The Coffee Chat (#30)
My conversation with Rashmi Gowda - Operations Consultant with Carrot Fertility, FemTech advocate and mom to a 4.5 year old daughter!
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Hi there 👋🏽
I recently came across this one line about being a first time mom that stuck with me - “You are rarely alone and increasingly lonely”.
Glad more and more women are openly talking about the isolation one feels as you step into motherhood for the first time.
I think it is important to normalize all sorts of conversations about motherhood. And I am glad more and more women are feeling empowered to speak up and are creating spaces where they know they will not be judged or ridiculed for harboring such thoughts.
I hope there is someone in your life you can talk to about these feeling. If not, I am there.
☕ Now, on to today’s coffee chat…
Meet Rashmi Gowda
When I am online I am using hanging out on Twitter and that is where I met Rashmi (Twitter is for now my version of a 2D metaverse)
One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was a love for reading. I really do want baby T to grow up and become a reader. Which is why Rashmi’s tweet caught my attention. She shared her favorite list of children’s book with female characters.
I quite enjoyed getting to know Rashmi and I hope you do too.
Below is my conversation with Rashmi …
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family
I am a healthcare consultant, and have worked across medical devices, pharma and diagnostics. I also volunteer with the FemTech Collective, and am excited about supporting this small but fast growing community!
Originally a software engineer, I moved to healthcare after my MBA. My husband is a lawyer, specializing in sports, media and entertainment law.
We have a 4.5 year old daughter, who just declared that she wants to grow up quickly so she can color her hair pink. That aside, my daughter and I recorded a story that I wrote for a children’s podcast recently, which was so much fun.
For you what was the hardest part of becoming a new parent?
OMG everything. I remember being amazed by how difficult, terrifying and unknown everything was, right from pregnancy! Since then, I have tried to help any friend/cousin going through pregnancy and with a newborn with as much info as I can share. It shouldn't come as such a shock for something that women have been doing for ages, but it is. I am also excited to see many women taking this by the horns and creating companies to help other women with pregnancy, childcare and menopause. (Told you I am excited for FemTech).
A lot of times, women are not comfortable telling the world that they're on maternity leave or that they are mothers because there is this whole "mommy tax" that they face - the idea that people will perceive them as less ambitious or less committed to their careers. You took a significant period of time (~2 years) to focus on your role as a mom. How did you arrive at this decision? How was the transition back to work?
This was by no means a planned decision. I was not expecting to take such a long break! My pregnancy was quite harrowing as I had an SGA (small for gestational age) baby which meant there were way too many scans and tests. By the end I decided to take some time off, and thankfully my husband was very supportive. The transition back to work was amazing. I remember finishing my first day, and feeling "Wow I have missed this!". My daughter was a champ as well!
After becoming a parent did you adopt any new beliefs, behaviours, or habits that have most improved your life?
I did healthcare marketing at one point, and quickly learned to look for evidence of claims. And this has helped me a lot. As a new parent everyone wants to give you advice, like "a 4 month old can eat idlis". I found sticking to evidence based methods very helpful. It is not a new belief, but something that has helped guide me.
The biggest challenge that working parents with young kids have is limited time for themselves. How have you managed this? How do you manage your energy?
For me it was important to adjust expectations. I used to do yoga for 75 minutes a few times a week. I have never gotten such a long session in the last 4.5 years. But I found that I can carve out anywhere between 10-45 minutes every day.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investment you have made after becoming a parent?
Just before the lockdown in 2021, I bought an automatic robot vacuum and it has been incredibly helpful. Also got a flower subscription that has given me and my daughter a lot of joy.
Your daughter is 4, mostly screen free and loves her books. Tips and tricks on raising a reader?
Start them early! I have been reading to my daughter since we brought her home from the hospital. She absolutely adores books, and books are the one thing we splurge on.
Love your idea of how you gift books with female characters to kids. A few recommendations you would like to share?
This is something new actually! I was reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, and she mentioned how boys don't read many books with women in them...and I realized I was gifting little boys books which had no women in them too. So I made a list on Twitter of some of the titles we have at home. I am going to start giving these books to boys as well - and if you would like to start, here are a few recommendations:
1. Ruby's Worry by Tom Percival
2. Dogs don't do Ballet by Anna Kemp & Sara Ogilve
4. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
You are currently working in the FemTech space in India. I am sure a lot of people reach out to you for advice especially as they are thinking of transitioning to this new life stage. What advice would you give others who are on the cusp of becoming parents? What advice should they ignore?
Being a parent is incredibly hard - be sure you are ready for this journey and set up a support system if you can. And look for evidence based recommendations if you are unsure of something. There were several facebook groups I found very helpful, and they catalogued research and best practices for things like introduction of solid foods. And good luck, be prepared to not get a full night's sleep for the next 3-5 years!
What’s the best thing you have watched recently?
I loved Call My Agent and Derry Girls. When I don't have much time, I watch clips from Graham Norton's show on YouTube and they always leave me laughing.
What’s the best thing you have read recently?
As I mentioned above, I am reading Invisible Women right now...and along with Inferior by Angela Saini, both are important books that everyone should read. But one of the best things I have ever read remains When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. So beautifully written, and it will stay with you for a long time.
What’s the best thing you have listened to recently?
I listen to a ton of podcasts, and Wait wait don't tell me is incredibly funny, and The Seen and The Unseen is incredible and thought provoking.
📖 My private thoughts from my very public diary…
I would love to hear from you, feedback is always welcome!
And if you happen to know an inspiring working parent who should be featured in a future edition (or if you yourself are one) - please do get in touch
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Rashi, I am a new fan of your newsletter, being a mother of 2.5 Years old, figuring out my identity all over again.
Love every word you write in there.