Monday, February 25, 2013

(rock 'n') ROLL

Manya presented us with a pleasant gift on our wedding anniversary on the 19th of February - she rolled over from her back to her tummy for the first time ever! It came as quite a surprise to us because she had begun showing signs of trying only a day or two earlier!
The first time around, her other hand (opposite to the side she turned on) was still trapped under her tummy. Then on, she happily comes to crawling position with both hands in alignment. It's fun to watch her roll over then travel to my side at night (even though I am left squirming at the edge!).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

First long drive and a social visit!

Three firsts achieved this Sunday:
  • Manya's first long drive (about 45 minutes). 
  • First inter-state drive - From Virginia to Maryland
  • First social visit - We were visiting Vish's cousins; she had only been to the doctor's, the temple and the grocery stores uptil Sunday.
So, how did we fare? Quite well; I gave an almost 10/10 to Manya. The car rides were smooth. She did fuss a little while going and some more (about 8-9 minutes) on our way back, but that's about it! At our cousin's place, she was pretty much at home. Happy and cheerful - Smiling at everyone - And thoroughly enjoying her VIP status! Not to mention, how she bathed in the glory of all the attention (and gifts) she was receiving. This one is going to be one spoilt brat!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Good Morning, Sunshine!

This has been consistently happening for more than the last fortnight or so. Manya wakes up every morning anytime between 5:30 and 6:30. She looks at her left and then at her right to find mommy, then daddy. And then, she looks us in the eye and gives a smile, which changes into a huge grin and then a giggle, a loud chuckle and then extremely loud gurgles. 

It's almost like she is surprised to find us around the minute she opens her eyes and is expressing her joy at seeing us - it's very funny ofcourse, because the whole night she has been sleeping between us, and mommy has been waking up ever so frequently in the night to feed her! 

It also is the sweetest thing ever (even if I discount the fact that when you become a mom, everything your child does becomes undoubtedly the cutest thing ever :P) because whatever be the ordeals of the night or the weather that day, she fills our bedroom and hearts and lives with so much sunshine.

I sincerely believe (or want to believe) Manya is, by nature, very cheerful. Touch wood. I hope she maintains this personality trait forever. It will always be her biggest asset.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The birth story with all the gruesome details!

(P.S. This is going to be a very long read.)

Now, I did do a welcome post here, but apparently it's not enough for a birth story. Considering so many of my friends have been asking for details, I thought I'd might as well do a post so that I can direct them here for all the gory details and also preserve these to read when I am old and senile :).

My official due date was November 5th, 2012. I got up around 1AM that day, feeling a little weird - like IT was going to happen. Vish was ready to jump into the car and take us to the hospital but I dismissed the feeling, convincing myself that it was only because I knew it was my due date! I slept soundly for another 6 hours. Vish very reluctantly left for office (after asking me atleast 10 times that I was sure nothing was happening) - he had taken anticipatory leave already and hated the idea of going to work when he needn't have :D. 

At around 9AM, I felt as if my water was breaking. I had a regular prenatal appointment scheduled for 4PM that day and was wondering if I should hang on till then. Now, the doctor had warned us that it is not always a la Hollywood water breaking with a flowing puddle in the middle of a mall! Even a leak could mean the water bag has ruptured. And not to mention dad and mom were dead sure that I need to go straight to the hospital :D. So, hesitatingly, I called the nurse at the clinic and asked her what I should do. She very casually remarked, "you could come in now, I'll prepone your appointment." Then the tough part, calling Vish back after having pushed him off! Poor guy came rushing home and we were off to the doctor's by 10. We waited for our turn, what seemed like forever. One look by the doc, and he was like, "Congratulations, the baby is coming, please rush to the hospital". Both of us took a minute to recover from the shock those words caused. So, this was it! IT was happening. We took our last car ride, as a couple, to the hospital, completed all check-in formalities, and by 1130AM, I was on the I/V, hooked onto monitors and what not, in the hospital bed. My first ever "hospital admission".

