Category Archives: womensweb

Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy

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I’m just in time for the Womensweb contest. I usually refrain from doling out all that pregnancy wisdom to unsuspecting mothers-to-be, but then, if someone invites me to air my 2 paisa and also throw a prize in the bargain I’m bound to be tempted. So, here I go:

1. Find a doc you trust and who makes you feel comfortable. The most recommended and celebrated doc in town may not necessarily be the best for you. Your doc is a very important person in this journey.

2. Be happy – do things that make you happy. If going on a roller coaster ride is on the list, well, umm, you might want to reconsider that. I was craving to watch a horror movie but I was strictly denied the wish 😦  . I enjoyed working and worked till the last day. If that’s not working for you, just take it easy. Be around people who make you feel good and positive. My friend had this colleague who used to tell her about pregnancy mishaps in all gory detail, one every week!

3. Eat well, eat healthy and don’t count the calories. Well, not just yet.

4. Exercise. Unless you have been advised rest. Even something as simple as walking is good enough. If you can’t go for the classes, do simple chores like sweeping, swabbing etc that exercises your hips. And do only as much as you can.

5. Involve your husband in the journey. Wake him up in the middle of the night to feel the baby’s kick. Make him understand how you feel. Make him rub your back, adjust your pillows, get you midnight snacks…just indulge you. You are worth it and so is your baby.

6. Talk to your baby. Really! I used to tell Pattu a lot of things. I even confessed that I’m a bit mad but mostly look quite sensible and all that.

7. Go easy on the gyan – internet or otherwise. Not all sources have authentic information. Just subscribe to one or two reliable sources.

8. Don’t be afraid/ embarrassed to ask. If you have any concern, ask your doc. It might be the silliest of concerns, but it is better to err on the side of caution.

9. Prepare for the baby. Some traditions believe in not buying things before the baby is born. You can visit shops and tell your husband a list of things to buy. Have as much organised as possible since you won’t have the time or the energy to do those later.

10. Find a pediatrician you can trust. I’ve found that the extremely famous ones in town have a long waiting time and not enough facilities for mothers with infants.

 

 

My Fragile 30-Plus Body – Tag

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Apu has tagged me to write about my fragile 30-plus body. I moved to this category long back and have been at the receiving end of a string of threats and advice.

The first thing that I heard as soon as I hit 30 was, “Time is running out, have a child quick”. To hear that time is running out at the ripe young age of 30 is scary to say the least. I was told that it is difficult to conceive after 30 and all the more difficult to produce a healthy child and to have a normal delivery. Well, I delivered Pattu when I was 32 and I had a normal delivery.
I’m sure all these were well meant, but again, I think we are focusing on the wrong parameter – it is fitness that counts and not really ‘age’.
The next thing I heard was, “Eat less – after 30, it is easy to gain (weight) but difficult to lose”. Given my ‘un-feminine’ appetite I still find this difficult to follow. Again, I think it is more about ‘eating carefully’ than about eating less/ more and also working out regularly. I know a few women in their late 40-s who are not necessarily slim but have the stamina to last a tough day and still wake up cheerfully the next day. Most of us would probably want a week off after that kind of physical exertion.
However, most of the ads I see harp on losing ‘inches’ but not gaining ‘fitness’.

Like Apu mentioned, there’s the skin and hair trouble that one can never be rid of. You take care of your tan and you have black spots, pigmentation, dryness, dull skin, dandruff, damaged hair and what not.
One thing that I have noticed is that my mom’s generation had a routine. They had a simple routine but then they were more disciplined than us. For instance, they oiled their hair everyday and had oil massage and a shikakai bath once a week. Most of us do this only once in a while at a parlour, whenever we have the time.

On the other hand, I am quite happy about this 30+ awakening when it comes to the focus on routine gynaecological check ups post 30 yrs. A lot of women discover ovarian cancer and the likes quite late. With the increase in breast cancer, it is better to overemphasise than play things down. Many women are aware of osteoporosis and take precautions.
Those days, after childbirth the women were just expected to be plump,selfless and they seldom had life outside ‘family’. It was not even a career for many women, it was just a job. I’ve seldom seen my mom’s generation ‘hang-out’ with their friends for instance. Thankfully, these have undergone a change.

