Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Coping with reflux...

I had briefly mentioned in an earlier post that M was on medication for reflux. We have now moved out of that phase and I am so glad. A lot of people, especially new mommies, have been asking me about my experience and here's the post.

At about 4 to 5 weeks of age, I began to notice that M was feeding (she was exclusively breast-fed) too often - sometimes every hour. (I must mention here that from birth M was the kinds to feed very frequently  - about every 2 hours - even in the nights she'd get up on her own every 2 hours to feed. The doc confirmed that some babies just do it, you can't really train them or make them not feed frequently. But the hourly feeds seemed a little too much to me.) Her evening feeds used to be painful; - she'd arch her back and scream and then go on sucking for 2-3 hours with little gap in between. Also, especially in the nights, I could almost hear her gulping down even 45 minutes after a feed. She'd get up with a weird expression on her face - something like she has a bad taste in her mouth (However, she never really spat up). Also, she would in that baby-cute way keep clearing her throat so often. We did burp her well, and tried anti-gas medication but nothing really helped. Meanwhile her hiccuping was as strong as ever - almost 20 times a day! I finally took her to the doctor at 6 weeks.

The doc diagnosed her with Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (Silent Reflux). Her pedeatrician was impressed by my instinct/observation because she said that since no spitting up happens in this kind of reflux, most parents ignore all other symptoms. Yeah, I was glad for that but it really did break my heart to have her on medication (Zantac Rx) for almost 4 months from then on. I did taste the medicine and it is yuck - alcohol mixed with mint to give the most disgusting flavor ever. The doctor also said that I would need to feed her as often as M wanted because it was soothing. M never took to the bottle and this condition of hers further discouraged me to use a bottle (more about our bottle battles in a later post) as stress at feeding only worsens reflux.

So commenced the most back breaking (quite literally) weeks ever. There was a lot of cluster feeding - a block of 4 hours in the day or night when M would want to feed every 15 minutes. I'd barely get up for water or juice or to answer nature's call and then be back on duty :). It was like she was treating me like a 24 hour milk bar. Yes, it was very frustrating but the doc gave me the confidence and encouragement to stay on it. Frequent breastfeeding is the fastest way for babies to get over reflux. The killer: even on good days, M would feed hourly for most weeks. One, the fresh feed would soothe the acidic backup and two, the medicine would digest the breast milk even faster, so she was genuinely hungry. Going out was a distant dream: I couldn't plan her feeds so I wouldn't know when she would want to feed and for how long!

Time did pass. At her 4 month checkup, the ped said she was doing well and I could start reducing the dosage. At 6 months we were off Rx! So to all the worried mommas out there, trust me it is a phase that you'll go through only once with your baby, and just when you begin to think it cannot get worse, it will get better. Take my word for it :).

Friday, May 24, 2013

Ice-creams: My self-righteous mommy soul be damned!

I still can't believe it happened but it did. 

M was napping peacefully, and it was the perfect noon for a chocobar. I had just opened the pack and her highness gave out a cry. There was no way I could leave my ice-cream at that crucial moment and there was no way I could let M cry it out while mommy was chomping away to god's glory. So, I took her in my lap and settled on a chair. She quietened and all seemed blissful - I finished the chocolate coating and was just about to start on the vanilla flesh, that in a fraction of a second I see M has already dived into it. 
I threw the bar on a plate on the table and looked at her in absolute horror - she had that trademark devil's grin on her face and about a teaspoon of ice-cream in her mouth, and she was lapping it as if it was the elixir of life. 

I panicked and called the nurse. My doc's office must have my number saved as a hyper-panicking mom, but WTH. The nurse was friendly and couldn't help laughing. She said - Just a bit of vanilla ice-cream won't do her any harm! I reiterated, my daughter is only 6 months old, and she had high fat, dairy (cow's milk), is that okay? The nurse was like, "Relax and go back to enjoying your ice-cream". 

I tried to salvage the remains of what was once a tempting treat but Manya was again restless - kept on clicking her tongue at the sight of my prize. So you know what I did? I took her on my lap, settled onto a chair, proceeded to finish off my ice-cream and gave her exactly two more licks in between. 

(So much for starting on healthy gourds/squash - recording M's first ice-cream rendezvous: Haagen-dazs vanilla milk chocolate bar (without the chocolate, ofcourse). Ouch! But you loved it baby!

Yes, here's my confession and I be damned. Why blame the summer heat?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Looking back at the first 6 months: 6 things I needn't have bought!

Now to start with a disclaimer, I have never considered myself a hoarder, though at certain instances I might go a wee bit overboard with the "essentials" :D.

So here's an objective assessment of baby things I needn't have bothered to buy. Like they say, one is wiser only in hind sight. (I also plan to do another post of things I am glad I bought, so come back for that one too!)

1. Baby booties: Yes, I mean the cute kinds, the kind that make the background for this blog! I bought such pretty (not to mention expensive - all above 20 USD!!!) crocheted yellow and pink ones for Manya and she didn't wear them a single day. They were all too easy to take off by our wriggling babe!

