Monday, August 27, 2007

No sleep, no hunger

The past fours days have been very weird. We can't figure out if it is apart of his growing up or if he is not keeping well. His activities seem quite normal. He crawls up and down a zillion times. From a totally non-fussy eater, he has turned into one cranky monster. He just refuses to take any food - no milk, no water, no solids. He just finishes about half his bottle and maybe 2 spoons of carrot. I can't quite recollect the last time he had proper dinner in the past week. I find it hard to believe that a kid who would crawl quickly to me at the sight of his bottle or cup now has such a huge aversion to food. He tries toppling it or starts beating me once I feed him. Its been impossible to hold him. He goes to bed at 7:00 p.m. which makes him wake up at 4:30 a.m. Quite tiring to keep up to his schedule now.
Suspecting a stomach bug, my mom suggested I give him 2 spoons of omam (ajwain) water with a little sugar. This seems to have helped for now.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The cover story

There is a bedtime ritual the family has been following religiously for over 5 years now. I have recently come to calling The Seniol, the "Dakkan man". He tucks the family into bed every night.

Before LG came in to our lives, The Seniol did night duty, no not like the diaper duty of his now. He would wake up 2 or 3 times in the night to drink water and then see to it the mosquito mat is on, the windows are closed and that the room is neither too hot nor too cold. And then he would arrange the sheet on me properly tucking me in properly and it would stay that way for what, maybe a maximum of 5 mins. Five years is a long time to do that night after night. Sometimes, I felt like a child and not a grown up to be pampered so much. I could manage the show impeccably well when he was traveling but when it came to the nights, I was horrible at that, sleeping under the cot out of fear, forgetting to put on the mat or close the windows and forget about the sheets on top.

With the arrival of LG in our lives, the privilege has gone to him. The Seniol makes his bed every time when he is at home and it is LG's sleep time. The finesse with which he executes this is remarkable. The rubber mat goes first. On top of it, a big enough cotton cloth so that he doesn't feel too cold. And then a fortress of pillows form a boundary around his sleep area. There is a designated spot for each of the 6 pillows, the round ones at the foot and just above his head with the four flat ones on his side. The two small pillows are laid horizontally to each other. He checks his clothing every time before putting him to bed. And then the fan is regulated. It is funny because after such an elaborate arrangement which in itself takes 5-10 mins, when he puts LG in this inviting comfortable sleep area, he kneels hits the pillows, removes the covers and the area looks a mess in no time. Not amusing any more and feeling bad for The Seniol, I asked him "why do you do this when you know he is just going to disturb the whole setting within seconds? wouldn't it be nice to do this after he goes to sleep?" For which The Seniol replied, "It just makes me happy. So what if he creates a mess. I just want him to feel good when he goes to bed." A nice thought but I don't know if the crawling machine really understands this :) This exercise has sure done one thing - it makes me feel he at times is a much better parent than I.

LG's shorts stay on him shorter than what it takes to get it cleaned. Sometimes for less than 60 seconds. I prefer wearing him cotton shorts when at home as it is comfortable for him than using nappy pads or diapers, which also means I've to be on my toes to see if susu aunty visited him. His friendship with susu aunty goes a long way back and the bond is only growing stronger by the day with the rains and cool weather not helping :)
The process of getting a clean chaddi on an average takes about 1 day - the washing cycle happening every night followed by drying which takes anywhere between 8 to 10 hours depending on the weather, then folding and finally it makes to his basket. Finally, when it reaches its intended destination, all it stays is for a good 1 hour at the most and least for 60 seconds.
I don't know if there is an ideal age to potty train a baby. I've begun it for LG a week back. His potty sessions go by the clock anywhere between 6:45 a.m. - 7:30 a.m., immediately after his morning feed. The predictable nature of it worked well for us. I was so happy on day 1 when I placed him on the potty chair and lo, he was done within 5 minutes and seemed so comfortable playing with this new toy :) The Seniol took a picture of his, wonder what LG might have to say when he grows up to see this one :)

I'm going bonkers trying to Lil General to sleep. I spend way too much time trying LG to get to sleep. If it takes 45 mins to put him to sleep, he gets up in 20 mins making me go crazy. I can't get anything done around the house. cooking has become round the clock activity because nothing is done in one sitting.

It is not LG's fault that he can't sleep while he wants to. The noise levels at home are way beyond tolerant levels for any sane human being. The wood work downstairs at our owner's place has been going on for a goddamn 60 days. Just when its almost done, some water proofing work has started on the terrace. And our dear neighbour next door has started putting asbestos sheet over his sidewalk which has been on for a week now. From 7:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m., the only sound I can hear is that of drilling, chipping off concrete, hammering, welding and carpentry. A few more days of this insanity and we will go deaf.

LG's tolerance for noise was high since the bedroom he spent the first four months was by a busy roadside. So he slept through this noise when we came here. He really slept like a baby. But now, I guess its proving too much for him too. He is just a 8 month old baby after all....

If you are a male who is not a father yet and are scared of holding small babies, then don't worry, you are not alone!

