The Untold Horrors of Breast-feeding

I wrote this following post on my old blog more than 6 years back narrating my experience with breast-feeding and what I went through.

Recently, a dear friend of mine T, delivered a baby, and guess who remembered this post? Not me, I had long forgotten. It was her husband who suggested to go through this one! Kudos to R for remembering this post, and directing her to read this. We definitely need more and more men like you R, who understand the unspoken and put the needs of their partner before anything else! She texted me immediately to say how it helped her.

Over the years, I have had a few friends/ acquaintances tell me in private how my post helped them find courage. Apparently whatever I have written reflects their emotions, fears, and pressures that are dumped on them. And I so get it! Because I have only been honest in opening up on all that time.

To all such readers who loved it, and have thanked me for sharing this, let me also say that I’m thankful to you too. I wrote this because no one would listen to me. I wrote it to give my feelings a vent out. To hear from you all that you are going/ have gone through it too makes me feel not so alone. I really wish things were different and a little more lenient when it comes to breast-feeding. I wish women would pull each other up than telling each other what is wrong with them.

If you are in this stage where you are struggling with breast feeding, obsessing over not enough milk supply, feeling like an under performer when it comes to caring for the baby, know that you are not alone! And you will emerge a better person at the end of it all.

Life with an infant, especially the first month is hard. I hope you will remember this post when you feel down, because I was once wearing your shoes.

Disclaimers ::

1. Perverts – BUZZ OFF! 

2. Breast feeding is a sensitive topic. Some might even consider discussions on the subject, shameless. For what it is worth, I have decided to put away the shame and hence the stigma revolving around this topic. 

3. Again, the following is what I experienced. You may have a totally different tale to tell. If you are already a mother AND did not have to face whatever I had to, please do not try to sell me how wrong I am. I know what I went through. If you are a mother to be, I suggest you read and do not obsess over it. This might be an eye-opener and for your mental preparedness. 

4. If you are no where near mothering, read for entertainment! Hope it’ll help you in your future. What else can I say?

5. If it is some husband reading this, please continue doing so. It’ll help you get a better understanding of why your wife might be ready to throw things at you every time you speak. (Or, if she is not preggy yet, you’ll know where to come when she gets there)

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I was sent home with strict instructions to strictly breast feed my baby. Formula was to be used only in case the baby wasn’t satisfied with the b-milk.

My knowledge about breast feeding was limited to what and how it is shown in the television ads. Let me tell you, that those ads are grossly misleading. They were for me. The pain that I experienced in the hospital during the initial trials of b feeding was supposed to wear off. The milk was supposed to come in and I was supposed to be able to enjoy the whole thing. That was the ideal picture.

Like I said, I was to b feed every time Aa was hungry and not give the formula. This meant that I had to offer b feed much more frequently than I did at the hospital. The feeds were 1.5-2 hrs apart, each session on each side lasting for 15 minutes. All that latching, de-latching, re-latching and unlatching led to some cuts on me. They did not bother in the beginning.

It was at the end of the day that I became sore, red and bruised. The suckling on a raw bruise led me to cry. I would cry throughout the feed. Not only did the bruises keep getting worse during every feed, but also my ability to bear the pain. Imagine a scraping an arm and someone gnawing at the cut at regular interval. Well, this pain was much worse. Post partum women’s breasts and nipples are a very very sensitive area. 

Anyone who heard of my problem were kind enough to tell me that suffering was a part of the package. This is perhaps the last thing you want to hear from a bunch of ladies who seem to have taken on pregnancy and childbirth by its horns. What would shock me was their standoff-ish attitude and inability to empathize. 

Guests had started coming in to stay for Aa’s naming ceremony on the thirteenth day. Instead of getting any easier, it was getting more and more difficult for me. The pain would be so unbearable that I couldn’t let her finish off the feed, which invited some earful from my mother and my aunt. I wondered how my tears, my clenched fist and teeth failed to communicate to them how much painful it was for me. And, I wondered how my swollen eyes would look to the guests, wondered what would they think might be the reason behind them.

At such times, even a casually spoken comment hurts a lot. Like the time my mother said, if you cry for this pain, I can’t imagine if you have had to go for natural birth. All I could think of was, natural birth happens once, but here I am bearing excruciating pain every day at every two hour interval and for god knows how long! It makes you feel like you are the worst mother ever, who cannot bear a simple pain. I started blaming myself for being selfish and thinking about my pain instead of feeding my baby with all that nutrition and immunity booster filled breast milk. I couldn’t free myself from these on shuffle, on-loop thoughts.

