Sunday, March 31, 2013

Understanding Anirudh

Dear Arjun and Anirudh,

Once in a while, I feel you both are really wasting a lot of my time. Then I realize, may be it is not really wasted. Earlier, I would have used that time in browsing the internet to have some fun or to gather some knowledge. While looking after you, in a way, I am not missing either of them. It is a lot of fun to be around with you to see your naughty things. At the same time, I do believe I am learning a lot of new things as well. I have mentioned many times earlier that I knew nothing about babies before. Today, I am more than confident about raising new born babies. I have a better understanding of what patience really means. More than anything, it is a wonderful opportunity to have a better understanding of human behaviour in general, which is one of those items always on of my todo list. I do understand each person is different. But observing a lot of people closely will definitely help in understanding it better. What could be more useful than trying to understand two people from their birth.

You know, people often say children are like gods. Neither I have experienced 'god' nor observed any children closely before.  So, I really didn't know how true that was. I think the comparison is made mainly based on their forgiving nature and unparalleled innocence. Now that I understand children much better, I don't agree with it any more. I am not saying they are not innocent or not forgiving. They definitely are. But, they forgive because they forget. They are innocent because their brain isn't matured enough like adults. During the first 3 months, the only thing that you did was eating and sleeping. Innocence isn't really the right word to describe that. It was very clear that your brain wasn't matured enough to understand more  complex feelings. You were quite good in expressing the basic feelings of comfort and discomfort.  Hunger, stomach ache, trapped wind, sleep are all classified as discomfort which you used to promptly display by crying. Holding, cuddling and feeding were all comfort which was also displayed promptly. I thought there wouldn't be anything interesting to observe at that stage as your brain still had a long journey to travel before showing anything worth observing. But, I was wrong!

Right from the birth, we always tried our best to treat both of you in the same way. Ideally, it should have been an easy task at that stage as you were yet to show any unique traits that might differentiate you both as different individuals. But, despite our efforts, we always ended up showing more care to Anirudh. Not because we liked him much, but only because he forced us to do that! You may not know that you both started out as a single embryo may be for 2-3 days before splitting in to two. You both were almost of the same weight when born. I wasn't really expecting any drastic difference in your behaviour as identical twins. But how wrong I was! It was very evident within a month how different Anirudh was compared to Arjun. There is a saying that eldest one will always be mild compared to the younger one. I never believe in such things, so really sad to see that hold true in your case!

Anirudh had put on about 300gms of extra weight within the first two months. And, he had a stronger voice too. But what was not clear to me was how did he learn to use that completely for his advantage in such a small age. I never read anything loudly when he was still in the womb! I don't even think he has a sharp hearing. I am trying to teach him his name from last six months, but still he hasn't come anywhere closer to learning that! Then from where did he learn to steal the stage by side-lining Arjun completely? It was almost difficult to hear Arjun's voice whenever he wanted to express something whereas it was almost impossible to stand Anirudh's cry for more than few minutes. It was also very easy to comfort Arjun where as it used to take double the time to comfort Anirudh. We were absolutely clueless about his demanding nature, so just went with his way to keep some peace at home.

When you were five months old, I was desperate to bring Anirudh back to the track. We started some kind of sleep training, to which Arjun wasn't protesting much. But Anirudh wouldn't just care. He always wanted to sleep being rocked till he went to deep sleep. Any attempt to put him down before he was completely asleep would be a nightmare. At 5 months, I was determined to follow the same routine for both of you, no matter how hard that might be. First day, it took more than 1 hour 30 minutes to put him to sleep. Next day I started observing him more closely. It again took almost 1 hour, but noticed that he had a burp which took almost an hour to come out and he instantly fell asleep following that. I tried the same thing for few more days and realized that it is the reason behind those relentless crying pretty much every time. That really opened my eyes to a certain extent. Anirudh wasn't being demanding all these days without a reason. He was having more pain than Arjun, for which he was asking for the help. We have just failed to understand him for a long time trying to compare him with Arjun.

After that I started observing Arjun also more closely. To my surprise, I started noticing that, even Arjun was having burping problems. But he wasn't crying as much as Anirudh for that. I have even seen him playing when he had burp. So, why is Anirudh making it such a big issue? How do I know whether Anirudh is really having more pain than Arjun? How do I know what is going on in their mind when they are having pain? There may not be an easy answer for my questions.

That took me back to some of my own incidents when I was a child. Once, when I was in 4th standard, I had an inch long thorn in one of my feet for few days, still didn't talk about it with anyone. When it made me very difficult to walk, some one used a pin to take the thorn out and was shocked to see the size! In the summer vacation of 4th standard, I was playing a war game with my friend using a bamboo stick, and my index finger was chopped from the top by one of his hits. I didn't even notice that in the spirit of the game till I saw the blood flowing down fast and the finger tip almost about to fall down! I don't even remember shedding a drop of tear for the pain. I am sure, a lot of others would have cried for hours for that pain.

But, does that mean all others who express more pain than it really seems are just showing off to get some attention? How do I really understand their pain with a wound similar to mine? What really is pain and why people express it in such a painful way that pains me more than bearing that pain itself? I can turn down the action of an adult as a mere act to grab some sympathy. But, what about Anirudh who is just 2 months old and doesn't even understand what sympathy means. Definitely, there is something wrong in my logic of comparing the pain from two people with a similar wound. After thinking for some time, I realized the simple thing I have been missing all along these years.

Like many other things, pain is also a relative thing. One's pain is always linked to his level of 'pain threshold' - the maximum pain that he can bear without expressing it outside. The 'pain threshold' is a basic instinct that is very hard to change. I might have been lucky in having a high pain threshold where as others may not have been that lucky. I haven't done anything knowingly to increase my ability to bear the pain. It just happened! So, it would be very unfair to compare some one else's pain to my own or to suspect them of doing that for some sympathy. Pain can never be compared, it can only be felt!

Perhaps, I can understand others pain much better now, but I only need to remember this more often, and also not to think about it any further!