The end of a beautiful journey

Disclaimer: This post is about breastfeeding. If that topic makes you uncomfortable, please feel free to close this window and leave 🙂

When I was a brand new mom (read: lost zombie), I was terrified of breastfeeding. First there seemed to be no milk, and then there seemed to be a lot of milk, but baby V flatly refused to drink it. By the time we overcame all these “teething” issues and established an exclusively breast-fed routine, I was in a world of pain.

Every time baby V cried out of hunger, I was petrified! Because baby V hungry = at least 20 minutes of searing pain for me. Those were the days when tiny baby V hadn’t learnt the perfect latch yet, and simply gnawed at me to get all the milk he can. Although, thankfully, he seemed to be getting all the nutrition he needed, so that was one less worry for my addled brain. I read all sorts of “perfect latch” tutorials, watched multiple videos, and tried various nursing positions; but somehow, that perfect painless latch seemed to elude us.

There were days when he literally nursed round the clock. By the end of his first month, I was almost ready to give up. Well-meaning relatives advised me to nurse for at least 1.5 years. However, my mind voice laughed at me, as if to say “No way in hell will you be able to endure this for that long”.

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Cut to today, where baby V is 2 years and 10 months old, and we have just completed our beautiful breastfeeding journey together. Looking back, one of the best decisions I’ve taken in my life is to ignore the “Baby needs breastmilk only for the first year” rule.

I joined this wonderful group on Facebook, which supports breastfeeding mothers. They educated me on the benefits of extended breastfeeding. I also read the stories of many mothers who had gone through far worse problems than mine, and still managed to exclusively breastfeed for at least a year. This motivated me to breastfeed baby V for as long as possible.

As time passed, baby V and I navigated our issues together, and by his 4th month, we had comfortably settled into a routine where I could nurse him without pain, and he was still getting his required nutrition. No compromises were ever made there.

Through the next 2.5 years, we nursed through sickness and health, through long, sleepless nights, on train and airplane rides, through the terrible twos and tantrums. Whenever baby V needed the comfort of his mother, or a good dose of natural antibiotics to help him get better, we knew exactly where to turn to.

There were multiple voices in the background crying, “What? You’re still feeding him?!” One popular myth that we busted was – Boys should be nursed much lesser than girls, because if boys see their mother’s breasts, they’re more inclined to become sexually active/abusive later on. I say that is bullshit. My son will treat women respectfully, because I would raise him so. 

Gradually, as baby V turned 2.5 years old, I decided that this might be a good time to slow down on the nursing, so that baby V could eventually move to his own bed. One fine day, I sat him down for an “important discussion” (a little secret between us), and explained to him that I am going to gradually stop nursing him, and that he should know what to expect going forward.

The champ that he is, baby V understood immediately, and to my utter surprise, cooperated beautifully. When I said “No”, he understood that no means no, and didn’t pester me. Gradually, we decreased the nursing step by step, and suddenly today morning, I realised that he hasn’t asked me to nurse him for more than a week! Baby V stopped needing me to nurse him, and I didn’t even realise it for a full week. Another popular myth that we busted – it is harder to stop nursing boys than girls.

However, this realisation was extremely bittersweet for me, because although this was planned and executed, and although I knew this day was coming, it breaks my heart to realise that we no longer share this exclusive beautiful journey. Yes, there will be other cuddly moments, and we will share other journeys as he grows, but this one will always be the most special in my heart, because it was something that only I could provide for him.

The endless hugs and cuddles, the way he looks at me adoringly when he nurses.. I will miss all these and more.

My breastfeeding watch has ended!

Toodles

 

The year I turn 30

There are good years and there are bad years. And then there are years that suck so much that you lose all self-esteem and decide that you are worthless. Thankfully, 2018 has been a pretty good year for me, all things considered – it is right up there with 2015 ( the year I learnt to stand up for myself), and 2016 (the year baby V was born).

Oh no wait – it was better than both those years, because I have gathered so much life experience and maturity over the past years that I have snowballed into such a strong person. This year was great partly because I was able to handle it reasonably well.

I do not know what 2019 store holds in store – okay, I do know that it holds a couple of trips on the cards, because well, I planned them. I also know that it holds a “No spend/No buy” resolution; but really, next time this year, will I be saying “Thankfully, this was a pretty good year for me”? I don’t know.

