Archive for the ‘From My Heart To Yours’ Category

Amma, can I throw it in the garbage?

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Tharini’s post on feeding time battles inspired me to write this.

By the time I feed toddler and infant I go nuts. They are at an age (two and a half years; 11 months) where they have to be fed. Also I am the kind of mom who will feed them happily till I die. Not out of love, but because of the extra cleaning I have to do if I let them eat by themselves. So I bring up age as an excuse.

It takes me exactly 2 hours to feed them their breakfast. Same thing goes for dinner. Toddler eats lunch at her day care. Some days she eats well some days she starves. Of late I don’t even ask her day care provider if she ate well. It just gives me extra stress if I hear that she didn’t eat. So what ever she eats outside of home is an added bonus for me. We used to read books together and bond as I fed them their food. In the past five months things are taking the worst possible route. I play Barney or Curious George or some VCD from India while I feed them. (God, how I used to smirk at moms who used to say, “Oh, he needs his Dora or Clifford to eat. So I always carry a cassette or DVD along”. Life Lesson Learnt: What goes around comes around) At least if they eat well, I would not feel so guilty doing what I am doing now. They wait for me to finish feeding them and just as I put that last spoon full of cereal in their mouth, they throw up. I clench my teeth to prevent myself yelling, now a days I am left with a throbbing pain in my jaws.

After a lot of pressure from hubby, I decide to some how let go of my preferences and train toddler to eat by herself. This way I have only infant to feed. I gave her a variety of finger food – easy for her to eat, easy for me to clean. But after a couple of mouth full she declared that she is “All done Amma. Amma, can I throw it in the garbage?” and walked away. Then I had to chase behind her and feed the rest of the food for her, back to square one.

Then I made food interesting for her. She was very kicked when I presented “Shapes Upma”(I made rice rava upma, cast it in to a variety of shapes and steamed them). Same story all over again, she took a bite and walked away.

If I force her to sit in front of her plate she sits there and waits for me to turn my head. That fraction of a second I am not paying attention, she runs to the kitchen sink and empties her plate full of food in to the kitchen sink and says, “All done Amma. Amma, I put it for washing” I just loose it. I would endure about 10 throwing up sessions or 100 starvation sessions instead of seeing food being wasted like this.

It is the same with the desi kids I work with. It brings tears to my eyes to see how the preschoolers I work with, throw food. The kid wants a banana, the minute the teacher opens it, she/he would have already changed their mind and they would want yogurt. If the teacher tries explaining that the banana needs to be finished before the next snack is opened there is absolutely no effect. Either there is lots of crying or no eating. It is not the same with most of the Caucasian kids. They do justice to their food.

Is it all desi kids? I mean, is it something in the genes? May be desi kids can absorb the required nutrition from air and manage to sustain. Or, are the kids just trying to push our buttons? May be we desi moms are so uptight about food, quantity and quality that makes the kids act this way? My daughter’s pediatrician always says that the kid eats whatever he/she needs. But really, is 3 tablespoons of cereal, 2 tablespoons of mac and cheese and one Marie biscuit enough for a two year old for one whole day? Sometimes I am just struck, I can’t let go and I don’t have the time or patience to follow through. By the time I am done with breakfast, clean up, drop toddler off at day care, finish my chore, it is lunchtime for infant. That takes about two hours of cajoling, dancing and singing. Infant takes a short nap and it is time to pick up toddler from day care. Before the evening snack is done, I am getting their dinner ready. Couple of time I have woken up at 3.00AM, all drenched in sweat and with a strange sense of fear because I had dreamed that it is time for infant’s feeding time! No kidding.

I keep telling my toddler that it is not okay for her to waste food. I give her small portions and give her lectures about responsibility. She has heard so many of these ‘responsibility lectures’ it is impacting her negatively. Yesterday she threw her corn down and when I called out her name in that special tone, she realized that it is time for the lecture, she tells me, “I know amma, I know, I am not responsible”. Once she closed her ears with her hands, shut her eyes tightly and said, “Amma, I can’t see you, amma I can’t hear you”. (She tried walking away from the kitchen with the same pose and walked straight in to the wall. It was one of those crazy “you-have-to-be-there” funny moments. :) ).I know that it takes lots of repetition and lots of patience to get through to them. But I will be glad if I see light at the end of the tunnel!


Waiting for the stork

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** Be warned this is long one folks. **

It is that time for the year. Mother’s day is in the air. The preschools and day cares are making the kids do cute stuff for their moms. The television is thick with jewellery, perfumes, cell phones, chocolate advertisements, all sending out messages that you have to give something to your mother or grand mother or god mother or some one else’s mother. They don’t care about motherhood, they just want to sell.

