Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Time flies by so quickly

My dearest little N turned 17 months on Sunday. I have been meaning to write this post since then and its already 3 days without me realizing it! Time sure flies by when you have a toddler this age in your hands. She is learning sooooo much every day that it is hard to keep up and capture it all. Every day adds a new word to her vocabulary, a new discovery to her endless world and a new trick that she catches from either me or her papa.

Here is my best attempt at capturing what she is upto most these days (ofcourse this is not all inclusive since it is forever evolving). Sometimes I wonder if this is the best of all ages coz every day she learns something new. When she was a baby, it used to be a new milestone every few weeks unlike every few hours now :-) And I am so glad I am the one teaching her most of these new things or being with her watching her catch on rather than being away all day at work and missing out on this fun. Working from home has this huge benefit (amongst other disadvantages ofcourse).

Anyways, so here I go:

  • Tuesday, Jan 27 - you learnt to say 2 new words - "duddu" and "office". When asked where is papa, you would say office. And ofcourse I thought you being able to finally address your milk as duddu was the topper of all charts! Finally you could express to me verbally (instead of sucking your little thumb) to tell me you want milk!
  • This was also the day you learnt to use "mama" in its full blown glory non stop all day long to call me to you. Earlier you would just yell "aa" or "eehh" to call me but suddenly this day you just started following me along all over the house all day shouting "mama mama mama" in all sorts of tones - question, exclamation, boredom....you name it and you have it!
  • Wednesday, Jan 28 - you learnt to say the word "no".
  • And ofcourse - by now you show most of your body parts when asked. But the cutest of it all is what daddy taught you recently - to dance on the song "heads shoulders knees and toes". You play your Learning Puppy on that song over and over again and start tapping your heads, knees and toes on the song. It is such a joy to see you entertain yourself by just learning to do that over and over and over again...sometimes you even get the "eyes and ears and mouth and nose" part quite well :-)
  • Here are some other tricks we taught you:
    • Us: N---- mum mum kash khaata (How does N---- eat mum mum)?
    • You: Gup gup
    • Us: What does a tiger say?
    • You: (growling sound) Haaaaa
    • Us: How does a bee fly?
    • You: zzzzzzzzzzz
    • Us: How does the frog eat the bee?
    • You: Haaaap (mommy taught you this when she saw this cartoon on channel 9xm that you love to watch)
    • Us: Aeroplane kashi jatele (How does an aeroplane fly)?
    • You: show the flying motion with your hand
    • Us: N, where does Papa go?
    • You: Aaaapis (Office)
  • Some words you try speaking but manage a much cuter version of:
      • Plane - you say something that sounds like "beam"
      • Bee
      • Heart
      • Dots
      • Cartoon - you say something like "tattoon"
      • Uda (means water in konkani) - you say "da"
      • Duddu (means milk in hindi)
      • Mum mum (for food)
      • Trisha (your friend/neighbor) - you say "Tisha"
      • Aryan (your friend/neighbor) - you say "Aayan"
      • Apple - you say "aappu"
      • Cup
      • Tub
      • Papa
      • Mama
      • Mummy
      • Amma
      • Aabu
      • Nana
      • Nani
      • Come
      • Go
By now you have quite a vocabulary and it grows almost daily. You basically try and repeat after us to catch on to these small words.

There are sooooooooo many other things you do that are every so endearing. Like I said, it is
impossible to capture all of that in a blog but atleast I wanted to make sure I have some of it noted down for being able to narrate to you when you grow up.

Lots of love...your "mama".

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Before Amnesia Sets In...FAQs Part 1

They say that nature has induced all women with selective amnesia. Which is why all the aches and pains of pregnancy, labor, delivery and raising an infant are so easily and so quickly forgotten and the only thing that we remember are all the precious joyful moments about having a little baby. Which is why after a few years pass, we are all ready to have another baby all over again! Well, I ain't complaining at all coz inspite of all the aches and pains, having and raising a little baby is truly a pleasure beyond any other in my opinion. Agreed you have days when you are ready to pull your hair out and wonder what in the world were you thinking before giving birth to this little monster ;) But when that "little tiny monster" looks into your eyes and throws one of their lovely smiles, all the frustration is gone and your heart just melts.

Anyway...I digress. The intention of this post is for me to document a few key milestones before my amnesia sets in and all of those first few months are a blur. I am noticing that is already happening when my friends who are new mommies call me with questions and I cannot seem to give them exact details inspite of me just having gone through this a year ago. Strange isn't it? Is it pregnancy induced stupidity (which apparently lasts forever) or is it this natural amnesia setting in that makes you forget all the sleepless nights and all the endless research we did on issues that now seem mundane such as nipple confusion, baby acne, nursing positions, storing breast milk, etc.

So, before amnesia sets in, here I go with a few basic questions I have been asked lately and a few general items that might slip my mind later...

Q. When did I switch my little one from breast milk to formula?

A. The first time we gave her formula was when she was 9.5 months old and that was because we were flying with her for the first time ever and I wanted to be able to give her the bottle in the flight. Storing and preparing formula was much more convenient in the journey and during our stay at Detroit (we were visiting my friend N for a long weekend) so I got her to taste and get used to formula. Although it turned out that the amount of breast milk I carried with me to the trip was sufficient enough and I did not have to pump at all that weekend. Which reminds me that the pumping session I did just before leaving home to board that Detroit flight was the last time I pumped. And even I didn't know that would be my last expressing of bm when I was doing it. Strange na? In any case, when I started formula, I gave her a bottle of 1/4 formula and 3/4 bm to get her used to the taste. Gradually in a week or two, I decreased the amount of bm and increased the amount of formula in the bottle until she got used to the new taste.