2. Wipe warmer: I thought I had hit a jackpot with this one when I got a really good one on sale for about 30 USD from Babies r us - it made a lot of practical sense to a heavily pregnant me - we were going to have a winter baby and she would be so comfortable with warm wipes during diaper changes, I thought. We used it for exactly two nights. Why? A, with controlled temperature at home (between 70-72 F), it was never freezing cold anyways; and B, you have to switch it on for 3 hours, then switch it off for a couple of hours and then back on. With trillion other things on your mind, not to mention postpartum fatigue, this should seriously not even be the last thing on your mind.  

3. Newborn-size onesies/bodysuits/sleep-n-play sets: I knew I was going to have an average sized baby (given my birth weight and the ultrasound results), so I thought she'll definitely wear N size for the first first 2-3 months. So, not lots, but I got quite a few of the my first Christmas, my first this, my first that stuff only to have M outgrow (length wise!) all of them by the second week! There were many not even worn once! And since most go around the diaper or have closed toes, you can't really continue using them like you can with plain Ts or PJs! 
(P.S. Vish's BIL was visiting us exactly at that time and mentioned that most clothing companies make sure that the N or 0 size is really small so that you come back for the next size sooner than later. A finance biggie, I'll take his word for it :D.)

4. Baby caps: I got atleast a dozen of these, and ended up using them only twice - once with an outerwear that did not have a hoodie and another time to keep her oily head from soiling the bed sheet (her bath was getting delayed for some reason). Doctors recommended not using caps at home and most of the outer wear for the chilly winters came with their own hoods! 

5. Frocks: I blame my pregnancy hormones for this one. With a November baby on the cards, that too on the east coast, seriously, what was I thinking. Sigh. You are going to have a girl baby - you enter a baby clothing store and you don't buy the cute little frocks! Sacrilege! Manya wore the baby size frocks I bought her exactly twice - that too with PJs at the bottom, jacket on top, and only to please me!

6. Dusting powder: With all the research I did, I don't know how come I went wrong on this one - though I just picked up only one big bottle from Burt's Bees - nothing to make me really broke :D. On the very first day in the hospital, the pediatrician said no talcum powder and no dusting powder, even if it was talc free. Aah! 

Do you also have a needn't have bought list from your experience?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Musings on my first Mother's Day...

Aah, my first Mother's Day just went by! I felt strange, weird, old, funny, emotional - all at the same time. Among all those mixed feelings, the best feeling was that I had one more day to demand gifts and a special dinner. Yes, yes, the bane of consumerism and all that jazz.

On a more serious note, I am a fairly young mommy - only 6 months old :D (yeah, i am still trying to get rid of that new mommy tag). But nevertheless, I tried to evaluate the characteristics that have evolved in me since November 6th, 2012, which definitely make me a "typical" mom! I could come up with only these:
  • I can sleep soundly through most noise, but one whimper from her highness and I am up even from the deepest of slumbers. (Though that does not prevent me from cribbing about sleep deprivation.) 
  • Though Manya has barely started on solids, I am already obsessing about feeding her, why she is not eating enough, what she should eat etc. etc. Infact I have an MS Excel sheet done up with color coding et al. for foods under various categories, her reactions, and so on.
  • Mom knows best is the only mantra I live by. The doctor's recommendation comes a close second :D.
  • My online browsing, shopping, and reading, infact most aspects of my being now center around M. I have to make a very conscious effort to engage in a conversation that doesn't revolve around children and parenting. 
  • 'No' is the new favorite word around the house. I say that so often that I am beginning to worry if M's first word will be 'No".
  • In any conversation that involves the three of us, Vish is no longer Vish but 'Daddy'. "Say bye to daddy." "Daddy will put you to sleep." Tell daddy to lower the volume, we need some peace." Daddy needs to buy mommy a present." :P
  • The sight of bawling infants no longer appalls me - mostly because I now understand babies are so unpredictable, and more importantly, I am busy keeping mine in check!
  • Whatever be the day of the week: Sunday or Monday, the routine never changes. I need to get up early for a head start to the day.
  • Gone are the days of fashionable purses and bags. I now lug around an ugly monster everywhere that has diapers, wipes, ointment, extra set of clothing, changing pad, blanket, toys, burp cloths, wash cloths and other such 'basic' necessities.
  • Impromptu trips - to malls, to movies, weekend getaways, off to an unplanned destination with just a wallet and cellphone - all are things of the past. I need a longish notice of atleast a couple of hours even to go do groceries. Manya should be well-fed, well rested - it should not be too hot, it should not be too cold, and other trillion such trifles.
Does this sound bad? Have I sunk deep enough into mommyhood? Or worse transformations are yet to come? Time will tell, I guess...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Fruits and Veggies!

M had been only on cereal up until her half year mark. She has had rice and oats. While I guess both taste the same (actually, I needn't guess, I know as I did taste them ;)), I think oatmeal suits her digestive system better. She has also tasted juices of pears, apples and prunes. And now, we have started with mashed fruits and veggies. So, I guess this marks the beginning of solid feeding in a more holistic sense. I plan to start on everything else (proteins etc.) a month or so from now. According to the doc, yogurt and cheeses can wait till the 8th or the 9th month, and whole milk, citrus fruits, honey, nuts etc. till the one year mark. We will more-or-less stick to that.

