For 32-year-old commercial artist, Nikita Chopra, her unplanned pregnancy gave her a whole new perspective on just how unpredictably wonderful life can truly be
BY CHARLENE FLANAGAN
PHOTOGRAPHS BY AKSHAY KULKARNI
HAIR & MAKE-UP BY SACHIN GATHE
The story of Nikita and her husband, Aakesh, begins with a simple meeting, arranged by their families. For the couple, an arranged marriage set-up was not exactly what they were hoping for, but have come to value, now more than ever. “My parents always believed in raising independent children. They encouraged my career as a commercial artist, and never stopped me from pursuing my dreams. The only stipulation they ever laid down was that I needed to marry within our community,” says Nikita.
Since Nikita focused on her work, she never really found the time to meet someone and fall in love. Since she belonged to a Marwari- Jain community, she let her parents find her a partner. “My parents introduced me to Aakesh, and I can’t explain it, but I just knew that he’d make an amazing husband. We were engaged when I was 24, and married the next year in December 2009. I was 25 then.”
After a lavish Marwari wedding, Nikita moved into her husband’s home, and realised just how different things were from her own pre-wedded life. “I live with my husband, his parents and grandmother in his family home. And while my in-laws are understanding and supportive, there are a few differences in their outlook. Fortunately, Aakesh and I weren’t forced to start a family immediately after marriage. After all, we were young. But, I wasn’t allowed to work full-time post my marriage so I had to take up part-time employment close to home. The truth, however, is I really didn’t need to work. My husband is doing well for himself. He’s one of the directors for a real estate development company called Cosmos Group and has recently launched his own nutritional and healthcare brand called FIC Lyf. I really don’t want for anything,” admits Nikita. The couple wanted to take their time, get to know each other better and enjoy themselves before taking on the responsibility of bringing a child into this world. And that’s exactly the couple did for five years. After Nikita turned 30, she began contemplating starting a family, but then decided to hold off till after Nikita’s youngest brother got married and settled down. “I didn’t want to have to deal with pregnancy symptoms while I was running around with wedding preps. But, life has a funny way of surprising you. I had missed my period and I just brushed that off to stress or PCOS. But when my period hadn’t come for a while, I figured that it was time I go get a routine checkup with a gynaecologist, just to rule out anything serious. I was convinced it was nothing more than that; I was confident that I wasn’t pregnant and I even did a pregnancy test at the doctor’s office. The results came out positive. I was in shock,” she admits.
Her husband, however, took the news well, and was very excited that he would soon be a father. “He even comforted me by telling me that things happened for a reason, and that God had some great in store for us. I was just worried about what would happen. My brother was to be married in November and that was the month we would become parents. I was an emotional wreck, and just unsure about what to expect next. For now, we only broke the news to family and decided to take things one day at a time,” she says. Nikita is grateful for the love and support she received from Aakesh during this time. “After our sonography, we learnt that I had gestation hypothyroid. This made me more nervous about this pregnancy. There’s no doubt that Aakesh proved himself, and gave me his unrelenting support during this emotionally-challenging phase. We spent a great deal of time, as husband and wife, talking about our unborn baby. He helped me stay positive and convinced me that we’d make great parents. We even spent the next 10 days in prayer. Before our next sonography, I was nervous. But hen the doctor told me that everything was progressing normally, I was relieved. That’s when I realised just how happy I truly was. I couldn’t wait for our baby to be born!” says an ecstatic Nikita.
My growing bump
Once the realisation set in, Nikita and Aakesh began their journey by preparing to welcome their baby home. Of course, for Nikita, that meant looking after her health. “After learning that our baby was healthy and growing at a normal rate, I went back to work and went about my daily routine as I always had. There was just one conscious change I made to my lifestyle. Since my sister is a nutritionist, under her constant care and guidance, I adopted a healthy diet of wholesome, home-cooked meals. I also made it a point to stay hydrated,” she says. She further adds, “I was mentally preparing myself for the on-set of morning sickness and that laziness that sets in during the first trimester, but to my surprise, I didn’t experience any of that. Everyday felt like a normal day to me.”
When the news of their newest family member broke, after the typical three-months wait, there was an added excitement to the wedding preparations. All was as it was meant to be. Nikita went about her days, eating healthy and working part-time. The other times, she was on her feet, keeping active with all the wedding preps. But, as it’s known, it’s always better to be extra prepared. And that’s something Nikita took seriously. “I had read as much as I could on pregnancy care, and I knew that I needed to keep active during these months. That’s when I decided to join prenatal yoga classes with Dr Isha Jain, and antenatal specialist and yoga instructor. In my opinion, that’s the best thing I did to ensure I had a healthy pregnancy. I even enrolled myself in Lamaze classes to help me prepare for labour. I had a pretty set routine. I’d go to work, then get home and have a healthy lunch. Post that, I’d head to my yoga class and my evenings were spent walking, or helping with wedding preps. I made it a point to keep myself as active as I could during my pregnancy. In fact, I was the most active during my pregnancy than before,” admits Nikita. She credits the fact that she didn’t look pregnant till her seventh month, to her active routine. “People just thought I had put on a little weight. They had no idea I was expecting,”