Late realization that the 3 part story on how LG was born should belong to this space. Cross linking from my other blog.

A Labor Story : The story of how LG was born - Part 1
A Labor Story contd… - Part 2
A Labor Story : Concluding part

Saturday, April 26, 2008

How Lil' General got his real name

I don't quite remember the history of how I started referring to my foetus as Lil' General. Those were the days when The Seniol and I wound up watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S on TV from 7:00 p.m. on Star World after returning from work. I believe I must have have been around Week 25 when I first started feeling the kicks prominently and some mild movement. The funny agitation inside felt as if the little baby had more control over my body kicking around - there was something bossy about that whole thing briefly. Those of you who are fans of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S sitcom know what the term actually means..alright now don't shudder at the thought. Anyways, that's how it all started I guess when I had to give the unborn-then-baby a name while referring to what he/she was up to in my conversations with The Seniol and that's how we jointly came up with the term Lil' General that slowly became LG here.

As far as the real name goes, we hadn't settled on a name even 10 days after he was born : even on the day of his punyajananam. None of the names I picked anybody really liked. What my in-laws liked, my parents didn't and what my parents did they didn't/ But no one really objected to anything and they left it to me in the end to pick whatever I liked. It was to be MY decision. Which made it even worse for I'm REALLY BAD at making a decision. I dilly dallied for days and then randomly settled on one when the nurse came by one evening to fill in the birth certificate. I was more than positive that it was going to be a boy even before the birth of LG so hadn't given much thought to girl names. Though over the years, I had taken a liking to the following names for boys and girls:

Boys: Anubhav
Girls: Sakshi, Tasha, Tamanna, Mia

And here I read about how consultants are hired even for naming one's own baby. Is it too much for the parents to even name their own baby? Now that's what I call creating employment.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Should you get your baby a walker?

My son, Lil'General took his first step independently (with no support) when we was two days short of completing 15 months. Worried family advised me repeatedly to get a walker to initiate his walking. Most kids I have come across recently were running around on their first birthday parties. I admit it got me a little worried but every milestone was slightly delayed with LG so I was less hassled and let him do it at his own pace. His crawling came at 6 months before sitting at 7 months. Initially, his Paed attributed it to his body weight.

Anyways, when in doubt I generally check Dr. Spock to clear my apprehensions which had strictly recommended against the use of walker. And the monthly newsletters from Baby Center helped too in saying that it is no point in forcing your baby to walk. It is a natural process and they feel confident about taking that first step only when their muscles arr fully developed and strong enough to hold them. Some do it early, some do it late - eventually they all end up where we are.

If you are in doubt of whether to use a walker or not, go ahead and read this.

The Seniol's favorite destination last year was South Africa (ofcourse if you don't count the toilet!) On his second visit, he narrated tales of how he found kids in South Africa going barefoot in public places - in the malls, restaurants and on the streets. Normal kids of all races from well to do families who were dressed impeccably nice but had no footwear. So, poverty had little to do with it. He found it rather strange and funny and assumed there must be logical reason to it and inquired his colleagues at work. Turns out kids until the age of four generally go barefoot because that's the way it is - passed down generations. Apparently they believe it leads to good formation of legs and makes them stronger. I decided to do a bit of my own research and this is all I could find. Tertia of So Close confirms this practice too. On a unrelated note, Tertia has a sad and interesting history of infertility and an entertaining bio to read.

Back to the shoe saga, I had put off buying sandals or shoes for Lil' General until now. Didn't find a good reason to buy one. It's been a month and half since he started walking but I've rarely let him walk outside - it's been confined to indoors and the car park so far. Of late, I've been finding it to difficult to shop with him on my shoulders as the roads are either too hot or not clean enough to let him go barefoot. Finally, I decided to get him a pair of comfy strap-on sandals. It was funny the first time he wore it. There he was acting like one doing a space walk. He's slowly getting used to it and loves the freedom of walking on real roads like adults that he keeps looking at me finding it hard to believe he is one among us now taking in all the sights so familiar to him, again. The smile ion his face makes me forget those long afternoons nagging me without sleeping. No one ever tells you these simple pleasures of parenthood.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Packaged baby foods in India

The fussy eating phase of a toddler is quite testing on a parent and I've been grappling with these periods too often lately. After the initial experiment with the Heinz baby food brought by dad from Middle East, I started looking out locally for similar packaged baby foods. And, I was glad to have found Gerber. Not easily available everywhere but in a few select upscale supermarkets, I believe toddlers going through the fussy-eating phase are generally advised by Paeds to be put on these packaged foods. With pursed lips and a head always position 180 degree to mine when food was in sight, it was relief when he took kindly to spoonfuls of this baby food.

