Tag Archives: childbirth

The Creative Engine


DOHA, QATAR — I quit my corporate job in June 2011 to devote more time to my writing.

In the eight months since, I’ve spent many Saturdays in the library (as well as other days, nights, and even more hours at the dining table which doubles as a desk) honing my craft, getting manuscripts ready for reader consumption. I made a publication schedule and have four e-books to show for sacrificing a full-time salary. Slowly but surely I’m figuring out the vendors I want to use – for an army of designers, editors, and marketing gurus underpin indie authors – and calibrating the Mohadoha process.

In the meantime, during the off-hours, I’m also exercising. Yes, you read that right. Amongst the competing demands of a toddler, husband, students from two universities, fiction, scholarship, and blogging, I’m making at least three hours a week to sweat, grunt, and generally tell the rest of it get lost for the span of 20 to 45 to 60 minutes.

Exercise doesn’t come naturally to me. After all, I’m Indian: think Gandhi as a kid with long hair, and blue, instead of wire-rimmed, glasses…and you have me most of my life. At least the part before I hit my late twenties and a job that had me over 80 sedentary hours at my desk a week. Five years and a baby later, the exercise started about twelve months ago as vanity, pure and simple. While the extremities (arms and legs) were still South Asian-skinny, the rest was not.

Now a little year past weekly workouts, my brain gets a fuzzy feeling on a week when I’ve done everything except let it take a break and give the muscles their turn. Almost like the feeling when I have gone more than one day without writing in my journal. While writing is good for my creative soul, exercise maintains the entire house that is me. I recognize this need for physicality a First World problem: if you’re walking five miles to get the water you need for the day, the likelihood of any spare pounds that need running off like a gerbil on a treadmill is very small.

Yet fitness goes beyond flashing abs no one wants to see on Facebook profile photos. More and more I’m learning about the need for physical as well as mental exertion.   A friend gave me Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. That’s right, he of the prolific, 800+page novels, runs every day. For at least ten miles. We don’t talk about this kind of discipline: the kind that means we look after ourselves as well as everyone else or even at the minimum our cars (which sooner or later get that oil change to keep running). As artists we compare ourselves to people like Hemingway (alcoholic) or Van Gogh (self mutilator) rather than marathon running Murakami.  Which legacy would you like to leave behind? Not just for your readers…but those who really knew you?

And that’s my giving a damn.


Dr. Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a well-traveled scholar of literature and a freelance writer based in Qatar. She is a co-founder of the Maktaba project, a Children’s Library concept starting up in Doha, along with being one of the most reliable people you’ll ever have the pleasure of knowing in your life. Follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.

More from Mohana:

»That’s “Dr. Miss” to You

»A Rising Comic’s Manifesto

»Seeing But Not Seen

»On-Stage But Off-Camera

Tomorrow is the final edition (for now) of The Daily Damn! See you there, and thank you for reading all of these months!!

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The End of This Pregnancy Was Only the Beginning

By EMMA BARLOW, Staff Writer

Who could of ever known that your whole future could be determined by a stick that you pee on?

The moment you look upon the positive sign, a mixture of emotions come over you like a wave knocking you over in the ocean. You feel jubilant, anticipation, worry, even terrified. But one thing is for sure, after one glance at this evidence of life, you know you will protect this little miracle with every ounce of your being.

So, the very next day you are out buying your copy of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, and a baby name book too. You’re determined to start this pregnancy out right, and get a head start on name choosing your little bundle of joy. You sign up for Lamaze classes, about seven months in advance, but you want to be prepared. You skip on the caffeine, sugar, and sushi. Well, you pretty much survive on plain bread and juice the first couple months while enduring the ever so sweet morning, noon, and evening sickness. You search books, magazines, and the Internet for hours searching for knowledge on what not to do, and make an endless list of both normal and bizarre questions for your doctor, who hopefully answers you with patience and understanding. Basically, you do everything in your power to help nourish and protect the new life growing inside of you. But what happens when the unexpected comes? What happens when the person you’d do anything for is in a situation where you can’t do anything at all to help them?

With my second son, my pregnancy was a smooth one from the start. I had absolutely no morning sickness, which shocked me because I couldn’t even look at a pizza commercial during my first pregnancy without running to the bathroom. All my ultrasounds and tests came back with perfect results, and I did my best to not cave into my Lucky Charms craving I frequently had when pregnant with him. I prayed for my little kicker’s health and made a birth plan with my doctor. Little did I know, things would not go as planned.

After a seemingly normal night, and about five weeks before I was due, I went to sleep after experiencing some feelings of pressure which I assumed was the baby dropping. I was very uncomfortable, but figured a good night’s rest would do me good. At about 3AM, my water broke and all my plans came crashing down…and fear crept in, no, really it crashed into our lives.

After a day of tests, the doctor determined that our little guy would be delivered the next morning, and that we should be prepared for some complications. So, when he was born and was wheezing, a sign of immature lungs, it was very hard as a mother to look upon him and be absolutely helpless to do anything for him. So, we did all we could do — we prayed.

We called others to ask for prayer. We sang a whole lot of “Jesus Loves Me” to him…mostly to remind ourselves that He did, indeed, love our little guy too. And that even if things didn’t go as planned, we could be assured that our faith in Jesus could take us through any storm. Miraculously enough, after only one hour and hundreds of people praying for our baby, his wheezing completely stopped. I have never been more grateful for anything in my life as I sat in the NICU watching other parents look upon their sick babies, and knowing the fear and the feeling of being useless in the situation. We still had a long road ahead of us, though, and many more prayers were to be said for his health.

Our little baby stayed in the hospital for two weeks. When you are on a vacation, two weeks goes by in a flash. When you have to leave your child in the hands of others every night and return to your home without a piece of you, it drags on forever. During this time, he had to maintain his temperature, learn to eat, because his sucking reflex had not yet kicked in. He also had to gain and maintain his weight. My husband and I had to learn a whole new way to care for him, a premie, while keeping our emotions as level as possible for our two-year-old at home who still needed our care and nurturing. It was tough, very tough.

The day we brought our newborn home was joyous, we reveled in his presence. The whole experience was not an easy one. We lost hope at times, we worried, and I sure cried a whole lot. But in the end, our faith that whatever we went through we wouldn’t be alone. Our faith in Jesus and being in His presence in every situation, good and bad, held us together even when we felt as though we were about to fall apart. I think that is the beauty of faith, taking hold of hope in a situation where there seems to be none, and holding on to it no matter what happens.

Romans 8:28 “…But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait patiently for it.”

And that’s my giving a hoot.


Emma is an extremely busy and proud mother of two young, strapping lads. She lives in the Phoenix Metropolitan area with her husband of six years and is an active member in the faith community.

More from Emma:

»Being Charitable In Modern Times

»Sanity During Motherhood Requires Having Fun

»Moms Need a Timeout Too

»No Such Thing As A Novice Mom

Afterwards is back this Friday for Part 9!  CATCH UP NOW: »1  »2  »3  »4  »5  »6  »7  »8

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