Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The magic of the ordinary


If there is one thing we can learn from new borns it is the magic of everyday things. Every day is different, every night is unique, every toy provides new joy, every view is looked at from a different perspective.
The tree that sways outside the window, the grown ups in the house have forgotten its species or even what it looks like. It is a basic tree, standing outside our building, which can be seen through the window.
But for Aria, the tree is something more than just a green thing. Every day she looks at it with wonder in her eyes. It is difficult to understand how she can look at the tree with the same enthusiasm every day. It is like she discovers a new part of its being every time she looks at it and is thrilled by the discovery.

Every day is bright and full of curiosity. She can spend hours looking at the vehicles on the road. The make, speed or design of the cars and bikes does not matter to her. The details are irrelevant when faced with the joy of movement. Every passing vehicle introduces her to a new world - the world of slow cars, and fast cars, cautious drivers and rash drivers, women with scarves tied around their faces and men with masks on the bikes, the sun light dancing on the radiator grills, the smoke billowing out of the exhaust, the potholes and the way they make bikers swerve and cars slow.

Every day on our walks we cross the BSNL telephone lines red box and every day we need to stand next to it for a few minutes to admire its bright red color and see the play of contrasts of the white lettering on the red box, She does not need to understand the words written on the box, just their presence there in their pure white color, offsetting the bright red paint is enough.

What is the color of the fan in your bedroom? We know its there, doing its duty and circulating air all through the room, but try lying down under it and watch it rotate. You know the mechanics behind it that make it rotate, but just for a second forget that its a fan. We lie under it and coo at it as it goes round and round, the joyful cooing getting more frantic as the fan picks up speed. We have a dark brown fan that looks beautiful against our white ceiling.

Sitting on a bench in the park, look up instead of looking about you. Don't the leaves look different from here, don't the wings of the birds have a different color underneath? Who knew the sky was so blue and the clouds resting on it, as if stuck with glue?

Stand next to a door and feel the whooshing of air as it is opened and closed.
Look at the curtains that bang against the window, as the room door is opened and closed forcefully.
Marvel at the white 0 watt bulb, lighting up its surroundings and scaring away all things lurking in the dark.
Enjoy the music of the water in the bottle as it goes tumbling into a glass.
Wonder at the sheer hard work of the washing machine, for it to grunt and heave so.
Watch the tube light glow like a fairy's wand.
Ponder the dignity of the crystal ware on the shelf and watch as the light rays dancing across try to woo it.
Startle and be amazed by the clinking of the spoons and forks as they toss and turn in the drawer.
Pick out the beautiful patterns on the dresses of people you meet and be mesmerized by them.

Aria has introduced me to a whole new magical world, a world you will understand only if you are held by the guiding hand of an infant - the world of every day things.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

5 things i wish i could have practiced before being thrown into motherhood!

You can never prepare for parenthood, I agree.
But you can learn some skills in advance to make life a little bit easier. I wish someone would ahve told me these techniques.
If you are pregnant, and especially in your ninth month, when time refuses to move forward and the waiting game sucks the energy out of you, try and master these techniques. They will help you later when your little bundle of joy (!) is out.

1. One handed wonder - Now is the perfect time for all the ambidextrous moms to gloat! However, trust your dominant hand to hold the baby, and your train your non dominant one to work. It has had quite a lazy life till now, no more! It is time for it to gear up, work its ass off and master all the routine things that the dominant hand has been doing till now.
Look at me, writing this blog post with one hand. I feel like a super hero! I can make tea with one hand, fold my clothes with one hand, comb my hair and my most recent achievement - have dinner with one hand. Don't mock. It is harder than you think - try it.

2. Ability to wake up in an instant - The little monster is not going to wait for you to get up, rub your eyes, look around, get your bearing, and then feed it. It goes from 0 to 100 on the howl scale in less than a second, faster than even the fastest car on the planet can accelerate. Make this bit cool - pretend you are Bond, or a spy, working in RAW or CIA. Don't you read about their ability to fire the gun in their sleep. Technically, this is the same thing.

