Run, Mummy, Run!

What do you do when you wake up on one of the most important and nerve-wracking days in your life to discover your 2-year-old has a 105 degrees F temperature?

You vent.

You rage and rant and breathe fire until the dog hides under the dining table, the baby pretends to be asleep by making HUGE pretend snoring noises and your OH tries to lock himself in the garage… unsuccessfully.

As you can probably tell, this is a real life story and this happened to me yesterday. The occasion was ‘Race for Life 2013’ organised by Cancer Research UK to raise money towards raising awareness and money for, as their name suggests, Cancer research.

I had signed up in early June just after my aunt passed away following a long and painful battle with cancer . Not wanting to sit around and mope, I decided to channel my focus onto something so difficult, arduous and unfathomable (at least for me) that it would stop me from thinking about the whys and the wherefores of life and death.

I rang the sign-up hotline and casually asked how many usually took part after paying the £15 registration fee.

‘About 10,000’

‘10,000 people running?’

‘Erm, yes.’

‘Oh’ The penny dropped.

The girl on the other end, scrambled to salvage the situation.

‘Not everyone runs, you know. Some walk, some jog, some even dance.’

‘It’s the taking part that matters,’ she finished tentatively,

Some of the (very few) extremely competitive genes that I have inherited from my Mum rebelled.

I couldn’t just walk… It would be embarrassing!

‘Extreme false position’ as my Mum would brand such situations where someone didn’t live up to expectations and opened themselves unto gossip. She is quite old-school.

First stop was a sports shop.

I rocked up to the sales assistant and asked, ‘Do you have any really cool looking running shoes for people with dodgy knees?’

He looked me up and down and gave me a life lesson, ‘Girl, the best running shoes are not pretty, unless they are custom-made. Are you after some custom-made trainers?’

I left the store with some very sensible running shoes.

I had high hopes of going running with Hobbes. That idea soon came to naught. Hobbes would just get confused and try to hug me in a misguided attempt to make me calm down and just walk.

Taking Rohan was another non-starter of a plan. As soon as I started running, he would run, invariably, either towards some ‘birdies’ or the children’s play area.

I had to go alone. I started jogging the one kilometer to Rohan’s nursery every morning and went running in the park on the way back. Sometimes my knees would kill me, sometimes my asthma would leave me winded. On other occasions, I would be too cold to continue in the driving rain and blustery wind, often returning home shivering like a drowned rat. If ever I felt too lazy, telling myself I was too asthmatic to continue, I would remind myself of Oscar Pistorius. If he could run that fast without legs, I definitely could run a measly 5K on one normal and one ‘plastic fantastic’ knee.

Never having run in my life except after buses, it was a race that I undertook to also see how much I could push myself.

Finally, the day arrived and after nearly not making it to Hyde Park on time, we did. Rohan’s forehead burned, but the train and bus rides made him very cheerful. I made him glug paracetamol and orange juice. He had a couple of bags of M&Ms while OH and I looked the other way.

It was so hot and dusty, everything was a blur. OH kept reminding me that it was the taking part that mattered, not running or finishing it in record time.

I promised him that I would try hard not to kill myself. When I lined up at the start line, I thought of my Aunt, her struggle with the disease and her final moments. And when the klaxon sounded, I took off.

I would usually walk/run during my practice sessions trying very hard not to snap my ‘pure plastic’ knee or exacerbate my asthma and finish the 5k in between 43-45 mins, Yesterday I surprised myself by finishing the race in 39 minutes and a few seconds.

I raised £410 and got a medal of completion in return.

Those who were watching closely would have seen tears streaming down my face as I crossed the finish line.

I had conquered my demons and hopefully those of some suffering from cancer too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

An ode to a reluctant dad

‘You did WHAT?!?!’

‘I created an excel sheet and mailed it to you,’ he replied calmly.

‘An excel sheet about what? I already have the ones detailing our personal finances, home improvement, holidays and meal planners.’

OH and I were having a discussion about ticking biological clocks and how almost all our friends, either had a bun in the oven or were new parents. Hence my surprise at receiving an excel sheet from him.

Btw, OH obsessively creates excel sheets about everything and can go on for hours about excel sheets; what they can compute and are capable of. He is an excel geek.