Anyhow, as the title has made it obvious, 2019 will make it a full 30 years since I was born. 30 is a magic age – it has the special ability to denote the trepidation of entering true adulthood, and the wisdom of a grown person with lots of life experiences all at the same time.

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As cliched as it sounds, age is just a number. Strangely enough, I have never felt stronger, or freer, or more empowered, or more independent than I do now. In my 20s, I had youth, but not much else. The 30s seem much more promising – but it remains to be seen what I truly make of the next decade.

In the meantime, kindly note that I am still 29! There are a full 4 months and 26 days left before I turn 30. Therefore, it is now time for the bucket list! I tried making a bucket list of “Things to do before I die”; but it was too ambitious and naturally destined to flop. I have made a simpler, but more passionate (and hopefully more realistic) bucket list of “Things to do before I turn 30”.

I love goals and plans and to-do lists and I cannot lie. Therefore, I have a lot to look forward to this year, and I hope you do too.

Wish you all a fantastic new year! I hope this year brings you lots of good luck and pure joy.

Toodles!

 

Another year begins…

I logged in to WordPress after ages today, and realized that the last post I wrote was for last new year – yes, a full year ago! This is the longest I’ve been without blogging ever. I actually even forgot that there was something called blogging, or that I have a blog. How is that possible you ask? I have a To-do list, and blogging featured nowhere on it. Therefore, I conveniently forgot about it.

Anyhow, with the advent of a new year, the time seems ripe to get back to something that helps me vent, stay sane, run my stream of consciousness through, and generally display my mediocre writing capabilities.

On that note, I’ve been watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – fantastic show! I’d definitely recommend it. Mrs. Maisel is a brilliant standup comedienne; her delivery and timing are witty and bawdy and she is hilarious when she is up on the stage.

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I am never going to be able to do that. Ever! I don’t mean just stand-up comedy; standing on a stage and delivering something brilliantly like that.. that is not my forte. However, maybe, just maybe, I can try and aspire for something similar in writing. Perhaps if I write often enough, and hone the way the words flow, I can one day write a brilliant piece that will glow like the fabulous Mrs. Maisel does on stage.

However, to begin that, I need to first dust off the coffin into which I’ve so firmly cemented my blog – it needs a resurrection, and then some action. A little ginger tea perhaps – I find that it revives me like nothing else in the world.

Wish you all and your loved ones a very happy new year folks! May this year bring out all your glorious talents – show the world who you are!

Toodles!

P.S: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Seasons 1 and 2) are available on Amazon Prime.

 

2017 – the lost year

Yes, I call it that because 2017 was a year where I felt lost many a time. It was “the” year in my life when I had felt the most directionless, and quite clueless. I wouldn’t call it eventful – days melted into sleepless nights and the year was over even before I realised it had begun. Now as I write this slightly late new year post, I realise that I barely have any recollection of what I did this year.

If there is one thing that defined this year for me, it would have to be baby V’s milestones. Watching him grow up and blossom into this adorable boy has been such a wonderful journey. His growth and naughtiness is sometimes the only thing that reminds me that a whole year has gone by, and last year this time, he was just a teeny tiny baby who was gurgling with laughter.

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However, 2018 promises to be a lot more than that. While there will still be a lot of baby V’s now full-throated laughter, and endless cuddles and kisses that make every waking moment worth living, there will also be a lot more of Me! I have made some tough decisions towards the fag end of last year, and this year would be all about taking them forward.

Except.. the first 4 days of this brand new year have shown me how beautifully our best laid plans can fall apart. I’m a sleepless chaotic mess (this is also why this post is 4 days late, instead of being written on the midnight of December 31st with many poignant memories of the year gone by, as I had originally planned).

I have listed down (by pen, mind you) a big bunch of goals and resolutions and to-dos for this year. However, quite a few people have warned me that they’re watching out for my blog posts, and hope that I will blog at least this year.

So, therefore, yeah.. I’m going to keep up this resolution first! Happy New Year folks! May God bless you with your heart’s wish this year.

Toodles,

Writer on the rocks.

