Recently one of my children fell ill. Though all my three children are now grown up and mature, with my eldest being more than thirty years old, I cannot but feel a pang every time such a thing happens. As my son struggled with an illness that targeted his body like a bulldozer weakening all his defenses, immune system and body functions, I turned into a zombie myself. The first day we took him to the hospital, I cried like a maniac and stopped only when the doctor gave me a piece of his mind about putting the patient through extended stress. Those 6 days were some of the most traumatic days of my life. Little or no sleep, little or no appetite, little or no peace of mind – this is how you can describe me during that period.
But it was not just me. Even my husband, who only works part time now and not used to much running around, turned himself into a machine. He was the one who ran from pillar to post to ensure that our son recovered from that ghastly illness. He was the one who arranged for doctors at 3 AM, who drove to the end of the town to pick up medicines and who comforted my son that everything will be okay as I lost all strength myself.
But even now, with the worst behind us, we feel as if the ordeal is still fresh. And not just this recent ordeal. But every single time any of my children have had the slightest of pains or cuts. Every single time any of them had fever, stomach upsets or infections, both me and my husband have felt as if our life had been sucked out. It was another matter that after nursing our children for the period of illness without proper food, sleep or rest, we would ourselves go down due to exhaustion and stress.
As loving and proud parent, our topmost priority has always been our children’s health, well-being and happiness. Right from the day each of them were born, we have almost felt like we have a huge project at hand, given the amount of time we spent planning and organizing for their present as well as future. Like all other parents, we have wanted nothing but the best for our children and not shied away from money, time or patience in the pursuit of this elusive best. Elusive, because each year I find life becoming more complicated and difficult irrespective of the so called advances in science and technology.
There is more pollution in the air, less natural resources to keep us healthy, less peace among nations, less safety of life, more infections and diseases, and more competition and aggression in people. And if adults find all these challenging to deal with, imagine their impact of children! Children who are so much vulnerable and fragile, innocent and susceptible.
I had my first child in the early 1980s. Motherhood for the first time was exciting yet scary, and I was thrilled as well as anxious. I had heard stories all my life, about how it is to carry a baby in my womb, how I will have cravings, how my body will change, how my husband would react, how it will be romantic and everything more filmy or less. While I was pregnant, I went through some of them but most turned out to be just that – stories. Everything is still so vivid in my memories that it feels like it all happened just yesterday. But what is the most vivid and memorable not just doing my first pregnancy but through all three, what I remember the most clearly and gratefully is the support I received from elders in the family.
Right from day one, I had excellent care and guidance from them. Starting from what I should eat, what I should wear, how I should exercise, what position I should sleep in, what medicines should I take, how much should I rest and everything in and around pregnancy. What could have three extremely difficult periods of my life became cakewalks primarily because I had so many collective years of intelligence by my side. For any concern, question or worry, I had so many experienced people on stand by with pearls of wisdom that they had earned and collected over so many decades. Each time I had an unexplained dizzy fit, headache, lack of appetite, difficulty in sleeping, walking or just an attack of nervous anxiety, I knew exactly which fruit will soothe, how much ghee I need to eat or which oil to apply to ease the pressure on my stomach.
This did not stop with the pregnancies. Thankfully, these pearls of wisdom gained from so much experience continued to be shared with me right till my children reached school and to an extent even till today. The first few years of the child’s growth which are undoubtedly the most important for him or her, not just physically but also emotionally and psychologically, were made really easy for me with the support of these very elders. Today, looking back, I have no idea how I would have survived if I could not call up my mother in the middle of the night to ask what to do with my one-month daughter who would not stop having fever, if my mother in law did not teach me the right way to tie a diaper, if my aunt-in-law did not massage oil into my baby’s body in the most nourishing way and if my father in law did not know which herb is best for children under which condition of illness.
It is not only because I belong to a so-called older generation, and not so much to today’s generation of Facebook and Twitter that I firmly believe in natural and traditional, it is also because I know that the body works in a certain way. It accepts only what is natural. I remember so many instances from my childhood where I have seen magic happen through simple natural things found around us. Each time, me or any of my siblings had cough, my father would mix some ginger juice or some pepper in honey and give us a teaspoon each in the morning and evening. Within 2 days, we would be singing songs at the top of our voice. By looking at my face, my mother would be able to say if I had a stomach ailment to be treated with a banana or with curd. And there are more than a million such examples from my growing up years and while I was growing my children up that tell me how ancient traditional knowledge has innate charm and magic in them.
