WELCOME TO THE WORLD
Finally, when Géraldine was nearing her due date, in her 41st week of pregnancy, she went into labour. That lasted 24 hours. “I believe in doing everything naturally. And since pregnancy is a completely natural process, I wanted my delivery to be natural too! In Europe, a C-section is only used in case of an emergency. I’m a perfectly healthy young woman, and wanted to do things naturally,” she says. However, since she had created such a cosy home for Leonie all those nine months, it seemed like she just didn’t want to come greet her parents. “For the first 18 hours, I felt pain, but it was bearable. Then, before I could realise it, the contractions grew incredibly strong. All the exercises which I had practiced before were useless. I forgot everything and couldn’t think straight. For about five hours, the contractions were excrutiating that I felt like I was going to die. I can barely remember what happened during those few hours as I felt like my spirit had left my body. I tried to move, to sit on the pregnancy ball, to get a massage, to take a shower, but nothing could help me. My husband and the doula were completely helpless because I was not responding to their coaching. I was exhausted from being awake for 24 hours.”
She continues, “When I was finally moved to the delivery room, I had to only spend about 30 minutes pushing. Of course, by then I was ready to give up but the doctor was very encouraging, and kept giving me updates on my progress. That made me determined to pull through for the sake of my baby. When the doctor told me that I was almost there and that my baby had black hair, I felt some kind of hope and this news helped me with the final push. And then that was it! She was out and all the pain which I experienced before had completely disappeared. I asked for her to be brought to me immediately for skin-to-skin contact. Through my tears and tiredness, I could only see her hair, but I could feel the love instantly!” We were discharged from the hospital quite quickly, and we finally got to bring our baby girl home. And that’s when the real challenge began.
CHANGE IS INEVITABLE
Whether you like it or not, and no matter how idealistic you may be, a baby changes you. The life you’re used to before a baby comes into it, is forever altered. When at first, everything is about you and your partner, soon everything will be about that delicate life you hold in your arms. “Having Leonie was a life changing experience. Nothing was the same after she arrived. I didn’t get any time for myself, I was always exhausted, I barely even had time to eat or shower. But I loved every minute of it. Nothing else mattered when I looked at my beautiful baby girl,” she says.
However, the fi rst month was a little difficult for Géraldine. She experienced mood swings and found herself crying for the fi rst month. Even nursing was a little painful and stressful. Praveen noticed that she found it a little diffi cult to cope and had wanted his mother to move in with them, to help with the baby. However, the fiercelyindependent Géraldine insisted on doing things on her own. “This disagreement did cause a bit of tension around the house but I was adamant. I’m a specialised baby photographer so I knew how to handle my baby. Praveen was only trying to help but he didn’t realise that I needed to create a special bond with my baby. And for this, I needed intimacy and the time to enjoy my baby. I wanted my time alone with her and didn’t want to be surrounded all the time. Besides, taking care of only one baby is not that big of a deal. I can understand that some people need help when they have more children, but it was just Leonie. I knew I could handle it.” Praveen, on the other hand, was very nervous around Leonie. “I’m glad I got to help him and guide him. He couldn’t do much when it came to her feeds but he helped me with everything else. Today, he’s excellent when it comes to changing her diapers or bathing her!” she explains.
MY BABY & ME
Leonie has been a blessing to the happy couple, and is the perfect combination of the two, despite the fact that most of their family and friends feel she looks a lot like Praveen. “Leonie has brown eyes and brown hair. She has my complexion but the best part about my baby girl is that she gets her strong personality from the both of us. She’s stubborn, very independent and super active,” Gerldine says of Leonie.
From the time she was born, Leonie has been a very active, responsive and alert baby. “Leonie is a very curious baby, and she loves spending time outdoors, exploring her little world. But, right since she was born, she was a very responsive baby. I remember each time I nursed her, she would look straight into my eyes, and I could feel that she knew who I was. That was a magical experience.”
Moreover, she enjoys a different bond with her father. “Praveen plays a big role in her life. He’s a very hands-on father and I feel truly blessed to have him in my life. He’s extremely supportive and helps me in every way he can. He changes her diapers, gives her a bath, takes her for a walk, cuddles her, and is constantly playing with her. After talking to many Indian dads, I realised that not many of them help with the care of their babies. Yes, they are supportive but aren’t very involved in day-to-day chores,” explains Géraldine.
Leonie is 11 months old today, is independent and has a very strong personality. “She knows what she wants, just like her parents,” Géraldine says with a laugh. “She keeps impressing us and our relatives. She started walking all by herself when she was only eight and a half months. And I hadn’t noticed it before until a friend pointed it out—she never sits! She’s always walking or running somewhere or the other. She can’t sit still. She’s always active, wants to explore here and there, wants to touch this and that, wants to try absolutely everything. She also takes risks trying to do ‘grown up’ things and that can sometimes causes some small head bumps. It’s actually exhausting for the both of us. She definitely keeps us on our toes,” she admits.
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
Like all parents, Praveen and Géraldine wish for their daughter to grow up to be a good, compassionate and independent human being. “It’s going to be difficult finding a balance at first, but if we teach her the right values and morals, we’re confident she’ll make the right decisions. Of course, despite doing our best for her, we will always be scared for her. We will always fear whether she’s made the right choices or not, but that doesn’t mean she will feel pressure from us to do something we want her to. I know that Praveen and I will do our best to guide her, and whatever decisions she may make in the future, we will support her. We just want her to be happy,” says Géraldine.
As for what the immediate future holds for Géraldine, Praveen and Leonie, Géraldine says, “I still don’t know what to expect because everyday there’s always something new with Leonie. My life has changed in every way. My social life now means play dates and kiddie parties. I now spend most of my time at home. While it is different from our frequent nights out, nothing will ever be able to take away this precious time I spend with my daughter. The love we share is worth all the compromises I make for her,” says Géraldine. ■