This is my third Mother’s Day. I got portraits of hubby and baby#1 as a gift for the first mother’s day. Considering hubby’s aversion to dress up and get pictures taken that was a monumental gift! Our second baby arrived a few weeks after my second mother’s day. My parent’s were here, so hubby and self were able to take off for a nice quite lunch.

All this noise about mother’s day made me take a trip down memory lane. Quickly rewind to year 1999. I was a totally different person then. Newly married, young, immature, cocky, arrogant, selfish, stupid, naive are some of the words that can be used to describe myself. Hubby wanted to have a child because there is no time that would be the best time to have a child, so we might as well have one and get it over with. I was not ready. There were so many fun things to do. We had to travel to Europe, circumventing the Kailash, what about Egypt?, hike the Machu Picchu, great barrier reef, Japan….soooo maaaanyyy things to do and see. Besides how long was it going to take to have a child? You pick the right time of the month, do the thing you have to do, the sperm is going to find the ovum, millions of people have been doing this for ages, even animals do it, how difficult can that be?

I learnt it the hard way that it can be very very very very difficult. We started trying roughly around May 2002. We had been married for three and a half years. I was still immature, cocky, arrogant, selfish stupid and naive (young was starting to get debatable!). I didn’t have a problem getting pregnant; as a matter of fact I got pregnant three times. The difficulty was in keeping the baby.

The first time I miscarried at 12 weeks. There were no symptoms. We had announced to the whole world the minute the home pregnancy test came out positive. Here I was sitting on my high throne, expecting, demanding special attention from every one and taking maximum advantage of my situation, thinking that every thing was going on well and the baby had already died. There was no heart beat at the 12th week ultra sound. I was still clueless. I thought that the baby might be developing a little slowly, may be the baby needs one more week. It’s a funny thing how human mind works, till you believe that there is a little life inside of you, you hold it so dear and do all the special things. You find it so hard to let go even if there is scientific proof that things are not going well. But one fine minute you wake up, smell reality and this ‘life’ inside of you becomes ‘a thing’ to be more precise ‘a dead thing’. Words can’t describe how much that realization hurts. I wanted the thing out of me as soon as possible. I had a painful D&C and things were over.

8 months later I got pregnant again. We made no announcements. This time we scheduled an ultra sound at 6 weeks. The doctor said that the heart beat was there but the baby is too small for 6 weeks gestation and wanted us to come for another ultrasound in two weeks. I came home and started eating like crazy. Whatever I put in to my body goes to the baby, so I spared nothing but the kitchen sink. Some times it hurts to think how naïve I was. At eight weeks it was a horrible de ja vu all over again. There was no heart beat, the baby was frozen at five weeks development. It was like God was playing this cruel joke with me, “You prayed for a heart beat, I gave it to you. But you never mentioned for how long you wanted the heart beat to last”. As if one D&C wasn’t hard enough to go through, I had to go through two this time, thanks to the doctor’s screw up.

We changed doctors. We did all the tests. Hubby and self were certified as perfectly healthy people with no obvious defects. Did the news bring me happiness? No, I was looking for some defect that on diagnosis can be treated and we will be good to go! Now we had nothing to work on. 8 months later I got pregnant again. Oh, this is the most horrible of all my experiences. The implantation was in my tubes. Imagine an orange inside a straw. That was what happening to my tubes. The straw was threatening to burst. I had serious pain and high fever. Why I didn’t go to the doctor immediately? Well, in the past I have had stone formation in my kidneys and the symptoms are very similar. So I was sitting in the bed, drinking plenty of water and hoping to pass the stone. I was getting to a stage were even breathing hurt me like hell. I bore this pain for two days (hey, I have amazingly high tolerance for pain), and finally gave up. At three in the morning hubby and self ran to the emergency. We didn’t have to wait even for a minute; they put me on a wheel chair and I was taken to the ultrasound room and was wheeled to the operation theater with in two hours! Me being the naïve one asked the doctor if by any chance they can take the implantation from the tube and put it in to the uterus and save my baby. Duh!

I was lying there in the post-op in a semi-consious state. I could feel the commotion around me, but couldn’t focus on anything but the throbbing pain in my heart and a sense of worthlessness. All I want to do is just die, silently without waking up from this coma, then all my troubles will be over. Meanwhile my BP and pulse kept dropping; they had to transfuse approximately 2 liters of blood – no effect. Suddenly I felt a strange realization seep through, may be my life is not over, I may never have children, but there are other things that are meant to be done by me and I could almost hear the nurse saying, “BP stabilizing, pulse recovering”! Finally I regained consciousness.