It comes in different flavors such as Blueberry, Peach, Apple, Mixed Fruit so you have something different to try every time offering your kids a different flavor and texture. I don't have the habit of eating spoonfuls of NaN and Cerelac like The Seniol but since this was new food, I tasted the Mixed Fruit which had a strong Mango flavor to it. Having tried Mango pulp just that morning, I was positive, he wouldn't like it and was instead surprised to finding him gulping the bottle. Priced at Rs.110 a bottle that weighs 180 g, it is expensive for a single feed. I believe it is available in smaller sizes as well and is priced differently in other cities.

If you are in Pune, you can shop for it at Ozone in Aundh. Do let me know if you've found it in other places in Pune.

A good review of Berger here.

Two little hands to clap clap clap
Two little legs go tap tap tap
One little head goes side to side
Two little eyes that shine so bright
One little mouth to kiss mama good night

So goes the jingle that Lil' General loves to dance and clap to. Today he completes 16 months. Very soon I won't have to say his age in months - he will have graduated to years. Kids this age grow like a weed. Seems like yesterday the same time last year when all he would do was lie on the rug in the drawing room and aimlessly wiggle his feet and hands. That must have been boring to watch everyone around move about while one laid still all the time.

This has been a busy month with his grand parents visiting and he becoming more expressive than ever. Hugs and showering love by sitting on my lap come at the most unexpected times. Lots of them and all the time that I sometimes can barely take it anymore. I am greeted with a grinning Lil' General sitting on my tummy just after I've had food. Sometimes I am afraid I would end up puking - thanks to the number of push-ups he does on my tummy. Finds it more cushioning than The Seniol's so can't blame him for that, can I?

A few other highlights of the month
- gyrates to the tunes of mauja hi mauja from Jab We Met and any song that has some fast beats even if it were from a passing car on the road. At times, we think the boy has no taste when he dances to some real boring numbers from equally boring movies like Apne.

- point happily to his eyes and says the word too when he sings the jingle plays

- tantrums are at a peak and he screams for no good reason. Gets angry in a second. Blaming it on genes?

- vocabulary has increased to accommodate two more words - baby / bhabhi and eyes. Since both sound so similar I can't tell which one it is.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

From a good eater to a fussy eater

The Seniol and I are having a hard time since last week trying to feed Lil' General. The atmosphere is tense often resulting in our tempers flaring for no good reason - it's just the frustration and helplessness at not being able to make LG have anything. He was always known to be a good eater if not a great one - finished his servings without much fuss if he was hungry. Lately, I had taken to giving him his meals only when he was hungry without forcing him even if it was time. The past 5 days have been crazy as he has been predominantly on a milk and porridge diet with little intake in the form of solids. I've tried everything possible - his favorite, new foods, small portions, different settings, alone, ajwain water - nothing seems to work. The aversion at the sight of anything that resembles food is so high that we are surprised - this coming from a kid who wanted anything and everything that was on our plate.

It just got worse since yesterday after my parents left. He was quite attached to my mother and every time she leaves he gets upset though doesn't show it or probably doesn't know how to express it. The emptiness is all too evident this time - she stayed for over 21 days the two were a rocking a pair - they bonded so well that he cared little about my presence while she was here. He would wake up at 6:00 a.m. and keep looking at the toilet from his bed for my mom to come by. Once she switched on the lights of the bathroom, he would get all excited and cling to her and both of them would sit in the balcony and gaze at the morning-walk people and dogs and generally have a good time while his lazy parents slept for another 30 mins.

What helped a bit was 3 packs of baby food that dad brought along. They were flavored yogurts - blueberry, banana and peach and LG loved it. It's over now. Moreover, I can't just put him on a diet of off-the-shelf baby foods in India - for one, it is not easily available here and secondly, it is ridiculously expensive. As a last resort, we requested a friend who lives in the city to get us 3 bottles from 0-zone this morning.

I can't quite figure out what's bothering him after mom left - if he's missing her and dad, or if it's the heat or just his growing up and changing tastes. Whatever it is, this phase is definitely not one I would like to remember as part of his growing up.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sounds of silence

Often I tell everyone how I like it when Lil' General is asleep and hush-hush everyone to keep their voices low, lower the volume on TV and put the ringer on telephone to the lowest tone to the extent I end up missing most phone calls. My parents often get frustrated trying to reach me that I see their calls sometimes a day later. I know it's insane but that's how much I value LG's sleep. He is so fond of telephones and mobile phone that the faintest ring will awaken the demon from his deepest sleep.

