Sunday, July 27, 2008

Recent Bomb Blasts in India

My heart sank as soon as I read this news...and to imagine the first place I saw this was not on a news site but on a blog! This one from Chitra to be specific. And suddenly a fear gripped me - were we doing the right thing by deciding to move back to India? Is this really the best decision for our kids? Spoke to my DH and he shrugged it off saying these things can happen anywhere - you really can't predict. True but isn't the track record and probability of Bay Area, CA much lesser than the metros in India so far? To that my DH says - the probability of getting into a car crash is higher than getting caught in a bomb. Maybe so...but still...isn't this like purposely digging our own grave? I am sure I am overreacting here but after hearing such news, who doesn't!

And then the next day it is the same tragedy in Ahmedabad!!!??? They were as cruel as to plant a bomb inside a hospital in Ahmedabad! Is God trying to tell me something here? First it is the city we are planning to move to and the next day it is the city I spent 5 golden years of my college life in. Is it just a series of bad coincidences or should I really be taking a hint? My DH doesn't seem to deter from his decision to move back inspite of all this - sometimes I wish I was not as big a worrier as I currently am. I remember we used to tease my mom growing up when she used to worry like crazy for me and my brother. We used to make fun of her worrying about us for nothing and call her the President of Chintamani Association. But since I have had munchkin, I am beginning to get there myself. Life does come full circle doesn't it?

I do pray for all those injured and dead in these horrific set of events the past 2 days. And like Chitra says in her blog, I do hope the goodness of humanity rules in the end. Amen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Coping with a viral infection/sore throat

So remember how I mentioned here that my hubby was traveling overseas for the first time since our little one was born? Well, he got home safe and sound thankgod for that...but he also brought along a virus! Yikes! Poor guy was down sick one entire week (fever, chills, cough, cold, bodyache....ugh). And all along he just kept worrying that our munchkin shouldn't catch it. We tried taking all possible precautions but I guess she just had to get out of one sickness and into another.

So the following Sunday morning when she woke up and coughed - my ears stood up instantly! This was not her normal cute little cough to attract our attention. This was she really coughing :-( By that afternoon, she was running a temperature and we were like - oh nooooo! This little baby has never been ill so far and now it is one after another. Anyways, we got her on Tylenol thinking that will help with the fever. But it was a stubborn one. I kept giving her Tylenol every 4-5 hours but by that night her fever was 102.5 F and it just refused to go down. So the next morning, I took off from work and took her to the doc. They checked her for ear infection, lungs, etc. and declared - it is a viral infection that probably spread from daddy. Her ears and lungs were ok but her throat was infected which was causing the fever. And there really is no medication for this. It will take its course and pass out from the system. A few things they suggested were cold compress (wet a washcloth with tap water and apply to her forehead), stand with her in the restroom right after someone has taken a shower (or turn on the shower but stand outside the tub in the restroom) so that the steam helps with the congestion, run a humidifier in her bedroom at night, give her lots of fluids, try Motrin or Advil (which have ibuprofen instead of Tylenol which has acetaminophen) and increase her dose of hugs and kisses and outpouring love :-)

They did warn me that this is contagious so I should be careful too. But I am sure you guys already know that was easier said than done right? The fact that I caught the bug as soon as she recovered is a whole another story. But going back to the munchkin, it is amazing how strong these tiny ones are built by nature. They fall sick fast but they also bounce out of it equally fast - and oh how thankful I am for that. Coz her fever started on Sunday and by Tuesday she was better again. As my close friend N (who told me about the BRAT diet) says, kids have to go through this phase of falling sick once. If they haven't fallen sick in their entire first year, then it can come when they join daycare. But if somehow they cruise through that phase too without sickness then it will definitely come when they join school at 5 years of age. But they have to go through this once...and this is what builds their immunity.

So that is the only positive aspect to this tough phase coz otherwise as you all would agree it is just sooo hard to see your little one suffering.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sudden Bathing Fear

My little one has always been the types who loooves water. Ever since she was born, she would love splashing in the bathtub or sitting in the bath while we pour water over her. I even remember when she was barely a few months old, we used to bathe her in her infant tub which had a sling and even there she would lie in peace enjoying the water. But all of a sudden last weekend she started howling and screaming while the nanny was bathing her as usual. She was shocked and called me to the bathroom and as soon as I showed up, poor baby started trying to stand and cling to me crying loudly with her eyes closed! At first I thought maybe she is just doing it coz I am home today and she wants to cling to me more than the nanny. But this is continuing everyday since then...even when I am not home during weekdays. Lord knows what got into her all of a sudden. I have been asking a few friends and they all tell me it is a everything else, this will pass too. Kids go through phases of liking and disliking water so this might be temporary. Either that she has grown up now and has started understanding her likes and dislikes more and so she has decided that she dislikes water now. Or that she has had some kind of a minor accident while bathing like slipping or soap in her eyes that has got her all worked up over something.

So what do my Desi-American friends suggest? Two things - try getting into the tub or shower with her so that she can cling to you and can gradually get over her fears. Or try distracting her with some toys to play with in the bath so that she enjoys that while bathing. And what does my Indian nanny say? Maybe kisi ki nazar lag gayi hogi (someone probably cast a bad spell on her). So we should utaro the nazar (remove the spell) by rotating salt over her head and letting it go in flowing water.

