I didn’t tell most of my friends that I was pregnant when we were expecting our third child, but I really got into the mood when it was time for her to arrive.

I woke up early in the morning in a pool of water. Oh my God, how could I... I can’t believe this is happening... Water? This is water gushing out of my body. Aha, so this is how water breaks... I shook my husband awake.

“We have to go to the hospital. NOW!!"

It was a long drive. We had called our doctor, who was also on her way to hospital. I was lying down in the backseat of the car. I called my friend, Shefali. “I am just going to SMS you the username and password to my Facebook account," I told her. “Update my status for me."

“Natasha has gone to the hospital to bring home the baby," my friends read on Facebook.

That was five years ago. We still wrote discrete one-liners as status updates, hinting at real-life events, rather than uploading a live telecast from our smartphones.

Three days later, my profile photo changed to a baby photographed in the middle of a newborn yawn. “So what is all this fuss about," she seemed to be saying.

We named her Naseem. I had saved up this name for her. Naseem is the Urdu word for fresh breeze of the morning.

I had quit my full-time job and gone independent a few months before Naseem was conceived. I was now my own boss and my own company. In a gesture that made me feel quite magnanimous, I granted myself a year’s maternity leave. A year later, I granted myself another flexible year. Baby and I were doing important things together.

For at least two years, we were quite a mess. You have launched three 24x7 channels simultaneously without any idea of how to run them, I laughed at myself, enjoying the analogy.

I cried a lot. It was not a bad thing. I found myself grieving and celebrating in turns.

Nothing had prepared me for the hostility and judgement we encountered over our choice to have a third child. Friends would tell me how other friends were mocking us. On one of our first outings together, we were taking a break in a café in Connaught Place, Delhi. As we juggled with bags, orders and washroom trips for our three small children, the couple at the next table decided to let us know that it was shocking how regressive we were.

I thought I was getting it bad till I made friends with another mother of three children. Genesia has two daughters and a son. Strangers have come up to her and asked her how she “managed" to have a boy after two girls. Could she share her secret?

After we were done laughing and wiping our tears over shared stories, I closed the door on this attitude. Our daughter has chosen us. She is our most wanted child.

There is also a personal story hidden beneath all this. It connects to the first baby I ever knew in my life. I am two years older than Manu, my brother, the third child of my parents. He was born at a time when the walls in our country were plastered with the slogan Hum Do, Hamare Do. As far as I knew, Manu was the most wanted baby in the universe. I wanted to protect him all the time. It also connects to the first person I ever knew in my life, my mother. Sudha is the fifth, somewhat anonymous daughter of her parents. I realize that raising Naseem with an assertive love is also my way of nurturing and celebrating the babies that Mom and Manu once were.

The story of Naseem intersects with everyone who has overheard that he or she was an unwanted pregnancy, or a “mistake" as the family joke often goes. Every child who was judged to be the wrong gender when she was born. Everyone who has felt the casual, blunt pain of knowing that one is an unwanted, extra person in one’s family.

Naseem has unlocked the free parent in both of us, her parents. She made our family manual redundant and if we ever had any parenting rules, we lost them on the way somewhere. With her, we became uninhibited in ways that surprised us. My love and fascination for her swept me off my feet.

When she was still a toddler, I would be angry with my husband for not being there when we needed him. She would jump at him and embrace him when he arrived. She showed me how to ask for what I want instead of waiting silently and resentfully. She showed him how loved and wanted he is.

Being with Naseem has helped me surrender my anger. My guilt and my desperation. The more I hold back the parent in me and let her child lead, the more I relax my own inner child.

Watching her in her world has trained me to see beauty. I stopped filming descriptive videos, I began to freeze moments into a frame. We take photographs together.

“Mamma, look at the light here," Naseem will call out to me. “Take a photo and show it to me."

Magic visits us in our everyday lives. We look at each other to see if someone else will acknowledge what we feel. Tentatively we share our joys, wondering if they are relevant, whether they will resonate with anyone else. We seek permission to wear the badge of our love openly, but sometimes it just shines on us like a spotlight and we’ve just got to get used to it.

Natasha Badhwar is a film-maker, media trainer and mother of three. She writes a fortnightly column on family and relationships.

Also Read | Natasha’s previous Lounge columns

Close