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.


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.


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!


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.


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!


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.

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