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Are you ready for motherhood?

Shefali Tsabary | May 18, 2006

First-time mother and toddler-survivor Shefali Tsabary's book, It's A Mom, is a refreshing guide for all those who are going to be moms for the first time. We present an excerpt:

Part I: Making pregnancy meaningful

Be active

I mean this in every sense of the word -- physically and emotionally. You can take long walks or jog or do yoga or t'ai chi. With your doctor's advice, you can continue physical activity almost until the end of your term. Many pregnant women forget that by remaining fit they are in fact helping themselves undergo an easier pregnancy and recovery post-birth.

Being emotionally active means that you need to stay in touch with yourself through meditation or journal writing or yoga or whatever it is that helps you connect with your emotions. Never will you experience so many emotions within any one day. It is crucial that you stay connected to these emotions and learn from them.

It's A MomClean up the clutter

The baby will assert its presence in your life, home and personal space like nothing you have ever experienced before. It is vital that you clear up some of your clutter -- internal and external -- during these nine months.

You can begin by making a list of all that you need to complete before the birth. This list should ideally include the closets you need to reorganise, the hordes of junk you need to throw out, finishing off the million things you need to complete, the e-mails you never sent out last year, seeing friends you haven't seen in months, trying out the new restaurant you have been dying to eat at, etc.

You need to diligently go through your house and your life and reorganise all that needs to be. If you leave it to a time post-birth, you may regret it. Upon the arrival of your baby, you need to be prepared and ready to go. There needs to be space ready and waiting.

Your internal space needs to be clear and open as well -- ready to embrace the challenges of loving your little one.

Buy as much, as quickly as you can

Some women are superstitious and prefer to wait until the last moment before buying the baby its million things. I respect that. Yet I would say, make your lists, narrow down the exact things you want to buy -- colour, shape and size -- choose the store you will buy it at, and preferably order everything months in advance. I know that this sounds like obvious advice to you, but I have seen many a new mother run helter-skelter at the last minute looking for things.

The best things I bought for my baby were those I bought after researching what other mothers had to say about them. I asked the mothers I trusted a thousand questions. Which was the best bathtub and why? Which was the best stroller and why? In this way, I only bought tried and tested stuff and in some illusory way felt better prepared for the journey I was about to embark upon.

But... don't buy too much

It is true what they say -- you only use half (if even that) of what you buy. As much as a baby needs, it never, ever needs as much as we end up buying. I still have mountains of stuff waiting in their original packets for my next baby.

I know that the excitement and complete newness of it all sways parents into buying their baby a thousand things of each. I was the same way. Now I shake my head at the amount of money I wasted on things I never used, not even once.

So all you pregnant women out there -- restrain yourselves! Buy one-fourth of everything you think you need. If you think you need 20 bibs, buy five for now. I know this advice is wasted on you -- you have just boiled not 20, but 30 new bibs in preparation for your darling's arrival -- but I had to give at least one shot at rationality.

Take a vacation with your husband

I don't care if you can afford a fancy vacation or a simple one, 10 days away or three, up in the mountains or at a hotel 10 minutes away from your house. This will be the last vacation you will be able to take with your husband before having your children tied to you (you'll see!) for the next 10 years or so. These are the last few moments you will be bale to think just about yourselves without feeling guilty about it.

I cannot stress enough the importance of having this time away -- just your husband and you. It will be a time you will look back upon with wistful nostalgia and sweet yearning, ongoing for a time like this again in the future -- even if it is a decade or so away.

Give yourself the freedom to simply be

In the midst of the flurry of being active and planning a vacation and buying all the things you need and cleaning out your closets, you also need to remember to simply be. Sleep in as late as you want, watch movies all day, snuggle with your husband until noon and dance with him until the early hours of the morning.

These are the last nine months when you can do whatever you fancy without it potentially hurting anyone. You must make as much use of this valuable time as possible. You must realise that this is why you have nine months at your disposal, for one sole purpose -- to realise the value of free time.

Part I: Making pregnancy meaningful

Excerpted from It's A Mom by Shefali Tsabary, published by Penguin India, Rs 195.

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