4 months later I was pregnant with my baby #1. She came as a surprise. It was tough, all through the pregnancy, I was as detached to the baby as possible. I did all the right things I had to as a mother, but was mentally prepared incase I loose the baby. Every visit to the doctor was a major milestone, I would give a smile only after the doctor put the Doppler on me and let me hear the heart beat. Baby #1 came out without giving me much trouble. I knew I could bear the pain and deliver her without pain medication, but I still took epidural. Well I had already gone through enough shit, is some one going to build me a temple or what? Within 10 months, we were blessed with baby #2. She came 15 days early and was even more easier to deliver. She practically walked out of my womb!

The journey to motherhood really rocked the strength of our marriage. If at all I learnt something it is this – babies come when they are meant to, you can stand upside down but still you cannot ‘make’ it happen. The second thing I learnt is, men and women deal with pain in very different ways. Mentally it was definitely as hard on hubby as it was on me, he was the one who had to hear from the doctor that I had lost almost 2 liters of blood due to internal bleeding and that it will be a lucky thing if they can get to the tubes before the tube burst causing an internal infection. He was the one who had to be left in suspense in the waiting room, “Er, your wife, we don’t know, she is supposed to regain consciousness in 20 min, we don’t know why it is taking two hours”.

The most pathetic part was that some people around us thought that THEY were the victims in the whole game! I don’t even where to get started with the amount of confusion they caused in our lives. So people, never take it upon yourself to solicit worthless free ‘advice’ to other people in sensitive issues like this. You never know how much pain the couple are going through already.

From my personal experience and through my friends, I have seen it all – miscarriages, ectopic, birth defects, IVF, still births, D&C done at 20 weeks due to chromosomal abnormalities, babies born with heart defects and parents had to see their barely born babies go through multiple major surgeries, surgeries while the baby is still in the womb….., each one wondering if they are better of or worser than the others. It is tough, no one knows why all this happens. But we just have to keep trying and hope things work out. I know how difficult it is to put it in to action because I have been there and I have done it. Behind every woman who has become a mother, there is a big story. Sometimes it is a happy one and sometimes it is a sad one.


XX vs XY

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I have two girls, they are 15 months apart. I had always wanted two kids, initially I had no preference as to the sex of the baby, at least that’s what I thought. But thinking back I now feel that I have always imagined having a boy and a girl. Well balanced picture perfect family right? Not that girls are any inferior or it is easy on parents if they have boys. I still have memories of my mom being ridiculed that she had a girl (I am an only child and hence the preconceived idea that I will have two children, one boy and one girl). I was just shooting for perfection…or what I thought to be perfect.

When we found out the first one was being a girl, we didn’t give any second thoughts about the sex of the baby. We had lots of other issues to think about. Even though the baby was doing great and I had a dream pregnancy and a picture perfect delivery, getting to the point of conceiving a baby was very tough on hubby and self. So all we wanted was a healthy baby in our hands. Or may be I had it in the back of my mind that I have second chance, so I didn’t care about the sex of the baby this time. The rest of the family must have felt the same thing, so they were very supportive, but kept dropping comments that it is good to have the girl first because later when the baby brother comes along she will be responsible(for the baby brother).

When I was pregnant with my second child we found out that we are having another girl. My picture of perfection was shattered. But I never voiced it out till this moment, because 4 years back, I was desperate for a baby, it seemed so wrong and ungrateful to be choosy. Plus I have a history of longing for the things I cannot or do not have. But my parents were disappointed because they feared that I might be pushed in to a spot where I might be forced to have babies till we have a boy. Others were disappointed because…well it is another girl.

Every time some one asked me if we knew if the second one was going to be a boy or a girl and when I said that it is another girl, these were the response I got:
Okay better luck next time.
Oh…(the tone, ahhhhh the tone bothered me)
Poor you…
That’s okay. In our family we always have three girl and then a boy, so don’t worry the fourth one will be a boy (why the hell will I have four babies)

A Caucasian dude who came home to fix some termite damage said, “For your own good I wish that this one must be a boy.” I didn’t share with him that we already know that we are having another girl.

I felt irritated and dreaded the question when ever I went out. Partly because I was nursing a secret longing for a boy and since this was my last chance I was disappointed. I hated myself for this thought but couldn’t help thinking this way.

