However, the couple were off to a rather weird start since Khushboo was going through a bout of the chicken pox. “I had just taken my shots a couple of months prior, when we decided to start trying. We were returning from a trip to Abu Dhabi and I realised I missed my period. I took two home pregnancy tests to confirm my suspicion, and was esctatic when they both turned out positive. Unfortunately, because of the chicken pox, I was confined to my bed. Bipin and I had to sleep separately and we couldn’t even hug or kiss when we found out about the pregnancy.”
LOVE & HER BABY BUMP
While the couple were off to an expected start, not even the mixed reactions they received when they made their pregnancy announcement could dampen their spirits. “I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than starting a family and bringing a new life into this world. Work will never end, but when God is blessing you with the gift of life, that supercedes all other priorities,” she says. Speaking of priorities, Bipin was a completely different person during the nine months of her pregnancy, and Khushboo got to witness a different side to her husband. “Bipin is a man of few words; he is not very expressive. But, when I was pregnant with Shanaya, he spoilt me and pampered me like I’d never seen. He went out of his way to help me with the littlest of things. I loved the way he would massage my belly with the stretch marks lotion in the morning and evening because it used to itch. He even began taking photographs of me on weekly basis, documenting the progress of my pregnancy bump,” she recalls. Unfortunately for Khushboo, she didn’t experience any food cravings, and Bipin wasn’t on the receiving end of mood swings or indeciveness when it came to her eating habits. “Though I sometimes wish I had them because those moments have their own charm,” she admits. And while she may not have craved certain foods, Khushboo did experience aversions to poultry, particularly in her first trimester.
However, the moment she got over her aversion, she didn’t stop herself from enjoying every meal. “I put on 20 kilos by the end of my pregnancy and had ballooned up. Luckily, I didn’t have any major health issues but I did have to do some liver tests, just to make sure everything was normal, because I experienced incessant itching. The doctor I was consulting, Dr Nozer Sheriar, from Aviva Clinic for Women in Khar, Mumbai, always had a lot of patients at any given time, and there was always a long waiting line. Since Bipin and I were always very busy with work, our doctor’s visits became like mini dates for us. We’d sign the waiting sheet and then go grab burgers or doughnuts to kill time till the doctor could see us,” she says.
Khushboo had a blissful pregnancy and made the most of everything at her disposal. The couple took up childbirth educator and M&B panellist, Sonali Shivlani’s, prenatal classes and had a blast making lots of new friends. Moreover, they found the classes were very useful since they taught them everything from swaddling the baby to breastfeeding correctly, and even offered them some couples counselling sessions. She even appointed a private yoga instructor to come home and help her stay fit and healthy, and prepare her for labour. After all, she swore by her mother, Dr Kanwarjit Kochhar’s advice, and even read Healthy Birthing: A New Life, authored by her. “It’s so funny, I had helped her type that book, and years later it ended up helping me. My mother had once advised me: ‘Never let anyone treat you like a patient. Pregnancy is not a disease it is a beautiful thing, so enjoy it.’ And that’s precisely what I did. Other than that I religiously followed these two apps—BabyCentre and What to expect when expecting. They gave me very useful tips,” she says.
While her pregnancy went rather smoothly, when it came time to have Shanaya, things didn’t quite go as she’d expected. In her 40th week of pregnancy, on January 16th, 2015, three days before her due date, Khushboo’s water broke. However, since she didn’t begin to feel contractions immediately, they didn’t rush to the hospital. “I figured that I’d begin to feel the contractions in a few hours, and would head to the hospital then.” However, even 48 hours after her mucus plug broke, Khushboo didn’t go into labour, and they were beginning to worry.
“I consulted my doctor and he suggested that they could induce labour. Finally, I was admitted to Breach Candy hospital on January 18 but was administered the medicines four times before I started feeling any contractions. I’m just thankful to have had my mother by my side, guiding me and helping me during this phase. My prenatal classes and yoga lessons really helped me because I knew what to expect, I was aware of what was happening and what I needed to do to get through it.”
However, she was moving along rather slowly, and when she was dilated five centimetres, she was taken to the labour room. However, because labour had been induced, the pain was excruciating and an epidural had to be administered. “The epidural did make a lot of difference,” said Khushboo, “Even though the pain was considerably lessened, I could still feel the pressure. There’s really no better way to describe it other than something trying to leave your body. It’s a sensation unlike you’ve experienced before, especially if this is your first child, and it’s hard to articulate it.” Khushboo’s labour wasn’t easy and after her epidural, she was given an enema to help quicken the process. Unfortunately, her baby’s head was turned and as a result, the doctor had to do an episiotomy to widen the vaginal wall. Finally, after a lot of pushing, Khushboo gave birth to a healthy baby girl on January 19. However, her happiness was short lived when the doctor had to stitch up the cuts made during her delivery. “The pain was unbearable and I couldn’t stop screaming,” she recalls, describing the process. “But the moment they placed Shanaya in my arms, the pain from labour and those stitches was instantly forgotten. I had secretly wished for a baby girl, and I couldn’t stop crying. All the pain was worth that little angel in my arms,” she says.