3. Ability to sleep in a second - If you are one if the lucky ones, who when they hit the bed instantly get transported to dreamland - parenting is going to be a piece of cake. After getting up in an instant and powering on through the feeding, changing, burping, rocking stages - you are wide awake. And the little monster is snoring softly next to you. Quickly lie down, close your eyes and without a thought in your head go to sleep, because you do not know when you are going to have to get up fresh again!

4. Love precision - Trust me, no matter how laid back you think you are, the one question that is going to bother you the most, and the one thing you are going to google the most - how much milk does my 2 month / 3 month....old need? Baby centre and Kelly Moms are going to help answer that question However, to know how much your little tanker is guzzling, you are going to need to keep a track of time if you are breast feeding and "ml s" or ounces of you are bottle feeding.
It is the same as keeping a track of your baby's kicks in the last month, just with more variables.
Here is a snap shot of my record - the top line is the amount of feed had by Aria and the bottom line is the pumped quantity (i am part of the exclusive pumping movement)
The next most googled thing will be - how many hours should my baby sleep? Again, to teh rescue comes my chart!

5. Master conversions - If you are living in India, or pretty much anywhere in the world but America chances are you will be used to milliliters, kilograms and kilometers. However, the most useful sites will have the all the relevant information in ounces and pounds. It is really frustrating to google "10 pounds to kilograms" every time. Instead just learn the conversion, and convert on the go.

Try and get  hang of these 5 things and see yourself transform into a super parent. Well, actually not. No matter what you do, how much you prepare, the real thing is going to be like a cricket googly ball in a baseball game.

Source: fowlplay

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A while ago, my husband asked me a very basic question. He was telling me how proud he was of the way i was putting my heart into taking care of our baby, Aria.
His question was - Do you find joy in it?
I did not understand what he meant, he elaborated - Do you do it out of a sense of duty or do you find joy in it?

Do i find joy in motherhood?
Do i find joy in my life being taken over by a 2 month old tyrant?
Do i find joy in spending 2 hours out of 24 cleaning poop and pee?
Do i find joy in not being able to sleep for 3 hours straight?
Do i find joy in dreading another sleepless night?
Do i find joy in being turned into a feeding cow?
Do i find joy in being worried continuously about ear, nose infections?
Do i find joy in forever wondering if Aria is getting enough to eat?
Do i find joy in holding her and rocking her till my arms ache and head spins?
Do i find joy in worrying about syncing milk supply and demand?
Do i find joy in not being able to attend the same social events as Sagar, because one of us needs to stay at home to babysit?

A resounding yes.
I would always wonder what mothers meant when they said motherhood changes you, and now i know. It changes you completely, in a way that there is no turning back. It is not something you can explain, or understand. It is one of those things that need to be experienced to be understood.
And that experience changes you, permanently. Even if you want to go back to being the old you, you cannot.
You are in it, hook, line and sinker.
It is not an off hand, you-feel-it-once kind of an experience, it is not a slow progression of emotions that take you to another level of being. It is a wham! happened to me in a moment and changed me forever kind of an experience.
It takes you by surprise, and leaves you feeling breathless, all in moment. And try as you might, you cannot re-create that moment nor describe it.
You come home from the hospital, you have a new baby to take care of, look after all the practical issues of feeding and pooping and sleeping patterns, welcome visitors, make your peace with unsolicited advice, often bordering on ridiculousness, take each day and attack it, trying to fit the changes into your old lifestyle and one fine night, it just hit me - there is no fitting or changing something into my old lifestyle, this is the new lifestyle. This is how it is going to be, because the little thing gurgling at you is yours, your creation, your child, your responsibility.
Every little movement, every little twitch mesmerizes you when you think about how you actually created this little ball of fire and love. You do not want to go back, you want this moment of clarity, of unconditional acceptance, of gratitude to last forever.
You know you are experiencing something truly magical.
You feel like a princess in the fairy tale, more like the fairy godmother, who with the swish of her wand finds her kingdom turned to heaven.



Saturday, April 16, 2016

A day in my life..


