Friday, December 4, 2009

The times, they are a changin!

A lot of times in the last eight months I've felt strangely disconnected from the outside world. Having taken a break from work post Nikki's arrival, for a variety of reasons AND having relocated to a new city, my life these days pretty much revolves around the home and the hearth. And this has not always been easy, given that it is a big change from my crazy, career obsessed pre-baby life.

Anyhow, the purpose of this rambling prelude, before I lose myself completely in the rambling, is to say that there are a few things in my life that have remained constant and that I turn to once in a way for cheer or comfort. Like some of my favorite blogs. Or books. Or music. Or friends who are always just a phone call away. There I go again. Getting back, there has been another thing that I sometimes turn to, just to get a different perspective. Bad television. Somehow, watching corny Hindi soaps once in a way works as a great stress buster for me, in spite of the glowering P ranting in the corner about the senseless trash people will watch these days. To be more specific there is one soap on Star One that I've been following quite diligently, which means I watch the odd episode once in a couple of weeks and it reassures me that all's well with the world and some things will always be around.

Back when I was working, watching a couple of minutes of this soap was a tried and tested remedy to dispel the blues. It was like a rock steady comfort blanket, if you know what I mean. The storyline hadn't wavered for decades. The actors were like old pals, except for one lead female character whom they kept changing for some reason, but since all she had to do was make gooey eyes at the male lead opposite her it really didn't matter. It had all gotten into a rather comfortable routine. Lead pair fights. Makes up. Fights again. Makes up. An so on and so forth. Even the background drum beat remained comfortingly the same. It was all very peaceful and de-stressing. None of that saas bahu banter, nor the drama of reality shows. Just pure unadulterated drivel that remained consistently the same with characters that went nowhere and did nothing in particular. Apart from fighting and making up of course.

Which is why I wasn't at all prepared for what happened yesterday. It had been a bad day with the maid playing hooky, P working late and Nikki deciding that this was the day to beat the tar out of the sleep fairy. So at 8 pm or thereabouts, in severe need of some comfort viewing and deciding it was time for a dose of Dill Mill Gayye, I turned on the television. True it had been weeks and weeks since I'd last seen it but the thing had been going on without anything remotely resembling change forEVER and I was mentally prepared to watch some of the same old, same old. Only to get totally gobsmacked at what I saw! This couldn't possibly be my DMG! There was none of the same or even the old about this DMG! Everyone and everything had changed! My peace of mind now completely shattered, I quickly called the teenage female cousin who specializes in all things telly related for an update. I had to know what the hell had happened here. Turns out the earlier cast have all being either killed (gasp) or retired (shudder) and a new young and restless cast and crew is in place. The only thing that seems to have remained constant is the lack of a storyline. Not that I care anymore. My reasons for watching the damn thing in the first place have all been wiped out along with the old cast. Goes to show you can't take anything in life for granted anymore. Not even bad television. Sob.


Telly obsessed cousin, who bonded instantly with me after aforementioned phone conversation (having given up on me for being one of the geeks of the family earlier) called some time back. The poor girl was shattered with the turn of events in DMG too having fallen madly in love with Dr Armaan, the erstwhile male lead, specialist in gooey eye making. Nobody from the new cast is cute enough apparently. Anyway, she seems to have discovered a new show on the rebound which goes by the name of Mile Jab Hum Tum and has cute young guys and gals who keep fighting and making up all the time. Just the kind of stuff I would've liked in the old days. Except that I'm not taking any risks with any more of these fickle soaps. From now on its the tried and tested DVD re-runs for me, thankyouverymuch. Good ole Remington Steele, Poirot, Sex & the City, Friends & OC! Always there when I need 'em!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The 8 month old Big Girl

I'm convinced I'm suffering from a rather premature attack of the empty-nester syndrome. What else explains the fact that all I can think of these days is how my once helpless little bundle has been permanently replaced by a hyper active little critter with multiple arms and legs and a mind all her own.
So Nikki turned eight months old last week and its time for another one of those barmy parent updates. The idea was to wait until nine months for the next update, but so much has happened in the last two months, that I really feel the need to document it now, lest some priceless Nikki-nuggets slip my sorely sleep deprived mind!

Sleep (as always!) tops the list, being a scarce and therefore highly valued commodity. Overall we've been having better luck with the quantum and patterns of sleep, but still more often than not, the sleep fairy continues to be vanquished from Nikki-dom, cowering and defeated, as Her Majesty valiantly battles on against this most useless (in her opinion, I think otherwise!) of activities. What has changed radically though is Nikki's style of sleeping. No longer is the arms akimbo, on her back, the preferred sleep position. Instead she rolls over oh so cutely, on her side or on her tummy and covers her face with one hand a la Manoj Kumar before drifting off into dreamland. On weekday mornings as we dash in and out of our bedroom on our always ongoing, but never quite accomplished 'get P to work on time' project, the still fast asleep Nikki often opens her eyes, smiles a million dollar smile on catching sight of her beloved Daddy and drifts right back into sleep with a look of complete bliss on her face.

Which brings us to the subject of how this child of mine, whom I nurtured for nine months and gave birth to, is a complete and total daddy's pet. I cease to exist as far as Nikki is concerned as soon as P walks thru the door, and any delusions I may have of being indispensable are rudely shattered on weekends when he-who-reigns takes over Nikki-dom. But, envy apart, it's truly a joy to watch Nikki and P bonding during those precious Daddy daughter moments. Only P can make Nikki burst into squeals of delighted laughter, loud giggles and excited shrieks. And her eyes follow him around everywhere, her neck twisting and turning into previously inconceivable angles when he goes out of sight. Even feeding becomes a chore, eating away into precious time with Daddy darling.

We amble on through the land of solids, with days when feeding is an absolute delight, and I pride myself on being a cordon bleu chef so what if the fare is khichdi! And then there are days when I sit there, with a Cerelac face pack (anyone know if this stuff is any good for the skin?), feeding Nikks for HOURS as she does a detailed analysis of the surroundings between each bite and chomps her way (or sprays out, depending on the mood of the moment) thoughtfully through every morsel. And of course the days when the spraying and spitting out begins even before spoon has touched base with lips! I'm still feeding her too, but the days of long nursing sessions are long gone. And I miss them! Now its very wham-bam-thank you mum and Nikki throws herself back with a dramatic flourish, reminiscent of the Bollywood heroines from the 70's, making it very clear that she's done. Oh and breastfeeding on the go, which used to be a piece of cake with me and Nikki snugly ensconced in a stole/ shawl/ dupatta is very much a thing of the past now. The stole/ shawl/ dupatta is immediately thrown off with the same dramatic flourish, Nikki-ishtyle, and made use of to play peek-a-boo instead!

On the activity front, we are zooming towards the crawling and sitting up stage with death defying speed. A few months ago, I used to worry that Nikki didn't seem terribly interested in rolling over and was quite content playing on her back or being on her side. I needn't have bothered as it turns out. Now even two large mattresses aren't enough to contain her as she rolls, turns and creeps her way all over the place. No more can I leave her unsupervised in the center of my very large bed even for a minute, she's at the edge within the fraction of a second. And the supervision needs to be sharp too. Last night as I lay down on the bed, sleepily watching Nikki, she rolled over and scooted backwards at the speed of light. I caught her just in the nick of time.
We even had a fall off the bed recently, which was quite a scare, but no damage done. My grandma reliably informed me later that I used to regularly roll off the bed as a baby and I turned out ok. * Except for the occasional bouts of madness when the full moon is out. Ahahaha!- P*
Peek-a-boo continues to top the list of favorites as far as games go, and the love for the game has led Nikki to develop her very own variation. She hides her face with her comforter and then peeks out slyly; an adoring audience adds to the fun of course, but she can even play this all by herself for hours! I keep vacillating between waiting for her to start crawling (what fun!) and dreading it in equal measure- my limited peace of mind will be drained completely when she does, I'm sure.

