Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Actually, it was pretty filthy when we arrived, but V's cleaned the place up some, and I've decided to go in for positive thinking (as of two hours ago), so yeah, home sweet home.

The train journey was not as bad as I feared, and the novelty of it all kept The Bhaeblet pretty occupied, mostly. He slept lots. Ate properly. I ate lots. Slept properly.

I already miss my mother. I miss being able to sleep in in the mornings and kicking The Bhaeblet out of the room when he woke up early, into the loving arms of his grandparents. Oh well, he misses them too, I can see that. Felt pretty horrible on Sunday night when the train started and he realised that they weren't coming with him, and his grin finally slipped off his face.

But his other grandparents met him here and they seem to have cheered him up a bit. Actually, while he is pally enough with V's mother, he and his paternal grandfather share a really special connection. I can't quite describe it. They see each other maybe once in 7, 10 days, but they always have this really cool thing about them. Like they know that they have each other and nobody is going to come in between. Reminds me of my brother and our paternal grandfather.

Update: Positive thinking's a lot of hard work.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Just Thought I'd Mention a Few Things

1. The laptop is perched on a step-stool while I type, and on the mattress in front of me, there's The Bhaeblet. We are playing peek-a-boo and I think having a child may just be fun, after all.

2. I got me a new haircut the day V arrived here in Madras and I love it. I've always wanted a fringe, and this whole layered, flirty look suits me as much as I'd hoped. Thanks, Wishful.

3. V and I got ourselves two tattoos on Thursday afternoon. Mine is of a sea-horse and I have decided that it's a she and that her name is Polly.

4. We're off to Calcutta tomorrow night. The Bhaeblet's first train journey and I'm more nervous than excited.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Late-Nighters Do That to Me

Just came home from watching Spiderman 3. It's a heady feeling, watching these late night shows. Even though I'm going with V, and my parents know all about it (cos they're babysitting, duh) I feel like I'm up to no good.

Anyway, the movie ends with everybody bawling while the sun rises behind them. It got me thinking of dawns... do you think Shah Rukh Khan could be called The Don of a New Day?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

When I go to the baby shops

I wish I'd had a daughter. I saw the dinkiest little yellow shoes yesterday.

New Age Parenting?

A few days before I left Cal last month I was contacted by a local newspaper reporter who wanted to know my views on what she called New Age Parenting. Eventually she didn't use what I said, I suspect because I didn't go along entirely with her ideas. I read the article and no, I did not agree with what she had written. According to her, our generation of parents follow the guidelines as laid down by baby books and we are less inclined to go along with traditional views.

I really don't agree with that. In fact, on reading the article over I was a little relieved she hadn't included my comments because I didn't want to be misinterpreted on this particular subject. V and I both have large families and many family friends. So obviously, we get a lot of unsolicited advice. Now, when The Wee Bhaeblet was born I did not listen to most people. Thank goodness for that, because a lot of the things they said were against my own views on how a baby should and should not be treated. (Such as giving him a battery of medicines for colic. Honestly, sometimes, giving a poor two month-old three different medicines a day may not be the best you can do for him.) But by and by, especially when the time came to wean WB, listening to all my female elders paid off.

My family by and large discourage bringing up baby by the book. We're all bookworms, but their stand is that those books are written for Western conditions -- which is not an entirely invalid argument, in certain aspects of babycare. So I secretly bought Spock one day and set out to read up all I could. Now I don't always agree with Spock, but for one thing I'll be eternally grateful to the man -- he managed to convince me, as nobody else could, that my baby, with all his quirks, is very normal. Now, for a first-time mother who is constantly going against the advice of her family and is a first-class worrier to boot, that is a big achievement.

So what I told the reporter was simply this: yes, I read the books. Some, like Spock and Ferber, have been of immense help to me in understanding The Bhaeblet. That is not to say I follow the methods they recommend, but it makes my life easier if I can understand why he does the things he does. (Some things remain inexplicable, but I imagine they are beyond explanation. Such as, why on earth does he lick everything in sight? Why has he been chewing away since his third week and not produced a tooth or any sign of one yet? Why does his hair stand up straight all the time? Why is he such a clown? Who gave him the authority to scold me?)

