Monday, September 15, 2008

Any Suggestions for a New Title?

When I started writing this blog, my intention was to capture all that I could about baby care and how we being of Indian roots, deal with sometimes conflicting advises we get from our scientific versus superstitious well wishers. I was living in the US at that time.

But since then, we have moved to India and so as you can guess, I will eventually be surrounded by more superstitious advises than scientific ones :-) The core in me refuses to believe or give into the superstitions. And so I'll still try to keep blogging about such dilemmas around baby care as I come across them. I will also blog about our experiences after R2Iing.

The key question I face now is that having moved to India, the title of this blog "Raising an Indian Baby America" does not fit anymore. I'm looking for some cool title suggestions from my readers. Pls send me your ideas either via comments or email. Also do you think I should change the URL of this blog accordingly as well? Since I am new to blogging, how easy/difficult is that?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A new lifestyle for the munchkin

When I started writing this post (9/9/08), it had been 10 days since we had moved to India after living in the US for almost 10 years (a year longer for my hubby). So I figured this is a good time to capture all that our little N is going through what with a new place, new environment, new people and a new life she is now adopting. I have seen sooooo many changes in our little munchkin in so little time that it just doesn't stop amazing me.

Her first few days at her dada dadi's home was full of separation and stranger anxiety. Although she has been with them when she was younger, she took atleast 4 days to warm up to them completely. And then suddenly by day 5, she was all about them :-) She would happily run to whoever called out to her (dada, dadi or bua) and each of them have their unique cute ways to lure her to them and capture her attention. Oh also it seems like out of nowhere she has suddenly developed a way of showing stubbornness about whatever she wants. Already? She has just turned 1 and I feel she was such a baby before we brought her here to India :-) I read somewhere that babies do develop a tendency to show tantrums at this age but this just feels so sudden. Me and my hubby keep saying she has changed to a stubborn brat overnight :-)

Newfound love of Birds & Animals
She has started really clinging to me and my hubby a lot since the day we returned. I think part of it is stranger anxiety since suddenly she is surrounded by so many people. But part of it is also separation anxiety that comes naturally at this age. So the trick I have told her grandparents to adopt is take her quickly in their arms and run outdoors or to a balcony or window and show her outside. Her grandpa came up with a trick saying "Caw Caw" to basically whisk her away from me and show her the crow that visits us every day. She now loves being with her grandpa and watch the crow come and eat food at the kitchen and living room windowsill. That is aabu's (her grandpa's) favorite activity with her.

After 7 days when I brought her to her nana nani's place, she found more sparrows here than crows. So since then she also understands "Chi Chi" and points to sparrows every time we ask her "Where is Chi Chi". It is amazing that she can spot and point at crows and sparrows and also pigeons at such a distance that sometimes we also don't notice that they are there. When left alone with them, she seems to talk to them in a language of her own. Quite amazing to watch her mesmerized by these new beings since she never had such close encounters with them in the US. She is also fascinated with the cows and dogs around here. BTW here too she would cling to me a lot and it took her almost 4-5 days before she warmed up to be with nana/nani alone.

It took her almost a whole week to get over the jet lag after arriving here. For that first week, she would take long naps during the day, refuse to eat as much but substitute that with more milk and would go off to bed at 6pm most days! Then she would sleep until atleast 4am the next morning after which she would be all fresh for the new day. That meant that even if we tried to sleep in to fight the jet lag, our little sweetheart would make sure that doesn't happen ;-) So my jetlag only passed when the little one was out of it herself. After a week or so, she was better but would still nap longer in the day as compared to what she did in the US and would go to be earlier (around 8 pm). Obviously I wasn't complaining as that meant that I had more time for other things while she was snoozing away :-)

So on one hand her sleep improved but her appetite definitely worsened. She was always a light eater but atleast she had solids thrice a day in the US. Here she reduced it to twice a day and I let it go initially coz she was adjusting to the time zone change and stuff. But after that phase passed, she still does not eat as much as she used to. Her meal times are the times I miss our nanny the most. She must have had such amazing patience to feed my little picky monster :-)