 

Crossroads

After a very long time (thankfully), I’m at a crossroad again. I know I need to go forward, but I don’t know exactly where, and certainly not how.

Sometimes, multiple avenues open up at the same time and thoroughly confuse you. One moment, I appear to be on the cusp of something that could potentially turn out great – but the very next, I see a deep abyss which can really be known only if I actually traverse that path.

Which way to go?

It gets worse. Choosing one would cost me the other opportunity forever. The amount of time and effort I need to invest into going into any of these paths is colossal. 2018 might indeed turn out to be the “year of the stretch” for me, irrespective of which path I choose (except if I decide to stagnate, that is).

So, I was in a complete quandary for the past couple of days, and I tried any number of methods (think ‘lots’) to pick one path, but alas, they didn’t work. And just as well.. because when that clarity of thought and decision finally hits you like a bolt of lightning, you know with absolute certainty that you won’t have it any other way. You can be sure that your mind, heart and instincts all point to the same path.

I now have a purpose in mind, and a very long and hard way to go, to get there.

Toodles,

Writer on the rocks

 

Deja Vu

“It is strange how the same thing happens over and over in one’s life – at different places and different times, yes, but the same thing essentially”, she mused. It is even stranger how it invariably ends up drawing out all the faded memories of the “same” things that happened at various times, years ago.

A memory from a college lecture in 2007 flashed before her eyes; as stark and vivid as it had happened yesterday. Another one from her first corporate job, on December 15, 2011 – one of the worst days of her life. She surprised herself by remembering them so clearly; she hadn’t thought about those incidents in years, and didn’t realise they were still lodged at a corner of her limbic system, ready to be retrieved at a moment’s notice.

It made her realise something then; it made her realise something now. She briefly wondered, “Is it I who attract this behaviour from people repeatedly? Or do I simply make friends with the same kind of people all the time?” She smiled sadly, “It doesn’t matter. The world is a treacherous place; the more aware I am of this, and the more cautiously I interact with people, the better it is for me”.

Sometimes, it helps to be a cynic. Sometimes, it helps to be detached. Sometimes, it is the only way to survive in this world.

Toodles,

Writer on the rocks

Motherhood is a strange place!

You know you’re a mother when…

You’re willing to post pictures where you look just okay or possibly bad, on social media – just because your child looks adorably cute in that picture!

You’re willing to relocate and travel a long distance from home to work and back everyday – just so that your child can go to the best school easily.

You’re willing to spend every spare moment for and with your child. Yes, you haven’t combed your hair in 3 days, your eyebrows look like the “before-I-knew-eyebrows-could-be-trimmed” days, you’ve been on page 12 of a book for 2 months now, your wrist has been aching every time you pick the little one up for weeks now.

Your happiest achievements are not that of yours – but that of your child’s. Every new word, every new action deserves widespread publication, while you receive Sarahah messages on how you’ve “let your career go” since you birthed a child.

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Your dreams and goals are no longer about you – they’re all about your child. When you envision 10 years down the line, you see your little one all grown up, and shining like a star. Even better, you also see yourself in a corner, applauding your child with happy tears in your eyes.

When you make any potential future plans, all of them revolve around one priority – the bub. His/her needs take precedence over every other factor.

Motherhood changes you from within; it changes you before you realise you have changed. Suddenly one day you wake up and find – there is no longer an I; there is just me – my baby’s mommy.

It may take a while, or possibly a long time, or perhaps never, to find myself in the mommy. But for now, there is only one thing I know – to raise a child to be a kind,  independent and successful human being, it is important to be invested 100% in his growth and development.

And motherhood makes you happy to do just that!

Toodles.

Vedanth turns one!

And we’re at that time of the year where we’re hanging up birthday decorations all too quickly! While the no-more-an-infant-soon-to-be-a-toddler sleeps, let me quickly pen something.

I still remember very vividly – last year, this time – my water broke and we rushed to the hospital at midnight. I was a nervous wreck who didn’t know whether to focus on the delivery process or the baby, amidst all the pain. Before I knew it, I was hearing my gynaec saying “Congratulations ma, it is a boy!” And there it was, as cliched as it sounds, the happiest point of my life. Amidst the haze that was the spinal epidural, I was crying buckets of happy tears.