There are numerous blogs, articles and books by moms, experts and random people about motherhood - what to do, how to do it, a new mom's feelings, how to cope with them, what to feel, how to feel. But a mother is just one part of the equation of motherhood.
What about the newborn? Have you ever wondered what your baby is thinking? (Let us assume at this point that the baby is capable of a linear, logical, clear thought process)
Again, (as is emphasized in all books) - all babies are different, so are all mothers. What i think my baby thinks may not be applicable to your baby. Your baby might be different or maybe you are not as crazy as i am to go into an imagination spiral - like feeding, changing, burping was not enough to push you into mental exhaustion that I had to come up with a twisted new mental exercise!
But anyway, here goes..

5:00 am - Looks like everyone is fast asleep, I can even hear faint snoring. Seems like a good time for one loud cry to get their attention. BAAHHH!

5:00 am 15 seconds: There! I knew one good cry would be enough. This person seems like the one who gives me my food.  And there she is trying to get me to eat again! Am i hungry..let me see..wait no...I don't think i am very hungry...or wait maybe i am .... I cannot make up my mind. Why can't she just sit still for like an hour or so till i make up my mind.

7:00 am - The family seems to be getting up. I can feel the general stir in the environment. Oh, and there goes - the person who calls herself "nani" is looking at me. Did you just ask me how i was, let me tell you how i am - i do not get the peace i need to make up my mind about my hunger. Your daughter insists on quick decisions. Oh, yes Nanu...peek is absolutely okay to stare at me! And then they say staring is rude. I do not understand these people

9:00 am - I have nothing to do. I am well fed, burped and changed...what to do? Oh well, let me pee just a tiny little bit and then i will have something to cry about. Baaahhh. Oh hello mother! Now that you are here how about feeding me ? oh well, fine, change me first if you must. And no, i do not want to listen to any made up story. Let me eat in peace. Again they teach us to not talk while eating and this one keeps asking me silly questions! Am i expected to answer?

11:00 am - i am bored. Let us try the pee thing again. Baah! Well, where is everyone? Baaah! anyone? Ok, now i am just plain pissed. How many times does one have to cry to get attention? Well, there is someone! Oh, nani you again. Yes, as i was saying I am feeling ignored, i do not want to eat, well maybe on second thought just give me some food!

1:00 pm - Who is that whispering in the corner? Oh god, another family meeting to discuss my poop. Let my poop alone! And no, it is not okay to keep touching my bum! If i pee or crap i will be kind enough to let you know. Stop touching my bum please. I wonder how babies are expected to grow up and not touch other people's bum to see if they have taken a dump or not!

4:00 pm: Does everyone look exhausted? Have i made them sing and dance and talk nonsense to me for the entire afternoon? It is that time of the evening when adults cannot sleep? Seems like it, well, off i go to my dreamland...

6:00 pm - GIVE ME FOOD! BAAAHHHHHH! Hmm..that felt good. And since you have been so good, let me toss a lop sided smile bordering on smirk your way and make your day.
 Must this man who keeps referring to himself as "Nanu" insist on getting a burp out of me after every meal? His insistence borders on obsession. Why can't he just let me sleep peacefully? Oh, Oh he has forgotten to carry the goes...peeeee...maybe i should add a little bit of poop too! There you go...that's for all the times you insist on holding me upright for a burp after a heavy meal.

8:00 pm - I am in a good mood. Let me play in my play gym. Why must this gym have such garish colors? Yellow, red, purple really? What happened to baby pink and white and lime green? This thing blinds me. Don't move and shake it in my face please, i can see just fine without all the excessive, over enthusiastic jerks and shakes. Oh well, pick me up just when i was enjoying it.

9:00 pm - Visitors! oh god, where can i hide? The men are okay, atleast they don't insist on picking me up and lose interest pretty quickly. The women! Do not pick me up. And please let my mother alone. She seems to be getting a hang of things without 101 instructions and suggestions thrown her way, some of which horrify even me. God forbid, some dumb ritual appeals to my mom and the next thing you know she is blowing air on my head or whispering nonsense in my ears.

12:00 am - Oh what a good sleep i have had! And so my day begins. Let me see what have i planned for the day? Let me eat first and then play time!