Much progress has been made on the linguistic front, and my little chatterbox is displaying several signs of being a great orator as she holds forth confidently while her spell bound audience gapes on. Unfortunately her preferred time of holding forth is often 2am which is not great for us, the chronically sleep deprived. Then again, maybe the tired raccoon look will just grow on me.
I'm hoping I get some rest over the next couple of days when my grandparents (Nikki's great grandparents!),come to visit for a few days. They pretty much raised me when I was very young, since both my parents used to work, and meeting them always brings back fond memories of my childhood. With them around, its going to be a time of nostalgia and joy, a time when memories are made. Most of all I can't wait to watch them with MY little girl, while, just for a few moments, I get to be a little girl again :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A brush with the nasties

I had a frightful scare last morning. During the course of one of her day time naps, Nikki rolled right off her bed! It was the first time something like that had happened and I was petrified that she may have hurt herself. Thankfully, apart from being very rattled because of the fall, she was absolutely unhurt; not even a minor scratch or bruise. I fed her and rocked her to calm her down, and within 20 minutes she was right as rain. It took me a lot longer to calm myself down though. After a few frantic calls to P and Nikki's ped, who managed to convince me that a visit to the hospital emergency section was really not required, I spent the better part of an hour examining Nikki in minute detail to be really really sure she was a-OK. She was of course by then, and demonstrated likewise by being her usual super active self and bouncing off of all available surfaces. So then I got down to the next important task of worrying myself to death about how I could have ever let such a thing happen. I usually put Nikki down at night in her cot, but the bed still remains her preferred choice of location for daytime naps. Since we have a really really large double bed in the master bedroom, thanks to a Delhi based carpenter who believed deeply in the concept of materialistic largesse, I had been putting Nikki down to nap bang in the center of this for her naps, surrounded by a veritable fortress of cushions and bolsters. No longer good enough, clearly, coz she had scaled all of these to make a clean landing on the floor. She also managed to do this within the span of 2.5 minutes, since between me and the help we make sure we check on her every 5 minutes when she's alone on the bed. Anyways, I decided that the cot it is now for every nap, short or long, and spent the rest of the day being a super clingy, chipku kind of parent. I think Nikki was quite relieved to be rid of me when P got back from work. I've also decided its high time I stopped procrastinating on the baby proofing of home project that is way overdue now. So the weekend will see me headed, guns blazing, to the land of corner cushions and child proof locks and such, so that we have a safe haven for Nikki to crawl around in, in the next couple of days.

In other news, I had a mastitis scare over the weekend. Thankfully it was just a clogged milk duct and went away on its own in a few days time, after loads of nursing and warm showers. The timing sucked though, I had a wedding to attend on Sunday and being in terrible pain I went around greeting all and sundry with a horrible glassy smile plastered on my face. I think I single handedly managed to save the bridal party a fair bit of moolah; the sight of me must've ruined the appetite of a lot of people for sure, causing them to beat a hasty retreat before lunch. Sigh, there go all my la-di-dah notions of being one of 'em yummy mummies.

And in other nastier news I espied a rat in my home yesterday. A rat. A RAT. In MY home. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhh!! Now don't get me wrong, I'm usually pretty good at dealing with this stuff. Like cockroaches. Pish tosh! Long live the pest control guys! Or lizards. P is a great lizard evictor, he shoos them out quite regularly outta the apartment and into the elevator to go forth and explore fresher territories. Or mosquitoes even, I was on back slapping terms with them in our old apartment in Bombay (hail All Out!). But rats? This is the first time in six years of playing house, that I've had to contend with this menace. I spent the first half of the day raising hell for my help and turning the house inside out. I mean I have OCD when it comes to keeping the house clean, so there had to be something wrong here. My maid, who still hasn't figured out how to put Nikki to sleep and is therefore not among my favorite people at the moment, redeemed herself greatly by picking up a broom and venturing forth bravely in search of the rodent. Eventually we figured out that the rat is probably a resident of the drying area in the flat directly above ours and was probably just dropping by to check out new locations. Even so, there was always the possibility that it could make this aimless wandering around a habit. Then what? Naturally, I've resolved to deal with this sticky situation with my characteristic calm and fortitude.
I'm thinking, a couple of months at my mum's while P figures out how to make these parts rodent free?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

All in a day's work

It's been a long night. One of those in which your baby, troubled by teething, took ages to fall asleep, only to wake thrice at 1am, 3am and 5am, each awakening requiring an hour long session comprising a feed, rocking and soothing to sleep. Understandably, you're not feeling particularly perky the next morning. You're awake early nonetheless because it is the day you're having the Vile Female Relative over. The VFR, in town for a few days, has invited herself over for lunch and newly endowed with The Maturity That Comes with Motherhood, you have not avoided her like the plague, like you would have done otherwise.

So you're up and about, wanting to get yourself and baby ready for the visit. Its specially important that you get baby well fed and rested so that she's in a good mood during the visit. Not that you feel pressurized or anything, but the VFR has a habit of gloating about her 'model' three year old and you don't want any unpleasant comparisons. So you go about baby's morning routine- wash, feed and nap at the end of which she will awaken refreshed and cheerful. Having crossed the first two off your list, you commence the nap routine. Twenty minutes of rocking later, baby's blissfully asleep and you are making the transition from arms to cot. DING DONG! The doorbell startles both you and baby out of your collective wits. No sweat for you, but baby is awake. You bound to the door, handing baby over to your new maid. It's the person from X Bank, there in connection with opening your new bank account. Except that he's three days late and has arrived way past the clearly specified time limit of 9.30am. You tick him off and he goes on the offensive telling you how he's come all the way just to open YOUR account, so what if his timing sucks. You restrain yourself, what with The Maturity That Comes with Motherhood, complete the required paperwork and send him off. You commence the process of putting baby back to sleep. Ten minutes later, just as baby is drifting into dreamland..DING DONG! Friendly neighborhood chappie from X Bank again! He's forgotten to take your signature on one of the documents. With pursed lips you sign the doc and slam the door in his face. Meanwhile, new maid has tried to put baby to sleep and failed miserably. So you start rocking feverishly again with an eye on the clock. But as someone wisely said, time and tide wait for none, and in a matter of seconds the doorbell dings again.

The Vile Female Relative is at your doorstep, model son in tow. Your baby is still awake and understandably not cheerful, thanks to lack of nap. She lets out a howl as soon as the VFR takes her in her arms and continues in that vein for the next twenty minutes. You hurry into the bedroom, put baby to bed at last and hurry back to make polite conversation before lunch. You find the VFR gloating in your living room, while her son, you see, is running amok all over your previously neat house. You try and keep an eye on him as the VFR tells you how her son never, ever gave her any trouble with sleeping, he could just sleep anywhere, anytime and on his own. And he never, ever needed to be rocked. Um hum, you say, refusing to be provoked, now that you've got The Maturity That Comes with Motherhood. Instead you pounce on the model son as he tries to shred your favorite PG Wodehouse into bits and safely put your books away, as the VFR drones on in the background about how particular she is about her books and likes to maintain them in pristine condition.