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The past year has been a beautiful roller coaster ride. There is always the classic guilt of a working mom on the one hand, but then there is also this divine smile on my little one’s face that dominates my waking hours, and that more than makes up for everything else in life. There have been the usual diaper changes, unexplained newborn crying, losing myself in the process of raising a child, but then there have also been these amazing moments where I see myself in him, and when day by day I gain the confidence that I’m a God-awesome parent who is doing a fantastic job in raising a good human being!

Seeing your child grow up and metamorphosing in front of your very eyes is an unparalleled joy. This is the single blessing that I am most thankful to God for. Vedanth has brought such happiness into our lives as we’ve never known before; I only wish that we can step up to be the parents he deserves.

Now please excuse me, while I go and stare for hours together at my sleeping baby’s face, before he wakes up tomorrow and magically turns into a toddler!

Toodles,

Iyshu

Judge all you want, watch if I care!

Every parent thinks they’re the best parent on the planet (this includes yours truly!). I think that is a good thing in some ways – we triple check everything that we do for our children, and do it only once we’re satisfied that that is the best thing we can do for our child. This argument of course excludes the differences in the general reasoning ability of people, logic, world views, cultural differences, receptivity to external ideas and so on.

However, there are some who take this to heart too much. They believe that they’re absolutely the best parent on the planet, and they’ve always done everything right for their kids (who are actually pampered and spoilt). They don’t allow for differences between various parenting methods and refuse to accept that there can be different ways to bring up kids – all of which may be equally successful. If another parent does something that they didn’t or wouldn’t – they become a terrible parent.

The result? Judgement, lots of it. Needless to say, this is followed by a desperate need to voice out their judgement about the terrible parent to many others – in the hope that they will agree with, and validate the judgement of the judging parent (let’s call him/her A), which automatically means that they now think A is an amazing parent for being able to know what is right in terms of parenting and being able to spot other parents’ errors.

In my 10 months of parenting, the one thing I’ve absolutely abhorred about parenting is being judged endlessly and invariably made to feel like a terrible parent ALL the time!

You use diapers for your baby? – Judged!

You give him formula? – Judged!

You use a rocker/bouncer? – Judged!

There is a small rash on your baby’s face? – Judged!

You’re returning to work after having a baby? – JUDGED GUILTY! (Mother of all judgements, this)

Baby’s clothes are too light? – Judged.

Baby’s clothes are slightly stuffy? – Judged!

You’ve not kept black tikka on your baby’s forehead??? – WHAT! YOU MUST BE A TERRIBLE MOTHER!

The list is endless. If I tried to list out everything I’ve been judged about, it would take about 5 hours, perhaps more. It doesn’t just stop at the judging though – these judges (mostly moms, I honestly don’t know how much men discuss parenting) are very eager to go and tell others about the poor parenting they’ve seen someone do.

Sample this: A (The judging mom) says to her friend/relative – I don’t think new mom B has any milk at all; her daughter who is a couple of weeks old doesn’t seem to be passing much urine. Her diapers are so light!

A (a few months later): Her daughter is 1.5 years old, and she is still breastfeeding her! After the first year, a baby doesn’t get any nutrition from breastfeeding. Now it is very difficult to wean.

Note, it is not just the content, but also the tone that the judgement is pronounced in. How does it matter to you whether a new mother has milk or not, or how long she breastfeeds her baby?

Just to clarify: The WHO recommends that we breastfeed our children for a minimum of 2 years. The baby in question seems healthy and robust, and doesn’t appear as if she was overfed or underfed at any point!

Parenting is a field where there is a huge amount of information and a wide variety of choices available – right from what vaccinations you put to what brand of toys you buy, to knowing exactly what growth spurts are happening in your child’s body at this very moment. We’re mostly educated women of the 21st century with access to these information and choices.

As long as we’re resourceful and make informed choices and decisions for our children, I think they’ll grow up to be fine. I’m sorry; but I don’t think we gain much from the judging moms themselves, because what they say is based on their opinion, and I would rather base my decisions on fact and research. I have got ire from people for following the “internet”, but that deserves a whole post by itself.

