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Mandira Bedi and Raj Kaushal’s world has taken a 360-degree turn ever since their bundle of joy — Vir — has come into their lives. Learning the ropes of parenthood is no cakewalk, so the couple is taking each day as it comes. The proud mum opens up to t2...

Congratulations! Your first thoughts?

Oh wow! Nine months of body change and lots of hormones. What can I say?! It has been exciting and exhilarating. I had a C-section. So barring all the pain, it has been a wonderful experience. He is a little puppet! Really sweet fellow! Every day is a new challenge. Looking back on the pregnancy, the last month (the delivery was on June 17) was slightly difficult. But it is nothing compared to when the baby arrives. Somewhere you forget yourself completely. All the attention and focus is diverted to the baby and his needs.

Has motherhood sunk in?

Just about sunk in! Sometimes, when I wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a baby crying, I am like “Is this happening to me?” (Laughs) I am one of those who enjoy seven-eight hours of sleep. Now there is no such thing as a full night’s sleep. You are awake when the baby is awake and you are asleep when the baby is asleep. It’s a joyous experience, but also a little overwhelming at times. But that’s what motherhood is all about, I suppose. It makes you value your own parents a whole lot more, especially your mother. Fathers do very little!

How did you decide on the name Vir?

Actually, we had decided that if we had a boy, we would call him Vir and if a girl, we would call her Tara. I had suggested these names to Raj and we decided to go with them four-five months ago.

What is Vir like?

He is a noisy baby. He loves to cry. Sometimes I don’t know why and it gets me all nonplussed! It is still early days. He has been in amniotic fluid for the last nine months and negotiating with a totally new world out here. We have to make this place as welcoming as possible for him.

What were your thoughts and feelings when you held Vir for the first time?

I was conscious as I had a C-section. They were tugging and pulling away at one part of my body. The baby was out in 10 minutes and as soon they had checked all the basics, they put him on my chest. I could not hold him, as I was not in a position to hold. I had IV (intravenous lines) going from one wrist to the other and sedative going on in another.

He was so little! I could not believe it! I have held babies before but I have always picked them up when they are a couple of months old. This one is like newborn… there was waxy stuff on him. (Laughs) Very cute, but very small. It was a scary thought, you know. He is so small and there are a whole lot of responsibilities. Someone so small… so helpless. When he is wrapped up, he is still easier to hold. When he is not in his swaddle, when he is having his bath… he is so tiny!

I also felt that this is the guy who had been kicking me at 2am (in my stomach). Even now, he is up and about and yelling between 11pm and 2am. But through the day, he is a pretty calm baby. I think he has got my temperament in that sense. I am easygoing through the day. I am more of a night person. I used to write all my articles sitting up till 2am.

Apart from the timing, what else has changed?

My body has completely changed. It takes a while to get back into shape. Given the fact that I have had a C-section, I am not allowed to exercise immediately. One thing that used to drive me and give me sanity was exercise. That is a thing of the past and faraway future. For the first 42 days, I will not be allowed to do any kind of exercise. After six weeks, I’ll be allowed to walk. And I’ll only be able to exercise, the way I used to, in three or four months.

My daily routine has changed, too. I don’t have one! My day starts when the baby wakes up. I catch 40 winks or take a bath only when he is asleep. His feeding can sometimes take a couple of hours. Settling in will take a while.

What have you discovered about being a mommy that the doctor or the books never told you?

(Thinks for a while) All the books tell you one side of the story. In practicality, it is something else. Each baby is different. However much you try to put them into the same routine, they are individuals and they all have different personalities. You have to go with the flow. People can say you must start breastfeeding the moment the baby is born or this is the way you have to bring up the baby... but you need to find your own rhythm.

What has been the most difficult bit?

The feeding part. I want to feed and I want to feed for as long as I can. I don’t want my baby to go hungry. That’s the trickiest part. Also, sometimes you just don’t know why the baby is crying. He could be well fed and burped and cleaned… all the boxes that the doctor told you might be ticked. But you still don’t know why he’s crying.

And the most enjoyable bit?

There is this little person who has got half of you and half of your husband. When he sleeps, I see myself in him. When he is awake, he looks like Raj. It feels special that there is a little person who is made out of your flesh and blood.

Does Raj help you with the baby work?

My mum is staying with me now. So, Raj is getting away scot-free. (Laughs) Having said that, when he is with Vir, he has a very calming influence. There will be a time when Raj would have to move back into his room, right (when Mandira’s mother will leave)? When that happens, I know he will do what needs to be done.

Raj on daddyhood

“It is a completely different feeling altogether — a weakening feeling. Someone this small can get away with murder with me. The first time I saw him, it was like, “Oh my god, this is a miracle. He is beautiful!” I was in the operation theatre and I was the one to pick him up and put him near momma!

My life has changed in every way. Vir makes me feel that now I’ll have to be a lot more responsible. And I just don’t feel like working! Like kids complain, “Mamma don’t send me to school!”, I am like, “Mamma don’t send me to work!” He has no concept of morning, day or night. After a full meal, he makes the most amazing faces! It is quite like a comedy circus!

I think no mom thinks that her husband is good enough! That’s fine! I refuse to believe that I am getting away scot-free. But if she (Mandira) said so, she is always right. You know when you have three doting women over a little boy, he doesn’t need more fretting and fawning over him. He needs someone in the background. It is just that he is so small. When I hold him in my hands, which I am very good at, I realise how gentle I have to be. I just want him to grow up a little. He is all cartilage right now.

The first thing that happens to women is the insecurity about their self-worth. The husband needs to step in and calm her down and make her realise that she is the reason that the child is there and not the other way round. The first thing I do is understand what she (Mandira) is going through. I tell her that you have come out of this entire loop that is sucking you in. A new mother needs someone who can just hold her hand and understand what she is going through.”

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