My birth plan was discussed, which had only two major components: A. I wanted a safe delivery. The baby's safety and well being would be the number 1 priority in any decision that the hospital team would need to take at any time. B. Pain Management: I wasn't going to kid myself. With no experience of any real physical pain, I was absolutely certain that there would be a time I wouldn't be able to take it, so why not ask for it upfront. I had already researched a lot on the subject and spoken to the doctors, and had decided that at the time the contractions become "really" painful, I'd go for an epidural. The heads up was given to the anesthesiologist. 

The doctor wanted to wait for the contractions to start naturally, but nothing happened. At 1 PM, a team of 5 doctors and nurses came in to tell me that they noticed the fetal heart rate had suddenly dropped. I was told I would be under observation, and if this happened once more, I would have to go for a C section. But looked like, Manya was just being restless and feisty! At about 3PM, I was put on pitocin to induce labor. The contractions came slow. Like dull cramps. And then they increased in strength and frequency. By 7:30 PM, I was ready for epidural. and by 10 PM I was comfortably falling asleep - in fact I didn't even come to know when the nurse came for the hourly dilation check. By 12, Vish was also nodding off. I was only 5 cms dilated by then (the birth happens at 10).

I cannot tell you how sudden the progression was from then on. At 1:30AM, we were woken up by a flurry of activity in the room - the nurse told me I was 9.5, and we need to start practicing pushing. The second, "Oh My God It's happening" moment in 24 hours. In another half an hour, I was 10 - the doctor came in and told us he could see the baby's head and hair and it might just deliver itself :D. I pushed and I pushed. The epidural was stopped for about 10 minutes so that I could feel some sensation and push correctly. It was torturous. Having survived on two cups of grape juice the whole day, I was losing strength and consciousness. Everything seemed a blur. 

At 2:30AM, the doctor declared show time; given my almost unconscious state, he decided on episiotomy, and since the epidural effect was wearing off, I was given a local anesthesia prior to the incision. I don't remember the sequence of events very clearly from then on - I have vague memories of shivering constantly, of Vish telling me I am doing great (yeah right!), of the nurse shouting, of the doctor prodding, till suddenly everything was silenced by a loud cry. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A quarter of a year...

According to some definitions, our baby is no longer a new born but has graduated to infant status :). Here's what's going on: 
  • Manya is incredibly social for her age. She listens attentively, smiles at everyone, vocalizes all her coos and aahs exceptionally well and mostly quite loudly too, that you may actually think she is shouting at mommy and daddy. Sometimes, it also seems that she's rolling complicated words and long sentences in her mouth, and then a long wuuaaaan comes out. Loud and demanding would be an apt phrase for her. She loves attention - she needs to be spoken to - and the more serious conversation you have the more responses you get from her. No baby talk please :D. If she wants to be carried, or wants to play or wants to feed, she starts with gentle cooing and then it crescendos into screams, mind you these are not cries. Only when she is pushed to the limits, does the mouth begin to shape into a cry. And that hardly happens, because by then mommy and daddy would have already been subdued in submission with all the shouting. 
  • This might seem in ironic contrast to above, but Manya is extremely patient. I plonk her on her bouncer and do all my cooking, cleaning, laundry  and other mundane chores. As long as she is fed and not sleepy or tired, she happily follows me with her lovely big eyes, and merrily chit chats (quite literally, I tell you!). 
  • Also, I can't brag enough about her myriad expressions: her full frowns, half frowns, those "what's up guys" looks, and that "have you lost it" glance, oh, and her "what was that about" gaze, her smirks, smiles, laughs and chuckles, and those cute indulgent smiles: I swear to god she has all those expressions that you would primarily associate with adults!
  • Her latest fascination: her own fingers and toes! She lifts her legs up and wonders in amazement at her toes, which these days are usually covered by socks or the toed end of her overalls! She then admires her fingers - one at a time, then closes them in a fist and tries to put her entire fist in her mouth. It is so funny to watch as she tries to keep opening her mouth bigger and bigger to accommodate the size of the fist. 
  • Now, that takes me to the next development: everything goes in the mouth! Her grip has always been very strong and precise and now she has learnt to use it to cause havoc in our lives. If the fist is not in the mouth, she tries to suck her sleeve, if not that, she pulls the ends of her tops and blankets to her mouth - she even tries to pull her pajamas up! If you hold her hand, she'll try to take that in too!
  • Though she hasn't rolled over yet (may I add that she doesn't even bother trying), she very often turns to her side and plays with her hands or sucks on her fist. It started with trying to avoid our watchful gaze, I think, and now she does it all the time!
  • I put her on her tummy much more frequently and for longer duration - she does well at it mostly. She moves her head from one side to the other with ease, and has started lifting her head a full 90 degrees and once in a while also pushes her chest up, and even tries to flip onto her back - that last one is scary to watch though!
  • We have begun taking her out in the stroller. She enjoys her outings. It was super cute to watch her wide-eyed staring at everything and everyone at the stores we went to. 
  • Her obsession with ceiling fixtures, especially fans, that I talked about before, has reached newer heights - now she coos and smiles at the fan!!!
  • Another development: say hello to drool! She bubbles her saliva, and in the beginning even that looked cute (parents are a biased lot!), but now it's just messy and means more cleaning for us!
  • No, I will not complain about her feeds, I will just write a celebratory post when her highness goes on a schedule instead of only on-demand!
  • And, on a concluding note, another one of my daughter's narcissistic tendencies: If you take her in front of the mirror when she's bawling, she stops crying the instant she sees her reflection in the mirror!  