YOURS, MINE & OURS
After returning from the hospital, Khushboo’s life was definitely not the same. Looking back now, she realises that you’re really not prepared for what is to come, no matter how many books you read about it. “I don’t think that anybody will realise that you’re a mother, right from the first day. You’re still recovering from the birth of your baby, and everything is a blur. Eventually it will sink in, but don’t expect a miracle from the get-go,” she says. Fortunately for Khushboo, breastfeeding was never a concern, and she would easily express milk, so Shanaya didn’t need to be fed formula.
The days following Shanaya’s birth was difficult, but having her mother by her side was definitely a blessing. “Being a new parent is always difficult. Every small hiccup scares you. But my mother knew exactly how to handle Shanaya and was there to calm all our concerns. We never needed to pick up the phone and consult a doctor. One of the most important things she taught us was that babies are a lot stronger than we think.” However, Khushboo was advised to rest and recuperate, especially after her stitches, and having her mother next to her was more than she could ask for. “I can’t forget that phase when my mother was washing and cleaning my stitches everyday. When you grow up and get married, you feel you don’t really need your parents. It’s these moments that teach that no matter how independent you may be, there are still certain things only your parents can give you. She was and will always remain one of my greatest support systems.” It took Khushboo a few days to learn Shanaya’s patterns and sought her sister’s help to understand how to set a routine for the baby. But from day one, Shanaya slept for fi ve hours straight every night, which helped Khushboo get the rest she needed, since the days were very exhausting.
Like her mother, Khushboo is a workaholic and never stopped working, even after her baby was born. Remembering the first show she did after the birth, she says, “It was 14 days after Shanaya was born and I had a show in town. I took the baby, my mom and Bipin with me. During my breaks, I would go back upstairs to breastfeed her so she doesn’t miss her meal.” By the third month, Khushboo had started travelling for her shows and had to take special permission from airport security to carry her breastmilk on the plane. This was not always easy and as a result, she was forced to stop breastfeeding.
However, when work picked up, it was then that Bipin really stepped in. On days that she had to travel, he would work from home and take care of the baby. From feeding her, changing her and giving her a bath, he took care of everything, a pattern the couple
maintains even today. “Bipin has always been a great support because we don’t have any family in Mumbai and he is always there when I need him. I am blessed to have a husband like him. We have created a balance that works for us. Not only do we work great as a team but we’re always on the same page when it comes to raising our child and the values we need to teach her. He always respects and listens to me, which is one of the most important qualities needed in a partner,” she says with a broad smile.
MY BABY & ME
For Khushboo, cherishing every waking moment with her baby was a priority, and she maintained a diary for the first eight months of Shanaya’s life. “Her feeding pattern was one feed every two hours, fifty minutes. I wrote down everything. How many minutes she would breastfeed for, what was the colour and consistency of her poop, when her nails were cut, when her stub fell out. Anything and everything one can think of I kept a note of it,” she says.
There’s an evident glow when Khushboo talks about her little princess. “Every parent feels their child is special, and that’s no different for us. But I know that not many parents can say that their baby was easy. Thankfully, she has never given us any trouble. Right from her birth she was always an easy child to handle. When she turned two months old, she started sleeping in her own room. Of course we had baby monitors and cameras installed, but she learned to self-sooth from an early age. As a travelling mother I had to make sure that she was brought up in such a way that she never gave anyone who babysat for her any trouble. Loving your child unconditionally also means teaching your child how to be independent, both physically and emotionally. This is why, any nanny we hire is trained to looked after in a certain manner. We all work in conjecture to make sure that she not only feels loved, but also is a well-behaved child. She might not turn out to be an Einstein or someone famous, but for us, it’s more important that she turns out to be a good and respectful human being.” Of course, every one has an individual
personality, and Shanaya’s shines through tremendously. “Ever since she was in my womb, she has been exposed to music, because till my last trimester, I was not only recording but also performing on stage. Even when she was a few months old, she used to sit in her rocker and listen to me and my guruji practising riyaz. I think it’s because of this early exposure that Shanay’s developed a very keen sense of sound. She can easily pick up any nursery rhyme and tunes. She does not alter the pitch of the song and these are things kids her age don’t understand. So her musical ear is very sharp. I would love her to learn music, even if she doesn’t pick it up professionally, because it is a beautiful meditative thing to learn.”
As for her adventure in motherhood, Khushboo comments, “It’s certainly true that life changes after you become a mother but, somehow, that’s earned a rather negative connotation. Yes, life did change, but it changed for the better. Now I have more love than ever before. I have the responsibility of another life in my hands, which is a very sacred gift. Maybe people feel life tends to come to a standstill after a baby because they don’t have the right kind of support. I believe it’s what you make of the blessing you’ve been given. For me, being a mother is one of the most beautiful journey’s that I have embarked upon.” ■