A few nerve wracking hours later you've had lunch and the model son has finished massaging desert into your sofa cushions. Baby is awake too and attempting to crawl on her play mat. 'Doesn't she walk yet?' demands the VFR in horror. 'The model son was running at her age!' You ignore her, attributing the remark to a lapse in memory given that your baby is not yet 8 months old, and ask your maid to put baby down for a nap. She tries but being new needs help and so you intervene. 'You don't train your maids well!' begins the VFR right on cue, and proceeds to tell you how her maids don't even open their mouths unless she tells them to. She also adds that your baby wouldn't be so 'kamzor' if you'd trained your maid to massage her thrice a day to stimulate growth. Thankfully for VFR, coz by now you are beginning to lose it, her voice serves as white noise and baby falls asleep faster than usual. But just as you are about to put her down..DING DONG! You guessed it right, its the bank chappie again! This time he wants your photographs that he'd forgotten to take in the morning.

Baby, tired of all this disruption starts howling in right earnest. The VFR starts telling your maid how the model son was never clingy and cranky and never uttered a peep. You ignore all of them and start hunting for the photographs, realizing in the process that you need to get your papers more organized. You needn't have bothered of course, the VFR is peskily hovering behind you helping you realize the exact same thing, peppered with examples of her super organized home. You finally find the photographs and hand them over to bank chappie. 'Oh no Maydame!' barks he, 'We need snapes with white bakeground ownly!' You lose it. Deciding that The Maturity That Comes with Motherhood can go suck an egg, you send the bank chappie off with flaming ears and the 'snapes' that you'd found. You re-enter your living room to find the VFR analyzing the contents of your baby's diaper while ticking off your maid for baby's lack of potty training. The Maturity That Comes with Motherhood now a distant dream, you give the VFR a piece of your mind, and while you're at it also tick off the model son who is impersonating Spiderman on the wall with your favorite paintings. The VFR takes umbrage and says she may not stay for tea after all. You remind her that it wasn't on the anvil anyway, since she'd invited herself only for lunch. You part ways coldly with the VFR.

It's also time for your maid to leave, so you bathe and feed baby, read her a story and sing her a lullaby. Then you begin rocking her to sleep. She's just beginning to settle down when..atishoo..ATISHOO..ATISHOO! Your baby looks like the top of her head has blown off, as you sneeze with the worst timing ever. Must be the curse of the chappie from X Bank. Luckily, the husband walks in through the door right then, and as always, comes to the rescue. He rocks baby to sleep, orders your favorite pizza and spends the rest of the evening patiently listening to you bitch about the VFR. You begin to feel a whole lot better. The Maturity That Comes with Motherhood begins to seep back into your pores.

The next day you vent on your blog and seriously consider sending a link to the VFR. The husband dissuades you gently. You give in magnanimously. The VFR is still family after all. And then you sit the husband down and tell him all about the Maturity that comes with Motherhood.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A milestone of sorts

This weekend saw the arrival of Nikki's new cot at long last. It was originally meant to be our Diwali gift to Nikki, but thanks to the delivery lead time of 15 days and then a defective piece turning up at the store, it finally arrived only over the weekend.

I felt a pang as I saw the delivery guy disassemble the crib which Nikki has used since birth and set up the relatively mammoth looking cot bed in its place. We had bought the crib when I was in the last trimester, a few weeks before Nikki arrived. It had been set up in our room next to my side of the bed and just looking at it every day as I waited for d-day used to cause a rush of joy and excitement as I tried to picture what the new baby would look like peacefully asleep in his/ her crib. A few weeks later I got to live this fantasy, though reality was slightly different. It became clear enough in the first few days that 'peacefully asleep' was a concept Nikki was (and still is) not terribly fond of, but even so when she did sleep I spent many a blissful moment gazing at her in her crib. The crib was also the place for much merriment once the cot mobile and crib toys made their appearance and I could even snatch a few minutes to myself as Nikki learned to entertain herself with these for short periods of time. I realized what a great investment the crib had been when I spent a few weeks at my mum's. The crib didn't go with us, so in those few weeks sleepless nights were spent as I shared a bed with Nikki worrying that I would roll over and crush her or inadvertently wake her if I turned over. I also found that Nikki slept a lot better in her crib, as did I, since the chances of me disturbing her or vice versa as we slept were minimized.

The sight of the crib being neatly packed away was a reminder that my little baby is not so little anymore. She's too big for the crib that used to once dwarf her tiny little presence and its also unsafe to use the crib now since she's showing signs of learning to sit up by herself any moment.
So the cot bed was duly done up with new sheets and bumper, and the cot mobile and toys transferred to it as well. Nikki didn't take too well to the change for the first two nights; having gotten rather used to sleeping with us in our bed for the last couple of days, ever since we discovered she was too big for the crib. But tonight she's slept quite well (so far!) in the new cot. And as I watch her fast asleep, once again looking like a tiny little cherub in the huge cot, I feel strangely happy that in so many ways yet, my baby is still my little baby.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oh boy, oh boy, oh bai!

The last few days have been less than cheerful with one crisis after another on the domestic help front. Domestic worries occupied less than a tenth of my mindspace before Nikki was born, what with our needs being minimal, us being hardly ever at home. A little bit of cleaning and a decent enough dash of cooking was enough to fit the bill. So it didn't really matter if the bai didn't turn up one day, or decided to go on an extended leave which stretched on for a few months, in the old scheme of things bais were highly dispensable. If matters really came to a head I could always get another one. And unlike now, when any serious bai-related issue is capable of sending my BP soaring sky high, back then the inevitable skirmishes with maids were great sources of amusement. I could write a book filled with all my bai anecdotes! Like my tryst with Chameli the cook, the fashionable diva always dressed in red (red dress, red shoes, red handkerchief, red mobile!) who developed a crush
on P. A typical scene in our kitchen went something like this:
Chameli, in a sweet, sing-song voice: Bhaiiiiiyyaaaaaaaaa!
Me, venturing into the kitchen: Haan? Is the food ready?
Chameli, giving me a disdainful look: Bhaiyya ko bulao! (Call P!)
Me: Huh? Why?
Chameli: Khaana taste karana hai! Unki pasand ka hona chahiye na!( P needs to taste the food, it has to be his liking you fool*)*this last bit being expressively communicated through facial expression.
The redeeming factor with Chameli was that she was a fantastic cook, but since she was prone to bunking way too many times she didn't last too long. Then there was shy Savitri who came to work for us when we'd just moved to Bombay. Now Savitri was a cleaning lady, so she did the sweeping, mopping et al. But Savitri was also newly married which meant that she did all of this sweeping and mopping dressed in a traditional, nine yard silk wedding sari with jewelery and bangles dripping off every inch of her being! Visitors to our home in the early hours of the morning could have been excused for thinking that they were either hallucinating or that the members of this home had exchanged roles: the woman of the house mopping floors, while the maid dressed in a grungy tee and tracks (oh all right, I know I could dress better at home) read the papers on the couch. P had even nastily mentioned once that we could start a "guess who's the bai?" contest for his relatives who'd only ever seen me at our wedding. Anyways shy Savitri got pregnant soon enough and quit all her jobs for the joy of motherhood.

Bai-tales were always the one thing that could get you an instant connect with otherwise snooty neighbors, everyone had their own tales of woe and long conversations could be had with anyone about domestic disasters thanks to an errant bai. I remember a team event at work where everyone was asked to share something that was bothering them that very moment. Our VP marketing shared that she had fired her cook that very morning after finding a stapler pin in her cheese sandwich (!) and her remark opened up the floodgates for the rest of the women in the group! Pretty soon the team event had converted into anguished women ranting about their own tales of domestic despair. (Domestic issues don't seem to bother men that much I've seen!)