A friend of ours delivered a year before we came parents and two hours later after this kid was born, we went to see her at the hospital which is just around the corner from where we live. It was well past 9:00 p.m. and she was so tiny wrapped all around with heads covered and just the face visible. As the kids granny handed her in my arms, I was apprehensive to hold someone so small, scared if I would hold her right and it wouldn't hurt her. yet I did a good job and held her for 2-3 mins. Having grown in a family teeming with young cousins, I had seen a lot of newborns so it came as a surprise about my not being confident.

The Seniol on the other hand stood at a hand's distance and looked at the baby and marveled at how small the hands and feet were. A year later. 19th December, 2006. 7:30 a.m. The Seniol was looking over LG's crib scared of picking him up for fear of hurting his teeny-weeny body. He just sat on the bed opposite me admiring his product touching his little limbs, awed at how long his nails were, those small eyes that refused to open up, while my brother picked up LG and held him in his arms. He couldn't stop saying how babies are small and that their fingers were small. The whole family was behind him to make him carry LG. And he did finally but the fear didn't go away for a week. Once we were home, there was such a huge transformation. For a fortnight after that, Lil General slept only on The Seniol's shoulders. When he left for Pune again, his shoulders were much missed at 3 a.m.

We were seeing the movie Pyar ... ke side effects yesterday and the scene were Rahul Bose is scared of holding his sister's baby reminded me of The Seniol's fear of holding the most fragile thing this world.

Johnson's baby powder smells and feels good. The touch of the powder against one's skin leaves a pleasant feeling and it is easy to get carried away and apply the same on your baby at regular intervals assuming it will make the baby feel good too. For years, grannies in India have taught new mothers how to keep their babies clean and looking good, an important part of which is to white wash the baby with powder.

For four weeks after Lil General's birth I applied Johnson's baby powder after his bath, diaper changes and every time I changed his dress. Thankfully, there were no side effects that were immediately evident. I refrained from using the same thereafter on Doctor's advice. He said it was enough to keep the baby dry without sweat getting accumulated under the fold, armpits etc. This worked. I would just pat him dry with a clean cloth. The weather was not too hot then to get very sweaty. He did not have any diaper rashes either as I mostly used cloth nappies and cotton shorts only.

Your baby's skin is smooth naturally and doesn't need any makeup, at least not yet!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Crawling before sitting

LG is on a mission. He is on his fours unravelling the mystery of what is there in every room, why some rooms are always closed, waiting for an opportunity to push his way through when the doors are open. He has learnt to climb over the diwan, pull himself up, crawl over us and sleep on The Seniol's tummy.

I was told that kids generally sit first and then they learn how to crawl. That phase did not happen in his case. He started by crawling and is still struggling to sit without support.

Nestum Rice- Stage 1 has been a key component of Lil General's diet since he was six months old. He enjoys eating it mixed with mashed vegetables, curd or formula milk. As usual I opened a new carton of Nestum Rice yesterday afternoon and fed him. In the night I emptied the contents into LG's labeled Nestum container that had been washed and dried that morning. To my horror, I saw tiny black mustard like things in the contents of the pack - almost the size of mustard seeds, maybe a little bigger. on closer examination, I realized they were actually bug. Who would have imagined in their wildest dreams for kid's cereal to have bugs. The Seniol went immediately to get it replaced and wrote a letter of complaint as well to Nestle Foods. If this is the state of branded products, then I wonder where we are going?

It also explains LG's smelly dysentery episode since Sunday night. I had spotted 2 or 3 such black things earlier but dismissed them as ingredients of Nestum when I very well knew it is crystal white with no additives. I should have inspected the earlier carton better. The dysentery is slightly under control now but not totally - smelly potty 5-6 times a day containing questionable stuff in it and the texture no better. The discomfort he was at every night as he had those bowel movements are still a nightmare. He has been waking up precisely at 1:30 a.m. every night and would continue with his potty activity until 2:00 a.m. Sometimes, home made stuff is better than these packaged foods.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

No respite from daily drudgery

Every parent thinks they were better off when their kids were much younger. when your infant is 6 months old, you feel he was much more manageable when he was a newborn for you didn't have to deal with child proofing your home or keeping a watch on him all the time as he rolls over or crawls. At 9 months when he is able to stand you think, crawling was still manageable as he would reach the TV cabinet or empty the contents of your higher shelves in the cupboard. The reality is every stage of a child's development presents its own challenges and you learn to cope with them all kids grow so do you mentally. Think about it for a minute, a newborn gave you sleepless nightmares, so a six month old who sleeps through the night is much better that way even if he keeps you on your toes through the day, isn't it?