‘I created an excel sheet detailing how much a baby would cost to have and bring up. The excel breaks down the expenditure into year/month/day so you shouldn’t have a problem understanding it,’ he replied, a tad patronisingly and ducked just in time to avoid the paper ball I had hurled in his direction.

As always, the conversation was really not going anywhere. Instead of thinking of baby names and play-fighting on favoured gender of children, here we were discussing computer software.

We had been married for almost a decade and not had children. Not that it would have been an issue anywhere else but we are Indians. And we as a nation, are very interested in other people’s fertility.

People asked after we returned from our honeymoon. They asked on our first anniversary and on every anniversary thereafter. But recently, the questions had become pointed… some advised us to adopt while others promised to give us the contact numbers and fast-track appointments to fertility experts in hushed tones.

My mum had, as always, turned to religion and taken to fasting on a certain day of the week to appease at least one of the 33 million gods in the Hindu culture.

Just to reiterate here, we had no fertility problems, just an extreme disinterest in having children of our own.

OH never fancied himself as a Dad. He tolerated our friend’s children, often keeping them entertained during parties/birthdays/anniversaries, but he was never keen on becoming a Dad.

We would have conversations about children but they would soon become discussions about books/holidays or food.

Then Rohan happened and with him arrived sleepless nights, poopy diapers and colic induced incessant crying.

Jeeshu and rohan get acquainted

Jeeshu and Rohan get acquainted

Being a seasoned operations manager, OH decided to tackle the problem logically. He bought all the books on parenting he could find, read them cover to cover and made me read them too. He then drew up another excel sheet detailing what I should do with Rohan when…meals, naps, cuddles, bath, nothing was left out.

It worked, but only so much. He still couldn’t figure out why Rohan would cry and wake up in the middle of the night even though he had had a bottle.

This is when I decided to step in and explain that children were not as trainable as dogs or as predictable as business processes and over the next few months continued to encourage  him to open up and embrace Rohan’s quirks and moods.

And that is when the transformation began. OH wasn’t a natural, but he tried. And how…

He would come back from work in time for bed and bathtime. He would be the one to go into Rohan’s room to placate him when he woke up crying at 2am. He would make up Rohan’s morning bottle, change him and play with him until I finished my morning coffee.

Jeeshu cradles Rohan

Jeeshu cradles Rohan

Henry Ward Beecher said, ‘We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves,’ and I saw this in OH. The transformation was complete.

In between his almost twice weekly trips to Continental Europe and Inter Club level Cricket playing, OH finds time for endless rough n tumble sessions, walks in the park, book reading and tickling matches with Rohan.

And I realised yesterday that the feelings were very mutual when on the way back from Nursery, Rohan pointed towards my phone and said, ‘Daddy phone’ and once I dialed OH’s number, Rohan took the phone out of my hands and said, ‘Look Daddy, Nona hand hurt.’

On his part, OH rushed home only to have Rohan jump into his lap and tell him all about the monstrous trip to the GP’s surgery where they had poked him with a needle.

I just sat back and enjoyed their animated conversation. The reluctant Dad had come a long way.

Jeeshu and Rohan wear matching t-shirts

Jeeshu and Rohan wear matching t-shirts

All you need is a Tab, a Tab is all you need

Sorry about the pathetic rehash of the seminal Beatles ditty ‘All you need is love‘ but I couldn’t help it. Let me explain…

Before I had Rohan, I used to be intolerant of wailing banshees a.k.a crying children on flights, I would clear my throat loudly, glare at the parents and generally squirm in my seat enough to make them feel like tapeworms. I know it was wrong of me. I realise that now. And I realise it more acutely now because if Rohan misbehaves in public or even whimpers on a flight I feel like evaporating. Nothing can be more embarrassing for parents than toddlers who decide to act up at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Rohan recently turned two and he has been on six international flights lasting more than 8 hours each already, apart from at least a dozen short-haul ones lasting 2-3 hours.

The run-up to our first flight gave me nightmares about possible meltdowns. And I asked everyone I met for advice, even the till operator at Mothercare. Based on advice, I checked-in for our first child as a family of three.

