Time for you to meet my co-host for the We Are Real Moms (now, Life of Real Moms) November 2017 Challenge.
If you are new, We Are Real Moms is a 15-days long, prompt based Photo Challenge that I do every month on Instagram with the objective of building a community, and you can read all about why I started this and how you can play along, by clicking here.
As a part of this challenge, I partner with an Insta-Mom every month – someone I met online and yet share a bond, a real friendship with, someone who is Real about her life and its challenges no matter how pretty she or her Instagram pictures look.
She’s funny, her baby is funnier. She writes well, her baby steals the show. She clicks, her baby is the star. A mom, artist, photographer, writer, entrepreneur – multitasker, and another insta-friendship that started after we both had our babies (I have no memory of how we first landed on each other’s profiles), say hello to my co-host for WARM November…
Meet Disha from Hashtag Disha / PhotoStoriesbyD, mom to Baby Hashtag and awesome as hell! After I first landed on Disha’s Instagram profile what kept me going, apart from the great pictures and a super cute baby, was the writing. Her fluid, conversational writing style and humour reminded me of my own style and I couldn’t help but feel an instant connection with this new mom.
And as with all other online friendships, comments, DMs and then finally whatsapp conversations about baby products, baby food, diapering, babywearing, etc. led to us getting to know each other better and then I finally popped the question. 😜 “Would you like to Co-host WARM November?” I knew what her answer was going to be.
Let us get to know Disha a litle better, interview style. 😊
You’re a photographer, a writer, an entrepreneur, a mother.
How do you juggle all three roles? Does one take a backseat to accommodate the other?
Disha says, “I was shooting and running a small business well before my marriage and that never stopped. Even after finding out that I was pregnant, it almost felt like nothing had changed at all. I was also blogging on and off for over 6 years, so now after the baby, continuing all this seemed only natural. Writing about my mommying experiences only seem like a natural projection. But I wouldn’t call myself a successful multitasker yet. I have my bad days where I just shut down and spend the whole day in bed with the baby either playing or reading. That is why the frequency and the zeal to write is over abundant one day and the very next day it takes a plunge. I still remember a friend wondering about how I was still writing with a month old baby. It was a piece of cake actually. One month old babies don’t do much really. It’s the slightly older babies who demand our undivided attention. So it was easy to juggle early on when I was a new mother. Now, it’s become a happy habit. I also have complete househelp (whom I supervise!) That also helps me focus on other things, not worrying about what is to be cooked for lunch. Also I have the most chill mother-in-law. That’s the highlight. ”
How did your daughter come to be known as Baby Hashtag on social media?
I’m sure there is an interesting story there.
Disha says, “I’ll be honest. I did not know that people often kept their baby’s names hidden on social media. I was never going to address her as my ‘baby girl’ on the gram. While I had these thoughts, one of my friends Chitra messaged me, ‘How is Baby Hashtag doing?’ Let me give you a little background here. When I started out, my social media avatar on all channels was ‘hashtagdisha’. My Twitter handle is still the same. After dwelling into photography and storytelling, I changed it to PhotostoriesByD. But hashtagdisha as my identity still lingered and as an extension to that, my friend referred to the unborn baby as Baby Hashtag. I loved the eccentricity of the name so much that it stuck. Months after she was born, I go to social events and I meet relatives and acquaintances who all have the same question for me – ‘HOW IS BABY HASHTAG?’”
Baby Hashtag is supremely funny, and so, so sassy.
From the looks and sound of it, she seems to keep you on your toes. What’s your mantra to get through a particularly hard parenting day?
Disha says, “You are referring to her monthly accounts, aren’t you! When I first started out to write her one month account, I decided I was going to write it from her perspective and I wanted to incorporate as much personality in it as I could. Even at a few days old, she had shown herself as a simple, no nonsense, easily bored baby who needed something new all the time. By her third month, I knew I read her right. She is indeed snarky (expressions wise) and is tough to please. Hence all the sass. With Baby Hashtag it’s never one thing. I don’t know if I should be proud of it or dread it but one quality about my little girl is that she follows no set pattern of play. So one day, the blocks will intrigue her to no end and the next day it will bore her to tears. If anyone has been following my blog and my posts regularly, they will know that I believe strongly that babies develop a fierce personality very early on in life. Keeping this in mind, I was through a patchy rough day. Now that she is walking (with support) my days of running around have finally begun! The trick with such a baby to introduce and reintroduce them to toys and rhymes and games in a cycle. This will ensure variety and will help the babies register in their minds that repetition is okay. ”
You are a professional photographer.
What drove you take it up and what do you love the most about it?
