A LEARNING CURVE
Entrepreneur Meghna Ghodawat talks about her most rewarding experience
There’s plenty written about the joys (and struggles) of motherhood, but there are no words that can describe how your heart swells when you see your child smile at you. Or, when you see your son accomplish something. Or when he comes to you when he needs a hug. You can blame the hormones, but it is motherhood. It makes the heart expand at the most unexpected times. For Meghna Ghodawat, founder of The Skin Project, a beauty-tech company, motherhood has been one such rewarding experience. Here’s her story.
HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE OF BECOMING A MOTHER? HAS IT CHANGED YOU IN ANY WAY?
Meghna: Being a mother is a life-changing experience. It invokes a person in you which you didn’t know existed. Sure, it comes with a lot of anxiety and paranoia, but the love is insurmountable. To be honest, I had severe post-partum depression and anxiety after the birth of my first child, Riaan. For the first three months, I did not leave his side even for a minute. In fact, I did not even let anyone give him a bath. I did it every single day. Having been a carefree person, I used to think mothers are so over the top. But when it came to me, I think I took the crown in terms of being an obsessive mum. It changed my whole life. Motherhood has definitely been a roller coaster ride. Though
I sometimes feel that the worst is definitely behind me, at other times, it seems like an endless journey of uncertainties and fears. But I am guessing, this is a feeling familiar to most mums. As for other changes, motherhood has taught me to be more compassionate and patient.
WHEN DID YOU START PLANNING FOR A BABY?
Meghna: There was no planning at all. It was a very organic process. We went with the flow. I think it’s great to be organised, but I never plan. I like the little surprises life has to offer. Sometimes when you think too much, you tend to see too many pros and cons. So, it is best to let go and let nature take its course.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST FIND OUT THAT YOU WERE PREGNANT? HOW DID YOUR FAMILY REACT TO THE NEWS?
Meghna: I was just back from my work trip to Thailand, when I found out that I had conceived. I was really exhausted and famished. I was eating like I had never seen food before. My husband and colleagues were shocked at my sudden change of lifestyle. As I am a little superstitious I hid the news for a while, but when I broke it, my husband, my family and my colleagues were overjoyed. It was on my 28th birthday when I found out that I was pregnant with my second child. While my family was thrilled, Riaan was too young to understand as he was just two years old.
DID YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THOSE CLASSIC PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS OR WAS YOUR PREGNANCY SMOOTH?
Meghna: My primary focus during pregnancy was to raise a healthy baby, and because my doctor deemed it safe, I continued light exercise in the second and third trimesters. and a followed a healthy diet routine throughout. Yes, there would be the occasional odd craving for food that all pregnant women succumb to, but the way I saw it, I was exercising and feeding two life forms. If the goal was a healthy child, then nothing in my routine would change. I did not exercise too much the first trimester, and rested well. I had nausea, but thankfully, it was not very severe. I managed by sucking on sour candy throughout. I know it is not very healthy, but I was obsessed with it. I also had a major sweet tooth during that time, and I would stock chocolates in the to satisfy those cravings. I was at
mum’s place, so she stuffed me with a lot of food and I did not stop her either. I think it’s the only time in your life where you can and should eat whatever that pleases your tongue, and enjoy the process. The body craves whatever it needs, so one should go ahead and eat. I didn’t really read a lot, but turned to Google to find answers to even the dumbest of queries. I googled everything and even downloaded an app to see how the baby looked every week. I also had a lot of mood swings that would leave me extremely irritated and hungry. During my second pregnancy, however, I did not do much honestly. I feel guilty, but the truth is that I was so busy and obsessed with Riaan that I hardly paid any attention to myself. I was a bit more carefree during my second pregnancy. I did have nausea during the first three months, and some bouts of low tide. I did yoga to battle any discomfort and release those endorphins in the process.
DID YOU HAVE A BABY SHOWER?
Meghna: I never had a baby shower. I had put on 30 kilos during my first pregnancy. and I really had no intention to show that off. It was mentally confusing to witness this enormous growth on my frame. And like I mentioned, I am a bit superstitious so I wanted to throw a party only after the delivery of both my babies.
HOW WAS LABOUR?