The best parenting decision I took – is to not be perturbed by judgements. I used to feel bad every time someone hinted that I am not a good enough parent, but not anymore! I am not going to stop feeding my baby on his 1st birthday, and I’m not going to do so many other things for baby V in a certain way, because “someone said so”, and I could not have been more confident of any other decision I’ve taken in my life!

So all you judging moms, feel free to judge me. See if I care! And watch this space to see just how awesome baby V turns out as he grows up!

Toodles!

 

Just a little sleep please…

As I write this, my eyes are all watery from all the yawning I’ve been doing throughout the morning. However, I did promise that I’ll write a post about just how terrible a sleeper baby V is.. so here it is!

The last day I actually got a full night’s sleep was July 15 (no wait, that night my labour started), was actually July 14, 2016. I haven’t slept more than a couple of hours at a stretch since (neither has the husband, Yay to him for believing that parenting is a joint effort, and living it every moment; no gender discrimination in our house). We are striving to set an example to baby V like that!

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Baby V is an abysmal sleeper. The term “sleep like a baby” is now a running joke in our house! He takes ages to go to sleep, even though he gets tired at appropriate times like all normal kids. You have to keep him vertically upright (no thooli business here), with his head resting on your shoulder at a certain angle, and his tiny body being exactly so many inches from your face.. and you need to sing only a certain type of song (his all time favourite being Aayar padi maaligayil), and there should be absolutely NOTHING that might possibly distract him.. like say, a sliver of sunlight that escapes the carefully drawn curtain or any noise at all, like a pin softly plopping on the floor. If even one of these conditions are not carefully met, all hell breaks loose, and baby V will raise his head like a cobra and lose all interest in sleeping (but note that he is still tired, so very cranky!).

When all this effort became too much, I finally decided that our thooli is a mother’s best friend, and trained him to sleep in it. But then a fresh wave of pain started – he needs to be lying in the thooli at a certain angle, with his hand holding the thooli at a certain position, and we need to rock it in a certain way only. Otherwise he will keep tossing and turning and whining until we get it right. Tough taskmaster, this boy!

You think this is a long post? We’re not even halfway there yet! If you think putting him to sleep is the hard part, that is nothing compared to what he does once he falls asleep and we put him down.

Every time we somehow put him to sleep and then put him down on the bed, he wakes up screaming immediately, without fail! And then the process starts all over again.. put him to sleep, carry him in our arms for a while so that he gets at least some shut-eye, and then put him down on the bed. By the time we do this for the third time, his meagre nap is over and he is up and about, smiling at me, with his eyes twinkling 🙂

Just imagine our vacations and outings, where we don’t have all his infinite requirements for sleep in place – like “no light, no sound” for example. We used to take turns in holding him throughout his nap and struggle. Nights are worse! He wakes up every 40 minutes sharp (I have no idea how a baby who doesn’t actually know how to fall asleep on his own, knows how to follow a clock). What a disciplined fellow, I say!

This went on for ages until I finally discovered the beauty of babywearing. This is not an advertorial for babywearing or anything, but it has been a lifesaver countless times by lulling the “awful sleeper” baby V to peaceful sleep. Afterall, all my little one needed was the closeness with me, snuggling against my chest, a peck on his forehead and a comfortable position.

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Some lessons that I have learned in the journey of “helping the little one sleep” are:

  1. Don’t plan to get other work done when the baby is sleeping – it is just not going to happen, not with baby V at any rate!
  2. Multi-task! The Kolkol (the baby carrier brand that I use) carries the baby, so I carry my Kindle.

Nowadays, warm sleepy afternoons on weekends find me with the bub snuggled up and peacefully sleeping in the kolkol, and me with a Kindle in my hand catching up on my books.

Well-meaning people have been telling me that babies generally sleep well after their first year. I sincerely hope so.. but somewhere in the corner of my heart, I know I will miss these days because cuddling baby V, snuggling him against my chest and watching him fall asleep peacefully are some of the most joyous moments in my life (even though if I say I was exhausted by then, I would be underrating myself).

I cannot even begin to explain the feeling I get when baby V feels extremely tired and sleepy and immediately reaches his hands out to me, because he trusts that I am the one who can put him sleep most quickly and easily. Love might be an understatement here.

Toodles!