This merry, carefree attitude when it comes to bais is now a thing of the past with the dawning realization that I need reliable, long-term help for longer hours if I need to get things done outside of baby related stuff. Also seeing that Nikki is all set to fly, er I mean crawl, anytime now makes it even more imperative that I have an extra set of eyes and hands around for preemptive damage control. With this noble thought I set out on a bai finding mission, hoping to find a clean, trustworthy, good-natured, sincere woman who could cook and help a little with Nikki. I might as well have gone hunting for the proverbial needle in the haystack instead and the chances of finding that would have been higher. Who knew it was so damn difficult to get good help in these parts?! Either they had a problem with the hours, or the work or both. One woman demanded a monthly salary of Rs 13,000, no less and another wanted to know if an annual foreign vacation would be part of the deal. This is one of the disadvantages of living in an apartment complex with too many expats, poor souls like me are just not fit to compete in the bai race! Anyways after nearly two months of domestic help due diligence I seem to have managed a decent find and she will be coming on board soon. Wish me luck! This is also the first time I'm keeping help who'll be around for the whole day so tips and advice from all of you more experienced folk out there are also most welcome! Knowing me I wouldn't be surprised if I find myself with just the same lack of time a few weeks later while the bai gets progressively more knowledgeable on the happenings in tellyland ;)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Its party time baby!

"What a great weekend!" remarks P breezily as we down the Monday morning coffee. His remark is met with a stony silence and an icy glare. "Fun, food and bonding with friends!", he goes on, blissfully unaware of the stony s and the icy g. Did you have a good time too honey?" Bad question. Worse timing. He's still picking up the pieces that resulted from the emotional volcanic eruption that followed that innocuous remark.

Flashback to where it all began, a seemingly idyllic start to what promised to be a fun weekend. It also marked the start, at long last, to the revival of our dormant-since-baby social lives. Or so I thought. We had been invited to a dinner party (NOT a kiddy b'day party which is all we've been to since Nikki arrived) and we had happily accepted the invitation since it was conveniently located at our friends' home and not a noisy, smoky, baby- unfriendly location. Sob, Hard Rock Cafe I MISS YOU!
After a week of careful planning and preparation Nikki's weekend schedule was worked out and we were all set. We were going to take her along of course since no reliable baby-sitting options were available. The soiree being conveniently timed for the soir (har har) we thought it would be fairly easy since Nikki these days has been going to bed by 8pm and pretty much sleeping through the night...pause for UNHEX mantra chant....with just one feed required in between.
Nikki of course had other plans.

Saturday morning dawned bright and early and I set about Nikki's daily routine, cheered by the thought of the evening ahead. I had all the happy optimism of one who is blissfully unaware of that-which-lies-ahead. Especially when the future course of that-which-lies-ahead has been pre-decided by a willful 7.5 month old who has very clear ideas on how a Saturday evening will be spent. First of course, she refused to sleep all day grinding my fanciful notions of 'two naps that will leave her well rested for the night' into the dust beneath her little feet. Then she refused to feed properly burying my other fanciful notions of a well fed baby even further down. It was a scene set for disaster and I should've probably called it quits right away. Instead I got dressed for dinner. Hah. We arrived bright and early at the venue with some more fanciful (we would've learnt by now you'd think)plans of putting Nikks to bed at our friends', having managed a decent feed before leaving our own home. Nikki, having vanquished the sleep fairy and hung her out to dry all day was by now bouncing off the walls and would have none of this putting to bed business, and decided to make her displeasure known by bursting into heart rending howls. I quickly retreated to the guest bedroom and pulled out my standard bedtime bag of tricks. After about an hour of rocking,singing lullabies,and other permutations and combinations thereof after which Nikki seemed to become increasingly cranky I finally decided to feed her. And it worked! Except that the feed went on for one whole hour. In the meantime wafts of delicious rajma chawal and chilli chicken were making their way down the corridor and into the guest bedroom and I could hear my stomach growl. In all the frenzy of getting Nikki's routine sorted before the party I had forgotten to feed myself properly and was ready to munch on my friends nice looking pillows by now. The sounds of other people having fun and laughing was only adding to my misery. P was trying to help by smuggling in peanuts and chips but they only served to whet my appetite for the REAL stuff that I was missing, and by the time Nikki was done, my wallowing in self pity had reached its zenith. I finally emerged leaving a blissfully asleep Nikki in the darkened and sound proofed to the best of my ability guest bedroom and proceeded to join the party. My friend, the hostess, herself mother to a sprightly one year old, had done her share of night duty and could empathize with me. Though dinner was long gone she took pains to heat everything up for me again and make me comfortable. I had just about finished wolfing down the grub, when Nikki, sleeping fitfully after a day of hyper-activity decided that alarm bells needed to ring again. P & I took turns the rest of the evening rocking her to sleep and she finally fell into a deep sleep just minutes before we left. Which obviously meant that she was roused from slumber when we left and wide awake by the time we reached home. The night was a blur of feeding and desperately trying to make her sleep by the end of which my head was spinning like a top.
But the next day was Sunday, the day of rest, right? No siree! Coz this particular Sunday just happened to be the Sunday when we had invited friends over and a large number of them at that. The day passed in a blur of crazy preparation during which even I did not entertain any notions, fanciful or otherwise, of getting Nikki to rest. Tired by all this brouhaha Nikki decided to call it a day 15 minutes before the guests arrived. You know what happened next. I spent the next one and a half hours feeding and putting her to bed while P put on a solo act with our guests. The rest of the evening passed pleasantly enough but it was a long evening and when we were done, so was Nikki. With her sleep for the night. So it was a repeat performance of the previous night and Monday morning saw me looking like a dehydrated raccoon with all the lack of sleep and ensuing dark circles.

Which is why when P breezily remarked "what a great weekend!" as we sipped the morning coffee on Monday, it was met with a stony silence and an icy glare. He went on of course, blissfully unaware of the stony s and the icy g. But we've been through all that before haven't we?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nikki's first Diwali

This Diwali was really special for us as it was Nikki's first. It was also one of the few times we've celebrated Diwali at our own home, Diwali usually being a time in the past, when we would scoot off to either of the parents' homes for a much needed break from the grind. I was determined to ring in Diwali day in style, and forced a grumpy P to rise and shine at the crack of dawn, well actually more like 7am, for the traditional ubtan bath for us and the not so traditional top-to-toe one for Nikks. That done we did a small pooja at home and proceeded to decorate various nooks and corners with the collection of diyas we've acquired over the years, paper lanterns, string lights and even a traditional rangoli replete with Goddess Lakshmi's feet drawn just outside the main door. Lunch was at the parents, so we zipped off there and proceeded to gorge on the traditional spread of aloo gobhi, rajma, matar paneer, rice kheer and the not so traditional ones of cheese balls and baked vegetables contributed by my dad, a recent convert to Nigella Lawson's 'style' of cooking.

Some of my aunts & cousins had also come over so we got to catch up with them after ages. Or rather they got to catch up with Nikki, since post her birth nobody seems even remotely interested in me or P. Her Majesty was plonked down on a mattress expressly deployed for her repose and surrounded by a circle of her admirers, who then proceeded to entertain her with a variety of weird noises and facial expressions. I overheard one of my uncles wryly remark to someone that the cacophony took him back to his recent trip to the Amazon rainforest. But it was great to watch Nikki bask in all this affection, as she bestowed benign smiles at a particularly impressive cluck (the eldest aunt) or facial expression (cousin M doing her rendition of a baboon).