Other than that, I introduced her to cow's milk on Sept. 3 (first day of the Ganpati season). And oh my god what an ordeal that was. Me and my little N had to go through so much that I think I should write it for all of you who are or will be going to this phase soon. So first of all, I made the mistake of following the US pediatrician's instructions to the T and going and searching for the most fatty tetra pack milk I could find in India so that it is close to the Whole Fat version in the US. I couldn't find anything that said Whole Fat so I bought Amul Gold Standardized Milk which had close to 7.5% fat. Gave that to her and she took it fine at first, fussed a little later and then took it if I was persistent. But the worst mistake I made was that unknowingly I did not go slow. I had no idea that is how you are supposed to do it. No one including my pediatrician had informed me that cow's milk is harder for babies to digest and can upset their tummies. I always thought it is about the taste and that is why some parents mix it with formula to give it to their babies initially. So when N took it fine, I thought she is ok with the taste and can make the switch now. BIG MISTAKE. Poor baby started pooping everytime she had a bottle of milk and so she started going atleast 4 times a day. So once I came to my parents, they informed me that Amul Gold is not cow's but buffalo's milk which is typically thicker and tougher for people to digest. Wow - imagine that! And nowhere it mentions anything such as that on the packet. Isn't that just wrong? So on their advise, I switched her to what we got at home (Amul Taaza 3.5% fat). They suggested if her system can digest this, then I can graduate to higher fat content. Made sense. But I think the mistake was already made by then coz who knows if it is was coz of the milk or the extra poops but she developed a bad diaper rash in a few days. At that point I stopped milk completely and took her back to formula. And then when I asked around to see what I was doing wrong, I was told that I should have given her just a little milk to start with and gradually increased the quantity to allow her system to digest cow's milk! Imagine that! No one tells you these things man - its almost like you are supposed to know these things being a mom. Ridiculous isn't it? Poor N had to go through so much coz of all this.

Anyways, I brought her to only 2 ounces of milk in a 6 ounce bottle of formula once a day (in mid afternoon). But after a few days it still didn't change her poop frequency so I took her to a local pediatrician. And he goes, 4 times a day is normal. You should only worry when it is 10 times a day and is loose! And that's that. I was amazed at the nonchalance they show here for babies. No advise on what to do and what not to do. Just wrote up a prescription for the rash and a medicine for the diarrhea (if any) and that's it. I had to dig it out from him to figure out how to switch her to cow's milk successfully. He then suggested Lactogen. Start with its stage 1 and then move to stage 2 and then milk. He even suggested diluting the milk initially (3:1 - 3 parts boiled milk, 1 part boiled water). He also said to keep with Amul Taaza 3.5% and not move to whole fat right away.

So I ask you experienced mommies out there, what should I do next? I think I will keep her with the 2 ounces milk she is getting once a day but I worry every time she poops (she still goes 4 times a day now). I don't think I want to stop milk completely for a week or so coz I don't have infinite Enfamil formula with me. And I don't think I want to start go with the option of Lactogen 1 and 2 and drag this thing forever. The doc towards the end said - you can just stick to doing what you are doing without going to Lactogen as well. Seems like he couldn't make up his own mind. Didn't help me a single bit going to ask for his advise. The only thing I learnt is the brand Lactogen is pediatrician recommended.

Her food intake has also reduced at the same time. She used to eat well thrice a day in the US. Now she just refuses to open her mouth when she does not want to eat - whatever I do. Any tips or words of advise? The doc said he could prescribe a tonic to increase her appetite but would not recommend it for her yet. And I agree - I want to stay away from medications for these things.

Her Likes and Dislikes
She loves playing with both sets of grandparents now and absolutely loves running around. She has also started climbing and coming down of stairs and loves doing that all the time. We take her to a garden here in my parent's town and she just has a sudden burst of energy and runs there non stop! It is good exercise for me too coz I have to keep running after her to make sure herself.

She has also started enjoying her baths now! Thank God for that. I am glad that her bath anxiety seems to have passed. I think the humidity in the air also contributes to her love of bathing. Atleast for me it does :-) I am always soooo hot and sweaty here (especially in Mumbai) that it is not funny. I am not sure how I never felt this way in my earlier visits to India.