Disha says, “I have a masters in History. I was going to be a civil servant. And to that end, I worked in a college as a lecturer for three semesters and I worked with a political science group and helped organise an international convention. I also worked with a fashion based start-up for 2.5 years. It was in between all this juggling, I decided to learn photography and pursue it professionally. After years of learning and practising, I did my first photo shoot and it was amazing. I have successfully completed about three dozen shoots after that and this was the time when photography as a profession was just taking off. I am a candid photography person. Events, festivities, people and faces. They have my heart. And my photography aims to capture that moment that would otherwise be random. Every time I have a new client come up to me and they hand me a list of shots they want me to do, I hand them the list back. Either we discover their journey through a series of frames and shots that are meant only for them or we do not work together. That power to be able to retell a story by just looking at a picture makes me love photography even more. That’s why, PhotostoriesByD.”
Tell us a bit more about Label Kiara
Disha says, “Label Kiara is my husband’s brainchild although a lot of creative input is by me. Label Kiara provides sustainable clothing options for babies whose mamas love a good indigenous fabric. The fabrics we use are handspun by local weavers and stitched by local seamstresses. What we try with our label is to make clothes for babies that are stylish, fun, and super comfortable. There are no elaborate designs and no pesky fabric that will poke your baby, just pure breathable cottons. And all our pieces have the #BabyHashtag seal of approval. We started out a month ago and we can’t be happier about the response we have been getting. It is just overwhelming. We have a lot of new ideas in the pipeline for the label so fingers crossed for that!”
If you could be have an entire day to yourself – just to yourself – how would you spend it?
Disha says, “I have underestimated sleep my whole life. If I had an entire day to myself, I would sleep in. All day. 24 hours of it. And probably wake up in between to gulp down dosas, bhel puri and gallons of coffee only to fall back to sleep the next instant.”
What do you love the most about Instagram?
How has it changed your life?
Disha says, “Becoming a mom makes you lose friends faster than you lose hair post pregnancy. Instagram helped me connect to other moms who were pretty much going through the same shi@ that I was going though. There are some moms who are downright fun, like You! And then there are moms whose feed is filled with important parenting related things. Instagram has helped me grow as a blogger as well. Making new friends, finding products and services that you would have had a hard time finding, Instagram has it all.”
Is there anything you miss from your life before you became a mom?
Disha says, “Time. Like sleep, I underestimated time. When I was pregnant, I was free the whole day and I hardly got anything done. Now with the baby, all the free time we get is the time when the baby naps. On those lucky days when I don’t collapse beside the baby for a nap myself, I take up pending work and try to finish them off one by one. Did I mention I kinda suck at multitasking? Now with the baby, I am close to a champ. I can get so much accomplished in an hour that would force pre-pregnancy Disha to hang her head in shame.”
What’s the hardest part about being a mom…
…the biggest challenge according to you? How do you deal with it?
Disha says, “My biggest challenge as a mother was the constant bickering I had to hear regarding the baby’s weight gain. Although BABY HASHTAG was born well above the coveted the 3 kilos mark, her weight gain over the subsequent months was really slow and for the longest time I was made to believe that it was my fault. ‘Cos apparently mothers do it on purpose. After about 3 months of thin shaming that I had to endure for my baby, I educated myself for the better. To those who seemed genuinely concerned, I would patiently explain to them how all babies and their metabolism is different. But then there are some people who think they are funny and they go to the extent of asking ‘don’t you feed your baby?’ Initially, I used to smile and walk away. Now I have a retort to that. ‘ NO I don’t, I eat her food instead. I am making her diet to be a supermodel.’ It would suffice to say that the taunts have now stopped.”
And the easiest part
Disha says, “Breastfeeding! Apart from the initial hiccups, our breastfeeding journey has been nothing short of smooth (knock on wood!) Whenever there is an infection or a minor medical issue with the baby, I insist on nursing her which cures her.”
If there was one thing you could change about your motherhood journey…
…or one thing you wish you could have done differently, what would it be?
Disha says, “I wish I was more prepared for the sleep situation. I thought I’d be able to handle it ‘cos I sleep whenever the baby sleeps. But its not the same guys. It’s not one continuous sleep episode. You wake up nearly a dozen times to attend to the baby and even if you sleep for 12 hours but in parts, it is insufficient. Also, it’s too late into the breastfeeding journey but I wish I had started eating right from the beginning so that I could lose some weight. Post baby weight is a sux!”
What is the one biggest lesson motherhood has taught you?
Disha says, “Baby Hashtag has taught me that love is selfless. And that is my biggest takeaway from motherhood. Ya Ya, I’ve also become more patient now. That is a given. The one trait all babies teach their moms. Patience.”
If someone visits your blog for the first time…
…what should they read first?
Disha says, “I’d love it if you could start with these:
- Travelling with infants | Train edition
- Baby Hashtag Speaks | I HATE!
- Acceptance and busting Pregnancy-related Myths.”
That was fun! Thank you, Disha, for agreeing to be a part of this. It’s so good to get to know you a little better.
Don’t forget to check out and follow Hashtag Disha / PhotoStoriesbyD on Social Media.
Details of WARM November 2017 will be up soon! Stay tuned.
Mamma Bear | Nikita