The love fest had to be wrapped up soon though coz we had to head back to our own place for Lakshmi Pooja. On the way back P insisted on spending the better part of an hour shopping for all kinds of ghastly crackers, and we reached just in time to light up the house and all its diyas and then do the traditional pooja. It was Nikki's first pooja but the young spitfire was way more interested in the crackers. I was a little worried she'd get scared by the noise but she was enthralled instead by the spectacular show of firecrackers on display, courtesy several society residents. As a rule I detest crackers but the thrilled look on Nikki's face as she gaped at the crackers going off, mouth all agape, made me forget my usual anti cracker rant and I found myself joining in her wide eyed joy. The noise and smoke that all those crackers were generating however killed our plans of venturing out for a stroll, so we spent the rest of the evening at home. Then Nikki sprung the big surprise of the evening by falling asleep on her own (!) and staying that way in spite of all the noise! Must've been my Diwali gift from someone up there!


P is extremely cheesed off about the fact that he didn't get to burst any of his lovingly purchased crackers and is threatening to make up for it next year, along with 'his girl' who will be a sprightly almost-two-year old by then. Time to start planning a vacation for this time next year, in a cracker free zone!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Boss kaun hai, maloom hai na?

Ten reasons why, in the last couple of months, I've begun to see my ex-boss in a new light:

1. My new boss is one of the most demanding people I've ever met. I'm expected to be on call 24*7. 365 days a year. For the rest of my life.
2. My new boss keeps erratic hours.Picture this: Its 3.45 am after a long, tiring, never ending day. You collapse into bed desperately hoping for a few hours of shut-eye. Only to be awakened by an urgent call from the boss. Tough luck baby. The boss needs you. NOW.
3. As may be obvious from point number two, my new boss thinks life is too short to be whiled away sleeping. Awake and active is the boss's preferred mode of operation. Sleeping on the job is heresy!
4. Face time is very important with the new boss. You gotta be around if you want the boss to be happy. And you DO want the boss to be happy. Trust me.
5. My new boss hates structure. Or scheduling. Needless to say there's no point in my making any plans. You just have to take it as it comes and hope it doesn't blow up in your face.
6. My new boss has a unique style of communicating which I am yet to become proficient at. So I currently try to make things work through trial and error. And the boss doesn't like error.
7. Hell hath no fury like the new boss in a bad mood. The boss's expressions of displeasure are enough to peel the plaster off the walls. I work very hard to keep the boss happy all the time!
8. I used to have a life before the new boss entered into it. P used to have a life before my new boss entered his life as well. Now what's left of our lives revolves around the new boss.
9. My new boss is not toilet trained. And one of my future assignments will involve doing the needful. Sigh.
10. I'm in love with my new boss. So everything is personal, even though nothing is official.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Of this and that

One of my closest friends, D, who's in the US ( I think I now have more friends per square foot in the US than in all of India), is expecting her first baby next month and is in a tizzy over what to name the child. What has D & her husband all het up is the fact that they've been pondering about the perfect name for eight months now and are nowhere close to short listing even the top twenty. To add to their pondering woes, they need to have TWO names in mind coz they have opted to keep the sex of the baby a surprise for when D Junior makes an appearance.

Got me thinking back to the days when P & I would have given an arm and a leg (P's of course, I was expecting for crissake!), to find out the sex of our baby. Thinking back now I don't know why we were so eager to find out, but there we were. We just couldn't handle the suspense. The only way we could have found out would've been a trip abroad in the second trimester, and given both our manic work schedules that didn't seem likely. As a result P had taken to asking, what he thought discreet questions to the Hapless Sonographer (HS), whom we met every couple of weeks to check on Nikki's in-utero progress. We had already gotten off to a rather bad start with the HS, when I in my new found pregnancy enthusiasm, had bombarded him with more questions than he could handle. It was the eight week scan and according to my pregnancy book, our baby was, at this stage an embryo, and embryos have tails. Everyone knows that. So I didn't expect the HS to jump like a cat on a hot tin roof when I hopefully asked if he could show me the baby's tail and sputter that it was a 'BABY' that I was having, not a THING with a tail!

I piped down after that incident but there was no stopping P. What P lacked in discretion he more than made up in confidence, and he was convinced that he was going to 'crack the sex of this baby'! A typical appointment at the ultrasound clinic went something like this:
HS, looking petulant as images of tails emerge in his memory: So here is your baby, see these are its arms and these are the legs...
P: The arms! Is HE waving the right arm Doctor?
HS (irritated): Yes, IT is. Movement is quite common at this stage you know. Now these are the ventricles of ITS heart..bla, bla, bla...see this is ITS face...
P: Ahhhhh the face! Beautiful! Doesn't SHE have a beautiful face Doc?
HS, gnashing his teeth: Grrr..and this is ITS spine...bla bla bla...placenta bla bla...umblilical cord...
P: Ohmigod Doc! What if HE has a loop around HIS neck? We had some friends who…
HS, cutting him off with a snarl: We will TELL you if ITS anything serious! Now that's IT, all for today. Thankyouverymuch. Next patient.
P, valiantly making one last effort: Thanks Doc! So we're off to do some shopping for the baby now! Ha Ha! Maybe you could give us some advice, you know, PINK or BLUE? What should Mommy & Daddy buy?
HS, looking like he was about to bawl for HIS Mommy & Daddy: NEXT PATIENT!
I think HS aged a few years in the nine months of my pregnancy. He looked positively relieved when the time came for my last scan, bidding me farewell quite cheerfully and assuring me that I had absolutely no need to return to the clinic whatsoever. When we did return a few weeks after Nikki's birth to give him some celebratory chocolates he visibly paled and looked like he'd like to mingle with the butterflies on his wallpaper. P of course only made it worse by jovially remarking that "YOU knew it was a girl all along didn't you Doc? Ha Ha Ha!"
I tried to make up for P’s faux pas by offering some words of reassurance as we left, “Thanks for everything Doctor. We’ll only come back for our second baby now!” I didn’t really get what HS said but I thought I heard a shuddering gasp emanate from where he stood. Something tells me maybe I shouldn’t have spoken those words of reassurance after all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blast from the past

I was a naive seventeen year old when he first came into my life. With his charming smile and deep,warm eyes he soon swept me off my feet. I began to look forward to our weekly rendezvous. I loved his easy wit and debonair charm, and the way he could handle any situation with his characteristic chutzpah. It was just a matter of time before I was headlong in love. On Thursdays, our designated weekly date, I would reschedule my life so that nothing and nobody would disturb that precious one hour with him. Those were the days! But then one day he had to leave for ever, as suddenly as he had come into my life. I was heartbroken, but there was nothing anyone could do about it. He was gone, just like that, leaving only his memory behind. I occupied myself with other things and learned to cope without him. I was nearing the end of college now and there were other mounting pressures. Time passed. I went on to complete my post graduation and got a job that I loved. I still thought of him, but less and less. Sometimes though the memories were powerful and I would get a rush of nostalgia for the old days. Along the way I met a nice boy and got married, and we had a beautiful baby girl. Life was perfect.
And then last week he came back into my life! Just like that. The door opened and in walked P...with HIM! I was dumbstruck. Of course I'd spoken about him in passing to P a few times, but I never though it mattered to him. It had never occurred to me that P would go to great lengths to track him down and bring him back. But here they were. Both of them. Of course I was happy to see him but I was worried too. Wouldn't this affect my relationship with P? What with the baby, time was always at a premium these days.

I needn't have worried. P was more than eager to get to know him as well as I did. "Switch on the TV honey!" he told me with a broad grin, " I want to meet your Remington Steele!"
And so it began all over again. P walks thru the door in the evenings and immediately starts putting Nikki to bed. As soon as she's asleep, we grab dinner and plonk ourselves in front of the TV to catch one more episode of Remington Steele. He's just as good as ever of course. Some things just get better with time :) Pierce Brosnan, younger and oh so gorgeous, teaming up with the effervescent Stephanie Zimbalist in this fun detective series is a great, anytime watch. The fact that I'm seeing it after ages makes it even better. Viva nostalgia! I just can't get enough of it! Any Remington Steele fans out there?