And I also listen to all the mothers and grandmothers around me. Particularly where food is concerned, because they come up with safe and delicious things for him to eat, and he is a baby who likes his grub, so mostly it's satisfying making stuff for him. I did not listen to them when they told me how to carry him etc. because V and I carried him in whatever position suited us and he hasn't come to any harm so far. I even carried him under my arm, like a roll of cloth, while V balanced him along one hand. We didn't listen when they told us not to let him try to sit, then stand, because he was too young. He didn't think so, and kept trying, so we let him have his way and made sure we supported him carefully.

What I'm getting at here is that, we try, as far as we can, to read, to listen, to absorb as much as we can. And we try to see what our son wants. And what he can do. And then we figure out what to allow him. In my opinion, that is a perfectly safe way to raise a child.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pregnancy Blues

I never wrote about my pregnancy. It was a horrible time, mostly. Actually, I can only remember a handful of good times, and it makes me really sad, because I've always wanted children and I thought the anticipation would be fun. You know, planning things, and of course I'd work through most of it, and buying clothes, and wondering, and perhaps writing. None of that happened, of course.

A few of you followed me through the waiting. Mostly it was awful. V didn't react the way I thought he would, and the family were upset at the timing, and then it turned out I had placenta praevia. Which is not the end of the world, in fact, by the end of the sixth month the placenta had moved up to a very safe place indeed and was nothing to worry about. But the initial diagnosis had my folks worried and they insisted I change doctors. The new one was the person who treats my mother, aunts and cousins, and they depend on her. I don't, because I don't think, for one moment in all those months, she saw me as a person. And I did not agree with her scaremongering and downright unscientific treatment. She however managed to scare V and my mother so badly (and she herself decided to take an extremely serious view of my case because -- get this -- she had mixed up my details with that of another patient who had B- blood, which is rare, and I have O+ which is easy to get) that they insisted on me blindly following the ridiculous things she ordered. So I spent two months last summer lying on my back, on a bed with the foot raised 6 bloody inches, using a fucking bedpan because it was apparently too dangerous to use the bathroom. I ate lying down, turned on my side. I was only four months pregnant and the doctors who actually keep up to date with modern medicine were horrified. Thanks to her ridiculous regime, I weakened, grew seriously depressed and became an unhealthy wreck.

All this while obviously, my mother and V did not want to take a chance and forced me to live like this. By the sixth month I finally started getting my own courage back, and went online. I searched around, read up on the condition. Unless you've actually bled or shown spotting, you are supposed to lead a careful life. Not lift weights, spend as much time lying down as possible, that sort of thing. But not upside down, not unable to bathe in that awful summer heat. And get this, until the fifth, sixth month it's usually impossible to diagnose how dangerous (or not) the condition is, so bedrest is just not prescribed until the USG clearly shows that the placenta is not likely to 'move' up any further with the growing uterus. So what the hell was she thinking of?

I don't normally get so colourful in my blog (public place and all that) but writing about it brought it all back and damn, I wish somebody makes her pay for her quackery.

The depression was so awful it nearly destroyed the fragile feelings holding V and me together. It made me resent the baby I had wanted so much. And it destroyed my faith in doctors. I don't think I will ever take a serious health decision about me and my family without asking a lot of doctors.

And to answer Rohini's question -- I was not allowed baby books because nobody had the time to go buy them, and also because they didn't want me reading up on pregnancy stuff because I was using what I had read to question the doctor's methods. Eventually we got the 'net and I went online, but by and large folks wanted me to calm down a bit. And that wasn't going to happen by keeping me in bed. :)

More about books and childcare in my next post. I have plenty to say on the subject!

I'm No Jon, No Sirree

Don't you ever have the waitstaff trying to make you feel like this? I do, sometimes.

They should know better, because it makes me put on my haughtiest look. And I'm much better at that than they are at being snooty.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Evolution

Somewhere I read (probably in one of those baby books I surreptitiously went through but wasn't allowed to buy) that watching a baby grow is something like watching man go through evolution. You know, from a lying-in-one-place creature to a walking, talking, thinking, manipulating person. I remember being staggered at the thought.