On the other hand to all this ancient wisdom are chemicals. Having lost the historic knowledge of the body’s working, folk medicine and natural know-how that was passed on from generation to generation, we are almost at the verge of forgetting all the cultural richness that India possess in medicine and Science. India suffers today more through the world’s ignorance of her achievements than from the absence of them. The ancient medical science of ayurveda, which is experiencing a renaissance at present, is perhaps the most sophisticated and comprehensive approach to health care the world has known. But a blind aping of the west, an innate inferiority complex and an ignorant dismissal of homegrown methodologies led to the almost loss of Ayurveda and accelerated adoption of the opposite of it.
The opposite is nothing but unnatural, synthetic and chemical. How can something which is completely unnatural – not derived from the planet its natural resources and life form be acceptable to our bodies that is based wholly on the planet and its natural resources and life forms? This is like injecting alien blood into our blood streams and expecting it to accept it. It is like adding red to blue and expecting it to stay red and blue, expecting incompatibles to match, natural and unnatural to be sync. And that is what we have been forcing our bodies to do over so many years. We have been producing synthetic and artificial products for years now and forcing it on our bodies. Now imagine the result of such products on our children!
It is said that soon after the baby comes out of a mother’s body, it starts feeling a state of shock followed by an onset of insecurity and fear. The new surrounding is so unreal and unnatural to the baby that it has a very difficult time adjusting to it. That is followed by the cutting of the umbilical cord and the withdrawal from the mother’s heartbeat. All these are changes that can affect the baby so adversely that it can take him or her years to come out of. It is because of this now people suggest that a mother should hold the baby close to her heart soon after it is born, so that it can gradually stop hearing her heartbeat and not abruptly be cut off from it.
With such a sensitive and vulnerable little one to be brought into the world and then have the responsibility of growing him or her up into a healthy and happy human being, there was no way I was going to rely on chemical or synthetic products! While bringing up my children, I gave them foods and other products that were natural. I dressed them inclothes that were not synthetic and I made sure they played with toys made of natural substances too.
For their health, I massaged them only with 100% Ayurvedic oils. Massaging neonates and infants has been an important component of infant rearing in many traditions and has been practiced globally over the years. The practice of neonatal massage has gained recent favor in many neonatal care units in developed countries. Recent evidence from human and animal studies suggests that topical application of certain oils may improve skin barrier function, resulting in a number of potential benefits to neonatal health. And for such massages, baths, grooming or anything else concerning my children I completely avoided chemical based on products to ensure that they do not have any negative impact in the long run.
Today when I see my children dealing with life’s ups and downs with complete conviction, well-being and confidence I feel happy for the decision that me and my husband made while bringing them up. And so, even though my son recently came out of a harrowing illness, I am totally confident that the early nourishment, natural care and Ayurvedic strength I gave him will help come out of any physical or mental adversity with flying colors! I am glad that I did not get swayed by time and continued to rely on the strong traditional knowledge that I gained from my elders, supported natural products in favor of synthetic or chemical ones and kept my complete faith in Ayurveda.
I have written this post for a campaign started by Dabul Lal Tail. If you are a young parents who wants some traditional pearls of wisdom from me, then firstly learn a lot of patience. Then, remember when it comes to small children, nothing is better than the traditional. Chemical or synthetic products can be too harsh and unsuitable for them. Bringing up a baby is not easy and the early years are the most crucial. No parent wants to experiment on his or her children as if they were guinea pigs, and I am sure so is the case with you. So it is best to be prepared, read as much as possible, talk to people who have been through the experience or have age-old know how. Also, go to Dabur Lal Tail’s really helpful website where they talk about the benefits of massaging the baby’s body here and offer expert advice here! If you still have any questions or want to know more about my experiences as a parent, write to me any time and I will gladly respond at the earliest! 🙂