Do you recall the scene from F.R.I.E.N.D.S when Frank Jr. thanks Phoebe as she says she will baby sit the kids and he kisses his sleeping triplets on The Central Perk sofa. The kiss almost awakens one child when in panic he puts her to sleep again frightened at the thought of the three musketeers waking up.

Lil' General is no different from any other toddler who is a handful. I can't make him sit at one place, he won't play with his toys, won't see the nursery rhymes - has to be on his toes constantly pulling vessels off the shelf, climbing on the sofa, plucking leaves, scattering toys etc. I don't have a problem with any of these after all that's what kids are supposed to do right? If they were sitting at one place all day, wouldn't they be us and how boring would it get. It's just that I can't match his energy and keep to his pace in keeping this bank to where they belong.

Last week, when he kept falling off and slept longer than usual, the house was silent. It troubled my parents and The Seniol so much so that they kept visiting LG's room every 10 minutes waiting for him to get up. Mom even complained of getting bored and said how she wished to go back every time he slept. But once he woke up, she felt all chirpy. It was funny to see the three of them so restless while I put my feet up and enjoyed my time out. But yes, I have to agree the sounds of silence is more haunting than the barking bow-bow sounds he makes.

For the first time since Lil' General was born, The Seniol and I went on a drive alone. LG stayed home with home with mom. It just didn't feel right; we were missing a significant part of us. We couldn't even remember the last time we went out together - probably a year and half. It felt like two strangers - funny how a kid changes your life, your marriage and every relationship. Reminds me of a quote The Seniol often says - a kid is a like a piece of your heart walking outside your body. We'd left ours back a home that day - no wonder it felt odd.

So should have read Lil General's weekly forecast for last week. He was busy getting hurt all the time. It got so bad on Saturday that if he was falling down on his head one minute then burning his fingers in boiling water the next minute. Even simple walking seemed lie a difficult task for he slipped and hurt his head and his usual game of getting on to the toy car proved dangerous for he rolled over and fell by the sofa. By afternoon he had enough bruises that I felt like keeping him safe on my lap the rest of the day. It got better for a while and today he is up to his act again.

The ice cubes and cold gel are working overtime. Part of growing up but it hurts to see one's own child scream in pain :(

Sales of Kellogg's would skyrocket in rural India if one were to lay hands on this news item.

Makes me wonder if our habit of eating Kellogg's all these years (6 ?) has anything to do with the birth of Lil' General. Alright, alright I know it's only during the period of conception that the research talks about. Whatever it is - son or daughter, I swear by the bowl of cereals poured in cold milk. Healthy, easily digestible, makes way for a great appetite for lunch, no preparation time and fast to eat!

New research by UK scientists provides the first evidence that a child’s sex is associated with the mother’s diet

A new study by the Universities of Exeter and Oxford, shows a clear link between higher energy intake around the time of conception and the birth of sons.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, focused on 740 first-time pregnant mothers in the UK, who did not know the sex of their foetus. They were asked to provide records of their eating habits before and during the early stages of pregnancy.
They were then split into three groups according to the number of calories consumed per day around the time they conceived.
Fifty-six per cent of the women in the group with the highest energy intake at conception had sons, compared with 45 per cent in the lowest group.
Besides consuming more calories, women who had sons were more likely to have eaten a wider range of nutrients, including potassium, calcium and vitamins C, E and B12.
There was also a strong correlation between women eating breakfast cereals and producing sons.
“This research findings are very interesting,” said Dr Fiona Mathews of the University of Exeter. “Here we have evidence of a ‘natural’ mechanism that means that women appear to be already controlling the sex of their offspring by their diet.”
Scientists already know that in many animals, more sons are produced when a mother has plentiful resources or is high ranking. The phenomenon has been most extensively studied in invertebrates, but is also seen in horses, cows and some species of deer.
The explanation is thought to lie with the evolutionary drive to produce descendants.
“Potentially, males of most species can lead to more offspring than females, but poor quality males fail to breed at all. Females, on the other hand, reproduce more consistently,” Dr Mathews explained. “If a mother has plentiful resources then it makes sense to invest in producing a son because he is likely to produce more grandchildren than would a daughter. However, in leaner times having a daughter is a safer bet.”
Although sex is genetically determined by fathers, the real mechanism is not yet completely understood in mammals, but it is known from IVF research that high levels of glucose encourage the growth and development of male embryos while inhibiting female embryos.
In humans, skipping breakfast depresses glucose levels and so may be interpreted by the body as indicating poor environmental conditions and low food availability.
The group of women taking part in the study was representative of the UK average in terms of the weight, health and lifestyle.
Although this research provides the first link between a human mother’s diet and the sex of her offspring, there is still no evidence that diet during pregnancy – rather than around the time of conception – plays any role in the sex of a foetus.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Recipe : Prasava / delivery legiyam