Now, watching evolution in progress, I continue to be pretty staggered. The Bhaeblet started off as this perfect little thing all wrapped up in a bundle, squalling away. I wish I had listened more to my aunts and great aunts and held him a lot more. They said that he had been in a warm, safe cocoon for so long, he was bound to feel scared in the open, so I shouldn't be upset with his constant squalling. I listened however, to the alarmists who said I shouldn't hold him too much (huh??) because then he would never give me any rest. Guess what, I never got any of that fabled rest anyway, and I'd rather have held my baby.

Anyway, then he started holding his head up, and looking around, grabbing at things. He could grasp stuff pretty early, I understand, and it was so exciting to watch him trying to work his thumbs. And then, one evening, he was mad at me for something or the other, and this little baby was just so angry and howling so loud, and throwing his body around so hard, he just flipped himself over. A big flip for a baby, a giant step for Ma-kind. He was only 4 months old, too.

And then he's trying to pull himself around. I wasn't very encouraging (so sue me!) because we live on the ground floor and the place badly needed pest control and I was paranoid about him eating insects. But then we got to Madras and my parents were outraged at my failure to allow their grandson to make progress, and taught him to crawl properly in days. (He was, of course, good and ready.) In the meantime he also liked to try to stand, and can now stagger around with help. He will be 8 months old this week, so I figure he's doing ok on those milestone charts Spock has forbidden me to follow.

He also learnt to pull himself up (holding onto our hands) from a lying to a standing position when he was about 5 months old, and is now trying to pull himself up using the furniture. So he doesn't have to depend on his parents I suppose.

He is changing his looks all the time, too. And while he remains scarily skinny, he is shooting up all the time. He outgrows pants which continue to be too big for him at the waist. His shirts and rompers hang on him but are soon too short to go around his diapers. His photos show a different baby each month. This, I imagine, can well be compared to evolution.

Only, and you will just have to understand that I am extremely worked up about this, I did not give him permission to grow up. I had just got used to this wee baby-in-a-bundle when he was given his first rice. And despite all my protests, the darned baby was more than ready for his solids. He was only 5 months old, but who listens to me? And then he got mobile. I am so not ready for any of this. He'll soon be sneaking off for his first drink in a bar at this rate, and I'm not even 25 yet.

I suddenly feel awfully depressed.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Pros and Cons

V's here in Madras. Reached on Tuesday and I've been having a merry old time being petted by him, and snarling at him, and feeling him up when he hasn't been expecting it, and watching him look adoringly at The Bhaeblet, and generally, just enjoying having my family together again.

I've been so homesick these last three weeks in Madras, it wasn't funny. And now V's here and we're going home next week, so yippee. I'm really glad V's here -- once he's with me my parents no longer feel 'responsible' for me and in fact V and I are encouraged to go out as much as possible, since it allows them to be in complete charge of The Bhaeblet, without any interfering mother carrying him off at naptimes.

6 REASONS WHY GROWN-UP MARRIED DAUGHTERS SHOULD NOT STAY WITH THEIR PARENTS:

1. You're too old to accept curfews gracefully.
2. You're sick of being treated like a child, especially if you have one of your own!
3. You miss your husband. And watching him and the aforementioned child together.
4. You are used to your own household, and being at the helm. A short break from this is a holiday. A long one is just restrictive.
5. Your parents find it hard to accept that their baby is mature enough to care for their grandchild and will nag at you all day about how you should not be doing the things that you are doing and how you were indulged in your childhood, you who are being so strict with your baby [read their precious grandson]. Which is of course a blatant falsehood. You had a strict upbringing and you jolly well remember it.
6. They don't let you go home. Not because they want you around but because they don't want the grandson to leave. Not all flattering, not even if you are a besotted mother who thinks the world revolves around your child. (Which I'm not, because I'm pretty sure the world revolves around me, anyway.)


1 REASON WHY IT'S ALL WORTH IT, REALLY:

1. Watching grandparents and grandson enjoy each others' company. Nothing like it. My own paternal grandfather gave us, his grandchildren, a love and security that nobody else has ever been able to match. I was so upset when he died, so angry at his desertion, I hardly ever spoke of him for nearly a decade. It took me that long to accept that it wasn't his fault.

