It’s time to meet Host #3 for July 2018. See interviews of Hosts 1 & 2 here.
If you are new, Life of Real Moms is a fortnight long, prompt based Photo Challenge that happens every month on Instagram with the objective of building a community, and you can read all about how it started and how you can play along, by clicking here. As a part of this challenge, every month two or more Insta-Moms will bring to you a lovely theme-based photo contest with exciting prizes and fun games
Let’s say hello to….
Namrata, mommy of twin boys, is an architect turned social medial analyst turned full time writer – a Jill of all trades. She’s making an honest attempt to enjoy the joyride that is twin parenting & raising feminist boys while making every effort not to pull her hair out of exasperation.
Let’s get to know Namrata a little better.
You were born and raised in Dubai, and after you got married, you moved to Hyderabad, India. What was the transition like? What challenges did you face?
Namrata says, “It was a conscious decision on my part to move back to India, and Hyderabad in particular after I got married, since that was the only way I could get my dad to finally retire after a working career of more than 50 years. It was not too big a challenge, since I was never addicted to the Dubai lifestyle of partying, clubbing, shopping, etc. Of course, I did miss the relative ease of life over there, the excellent infrastructure and my friends whom I had grown up with, but there’s always that feeling of coming back home when you move back to India, and the sense of freedom you get from staying in your “own” country is tremendous. The transition was easier because I moved to a metro like Hyderabad with a cosmopolitan crowd and I am happy to have family around me. I think it would have been tougher if I was in any other city where I didn’t have my parents around.”
You did everything for your twin boys before it was ‘cool’. Pumping breastmilk, exclusively cloth diapering, baby wearing. What drove you? Were these decisions met with support from people around you?
Namrata says, “Hahahah, you mean I am a trendsetter of sorts?
Ok. So let’s break it down. I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed my children, but I was never quite sure if I would be able to do it because of SO MANY PEOPLE telling me that the milk I would make would not be enough for two. And I must admit, I was quite naive and never did any research beforehand, which I regretted later. We often forget that by Nature we are designed to feed our children (barring medical conditions, etc.), so if Nature gave me two children she would also equip me to feed them both. I did not recognize a lot of the early things about my body that would have made my breastfeeding journey even simpler – simple stuff like the tingling feeling I got in my breasts that signalled the let down of breastmilk, the fact that when I was feeding one baby from one breast the other one would automatically start leaking, etc. (Sorry for the TMI!) I just thought at that time that there was something wrong with my body and I used to frequently take showers and keep changing clothes. After about a month or so, I did some research, and boy, what an eye opener it was!
Also, one of my babies was an IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction) baby, born very tiny at 1.25kgs. We were strictly instructed not to let him cry, so pumping became a necessity of sorts coz he used to get too tired to even suck milk from me. Worked out to be the best, ‘coz while my stronger boy was feeding off me, I would pump from the other breast, and then vice-versa. I took control of my body, learnt to recognize the signs of milk letdowns, and timed my feeding and pumping sessions accordingly.
Three things really helped me in my breastfeeding journey:
1. A schedule. I cannot stress the importance of this enough, especially with twins.
2. My breastpump, my life saviour. I first used a manual, once I got used to pumping, switched to an automatic, and then to prolong my breastfeeding journey to make it to at least one year, I used a hospital grade automatic pump that I rented. In the long run, it worked out to be much cheaper than all the expensive formula I would have had to invest in if I wasn’t breastfeeding my kids.
3. Incredible support from the people around me, in particular my paediatrician who used to literally scold me every time I even tried to mention top feeds, my husband who stayed up with me on all those nights when we had to feed two babies, my mom who never once wavered in her support of whatever decision I took, and my co-sister Naina, a doctor herself who told me every minute of each day that I could do it.