Anyways, I could keep going on and on about all the things that are new for me and her. But this post is getting way to long and I am afraid that my questions about switching her to cow's milk may get lost and go unanswered by you readers. So please please send me your tips/advise on both - switching to cow's milk and also weaning her to sippy cup from the bottle.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Returned to India

So the project is finally complete - executed per the plan, on time, in budget and within scope. Spoken like a true Project Manager huh? ;-)

Nyways, we finally made the move to India after living in the US for almost a decade. Here is how we had planned it and here is how things actually took shape:
  • Aug 15: My last day at work. Went with a heavy heart since it meant saying goodbye to a place and to the folks I grew to really like. Not many people in this world are happy working where they work but after a few years of struggle and making it in this firm, I was at a good place there. Oh well, there was always the hope of continuing to work for them from India. So I wasn't that disheartened about that. The only thing I didn't like was that I did not get the opportunity to say my goodbyes to everyone I knew and wanted to keep in touch with. The reason? Fate I must say...coz just a day prior, I got an appointment notice from USCIS (used to be INS) to be present for my fingerprinting in a far off location from work by mid afternoon on Aug 15. What rotten luck. So that day also being my last day at work in the US, I literally had to wrap up and rush out of the office by 2pm. And to top it all, quite a few of my coworkers had arranged a really nice farewell lunch and gathered quite a crowd for me that day. So by the time we all reached and settled for lunch, it was already 1pm. And by the time we got done, it was 2pm and I was in a mad rush to pack my cube into boxes and get out asap. It was so bad that I did not even get to see my own manager before leaving. This has to be the weirdest termination of an employee - where I turned in my keys, laptop, badge and stuff to an empty chair :-) My poor manager was on the road trying to get back to work in time to see me off. But I was in a hurry for the appointment so we just said our goodbyes over the phone! Imagine that! After 3 years of working here, I had never imagined this is how my last day would be. No time to say goodbye one last time to the place that had taught me soooo the place that gave me so much. I swore I will come back next week and finish what I left off but we all know how that goes. Next week came and went and the only time I could finally take out was the day we were actually flying out. I rushed in and was barely able to meet only a few of the many folks on my list.
  • Aug 17: Hosted our little N's first birthday party. I wrote about that here.
  • Aug 22: This is when the movers came in and whisked off all our stuff from our home in the Bay Area. We had estimated around 250 cubic feet of container space but it seemed like our luggage was limitless. I am pretty sure we ended up loading much more than that. We will find out soon. In all we ended up shipping 78 items!!!
  • Aug 25: Took little N to the pediatrician for her well check exam. Got her immunized and said our goodbyes to the best pediatrician we have ever met. We will miss you Dr. Kang.
  • Aug 26: Amongst a lot of other things such as our move out inspection, went to the temple near our home one last time.
  • Aug 27: I went to the office in the morning to meet a few folks I could not meet earlier on my last day. Also to collect the laptop so that I can work from India remotely once the new offer letter comes through and I accept it. Delivered the car we sold to the buyer and finally boarded the Jet Airways flight at night.
Landed in Mumbai, India with excessive baggage and all on the morning of Aug 29th 2008 at 7am local time. Our stuff shipped via the container will probably join us by early to mid October in Bangalore.

I do need to document how much we carried on our flight home so that I can advise everyone to NEVER do this ever. We managed to check in a total of 6 items (we were allowed only 5 amongst the 2 of us and our infant). And we had like 9 carry on items and other miscellaneous things hanging around here and there like the baby's blanket, my purse and what not. You should have seen the sight - me and my hubby juggling around the baby and all these carry on items. The Jet Airline staff was very courteous with us though. They did not charge us a single penny for all of this luggage and infact helped us lug our carry on items in the flight. But we swore after this experience to NEVER EVER travel with so much stuff :-) The worst thing was that they checked in our stroller and did not give it to us in the lay over or as soon as we deplaned in Mumbai. We had to lug all of this through immigration, customs and only got the stroller at the baggage claim - completely defeated the purpose of us going through the pains of buying and carrying an umbrella stroller for the travel!

Oh well - an experience we will never forget - we can now tell our little N this is how we R2Ied :-)