And what does the Indian-American mom in me say? Well I say...doesn't hurt in trying all of the above remedies. Who knows what might here I am...this time willing to give everything a try - the scientific as well as the cultural remedies :-) Will let you all know in a few weeks how it goes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Questions about baby care in India

As we plan out our return to India in the coming months, here are just a few of the questions floating my mind which no one seems to be able to answer. Feel free to go through them and share your knowledge via your comments and replies to this post:

  1. The most important and absolutely unanswered question amongst all - what is the equivalent of baby formula in India? Is there such a thing in India? I have heard people say Cereal or Farex but aren't those cereals that you actually mix in milk? I am looking for the equivalent of Enfamil or Similac or Good Start...that actually IS milk for the baby.
  2. Is there a structured way to review/research pediatricians in a particular city in India? I know most likely the answer is no...but still wondering if there is a remote chance.
  3. Do the pediatricians and experts there also recommend weaning the babies to a sippy cup after 1 year of age? And do we even get sippy cups in India?
  4. I suspect most Indian moms make baby food at home but are there good brands that actually sell pre-packaged baby food according to the stages in India?
  5. At what age do they suggest introducing cow's milk to babies in India? Here in the US, it is after 1 year of age. But I suspect they do it much sooner in India. And if so, what brand or kind of milk does one buy for babies? Here most parents go for an organic whole fat version.
  6. What about introducing solids to little ones? Here they have a certain pattern that is recommended - rice cereal followed by vegetable and fruit purees. And they tell us to avoid wheat cereal, eggs and dairy until much later. Also they tell us to introduce one thing at a time and watch baby's reaction for 2-3 days. What about in India?
  7. What brand of diapers are the most popular and most economical to buy for babies there?
Like I said earlier...this is just a sample of the innumerable questions that go on in my mind. There probably is no end to this but I'd really appreciate if you have answers to any of these to begin with and can leave it in your feedback to this post.

Coping with Stomach Flu

My hubby had to travel last week - his first time away since our baby was born. So obviously all of us were a little nervous about the baby would behave after he left, how I would manage every single day with a full time job and the baby, how my hubby would cope being away from her etc. In any case, he left for an overseas trip on Sunday evening and as I was about to step out the door to get to work on Monday morning, the little one suddenly threw up all of her milk on the kitchen floor. It was so sudden and forceful and it just wouldn't stop! Mind you - this from a 10.5 month old baby who has never been ill so far (knock on wood!). So after she threw up, I gave her some water followed by Gripe Water (this is the Indian mommy in me). But she threw that up instantly as well!

I was stumped! Called the doctor's office and all they said was she does not need to come in for a visit yet. Asked us to give her half strength formula for the next 2 feedings and no solids at all. Then if she is ok, I can give her regular formula and light food such as crackers, cereal, etc. So after the nanny convincing me that she'll be ok, I left for work. The baby seemed to do fine the rest of the day on half strength formula. So the next morning I thought she is out of it and life is back to normal. So I gave the nanny a her usual regular strength bottle and stepped in the shower. I come out to see that the nanny is wiping the chair and poor baby had thrown up all of it again :-(

So this time I call and make a doctor's appointment, cancel going to work. The doc explained that it is probably a combination of a stomach virus and some teething (she went potty twice and was a little more liquidy than usual). She said we probably hurried in getting her back to the normal strength formula. Asked us to go easy on solids and continue with the half strength bottle for a while. Then gradually bring her back to normal diet and bottle. There is no medication for this but it takes a couple days or more for the stomach flu to pass. Whew! I have never seen the poor little one sick before. And between feedings she really was not sick as such - she was playing and laughing fine. Its just that she lost interest in eating all of a sudden - even refused to nurse from me the first 2 days!

So anyways, I wanted to figure out what to give her to eat and got all sorts of conflicting advise from our Indian nanny. The doc says to give rice but the nanny says rice is heavy. The doc says to give banana but the nanny says bananas are heavy. The doc said no citrus fruits cause it might cause irritation in the stomach but my nanny gave cherries (I am just glad she did not give strawberries from the fridge)! My mom and mum-in-law say give Gripe Water 2-3 times a day but the baby always throws it out. Other suggestions were - dal ka paani (lentil soup), jeera ka paani (water boiled with cumin), laung ka paani (water boiled with cloves), sauf ka paani (water boiled with fennel) and so on...

Finally it was my close friend who gave me an easy to remember recipe in such cases. It is called the BRAT diet: Bananas, Rice (Cereal or just Rice), Applesauce and Toast (or White Bread). This was sooo helpful and so easy to remember! She also said no yogurt (though in India we think yogurt is light and easy to digest) but since it has dairy the docs don't recommend it here during diarrhea/vomiting. Also Pedialyte was suggested strongly amongst all my friends instead of any solids or the types of waters that were mentioned above. Pedialyte for those Indian moms is like Electral powder that we get in India to replenish lost fluids and nutrients during dehydration.

So I got her on bananas, rice, pedialyte (though she didn't take a lot of that), crackers and apples (she refused applesauce). Then gradually gave her some lentil soup followed by churi (minced chappatis with ghee and gud) which was kinda closer to her original diet. Thankfully she has been able to digest these so far! She has also graduated from half to 3/4th strength formula bottles during the day (I nurse her at night).

We are now waiting for daddy to return home tomorrow and all will be well again :-)