Now my baby girl is 11 months old, she is so precious. My daughters look at me and smile I forget all my troubles. I see a drop of tear rolling out of their eyes it tears me up. When they reach for me and hug me…..oh man it is so divine. Who cares if I have two girls, I am happy, hubby is happy.

We go to India with both the children, immediately it starts,
“Oh, both the girls look like the father, so the boy will look like you”.(Okay sick people when is the next flight back ? I came all the way for this????)
“The first child’s ear piercing was in 2005, the second one’s ear piercing is in 2007, in 2009 we will have your boy’s ear piercing” (Can you come closer, I feel like piercing something else.)
“I will worry only if you have five girls. Till that point I will not worry”(Yep, it is not your responsibility, then why will you worry?)
“Did you get the operation done already? You will get it done only after the boy right?”(They want to know if my tubes are tied or not. This question was posed to me by three different people, whom I have met only 6-7 times through out my life, in a family function, while others were starring. Come on people how much more personal can you get?)
The house help tells me with lots of self amassed liberty that, the next trip I make I must come with a boy otherwise I need not make any trip to India. (Good God that would be so perfect.)

Seriously how big is this in this time and age? Boy or a girl, you still have to put them through college, take care of them and there is no guarantee that they will be taking care of you in your old age. I am not worried that I will not go to heaven after I die because…people…have you seen my daughters smile?…I ALREADY AM IN HEAVEN.


IS #1 = #2?

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Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with potty training. I am just trying to analyze if a mother treats all her children the same way.

When I was pregnant with my toddler I had the visions of the perfect mother I was going to be. I took plenty of rest, listened to classical Mozart and Beethoven, I used to strap on a head phone to my pregnant tummy and played music for the baby every chance I got. After she was born I would nurse her till she turned one, nothing other than breast milk for the first six months, I will play classical music when she slept, she would be this angel who spent the first three months of her life feeding and sleeping, she would do great with all her milestones (rolling over, crawling etc just like they say in baby center). Have you seen kids who yell and throw tantrums at public places? My angel would never be one of them. Any new scenario or change of schedule I would calmly explain to her once and she would quickly understand and follow my directions. I would be her best friend and she would be mine. My expectations could go on for pages.

Out came the baby with plans of her own. She was one of those colicky babies who cried and cried and cried. I had to start supplementing because she was hardly gaining any weight. I had to stop breast feeding after 8 weeks and switch her to hypoallergenic formula because her pediatrician thought that it would help with her colic. I have never felt more of a failure in my life.As she grew, she never rolled over, never crawled, never sat up, never moved on her own till she was 11 months. I never played classical music when she slept. She did not like her routine to be disturbed when we took her out, so she threw tantrums in restaurants and other public places. After 5 months she did not want to drink any more milk. Till she was a year old she threw up at least once a day.

All my expectations were shattered and I was not handling it well. Parenting was new to me, this one was not a text book baby, I wasn’t abusive, but I used to force her to drink milk, was in tears every time she threw up (try cleaning throw up from the carpet at least once a day and the laundry…oh God). I was embarrassed with her tantrums, so stayed at home and kept to a few familiar places and was getting depressed because I felt I missed out on lot of things.

When I got pregnant the second time, my elder one was barely 7 months. It was a whole new experience. I was sleep deprived most of the time. I was running around all the time, I hardly put on any weight, my OB was worried. I never listened to classical music, I never had the time to play music for my pregnant tummy. Sometimes I would even forget that I was pregnant. I would look at a nice maternity top and would think, may be during my second pregnancy I must get something nice like that and then it would hit me, “I ALREADY AM PREGNANT WITH MY SECOND CHILD!” I was prepared to supplement or for that matter put her entirely on formula.

When my younger daughter arrived, she was a screamer, who never slept, just like her elder sister. But luckily the new pediatrician diagnosed that the baby had acid reflux and hence the non-stop crying. She was prescribed antacids and I was able to breast feed her exclusively for the first four months, and kept at it for three more months.

After a rather long rambling, the point I am trying to make is, I saw so much difference in my attitude even when the baby was in the womb. With the first one, I thought of nothing other than this precious little thing that was inside me. Every action I did, every morsel of food I ate was targeted towards the baby’s welfare. With the second one, things were different, I had to take care of my elder one plus you are no longer a novice. You realize that it is perfectly okay if you don’t get your 4 servings of dairy for a day, it is not going to affect the big picture.

