A perspective of an Indian mom’s experiences and reminiscences of being pregnant and then raising a child in Jersey City, while trying to incorporate both the cultures and tips on what worked for us.
Growing up like most of my friends, all I wanted to do after I grew up was to become a doctor, live in my own apartment, get married and have kids, albeit, while I wasn’t too far away from my family. While, it might sound strange that a little girl would think of a profession at such an early age, my family is chock full of medical professionals. I had grown up seeing my mom treat patients and I wanted to do the same.
While the dream of becoming a doctor didn’t work out, the rest turned out okay, except for one thing… never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine having my child in a different city let alone a different country! Traditionally, back home in India a woman goes to her parent’s house after she completes her second trimester, stays with them for a minimum of 40 days after the birth and a maximum of 1 year in certain cultures.
While I didn’t get to go home, my mom flew thousands of miles to come care for me and the little one for 4 months.
Meanwhile, it was an interesting experience being pregnant and delivering in a different country. Here are some examples:
-You go to small clinics to get checked out during pregnancy; hospitals were only for emergencies/complications.
-The bills from the doctors/hospital are insane… Thank god for insurance.
-They let your spouse and another person stay with you during birth. This is unheard of back home.
-Women go with at least 2 to 4 people to the hospital but they are usually asked to stay in the room allotted to the woman or asked to wait outside the delivery room. No one but the doctor and the nurses are allowed inside.
-Epidural….! Need I say more?
-Women are encouraged to give birth naturally and epidurals and other meds are only reserved for scheduled c-sections.
-If everything works out, they send you home in a day or two, in India you would be lucky if you could leave in less than a week (if you are lucky to have a normal delivery… if not you stay in the hospital for a couple of weeks at least.)
-A mother is only sent home if she and the baby are both checked out to be fine. If the baby is sick then the mom has to stay in the hospital with the little one.
-People setting up nurseries for children, buying clothes, toys etc. was completely new for me.
Our culture frowns upon buying stuff for the baby before its born, with grandparents usually insisting that once the baby arrives, there will be enough time to buy the necessities. Usually the baby is put to sleep in a cradle passed down for generations, a cradle made out of a saree or right next to mom. They are also dressed in mostly passed down swaddles/clothing of siblings or cousins. It’s believed that new clothes are too rough on newborn skin. If that’s not possible organic and soft clothing like this and this is definitely preferred.
I also realized that,
-Co-sleeping is uncommon here.
-Breastfeeding can sometimes turn into a big debate; So, can the sleeping arrangements for the baby among other things.
-There is always someone who is willing to help, you only need to ask.
-Playdates are lifesavers.
-Its super convenient to have stores like hazel baby & kids that cater to your tots needs… Anything from organic clothing to teething necklaces are available at the touch of your fingertips, or by walking into their fabulous store.
These are but a few points that I have experienced here, there are various other thing I haven’t talked about but I want to sign off with a small tip. Get a mom friend or a few mom friends or join a mom group especially if you are in a place far away from home… the support alone is worth the effort it takes to find one.