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“Shoma was carefully wheeled into her plush A/C room of the hospital they chose for the deliver of their first child. Sarthak, her husband is a suave gentlemen who took care of Shoma like a baby. He loved her ! Shoma had a difficult delivery. Even though her pregnancy was smooth, but her c-section delivery was far from being normal. Some complications, and what should have been a half an hour routine was stretched upto two hours, sending the family in total disarray. But, now everything was good. They were blessed with a baby girl, and their happiness saw no limit. Shoma was visibly weak and exhausted but happy, and all she needed was rest. Sarthak wanted the same for her, but….
Within few minutes, the baby was brought to her parents and grandparents. Shoma smiled, but that was short lived. A nurse followed and started preparing Shoma for the first feed. Shoma managed with difficulty and fed the baby. The pain was all over her. The nurse said that she will be back in an hour as the feed was insufficient, and Shoma was not cooperating enough. In the subsequent few hours, the nurses did everything possible to make her feed the baby, completely ignoring her pain. They were quiet literally toying with her breasts . They squeezed, pressed, pinched with little or may be no remorse. Shoma in her fragile voice lamented, “ Sister, it pains, can I try tomorrow...I need some rest.” The nurse gave her a nasty look, and kept on nudging her breasts with all her might or rather vengeance- let me see till when the milk doesn't come, what fucking pain !! According to bystanders, nurse was doing her job...well !! Shoma groaned, and by night her nipples were sore, and breastfeeding was probably an uphill task staring at her. She panicked !
Morning was no different, and unable to feed the baby well, she faced the first shock of her life. Shoma’s mother frowned , “ forget your own pain, feed the baby. Don’t you know that’s the most important thing she needs now.” Shoma looked hapless and her eyes welled. She was not expecting this. “ I am trying mumma, but it’s not coming. Baby also not sucking enough may be,” she said. But all her laments reached deaf ears and her struggle with breastfeeding her baby continued. She tried everything possible, but nothing was working out well. She felt handcuffed…. !
Shoma reached home after a week, and Sarthak was there for her all along. But, by now Shoma was losing herself. The guilt of not being able to feed the baby was mounting, and people around her were making it worse. Sarthak would often see her beating her breast hard, and weep. But her tears too went unnoticed, or may be purposely ignored. Every person meeting her only spoke about how unlucky her baby was, how inapt she was, and also that not breastfeeding the baby perhaps is the biggest mistake of her life. She isn’t a mother if she didn’t breastfed, few declared !
Another week, and Shoma was behaving abnormal. Every effort by Sarthak was going down the drain. What should have been those beautiful days of their life, turned out to be a never ending nightmare. Shoma was silent, and her silence was deafening. She was reaction-less, emotion-less, and in short life-less ! She would neither care about the baby nor herself now. And, abuses were hurled at her from every nuke and corner. “ You are the worst mother we have ever seen in our live,” had become the oft repeated dialogue, and Shoma took everything thrown at her, silently...painfully !
Sarthak realized that he was fast losing Shoma, the ‘full of life’ girl he married. He decided to take a plunge and took Shoma to a psychologist. Shoma looked dazed ! The doctor, a calm and serene looking sixty year old lady smiled and pulled a chair to sit besides her. She said, “ Shoma, my child, look at me...” and before she could complete, Shoma screamed aloud, pulled herself back and folded her hands yelling...madam...madam…. I couldn't breastfeed my baby...please don’t kill me….please don’t kill me….please don’t kill me.” !!!
Shoma was given an exhaustive psychiatric treatment for the next six months. Sarthak stood by her like a rock. Luckily, Shoma pulled off !!
Did I just rub some of your old scars? I am sorry ! This was little macabre, but, I am sure, quite a few of you will relate and connect to this, like I do. Well, every mom knows and understands that breastfeeding is extremely essential for the baby. But, I guess we need to understand the fact that at times, feeding just doesn’t happen, inspite of all the efforts. This is not a crime, and a mom who couldn't feed her baby is not a criminal ! Certainly not ! That doesn’t make her any less of a mother, in any which ever way. She still remains what she is ! Let’s be considerate and empathetic to new moms especially the ones who go through such uneven terrains of motherhood. It’s alright if she can’t feed...for that, let’s not shame her...or make her feel guilty. Let’s help new moms in which ever way we can…. after all… a mom is a mom… and nothing can ever take away that...right ?