Please note: This is Ep.26

Please go here for Ep.25

Or here to begin at Episode 1

(As everything I write is true, names have been changed to protect identities.) 


Because They Love Him, SO MUCH!

March 1999. The devastating postnatal depression cloud that had lingered over my head for those months was lifting and for a few weeks before the Easter weekend, I was feeling better and better each day.

My relationship with my husband was better too, and as I wasn’t breastfeeding, he and I were out from time to time, to dinners with wine and enjoying the bars and clubs of London with our group of couple-friends. We were blessed to have my in-laws at home to watch over Jai. And as I was at home all day with Jai and his grandmother and great-grandmother, it was nice to have some time with my husband and a change of scenery. I was still only eighteen years old and still loved to go out dancing just like I did in my Molly Way days.

Before we went out, I’d bathe Jai, give him a massage and his bedtime bottle and then read to him a little before laying him down for the night.

Jai adored our reading time together. Ever since he was just a few days old, many times a day, you’d find us lying down on our backs next to each other and I’d be holding a book up over our heads so Jai could focus on it. I’d read to him from brightly illustrated storybooks or poems or nursery rhymes with a nice rhythm, tracing the words on the pages with my finger so his eyes could follow them.

There was one book in particular that Jai loved best, So Much by Trish Cooke. It was my favourite too. It still is. It’s about a baby whose family love him, you guessed it, SO MUCH! (While writing this chapter I was searching for the book online and found some delightful videos of it being narrated with the pictures. This is one of them. They brought back some wonderful memories!)

I’d read it to Jai over and over again. As Jai got used to the intonation and patterns in my voice, he knew each time I was about to say ‘Ding Dong!’ and what was coming next. He’d get so excited, waving his tiny fists and kicking his legs. As he got a little older, he’d try to make sounds too. At just three months old, to look at him you’d think he was reading along with me in his baby babble.

Once Jai had settled into his routine, he was a dream of a baby. Within a couple of months, he slept throughout the night and we knew his timings precisely. It meant it was much easier to make plans day or night as we knew when he’d be awake or hungry. If Maanav and I wanted to go out in the evenings, we could put Jai to bed and leave the baby monitor with his grandparents or aunties. I’d been following Gina Ford’s The Contented Little Baby Book to the T. (There is also a newer version here.) All the arrangements like the blackout blinds etc. had been put in place before Jai was born, and after a short patch of rocky nights while getting accustomed to it, he took to it like a duck to water.

Most evenings, Jai’s bath time was an entire family affair. With his dad, grandparents (sometimes both sets), aunties and uncle eager to rush back from school or work to ooh and aah over him, we’d crank up the living room fireplace after dinner together, making it cosy and toasty, all ready for Jai’s own personal baby spa. On the rug in front of the crackling fire, I bathed him in his little bathtub with a calming lavender baby wash. He loved bathtime so much. He’d lay back serenely, sometimes kicking playfully, enjoying the feel of the warm water over him and the adoring faces of the family around.

Then I’d wrap him up in a cute plush towel with a hood, the kind with little bear ears on it so he looked like the cutest little, fluffy baby bear and hug him close. By the time I’d given him a warm oil massage and dressed him in his jimjams, he was so relaxed that he’d sometimes fall asleep right there on the changing mat. Maanav would gently lift him in his arms and take him upstairs. We’d sit together to feed Jai in a dimly lit room and read him a story in hushed tones before lowering him into his crib with a kiss. He went down like the contented little baby that he was. So when Maanav and I went out, leaving the baby monitor with his grandparents, we knew he’d be absolutely fine and we’d enjoy the night without any worry.

My pregnancy with the morning sickness throughout it and the first couple of months of motherhood, especially, were so demanding that whilst pregnant I couldn’t imagine ever being pregnant again, let alone taking care of a small baby at the same time. But, once everything had settled a bit and Jai and I were comfy in our routine, I was feeling broody already. I loved him so much, I wanted to have more little ones just like him and it was important to me for Jai to have a sibling close in age to him.

My brother and I were born exactly a year apart (we even did joint birthday celebrations), and we’d been so close as little kids (although that changed when we got older). I really wanted Jai to have that closeness, a playmate and best friend at home with him. Having children so close in age, I knew, would be no easy feat. I remember it used to be astounding to me that when my brother was only 3 months old, my mother was expecting again, with me.

While I was pregnant with Jai, I would have laughed if you’d told me I had to take care of a little baby at the same time. But when the same actually happened to me, when I was pregnant again when Jai was 4 months old, I was overjoyed. 

The rest of the family had decided to take a trip abroad for the Easter Holidays at the end of March. Just Maanav, Jai and I were at home. We didn’t know then that I was already pregnant when they left. I was feeling absolutely fine. No morning sickness, nothing. It wasn’t until a couple of days after they’d left that I realised I’d missed my period and did a test  confirming that baby number two was on the way. Excitedly, I imagined Jai and his little brother or sister growing up together, playing together, going to school together, studying together, and as they’d be so close in age, they’d maybe even have the same circle of friends, I thought that would be lovely.

Mother Nature had other plans though.

The month of April began and April Fool’s day came with it. I felt as if I’d been played an awful trick. The next day, April 2nd was Good Friday. Good Friday that year for me turned out to be not so ‘good’ after all.

Please go here for Ep. 27