The contents of my carry-on case for the 8 hour flight contained:

1) 6 bottles containing 8 oz each of milk;

2) 25 nappies

3) 4 packets of wipes

4) 4 changes of clothes for each of us

5) 2 bottles of Infacol (colic relieving medication)

6) 10 burp cloths

7) 5 jars of mashed carrots and potatoes

8) 2 bottles of Calpol

9) 2 different changing mats

Rohan’s changing bag was the size of a mini township and it took OH (who is very strong, btw) considerable effort to carry it onto the plane.

Rohan gets settled in for his first flight

Rohan gets settled in for his first flight, Autumn 2011

The flight turned out to be totally uneventful. Rohan didn’t suffer from any of the maladies that afflict young travellers… no blocked ears, no incessant crying, nothing. Soon after the flight took off he got as-snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug inside the bassinet and slept most of the way taking a few breaks to top up on milk.

Laying our worst fears to rest, Rohan caught up on a lot of zzzzzs on the flight

Laying our fears to rest, Rohan caught up on a lot of zzzzzs on the flight, Autumn 2011

I breathed easy thinking the situation was under control but the flight back was not without incident, although it didn’t result in any cryathalons. Rohan’s formula milk had run out by the end of our holiday and he was solely dependant on me for all his nutritional needs. Let’s just say we made an excessive number of trips to the loo wherein he would invariably push the ‘call attendant in an emergency’ button repeatedly. Placed handily next to the toilet seat, it would result in the flight attendants trying to hammer the door down thinking I had somehow managed to flush myself/baby during the feeding routine.

Our next long-haul flight was when Rohan was one and a half. He could walk by then, had very strong opinions and was very wary of being made to take a nap. And just to make it more interesting, I was travelling alone with him. Google became my best friend those days, I would run endless searches on ‘flying with toddlers’, ‘how to avoid toddler meltdowns at 30,000 feet’. You get the idea. Most of the advice centred around toys, and not one but a vast number of toys, all new, that would keep him occupied for atleast an hour each.

I hit Poundland as soon as it opened on the day of our flight and bought a toy each for each hour of flying time and then gift wrapped them. The flight was a resounding success. Whenever Rohan got tetchy, I would open up the bag and bring out a shiny new gift wrapped toy…taking off the wrapper took about half an hour each time and he was thrilled with all of them, some passengers less so with the flute, I think. Bad call on my part.

Waiting to board the flight at Gatwick Airport

Waiting to board the flight at Gatwick Airport, Autumn 2012

On board the flight to Sri Lanka, Rohan gets busy with his toys

On board the flight to Sri Lanka, Rohan gets busy with his toys, Winter 2012

 

I hid it on the way back and everything went well.

This time, however, I didn’t have time to forward-plan anything as it was a very rushed trip. So, on the night before the flight, I sat down with my iPad and opened up the App Store. I redeemed a gift card that I had been given for my birthday last year and I started looking. I found a treasure trove of free books for children as well as doodling apps. I downloaded them all without hesitation.

Rohan has a serious obsession with Peppa Pig, the cartoon character and I found 26 episodes for £3.99. It is the best investment a mother with a Peppa Pig obsessed toddler can ever make.

Helping me with pushing the trolley

Helping me with pushing the trolley at Heathrow, Summer 2013

I didn’t have to pack a zillion toys and then go crawling after the tiny webba (Zebra) that had somehow made it inside the shoe of the person in the seat in front of us, I didn’t even need the horrible Aquadoodle with the perpetually leaking pen.

Peppa pig enthrals Rohan during the flight

Peppa pig enthrals Rohan during the flight, Summer 2013

With priority boarding, I settled Rohan in front of the tablet as soon as we boarded the flight. I even managed to feed him all of his lunch before the flight took off. He sat patiently with the seat belt on while the plane took off and left me in peace to eat my lunch and GASP! watch a movie myself without moving an inch from his seat!!! He was mesmerised, gobsmacked and utterly transfixed. When not watching Peppa Pig, he would draw a ‘Hati’ (elephant, his favourite animal) on the doodle pad or look at the picture books I had downloaded. It was nothing short of a miracle.