All this was not without drama from my little one. She would howl every time she latched on. She would howl every time I detached her from myself because obviously she was not satisfied. I even tried to express milk manually (tried the pump later) so that at least my scars would heal and my baby would still get what she needs. That did not seem to be working either. 

Things got so bad that one day while feeding, my scars on one side bled and my nipple on the other side tore. Not a cut or scrape but a tear! The doctor did prescribe application of ghee and an ointment for the dryness, soreness to go away. None provided relief. 

The only person who saw the pain and spoke it out, was my husband. One day he sat next to me, held my hand and cried saying, “I cannot see you going through this.” Even though my aunts and my mother might have understood, they used the reverse psychology. My mother believes in firm words instead of soothing touch. I do too. It gives courage. But not this time. This time I did not need courage. I wanted to be let to be weak and break down.

Crying was now my daily routine. I was in tears for both the reasons – for suffering the pain and for not being able to provide for my daughter. The mental torment didn’t cease. In addition to that my doc was hell bent on getting the b feeding done. 

Well, a major player in the confinement period is the woman who comes for massage et al. She is one knowledgeable doctor who has gathered all that not from books but by experience. Her expert diagnosis told me that my milk wasn’t getting expressed in a way that it should and that is why the baby cries so much when I offer her the feed. Of course, being newbie myself, (and do not forget the mind tends to fog at such times) I believed her. And it made sense, since my baby was not getting it as easily, she was trying hard at suckling, which meant more scraping on my nipple. 

My mother got another reason to obsess. She started to worry continually on why this was happening. We tried every trick to boost the milk supply. Most suggestions were related to me eating right. Some said I needed to eat rice porridge, some said mutton curry would do the trick. My cousin insisted methi kheer (sweet pudding made of Fenugreek seeds) would help. Still someone else suggested I eat jowar bhakri (flat bread made of Sorghum grain). And of course, the doctor increased the dose of Satavrex (natural galactogogue) added milk from two glasses to three a day. Again none of which worked in a way it was supposed to be. The only thing increasing was my weight and going down was my self esteem.
Seeing no results, my mom started getting tenser by the day. By now, I was totally done with breast feeding. I struggled to find that special bond. It was not something I looked forward to. I hated b feeding with gusto! There I said it!

The last straw was when the masseuse commented that I did not try hard enough – I break down soon and bearing pain is not my cup of tea. According to her, I gave up too soon too easily. I was not offended by what she said because it was true. Every person has different tolerance level and perhaps mine is really low. I know I gave it my best shot. I know how much I have wished to be like one of those ladies on the television ad – feeding their baby with a contented look on their face. But no one tried to understand that I wasn’t doing it on purpose. No one seemed to care that I wanted to try and failing each time was a resounding slap on my face. The guilt, the shame, the failure coupled with sleep deprivation was stressing me out. And that is perhaps why I wasn’t able to give my 100%.

I hated it to an extent that I prayed my milk run dry. I was sick of the physical pain. I was no longer in a position to accept anything said against me. All my efforts to be the ideal mom seemed to take so much of my energy that I stopped enjoying the experience altogether. I thought if only I did not have to breast feed! And I couldn’t, for the life of me understand why my mother was getting all paranoid about “not enough b milk”. The baby was getting some nutrition. Why should I feel guilty? I am not doing anything purposely. Nor was I starving her. If there was an option to b milk, why not adopt it because this fiasco was going nowhere, except put me through pain and keep the baby hungry!
The trials for successful breast feeding were still on. On doctor’s suggestion we bought silicon nipples to be attached over. They too proved futile. Also with the breast pump I couldn’t gather enough milk, although my breast felt pretty heavy and full. This inability to completely empty my breasts gave me a sore spot on one side. It was hard to touch and I feared if it was a formation of a lump. It was backed by fever too. My mom had to experience this and she said it could be a possibility of a lump.

I saw the doctor for confirmation. She said it was not a lump but a breast abscess symptom which has happened due to blocked milk ducts. I was given oral medication to treat it. With that not only did the hardness disappear but also the milk supply to that side. With some pain taken off,  I was relieved but I knew better than to let my thoughts be heard. 

From that day onward, the b feeding pain went down many notches. Because of the lesser milk supply, I was not obligated to feed for long or so frequently. This gave my cuts time to heal and I had longer breaks in between pains. 

