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Fashion designer, fitness enthusiast, and mother of a toddler, Shweta Verma speaks of the choice she was given between ending the pregnancy and going ahead with high risk to both her and the baby, and her motherhood journey.
Mother’s Day is a day that celebrates the strength of women – those who create and nurture life. The stories that underlie this visible strength are what makes these women truly remarkable.
One such story is shared by Shweta Verma on this day. A raw and poignant reflection on her journey, even reflected through her social media, which refuses to paint everything as hearts and rainbows but tells it like is. The honest truth of a journey as a mother.
Shweta is a fashion designer and a fitness enthusiast who through her conversation with me talks of her personal struggles, her family and the one she created, what young women go through as mothers and just daily life nuances.
Me: How old were you when you got married and had your daughter?
Shweta: I got married at the age of 26 after about a decade of having known my husband. I gave birth to my daughter at the age of 29.
Me: What role does mental health and fitness have in your life?
Shweta: Mental health and fitness are both interrelated for me. I have had episodes of depression over the years owing to my parents’ divorce when I was a teen and carried all that baggage since then. Pills never worked and working out really helped. Endorphins worked as natural painkillers and kept the anxiety at bay and seeing my body change in a healthy direction was an added kick to my self-appreciation.
Similarly it has further helped me in my role as a mother. I do not have time for myself like I used to earlier, but even now I try to keep an hour for just me – my 1 hr in the gym is for myself. In that moment I am no one’s mom, wife, daughter, etc. This sacred hour means a lot to me as it keeps me sane and to go through the rest of my day.
Me: How was your journey – both mental and physical – during pregnancy?
Shweta: My pregnancy was a very high risk one. I was also diagnosed with bicornuate uterus and pre-eclampsia. At around 24 weeks Sukriti’s growth became slow and each month we had our fingers crossed. She finally arrived and was so very small that the first time I saw her, she was literally lost in the hospital blanket.
Sukriti, my baby, as a toddler, and with me as a newborn
IUGR stands for intrauterine growth restriction. It’s when the baby is not able to grow at a normal rate. Sukriti was born at 35+4 weeks with severe IUGR and low birth weight of 1.6 kg.
I was not able to see her for 2 days on account of her being in The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and my Emergency C Section.
The picture on the right is of the 4th day when I finally got to hold her.
On the 5th day we were finally allowed to get her home. I thank God every day for this cute baby girl. Today she is 2 and is a super active and happy girl.
For moms who have been diagnosed with the same – don’t lose hope. IUGR babies may look small, but don’t underestimate how strong they are!
Physically and mentally it was not an easy time for me. Visiting the hospital every week to get injections to keep my uterus strong was taxing and due to that I knew I was not ready to be a mother.
I was given a choice – give birth now or wait and see how things unfold in the future, not guaranteeing if I will be able to conceive. I chose the former as I knew I won’t be able to live with the regret that I gave up on having a kid, whom I knew I wanted. At the time, I thought I made the right choice and now I am glad I did.
Physically seeing my lean body getting fatter and fatter was a different concern all together. As nerve wrecking as it was, I knew I’ll get back to my shape soon (my body size being a concern I’ve always had in my life).
Me: What were your post pregnancy apprehensions or concerns?
Shweta: Post pregnancy my most important concern was if I was feeding her enough as she was super tiny. Also whether I will be able to go back to normal life. Eventually things end up as a new normal, a better normal.
5 months postpartum vs 9 months postpartum. 4 months apart and I look and feel like a new person each time I see this.
(Even if there is not a lot of difference)
I did not do any fad diet, I did not take any weight loss tea, I did not spend hours running (Though I love running)
I just lifted weights and ate healthy and tried to be more active.
That’s all you got to do if you are a new mom and struggling. 45 minutes for yourself – that’s all.
Me: What are your fears and learnings as a mother?
Shweta: I think like every mother my only fear is I feel I didn’t give my level best to be a good mom. I am in constant fear that I am not doing the best I can for her and at the same time, I don’t want to lose myself.
This battle I think will go on forever. To be honest, I am still learning – every single day.
Me: What do you feel about your evolution as a woman from the time you gave birth and now – 2 years later?
Shweta: I don’t think I ever knew I was strong enough to handle this role as a mother, from sleepless nights to constantly worrying for her. What changed is I think more about her well-being than anything else.
Me: Your view on motherhood – to sum up, in one line?
Shweta: It’s not easy, it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. You will never feel lonely.
Me: Advice or suggestions for new moms?
Shweta: I don’t think I can be a good mother if I don’t engage in self-love daily and practice self-care. No matter what the society dictates, neglecting my own needs so that I can be the ‘good’ mother, doesn’t work. What works for me is learning to love myself. Because a mother who looks after herself and her needs, who nourishes herself, who takes care of herself and who feeds herself with love, is a mother who is happy. And as they say ‘A happy mom = A happy, strong confident child’.
Here I am with no regrets and and on my journey to weight lift again and get stronger for my baby and myself.
There is just so much pressure to bounce back to your pre pregnancy weight after delivery. I mean everyday all I heard is “how come you didn’t get thin after delivery?” Hello! I gave birth to a human being. Cut me some slack here!
As easy it is for some women to lose their pregnancy weight within few weeks of delivery (kudos to you all by the way), I did not. I actually gained because –
a. My baby was just 1.7 kg at birth so I had all kinds of fat to fatten her up through breastfeeding. I do not have any regrets about it, in the end it helped my baby.
b. I could not remain too active because of the bicornuate uterus.
c. I gave birth to a human being!
Me: Words you live by?
Shweta: Motherhood is a choice you make every day, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach and learn the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong. (Quote by Donna Ball – Author of At Home on Ladybug Far)
My baby shower on the left and Mother’s Day 2020 on the right
Images credit: Shweta Verma
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