THE JOYS OF MOTHERHOOD
Shheethal Robin Uthappa talks about enjoying the ups and downs of motherhood
Robin Uthappa and wife Shheethal welcomed their baby boy Neale in 2017. While pregnancy was a wonderful, lifechanging experience for Shheethal, she explains why it’s hard as hell and also incredibly special — and we love her honest perspective. Hear her story in her own words.
Pregnancy came as a complete surprise to both me and my husband Robin. Yes, we always wanted to have kids but first, we wanted to understand each other better and feel absolutely settled in our marriage. So we started planning in January 2017 and we were pregnant almost immediately. My friends told me that it would take a minimum of six months before I actually conceive because the timing needs to be perfect. I was confident that I had a minimum of six months before I have a bun in the oven but to my surprise, I discovered that I was pregnant the first time I took the home pregnancy test. I told to myself
‘This is not possible’ so I took another test only to further confirm my pregnancy. I was excited, anxious and scared at the same time. Robin was playing a match that day and I could not wait to speak to him. I left him heaps of messages asking him to call me back at the earliest. When he finally called after the match, we both cried out of excitement. That said, I was also extremely nervous because I didn’t know what to expect.
THE NINE MONTHS
Since I am a life coach and take most of my sessions online, I had decided to work only the first few months of my pregnancy since I couldn’t necessarily control how moody or sleepy I would feel at the oddest of times. I realised that this was the time I required to be aware of my needs as it was most definitely having an impact on the life growing inside me. It was a constant effort for Robin and me to be in a happy, relaxed environment because we knew everything was connected to the baby. So I took things easy and listened to my body, and did whatever was possible and nothing more or nothing less. Hanging out with my friends helped
uplift my mood whenever I felt a little dull during pregnancy. I have never gone through so many emotions in my life and it was all so overwhelming. It may not have been the easiest of phases but those nine months were easily the most beautiful journey of my life. To be able to experience another life take shape and grow inside of you is nothing less than a miracle.
Fitness has been one of the primary things in my life. As a professional tennis player, fitness was a part of my life from the age of eight. So there have been very few patches when I have not trained in my life. During pregnancy too, I was very clear that I would continue with my training but, obviously, keeping in mind what I could or couldn’t at every stage depending on how my body felt. I was lifting a lot of weights. I was very true to how much load my body could take on any given day. My trainer Rahul Bhatkal and I had a proper plan in place and I was very confident with what I was doing. It worked for me so it was all good. I feel it’s very important to be true to your body and the only person who can judge it is you. The first few months after delivery were painful but I started gradually training 12 weeks after delivery and I have only emerged stronger each day. Exercising is something that clears my mind no matter how cluttered I feel. There are a few people who have helped me sail through my pregnancy and continue to be an integral part. My brothers Arjun and Chethan looked after me while Robin was away and made sure they were there for anything and everything. My nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar made sure that I was in the best of health throughout my pregnancy. And then, my main, my biggest support and strength, my husband, made sure that I had the most amazing pregnancy. He made everything better and simpler.
THE MEMORABLE DAY
We did not plan the delivery. We didn’t feel the need to control the right time for Neale to come into this world and we let it happen as it should. However, I had started packing my delivery bag three months before the due date to ensure that I had everything in place for my baby. My blood pressure suddenly shot up 12 days before my due date and we were informed by the doctor that if it did not come down in a day, he would have to induce labour. My blood pressure did not come down and I had to get admitted the very same day. They induced me twice but nothing really happened and I had to opt for a C-section as a vaginal birth would mean danger for both me and my baby. Neale was born and it was
the most beautiful moment of my life. While the delivery was particularly smooth, the postdelivery period was painful. The effect of anaesthesia slowly started wearing off and I was in tremendous pain. I was almost bedridden for a day and could not even hug my baby freely. The pain subsided in a week or so and things slowly got back to normal.
Robin was with me through the whole procedure. In fact, he recorded it all. When I saw the recording, I realised it wasn’t as simple as I thought. Robin gave me every update on the baby as I couldn’t see from the horizontal position that I was in. When Neale arrived, Robin and I could not hold back our tears on seeing our little miracle. Seeing another life come out of my own was by far one of the most cherished moments of my life!
BATTLING THE BLUES
Robin and I read a lot about postpartum depression, but you really do not know depression unless you are in it. Having said that, every time I was in a certain situation
Robin was extremely supportive and was always there to make me feel like I had it all in place when in reality I had no idea what was happening. I will be forever grateful for his love and support. The first three months I had no idea what was going on and constantly doubted if I was doing everything right. I tried telling myself that it was normal to feel that way and that I was doing my best. I realised it was very important to be positive and appreciative towards myself to avoid feeling low, especially when my mind was barely functioning (thanks to lack of sleep). No sleep was just another challenge I had to face. It still is, but it’s a lot easier now that I’m not feeding anymore. By the time Neale was two months old, I started sleeping whenever he was sleeping and I felt a lot more rested and also felt more in control of myself. I know most mothers feel a connection with breastfeeding but I have not attached an emotion to it. A lot of people told me what to expect and what not to expect but to me, it was the best food for my child and I would do anything that’s best for him.
STRUM AND DRANG
Bringing up a baby is no less than a roller coaster ride. It’s tiring, it’s frustrating and it’s depressing but at the same time, it is extraordinary and incredible. I know I’m saying things that are contradictory but that’s my truth and, I believe, it’s the same for a lot of other mothers too! There are
no holidays or weekends for parents. There is no time when you can switch off and change who you are. I am sure most mothers can connect to what I am saying. Life changed in ways that I won’t be able to ever explain. The feeling of ‘your own’ is out of the world but the feeling of losing yourself, because ‘self’ ends up at the bottom of your priority list is daunting. It’s a concious choice and that’s the beauty of it.
I started working when Neale was six months old. I felt more confident with my baby and I knew I could dedicate fixed hours to work. I started with working one hour a day and if I thought I had more time I tried catching up on sleep first and then dedicated the balance to work. It is important to take care of yourself to be able to do the best for your child. I am grateful that I have the privilege to choose how many hours I want to work in a day. Being a life coach has been a blessing. My perspective of life and everything connected seems easier to embrace. One of the key things during pregnancy and after I gave birth was the direct impact of my work on me. I was able to perceive things from multiple perspectives which made the journey simpler. Today, I feel peaceful in my life mainly because of my work. It has been a constant work on myself towards growth and for me, growth is the only way of life!
THE PRECIOUS ONE
Neale is a ball of love, a bundle of joy! He’s the light of our lives. He can amaze everyone with his cute smile. The first time I was alone with Neale I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I kept smiling knowing that he’s a part of me and that he will always be a part of me. My most precious one. When it comes to his palate, he likes anything that’s on our plate and not his. He likes anything that is flavourful. Neale’s first holiday was in London to watch Wimbledon and we had a ball of a time together. As parents, the only thing that we wish for Neale is for him to become the best version of himself in every aspect of his life. No matter what he pursues or chooses to be, we want to give him the wings and support him through his journey.