A couple of hours later, he crawled into my lap and said ‘Nona baby sleeptime grrr zzzz’ and promptly fell asleep.

When I had to wait for eons at one of the airports for our luggage to arrive, the iPad kept Rohan occupied and engaged while babies and toddlers around us raged/cried/fussed. Rohan even turned around once to say, ‘Oh dear, Baby crying’ patting a 3-year-old on the head who had arched his back like a bow mid-tantrum.

On the flight back, it was almost as though I was flying with an adult…we both got busy watching tv together and I snoozed extensively *5 hours COUGH!* I reached Heathrow fresh as a daisy and enveloped OH in a tight hug of joy when I saw him, he wasn’t expecting it. But didn’t mind it either.

I am sure you can guess the answer when someone asks me what my experience of flying with a toddler have been like…A breeze, I say.

My tablet set me free.

And the nominees are…

Small events often have the power to change the course of your day/ the week and even month…Receiving the Liebster award was one such event for me. Nominated and given out by our fellow bloggers, it identifies blogs that deserve more eyeballs. I was nominated by Contrary Mom Mary whose blog is a brilliantly funny look at the world around her.

LIEBSTER-BLOG-AWARD

The Liebster isn’t all roses, for the award comes with a set of rules:

• Thank and link back to your Liebster Award presenter.
• Proudly present the Liebster Award logo on your blog.
• Ask your nominees eleven questions, and please do make them interesting.
• Post eleven interesting facts about yourself.
• Present the Liebster Award to eleven deserving blogs of 200 followers or less.
• Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment on their blog.

I completed the first three tasks of the six asked of me in my previous blog ‘So, I got Liebster-ed!‘. Here are the rest…

Eleven facts about me, not sure how interesting they are:

1) I love LEGO

2) I have great legs

3) I would like to shave my head one day, answering everyone’s inane questions has put me off till date.

4) I am a good stylist but when it comes to getting dressed myself, I usually end up looking like a dog’s dinner.

5) When I am very upset or want to have a rant, I hug our Labrador and cry my eyes out. He, meanwhile, licks my arms and purrs like a kitten. I find it very comforting.

6) I can’t get ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke and Pharell out of my mind since I saw them perform on The Graham Norton Show last week.

7) I have not eaten jam since I was told me that you get cankles if you eat it. I was 9.

8) I have about 250 pairs of earrings.

9) I only use Lolita Lempicka perfumes.

10) I cook Thai and Italian food better than I can cook Indian food.

11) I beep when I go through airport security because I have an artificial knee and three titanium screws holding together the artificial framework.

liebster blog award

Without further ado, I would like to present my nominees for the Liebster award… Please have a read through all of them, you will not be disappointed:

http://priyankay.wordpress.com/

http://driftingtraveller.me/

http://joggingdad.com/

http://trainertrishwamsat.wordpress.com/

http://galvestonartist.wordpress.com/

http://fulltimesahm.wordpress.com/

http://dyoselin.kissedmuses.com/

http://galleryawarmplacewithin.wordpress.com/

http://planbeach.wordpress.com/

http://greenerthisside.wordpress.com/

http://thebrio.wordpress.com/

And here are eleven questions for the nominees to answer:

1) Why do you blog?

2) How long does it take you to write each entry?

3) What are your three most treasures items?

4) Guilty pleasure on the telly?

5) What’s your favourite place in the World?

6) What is your favourite biscuit? (I live in England, and this question is always a must-ask)

7) What is your most distinct memory from childhood?

8) If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

9) What’s on your music player?

10) What is the most difficult thing you have ever done?

11) If you could stay at a certain age forever, what age would it be and why?

Thanks!

XX

So, I got Liebster-ed!

liebster blog award

I have just come back from an over emotional overseas trip which involved flying about 11,000 kilometers one way; 22,000 in a week. Not a nice time to go to India, it was 46 degrees C, about 115 degrees F. Moreover it was a hectic trip that involved the passing away of a very loved one.

I had been back less than 24 hours when my phone pinged with a message about my blog, I had been nominated for a Liebster award.

A little bit of googling revealed what it was and boy, was it a mood lifter! The Liebster is given to up-and-coming bloggers who deserve to be read and followed (Thanks ContraryMom for the words).

