Overnight Train to Belapur – At 6 months Pregnant

The NGO for which I work has recently just opened a new operation in rural Maharashtra and I wanted to head out there to see the clinic in action on it’s inaugural day. This meant taking the 10 hours overnight train from Dadar Main Station to Belapur on the Thursday night and then back again on Friday night. I was excited. My first experience of overnight trains.

I travelled with a female colleague, our train left at 11.10pm and we were in carriage 3A/C, one of the more comfortable carriages. The train station was buzzing with people, it seemed like mostly families with young children and huge amounts of luggage. The train arrived, miraculously, bang on time and we boarded with ease. My colleague and I were both booked onto bottom bunks. Each ‘cubicle’ has 6 bunks, 3 on either side of the cubicle. There are then 2 more bunks on the other side of the aisle in a slightly more private, but smaller cubicle. My initial reaction was how quiet and peaceful the train was. People whom had already boarded at CST were tucked up and snoozing already. We quickly shuffled our bags under the bunk, got our super crisp and clean sheets, blankets and pillow (all washed at the Dhobi Ghat) and made our beds.

I found the bed comfortable and am now at the stage where sleeping on my back does make me a little breathless or light headed, so I curled up facing the middle of the cubicle. Generally the night was quite undisturbed, except for one man grabbing my foot thinking he was in his cubicle and not mine. I am sure he was as shocked to find someone in what he thought was his bed as I was to have my foot tickled in the dead of night!

The journey was meant to take 10 hours. We were due to arrive in to Belapur at 9.20am. We didn’t arrive until 11am. Luckily we weren’t on a tight schedule!

I watched my liquid intake during the night as wanted to avoid having to use the toilet in the night (normally I’m up at least twice in the night now). I couldn’t quite make it all the way to 11am (12 hours afterall!) so did use the toilet in the morning. It was a squatter toilet and although it smelt a little funky it was relatively clean. Personally I prefer public squatter loos over public western toilets. They somehow seem more hygenic as you don’t have to touch anything! Still, I travel with hand sanitizer now a days as, with this occasion, there’s not always water available to wash hands!

Our journey back wasn’t as simple. The train was scheduled to depart at 5.40pm and arrive back in Mumbai at 3.40am. Not ideal timings. It arrived on time as before. On this occasion we were booked on the middle bunk which starts the journey “down” – as the back of the seat for all the passengers in your cubicle. It’s not ‘train ettiquette’ to set up this bed before ‘bedtime’ as it means no one can sit and would force everyone to lie down. I had a great book (Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother) so I was happy. We carried some great Gujurati snacks with us and generally enjoyed the peace and quiet of the train. In fact I also bought some bhel puri, which I have wanted to try for some time now. It was delicious. More a snack than dinner, but I recommend it.

Bhel Puri - puffed rice, onions, tomatoes, lemon juice and chilly powder

Bhel Puri – puffed rice, onions, tomatoes, lemon juice and chilly powder

I made up my bed at about 8pm and went straight off to sleep. Sleeping on the middle bunk is somehow more unsettling and being right by the door meant people were continuously knocking into me or bashing my legs. The train was also 2 hours delayed again, so instead of arriving at 3.40am we got in at 5.45am, but spent the last two hours of the journey worrying about missing our stop! I arrived back feeling exhausted and somehow ‘jet lagged’.

Indian Sleeper Train - (C) Sodhatravel.com

Indian Sleeper Train – (C) Sodhatravel.com

Mr M and I are taking the overnight train from Kolkata to Darjeeling in a couple of weeks time and I feel more relaxed about it having experienced it already. My only advice would be not to have two consecutive nights on such a vehicle and to take a pillow of your own. I awoke with a sore back, achey hips and a stiff neck!

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Pregnant at Christmas – To drink or not to drink?

Just before heading back off to the UK for Christmas a few of my friends would comment on “poor you being pregnant at Christmas and not able to drink”. I hadn’t really thought about it, and was more excited about showing family and friends our ever growing, but small, bump! We had planned to spend Christmas with Mr Maternal’s Dad in London, we would stay there for 3 nights, then head to his mothers place in Bournemouth; stay there for 3 nights. Drive up to the Lake District for one night on our own and finally finish the holiday with three nights at my parents place in Scotland. A lot of packing and unpacking and a lot of driving. Luckily we both enjoy driving and to vast difference in the roads between the UK and Mumbai was delightful!

First thing we did when we landed in London was head to a pub and order a steak pie. If I wasn’t pregnant I would have ordered an orange juice and lemonade. Pint of. So my first pub experience whilst pregnant was no different. Mr Maternal and his father love pubs, ales, open fires and steak pies, so we did spend quite a bit of time in the pub which to some pregnant women might have been a bit frustrating, but I too enjoy the ambiance, the food and general warmth of pubs so I was happy on my orange juice and lemonade.

