Having a Baby Changes Everything
By Saborna Roychowdhury, Hilltown Families Guest Writer
“So you are not coming back next year?” asked the department head at the Winsor School in Boston. “That is indeed a pity. We were hoping you could teach some of our AP chemistry courses next year”.
“If it was one baby, I would still try to come back. But with two… things may get complicated. I don’t want the students to suffer.”
The department head nodded her head in sympathy. Twins, I could detect the Big fear in her eyes. This is the end of your teaching career, she wanted to say.
Her unspoken words made me wince inwardly. Suddenly, the world seemed so unfair. The words summoned images of undergraduate college life when I worked the whole day to pay for my room and board and studied the whole night to do well in my classes. There was an extra edge to my ambition that comes from coming from a poor country and knowing there is no safety net. I better do well or else…or else the ship is waiting.
So I was relentless in my pursuit of degrees and good grades. Fear and ambition burnt inside me like a rage, a rage that I liked to call “my immigrant rage.” Getting the teaching position at the prestigious Girls Preparatory School had been dream come true. Forty candidates, three rounds of interviews and I was the chosen one.
“You are having twins,” the OBGYN announced. For the longest moment I had stared back at her, my heart beating in my chest, in my throat, and then hammering inside my skull. “I am sorry,” the doctor sighed as if she had betrayed my trust. “You have to be brave now.”
For the next few months, a battle waged in my head as I watched my body changing shape to accommodate two strange lives inside me. My stomach ballooned up, my spine ached, and my knees almost gave up. Cocooned inside me like two pea pods, two heart beats started to grow stronger everyday almost determined to de-rail me from my straight path and throw my life in disarray.
“I am putting them in daycare and going back to teaching. I am an “A” student. I cannot waste time changing diapers and giving tub baths.”
“Don’t get so worked up,” advised my husband. “Take one day at a time and see what happens.”
Then came the day of my C-section and the doctors injected an epidural deftly into my spine. The room felt like an igloo cut out of ice and I could not stop shaking even though the doctors told me to calm down. My husband’s kind hand rested on my forehead and I could hear his nervous, uneven breathing. Then I felt pressure on my lower abdomen and the OBGYN’s voice announced, “Welcome sweetheart.”
I heard a baby cry and my head fell back from the exertion. I closed my eyes. There was more pressure, I heard the doctors talking about a second -baby, and a few minutes later I heard another cry. I kept my eyes tightly shut.
“You don’t want to miss this,” whispered my husband. “Open your eyes.”
As I slowly opened my eyes, I was greeted by two sets of bright beautiful eyes. Wrapped tightly in a pink swaddle, the nurses had brought me two exquisite dolls. I stared back at them in disbelief. “Are they real? Is it possible? How can I create something so beautiful?”
The twins came home and took over our lives. They smiled at us with their big chubby cheeks and reached out to hold our fingers. One day, when I was happily changing their soiled diaper, my husband asked jokingly, “So where is your immigrant rage now?”
I smiled back at him and said. “Rage I have known. I have also experienced poverty with all its restrictions and helplessness. But this…this I have never known. I feel very complacent, very contented, completely at peace with the universe.”
Then bending down to kiss the twins, I said, “Having a baby changes everything.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born and raised in Calcutta, India, and moved to the U.S. for her undergraduate work in chemistry, Saborna lives in Massachusetts, and teaches at the Swampscott High School. Her short fiction has appeared in New York Stories and Quality Women’s Magazine U.K. and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Saborna is also the author of the novel The Distance, published in 2009 by Mindscape.