When I watch my parents with The Bhaeblet, I see in them a joy that I suppose I will only understand when I have grandchildren of my own. To them, with all his little ways, he is perfect. He rounds out their lives and makes up for the hardships.

And when I see how secure they make him feel, so loved, I guess I can put up with a few restrictions.

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Mother's Day Card

V sent me this card for my first Mother's Day as a mum:

While I enjoyed the compliment, what really amused me was the 'baby' in the pram. You see, in AP they call naughty little boys sisindri, meaning "hot chillies".

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Understand what I’ve become, it wasn't by design

This time last year I was as close to being suicidal as I've ever been. Did it show in this blog? Probably not. It never has. But this time last year things were miserable between V and me, thanks in part to previous misunderstandings, in part to his family and I suppose in some part due to settling down blues. It takes time for marriages to settle down, I was told, but mine seemed to be taking a really long time to be getting anywhere positive.

And yet, and yet... despite the traumas of parenthood and sleep deprivation (yeah, me favourite complaint), I do think I'm happier than I'd hoped or thought I could be. While The Bhaeblet is obviously one of my main sources of joy (and trauma), his father also does a lot in making me happy. This time last year I was beginning to lose hope in us ever reaching the understanding we currently share. V and I still fight like cats and dogs. Nor will I attempt to justify this by claiming that all marriages need their share of fights. But the difference between our fights last year and our fights now is that there is a little less hidden resentment. If I'm upset I do try to tell him just what is bugging me, even if it his family or any other such sensitive topic. I don't know about you, but I've discovered that it's easier for me to get something off my chest and then deal with it than letting it fester by keeping a lid on it.

When we got married I wanted things to be much as they were between V and me pre-marriage. I wanted to keep the independence I'd fought so hard to gain. I wanted to be a good daughter-in-law, you know, dutiful and so on. Because, in the heart of me, I'm just that old-fashioned. Not conservative, but yes, old-fashioned. None of that worked out.

As a great aunt of mine had predicted, once we were married V stopped buying me little surprises. I stopped writing him funny little letters. We both got caught up in the family maelstrom and lost out on a lot of happiness. His mother hated me and broadcast that to the world. My family instantly decided I was to blame for the situation and made matters worse. These things are not an auspicious start to a marriage. Add an unplanned and far too early (??) pregnancy and it no longer needs explaining why I stopped trying to be what I'd wanted.

And then along came a Bhaeblet and changed all the rules all over again. V and I just been getting into the swing of being a married couple, and suddenly we were parents. No more privacy and no more energy and no more time to ourselves. Suddenly the world revolved around a revolting little bundle. In these last eight odd months V and I have come a long way, I think.

I'm not the patient, understanding, loving mother I thought I would be. I'm as likely to smack The Bhaeblet (if he bugs me) as I am to hug him silly (if I think he needs it). I don't always get his meals bang on time -- but I do take him swimming. Nor do I score very high on the kind of wife I wanted to be. But you see, that's because that was the kind of wife I wanted to be. The tense here is very important because it took me not very long to realise that V needed a slightly different kind of wife altogether.

So yeah, I didn't set out to be the woman I am now. But hey, as a product of my circumstances I think I'm doing as well as can be expected. And best of all, we're mostly happy with it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

An Invitation for Kolkata

Hello
You are invited to attend the first Blank Noise meeting in Kolkata
Saturday 12th May
4 45 pm at T3- Park Street
Please let me know if you will be there...and do bring along anyone who might be interested.
blurtblanknoise@gmail.com to enquire or confirm
My temporary calcutta no. is 9903119885
Looking forward to seeing you!
Jasmeen for Blank Noise



They are doing excellent work, this group, so I do urge all the folks who are in the city reading this to get down there and see what's happening. Apart from being necessary, Blank Noise interventions are mostly fun!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

In Which I Come Across as Being Exceedingly Small

So I met my best friend E online the other night. We ended up discussing, among other things, her love life and a common friend S. Excerpts:

