Samaira And Me
As soon as I, Aakanksha Bhargava – CEO and President – PM Relocations (PMR), took my little baby, Samaira in my arms, I knew this would be the best adventure of my life and I owed a responsibility of feeding this little soul with lots of love, kindness and most importantly the zeal to live each day, as I always have. Me and Samaira’s travel rendezvous was something which was meant to happen even before she was born.
Travel was something which came to be naturally. Back when I was a kid my parents used to frequently take us out on family vacations/work trips and my rendezvous and love for exploring places started from thereon. Apart from travelling for leisure, my travels were mostly for business and work-related. Being part of the global mobility universe, it gave me immense opportunities to explore, visit places and learn about people and culture. My fascination for solo travelling and exploring the world began as early as when I was 21 years old, back in 2007.
On January 5th, 2018 however, everything changed for me and I knew my life would never be the same again. There was a tiny life within me, whose essence wasn’t yet felt but the impact was! My doctor placed me on complete bed rest for my first trimester to manage the risks of what he said would be a high-risk pregnancy. For someone whose last idle day at home was over a decade ago, this was a daunting task as any! But I steeled myself and marked my calendar, comforting myself with that fact that I shall enjoy my pregnancy and shall resume travel and work.
As time went by, I did go to the office and meet with clients in a very limited capacity. With all the personal and emotional rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts all went by and I was ready to welcome the second trimester with all positivity – I thought the difficult bit was over. To my surprise, I was diagnosed with a severe issue with my cervix, and I could have gone into labour anytime had it not been detected. I was in shock and reeling toward depression since it was difficult for someone to just lay down on the bed especially for a person who used to travel like 180 days a year for 5 major industry conferences globally and travelling to my office at least twice in a year.
Being pregnant, I lost in on a major conference opportunity in Croatia, this was the first time when the realization hit me that now my first and foremost responsibility is my child. Being with her is the most blessed moments of my life however, I had to go back to what I loved doing the most. Travel and meet my clients and exploring new places. It was very challenging initially considering people had started to contemplate whether I would be leaving the company?
After The Pregnancy
However, time passed, and we were blessed with a beautiful angel in August. She was a pre-term baby but the fight in her was undeniable as she came out healthy and hearty. I had gained 32 kgs with several stitches and major health hazards – a literal toll on my body. I had forgotten how to walk normally, how to eat normally, my gait had changed. I had thought I may never be able to go back with the same energy and strength and all my presupposed apprehensions about post-pregnancy life were resurfacing.
But to my surprise, I think God had different plans and so did Samaira! We both were ready to go to work on Day 32. When we planned for our first trip together, it was for a conference in Goa organized by EURA in 2018. It was probably one of those small conferences with a networking opportunity to meet with our clients. Hence, I thought this was the best way to reintegrate myself with the business again.
I always knew I was getting back to travelling even with Samaira and so we booked for the conference tickets early in June during my second trimester since it was clear that I will go for this conference in November. But never did I realize it was going to be a challenging task at hand. Now that Samaira was born there was so much energy and time which was solely dedicated to her work plus my business. A lot of my energy used to be drained attending to the needs of my baby and my business.
Travelling was becoming a challenging thought with each passing day had I known three months back about what I would feel now I would have planned differently but now that November was
here, I was not getting confidence in travelling with Samaira since she was so small. I feel sometimes when we really need that encouraging boost, we often get a discouraging push down from others. My friends and family persistently kept telling me to take a break and relax. However, during that time I really pushed through these thoughts and reiterated to myself that I can do it.
Nevertheless, my husband was supposed to travel with us but unfortunately, he couldn’t as our father-in-law fell sick. And I had to ask my parents to come along with me. Again, I started thinking about whether it was any sort of sign that I should not travel with Samaira. To add to this, I was super unwell due to the air quality in Delhi. But my husband boosted my confidence that I should go for it.
Now that I think about it, Samaira’s first trip was not the most pleasant one. The first packing was no less than any paranoia since it was very difficult to figure out what to pack, which medicines to take, getting to the airport, finding a place to change her diapers and a place to feed her. I had no clue on how to manage her on the plane and how would I manage her with a conference.
So, we went to the airport, 3 hours in advance just to figure out how to proceed further and understand the norms. But the upside to it was that suddenly all the places at the airport which was like negligible suddenly came into perspective. Places like a separate baby feeding room at the airport, a separate diaper changing section etc. suddenly became more evident. The flight was delayed, unfortunately, however, we finally made it to the conference. I used to attend meetings, come and feed her in the room and go back to meet more clients.
The next trip was more planned and organized since I knew what to take along this time. It was a leisure trip with just the three of us (me, my husband and Samaira) to Mumbai. The first time she fell very ill was when we had a weather change during our travel to Bangalore. I was so paranoid and guilty that I took her to the hospital only to realize that all was well. It is one of the scariest parts to see her fall sick and this has been my biggest take away to keep her in the right clothes and feed her the right food to ensure she is healthy. She is still breastfed and I plan to keep it going. Thankfully post that she has never felt sick and I am glad she has taken well to travelling.
The one big difference now is that I plan my travel around her sleep timings, her well-being. I could easily do early morning flights earlier but now I prefer evening and staying one night extra so that she can settle in. Now my travels are planned to keep her in mind. With the right flight timings better hotel options which are more baby friendly. The only time I regret travelling with her is when I did a one-day trip and clearly, she was cranky and not happy with the day. Hence I will definitely avoid this.
Thankfully Samaira has been very encouraging towards travels. Never did she once, cry on the plane. In fact, she loved her international travels the most, where she played and slept peacefully through the flights. Her comfort zone is her pram, where she feels secure and at home. I did carry her feeding pillow everywhere which comforted her enough to sleep, it’s a must to carry the favourite toy to keep the child engaged.
It’s incredible how motherhood has given me double the strength to go for my dreams and live my life unapologetically as I feel I owe this to my baby and my husband, who believes in me abundantly and are supporting me immensely. I do believe travel is her learning outside the classroom of life and I would always want Samaira to remember me as someone who always gave it all for to her to have beautiful memories and experiences to cherish.
Our Travel Diaries
Samaira is now 10 months today, with 26 flights, 5 countries, 7 cities, one road trip, 2 conferences,16 meetings and many more wonderful days at the office, under her belt where we work and play. I always knew this was the way I would have wanted things, and I am glad it worked out. I am not sure why women are asked to make a choice between their passions and a child. There cannot be a choice. Why can’t a woman have it all if she is prepared for it and really wants it?
This article was contributed to Curly Tales by Aakanksha Bhargava. If you have a story to tell us, drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org