New-mommy pains … and gains

What could a non-mom ever know about new-mommy pains, right? Well, think again.

As you know, about 5 weeks ago, I adopted Lailah. Yes, my little furry sidekick with golden eyes. Except, little did I realize, that a mommy of 3 kittens, was still just a baby herself! (Kittens don’t really become cats until they are two years old.) The first few days, I trained Lailah by limiting her space to the bathroom, so that she would develop good litter box manners and slowly explore and expand into my home. When I let her roam the condo after 5 days of restraint, she spent the first two nights hiding way under my bed, so I said to myself – sweet, she is trained and sleeping through the night, so we are all set!

Spoken too soon. Once she had explored all corners of her new home, Lailah had other plans. First, she wanted to observe everything I did. Now I really mean, EVERYTHING! She wanted the bathroom door open when I was inside, she wanted to sit on the tub’s edge when I took a shower, she even wanted to supervise my cooking, staring at every masala bottle and sizzle of tadka like there’s no tomorrow. Then she followed me with every tiny move I made, moving with me from my work chair to my dining chair (which are precisely 12 feet apart; my condo isn’t big, you know). She wanted to sit on my 3-drawer pedestal if I was writing at my computer; better still if she could squeeze in between my two hands and sit on the keyboard itself!

At night was the biggest fun of all (for her of course). She decided that sleep was over-rated; why was this human trying to sleep for 8 hours at a stretch? After all, a real life consists of sleeping for 2 hours at a time, waking up to eat, go potty, play (and more play) for a couple of hours and then sleep again, right? So she came, by the clock, every two hours, to wake me. She ran up and down the hallway, ending her run-up with a landing right on my abdomen, little chirpy meows, which sound more like bird-calls, filling the air. When jumping on me didn’t find her a willing playmate, she tried gentler tactics, pawing my hair, putting her wet nose to my face and tickling me with her whiskers. For 3 weeks I was one weary woman, trying everything from giving Lailah a big meal and intense play before bedtime, pretending to sleep whenever she showed up, pushing her off the bed, saying several loud and emphatic NOs, and even resorting to the ultimate in kitty-training, the water squirt from a spraying bottle. Well, Lailah thought the water spray was a new sport. She stared wide-eyed for a moment, her gorgroeus eyes glassy in the semi-darkness, and then shrugged the water off her back and came running for more. Anything to wake me up and get me engaged in play!

Then one night, after weeks on end of no sleep (and serious empathy for all you breastfeeding moms, trust me), I had the strangest brainwave in my exhausted delirium. What would one cat say to another that bothered her sleep? A loud no? A water spray? Not really! The next time Lailah jumped on me with her chirp calls, I let out a mighty hiss. (Though I admit bashfully that it was a rather lispy hiss – because the dentist has me wearing a mouthguard at night to prevent me from grinding away all my teeth.) And there it was – Lailah looked startled, hurt and insulted all at once. What? You don’t want to PLAY??? She left the room, and never returned that night, or the following night, or the next! Finally, I could sleep through most the night, though with a good measure of guilt. You see, as soon as I finished her nightime play and said “goodnight!” and sat down on my bed to rub on some foot lotion, Lailah sat in my bedroom doorway, her huge golden eyes peeking around the edge of the doorway, giving me the look of “Are you serious? Already? And you’ll be gone 8 long hours???” Then for the next couple of hours I could hear protests in the hallway, little grunts, meows, and gallops back and forth. After a reasonable 6-hour night I would wake to Lailah sitting in the doorway staring at me, exactly where I had left her.

Quickly, though, Lailah realized that she’s losing out by sulking in the hallway, and that waking me up only gets her more of those insulting hisses. So these days she is making the most of my supine state by lounging quietly on the bed next to me, making occasional forays into the hallway to chase around her black mouse, hot-pink fuzz ball, and other imaginary enemies. The limit of her patience occurs sharply at day break – around 5:30am these days – when she shows up on my pillow and does everything from knead my head with her paws, play with my hair, lick my nose, and curl up gently against my side to wake me. Her purr fills the room like a brand new BMW engine. Every morning’s greeting is always joyous, always loving, always ecstatic to have me back. It’s a great reminder that every day is a new day!

Last 5 posts by Shahana Dattagupta


  1. Anonymous

    Purr….nice post.

  2. Asha

    Good brainwave. I like the cat watching you part. Thats what toddlers do. bets luck with her.

  3. Indrani

    A good post. Best of luck.

  4. Khushi

    I was waiting for this. I like the last para most.

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