I had been surrounded by gaping suitcases, dirty clothes, smelly dog and a jet lagged toddler, suddenly nothing seemed too big a task… The dishwasher was loaded up n switched on, the washing machine hummed night and day and the toddler silenced with a lolly and dispatched to Nursery. Even the reluctant mutt has been dry shampooed and now smells like a cheap bunch of flowers from the Supermarket.

So, thank you ContraryMom for the nomination, your pithy and chortle guaranteeing blogs are a joy to read.I will be breaking up the assignment that comes with the award into two equal bite-sized pieces and this is the first instalment. I should be able to post part deux soon…

And because unlike the Oscars, music will not cut us off mid sentence, here are my excessively long answers to your 11 thought-provoking questions… Hope they do not disappoint.

1. Why did you start blogging?

The OH nagged me into it. He is great at nagging and pestering, rather like a humming mosquito next to your ear when you are asleep at night… he nagged and nagged and nagged until I gave in.

2. Which is your best blog?

I will call him Bubbles wins hands down. My first long-ish post, it is a topic very close to my heart, about leaping over regional sensibilities and such like.

3. What is your favorite late-night show?

Graham Norton Show, love his campy, self deriding style.

4. What was your worst job?

I once worked at a 7/11 store for two months so me and OH could take a trip up to Scotland and the Peak District. I was a student then and money was tight, he was coming over from India to visit me and it was my surprise for him. The word ‘worst’ is an understatement for the job and it will have to be a separate blog posting on the whys and the wherefores

5. Your house is on fire! You can only grab three things, what are they?

Animate:

Our labrador, he is very gentle and nervous and gets confused easily so will need to be bum-rushed out of the house

Rohan (no brainer)

OH, Because once he sleeps, he will sleep through a tornado, an earthquake and a tsunami combined…So, I will probably have to pull his 10 stone hulk out of the door in addition to the other two.

Inanimate:

1) A Bengali cookbook that my parents gifted me just after I had gotten married in the hope that it would make me a good cook. The book got me interested in cooking and has saved my skin on many occasions. The transcription on the front by my Dad still brings a tear to my eyes

2) My wedding saree, a 5 metre long tapestry of gold embroidery on red silk. Impossible to wear on my own, I last wore it about 5 years back but never miss an opportunity to pass my fingers over the cold gold embroidery next to the whispery red silk.

3) My Anya Hindmarch wallet, I gifted it to myself on my birthday a few years back and I love it more now than when I had bought it. I am never parted from it come hell, hail or high tide.

6. What do you admire most about yourself?

That I always do what I set out to do.

7. What is something you’ve learned recently?

Not learnt exactly but realised, that I lean on my Dad more than he leans on me, emotionally

8. What do you want to learn?

I would love to learn carpentry. I once saw a man on a home improvement program build an entire kitchen, including work-tops out of logs meant for the wood burning stove and have put it on the top of my long list of things to learn ever since.

9. Do you have any siblings? Do you think your birth order has had any effect on your personality?

I have a younger brother. Not sure if birth order played a part but we are like chalk and cheese.

10. What are you most passionate about?

The environment. I recycle, reuse and repurpose endlessly. Also, animal cruelty gets my goat.

11. What would you do if you won the lottery?

If it’s a tenner that I won, I would probably buy a meal for two from M&S. Put on a nice movie and eat on the couch with the OH wishing I had won more.

If it is $540 million that I won, well, then the list is too long. But I would definitely redo a period property from scratch and buy the OH and my Dad a box at Old Trafford. They are die-hard Manchester United fans. I would also buy my Mum an apartment on the 35th floor of a high-rise in India. Why? Well, she once asked me to do so if and when I won the lottery.

The ties that bind

Rohan cried for an hour straight yesterday evening…then quietly sobbed in his bed until he fell asleep. He did wake up a few times during the half-awake, half-asleep twilight zone but continued with his low-grade sobbing. Everytime he awoke, he just had one word on his lips…Bashi.

The word is supposed to be Mashi meaning Auntie but Rohan has chosen to call her Bashi. And, not because he cannot pronounce the letter ‘M’.