As for exclusively cloth diapering, well sorry to put it this way, but this was my analogy. I hated the four days of my periods, I hated being in pads all day (although I have now switched to a menstrual cup), I hated the uncomfortable feeling. So I asked myself why would I wish the same for my kids, to be put in disposable diapers all day, and the decision was clear. So cloth diapers it was! And I must tell you, all the cloth diapers used by my kids were actually stitched by my dad.
Babywearing was the only thing that would help me soothe two crying babies at the same time coz my lap wasn’t big enough for two, so that was an obvious choice. And I loved it. Loved having my babies so close to me, and my doctor always told me that he was positive it helped in their growth, so I’m glad I did it!”
You are an Architect by profession and have a varied work experience. Tell us more about how you went from that to what you do now. Which job did you love the most and which one do you miss the least?
Namrata says, “Ah yes, I am an architect at heart (although I forget it sometimes!) I chose the field ‘coz my dad wanted me to be architect, and I worked in Dubai for 4 years as an architect, advancing through the ranks ‘coz I really did work like a donkey. When I moved to India after marriage, I took some time off from work because I wanted to get used to life in India and by that time the construction slump had hit. I went back to teaching architecture in the same college where I used to study, and that was a joyous experience which I believe kept me younger for longer.
Then I started doing my Masters, and in the last semester, I got pregnant with twins. The doctor advised me to pick 2 out of 3 – my job as a lecturer, my masters education, and my pregnancy. So obviously, I quit my job. After I had my kids, I wanted to explore my dormant interest in writing, so started doing freelance writing with Momspresso (then mycity4kids) after I answered a random Facebook ad. That was the start of a whole new career for me, and I discovered how much I loved writing and interacting with people through my words.
In January 2016, I started looking for a full time job, but I wasn’t too keen on going back to Architecture, wanted to explore my interest in social media. Almost immediately I got a job with Google as a part of their social media team and I took it up, because I’ve always wanted to experience the corporate life.
Biggest blip of my career! The crazy work timings, the night shifts, the backstabbing, the absolute disregard for age and experience – I gave up after 18 months, and I believe it was the best decision of my life. During this period, I was also promoted to City- Editor Hyderabad at Momspresso so I was actually juggling two jobs before I decided to give one up.
I love writing the most – and I love the myriad of possibilities it has opened up for me – I’ve won writing challenges, been invited to some awesome events, made friends with some great people, been on the radio as a guest, and even invited as Chief Guest at a couple of functions. I give it my all, and love meeting people, love the challenges life throws at me everyday!”
As a mom of twins, what would you say are the TOP 3 things that made having multiple babies at the same time easier? And what were the top 3 things that made parenting twins more difficult than parenting one child at a time?
Namrata says, “Tough one! There’s so much to write on this. 🙂
3 things that made it easier:
- Knowing that I would have to only go through the body changes and sleepless nights once in life.
- My parents being around – biggest support system ever!
- Google – what your mom doesn’t teach you, Google does. Every query answered at any time of the day and night, and incredible support groups online.
3 things that made it more difficult:
- The constant questions about whether my twins were natural or not.
- The sleep deprivation – ohmigod it was crazy. I didn’t sleep for a year.
- Honestly, the expenses – coz think about it – you have to pay for two of everything at the SAME TIME – school fees, activity fees, etc.”
Your marriage was the typical ‘Chat mangni, pat byah.’ How did that happen?
Namrata says, “More of “One meeting, one phone call and YES!” types. Well, I’m a firm believer in the power of arranged marriages. And I knew my parents would choose the best for me. On a trip to India during Diwali my maasi put forward this proposal to my parents. My dad and brother met Deepak and were floored. In fact my dad came back from the meeting and told me that you have to meet him and say yes, which of course was a joke because he wanted me to take my own decision. I met Deepak the same evening, and at the end forgot about it all because I figured we were so different from each other that he would say NO without me having to bother. Cut to 30 minutes later we got a call from his uncle saying it was a yes from their side. I was surprised, but then still nonchalant enough to sleep without giving an answer. The next day morning my parents told me to decide what I wanted to do, and I told myself that inspite of us being so different if Deepak was willing to take a chance on us, well then it was surely a match made in heaven and I said YES!