Friday, February 1, 2013

THE Question (of children)!

(P.S. Walking on egg shells with this one. Please indulge.)

Where do I start? Maybe from when I was a child...

...So as a child, whenever I thought of my "future", at a personal level, I always imagined I'd be married and have kids. I don't know if this is something we all Indian kids grow up with, or atleast the 80s kids grew up with - this notion of a happy family unit being the focal point of living. As I became "worldly wise", I started questioning all these established social institutions of marriage, family, parenting... (even schooling, remember the famous lyrics: We don't need no education :D)

Okay, seriously, as I read about so many cultures, of worlds different from ours, of concepts alien to ours, comparisons were inevitable. Pros and cons were not always fair to "our" side. And while, we could joke about these established institution - having been brought up in primarily traditional family setup, a sincere  debate on the need or questioning the bases, would still be sacrilege. For example, I truly believe that marriage is nothing but a socially accepted form of living together. Family is defined by blood not by signed papers, but guess what? Ownership of wealth and property is defined by signatures - hence there has to be a formalization of relationships. But, when I fell in love, the obvious conclusion was marriage. I can't even begin to imagine if I had merely hinted that marriage would not be necessary. Ouch, never, not even jokingly.

Now, for most, the natural progression after marriage is kids. Yes, I'd always wanted to have kids, that never changed. But once, when long ago, somebody asked me, WHY, I found myself fumbling for the "right" answer. That discussion left me very unsettled. I could appreciate every reason given to me as to why that person did not want to have kids - all were very logical and very sensible. But that didn't seem to affect the fact that I wanted kids.

Surely, it wasn't social conditioning, or was it?

I could swear to death that I LOVE kids - but then why have "my own" - why can't I be happy playing with those around me?

Could it be the unconscious need to live ever after through your child/children. That human hubris that wants immortality. Or you want a successor to "inherit" your legacy? Naah, I think myself to be too practical for that, and I don't really have a kingdom in my will.

Continuing the human race, you say? Hogwash! There are enough people on this earth. If you don't have a child, the human race would not come to an end.

Some argue, to bring about new blood and new thought. Yeah right! How many of us want to have a child only because we want him or her to become like Mother Teresa or a world ruler.

Then, could it be that essentially we are narcissists - so when we see miniature versions of ourselves - we find them adorable and cute - and in a way returning the compliments to ourselves. We wanted the perfect life and we feel we will be able to see that in our children and hence live life once more, the way we wanted to.
But, surely, we know better, don't we - children are individuals in their own right - and they'll go in directions you cannot even fathom, and live lives we can not ever imagine.

Having children surely brings joy - unparalleled joy; but we all know that it also requires lot of compromises, sacrifices, and hard work. Why do we still brave all of that? Only to experience that happiness, which you anyways don't know of till you have a child, and yet you decide to have a child.

And while I continue to search for "THE" answer, I open it to you all. If you have children or want to have children, WHY?