A week ago, I spent a considerable amount of time away from my son (possibly the most ever as far as I am concerned), as I was pretty late returning from the second day of the International Conference on Genomics, Nanotech, and Bio-Engineering.
I have always been passionate about my work, certainly because it allows me to be an independent person. In fact, as far as I recall, it was on the same month that I pursued my career in academics as a lecturer and also began my married life.
Along came Areeb (almost nine months old now), much earlier than expected. I was swept up by the sheer magnitude of all my responsibilities, the highs and lows, everything -- it has been a rollercoaster ride, to say the least.
I had to keep my pregnancy a secret during the initial stages, which didn’t help me much at work. I had to take classes at the extreme hours, starting at 8am and ending at 6pm.
The physical changes
The only difference was that, with another living being growing inside of me, I would be drained of my strengths by the time I was home. Rather than staying home complaining about the soreness and the bits of physical changes I was going through, I preferred going to work. It helped me stay active and happy.
I kind of took pride while walking on my way to work and back home daily, even though people would strangely stare at my swollen belly. I continued working up till four days before my child was born and went for maternity leave then. A maternity leave of just four months is simply not enough. Breast-feeding was a new challenge. My body was still healing from the caesarean surgery and the cold stabbing pain was still apparent.
To top that off, the mental stress of staying away from my little one is unbearable. The anxiety that stemmed from the separation tore me apart, and it took a couple of weeks to adapt.
There have been several times when I had to take Areeb along with me to work. Those were the times I felt the need of a day-care centre at every working place
I knew that I would be missing out on the many milestones that my child was going to reach, and I did. The only thought that gives me some amount of solace while at work is of my son remaining safe in the hands of my mother-in-law, who looks after him unconditionally when I am away.
Bring your child to work
There have been several times when I had to take Areeb along with me to work.
Those were the times I felt the need of a day-care centre at every working place.
I comfortably carried my son to many official meetings, as I believe this is my basic right as a mother and a parent. Of course, my colleagues have been extremely supportive throughout my journey.
Sharing personal experiences, locking up my office door when I was unable to bend down to reach for it (our office locks are placed at the bottom of the doors), carrying Areeb’s carrier and baggage, even taking care of him on some days when I took classes.
They’ve done it all.
It is a very normal thing to live and enjoy motherhood as a professional woman.
There will always be trade-offs, as usual, but the feeling of being able to juggle two entirely different aspects of life gives me sense of satisfaction that few other things in this world can provide.
Shamshad Rahman Lubna is a lecturer in the department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, North South University.