Feminspiration

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ETA: Asha pointed to Saalumarada Thimmakka whose selfless dedication to planting hundreds of trees and also tending to them is truly inspiring.

Here’s my entry for Feminspiration

These are couple of women I met during some of my social research trips. Their faces are etched in my memory and these are among a few women who have taught me a thing or two about life.

I met Ponni during my trip to rural Ooty. She lived alone with her son (an adolescent when I met her). She had a charming, friendly face and readily invited me for a chat. I didn’t quite understand the stares and disapproving looks that I got from people till I heard her story.
The usual story – she fell in love with a man, had a child out of wedlock and he left her for an arranged marriage. Ponni came from a poor, dysfunctional family and was turned out of the house since she has brought shame to her family. She was a whore, an outcast. She crumbled and suddenly she was alone in this world that was alien, unfriendly and dangerous. One fine day she just decided to gather herself and make an effort to make the best of the situation. She found a job on a farm that gave her food and shelter. She decided to educate her son for which she had to work harder and also offer some favours in exchange. She is happy that her son is progressing well at school. She has no secrets and she is not ashamed of her life. Her days of self pity are over. She is officially an outcast in the village, but women in their suffering come to her secretly to borrow money or to just cry on her shoulders. Her son is the center of her universe now but she seems to know that she will end up lonely. She does not expect her son to acknowledge her struggles or even understand her. A stray tear appears when she thinks that he might even turn against her and call her a whore. She is preparing to face the world as a lonely old woman. Her wisdom comes as a shock through her bubbly, youthful, girlish charm. She laughs liberally and it is infectious.
I hope, for Ponni’s sake that her son has grown up to be supportive and understanding.

Amina worked hard to make ends meet while her husband came home drunk and beat her up. She decided to educate her two girls so that they can have a liberated life. The girls started going to school and she face opposition from men and women folk alike. Her husband had more reasons to beat her up – she was training her girls to bring shame to the family. The girls were threatened and were on house arrest. Amina was not one to give up. She found help in the form of a volunteer who came home to teach the girls. The girls would give their exams when they are ready. Amina is not sure if the girls would be allowed to work, but she believes that the education will liberate them, make them independent in thought and they will be ready when an opportunity presents itself. If none of these happen, they would still understand the value of education and pass it on to the next generation – maybe her grand daughters would be the real independent women that she so wants to be. But Amina knows that she has sown the seeds and it will bear fruit some day and that day is not far.

I so want to meet these women now – it has been 10 years. I want to believe that they are still going strong and are proud of their achievements.

African Bush Tea

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.. was sipping African Bush Tea and thinking about Mma Ramotswe.

She is one of the characters that I’ve grown to like in recent years. I specifically remembered the part where Mma Makutsi one fine morning decides to brew the regular tea instead of the ususal bush tea. It is an awkward moment between the women where Mma Makutsi doesn’t want to hurt her benevolent boss and Mma Ramotswe is a bit embarrassed when she realises that she has never bothered to find out if everyone else was ok with bush tea.

Anyway, I really liked bush tea (at least if that would put me in the league of Mma Ramotswe). For those who would like to try – it is available in the Twinings brand. In Chennai you should find it in Nuts & Spices and Brown Tree chains.

While on the subject of inspiring women, have you participated in Feminspiration at Womensweb yet? Contest on till 16th March and some nice goodies too… check it out.

While I was away

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...lots of Happy Birthdays happened…

  • This blog turned one – since my first post i.e. Happy Birthday Blog!
  • Puttu turned 4 – a few friends out here saw the ticker and wished too – That was really nice guys…thank you sooo much! We had a simple and small get together at home.
  • Krishna and Ganesha were born

…I went gallivanting…

  • I set out on an Art and Craft trail and discovered some wonderful shops selling artsy craftsy stuff, tucked away in some nondescript corners – I promise to cover these in a few parts.

…some experiments

  • I tried my hand at some art and craft stuff – made some candles and tried glass painting besides the pottery workshop

AND…I won ..


Flex-it: My Entry

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Here’s my entry for the womensweb contest.

Flexibility at work is still viewed as a favour by many employers though there is a growing awareness of its importance. Only recently have many employers realised talent/ resource drain owing to lack of flexibility. It is an obvious reason why women drop out of an otherwise successful career. Some of the large organisations have taken steps towards creating a more flexible and a more friendly workplace for employees. Flexibility means many things:

1. Having a flexible 8 hour schedule – as in you can clock in 8 hours at your convenience. Say, I want to be at home between 1 PM to 4 PM, I should have the flexibility to break my day into two parts – 8 AM to 1 PM and 4 PM to 7 PM.