After the child is born the differences just keeps growing. My elder one started day care only when she was 22 months, but my younger one had to start day care when she was just 8 months. I force fed my elder child milk till she was 20 months, with the younger one, I gave up in 7 months (yes, both my kids are milk-o-phobic). Now the guilt starts, who am I being unfair to? My elder one (because I forced her and now she hates milk with a vengeance) or the younger one (by depriving the younger one of the nutrition). When my toddler asks me to carry her, I sometimes give her the, “You are a big girl” speech, the guilt just kills me that I am forcing her to grow up and be the big sister. Again I look at my baby, hey she didn’t ask to be born, I feel even guiltier. I end up carrying both the kids at the same time. I have a whole bunch of picture of my toddler, I have probably a tenth of that for the baby. My toddler was not allowed to watch TV till she turned one. The baby started watching TV when she was 6 months. And the list goes on…

So if any one tells me that she treats both her kids the exact same way, I don’t believe it. Every one makes mistakes the first time and corrects it the second time. So either the person still hasn’t learnt from the previous mistakes or is under some kind of an illusion. Plus every baby has his/her personality. How you interact with them depends entirely on their personality and their personality gets formed depending on the way you interact with them. It is a feed back loop.

In a nutshell the minute we sign up to have kids, we sign up for a never ending guilt trip. Even people who have just one kid sometimes feel guilty that they are depriving their child of the joy of growing up with a sibling don’t they?! Guess all we can do is assess the situation and do what we think is fair.

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Check out the link from Parenting magazine.

When I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for the pediatrician, I picked up PARENTING magazine, partly because the title caught my attention and partly because I had to divert myself from typical Seinfeld-ian thoughts like, “Oh, what does that child have? Is it okay to let my kids touch this book? May be we must move to the other chair”. I gave it a quick browse and rated myself on their scale of 1-9, before our name was called. I liked it. By the way I am big sucker for these kinds of things. Hubby is pretty happy that motherhood has diverted me from taking and forcing him to take the Cosmo kind of quizzes! “Are you leading a happy life” quiz always ends up creating havoc in our household :)

Sense of humor – To name a few scenarios, Scenario I: At eleven in the night baby gets from sleep, throws up and cries her heart out. I ask hubby to clean up. He is willing but asks a stupid question, “Clean up what?” Scenario II: Toddler is being very clingy on the day when I have my plate too full. So I say, go play ABC games and come to me when you are done from A to Z. Toddler hits A, then Z and says, “Amma Iam done.” It is sense of humor that keeps me sane!

Creativity – I am pretty creative. For the sake of modesty, I leave it at that!

Type B personality – Serious problem here. I am a typical type A. I always have a schedule at hand and pain the rest of the family. Rest of the family is made up of typical ‘don’t-care-about-your-schedules’ personalities.

Stamina – Boy, oh boy. I have plenty of that! Some times my body runs for days together on 4 hrs/day sleep schedules. I am used to carrying a diaper bag on one shoulder, my infant on the sling and my toddler, who has declared, “Amma carry baby, amma carry me”. I am petite, I am 5 feet tall and weigh less than a hundred pounds. How I do it sometimes even amazes even me.

Immodesty – I choose to let my looks go partly because of the lack of time and partly beacuse I am lazy. I am always envious of the ‘not a hair out of the place moms’.

Tool skills – I officially am the tool woman in the house. Every single furniture in the house is assembled by me, me, me. I get inspiration from Pottery Barn catalogues and used to wander in the aisles of Home Depot trying to put together something by myself. Yep, ‘used to’, past tense. My Saturday morning trips to Home Depot ended for couple of reasons – lack of time after the second baby arrived, irritated employees at Home Depot. I ended up irritating one of the employees that he once told me, “Well mam, if something like that is readily available in Pottery Barn, have considered purchasing it from Pottery Barn itself?”

Ability to relax – I can relax…at times…when every other work is done…after I have made my list of to-dos for the next few days…

Love of song – I do this all the time. My toddler loves it. My versions of “Brown bear Brown bear what do you see?”, “Are you sleeping” are super hits at home. There is absolutely no tune or rhyme or rhythm, but they smile such a blissful smile when I sing(if one call it so)!!

ESP – Every mom has this. I call this the invisible umbilical cord. No doctor can cut this off! I diagnose an ear infection or a chicken pox even before the doctor does. I never let any one talk me out of my instincts. We were recently in India, hubby and self put the kids in bed, made sure that they were fast asleep and went for late night movie(Paruthiveeran, tamil movie). Something kept gnawing at me all through the movie. We get home and the kids were up and crying! They had woken up a few minutes after we left and were screaming.

Looks like I have a 7/9, not bad at all!
(I need constant validation for what I do. So please do leave comments! :) )



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