By the time Aa turned 3.5 months, the b feeding had completely stopped. Although everyone else seemed to grieve about it, I was feeling happy. My torture had ended. If today I were to choose between a year more of sleepless nights or a month long breast feeding, I am ready to sacrifice my sleep.

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Speaking of – Menstrual Cups and Why You Should Invest in One Too

Proud to state that I’m a menstrual cup user for three years now.

Tiny mental shifts led me to live a sustainable, greener life than what I was used to. As always, using big words like these show me off in a positive light. That I’m not. At least not completely there yet. But I’m trying and making a teensy weensy bit of contribution.

The mental shift happened when Viv was born. I was simply aghast and grossed out by the amount of non bio-degradable waste I’d be adding into the garbage system. As I was introduced to cloth diapers, so was I to sustainable menstruation methods.

I stumbled upon this Facebook group, and boy, was it an eye opener! I drifted towards articles related to menstrual cups more than the other greener methods.

What is a menstrual cup?

Menstrual cup is simply a bell shaped cup that is inserted into the vagina to collect the menstrual fluid. Typically made out of medical grade silicone, these cups are reusable with very little effort of upkeep.

Since cupverting, not once have I used a disposable sanitary pad. Every month I get to pat myself on the back while being comfortable in using a menstrual cup. In three years, my list of pros and cons for the cup are

Pros

Easy to Use :: Now, personally, it didn’t take me a long time to get it right. Maybe I lucked out and did it correctly very first time.

Many women take a 3-4 tries before they can be comfortable with the use. But that doesn’t mean it is difficult; it’s just different. Once you get the hang of it, it doesn’t take even a minute to insert/ remove it.

Comfortable :: My pet peeve was the discomfort when using disposable pads. With cups, it’s wear and forget. I have to remind myself that I’m on my period with no discomfort to attend to during the entire day.

No odor :: Menstrual blood on its own does not have any repelling odor. The stench is generated when the blood comes in contact with the chemically treated cotton/ rayon/ other materials in the pad. And also the fact that it gets stored there for 7-8 + hours.

Pocket friendly :: Menstrual Cups are re-usable, making them a pocket friendly option in the long term. A single cup lasts for 4-5 years, which is a sizeable amount of time, if you ask me, for the price you pay. I checked the price on Amazon India, and they are reasonable, starting at as low as Rs. 300. In US, the prices start from $15.

Low Maintenance :: After use, it’s just clean, sterilize and store. That’s all. And you don’t even have to invest in expensive cleaners or sterilizers. Everything that you need for cleaning and maintaining are available right now in your homes.

No Wastage of Pads :: How many of us have wasted pads in anticipation of impending doom period? I wear the cup when I’m expecting my period. This way I never have to worry about not having protection when Aunty Flo makes her appearance. And even if she does not show up, as soon as I come home, I can remove, clean and store, ready to be used.

No Spills or Stains :: As the cup forms a gentle suction against the vaginal walls, you can be a 100% sure that you won’t stain or spill as long as the cup has not filled.

Hygienic and safe :: Menstrual cups are safe to use. Women have been using them for over a decade with no side effects at all. With disposable pads/ tampons, we have to deal with a variety of side effects from rashes to the dangerous scare of ovarian cancer!

Helps reduce menstrual cramps :: Many women have observed a marked difference in their menstrual cramps using cups. To be honest, I didn’t notice any change in terms of bodily discomfort. But then again, to be fair, I don’t have horrible cramps to see a major difference.

Scientifically too, I do not think there’s any proof to reducing the menstrual cramps with the cup usage. But hey, a lot of them stand testimony to this claim.

Good for the environment :: Last but certainly the most important one here.

I am just one woman. But starting with me, if I calculate the amount of pads I’d send to landfill, it sends me into a tizzy! Then imagine how many women are out there using disposable sanitary napkins!

Averaging about 5 pads per month, in one year alone my contribution to landfill used to be 60 soiled napkins.

It doesn’t feel too much when you dispose off one pad. But when you think of it in totality, it is one of the grossest things ever.

Cons

Personally, I haven’t come across any cons using a cup. But here are a few things that I’d list that may not go well with cupversion.

Messy :: Since the blood is not soaked up into anything, during removal it gets a messy. If you are one of those people who cannot stand the sight of blood, it might be a little icky.

Cleaning :: While cleaning the MC in itself is not a problem; it might be, if there’s no reliable water source nearby especially when you have to hold up for a longer time period. However, you can be prepared for situations like these, armed with tissues and water-less cleaners that are available.