Okay, so recording her first fruit and vegetable:
  • First fruit: Malus domestica (lesser mortals know it as apple :P). If you are (and even if you are not) interested in the exact variety - it was the gala apple (organic) from California :D.
  • First vegetable: Lagenaria siceraria. You know what this is? The boring bottle-gourd (from the squash family). For most of my life (and most Indians I know), have hated this vegetable. It is boring and one of the worst tasting ever. My brother actually thought I was making Manya pay for not letting me sleep at nights by forcing her to eat this. I swear that was not the point. My idea was, one, it is such a healthy veggie that goes so easy on the stomach, and two, whatever M tastes after this will definitely be better :P). 

Half Year Mark

I am late on this one, but no regrets as was busy having fun with family visiting. So yes, we are half-way through the first year and here's what we have been upto:
  • The highlight of the month gone by has to be M's increased mobility. No, she is not sitting up and she is not crawling. She keeps rolling and flipping and covers quite a lot of distance in the process. Infact, when she has to reach out to an object she rolls in that direction and then flips at an angle to reach to it - some spatial sense that is, huh?
  • She loves to play with the balls she owns (discounting the fact that she puts them in her mouth just like EVERYTHING else) - I have a set of these balls from Sassy, which (if I had to pick) would most definitely be Manya's favorite toys, at this point. I have to mention though, she gets thoroughly pissed off when they roll off beyond her reach - she shouts at them as if commanding them to return. Silly girl! :P
  • Teething or not, she is a voracious carnivore (an apt name given by her cousin, A) at most times. She can devour most objects (only non-edible, btw) - living or not - quite indiscriminately.
  • We have quite a social butterfly in the making. She is happy around people and ofcourse thinks that the world (including all its inhabitants) exists only for her recreation purposes. This is mostly evident from her squeals of delight when she sees people, irrespective of whether they are interested in her or not :D.
  • M is also quite a noisy baby (did I hear you say, after all whose daughter she is?). She screams and shouts. Her mono syllables are stretched a mile long, and her recent achievement is that she has learnt to click her tongue in response to similar sounding noises!
  • Her eating habits are very unpredictable - there are times she readily opens her mouth and then there are days when she zips it up so firm that nothing would go in. We had been on cereal till her 6th month mark and have just started on fruits and veggies. More on that in a later post.

First holiday with first cousins!

My sis-in-law was in town with her two adorable kids (btw, the only first cousins M has!) for a little more than a week, and not only was it a much welcome change from our mundane routine but it was also awesome to see the kids have so much fun together. Needless to mention, Manya was spoilt rotten with all the attention from her doting athai/bua, and her anna/bhaiya and akka/didi, who just couldn't get enough of kissing her. The days flew by so fast and now the house is yearning for the squeals of laughter and spontaneous outbursts of energetic running around. Sigh! All good things do come to an end, don't they? 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tiger, Tiger, Teething Fright!

Well, well, I might have a sleep-deluded brain, but I remember Blake, alright. The deal is that our little tiger has been having a tough week with a lot of what looks like teething symptoms. 

I am saying "what looks like" because there's no sign yet of the pearls and this is already her second painful bout in the last two months - not to mention the occasional aches that last a day or two.

I spoke to her pediatrician, and she confirmed that all symptoms look like she is cutting teeth: inability to suck for long, comfort feeding (especially in the night - I have given up on the dream called sleep), holding the gums and crying, gnawing at every available object, and generally being very listless and irritable. She said that the last time around too, but also added that it was too early and maybe M is just extra sensitive.

Anyway, here's what we have been doing to help her out:
  • Hyland homeopathic tablets: Manya laps them up like it was a treat or something to have these - she could make a whole meal out of them, I think. They seem to be pretty effective as far as the pain relief aspect is concerned. but it doesn't help that biting sensation.
  • Teething toys: Though, everything including, mommy's shoulder bone and jaw line is a teething toy these days, we did get her the branded ones, which she doesn't care for much. She'd rather chew on the sides of her crib and the play gym!
  • Applying pressure: This works the best for us. I wash my hands, dip them in cold water, and then apply pressure on her gums. She loves it, and actually gives out a sigh of relief and a broad smile too!
  • Orajel: Yes, I know the FDA warns - but only against over dosage, especially before sleep time. We tried this a couple of times, and it doesn't work for Manya - she hates the flavor and wipes it off the very instant i apply it - plus she gets even more agitated with that sensation it causes.
  • Cold liquids: I actually refrigerate some milk and juice, and give her a few spoonfuls every once in a while. She responds well to the cold sensation and is actually quite instantly relieved of minor discomfort.
  • Cold apple slice: I clean out a big chunk of a refrigerated apple and give it to her to bite on. Doesn't help much but keeps her distracted for sometime atleast.
Any other suggestions?