Friday, November 9, 2012

The survival theory

Dear Arjun and Anirudh,

It is close to 5 months since your birth. Little more than two months since we started managing you both without any family support. We still have a long long journey to travel, but I don't see our life changing any more drastically than it has already. Looking back at the journey so far, it really gives me  immense satisfaction, an inexplicable feel of achieving something. You will be able to feel that when you also go through a similar phase.

When we initially came to know about your 'existence', we were thinking whether to have the delivery in India or in UK. The primary concern was the family support. Ashwini wasn't sure whether I will be able to support her enough in bringing up the baby. I can't blame her for that. Being the last son, I was never good with kids before. I still don't know what was wrong with me, but I never felt like having some cuddle with the babies before. I did like them when they were smiling or playing, but that never made me feel like having a baby just to experience that 'happiness'. I must be honest with you that I never had a burning desire to have my own kids. It was no where in the top of my priority list. So, I never really showed much interest in kids till I got to know that you were coming!

We were in India for vacation when you were 8 weeks in the womb. We had our first scanning in a doctors clinic. She confirmed us about the pregnancy and told with all the confidence that it is a single embrio and everything is normal. She also suggested for a full scanning after 2 weeks. I sat outside in the scanning room as I wasn't sure whether they will allow me or not. But the doctor asked me to come inside and asked us how many kids we were planning. We have already decided to have just one and go for an adoption for the second one. The doctor said 'well, you don't have to go for the adoption. You have already got two here'! Ashwini was shocked! And I was very delighted! I am still confused why I was so delighted. Ashwini, with so much of love for the kids, wasn't quite ready to accept that she was having twins. She already started feeling the pain of managing them. On the contrary, I, with no special affection for kids, was very very happy that I am having twins! I couldn't feel any pain of having to struggle with two babies. Only thing I could feel was the sense of having something special. Not everyone is gifted with twins after all and I never had anything by luck earlier.

Before the scanning, I have tried hard to convince people that we can manage things by having the delivery in UK. But after this news, everybody was of one opinion. 'There is no way you can manage twins in UK even if you get someone to look after them. We know how hard it is to manage one baby, so don't even think of having the delivery in UK'. I just said 'we will see. I will check with few people in UK who are managing twins. If they give us the same opinion, we will come back to India'.

After coming back to UK, we started getting really good care in the hospital as we were having twins. For my advantage, we were having monochorionic diamniotic identical twins. In simple terms, you both were having your own sacks in the womb, but sharing the same placenta which carried a very high risk. It was possible that one of you would have grabbed all the food making the other starve. The statistical evidence said one in six can have that problem, which might need laser surgery that is not available everywhere. We had to go for the scanning every alternative week to make sure none of you would become too greedy. I got a perfectly good non-refutable reason to convince others that the delivery needs to happen in UK. The good side effect is that we were getting really good medical care for free :)

When people said we won't be able to manage you both, I took that as a challenge. Childcare wasn't my domain, neither my interest. But I had a reason to do that now. I wouldn't have got any better opportunity than managing twins and then telling others 'Look, I have managed my twins without cribbing, while you are making a big issue of raising just one :)'. So, it no longer remained as a routine task, rather a challenge that I had to win. I have replaced you from the centre of the stage, it was now all about me, winning that challenge!

Due to your pre-mature birth, you were kept in the special care unit for first 17 days. That really turned out to be a good opportunity for us to learn the child care tricks. Changing nappies, feeding, taking out the wind, giving bath, all became a child's play before you came home. There was always internet for other things that we weren't aware. It wasn't easy for first 2-3 months. You both had too much of reflux problem due to immature tummy. So putting you to sleep was a mammoth effort. We had to hold you upright for minimum 30 minutes before putting you to bed. But due to reflux, atleast one used to be awake at any time. Changing nappy in the night was terrible as we had no clue how to do that without seeing you cry on top of your voice. Very soon we also had to bear the marathon colic-cry for 2-3 hours continuously.  I still wonder how you managed to produce that giant voice in that tiny mouth. We started working in shifts, where I will be awake till 4AM where as Ashwini will be awake when I go to sleep and in between for feeding. When both of you cry together, we had to forget our shift and do the overtime as well. We were trying our best not to disturb your granny in the night as we knew we have to find some way as we will be on our own in few days.

Both your mom and granny got extremely tired within first few days. As soon as I came home, I could only get the complaints saying you were unmanageable. They were right as they were tired. Strangely, I didn't feel tired. I could work even better with only 4-5 hours of sleep, though my minimum requirement was 8 earlier. The reason was very clear. They were getting tired because they were spending all their effort taking care of you. Whereas I was doing all that for myself, and no one gets tired in fulfilling their own needs. Your lack of sleep was more of my problem than yours. I always thought we haven't found the right way of putting you to sleep. I had to keep experimenting to find the solutions for my problem. Without that it was hard for me to win my challenge. Those experiments kept the momentum going, they added more energy to our endeavour, they kept the frustration of sleeplessness far far away.

Eventually I did find a way of having a sound sleep. Sleeping on the sofa with one of you in a sling clinging to me did the trick. You both used to forget even the hunger with me in sling. Some times I even had 6 hours of continuous sleep, where as the normal was just 2-3 hours. Based on that we tried adapting our methods to suit our requirements.

In last couple of weeks, the life is lot easier compared to first 3 months. There are still times when I forget my challenge and loose patience, especially when putting you to sleep. But that is just momentary and get my rhythm back quickly. Close to 5 months and we have done remarkably well so far. The future might be harder than first 3 months or it might be as easy as it is now. But the challenge is still on and I am not ready to lose yet! Oh, forgot to mention that you have also started to smile now. Some times that works million times better than that eager to win the challenge!