Emptying it often :: I don’t bleed heavy so it doesn’t affect me much. But for someone who does, having to empty the cup before it over flows may be disruptive. Although, heavy bleeders still use the cup and use a back up CLOTH pad to catch any leaks that may occur.

Insertion/ Removal :: Like I said, it takes time for some women to learn how to insert and remove the cup. It might be frustrating not to succeed even after multiple tries. The key here is to feel comfortable around your body, be completely at ease and not stressed.

There are also a lot of videos out there to educate you on different methods of insertion/ removal.

I feel that the pros definitely outweigh the cons and also that the cons can be easily worked around with patience and preparation ahead of time.

In this post I have spoken solely on the menstrual cups since that is what I use. However, if you are not comfortable with the idea of inserting a foreign body into your system, there are also other sustainable methods to use instead. Period panties, re usable cloth pads etc. Do look up these options if you are – like I was – living in shell.

Feel free to drop me any queries/ doubts you may have regarding menstrual cups, their usage. If you are on the edge, I’ll clear whatever concerns you may have. And promise to hold your hand during your journey into cupverting for as long as you need.

I’d be glad if I helped even one woman convert to using cups (cupvert) who in turn can pay it forward by spreading more awareness in her circles.

Curly Hair Tales

If you have seen me, the first thing you’d notice is my curly hair. Born with this genetic inheritance, there wasn’t a moment in my life when I didn’t lament, complain, curse, resent or downright hate my curly hair. Early childhood was a constant fight between me and my mother when it was time to get ready to go anywhere. Taming my curly tangles was a constant battle that had to be fought every day.

Who knew curly hair, just like me, was not meant to be tamed but taken care of?

As I grew, so did my hatred and resentment toward my unruly, rough and frizzy mop top. I didn’t dare grow my hair. It was always shoulder length or shorter. During school times my curly frizz had all kinds of name – Banyan tree (because it would just frizz up and outward), Medusa (because curls were unruly and behaved like snakes? I don’t know…), Bhoot (because I never tied my hair). Sometimes my friends would even stick their pens in my hair for fun. :))

I say it again. I hated my hair. So much so that I would curse it with every brush stroke; wishing it would all go away.

Today I have better sense, but some part of my wish did come true and I am battling with thinning hair. I was diagnosed with Androgenetic Alopecia when I was in my early 20s. It is a type of hair loss caused due to hormonal issues. Although the hormones issue has resolved, the hair on my crown has not gone back to the thickness that it was before.

So now, with whatever little amount of thin hair I have, I’m starting to take care of them. About two years back, I turned to YouTube searching for videos to manage my curly hair. And that was where I was let into, for the very first time in my life, a complete new universe of Curly Girl Method (CGM). When I first heard that curly hair is not meant to be dry brushed, I just saw 30 odd years of my life flash before me. I guess that was the death of my non curly girl hair method… my first enlightenment!

Since then, I’m learning (not necessarily following) every step of CGM. Yes, I use only CGM approved products for my hair now. But I’m not sure I diligently follow through.

Recently, I joined two groups on FB dedicated for curly hair. It is eye opening to know that there are so many women out there who have the same issue as I do. It’s soothing when someone understands your woes and you don’t feel alone in feeling alone. I really hope that made sense?

Thanks to many Curly Girl Influencers, I’m learning a new language that feels logical and also yields results.


If you are a curly girl or boy, I urge you to look at Curly Girl Methods, to undo the damage you might have inflicted on your hair. There are so many sources available to educate you. It isn’t easy, I should know; but sometimes you have to power through to do the right thing.

CGM is such a wide playground. There’s a lot to soak in, miladies! If it is too overwhelming, which it is at first, I’m always here. We can both be clueless together.

I so regret not finding out about CGM in earlier years, so instead of hating on them, I could have preserved my curls and my sanity.

I do not have a before and after pictures to put them on the blog. But I’m hoping I’ll have one in coming days. Meanwhile, this is my today’s wash day picture. Details on Instagram post.

My whereabouts, and broader goals

Hey everyone!

It’s been a busy busy past few days. Although updating blog was on my mind, I couldn’t get around to doing it until today. I knew I had to update you guys on my whereabouts.

Since Aa tracked out two weeks ago, our schedule has changed. She’ll be home for a few more days now and then she tracks back in 🙂 Viv started new pre-school past Friday. So for almost two weeks, I’ve been having both kids home driving me crazy with their “Give me something to eat.”