2. Having a flexible 8 hour schedule + Having flexibility in work location: For the same situation as above, I should be able to clock in one part of my day from home. Another situation could be reporting to office once or twice a week while working from home the rest of the week.

3. Having a flexible 40 hour per week schedule: Say, I work 10 to 12 hours a day for 4 days and take the rest of the week off.
4. Having the flexibility to opt for a role that does not involve travel/ shifts/ client interaction/ etc. The problem with something like this is that some of these roles might not exist naturally in the organisation and in many cases the policies don’t allow it and it would depend on the supervisor to find alternatives.

5. Having options such as: getting paid for the quantum of work/ the number of hours clocked in.

One of the main constraints that I’ve noticed is that of measuring productivity. Most of the apprehension about ‘flexibility’ revolves around measuring productivity. ‘When the employee is not right in front of me, how can I be sure that I’m getting the best out of him/ her’? The only way to resolve this would be to define tasks and have a clear measure of quality and productivity.

Flex-it

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It is contest time again! After the roaring success of  its ‘Mommy Guilt’ contest, Womensweb is back with yet another interesting theme for the next contest – “Flex the workplace”. The employers are not asking us for ideas anyway, so let’s spill it all here. There’s an incentive as well and a very relevant one I must say.
You have time till 25th August ladies…

*Hopping off to write my entry*

Entry for ‘Mommy Guilt’ Contest

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At last, just at the nick of time… here’s my entry for the Mommy Guilt contest. Those who haven’t already submitted your entry, read this on Apu’s blog and this on Womensweb. There’s time till Monday ladies – do rush your entries… am sure you all have lots to say on this topic…and there are some exciting prizes!!!
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I have been unwell for a while now and I thought of chatting up with a doctor who also happens to be a relative. Among other things that we discussed, she made an interesting observation about stress. Stress is not just the work load or work pressure but the pressure that you experience as a result of boredom – because you are probably not doing things that you really enjoy doing and in the context of motherhood, she called it the, “Indian Mommy Syndrome”. We feel guilty about ‘enjoying’ when it does not include our children. Try leaving your child behind to meet up with friends, for some indulgence at the parlour, a movie, a concert, a holiday and the likes. The monster called ‘Guilt’ will be unleashed on you.
Now, where does this monster dwell? Mostly within us, sometimes around us. Let me explain – why do we feel guilty? 1. How does it make me feel? 2. What will others think of me?

1. How does it make me feel?:
You decided to keep out of the kitchen one day and fed your child milk, cheese, noodles, bread and the likes. Now, no one knows this but it still leaves you guilty. Why? Because you think you could have done much better for your child.
2. What will others think of me?: You left your child with hubby and in laws to watch a movie with friends. How many calls have you made to check on your child? How many times have you worried about what your in laws would think about you? Did one of your mommy friends tell you how she has never even thought of doing anything like this till her child was big enough? Yeah, woman, too bad. You should have dialed me for some counsel! Bah! Are you thinking that I don’t care for some medals and honors? Oh, no, I do, I’m a sucker for those. But I decide, ‘at what cost‘ these days.

I realise that it is extremely important for us to be happy and feel worthy of ourselves to be able to nurture a healthy self esteem, to exude that positive energy around us. Without this, what we would eventually do is spend a lot of time, empty time, with our children and only end up feeling miserable about all those things that we could have otherwise achieved. There are mothers who enjoy giving up their career for the child and there are mothers who enjoy finding the balance – this is not a situation with ‘only one right answer’.
If we assume that children don’t understand, we are grossly underestimating them. They would rather have a happy mom for a few hours than a grouchy, miserable mom the whole day. So, momma, do things that’ll keep you happy – its important for your baby 😉 ….we all come around to it, don’t we 😀

I also see that women who have interests besides their children, who have their own friends, either a career or a hobby are a lot more emotionally independent as empty-nesters. They don’t feel the void suddenly. There are other things that they enjoy, that keep them occupied and positively engaged. This is good not only for themselves but also for the children who are less burdened to see their parents happy.