3:00 am - No. i am not hungry. No. i do not need to be changed. No, my tummy doesn't hurt. No, i am not sleepy. What do i want? Well, its 3 am - time for me to be cranky and howl and break the deafening silence around. My, look at them get flustered. It is quite funny. Maybe instead of recording my every movement and smile, they should record themselves. What a laugh it will provide. The drowsy, droopy eyed adults stumbling about trying to calm me down. Flustered, confused, frustrated! It is like watching a Charlie Chaplin or Mr. Bean show.
Anyway, i have had enough of this circus, off to sleep. I need to wake you guys up at 5:00 am. That's hard work.

Good night. No, thank you, i do not need you to sing to put me to sleep. If singing is what you are claiming it is!

Friday, April 15, 2016

And you are never the same again....

Having a baby changes you...forever.
9 long months of pregnancy and planning, reading blogs and books, talking to new moms - does not prepare you for the one life that will rule your timetable, routine, emotions and life.

Having a baby is like buying a really complex piece of DIY furniture, without any instructions. When you buy it you think, i am smart i can do this - thousands have done it before me. You think an instructable for a similar piece of furniture should suffice, but you soon discover your piece has its own unique bolts, screws, nails and nuts that do not seem to fit in anywhere. Every day you think you are getting a little closer to seeing the complete picture and some part collapses right in front of you - some days its a part you secretly knew was just about standing and did not really fit, expecting its collapse one day or another. Other days its the part you had built having complete confidence in its strength and then there it goes.

No book, no seminar, nobody tells you how completely the little angel (when she is asleep) will dominate your life.
Days are spent worrying about poop and sleep patterns. Every little sneeze jolts you, every little cry makes you doubt yourself, every little whimper has you out of your chair in under a second, your ears go on an eternal hyper alert state - day or night. You will lose count of days, weeks, hours, dates - your life's most important decisions will revolve around feeds, diapers and sleeping patterns. Arithmetic will become your favorite subject - calculating input output ratios, converting oz to ml. Precision will  become second nature to you - ensuring exact 60 ml is poured in the bottle. obviously all the precision is tossed out of the window with every feed - the baby makes up rules on the go. And you are expected to understand and follow the rules - no matter how contradictory, no matter how illogical, no matter even if they are plain impossible.
Rules are rules - to be followed by parents and grand parents and the minute you feel you are getting a hang of it, that moment when a tiny bit of complacency seeps in - where you think the rules are following some pattern that you can discern and make life a bit easier - BAM - the rules are changed - without a moment's notice, without any logic. they just don't exist anymore and new ones have taken their place. And you are left hanging, more often than not with a bawling cacophony that can rip your ears and heart apart!
Feels like being a part of the hunger games. Having your own clock arena to fight every day battles with poisonous vomit, toxic poop, pee and Jaberjay's yells, anger being thrown at you.

A 52 cm baby, weighing 6 pounds is making 4 adults in the house dance to her tunes. What a miracle of nature!

You are sleep deprived, the outside world has stopped existing for you, the four walls of the house constitute your battle arena, late night parties, drinks and movies seem like "seasons out of time" to quote Westllife. You are utterly helpless and clueless and somehow you still manage to be happy.


One little sleepy smile makes it all ok, one little unwitting wink makes you forget everything and one little giggle makes your day.
Just a little sign of recognition from your baby - and you would go through everything all over again just to have her with you forever!
There is not one single thing that i would change - because everything has led up to this - to my baby in my arms and i wouldn't trade that for anything in the world and beyond.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The upheavel...the break

My last post on my blog was on 18th August 2015. That is when life happened, and i took a break from blogging, retreating into my shell, to try and make some sense of what was happening to me.

Between then and now, life has completed half of the U-turn that I have been repeatedly told about.
The pregnancy is at the stage where i can finally start counting down in days, and not months or weeks, eagerly awaiting the second part of the U-turn.

Was it easy? No!
Would i do it again? Nope!
Would i change it / redo it, if i had a choice - probably a question best answered in another few years.