Although I must tell you, being the Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan fan girl that I am, I had tickets booked for the movie Om Shanti Om that was releasing that day, and I was more concerned about whether my parents would now let me go and watch the movie or not, since the formalities had to be completed!
We got married 9 months later in August 2008, this year we complete a decade of togetherness and I can only say that it was the best on-the-spot decision that Deepak ever took!”
You write so well, but you don’t have a blog of your own. What’s holding you back?
Namrata says, “Where’s that rock I should go and hide under?
It is sheer laziness, and nothing else! Actually no, it’s not. My journey in writing started with Momspresso, and as a platform they have given me the freedom to write whatever I want to, no holds barred. Whether it’s exploring my feminist thoughts, book and movie reviews, day–to–day experiences, stories, etc. – I have written everything on the blog at Momspresso and have reached out to more people than I could possibly hope to as an independent blogger, which is why I have always been hesitant to venture out on my own, so to speak.
In the last year or so, however, I too have gotten all too frequent calls from well wishers to have my own space, my own blog – so here’s the deal – it will come soon, hopefully by the end of the year!”
What is the one biggest lesson motherhood has taught you?
Namrata says, “Patience, and how to have lots of it. By Nature, I am a typical Leo, very impatient. Motherhood has brought in a calmness and level of patience that I never knew I had in me!”
How do you manage to keep it real when you look at other’s seemingly perfect lives on Instagram?
Namrata says, “Simply because I know it’s not true. Perfection is a myth and anyways, I love my imperfectly perfect life (Ok, I totally copied that line from a Sophie Kinsella novel, but hey, it’s so true!)”
If motherhood could be perfect, what would your perfect mommy-life look like?
Namrata says, “I like to believe that I am already living it, to be honest. Perfection in motherhood is the biggest myth there is, because there is no one sure-shot way to be perfect or to attain a level close to perfection. My mommy-life is perfect as it is because I know there is nothing more than I can do to be a good mom without losing sense my own self.”
If you could be have an entire day to yourself – just to yourself – how would you spend the day?
Namrata says, “I’d read, read, and read some more. Maybe watch a show uninterrupted on TV and take an afternoon nap. Dance, eat French fries without sharing any, and then look at pictures of my family and crib about how much I miss them. Sigh.”
What’s the hardest part about being a mom; the biggest challenge according to you? How do you deal with it?
Namrata says, “That constant judgement from others that sometimes makes you second guess all the decisions you take as a mother – from what you are feeding them to the classes they take to the clothes they wear. Also how to protect my children from stereotyping of gender, class and race that is so prevalent in society and is everywhere around us.”
And the easiest part?
Namrata says, “That I am secure in the knowledge that I am doing my best for my kids, as the primary caregiver in their lives I have whole and sole power of decision making!”
What do you love the most about Instagram? How has it changed your life?
Namrata says, “It keeps you grounded. I’ve been a late entrant in to Instagram, although I’ve had an account since forever. I’ve only been active on it for maybe 8 months or so, and slowly and steadily I’m growing my presence on it. It also makes you realise what exactly you want to do, what direction you want your social media presence to take and how you are willing to show about your life to the world. I wouldn’t say it has changed my life in any significant way, but I’ve definitely connected to a lot more people, like minded and otherwise and become smarter in figuring out what’s true and what’s not.”
Is there anything you miss from your life before you became a mom?
Namrata says, “I miss the impulsiveness, because now everything has to be planned well in advance with kids involved. No more unscheduled trips, late night movies, spur of the moment plans with friends, etc. In a way, I like it, because it has made me more organised, but I miss it from time to time!”
Thank you for taking the time out to do this, Namrata. It’s so good to get to know you a little better! We are so happy to have you as a part of the LORM family.
Details of LORM July 2018 will be up soon on LORM’s Instagram! Stay tuned.
for Life of Real Moms