Did he overtly manifest his love for her, around her? Did he spend all his time clinging to her? Does he refuse to sit anywhere but her lap? Did he take all his toys to her to play with?

Umm, No. Not really. Almost the opposite, in fact.

Whenever J (my sis) would ask for a kiss/cuddle or even a ‘High 5’, Rohan’s answer would be a very very resolute ‘No way!’ But who did he look and ask for, as soon as he opened his eyes in the morning? Bashi.

Who did he share his amazement with, when Peppa Pig appeared on telly? Bashi.

Who did he show his favourite toy to? Bashi.

Rohan takes his latop to be mended and has to repay in cuddles and tickles

Rohan takes his latop to be mended by ‘Bashi’ and has to repay in cuddles and tickles

To be fair, Bashi did get him his cherished doctor set with its gigantic injection, stethoscope and thermometer. She also gave him a box of chocolate buttons which serve as handy bribes to get him into his buggy on the way back from Nursery everyday.

She regularly went to pick him up from Nursery while recuperating at our place from Malaria. Rohan would rush over to us, almost shivering with excitement as he pointed towards her, ‘Look! Bashi!!’ He would say to his teacher. I was ignored.

'Bashi' chases rohan on his way back from Nursery

‘Bashi’ chases Rohan on the way back from Nursery

Witnessing this bond took me back many years. To a bond I shared with my own Mashi. She had been my friend, teacher and guru.

It had started when I was about 3. I had taken an unexpected shining to her fiance. And on the eve of her wedding, I had dropped a bombshell. I wanted to marry him, obviously misunderstanding marriage for an excuse to dress up, have lots of ice cream and permanently live with someone who got you lots of chocolates. Easy mistake, I know.

She had to plead with me endlessly to let her marry him with the promise that he be returned to me when I was older.

I had asked for identical makeup for myself as she was having done on her wedding day, never leaving her side throughout the ceremony and insisting on sleeping in the same room as her and her brand new husband till it was time for her to leave for her marital home. I had then sobbed bitter tears,  that she had taken him away from me.

We would later laugh over my melodramatic overtures while shopping together in Kolkata.

One of the best classical dancers I have ever seen perform, I called her Moni. Meaning jewel. And she truly was one.

Super talented, super beautiful and super friendly, you must wonder why I am referring to her in the past tense.

My Moni was diagnosed with stage IV Glioblastoma Multiforme (a type of malignant brain tumour) last year, which has since spread. Though she has lived beyond the initial prognosis, she is a shadow of her former self. She failed to recognise me when she saw me late last year despite repeatedly asking for me to visit her.

I have often been told that I have inherited my eyes from her and when I looked into hers, I had to look away. The beauty of those large eyes, told of pains untold.

Moni and I on her birthday, 10th November 2011

Moni and I on her birthday, 10th November 2011

I have fought an overwhelming desire to go visit her, sit by her and just hold her hand and tell her that it will all be all right. But I have not done so, instead asking those around her for updates. I don’t think I want to see her now. I want to remember her as she was… a light that shone with brilliant incandescence into our lives that has since dimmed but will hopefully never go out.

I then look back at Rohan’s beautiful, blossoming relationship with his ‘Bashi’, having endless tea parties with his tiny porcelain tea set… clinking tea cups with shouts of ‘Cheers!’ and drinking pretend tea. And I smile.

I smile safe in the knowledge that the bonds he forms now will not be broken by the  vagaries of life.

How Jessica Alba got it wrong

I have never dieted in my life. I have been to a Gym a sum total of 9 times.

Consequently, I have never been slim. Always on the ever-so-slightly chubby side, I knew that an hour-glass figure was always going to be out of my grasp and was smart enough to have never tried to achieve it.

It did lead to a few heart-breaks during school like when once, a bloke who I had a crush on pulled my cheeks and said, ‘Just lose about 4 kilograms and you will land a boyfriend without a hitch.’

I will not lie, I did feel an overpowering urge to throw up on his face, after (obviously) kicking myself for EVER having thought him to be crush-material.

In my non quest for a better figure, I didn’t deny myself anything, also never going overboard eating.

