A LEARN­ING CURVE

En­tre­pre­neur Meghna Ghodawat talks about her most re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS - BY TA­NIA TARAFDAR PHO­TO­GRAPHS BY AK­SHAY KULKA­RNI HAIR AND MAKEUP BY PREETI JAIN

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.

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