Now, I’m on full time driving duty. We leave home together at about 7:30 AM. Drop Viv to preschool. Drop The Husband to office. Come back home. Cook. Clean. Exercise. Bathe. Go back to pick Viv. Come home. Lunch. Go to pick The Husband.

The first half of my day goes by in a blink. The Husband takes the driving duty from then on and takes Aa to her classes, while I clean up/ cook/ prepare for the next day.

I am so dreading coming Monday. It is the Daylight Saving time. Aa tracks in. As it is, I find it hard to roll out of bed early every morning. I’ll have to wake up more than an hour earlier to get everything ready before we leave the house!

I’m excited about longer and warmer days; not so much about the changing time though :\

So while I was on this forced blog sabbatical, I went into an introspective mode. Do you also have some things that dangle in the periphery of your mind but never get to do it? Like those news tickers, they keep playing on loop in the background but you never pay attention to them.

These two weeks, I have allowed the little voice inside me to speak a little louder so that I could acknowledge them. I had these haphazard thoughts flying in my mind and I needed to anchor them. If not, I get frustrated over unmet expectations; where in the first place, I haven’t made any efforts.

I made a list of goals in a broader sense where I need to put in work. I hope to, in the following days, come up with some kind of plan where I can successfully weave these things into my routine, while not upstaging my current circus. Here they are, in no specific priority order.

Curly hair maintenance

It is only recently that I have come to senses that my naturally curly hair needs to be taken special care of. I have been looking up and educating myself with videos and following fellow curly girls who have got their curly hair together. I’m still into searching and appreciating these girls and their methods. As much as I want to, I haven’t been able to give it the time that it needs, to narrow down on the specific method for my hair maintenance.

I admit, I’m a little reluctant to make it my priority. It takes a lot of time, and trial and error to find the right products that suit your hair. So far, I pay attention to wash days and second day hair care. Anything above that is work in progress. Like I want to deep condition my hair at least once a week. Currently, it is happening once a month or lesser often than that! Boo-hoo!

Cut down on grocery bills

After major bills like rent, electricity, car etc. grocery bills are making us cry tears of blood nowadays. Past few weeks, we are tracking our costs and will hopefully know where we are spending unnecessarily.

Meanwhile, I’m also into planning meals to better organize our purchases and to thereby bring down the costs. This step however, is taking forever to implement since we both like to randomize what we eat. We cannot curb sudden cravings and I know that’s where we end up buying additional stuff.

Lead a healthy lifestyle

Exercise regularly :: If you read my previous post, I may have led you to believe that I exercise regularly. It is true, but that happens in phases. I stay on track for 3, sometimes 6 months and then something major comes in the way where I have to take a break. Then somehow it is another 3-6 months before I start back again. I undo the progress I made.

I want to be able to exercise like I brush my teeth. I want to do it that regularly and effortlessly. As far as I’m concerned, exercising in itself is not a task for me. But to make that time to jump back into it after a break, feels tedious.

I’m also slowly introducing The Husband and the kids to get into a physical routine on regular basis.

Eat healthy :: We don’t particularly consume non healthy food. And that doesn’t even mean that we never eat unhealthy. It’s just that I want to be conscious of what we are feeding into our systems. It would, of course, go parallelly with the above point where we buy consciously.

Also, I figured, in our busy lives, I tend to hand our kids store bought snacks. And kids being kids don’t have an upper limit to how much they eat in one sitting. I realized I was feeding them fake food which kept them happy but never satisfied. This too is a work in progress where I have managed to successfully wean them off certain foods that they were used to.

Drink more water :: I think this goes without saying. I forget to drink water. This one’s again like my exercise routine. I make conscious efforts to drink more water during those phases of active exercise days. When working out bites dust, this one does too.

My goal is to drink at least 2 litres of water from 7 am – 7 pm.

I’ve always wanted to make specific changes to our lifestyle where we chose a better way of living without putting in much efforts. It becomes a task when only you are the one interested in doing so and rest have their own thing going.

I’m slowly treading the path,brainwashing the kids and The Husband into adopting a balanced way of leading a healthy life. Whether it works or not, only time can tell.

Blog

The decision to start writing once again was made with conviction. I plan to follow it through strictly. I did know that committing to a blog and keeping up with it would be a tall order. And I wasn’t wrong.

At this stage, every thing related to blog or blogging is overwhelming for me. How do I make the page more user friendly? How does this customizing/ editing thingy work? Why is this picture too large/ too small/ blurry etc. These technical aspects are a little too much for me to figure out in a short time that I get to actually sit down in front of a laptop.

