair of over 1000 people across two cities). When my eyes showed hardly sign of recognition you poked my tummy and asked “any good news?”. I shied away pretending I had a call to take, when you told the other aunty “she has been married for five years”. The other aunty played her part and appropriately tutted in the right places. I heard you both. One of your friends pointed out how I look ‘healthy’ and then followed it by “how many months”. I didn’t realise you had it in you to make me feel fat as well as inadequate in the same breath. Thanks aunty, you are truly special.
I noticed how you asked my cousin brothers what they did but only asked me about why I hadn’t done anything yet. I saw the wheels in your head turn when I told I was travelling next week for work and would not be returning to Bangalore tomorrow. I saw your eyes glaze over when I explained what I do for a living and shared my good news  about my project getting the second round of funding.
I also saw how you passive aggressively asked my mom if she is a grandma yet. I felt terrible about putting her in a spot. Just as I was beating myself over this, I overhead you asking another woman with a toddler “so when is your next?”. When she laughed, you pushed harder saying “you cannot possibly be be thinking of raising her as an only child. She will be spoilt”.
That’s when I began to look harder. I saw so many instances during the day when none of us measured up in your eyes. You aren’t happy when we don’t have a child, you aren’t happy when we aren’t planning the second one, you are shocked when we say we are stay-at-home moms, you are appalled that we would leave our children with our parents to work long hours, you are unhappy that we don’t have jobs in the US, you feel cheated when we don’t come back from the US to meet you.
I am trying to remind myself that you mean well but you are making it really hard.
So let me just clarify for you once and for all – whether I am happily married or single, whether I am planning on having a baby or am struggling to manage my newborn, whether I am gainfully employed or not – when I have something to share with you, I will. It may not be as good a news as you may want to hear but well, c’est la vie.
In the meanwhile, a couple of quick pointers to save you from featuring in another blog post:
a) If you think someone is pregnant but you are not quite sure – save everyone the trouble and hold your tongue.
b) Quit poking tummies or randomly coping a feel will you? It is really annoying.

To Kausra

Dear Kausra

We met the other day at your school and spending those ten minutes with you changed a lot for me. I felt I owe you an apology and hence I write to you.

Before landing in Srinagar – J&K, I like most other people from India came with my baggage about what I thought of “Kashmir”. I was also excited about the Dal lake, shikaras, phirnis and unabashedly voyeuristic about wanting to know more about the conflict. When I exited the airport, I saw a sign reading “Welcome to Paradise on Earth” and right under that was a soldier with a gun. I was uncomfortable to see the army presence, I was even more uncomfortable to acknowledge that the fundamental right of freedom of movement is curtailed and most importantly I was acutely aware of how different my India is and how I had no business discussing how this part of the world should be “India” as well.

I am embarrassed to tell you that reading a couple of books and editorials I thought I understood what your daily life looks like.  Nothing prepared me Kausra, to live sharing the surroundings you grow up with each day. Waking up listening to gunshots of the army doing target practice or being stopped for checking in the middle of the road or even that flurry of panic, thinking of sudden firing that is happening 1 km away from where we stood – Kausra, I do not know how you do it.

Your school teachers tell me how girls in your village are not confident, very quiet and not participative in class. Your school principal congenially told me about how girls are generally reticent. The boys in your class overcompensated for your silence. You looked down with your head bowed when I asked you a question. I accepted your silence for your shyness. But when you stood up and shared what you thought in a shaky yet confident voice, I saw some bit of myself in you.

I do not think you are shy or “under-confident” or reticent. I do not want to make any more assumptions on your behalf. But if my three days can leave me without words to describe what I am feeling, I empathise how speechless you must feel seeing what you see day in and day out. If I were you, I would bow my head down too. It is just easier to find answers within than look outside to spell it out for everyone else.

I am sorry Kausra for being one of those many strangers who trapeze into your life thinking you should open up and start “sharing” your life story.  It is again the same mistake of thinking that you are waiting for this amazing miracle from outside to save you.  It is absolute bullshit and you caught me on that one. You owe me nothing.

I hope you and I can become friends some day. I think we would hit it off quite well – I saw you snigger about my haircut to the girl beside you. I would have done the exact same thing! 🙂

Till then,

Much love

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searching for a why

It is hard to imagine what it must be like to truly make a difference with one’s actions.
It is harder to believe that the change one is looking for is happening before one’s own eyes yet hidden.
It is hardest to feel impotent and yet continue to act simply to find a grain of significance.

This cannot be it. I need to remind myself

It has been 8 months and 16 days since I walked into my classroom the first time. It has been tumultuous to say the least – not to make myself a martyr. I have had some of my best memories in this classroom with my 40 kids, some truly inspirational moments and a lot of dark days.

Today was one of the darker days I have seen. I wasn’t able to go to school yesterday as I wasn’t in a position to even stand for a bit let alone climb 3 floors. I walked into school today and I was told how Sumit formed a gang with five 4th graders and beat Omega up real badly. I thought it was an exaggerated claim and climbed up three flights of stairs to make it to the staffroom. There again I was told about how Omega could barely walk home yesterday and how Sumit and those 4th graders have threatened to kill him if he comes back to class. That is when I realised that there was something seriously wrong. I went to class, did the whole jig of morning meeting, made it a point to address the class message of “Do not hit”, tried talking about non violence through Gandhiji and all this while my mind was racing with questions about why there is so much rage in 9 and 10 year olds.

Of course, I did speak to Sumit separately, questioned him about the choices he made and how it aligns with what we speak in the classroom every single day. He just looked at me with glazed eyes. There are many metrics for a teacher to gauge the effective communication of her message and a glazed pair of eyes is sure shot sign of failure.

I know I do not speak of this often, but I truly believe India is special and I feel personally responsible for not trying hard enough in the first 25 years of my life to help find solutions to its problems. When I joined this Fellowship, I wanted to first find solutions in my classroom and then use my learning to find solutions for the country. I still believe that the answers to issues of gender discrimination, indiscriminate violence, prejudice, intolerance lie in education. But when I see how after my 256 days I may have brought about a change only in actions of most of my kids that too motivated by the desire to please me, it is hard not to question my  ability to bring a mindset shift in a country of 1.2 billion people.

I am aware that children carry their homes into the classrooms, I am aware of how operant conditioning works with positive and negative reinforcement, I recall reading that behaviour change is possible in most individuals with continued exposure in about 250 days since it involves reworking of some neural network BUT what I am not aware of is, what is one to do when time is running out and you feel like you are up against a wall.

I pledged myself to bridge education inequity and in my head I added a caveat of how I will not limit myself to academic skills alone when bridging the inequity. I earlier wanted to be that teacher whom you would look back to recall how you pushed yourself because she said so. I now only want to be the teacher who helped you find the inner voice which talks to you about the choice you make with every action.

I want to be that voice for Sumit for purely selfish reasons. I see in him the issues that I want answers to – it scares me that maybe there are none to find.

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