Q. How and when did my little one wean off completely from nursing?

A. As explained above, my baby was pretty much weaned during the day when she was around 11 months or so. She did get breast milk through a bottle though from the packets I stored for her in the freezer until around 10.5 months or so. The only time she would nurse from me was at nights to go to bed and when she woke up due to hunger and needed my milk and my comfort to go back to sleep. Since I had stopped pumping at 9.5 months, I reduced my nursing sessions to only nights. I must mention here that nature is a beautiful thing - it only produces the amount of milk that is being consumed. So I still had milk supply to fulfill her night time sessions. I wanted to continue this through our big move to India to make it a little easier on her through this transition...and I am glad I did coz she needed this comfort (and the antibodies that bm provides) to adjust to all the travel and the new life here in India. Once we were finally settled in our new home in Bangalore (N was 13 months then), I started cutting down on the night time feeding frequency too. So I gave her a bottle to go to bed and only nursed when she woke up during the night. Gradually when she was around 14.5 months, I realized that the amount of milk she got through nursing when she woke up at nights was not enough to put her back to sleep. So she was still getting up hungry and crying after the nursing session too. And that is when I brought it to a complete stop and chose to give her a bottle of cow's milk at nights too. By this time she was already off formula and on cow's milk during the day. So this is how I weaned my little precious off breast milk and off nursing.

Q. When did I start her on a bottle? My baby does not take the bottle at all.

A. We were constantly told by our pediatricians and lactation consultants to introduce a bottle at the right age - any earlier and they might have nipple confusion and any later and they risk a chance of bottle aversion (preferring the breast and refusing the bottle). So we were told to start introducing the bottle between 4-6 weeks of age once breastfeeding is well established.

Q. How and when did you get her to sleep through the night without her waking for milk in between?

A. We had missed the boat on teaching the baby to sleep through the night before they learn to sit up by letting them "cry it out". This is mostly on purpose since we just did not believe a little one needs to go through so much grief and trauma to sleep. In any case, now that she was old enough to stand up and always needed a bottle of milk to go back to sleep, one of the tips we were given at this age was to give them warm water instead of milk when they get up in the middle of the night. So when she was 14.5 months old, I had weaned her off completely from nursing. But she was getting up atleast twice in the night for milk and I would have to carry her to the kitchen, warm the bottle of milk and then feed it to her every night atleast twice. When I finally started to get tired of this routine at around 15 months or so, I started keeping a bottle of warm water by my bedside. And so at the 2am feeds, I gave her that instead of milk. Obviously she resisted, cried and was a little frustrated for a week but I did not give in. Even if that meant me rocking her for an hour to lull her back to sleep. I fought it through and sure enough after a week or so of this persistence, she decided its not worth it to get up for milk after all :-) So the only feed left was at 5am when I lovingly got up and gave her the bottle of milk. Around a month later when I learnt that milk at night can cause tooth decay in babies, I started the effort to wean her off the 5 am bottle as well. This was obviously not as easy as the 2 am one so instead of water, I gave her a bottle of 1/2 milk and 1/2 water. She hated that and refused it at times or had an ounce of it at times and went back to sleep. This effort is still ongoing so I will update you when I am done with it. But this is essentially the way that worked for me to encourage her to sleep through the night. I think the most helpful article that helped me work on this was the one in the book "What to Expect in the Toddler Years" where they do a great job of explaining how this is a vicious circle of demand and supply. Baby knows that if she demands, she will always get the supply of milk at night. So you have to basically break this circle by cutting down on supply - either gradually or cold turkey is up to you.

Q. My 1 year old baby eats veggies in khichdi but how do I make sure he is taking enough fruits in a day?

A. When N was 1 year old, I stopped steaming, blending and pureeing fruits for her. She enjoyed eating fruits as is. I used to cut and peel apple slices coz she did not like the peel and she ate them happily. Her grandpa used to peel orange slices, deseed them and even take out their inner peel and offer. She also ate pomegranate though I was scared of those seeds initially but she ended up loving pomegranate. We offered most fruits such as papaya, banana, grape halves etc. just as is - no stewing or anything. Like my pediatrician says, babies' preferences keep changing. So don't worry too much - just give him what they seems to like.

Will update with more FAQs as and when I remember...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy 2009! Adios 2008!

What a year it has been - 2008. My inlaws and then my parents visited us in California early 2008. And then just a few months later, we made a huge decision of our lives - to make the move back to India after over a decade in the US. We celebrated our little one's first birthday in Aug 2008 and then moved back to India in the same month (actually just 2 days after she turned one!). Just 3 months later, we made our first road trip in India with little N all by ourselves - just as we were used to in the US. Hopped on in the car and drove off to the hills of Coorg. Celebrated Christmas and dear hubby's bday there and then got back home to Bangalore for New Years.

You know what I won't forget about 2007 ever? The fact that I became a mom for the first time in that year. And our cozy marriage of 2 now turned into a cheerful family of 3.

And you know, what I won't forget about 2008 ever? Not just the fact that I gave in to the idea of moving back to India (which I always just kept hearing about from my hubby and kept shrugging it off as if it is a distant dream). But also the horrific events that unfolded soon after our move - the horrible Mumbai terror attack in Nov 2008. I think that entire episode changed something in me forever. The passive patriot in me that was sleeping somewhere suddenly woke up and all of a sudden, I felt we made the right decision to move back and do something for our own country and IN our own country for once.

Sigh! I do hope and pray that 2009 brings cheer and joy to all. My resolution this year is to do whatever I can to make my country a place that is safe enough for my child to be raised in.