I’m genuinely stumped on this one though. And I’ll take a long time to understand if I have to do it all by myself.

Now that it is all out in open, I hope to have some accountability. I plan to revise and review these goals in a few weeks again to see where I stand. Individually these goals are sustainable. It’s only when I try to shove everything down my throat at the same time that I hit a wall.

Stay tuned for more updates on my goals, because I’m going to pen them down here. Even my failures. Until the next post, Ciao!

My Guide to a Mess Free Home

What is the one thing that gives you spiritual contentment? Something that makes you feel connected to your soul and gives you sense of calm and peace despite having chaos around you?

For me, it is cleaning the house. Cleaning, in all its forms – routine cleaning, deep cleaning, de-cluttering, tidying organizing etc. – is divine. The satisfaction I derive from a crisp house is unparalleled.

It’s me, completely me, who feels the feels. Even though The Husband and kids appreciate a pin up home, they don’t react in a crazy manner when they see a mess, like I do. I can tolerate a certain amount of it. I go full Godzilla (Momzilla, perhaps?) and get overwhelmed when it moves past my tolerance level.

Of course, to maintain that status with kids living in the house is tricky. There are toys, clothes, papers, craft, school bags, water bottles, story books… It doesn’t take a long time for kids to start playing with one and jump onto another leaving the a trail of things to be picked up and put back into place.

Like I said, I cannot process a trashy house for a long period of time. It straight up messes with my brain. The house has to go back to a tolerable level, if I have to function normally.

Hence, I have had to devise some ways wherein the mess stays minimal, and tidying up doesn’t take much effort.

Guide to Keeping My House Mess Free

  • Deal with mails/ magazines/ books/ random papers on daily basis

I find it easier to go through our mails as I bring it in. I used to hold on to random advertisement, discount coupons, deal announcements etc in hopes of using it some time in the future which never really came. It kept adding to the pile, while I totally forgot that I had saved them. Now spam mails are scrapped as soon as they come in. Unless I find anything that will be used immediately.

Bills, credit card statements, school stuff; mails which are important go into their respective files the moment they come in. I cannot deal with the stress of not finding our visa extension papers when required!

I have stopped subscription of magazines/ books. I used to subscribe with enthusiasm only to discover later that those books are gathering dust in a growing pile.

Oh, and the amount of art work that kids bring home!!! Now I know my kids aren’t artists of Renaissance level. And they know it too. Once their art work is seen and appreciated by both of us, it is shredded and thrown in bin. Sounds horrendous right? Well, it isn’t when you really understand how it contributes to increasing trash at home.

  • Sort clothes every day

Clothes!!! Clothes, everywhere!!!

We live in the US. So the hoarding clothes dynamics is slightly different. Most apartments have a common laundry system, which means we have to do the laundry once/ twice per week. So with a family of four, each of us has had to have at least 4 sets of daily wear consisting 4 items each. If I did laundry every 4 days, I had to deal with about 64 clothing items at a time. :O

Things thankfully changed when we moved to Dallas and could afford having a laundry unit at home. Instead of waiting 4 days to wash clothes, I do it everyday. This way, I have limited the number of clothes that stay in rotation in the house, cut down on large chunk of time folding and putting it away, and I don’t have to deal with the musty odor of soiled clothes. (We are clean, hygienic people, but used laundry smells when stored!)

  • Control purchases

I have bought so many stuff deeming it necessary only to be used infrequently or never at all. I now analyze my purchasing needs. I wait it out for some time. If I still need something after the wait, I go ahead and buy it.

It is still a work in progress, that I hope I can successfully cut down.

  • De-clutter frequently

I get this overwhelming vibes from my house. That there is too much stuff, and it needs to be controlled. That’s when I de-clutter. I set a day aside; pull out unnecessary items and toss into a respective pile – Donate / Trash

  • Keeping toys/ sundry kids’ items in rotation

First, I don’t buy too many toys for my kids. Many came as gifts or return gifts. Anyway, toys nowadays are absolute waste of money. Regardless, there are blocks, dolls, puzzles, coloring books, markers, crayons etc. They are a headache to deal with when everything comes pouring out of the toy basket only to be ignored for the rest of the week.

I let the kids choose which toys they want to play, and which ones they want to store inside. I keep rotating the pile.