Me: So, how are things?
E: [Guy who is interested in her, we'll call him Interested Guy] is driving me crazy.
Me: Oof. I don't think he has any integrity. Shall I tell you why? You do not hit on a girl who is dating your friend. No ifs and buts about it.
E: Well, technically speaking, [ExBoyfriend] wasn't much of his friend...
Me: So? He still knew you were seeing him.
E: And he did not know I was seeing [Ex-Boyfriend] until fairly recently.
Me: You told me he knew!!
E: My mistake.
Me: Ok, I guess I misjudged him.
E: Hmmm...
Me: But see, any guy who comes with you on your holiday all the way here, it's easy to see he is interested in you. :)
E: He didn't come with me, sweety. That was [Another Guy], [Ex-Boyfriend]'s best friend.
Me: Oh wait. Wait. Now I'm terribly confused. All this time I thought these two guys were the same one! Now do you see why I thought so badly of [Interested Guy]?
E: No, [Interested Guy] left town long before I was seeing [Ex-Boyfriend].
Me: Er...

A little later:

Me: Did you hear S [that common friend] is likely to get married sometime in July?
E: Are you going?
Me: What, do you think I'd be invited?

[Things got rocky between S and me last year although we were very good friends once, or so I like to think.]

E: Wasn't it in the common mail she sent to everybody?
Me: Well, she left me out of whatever mail this was.
E: Well, did she ever talk to you about it?
Me: No, she never contacted me in any way at all.
E: Well, it's her loss.

[Struck by sudden thought I quickly go through my archives and whaddya know, I find a mail from S, sent to all the friends, including a common invitation to all.]

Me: I do apologise. I was in her mail. By name. In fact, now I'm feeling all ashamed. I never even replied to that mail. I meant to but evidently I forgot.
E: You should.
Me: Oops.
E: Congratulate her at least.
Me: Yes, I know.

You see, some nights a girl just can't win.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Say Wha--?

This is what I found in my 'Quickie' horoscope this morning:

Quickie: Your relationship with money is about to go through a very interesting phase.

Just figures, it's better to read them at night, which is what I usually do, and then I know how my day went.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

"married women should not do orkut"

That's a quote. That was left on my Orkut profile by this person. (Sorry, you'll need an account to check him out.)

What could I say? I pointed out that people who wished to stay anonymous really have no place in a networking site. I know a whole bunch of people who use pseudonyms, but they usually identify themselves with a pic, at least in their albums. A networking site is for keeping in touch with your friends, or so I always believed. Maybe make new ones. But I suppose a whole bunch of clowns out there sincerely believe it's a place to find women willing to participate in cybersex. (You'll never convince me that they find women actually willing to sleep with them through such loser profiles.)

But seriously, what kind of person believes he has the right to tell me -- ME! -- what I should and should not be doing? He does not know me, will probably never be lucky enough to do so, and yet he appears out of the blue to tell me what my marriage vows do and do not allow me to do. Excuse me, I do have a husband, and he is perfectly capable of telling me what he does and does not wish me do.

I do object, very strongly, to moral policing. I believe myself to be a competent adult, able to take care of myself and my family and all our morals too. If I fail, I do not need you to point it out, because my parents actually taught me to recognise failure in myself. And they actually went one better than this Orkut chap's parents, I'd say, because they also taught me the humility to acknowledge that my way does not have to be everybody else's way too.

But then I read this article, courtesy Megha. I'm not playing devil's advocate here, nor am I upholding the police harassment these couples faced. I've had my share of similar trouble, as V would testify. (Once, seeing him kiss me goodbye in a taxi, a couple of concerned citizens felt impelled to yell at us that we were in Bengal, not Goa. My old geography teacher would be sorry to hear I'd got the two places mixed up, I think.)

Anyway, my point is this -- mostly a park is for very mixed company. Children come there, as do the elderly. Why then are most of the green spaces I know notorious as makeout points? I know very few courting couples have any privacy at home. I accept that sometimes you need to show some physical affection. But must they cross the line? Speaking as a mother, I really don't need you to educate my child about sex. Really. Hugging your boyfriend and fondling his privates are very different things. The one can be done just about anywhere, but I will object every time you do the other in front of my family or me.