It has been a roller coaster. The constant, persistent nausea of the first trimester, the sudden burst of energy of the second trimester, the slowdown of the third trimester. Unless you experience it first hand, you can never know the many different ways in which popular media portrays pregnancy and just how wrong it is!
Let me start with a few examples -

1. The "glow" - Unless by "glow", you mean acne like a teenager on hormone booster shot, spots, darkening of skin or eruptions of a varied hue, pimples - THERE IS NO GLOW.  It is a daily fight to hide this pimple or that mole. The one item in my make up kit that i never had to use - the concealer, came out of hiding and became the king of the make up empire. Researching on "how to apply concealer" took up a lot of time, ending with "this can't be right"

2. Cravings - You hear about weird cravings and mid night snacks and making your husband rush out for that particular brand and flavor of ice cream, i was especially looking forward to the last part of actively involving my husband in the running about bit, but again - NEVER HAPPENED. I stuck to pretty much what i liked and enjoyed when i was not pregnant. Chocos with milk, or chapatti with milk and sugar felt like heaven as a mid night snack. Nothing fancy, nothing difficult to get, nothing that wasn't already in the kitchen.

3. Being fat and being pregnant is different - NOPE, it is not. Till my 7th trimester, people would ask me why i was putting on so much weight. There is no pregnancy weight gain that is different than just being fat and people will get confused. And your vanity and ego will take a fall, what with all the acne and pimples - you would think people would notice something out of the ordinary was afoot.

4. Maternity clothes - comfort over style - In India, if you are even slightly conscious of what you wear when you step out of the house, or even if you are not, maternity range of clothes is abysmal. I scoffed at clothes i wouldn't be found dead in. You would think someone could have tapped this market by now - but no, you get the boring maternity pants and unoriginal maternity shirts, and that is it! Comfort over style makes sense, but imagine how comfortable a clown is in its loose pants and uncoordinated loose fitting top - that is how you feel, till the day you stop caring.

5. The two extremes of the sympathy spectrum - Very rarely you are lucky to be surrounded by women who are pregnant with you,who understand exactly what it is you are going through and can help you through it. Other than this set of pregnant women, all other people fall in two categories - ones who are extremely, overly cautious and will ask you every time your grunt or fart if everything is ok and will refuse to let you get up, walk about, do any of your own work, pecking abut you like a mother hen, thinking their job is to make you eat, and sit and lie down and eat some more.
The other extreme are the completely unsympathetic ones - who either tell you, you have no tolerance and that it is all in your head, or tell you horror stories of their own pregnancies and how heroically they went through it and conquered all pain. How they measure your pain against theirs is unknown, why they think your pain would be any less is to be wondered at.

6. Staying positive and happy - Ask a normal person on the road - are you happy? How do you aim to be happy everyday? And then ask a tired, pregnant, nauseous lady to stay happy and positive. And if she doesn't slap you, consider her to be one of the mild, meek ones. The number of times i have been told to stay happy and positive (which is what exactly and how to go about it is never discussed) is directly proportional to the number of times i had to run to the bathroom to throw up.A happy mother means a happy baby. I would rather have a grumpy baby, but let me just crib, cry and complain about my troubles right now.

7. My husband - my equal partner - No matter how nice you are and how stable your relationship is, there comes a point, quite soon too, in the pregnancy when you are going to resent your husband and his carefree, healthy days. He doesn't puke, he has no mood swings, he can drink and party and go camping and generally it looks like he is living in a spectacular retreat on some island, while you are stuck in a war torn country with attacks coming from all sides, even internally! And you have these silent, viscous thoughts, which can no longer be contained within you, but have to be poured forth on your husband's island retreat like a dormant volcano. There is nothing "equal" about the pregnancy. It is all you. Your life is going to change and compared to that change your partner's is going to be seem as stable as a boat on still waters. But, in saner moments (few and far between) you realize theirs isn't a dream run either - imagine wanting to be involved but not knowing how, the feeling of helplessness watching your partner go through emotional and physical upheavals, dealing with mood swings, so basically feeling anxious just like a pregnant woman, but not being able to express it. Well, it is not definitely "equal", but take some joy in knowing that it isn't all easy for them either.

Now, even if popular media gave us a true picture of what pregnancy would really be like - i don't think we would still be prepared for it. It is something that changes you - for better or worse, something that makes you ponder, wonder about the joy of nurturing some life within you, of watching the sonography of week 4 - where you could just see the sac, the tiny home of the baby, over a course of 9 months transform into a 6 pound baby, a baby you nourished and cared for and now can't wait to hold in your arms.