1. After two days of labor and ten centimeters of dilation, the Ob-Gyn tells you: you could be here for another day pushing you know; come ONN mama, push! Its noon; she has delivered six babies for the day already. She deserves a break, push. An hour later, the baby is brought to your chest in a surreal life moment and before you begin processing a bawling, blood-soaked body on you, he’s taken away by the nurse to be weighed and washed. When your Ob-Gyn starts sewing your vagina and you ask her, still numb from the epidural, if you tore, she shrugs: of course, second degree tear—normal. Ignore her bored expression as she stitches you up while daddy takes selfies with the freshly swaddled baby and the nurse fills up more paperwork. Breathe: it’s the only kind of yoga you’ll practice for a while, given what the baby did to your pelvic floor.
2. When the parents-in-law enter the hospital room, look past you and go straight to the bassinet to coo over your newborn, readjust your ass on the donut pillow with your normal second degree tear and try not to resist your invisibility—your new best friend as a mother. Besides, what better way for a yogic mom to dissolve her ego?
3. When visitors drool over the baby in your Orange County home and tell you while leaving, enjoy, it goes so fast, do not say what you’re thinking: fuck off and feel free to take the baby with you for a night, ideally two. Resist the nagging urge of a night’s sleep alone in your bed. If the mind can’t switch off its shit, chant Om until you feel your house full of positive vibes only. To expedite your journey into a cis-het, first world, middle class, maternal nirvana, order online Lululemon’s tees saying Positive Vibes Only.
4. When your girlfriend visits you from LA and takes care of you like your mother living in the third world would—she serves you homemade khichadi, yoghurt and fresh berries on a tray—while you entertain more visitors at home, and the auntie chuckles into her husband’s ear, what a princess, practice non-attachment. And remember, she delivered a breech baby at home with the help of a neighbor. She gave birth to her second while at work in a wheat field in colonial India. What you’re going through in your post-epidural, postpartum, asana-free, Californian life is the easiest a woman can have.
5. Once you’re healed down there and the husband is back to work after two weeks of paternity leave, your routine as a stay-at-home-writer-mom-on-break-from-her-writing-life-that-doesn’t-make-real-money-to-count begins. You readjust the maternity belt you’re wearing under a Lululemom tee to support your aching back, change the baby’s diaper and onesie, nurse him, jolt him awake and feed him another ounce of formula because your body isn’t producing enough milk, swaddle him and put him down, relieve yourself in the toilet—the euphoria of peeing without stinging, of shitting without grunting or grinding one’s teeth, the #littlethings—undress and apply lanolin to your cracked nipples, take a quick shower, avoid the temptation of cat-cows, up-dog, down-dog, what-have-you-as-backache-relief, catch a nap before the baby wakes up and repeat, in addition to the rest of your housewifely chores—groceries, cooking, cleaning, vacuum, laundry—and the typing of notes on your phone between it all, a way to sustain the writing “job” and your yogic chill.
6. One day, after getting groceries and strapping the baby into the car seat, you start crying in the parking lot by Ralphs for no reason at all. Remind yourself: it’s only been five weeks. Remember the aunties who told you they had the blues for months. Breathe through the discomfort, as Becca, your yoga instructor loves to say, through the random bouts of crying. If you’re lucky, you’ll eventually find a convincing explanation for your depression, a bigger, better word coined by a white man in a leading research institution specializing in female processes, including menstruation, perimenopause and the postpartum condition.
7. If a global pandemic leads to nationwide lockdowns and your middle class, first world friends working from home complain about cabin fever or schools shutting down—how the fuck will they get stuff done with kids home all day!—do not brag about your smooth transition into a bonus isolation within your long quarantined life as a freelance writer-mom. Refrain further from ordering them a Lululemon tee saying U R All U Need. Angst over confinement in American suburban houses—with or without lawns and pools—is real. Allow homeschooling parents with real jobs to be.
8. When you’re finally resigned to a life in quarantine and choppy sleep and are cleaning the baby of his poop, he stares at you one morning and starts singing aye, aye, aye. You find yourself break down in tears, again. Only this time, you know it’s not the fucking hormones. This time, you’re crying because the light in your baby’s eyes is telling you crystal-clear, I see you, mama, and while you’ve envied fatherhood every damn day, you experience in your infant’s monosyllabic song a deal you’re the first to receive by the arbitrator of all deals. You rush to the armchair in your bedroom and raise the baby in a fresh diaper to face you. Hi Babu, you say. Aye, aye, aye. Once you’re done with the play of mutual mirroring, you bring the baby against your chest, skin-to-skin, and you exhale, letting go of all the things that don’t serve you. You inhale slowly, mindfully, knowing that a gendered past will return any moment to claim its share of your present—yours, your mother’s, your grandmother’s and so many of your sisters. Until then, breathe in sync with your son, his belly rising and falling against your heart. Uncross your legs. Sink deep.