This is the story of a 16 year old girl named Rihanna. In 11th std, she was just out of school. That’s where she found Sahil, her bench partner and exam partner. She was hoping he would be her life partner. Rihanna was totally smitten with Sahil. Sahil was fond of her too. Every day, they used to text, chat and hangout after school. She used to help him with homework and exams. For Sahil, Rihanna was a true saviour.
But, teenage romance, if it weren’t short lived; the world would be a happier place. It turns out, when the school ended and everyone was ready to move on, Sahil did too. Rihanna’s hopes of him becoming a life partner were shattered. She knew he was fond of her but he was fond of everyone who would help him during exams. He smiled at her when she used to get answers right. She figured that he was proud of her for being so smart. Instead, Sahil felt proud of him for being so close to a smart girl, who would surely help him score better.
Rihanna was heartbroken. It had been three months now. She had never felt this lonely before. But studies made her feel better. Some days it felt as if she would never recover, while some days brought out the best in her. Gradually, she was able to snap out of it. She still missed Sahil, but she made peace with the fact that they are not going to be together anymore. Their wants from each other were different. She was quiet surprised about her ‘getting over’ process. She wondered how come she recovered so quickly where it took time for everyone else besides her! With this thought, she dozed off at night, in her comfy bed. She was hoping to get some answers to her questions soon.
During the same night, Rihanna dreamed of a baby in the womb. Thoughts related to ‘ease of moving on from a break up’ must be lingering in Rihanna’s mind. This baby was talking to her about Sahil.
‘Hi Rihanna, do you know who I am?’ the unborn baby asked. ‘No, who are you?’, Rihanna replied with a question.
‘I am you, Rihanna. I am you, before you were born’, answered the baby. Rihanna was immediately intrigued. ‘I am here to provide you with answers. Whatever happened with Sahil, had to happen. It’s good that it happened before you got hurt. I know you have pretty much gotten over it and are OK now’ the baby in the womb said. Rihanna didn’t know what to say. She kept listening.
‘Do you know how I know that? Because I remember the entire journey where mom supported me every time when there was trouble in life. It was her nurture and nourishment that has helped you survives this incident’ the baby said.
‘What do you mean?’ Rihanna asked.
‘Well, to answer that I must tell you my story right from the birth’, the baby in the womb said.
‘Well, I am sure by now you must be fairly well versed with the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of childbirth. When I was in mom’s womb it was the safest and most secured place, like it is for every baby. I was so comfortable and happy in that environment. It’s like the way we feel at our own home, amid our own people, it’s the same way for the baby in its mother’s womb.’
Rihanna seemed confused. First, she did not understand what role her Mom played in this entire incident; on top of that, the baby seemed to provide her with a biology lesson.
‘What? What is all this? How does this relate to Sahil or Mom?’, Rihanna asked.
‘Have some patience Rihanna, everything in life is related to this, listen to it carefully. You will find it out soon. So I was saying, that every baby feels safest inside its mother’s womb’ said the baby. It continued, ‘The baby gets used to living in that secured environment for 9 months and all of a sudden it happens, the process of birth. The baby has to deal with various changes and challenges all of a sudden’ the baby explained and continued ‘I too was so comfortable in mom’s womb, was peacefully floating in the water, no shocks, temperature maintained well the life was so cool. But that day suddenly something started happening. There was huge pressure from all over didn’t know what was happening. I was getting pushed and suddenly I found myself out in the dry air’.
It was very new to me, some kind of suffocation oxygen was lowering in my body, I felt I am going to die but in split moment it worked I took a long breathe by crying loud. I was settling in that dry environment after knowing the breathing but it was scary bright lights, loud sounds, and too cold, too hot. I felt like abandoned from my comfortable home. Everything was so unknown but mom hugged me and suddenly I got that warmth, the known feeling, those known sounds of mom that made me comfortable, at least something was known, something familiar. Very soon I started feeling weak, I think I was hungry. That feeling was completely new to me, I was anxious about my survival, because earlier there was continuous supply for me from my connection with mom, but that was broken. It was mom who supported me to get out of those scary feelings. I got my first seep of milk. She was talking to me and feeding me that was so soothing in that scary situation. I had survived all those experiences only because of mom. If she would not have been there, I can’t even imagine.
‘I think I am getting this. It’s like if a person lives in an A/C home, travels in A/C cars, has constant on-call help and always walks on carpets. If all of a sudden this person is dropped in the rainforest, all alone, how will he/she feel? That’s the way the birth must be, isn’t it?’ said Rihanna.
‘Yes, exactly. You see, this is the reason a baby feels like an alien after birth. The only comfort it finds in this strange world is in its mother’s touch, warmth, vibrations and movements. Even those experiences are not in their original form. Earlier the baby has experienced them from inside while in the womb. This is the reason a baby always needs its mother’s support in it early days. Rihanna, it was Mom who gave you all the support then, just as she is here for you now.’
‘I understand this, but not entirely.’ Rihanna said.
