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?