Meghna: My first baby was born in the 38th week. As Riaan was really big, my doctor decided to deliver via C-section. This was terrible news to receive, yet my primary concern was to hold a happy, healthy baby in my arms, and this was achieved – so I was grateful. I didn’t feel much pain during the procedure, but post that, it was tough. I delivered my second baby Yuvaan naturally without any painkiller or epidural but the pain was unimaginable. When I got pregnant with my second child, I immediately knew I wanted to try and have a VBAC. I did my research, read up on different birthing methods, watched documentaries, soaked up every bit of information in between and maintained a positive attitude. Fortunately, I recovered quickly and was on my feet post both the deliveries. I tried not to focus much on the pain and I think that is the secret that worked in my favour. I still remember I went for a shower three hours post my C-section delivery and was climbing stairs the next day. I was at a meeting close to home exactly six days post the birth of Yuvaan. That said, I would admit that my threshold for pain is very high.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU IN THE FIRST FEW DAYS AFTER BRINGING YOUR BABY HOME? DID YOU TAKE TO MOTHERHOOD EASILY?
Meghna: As women who have given birth know all too well, having a baby wreaks havoc on the body, both pre- and postpartum. As debilitating
as the physical changes are though, the mental struggles that come with this cycle are just as challenging if not more. As I had severe post-partum depression after the birth of Riaan, I was extremely scared. I was crying and was unable to understand the influx of love and emotion. I was constantly worried about my baby’s health. I was unable to leave him out of my sight, and I was like that for a year. I didn’t have anyone to help till then. However, I took things rather easy after the birth of Yuvaan. I would like to credit my mother for that. She has been my backbone and pillar of strength throughout my journey of motherhood. Even today, she is the one who helps me out at every step. Things would be very different if it wasn’t for her.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BOYS. WHAT ARE THEY LIKE?
Meghna: Riaan is very headstrong and intelligent. He’s a learner, and loves sports and art. I am not a mother who will pressurise my kids into learning and doing things my way. I want them to do what they love. Riaan is a very diplomatic boy as he knows what to say, and at what time. When I look at him, I feel so many different emotions: happiness that the days of extreme sleep deprivation are seemingly a thing of the past, pride in how much he’s grown and developed, both sadness and relief that I will not have my little one need me as intensely as he did the past two years, and joy that the little boy he is becoming is mine. On the other hand, Yuvaan has taken after me. He is extremely calm and poised, and loves the camera. He is a keeper, and not just because of his laidback, loving disposition. I keep saying around to everyone that my elder son will be a politician or a businessman, and my younger one will be an actor.
HOW DID THE BOYS REACT TO YOU? WHEN DID THEY START RECOGNISING YOU?
Meghna: With my first born every difficult stage (sleepless nights, teething, breastfeeding etc) seemed endless and eternal, but with my second baby, I’ve quickly realised that we’ll be onto the next thing before we know it. Babies recognise their mums instantly. I breastfed my first born for a year. Riaan is a complete mama’s boy and I have already turned into his best friend. Owing to my tight work schedule, I could not give much time to my second child. I breastfed him for barely
three months, but he has been a fuss-free baby, and that helped me get back to work easily. I do not panic like I used to when I was a new mother. Motherhood is great that way. It teaches you how to go with the flow and tackle things better.
WHAT ABOUT THEIR FIRSTS— THEIR FIRST WORD, ACTION, FIRST STEPS?
Meghna: Riaan started playing football when he was 12 months, old at Hyde Park with some 14- year old boys. People were shocked when I told everyone that he was only a year old. This is one incidence that I will always remain fresh in my memory. Yuvaan is too young, and it’s early to talk about who he is like or his first word or action. But he’s quite a go-getter, and loves his elder brother so much that if you carry him away from Riaan, he starts to wail. He always wants to be around Riaan.
WHAT KIND OF FUTURE DO YOU PLAN FOR YOUR BOYS?
Meghna: Like every other parent, we just want the best for our children. I want my boys to know the value of things in life, just so that they walk on the right path. My role is to give them the best education and values, along with an environment to foster the best in them. We are just mediums to bring these beings to the world. We cannot plan a future for them. They have to build it themselves on their own terms. I am sure my boys will build a great life.