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A look back at 2015

Ah 2015 ... Thank you! Thank you for the discoveries: the joy of motherhood, the sleepless dazed state, the horror of falling hair, the joy of short hair. All this on a background of great travels, in Switzerland, France, Sikkim, Kerala and Corsica (all this with the baby). But of course there was a stain in the painting : I had to experience the inconsistency of the Company (at least mine*) claiming they want more women managers and then let them drown without lifting a finger when the transition back to office of the said women managers is not as smooth as planned after a long break.         

For me, the beginning of the end started in February when, two months after the birth of Baby Samurai, I received a message from my boss who wanted to shorten my maternity leave (I had a six month leave, as per the policy of the company, or so I was told since I was 6 weeks pregnant).           

india,back to work,back to office,maternity,motherhood,maternity leave,baby,breastfeedingBy the way, if anyone imagines that a maternity leave is anywhere close to a holiday (like me before the baby’s arrival) I am sorry to cut the dream: it is ANYTHING but a holiday. There is of course a kind of workaholic mother who buys a pump at the third month of pregnancy, gives birth with her Blackberry in hand, hires a nanny right out of the hospital and works from the house the first week. But the common mortal has non-functioning neurons (it’s hormonal) for a while. And since a baby, even the coolest one on Earth like mine, eats every 2-3 hour, there is a good chance that any videoconference be interrupted by a feed – in which case the only solution is to mute the mic,  adjust the webcam and pretend to care about what is going on in this meeting on increasing wages, a topic that usually fascinates you (or not) but that is completely beyond you right now.        
And apart from the fact that they feel completely disconnected, there are mothers who want to focus on their baby and just don’t want to switch on a computer. A lot of them are in their thirties, educated, ambitious and hard-working women who become breastfeeding champions who suddenly have only one thing in their mind: survive and feed their baby. Fierce, they do not let go; to set the tone, sometimes they even reach the point of screaming (inside) from pain and cry (silently) while applying cream and plasticky breast protectors on their cracked nipples but nothing will make him miss a feed! In the process they will not hesitate to continue breastfeeding after the six months prescribed by WHO; even after a year, let's be crazy ;)
They can also secretly take the baby and the grand-parents to a seminar in France to continue breastfeeding smoothly.

And well, these warrior-mothers, they believe they deserve to be left them alone for a few weeks, if only in the name of all the extraordinary efforts they have made for years (and even up to 8.5 months of pregnancy) to prove that they are as capable and bankable for the company than a man.            
That may be a bit pretentious to say so, in these times of crisis and job insecurity, but there is no way to put it otherwise, they won’t take any shit. They are like that, they have the power – even if sometimes takes a coach for them to realize it.         india,back to work,back to office,maternity,motherhood,maternity leave,baby,breastfeeding     

So when you are pressurized to reply to mails during your leave (mails? What mails? But it takes you a week to gather the courage to cut your nails so imagine switching on a laptop. Now you understand... that mails... well...), and to get back on top of your game – but it doesn’t work, there is nothing to do, you understand nothing, you can’t even remember whether you have taken a shower in the morning. You can only try not to cry and hope that better days will come… And they do come, when the hormones finally calm down, or just that the storm has passed. But you find it difficult to swallow that bitter pill, even when you regain your self-confidence and manage to reach the objectives. You quit. And they call it a “motherhood crisis”, a crazy move that I will quickly regret.          

And there is very likely some truth in it. Perhaps, in my case, this difficult return from leave was the cherry on the cake, in a context where, to be quite honest, I was very tired. But leaving a company that taught you everything and a boss that taught you everything, developed you and made you feel “talented” is not so easy. Luckily I was helped by my new company which contacted me a few weeks after I got back to office. A couple of days after I burnt my breast pump. I was enjoying a break from the baby (who was sleeping, for quite a long time) and fully absorbed by the preparation of a seminar, I forgot the pump which was being sterilized in the pan. This incident is quite important since the company in question makes... breast pumps!  

* Doing some research, I found out that only 25% of new mothers go back to the office after work. And by the way, India ranks 115 (out of 128 countries) on « Empowering women at work ». So when they get pregnant they get fired or demoted or their salaries get cut. And if not, same things happen when they come back. They are however some companies who really go out of their way to retain or hire women who have been on a long break (they had to look at these pool of talents as they anyways find it difficult to recruit women here):

india,back to work,back to office,maternity,motherhood,maternity leave,baby,breastfeeding

This is called the “Back to Work” programme though I personally prefer “Back to Office” as being a stay-at-home is really a job, according to me!

india,back to work,back to office,maternity,motherhood,maternity leave,baby,breastfeeding

Cartoons from:   


Baby Samourai made-in-India – 7. After the pool

Eventually they took me out of the water for good. And then, I was swimming (note the water metaphor, it's beautiful isn’t) in complete surrealism.