And I also think my elders have earned the right to be able to spend a few quiet moments without having your hormonal urges thrust in their faces.

My point is very simple. Parks are for the public at large. There is nothing wrong in giving your girl a kiss or a hug. But making out in them is just pathetic. And so long as you continue to do so, you keep giving the moral police grounds to continue their harassment of innocent bystanders. That is not brave, simply stupid.

Finger-Lickin' Good, Baby!

Many of you have already noted my preoccupation with The Bhaeblet's food habits and nutrition. In part this is because V and I have terrible food habits ourselves, and in part it's because WB is such a skinny runt.

After WB's weaning was begun I went online looking for ideas for baby food. I didn't think very highly of the stuff I saw (not sufficiently detailed, not very appetising being my complaints) and so am posting on the dishes I have found both delicious as well as nutritious. In addition, they are fairly easy to make. This last is important for me because I only have a part-timer coming in the morning and do all my own cooking and housework.

Early weaning, from 4 months on, I'd say:

1. Juice. Always from a bottle, never mind what anybody says. You need a manual citrus juicer (electric ones are harder to control, and sometimes overjuice the fruit, making it bitter), a fine strainer and a toothbrush to clean them both.

2. Some sweets. WB was partial to moong dal laddus. Give your baby only a pinch at a time and never more than say half a dozen pinches. You can also give him chapattis to suck on, to keep you company at mealtimes (but not parathas).

3. Crushed bananas. I prefer to grate them, because it's faster and easier.

4. Steamed apples. They are traditionally boiled in a pressure cooker, but I think steaming is healthier, and very easy to do in a microwave. All you need is a big pan with a lid. Fill it with a cup or two of water. Place peeled, cut, cored apples in a bowl in the middle, so the water surrounds but does not touch the apple. Microwave for 4,5 min at full power. Afterwards, crush the soft apples with a fork and feed your baby. Good apples will not need sugar. Powdered cinnamon is a nice change.

Weaning, from approximately 6 months although most babies are ready earlier:

1. I'd start with a baby cereal. It's easy to make and for the fortnight or so that your baby's on it, you learn how best to feed him, which is not as easy as many imagine.
You need to keep a wet rag handy, to wipe his mouth from time to time, and some water in a bottle. Also, it's wiser to start with really runny cereal (cake batter/ dosa batter consistency) and only one solid meal a day. I found it very useful to feed WB with those bottles with spoons.

2. Overcooked rice. Take basmati or gobindobhog. (The finer varieties, I mean.) Cook it over a medium flame until it's gooey and fallen apart. I strain it then, although my mother doesn't, because I don't like the starch and also because for babies just being weaned, starch may be a little difficult to digest. WB had no problems, though.

To this you can add:

a) Milk and powdered sugar/honey.

b) Milk and crushed bananas.

c) Butter and runny mashed potatoes.

d) Lightly cooked chicken or fish curry (with only basic spices, any old veggies, very little oil and lots of watery gravy).

e) Chicken soup. (Chicken boiled with onion, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, pumpkin. The longer you boil the greater the nutrition and taste. Vary vegetables for changes in taste.)

f) Fish or chicken stew (same as above but with cinnamon, maida to make gravy, cloves etc.)

Mostly, I recommend cooking with very little salt. It makes sense to add a good dollop of butter/ghee to the food before serving (ahem!) and then it becomes salty anyway. Babies need butter, the more the better. Especially skinny little runts.

Also, mash all foods until your baby's got teeth, because otherwise they may choke. Mashed food still retains a lot of textures.

WB hasn't shown much interest in rusks (too dry) although he does enjoy crumbling and sucking on strips of toast (toast soldiers).

Now when we go out, I find he is interested in and likes to share our food. He hasn't had any problems so far (touch wood!) and has eaten biriyani, pulao, kebabs, even cheesecake, not to mention other desserts. I try to give him light, non-oily foods.

There will be a follow-up post on time-saving baby cooking. (Not cooking babies, so don't make that tired old joke.) I just need to stay awake long enough to do that.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Worst Thing to Say in Bed Competition

Ok, you lot, go over here:

http://www.questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=810

And then come back and tell me your entry.