With an aversion to fruits, I HATE them and an overwhelming love of red meat, my ex-boss once questioned me extensively on why she could never tempt me into eating a blueberry/blackberry/raspberry, my answer was always a straight-faced ‘They are too unpredictable, I can never tell if they will be bitter/sour or sweet’

And as everyone who knows me knows, I hate surprises. Of both the give and take varieties.

I have always tried to eat a balanced diet, chock-a-block full of vegetables and lentils. However, everything went pear-shaped (literally) when I fell pregnant.

I was consumed with unending hunger. I could almost, not stop eating. I would have two breakfasts, two lunches and, on most days, three dinners with non stop snacking in the middle.

While other pregnant women would be doubling up with nausea in train compartments, I would be juggling my fourth brownie of the morning with a strawberry milkshake on my way to work. By 11 am I would be hungry again and treat myself to immense plates of spaghetti n meatballs, roast dinners and full English fry-ups.

Unsurprisingly I ballooned.

Mother’s day 2011

From an almost ok 56 kilograms at the start of my pregnancy, I weighed in at 84 kilograms the day I went into Hospital to have R. I could barely walk, managing a small waddle, getting out of bed/chair/ car required herculean effort and my feet were so swollen that I could not wear anything but thong slippers with great difficulty.

It will all go away once I have my baby, I will ping back into shape. I told myself in a loop, paraphrasing what I had read women write about weight gain and pregnancy on popular mommy sites.

R happened, but my weight stayed put. I did lose about 7 kilograms in the first week after giving birth, but hit a road block at 77.

Three month old R on Father’s day 2011

My first reaction was disbelief, complaining to OH that the scales were broken.

‘How can you be so shallow and worry about weight? You look perfect, in fact slimmer than before you had R,’ he said without looking up from FIFA 11 on his phone.

My second reaction was again disbelief, how could this be? Had all the women on forums been lying about their post-pregnancy weight loss? How do celebrities manage to look tinier than before, pushing buggies?

My third reaction was blind panic…what would I wear? I obviously didn’t fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes and had a sum total of 15-ish semi tent type outfits that I could wear. I could also not go on a diet as I was the sole source of R’s nutrition. It was all a big mess.

I would be lying if I said I never thought of putting R on formula milk and going on a crash diet…

Ultimately, I didn’t. I just carried on as normal, though I did scoff more cakes and cookies than usual. The tiny lie I told myself regularly was that I was bf-ing R so it was all right. The only thing I didn’t do was to buy myself a new wardrobe, I carried on wearing my maternity clothes and packed most of my ‘normal’ wardrobe away in the hope of one day fitting back into them.

Life carried on and I forgot about my weight with all the madness that comes with taking care of a baby, a dog and a home swirling around my head. And then last week I read about Jessica Alba and her post pregnancy bulge battle. It wasn’t the gym, but wearing TWO corsets post-childbirth, 24/7 for three months that did it for her. The pictures accompanying the article, trying to flog clothes attested to the fact. Her post-baby body could definitely rival that of a pre-pubescent 13 yr-old boy.

Did I kick myself for not thinking of the same when I struggled with post-natal depression and an extra 30 kilograms? Did she zoom to the top of my list of role models? Did I vow to do the same if and when I had another baby?

No.

I felt pity for her, I felt sad. She spent the first three months of her child’s life sweaty, in pain and (am sure!) extremely uncomfortable and tetchy. How did she feed her baby? Did she ever lie down in the double corset with her baby? That must have hurt! When the baby wanted a snuggle, was it just Lycra, polyester and rigid girdling that she got? Why would anyone want to waste the time, that could otherwise have been spent cherishing, loving and relaxing, obsessing over weight gain and in pursuit of the perfect body?

It was unfathomable.

So, how did I feel when during a phone call yesterday my MIL said that from my holiday pictures, I seemed to have lost not only my pregnancy weight but more? And that she could see my dimples again?

I felt great! It felt like sweet success and it felt amazing. Not just because it happened naturally but because I didn’t let my body didn’t come before my child and my bond with him. And as I had thought, the extra weight that I carried in the first year post baby didn’t impact my life. And that beyond the few days when I worried about my bloated body, it didn’t matter at all.

And that made me happy. I hope Jessica Alba is happy too, for real.