Monday, October 12, 2009

The way we were

There's been a disturbing story in the newspapers recently about a family in Mumbai, in which the father held his wife and daughters captive in squalid conditions and regularly tortured them for reasons that defy logic or reason. What shocked me more than the story of this family itself, was the fact that none of the neighbors of this family, or other building or society residents had done anything to help the unfortunate family, even though several were in the know of what went on in their flat. Its a sign of the times we live in I guess, where all of us are so boxed into our own worlds and lives that we've stopped connecting with each other the way we used to. I'm as much a part of this as anyone else, though I like to think I've changed, or at least I'm trying to since Nikki's birth.

Pre baby our home was mostly an overnight pit stop as both of us clocked crazy hours in our mad run on the corporate treadmill. Our friends in the society we lived in were friends we knew from elsewhere, b-school or work or somewhere else, but nobody we'd made friends with just by virtue of living in the same building for almost four years. Or even on the same floor for that matter; our neighbors always seemed rather nice but nobody had the time to socialize. I remember returning home after a party one Saturday night to a loud and merry celebration emanating from the apartment opposite; it was their seven year old daughter's birthday and the party was on in full swing. P remarked wistfully about how, in his childhood home, it was unimaginable that a child would have a birthday and the next door neighbors wouldn't be invited.

It used to be like that when I was growing up too. My dad was in the Navy and spent several months at sea. Since mom also worked, my sister and I spent a large part of our growing up years at my mom's parents who lived in the same city. They lived in a shady, tree lined Mumbai suburb, in a little society with two five story buildings. Each building overlooked a little garden overflowing with Rajnigandha plants, a tiny pond and a rock garden, meticulously tended to by the society residents. Being a small society, everyone who lived there knew everyone else and over a period of time it had become like an extended, close- knit family. All the kids had formed one large gang and evenings were spent playing hopscotch or hide and seek. Often, the younger kids were coached in badminton or chess by the elder, more experienced lot. On weekends we'd be in and out of each others houses all day, as a result of which weekend meals were always a veritable smorgasbord of cuisines covering the length and breadth of the country. Breakfast with the ground floor Tam Brams, lunch with the Bengali music lovers and high tea with the nice Catholic family who brought Enid Blyton high teas to life! Oh and a quick stopover at our Maharashtrian neighbors to sample Aunty's weekly pickle. Festivals were always great fun with everyone coming together to celebrate in style. I have fond memories of Holi especially, when celebrations would start a full fortnight in advance with all of us meeting on the building terrace every evening to plan our Holi strategy. The end objective was destruction of the gangs of kids from neighboring societies and hours were spent every evening filling up water balloons and stocking up buckets and pichkaris. On Holi day itself it was understood that we would be out of the house all day battling it out and return only post dusk, weary soldiers. My mom never worried about all this, and this was a time when there no mobiles. It was understood that as long as we were with the society kids and within the building premises, we were taken care of. Even the building watchman Makkhan Ram (yes that really was his name!)was part of this large family, cursing at us good naturedly as we'd climb the solitary coconut tree next to his watchman's hut on weekend afternoons and pelt the roof with marbles.

I think life was just simpler back then. I can't imagine letting Nikki go unsupervised the entire day a few years from now, even when she's old enough to play by herself. In fact I think, no I'm convinced, I'm going to be one of those mums skulking in the playground bushes. The milieu I live in today is very very different of course. Though I like the society I live in very much, even with its many amenities it really doesn't make up for the fact that few people here really know each other. Most relationships are superfluous, transactional at best. I would love to bring Nikki up in the kind of environment I grew up in, with a web of close relationships and people who knew each other acting like a blanket of warmth and security, always at hand. Maybe for that I'll have to go back in time. Back to the days when the lack hi tech, fast paced lifestyles were more than made up by the warmth of close relationships and the simple pleasures of everyday life.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Six months old !

It’s time for the six months up update! A little overdue yes, but I figured since one of the main purposes of this blog is to chronicle Nikki’s adventures, it would be incomplete without a recap of the last six months. So yes it’s been a little over six months since my life changed so radically and so irrevocably. Six months of watching Nikki grow from a sleepy little bundle who fit snugly in the crook of my arm to a sprightly and sleepless, but still little, cherub whom both my arms find difficult to contain as she tries (yet again) to jump out on the nearest available surface. Here are a few snapshots from the last six months in Nikki-land:
  • My social butterfly: Nikki was always a rather happy baby, smiling away pretty much from day one. Of course the doctor rather unkindly told us as we fawned over her adorable newborn smiles, that all newborn babies smile when they pass gas and not coz their parents are doing a good job. Thereby dashing any hopes we may have had of being naturally great at this parenting thing. Nikki soon graduated from the gassy smiles to smiling at the ceiling fan & lights. You’d think they were long lost friends, those fans and lights, as her face would light up and break out into a million dollar smile each time she caught sight of them. “Look Nikki!” P & I would yell, poking our respective mugs in her line of vision, “Mama! Dada! Give us a smile honey!” Only to be rebuffed for the fan or tube light, whichever happened to be closer. I soon developed an intense hatred for that ceiling fan. Lucky for it we moved soon and I didn’t get a chance to do it any damage. But soon enough, we found to our delight that Nikks was smiling at us mere mortals too! At first we would be the ones initiating the smiling, but very soon she was the one smiling at us first, and smiling all the time! First thing in the morning I would greet a sleepy Nikki and get rewarded with a big smile! Change of diaper (even the 4 am change), change of clothes, and feeding time, all brought out large grins. Playtime and bath time elicited giggles and delighted shrieks even. But the biggest smiles of all were reserved for when Daddy got back from work. A wide grin would radiate across her face as she caught sight of P and she would then proceed to smile and thump the nearest available surface with great gusto, thereby resulting in a rather endearing welcome home jig. This gregarious phase continues as I write this. Now everyone from our maids, the dhobi, and the mailman to random strangers in malls are treated to a liberal dose of Nikki’s jaadu ki smileys. And it works too! We’ve got warm smiles in return and strangers have struck up conversations, all charmed by Nikki’s cute baby smiles. I certainly hope this phase lasts for a long long time!
  • The pearly whites… are a poppin! Sometime between the completion of months five & six I noticed that Nikki’s baby teeth were gearing up for their debut. Soon enough little white buds were sprouting, first the top two front teeth, followed closely by the bottom two. Thankfully she hasn’t had too much trouble with teething (please don’t hex me dear God) yet so we’ve managed okay. A lot of people have been recommending homeopathy to avoid the teething troubles but I haven’t tried it so far, not being very knowledgeable about the entire homeopathy jig. Anyone out there reading this who can give me any advice? Is homeopathy recommended for babies to deal with minor ills like coughs or colds or teething troubles?
  • Personality Plus: Yup she’s got a personality all right! Maybe I sound like a barmy parent but I could see Nikki’s budding personality pretty much from the start- she showed strong streaks of being a go- getter, no nonsense taker, right from when she was a few days old, whether it was resisting breast feeding and insisting only on formula (those were dark days but I triumphed eventually) or showing her immense displeasure at a delayed diaper change. The nurses at Lilavati Hospital, where Nikki was born, had even coined a few terms for her: “yeh chapter hai chapter!”, “drama queen!” and “cute cutlet!” The last one is testimony to the fact that no matter how trying the episode, one killer smile from the little ham is always enough to melt anyone into gooey mush. She knows how to get her way, this one.
  • The daily half a dozen:
    • Sleep: The battle continues unabated. On some days I think maybe the combination of solids and massage plus warm bath are actually making Nikki sleep a little better (today is one of those days and that explains this long post) and on others I think I’m just deluded.
    • Eat: We plod on through the land of solids gingerly; applesauce, pureed peas & carrots and rice cereal have been conquered, khichdi is the next big milestone. Nikki’s reaction to these varies between eager slurping on some occasions to all out resistance and extreme displeasure on others. The evening feed is usually the trickiest but once we’ve filled ‘er up she does sleep a lot better at nights. It sure is messy though! Each feed calls for a fresh change of clothes and Nikki’s bib all crisp and clean at the start of every feeding session is always reduced to a soggy, limp rag at the end. And while we’re on the subject, administering the iron & calcium drops continues to be a nightmare since Nikki usually clamps her mouth tightly shut and stubbornly looks away each time. When, after much effort, I manage to coax her mouth open and shove the drops in, she unfailingly sputters it all out with brilliant fountain like effects. Both of us are going to need new wardrobes soon.
    • Bath: The little water baby continues to enjoy bath time! Nikki’s loved water since she was a newborn, surprising us at her very first bath time by being all tranquil and zen like and dipping her arms into the tub! It’s a lot more fun now since both she & I are a lot more experienced and fun props such as floating fish squirters have been introduced. She also really loves her massage and the daily massage and bath sessions still top the list of fun time bonding for me & her.
    • Play: The Papa Man continues to excel in this arena coming up almost daily with fun new tricks to entertain. Peek-a-boo and blowing stomach raspberries continue to be the favorites followed closely by pretend flying and swinging. The toy du jour is a new sing-a-long book gifted to Nikki by my friend N, which teaches numbers and animals with lots of song and music. Nikki’s also getting squirmier and wrigglier with every passing day, desperately trying to crawl and sitting up wonderfully with little support. I can see my days of relative carefree-ness drawing to an eminent close as she inches towards mobility.
    • Poo: Stinky but unavoidable, the poop tales demand telling. Since the introduction of solids, the innocent days of sweet baby poo have been replaced with rather more vile successors. Without getting into gory detail, let me just say that I still prefer just one a day of these, to the days of yore when we had eight to ten dirty diapers a day, no matter how innocuous. I reserve my right to change my mind however, as we progress along the path of still more solids.
    • Babbles continue to grow and delight! The latest addition to the ever expanding repertoire includes “kya hai” pronounced kyaaaiii, expertly tutored by P & the brother in law, and is now used all the time. Last night I was feeding Nikki as part of her bed time ritual (it works sometimes) when she pulled away with an indignant kyaaaiii!! She is now also saying mama, albeit sparingly. Guess my habit of speaking the M language (myou must’ve mlayed mhis min mschool?) is working.
So this is six months in a (rather large) nutshell since I got on to this roller coaster ride. And now as I look at my little sleeping angel with her long curled eyelashes, golgappa cheeks, tiny fingers curled into little balls and rosebud lips curved in the hint of a smile I know this is the fabbest ride I’ve ever been on!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bring on the munchies!