When Lil General was a month old and I was not fit physically after delivery, though I did not get any sleep in the night, I had all the support of my family and domestic helps who took care of all the household chores. Now 8 months after LG's birth, I'm physically well and can run around, the demands have also grown proportionally with me running the show alone. Sometimes you are exposed to only so much you can take :)

Off days are numerous when the maids goes on a long leave of absence and I plunge into madness trying to get all the stuff done around home while handling LG. Its a choice I made to stay home. So sometimes I think, either I can bitch about it and stay gloomy spreading the infectious unpleasantness to those around me or I can get done with it all as quickly as I can and be happy doing thing I love to which is losing money on the stock market :) Today is just one of those days when nothing goes well, hence this post. I already feel better after writing this. Now I can get back to work. The daily drudgery is for here to stay. I will have to work ways around it to keep me and my family cheerful.

According to BabyCenter's newsletter for a 7 month, 2 week old baby ,

You've always known that you and your baby are two separate creatures, but she hasn't. To her, the two of you are one — she has no identity of her own yet. When you put her in front of a mirror, she doesn't even realise that the baby she sees is herself. But this month she'll make a huge mental leap and finally understand that she's an individual, with her own body, thoughts, and feelings. This jump in understanding opens the door to her growing emotional and physical independence, which will take years to fully develop.

This is so true. He is beginning to get an identity of his own. Lil General is always on a exploratory mode, trying to see how everything in the world tastes from the mirror to Netgear to carpet to music system to atta. Children have the maximum nerve endings in their mouth and they perceive the world through their taste of things apparently, that kinda explains why he is always eyeing one thing or the other to put in his mouth.

We are amazed at the development and changes in a week. Every week, every day is a new beginning and he doesn't cease to astonish us with the things he does. Climbing over 2 pillows like rock climbing to fall on back on his head, head banging his way through upright pillows as though he is making his way through the great wall of china is not out of normal now. What is abnormal is his change in behavior, looking at me after every move of his for appreciation,, acknowledgement etc and when he knows he is up to something mischievous not looking me in the eye and giving that sheepish smile and looking from the corner of his eye.

He sure knows how to get his way. He has perfected the art of cause and effect. Crying and screaming can get things done, the boy has realised. It took us a while to understand he was just throwing tantrums and nothing was actually bothering him.

Last night, I cried out for help in pain. Lil General was all over me. He crawled and climbed over me and attacked my face and caught a fistful of hair in both his hands and refused to let go. I just couldn't get him off me and I asked The Seniol to help me out. This was definitely not a 7 month old kid. All of this because I playfully teased him by taking away his favorite pillows and placed them over me. We just wanted to see if he understands what is his stuff and what is not. He sure does!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My baby's diet - 8th month

LG is growing every week. So are his activities and his appetite. Ever since he started crawling, I've notice a change in his feeding routine and the quantity of food he consumes. Until a day or two back, I did not realise that he is hungry when he would start beating me after the feeds or food time which meant he was not satisfied and wanted more. On an experimental basis I increased the quantity little by little and now he sleeps happily and looks contented too. An active crawling baby obviously would need more intake than the one who used to lie on his back all day.

8:00 a.m. - 200 ml of porridge - made from 4 scoops of formula and 4 spoons of ragi.
11:00 a.m. - 1 Mashed carrot and tomato
1:30 p.m. - Dal rice or 6 scoops of Nestum Rice/Rice-ragimixed with curd. Or 4 scoops of Easum mixed with curd.
3:00 p.m. - Mother's feed
4:30 p.m. - 120 ml/ 150 ml of formula
6:30 p.m. - Mashed banana or apple or Marie biscuit.
8:30 p.m. - 6 scoops of Nestum.

This month I have also tried Idli in curd and potato. He understands the taste in difference but was ok having it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The best of Beethoven dies a natural death

LG likes listening to Beethoven and Mozart everyday. The homegrown Tansen had probably been hearing too much of the same stuff everyday, so he took it upon himself to give him a break. He pulled the cassette out while it was playing so the strip was dangling out by the time I reached to figure out why music stopped. The damage had been done. The mischievous grin on his face said, "Momma, who listens to cassettes these days. Grow up, get me an iPod or play the damn Bose outside, till them I will live with the CDs here."

The lean mean crawling machine is on a destruction mission and I'm on a damage-control spree. Restricting him only makes him want to do that more and more. So I've let him loose and he happily crawls the spacious house back and forth between the drawing room and the bedroom stopping over briefly at the kitchen to check if the atta bag is still intact, until he gets tired. The floors are generally kept dust-free so I'm not worried letting him do what he wants while I watch from behind what he is up to. Playing peek-a-boo is fun too.

The Seniol calls it the Domino effect. Saturday night, Lil General went to bed a little early and woke up around 9:50 p.m. with a high pitched cry that slowly gave into howling ..we got scared. Nothing soothed him and he kept crying for a good 25 mins. Hugging, comforting on the shoulders, feeding, nothing at all. Helpless I just kept rocking him not knowing what was bothering him. I did a quick mental run of what he was fed that day and if some new food was causing a tummy ache. We knew it had to be ant bite but just couldn't find that damn small red ant. When he finally stopped crying, I noticed his lips swell. An ant had bit him there and on the temple :(
The incessant crying gave way to cold and cough the next morning and crankiness crept in a day later with restless sleep the following nights. Finally after the visit to the Paed, he is doing better.