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Back on track

If forced on you,even holidays are not acceptable,I had realised.

Written by Sanghamitra Mazumdar | New Delhi |
June 20, 2011 1:44:57 pm

The silence was eerie. At 4.40 pm,it was a typical summer afternoon and it seemed there wasn’t much traffic outside. I could hear no sound in my room apart from that of the ceiling fan and the AC. My husband had left for office without telling me as I was sleeping. Still half asleep,I was trying to remember the topic of the serious discussion I was having with a senior colleague at work — in my dream. My cellphone vibrating from under the pillow brought me to reality,or should I say realty,as I received an SMS giving me an “ignore-and-regret” offer of two and three-bedroom flats at “surprisingly low” per-square-foot rates.

I smiled,wondering how long we would need to keep our plan to buy a house shelved,now that we were going the family way and our expenses would increase. And with my maternity leave starting early,I might also have to take additional leave on loss-of-pay basis. 

My doctor had lifted the condition of ‘bed rest’ that she had imposed after finding my amniotic fluid levels low in the 25th week of pregnancy,and not asked me to stop working as such,but since my job was giving me a lot of stress,she had advised against going to office.

My unending ‘summer vacation’ had started,minus all its fun elements. Films had ceased to attract me,and though I once regretted that I lacked time for books,reading no longer gave me pleasure when I had all the time in the world. If forced on you,even holidays are not acceptable,I had realised.

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If stress was the reason I was sitting at home,the ‘house arrest’ had started giving me more stress and negative thoughts. I was anxious beyond words when I saw a news item on the television one morning about a blast outside the Delhi High Court. Failing to contact my husband who had gone somewhere nearby,I was profusely sweating due to tension,even though the air-conditioner was on at the lowest possible temperature. This,despite the fact that all channels were repeatedly assuring that there had been no casualty. Thankfully,he returned soon,using the same road minutes before the explosion.

The evenings that I had been spending at work for the last more than 11 years,had suddenly become so mundane. My husband and I have always worked in the same office and know each other’s work schedules by heart. But I still expected him to come home early,like all housewives so typically do.

It was a different life. Sitting at home for the sole purpose of rest was making me all the more restless. I felt like crying all the time and realised I was going under depression and needed to find a solution fast.

I decided to go back to work,determined I won’t let stress get the better of me. My office was kind enough to shift me to a different desk,with a different job profile and relatively less pressure. Life soon came back to normal,and I was happy,and positive,again.

A few of my well-wishers were,however,not in favour of my joining back office,saying my late night schedule could have been the main reason in the first place that I had the complication even before the ‘golden’ (second) trimester ended. Their concerns were not completely out of place as many studies suggest working on night shift during pregnancy poses more threats than lifting heavy weights and being in a job that requires you to keep standing for a long time. The threats include pre-term birth and low birth-weight babies.

But my doctor,and a few other gynaecologists I have spoken to,never said anything like that,because they know my body has been used to this routine for more than a decade. In fact,sleep descends only after 3 am even if I am at home.

I am adhering to a few pieces of advice that I have been given to cope with my perpetual 4.30 pm to 2 am shift. The first and foremost is to ensure proper sleep. It is very important to maintain a sleep routine. Go to bed at the same time and get up only after at least eight hours. Keep dry fruits or biscuits by the bedside for the hunger pangs at ‘midnight’,which may be mid-morning for others. I often get up around 7 am and take a glass of juice – the ones with no preservatives — and go back to sleep. It is advisable to take a nap again before going to office,but not right after lunch. Maintain the routine on weekends or off days too,and remember not to sleep at odd hours.

Keeping yourself hydrated is very important. Carry a food basket to office and ensure plenty of fluid intake. Lassi,buttermilk,neembu-paani and coconut water are high on my menu,and I am completely off tea,coffee and fizzy drinks. Try and snack on healthy stuff rather than fried and oily ones,which aggravate heartburn and acidity. I eat dinner around 11 pm so that I get enough time to digest the food before I go to sleep.

Light to moderate exercise is recommended for pregnant women working night shifts,as it helps maintain a healthy life. But don’t start exercise all of a sudden if you were not in the habit earlier. My doctor has advised light yoga,besides stretching exercises in office. Since my job requires me to sit in front of the computer all the time,taking a five-minute walk after every one hour is a must.

As I have said earlier too,it is necessary to maintain the right sitting posture,ensuring adequate support to the back and feet.

I have learnt to take things easy at work. I close my eyes for a minute after regular intervals and relax to re-energise myself. Deep breathing helps too,though that becomes a part of life during the third trimester as you feel short of breath most of the time.

I spent the last weekend at home,giving myself a good amount of rest after five days of work. My doctor was happy with my condition when I went to her this week for a routine check-up. I felt relieved that my decision to join back work was not wrong.

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