One of the first things, a new mother is offered is the legiyam. Legiyam - a native medicine is readily available in many shops in Chennai these days but my granny believed in making it herself for me. Legiyam is traditionally prepared every Diwali as it helps in digestion after consuming all those heavy-duty ghee-dripping sweets and snacks. The ingredients of this medicines offered after delivery of a child is slightly different from the deepavali one. This recipe appears frequently in Mangayar Malar.

The one below is from my granny. Most o them are in Tamil and will be available only in native medicine shops.

Manjal - 1 palam
Sukku - 100 gm
Pepper - 1 palam
Chittirathai - 2 palam
Jeeragam - 1 palam
Kandathippili - 2 palam
Arisithippili - 2 palam
Adhimadhram - 1 palam
Siru nagappu - 1 palam
Lavangapattai - 1 palam
Parangipattai - 2 palam
Ela arisi - 1 palam
Cloves - 5 gram
Peru jeeragam - 1 palam
Omam - 100 gram
White pepper - vellai milagu - 20 gram
Jaadikkai - 1
Maasikkai - 1
Kasturi - 3
Corojanai - 1
Vaai vilangam - 1
Khuskhus - 50 g

Once ground and mixed in ghee and honey, store it in a air tight container. Have a small ball of it every morning after your delivery for 6 months. It will help a great deal in your digestion.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The wardrobe conundrum

This post is not about Lil' General, it's about his old fat mommy. I've spent a good part of the past month every evening making trips to various tailors in the neighborhood in a desperate attempt to find someone who can stitch a piece of cloth that fits me without showing the fat at the wrong places. This cannot be blamed on motherhood in entirety, it wouldn't be fair. For years, I've never been satisfied with my wardrobe, never ever. There was always something wrong - I either wore the wrong fabric, the cuts weren't right or it was a size too big; I was infamously known to wear clothes that I fit in or rather that loosely hung over me showing no taste or even the slightest tinge of what was in fashion wearing polyester in the scorching heat and cotton when it was freezing cold - seriously, who does that? To make matters worse was the oily plaited hair - you get the image?

It's all changing now! Turning thirty has given me a sense for dressing. My wardrobe is filled with clothes and yet when I've to step out of the house, it takes a good 10 minute staring at the row of clothes in the wardrobe blankly not able to decide on one happily; so I finally take the easy route and don the pair of overused faded jeans hanging by the door and the first cotton kurta I can lay my hands on. But that's beginning to bother me now. Lil' General is well dressed every time he steps out - I don't want to be mistaken for his nanny so in an attempt to keep up my mommy image I'm slowly discarding clothes that I wouldn't ever wear making space for clothes that I would cheerfully wear. still, discarding all of them is a long way. Office clothes, casual wear, woolens, salwars - they are just eating up my space serving no purpose. To get things in perspective I realized most of the clothes have been gifted either by my parents or in-laws with just a couple of them being my choice and that's where the problem began. I've earnestly requested both of them not to get me any more.

I'm no where close to my pre-pregnancy weight. But most of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit amazingly well. Right now, I have a pair of cargos and a pair of jeans that seem to work well for all occasions. Whenever I'm on a shopping trip and eye a dressy salwar, I scratch my head to think of an occasion when I would get to wear them. Seriously - not to the grocer's or not to the park, then when? And, this is exactly how I've been putting off buying new clothes. I'm doing with getting some unstitched ones stitched to my taste for now. Motherhood makes your choices tough. You don't want to try hard to look younger than your age or wear ones that are inappropriate like a tight tee. I've seen women my age who are unmarried or married with no kid looks graceful even in those tight tees. All of that changes with a baby. See, these are things one doesn't tell you. Anyway, I hope the wardrobe conundrum will be soon over and it will be good-bye to my 5 year old jeans.