  • Putting things back in place

Now this habit took some grit and practice to stick. It sounds very easy but is as difficult to remember in a long run. I have to consciously take efforts, and walk the extra mile in putting things back from where I had taken them. Yes, I slip up, so many more times than I care to admit.

Even if I follow the rule, doesn’t necessarily mean that The Husband and kids do too.

  • Have The Husband and kids involved

I cannot run this show day in and day out without help. I am too lazy to be a super woman. I ask the family members to help out as it eases out the stress of having to do everything by myself. The kids clean their own room. The Husband sorts his own mail. Yes, it takes reminding, and sometimes nagging. But hey, my job gets done!

This is my everyday guide to keeping my house seemingly mess free and tidy. Is there anything you’d like to add to this list? I’m all for any cleaning/ de-cluttering/ tidying tips if you have any.

Do let me know and stay tuned! Until the next time, Ciao!

How I Started My Fitness Journey

To begin with, I was never a sporty, outdoor person. My mother recalls that even in early childhood, I never enjoyed playing in parks like my older brother did. I’d just stand next to my mom sulking into my own fantasy world. However, in school days, even though I hated the PE sessions in school, I loved playing with friends in the evening. And all that changed again, as puberty hit me. As much as I wanted to, the new bodily changes made me feel vulnerable and uncomfortable to engage in outdoor activities.


On my wedding day, weighing at 47 kgs

All throughout my childhood, teenage and beyond, up until giving birth to Aa, my body was a thin matter. Time and again, people would chide me that I was too thin; that I should get a little rounder; that I should eat larger meals. But what can one do when that’s how your body is, right? Moreover, I felt smug in being thin, stick figure. After all, you are seasoned to believe thin = healthy = fit.

Coming to life after marriage, yes I did round up a little. And why not, we had moved to the US, and I finally enjoyed some stress free time. I no longer was an object of interest as “eligible wife material”. That in addition to eat-drink-sleep, and movie going lifestyle; my hormones did some wild somersaults that year.

I didn’t change much during my first pregnancy either. I gained healthy weight that I was supposed to. And imagine being told by your OB/GYN to enjoy pregnancy and eat whatever you wanted too! I didn’t hold back on eating, from Chinese take outs to Bhel Puri/ Pani puri, I gladly provided everything that my body craved. (I was in India after first trimester) Even in the 9th month, I hardly looked pregnant if I wore a loose fitting T shirt.

Things were about to change though. And how rapidly! Post delivery, magically, all that I had eaten started to show presence. My shoulders were thicker, upper arms rounder, fatter thighs (in addition to the thick thighs that I have always had even during my thinner days) and let’s just not talk about the stomach area! I must say though, a lot of well meaning aunties consoled me that our body is meant to store fat for the first difficult days (weeks and months) of child bearing and that it will all melt away in once I start to get more active. As soothing as that was to hear, it was equally depressing when people who once called me thin were pinching my chubby cheeks and saying I’m looking good now. To me, I wasn’t. It felt like someone had injected liquid lead into my systems overnight!

It might sound like I put on gross amounts of weight, and was obese. No, I was not. Thinking back, it was just relative… starting out at 52 kgs pre-pregnancy to 62 kgs after. It was a mere gain of 10 kgs, which in my mind translated to 100. I managed to shoo away the weight demon when I was on my own with Aa and husband in the US. With no diet or exercise. Just normal routine work wore me down.

While I was going through all of the above, not once did it strike me that I needed to exercise… like really get into a structured physical activity. Again that was because I was never sold into the idea that exercise should be woven into our mainstream life. For me, thin was really in. Earlier, if I gained weight, I could make it go back to where it was, with a little healthy eating (that generally meant restricting to home cooked food/ no non veg for 10 days)

This “controlled eating” scheme stopped working now. My weight or the fat was there to stay. This is when I had an epiphany. And thankfully, it was not any garbage epiphany but a meaningful one. I wanted to be an energetic person. I wanted to be fit for the sake of my growing family needs. I wanted a toned, agile body not a thin one. When this statement lit up in my brain, I started moving in the right direction. By now the year was 2014 mid; after two whole years and half of feeling fat and heavy.

With some prep talk and motivation by a close acquaintance, I joined the gym. This was the second time I’d joined the gym in my life. The first time was when I was 15 yo because I wanted to gain some weight. Talk about irony in life!! So yeah, gym was a five days per week affair, during Aa’s school time. To my surprise, I enjoyed working out. I absolutely loved feeling the warmth that ran through my body.