Imagine. I've always been the first one to say, as more than 80% of the French (2), that if I give ever birth, I will get the epidural. No question about it! With my argument: when you go to the dentist, you get an anesthesia. Well here it’s the same.

And here I was, drowning in pain, and saying nothing. Nothing at all. Not a word. I suffered in SILENCE. Just a voice in my head screaming "but just give me a fucking epidural already!"). A Samourai in all its glory!

And there, out of nowhere an anesthetist materialized, almost sorry to be there: everyone seemed to over-convinced that I wanted a natural birth (probably because I had opted for the water birth) and therefore was against painkillers. So I had to listen to the speech of my doctor who explained to me that I had no reason to be ashamed of reducing pain, that I had already gone through a lot, and that she herself had given birth to twins by caesarean. In total surrealism I was swimming, I tell you!


I refused to sniff gas and but accepted a spinal (no time for the epidural). Immediate relief!


In short, I ended up giving birth... Lying on a table, legs spread, with my favorite Indian, three gynecs, two pediatricians, an anesthetist, a midwife, and six nurses in the room. And I couldn’t care less! It actually even made me laugh thinking back of the 'intimate' childbirth I had planned!


And Baby Samourai was there! On my chest! Peeing on me! That’s how we realized it was a boy: doctors had forgotten to check...

In India, sex determination of the fetus is prohibited, since Indians took advantage of this technology to abort girls – which are expensive, with the dowry. India has a deficit of girls, and in some States it has started to cause serious problems, having to import brides and all (see these posts for more on the topic).


And the final word: baby Samourai hates baths, which should not surprise anyone... ;-)


(2) The French are apparently more sensitive than the British since only 30% of the latter opt for anesthesia (Sources:;)


(The End)


Baby Samourai made-in-India – 6. In the pool

Bébé samourai - 6.jpgAt 6 o'clock we set foot (and wheelchair) for the delivery room to attend the filling of the pool – apparently the sound of running water itself encourages the cervix to open up. And all of a sudden I was very far from the idea I had of water birth. Yes, curiously, despite the awful video, I still had romantic images of the thing.

First the image of a naiad frolicking in a hot water spring, her long hair covering her bare breast (reserved, the naiad), birds joyfully chirping in the surrounding trees. And splash, a small cry, and her baby is there, swimming around her. A natural childbirth, I thought, going back to the (hot) source. Looking back, I had overlooked that most births happen night – the outing in the jungle is immediately less romantic – and that I should probably go back to prehistory to find an ancestor who had tried this method, so maybe not so ‘natural’ after all.

Another image I had, more 'modern', was of a five star bathtub, with bubbles, bath salts, scented candles, music and a glass of white wine. This vision almost made me eager to give birth!


But there, as everyone was busy setting up the whole thing and the horror of the situation was striking me in the face – I was going to have to go into this inflatable pool and suffer – I didn’t dare shout out to misunderstanding ("STOOOOP! Stop everything! I don’t want this! I and to go and lay on the table, I want the epidural!”). No, instead, I took off the horrible hospital gown and stepped into the pool. This is when the midwife offered to go pick up my sport bra. I was already in so much pain that I didn't care being in the pool with only my bra, nevermind, it was too much effort to change. She also offered to plug my MP3 but suddenly the slightest sound was painful to hear (so much for all the relaxation tracks I had downloaded!).


Once in the water, the Gynec asked me if I the pain had reduced. Apparently she was expecting a positive answer and eager to please her, I nodded. “Yes it’s always the same!”, she was happy. In fact I was in so much pain that I could only sit in a corner, immobile, hoping that it would go away if I didn’t move a muscle. After an hour, to please the midwife, I tried another position. And spent the next hour immobile in another corner, but squatting.


I must have stayed 3 hours in the water. Small breaks I was taken out to pee in a portable toilet (despite the encouragement of the medical team, I could not bring myself to piss in the pool), and other fun stuff. Finally my Gynec surrendered: there was nothing to do, my cervix refused to go faster than the music and hot water was not accelerating its opening.


(To be continued...)

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