My little poppet completed six months last week and we decided to celebrate by feeding her that much awaited (by me!) first spoonful of solids. Opening night was slotted for Friday evening after P was done with work and we'd gotten a brand new weaning bowl n spoon set for the grand occasion. The cuisine of choice was rice cereal and the star of the show herself was all decked up in a brand new romper from Westside. Ok so maybe I overdid it a little but I was super excited at the prospect of reclaiming some part of my fast fading from memory old life back, by getting Nikki started on solids. I could barely contain my excitement all day as I impatiently waited for P to get back from work. P's younger brother who was visiting for a few days was officiating as the cameraman and obliged me by taking several pictures of Nikki, the weaning bowl and spoon, the new bib, the preparation of the rice cereal and end result thereof etc. I don't think he's going to be visiting us again in a hurry.
P finally walked through the door and we commenced with the grand ceremony. After watching me mash, re-mash and stir the rice cereal some more, then test it several times on the inner side of my wrist to check for the right temperature for about twenty minutes, P grabbed the bowl from my hands and offered the first spoonful of now pulverized cereal to Nikki. She sniffed at it discerningly, turned away her face and stuck out her tongue with a disgusted look. I felt my heart sink all the way through my feet and into basement parking level no. 2. It wasn't supposed to go like this! She was supposed to take a little taste, like the damn thing and then willingly gobble up the rest! I mean she'd been showing ALL the signs of being ready for solids for weeks now, even attempting to devour my ear/ cheek/ hand or whatever was closest when particularly hungry. Also being a great believer in divine justice I had sincerely hoped that she would compensate for her lack in the sleep department by being more than eager in the food arena. But it was not to be! I was all set to throw in the towel along with the cereal and call it a day when I realized P was far from calling it quits. He had, on the contrary, commenced his special brand of daddy biz and was entertaining Nikki with an alluring mix of funny faces, weird sounds and sing song voice all rolled into one. This distracted her enough for him to shovel a few bits of cereal into her mouth and very soon she was lapping it up! Hurray! This period of bliss lasted for precisely 2.7 minutes post which Nikki went back to her sniff-look away- "what is this disgusting goop?!" behavior but we were thrilled nonetheless. We had made a start! We celebrated by stuffing our own faces with some yummy dal makhani and making the brother in law upload the video of Nikki making her debut into semi solid land on YouTube for the aodring grand parents. Did I mention he may not be visiting again in a hurry?
Now that we've begun the journey I'm looking forward to conjuring up all sorts of culinary delights for lil Nikks. Well maybe applesauce and pureed peas don't exactly qualify for any top chef honors but we gotta start somewhere right?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A brief respite from the Vicious Vaccines

We took Nikki to the ped's today for her last shot for some time to come. Or till end November at least, which is a good two months away. Hurray! Given the fact that ever since Nikki was born we've had to give her some shot or the other almost every fifteen days, I can't help feeling hugely relieved.

Our first tryst with Nikki's vaccines (barring the ones she got immediately after birth in the hospital), was particularly nasty. Being pretty good at dealing with injections myself, I wasn't expecting to get rattled when we took Nikki for her first round of shots. In fact I even breezily remarked to P as we drove to the ped's that I hoped Nikki would imbibe the calm and fortitude that was my trademark in the face of the jabs.

All that changed when we reached the ped's. We were greeted by a multitude of wailing infants shrieking at different decibels and covering between them an impressive range of sounds and pitches. One child in particular was letting out such blood curdling yowls that I entered the room he was in to see if some form of medeival torture was in progress. Only to find that the child in question hadn't even been administered the vaccine yet. The howl he let out when the jab was actually delivered could've blown the roof off. Nikki however remained obilivious to her surroundings and was babbling away happily. Enter the ped with his retinue of two pimply faced nurses. He smirked at Nikki, happily gurgling on the couch. "She's happy now", sneered he, " she doesn't know that she's going to get a jab! Aaaahahahahaha!" "Abhi bahut royegaaaa!", said one of the pimply faced gumboils nodding in agreement. I paled visibly displaying a marked lack of afore mentioned calm and fortitude. "But but we paid for the painless vaccines!", I sputtered. "It won't be too painful for her right?" "Painless means less-pain" cackled the merry wit passing off for a paediatrician. "Aaahahahahaha!" One of the pimply faced gumboils grabbed my poor Nikki's legs and the other one her hands, and the ped swiftly delivered a jab in her little thigh. And then as she howled in pain, he gave her another one in the other thigh. It took all of my will power to stop myself from beaning the ped and the two gumboils and knocking their heads together like a couple of coconuts. The fact that P had a vice like grip on my arm, holding me back, may have also helped. The c & f now having made a speedy exit I grabbed Nikki and beat a hasty retreat. "See you soon!" boomed the ped as we left.

