We recently went on a trip to Blackpool. This has to be one of the most memorable trips I have had so far. The first proper trip on our own with our new born who is soon going to be all of 15 months. Really time has flown so quickly that I have lost track of what all it entailed. The last clear memories are of the last day at work with the cake, the speeches and the card with lots of scribbles wishing good luck. And the uneasy feeling of what is there to come. After I said good bye to work to embark on a new journey of motherhood – life has been on a roller coaster ride, memories of which are now gradually fading already. Just within a week of bidding adieu to work, I delivered a little princess.
As seamless and joyful were the 9 months of pregnancy, my delivery was equally straightforward. Obviously at that time it did feel like the most arduous experience, one I vouched I will never tread on again. But with the passage of time and having heard of other more painful stories, my discomfort seemed minimalistic. My life was getting filled up with the joyous feeling of being a mother. The first three months are the toughest in terms of raising a child. From being someone who learnt everything from how to hold a baby to changing nappies in an antenatal class, I was gradually becoming a mother – one who knows how to breast feed, is able to understand and differentiate between the various baby cries, make baby burp and wee and poo, sooth her to sleep etc. It is hard work, but unlike corporate hard work where rewards are quantified at the end of the year, nature of reward here is quite different – instantaneous gratification felt at an emotional level.
The 6 months following the most difficult first 3 months were very easy – I went back to India to my parents with my new born and had the comforts and support of family back home. These 6 months flew as if in 6 hours – one of the best periods of my life. My mother was taking care of my daughter and I was taking care of the rest – which included getting 2 hours of body massage every day, getting involved and sorting out any teething issues in my father’s business, renovating the house to prepare for my brother’s wedding and finally actually attending the Indian wedding. It had everything I could have wished for. Before coming back to London, we decided to go for a short trip to the south of India, covering Chennai, Vellore and Pondicherry. Although exciting in its own way, it was a good lesson on how to take care of a baby on our own. This was the first time we were on our own with our 9 month old daughter and don’t think we did a very good job. She fell sick, she became very weak as we did not feed her enough and was taking strong antibiotics. So much so that when my mother saw my daughter only for a night before leaving India to come to London, she got too worried about how frail she had become. In a night, whatever she could, she did to bring my daughter back to normal – this included giving her something to eat every hour or so. We just had not done a good job with regards to her food.
Coming back to London with a 9 month old with the experience and lesson learnt from the Chennai trip meant that we were better prepared and did not take anything for granted. After some initial hiccups I managed to find an amazing child minder who helped us out with taking her regular care. We started very gradually, a couple of hours initially going up to a full day in her 11th month. Once settled in with her, I started exploring joining back to work. I did not want any sudden changes in lifestyle – either for my daughter or for myself. Therefore getting back to work was also in a phased manner including moving my daughter away from breastfeeding to bottle feeding. I wanted to make sure that she was more independent and that I could trust somebody to take care of her when I am at work.
Life since then has been quite routined. She goes to the childminder Mondays to Thursdays and I take Fridays off (a clever tactic I used to not use up all my maternity leaves in one go, but spread them over throughout the year by taking a day off in the week and spending with the little one). Going back to work has been a brilliant feeling after a long hiatus. New and increased challenges have kept me busy so far. I have a busy day at work and busy evenings at home with the little one. I do sometimes miss not having the me-time, but then when I see the smile on her face for no reason or an un-demanded hug from her, all such wants disappear and I feel like spending each and every moment of my conscious self with her.