‘See, it is like this. Being an only connection between the old world and the new world, mother is an essential support to give the feeling of safety for a baby. It is her job to introduce the baby to this new world, with utmost love and care. Only then, can the mother make sure her baby leads a healthy life ahead, feels not scared, but safe in a new world the baby explained. Rihanna’s face seemed to glow after she was latching herself onto this new knowledge.
‘Right, I get it. A mother is very important for a child after birth. But still, what is the connection between my break up with Sahil and Mom? I am unable to connect the dots here.’ Rihanna exclaimed, pretty puzzled again.
‘Yeah, I am coming to it. Well, Rihanna. It goes like this. Prior to the formation of mind, the body has to undergo the process of creating perfect physiological, electrical and chemical systems. Physiology is the mechanical system the muscles & bones. Brain is an electrical system the neurons and Emotions is the chemical system the glands and hormones. Any new experience in this new world disturbs the chemical balance in child’s body and those chemical changes in the baby’s body have to go back to their original form, wherein baby’s mother, being only familiar experience, is of the utmost importance, offering an external support. In short, it’s only the mother’s care and support, which is how a baby learns to regain the balance also called self-regulation. Without this support from mother, self-regulation for a baby is pretty impossible’, said the baby. ‘You see where I am going with this? Mom made sure she took every care after you were born, so much so that you were able to self-regulate’, said the baby.
‘Oh yes! I think now I can connect the dots. When I was very young, I saw a cockroach. I remember vividly, it was brown and big. I felt grossed out as well as super scared of it. Mom noticed this. She hugged me, kissed and made sure I was okay. I remember feeling so much at ease after mom had hugged me. She said to me, pulling me even closer, there is no need to be scared of. It is simple insect and would not harm me in any way. It immediately made me feel better.’ Rihanna seemed to have an exhilarating effect on her body. She was tensed up before but later eased into it as she narrated this incident.
‘In a day or two I saw the same cockroach, under the sink. On seeing it again I felt panicked. But mom’s words & that comfort replayed in my mind. And all of a sudden, I wasn’t afraid of the cockroach. In fact today, in my friends’ group it’s only me, who isn’t afraid of cockroaches!’ Rihanna said and smiled. At that moment she realized how minor incidences of childhood contribute to a child’s thought process and behaviour. It was as if an epiphany had hit her that she said out loud, ‘So whatever parents do and say or however they behave reflects in their children, in their behaviour while they are young or old! Rihanna exclaimed.
‘Absolutely! That’s what I wanted to explain you. Because Mom was there to support you when you were a child, you were able to face your fears & anxieties. The same is applicable even today. You can gather your thoughts, align and articulate them in a direction, all because of Mom and Dad. Both of them were great parents, they still are, that’s why you are the type of person, you are today!’ said the baby.
‘There are a few common symptoms which may help you determine whether a baby, generally of 6-7 months is self regulating or not. Those are as below-
- The baby calms itself down even after small setbacks
- The baby stops crying with or without an external support
- The baby sleeps immediately after it feels sleepy
- The baby sleeps without crying, even after it wakes up at an unusual hour at night
- The baby can wait for food even though it is very hungry (for a short amount of time, eg: while the milk bottle is being filled)
- The baby doesn’t behave erratically even after things don’t go its way
You showed 5/6 of these symptoms. That’s how I know you were able to self regulating your emotions and hence your thoughts and actions. Remember, it’s your choice to hold on or let go and move on. Today, since you clearly know what you and Sahil want from each other isn’t the same, you can still be friends with him! It isn’t everyday you get to know a person’s expectations and you end up having utopian relationships with them!’ said the baby.
Rihanna felt empowered. She was smiling ear to ear. She had a new perspective over the entire Sahil episode. It threw light on herself, her friends, her parents and their wonderful way of parenting as well. She knew she wanted to have a child of her own someday but today she understood what a responsibility, parenting is. But it didn’t scare her as now she knew exactly what she had to do, love the child everyday and communicate with so that it learns to self-regulate and become emotionally balanced human being.
With whatever the baby had narrated to her, she was able to understand self-regulation and the significant role it plays in the life of not just a baby but also an adult’s. Rihanna now knew, the child who learns to self-regulate, i.e. monitor and control its emotions (by finding an inner chemical balance) early in its childhood, his/her emotional and social development takes place in a healthier and better way. Self-regulation is the foundation to future progress. It is the ability a person possesses which helps him/her cope up any chemical imbalance developed due to a particular incident or memory, in no time. The immediate period after birth, is the best time for a baby to learn how to self-regulate.
It was because of her parents’ love, care and nurture in her early age she was able to do everything she could today. She felt grateful to them, now more than ever. But there was still one question on her mind.
‘But hey, you are an unborn baby. How do you know all this? Can you see the future?’ Rihanna asked.
‘I can’t see the future, Rihanna. You forgot that I am nothing but you’. Rihanna was quite confused but she heard mom calling her and she woke up from her best dream ever.