And soon enough it was, the next round of vaccinations was due a fortnight later. This time however I had a Plan of Action. As we entered the clinic the now familiar pimply faced gumboil slithered towards us. "This time we will hold the baby", I barked at her and she retreated into the corner. When it was time for the jab I held Nikki's legs while P made silly faces and kissed her, distracting her from the prick. And as soon as the deed was done we whipped out her favourite toy and began dangling it in front of her. Sure enough Nikki handled the shot a lot better and only cried for a few seconds, only to dimple and gurgle happily again at the sight of her toy.

After that our experience with the shots has been a whole lot better. We've also moved to a new place and now go to a different doctor who herself handles the vaccination bit rather well. For one she's the first doc I've seen who spends a fair bit of time engaging with Nikki and playing with her and enquiring after her general well being. She also remembers her name and the fact that she is NOT a boy! So all in all the vaccines are a lot less vicious these days and the c & f are among us again. I still don't like taking Nikki for her shots tho and I don't exactly look forward to these appointments with the ped. So am pretty kicked today knowing that we won't have to till November. Of course I know it'll only get worse as she grows older coz right now she remains blissfully unaware of what is to come and is easy to distract. But maybe by then I can figure out a way to pass on some of that c & f!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A babbling we will go

Its a bright and sunny Thursday morning. The Mommy Woman, newly inspired by the latest expert advice on 'how to help your baby babble' from BabyCenter, heads to the bedroom where Nikki has just woken up.

The Mommy Woman: Good Morning Nikki!

Nikki: Aaaaaaaaa! Ah-goo!

The Mommy Woman: Say good morning to Mama! Good Morning Mammmma! Maaa-Maaaaa!

Nikki smiles encouragingly but remains silent.

The Mommy Woman (undeterred): Let's try again honey! Ma Ma! Mammma! Mamamamamamaaaaaaaaa

Nikki: uhhhhhhhh PAH! PAAA! PA PA PA! Pupppah!

The man in question, The Papa Man emerges from the shower, right on cue.

The Papa Man: Smirk Smirk Smirk

The Mommy Woman: Oh buzz off! Don't you have to get to work anyways?

The Papa Man: Not before Nikki spends some time with her Favourite Person in the Whole World!

The Mommy Woman: You are NOT her favourite person in the whole world! And anyway she just babbles indiscriminately. She doesn't know what it means!

The Papa Man: Why then, pray, are you trying so hard to make her say mama?

The Mommy Woman (loftily): Coz as her primary caregiver I want to expand her repertoire of babbling! Right Nikki? Maa-Maa!

Nikki: PapapapapaPAPAPA!

The Papa Man: Aahahahahaha!


Evening falls and darkness slowly spreads her long fingers across the fading blue sky. The Mommy Woman is making one last brave attempt to make Nikki say Mama.

The Mommy Woman: Nikki look at me darling, see how my lips move? Maaaaa-Maaaaa! Mama!

Nikki (whispering softly): ppppppp pah, pah, pah

The Mommy Woman: Dammit! Oh all right say gaga then! Anything but papa. Ta ta? La La? Lalalala!

Nikki: rumble rumbe PAAAPAAA!

The Mommy Woman: Oh honey!

The Papa Man, bounding through the door: Yessss? Is my Nikki calling for her Papa?

The Mommy Woman: Yeps! She's calling for you loud and clear! Aaand she just pooped. I think she wants YOU, her favourite person in the whole world to change her nappy.

Nikki: Pa Pa!

The Papa Man: Aaaaarrghhh!


Friday morning, 4 am. The Papa Man & The Mommy Woman are deep in slumber. Li'l Nikki however seems a little restless in her crib.

Nikki: rumble rumble. Ah- goo! Paaa paaa, papapapapa, pap-pahhh

The Mommy Woman: Oh honnneyy



Friday, September 11, 2009

Sleep or the lack of it...

---seems to be the recurrent theme in our lives these days. For a 5 month old, my little Nikki seems to get by on a lot less sleep than I had expected! When I was a blissfully ignorant mum-to-be, I had full faith in all the pregnancy tomes I read which assured me that all babies in the first year of life spend most of their time sleeping. At 5 months baby will need 13-15 hours of sleep a day, they said, 10 of these at night and the remaining spread into 3 one hour naps of an hour each. Three one hour naps of an hour each! Bah! Nikki does adhere to the three naps a day rule, only the naps are not more than 15-20 minutes each, maybe 25 if I really get lucky! And the amount of time and effort it takes to get her to take that darn nap in the first place is probably harder than training for a marathon!

It all begins when I first notice the classic signs of sleepiness: crankiness, ear pulling, eye rubbing. Gleefully I pounce on Nikki and begin rocking her gently, hoping that she'll nod off quickly. No Siree! As soon as the li'l munchkin realizes that all this gentle rocking is designed to pack her off to the land of nod she fights back with a vehement protest. First comes the grumbling and crankiness: How dare you?!! I want to PLAY! NOW! I ignore this and carry on rocking. When she realizes this ploy isn't working she bounces back with killer smiles, adorable goos & gaas thrown in with a few pa-pa-pa's (the latest addition to the babbling repertoire) and desperately tries to engage with me. Woe betide me if I ever give in. Endowed with a fresh spurt of energy she gets all wriggly and squirmy and tries to jump out of my arms. So I ignore this display of affection and carry on rocking. Then she deals the trump card: pretending to be hungry and trying to suckle. This is a tough one. I have to use all my finely honed mothering instincts to second guess her and figure out whether she really is hungry (you BAD mother you!) or if this is just an act. More often than not its the latter. Which I find out when I give in to the guilty mom conscience hard-wired in my brain and try to latch her on only to get spurned by a fit of giggles. And then begins the rocking all over again.

Sometimes she even starts singing, cooing actually, in a desperate attempt to stay awake. All of this while her eyes are literally drooping with sleep and she's blinking hard to force them open. Very adorable actually if I hadn't been so sleep deprived! Finally after many manic minutes of zombie like rocking, when I'm all ready to crash myself, her eyes FINALLY begin to close! This doesn't mean its all over of course. There are still many more minutes of rocking left to ensure she goes into deep sleep, thereby enabling the seamless transition from arms to crib. And once put down in said crib there is always that dreadful moment when she opens her eyes, stretches, looks well and truly awake and gives me a smile; hey there Ma, wanna give it one more shot?

If after having been put down, she stretches, sighs and carries on sleeping, I breathe a sigh of relief and totter out of the room on tiptoe, a skill I have mastered since Nikki''s birth. Some me-time at last! For 20 minutes at least. Coz as soon as those blessed 20 mins are through I am summoned to the bedroom with some ga ga ga, ah-goos by a bright eyed, super active all- over- again baby, newly rejuvenated by her power nap.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First time here!

I've finally done it! After months of wanting to write a blog I am finally writing my very first post. Yippee! I'd always meant to start a blog after the birth of my daughter who is now five months old ( I know its shameful, but I am truly the Queen, no make that Empress of procrastination), to chronicle the wonderful journey that is motherhood, but just didn't get down to it till today. Well better late than never as that wise saying goes. And to justify the delay, oh all right, to save some face, I had also moved cities soon after her birth so that was two BIG life changes and it was tough coping. Which is when all the wonderful blogs I've been reading for some time now stepped in like old friends and made up for the feelings of loneliness and being overwhelmed in a new city as a new mum.

So am very very happy that I am now actively participating in this exciting blog world and not just being a passive reader :) This blog is meant to share my journey with my baby girl as we discover life together with baby(hers) and mommy (mine) steps. Oh and while we're at it we're also going to have loads of fun and hopefully make some friends!