Christmas morning, 10am and Mr M is cracking open the Port. Now I’m feeling jealous. I love a good drink on festive occasions. Oh, OK then, I’ll have a small glass of red wine!  Christmas morning 11am – a Baileys? Yes please. After all surely all the calcium and fat in the creamy part is good for me? Christmas dinner 5pm – just one more wine then. Oh and another. I probably had 3 glasses of wine and 2 glasses of Bailey’s throughout the whole day. I drank plenty of other fluids and at no point felt drunk or tipsy. You should have seen the rest of ’em!

Christmas Merriment

Christmas Merriment

I managed to keep off the pop between Christmas and New Year, even at a friends wedding where I chose to drive instead of drink so that Mr M could enjoy himself.

For New Years Eve we were at the local pub with my parents and two of my sisters and their families. We had a few glasses of Champagne before heading to the pub and then one or two more at the dinner. The pub threw a small disco/party too which I enjoyed dancing at and therefore once again didn’t feel like I was missing out. In fact, I think I was the last to bed!

I have never  been a huge drinker, but I do enjoy a quiet vino and a good party every now and then. I find the easiest thing to do is not have a single drink when going out partying as then I want more. Instead I save my drinks quota for dinners with friends & evenings in with Mr M, but generally I don’t miss the grog.

Emotion Emotion Emotion

I consider myself a level headed and fairly laid back person, who doesn’t suffer mood swings or emotional ups and downs too much. I love a good cry at a sad movie (or happy movie) but I can normally keep my own emotions in check. When I found out I was pregnant my overriding emotion was denial. I have always wanted to be a mother and the news elated me, however I was scared about all the changes to my life it would bring. What about my first half marathon I’d planned next year, what about our travel plans next spring when the baby was due? What about my relationship with Mr Maternal, we’d only just got married for goodness sake. I went about my daily life as normal, so normal infact that I was still running and cycling up to 40km on a Tuesday morning and gymming it at least 3 times a week. Finally Mr Maternal took me aside and kindly said that I’d have to accept that things would be different now.

Once I’d learn to realise that there is life after childbirth and a child doesn’t have to change your relationship or plans too much I started to feel really excited. Then the nerves set in; what if I can’t cope with the tiredness, what about labour? What if I’m just totally clueless. Again, I reminded myself that nature takes it’s course and that we are all born with some level of instinct and we are lucky to live in an educated society. I have 5 nephews and I think I can safely say my 3 sisters would have no problem leaving their children with me, from any age. In fact, they have.

After announcing the news to friends and family and starting to show I have managed to get along with my pregnancy with ease. I hadn’t suffered any further nerves or worries and have channelled my emotions in reading, working (I work for an NGO that supports pregnant women and new born children in the slums) and now, writing my blog.

Last week however, my emotions took over! My goodness I don’t know what happened, but for nearly two weeks now I haven’t been able to control my tears. They come at the most embarrassing times (in the back of the car, in the bakery when they don’t have what I’m looking for, when I’m talking to a friend about something mundane!!) It’s so unlike me and it’s more frustrating than anything. Of course Mr Maternal gets the brunt of it, but luckily he is equally as laid back and just says “let it all out, just cry”, as I sob saying “nothings even wrong”!

I think it’s important to remember that no matter how strong or weak you were emotionally before you got pregnant your body is going through some crazy changes and we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves to pretend we’re feeling normal. For the most part everyone understands that we can be a bit temperamental and they don’t seem to mind. So if you feel low and tearful, let it out. If you feel tired, sleep. If you feel like eating that something that you shouldn’t, eat it. At least when you’re feeling good you can do all the good stuff then!

20 Week Scan

We had our 20 week scan on Wednesday – we battled the 90 minute of traffic and managed to get there early. I had to fill in the same form that I always have to fill in at these scans – what do they do with the paper once I’ve replicated the information over and over? I even had to sign to say that I don’t want to know the sex of our child and that I would not ask the sonographer. My Maternal and I both don’t want to know, so for us it doesn’t matter, but a lady I know said she went back to France to find out what she was having. She has since told her doctor here that she is having a girl and the doctor continues to refer to the baby as “The Baby” and never mentions ‘she’. It’s really very strict.

Our sonographer is a quiet person who says little but still manages to make you feel at ease. She goes about her extensive scan in a methodical manner and in our first session when we were asking “is that the XYZ” she would say “I’m going to go through it all with you in a moment, but for now you can keep guessing”. On this occasion, we were able to see so much of the baby clearly, we could tell it’s heart, it’s brain, it’s spine, but of course the sonographer kept well away from the nether regions.

At one point, the sonographer stopped and with a smile said, you see the head here, and these are the ears (we were looking at the back of the head), we nodded in agreement and she went on to say “look he’s playing with his ear” – Mr Maternal and I looked straight at each other and laughed. This is a trait that Mr Maternal indulges in all the time. Plays with his ears, my ears, the dogs ears. We have decided from this that we think we are having a boy as it’s quite a trait within the men in Mr Maternal’s family, but not the women… Watch this space.