It didn’t take long for me to see and feel the difference. I was lighter, my skin glowed and clothes fit much better. Even the people around me complimented how good I looked.

Oh, and before I forget, I must mention that a huge portion of my cardio happened because we lived on the 9th floor apartment and the lift never worked (a blog post for another day maybe). So I had to up-down the stairs 2 times a day, during week days. NOT KIDDING. One up-down going and coming from the gym, another one to pick Aa from school. And since she was a 2 yo toddler, I had to carry her for more than half of the floors. Go strength training!!!

I was basking in this “looking good” glory when it happened. Rather two things happened. The husband changed jobs, so we had to move. We moved to a new house and even before we settled in, I found out I was pregnant with my second child.

The focus shifted from being fit to having a healthy pregnancy. Although fitness and healthy pregnancy should’ve gone hand in hand (now that better sense prevails), situation then forced me to drop everything and pay attention to a life blossoming inside of me. Imagine telling your over protective Indian mother that you wanna hit the gym when you are pregnant. No, right? So that’s what happened. Gym days were over and OB/GYN, sonogram days started.

This pregnancy was no different except for the fact that I’d started at 58 kgs now. By the time, I delivered, I was 68 kgs, with a lot smaller belly to account for. When Viv was born he weighed 2.25 kgs and was a small but healthy baby. I guess everything I ate just kept converting into fat and making home in my body. Post second pregnancy was a recap of the first one only in the higher weight range. I was lugging around my body heavy at 71 kgs. But then, this time I was confident I would lose it all just like I had the last time.


Post second pregnancy weighing heaviest at 71 kgs

It was only when I moved again to the US, with Aa at 4 yo and Viv a couple months, did I realize that this time my fat and weight had concretized. It didn’t budge despite a more demanding routine. With sleep cycle out of whack, somewhat tantrum-y Aa, body a hot mess, I started to resent my life on many levels. Even though I knew how good I had it, I remained resentful that I couldn’t take charge and turn things around to my benefit.

The husband, bless that man! God knows how he stuck with me through that phase!! He was my voice of reason, sometimes consoled, sometimes gave me a hearing on how I should be patient.

He bought us both a gym membership, knowing how I liked working out. Here was the problem though, morning was impossible to leave home and by evening I was busted flat. I had no energy to change and go by the gym and drive back. No!

Husband stated I was beautiful to him. But what about feeling beautiful to yourself. By that I mean feeling mentally fresh, and content. I don’t think he then got how I wanted to feel versus how I was feeling. But there was nothing I could do than to wait out some period till things settled down.

Knowing that getting out of the house was not an option I wanted to stick to, I started browsing YouTube for workout videos. Most videos were a put down because of how over confident they sound and through the screen make you feel like a loser. Until I stumbled upon something that I really enjoyed. The more I looked into the collection of videos on offer, the more I was drawn to trying out new workouts.

I started to consistently work out. Again I reaped the benefits of exercise routines. And as before, we had to move. This time from Chicago to Dallas. My newly started fitness journey took a back seat once again.

I had to give a break for almost three months, regardless, I bounced right back into it. By now, I had started to educate and expose myself to various styles of exercising. This way I found what worked and what didn’t for me. January 2017, I decided to try out a 12 week workout challenge and followed it through diligently. The difference at the end of 12 weeks was evident. I had finally started to feel better from the inside out. Motivated by this change, I re did the challenge for next 12 weeks.

At this point, I had come to a realization that no matter what shape or size I am, I will exercise. The feeling that comes and stays with me the entire day after a great workout is unbeatable. And of course, all the other google-able benefits of embarking onto a fitness path.

Having said that, it’s not like I never fall off the wagon. There are times (and in case of my life, moving houses) when I have to abruptly stop my routine because for a time being I need to prioritize something else. Many a times, it takes me longer than necessary to get back. I undo the progress except I make sure I restart my journey.

I started my fitness journey with little knowledge in hand, fraught with misconceptions, false expectations, and high hopes. Today, I know better. I know to differentiate between a healthy mind and unhealthy perceptions about fitness. I know that feeling better outweighs looking better (although, the latter follows soon after). I know that it is more important to acknowledge how you are doing your fitness journey versus how you started it.

Even after all these years of hit or miss, I’m still learning. Just today I googled the difference between “healthy” and “fit” though I knew the terms in broad sense.

In days to come by, I’m planning to keep a log of my workout routine on the blog so that I can stay accountable, and also see how far I have come along.

Stay tuned! Until the next post, ciao!