Thursday, February 28, 2013

November 6th, 2008

It was November 2008.The question of a baby shower had passed by many times, but I did not show much interest. But Mom insisted and my baby shower date was set as November 5th,2008. It was a very small scale one and mom had made preparations ahead of time (half cooking items, making return gift bags, setting the house etc.). We saw the presidential victory speech for the first ever African-American President of the United States. Discussing all the changes that might come to the already sinking economy, the ever tightening immigration policies, the effect the new President will have on the world and action items for tomorrow's baby shower; the three of us went to bed at around 12:00 am (midnight).

I woke up at 1:15 feeling a 'leak' - I felt no pains at all. I spoke to Mom and went through the routine of making sure it was the 'water breaking'. Once I confirmed the same, I called the doctor on-call ( Luckily, my doctor was on-call). She summoned me right away. I then woke up C -  and he went from happily sleeping to tensed up (typical of C). C got ready in a moment; asking a zillion questions, "Why did you not wake me up earlier? How are you feeling? Are you in pain? Can you tolerate till you get to the hospital?" Avoiding a few and answering a few, the three of us drove to the hospital. It was one of the most excited,yet nervous drives.

...THE D-DAY came...

The hospital was a little more than 30 miles from home (Eden Prairie to Minneapolis downtown). And the entire roadway was under construction - a part of it closed, some deviations etc. But knowing my 'poor' directional sense, we cautioned and practiced the home to hospital route a couple of times.

On arriving at the hospital, my doc performed all the check-ups - no dilation at all, lot of internal contractions, got hooked onto the painful IV, induced putocin, baby heart monitor and what not...My doctor and I went over the already decided birth plan. Knowing all the pros and cons of an epidural, we took an informed decision early on. I opted for one when the time is right, because when there is a safe way to deal with the pain without feeling it, why not? 

Funny that in the morning, we called all our friends and cancelled the baby shower - :-). 

The anesthesiologist did an OK job of administering the epidural. The dilation hardly made any progress through out the day. But the epidural started to wear off and the anesthesiologist had to re-administer the epidural couple of times. C tried to lighten up the situation from what they taught during the Lamaze classes, "Honey you are doing great. Just a little while. Is there anything I can get you?" . Me, "Crazy Chaitu, can you just stop talking for a while till the damn contraction subsides." Chaitu said to my mom, "That is what they taught during the classes and I wondered if that really works with women when they are in so much pain." (as if it is experimentation). My mom right away said "Chaitu, come and sit by my side before she hits you or pokes you with the IV."

It was 8pm and I had dilated 5 cms. My doctor's on-call shift ended and the next doctor (Dr. Elfstrand) came on duty. There were difficulties with my epidural all through; so, I could feel the pain from the contractions.  At 11pm, I was 9 cms dilated. There was a flurry of nurses, noise from the tools and arrangements for the height/weight of the baby. Though the baby was face up and I was not completely dilated (must be ideally 10 cms), the doctor was OK to deliver the baby; but the baby's head was not in the correct direction (instead of the crown part facing down, the soft part was). As instructed by the doctor and assisted by my labor nurse, I did a ton of exercises groaning in pain hoping for the baby to twitch in my belly and turn in the correct direction. All efforts were futile...

At around 1:00am on November 6th, 2008, I developed fever and was running out of all the amniotic fluid as I was in labor for more than 20 hrs. In fear of the baby getting infected (it seems that if the mother develops fever during the birth process, it is not very safe to keep the baby inside because there is a high chance that the infection may spread to the baby), my doctor recommended C-section and I heeded right away.


Again - a flurry of people, cold operating room, big overhead lights, covered mouths and noses and general anesthesia (Could not get any more pokes on my body) that knocked me off for a good 6 hrs straight.

At 1:49 am, S was born. The nurses cleaned him up and took him out for dad and grandma to see - it was a very brief sight. He was all wrapped up in one of the hospital blankets and a yellow cap.

At 6:00 am. I woke up to find my labor nurse was sitting by my side reading a novel.She took me to my room and then my doctor took me to the NICU to meet my son for the first time in his incubator. Due all the happenings in the birthing process, they wanted him under 48 hrs observation.

Our lives had changed forever in an unimaginable magnitude...Always for the good, better and best.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

...until early hours of November 5th, 2008

We were in Dayton, Ohio when my first pregnancy was confirmed in February of 2008. As this was going to be the first grandchild, everyone in our family was very thrilled on knowing the news. During the next two months, we moved to Minneapolis for our next projects. My due date was November 8th, 2008. So, plans were made ahead and Mom landed in Minneapolis on October 19th. It was her first visit outside of India . So, imagine the excitement...

During my first pregnancy-

  • I did not have nausea, but was EXTREMELY hungry ALL the time. (even right after a meal).
  • My spice quotient in the taste scale increased exponentially - hubby dear was shocked at this. Though from Andhra Pradesh, a state in India that is famous for it's spicy food; I was hardly a big spice eater. But I did not like sweet either.
  • Memories of my (actually C's) experience with my hormones are horrendous - they went for a roller coaster ride during those 9 months. And with that came the mood swings.
  • S would turn around completely (not just move) and kick a lot whenever I was in a meeting at work. It would require me to take a break to feel the tickles and then get back to work.
  • I made a conscious effort to eat VERY healthy - chole (garbanzo beans), rajma (red kidney beans), nutrella (nuggets), pecans, fresh fruit in abundance, dairy products and whole grains. Forced the same on C that he never ate rajma, chole or nutrella for the next entire year.
  • Every night, we both walked for almost an hour every night, watched an episode of Friends.
  • During the weekends, we played a lot of bowling in WII.
  • I gained a whooping 50-60 pounds and looked like a puffed up balloon (I am not a tall person - so, it was worst). My complexion had gotten much darker. I had a lot of water retention in my face. People at work asked me if I was having twins. 
  • There were some people who guessed I will be having a boy - a lady who worked at a restaurant (Kabobs) we frequently visited, my colleague and some people I met at the mall. The logic they had is that if the tummy looked round like a ball; then it is a boy. Else, a girl. I cannot make out that difference to date. (Any tummy will be round during a pregnancy. Now, to distinguish between the types of rounds is beyond my  comprehension)
  • For the first time in USA that we stood in a queue for 3 hrs to watch a movie on the release date, July 18 2008 - The Dark Knight.
  • Our favorite restaurants were - Surabhi(for the dosa and tomato chutney), Kabobs ( biryani joint in Minneapolis), California Pizza Kitchen (Kung Pao Sphagetti, Chipotle pizza and Tiramisu), Cheesecake factory (Chicken jambalaya without chicken) and Potbelly Sandwich works.
  • We watched a number of movies.
  • We were planning to make one last trip as a couple (without kids), but never really made it - I was bent on the East Coast and hubby dear on Florida...Now that I think of it, it's OK without the trip. 
  • I hated travelling in the Infiniti G35 coupe that we had because of it's low-lying seats. Like all guys, C loved going in the Inifinti G35 coupe because of it's sporty look and feel.
  • When it came to buying a car seat and stroller for S; I researched online for a week, took almost 3-4 hrs of testing various brands of strollers/car seats and finally bought the Chicco Cortina Travel System (Orange and Grey colour).
These are just the highlights. More than 8 months passed by and we were getting impatient to see our baby; not because I was physically tired but just anxious to see what he looks like, how the delivery will go , his first reaction to the world outside, how we will do as new parents, understand and know all the little things that our baby will like and not like, how will I get back into shape (I was confident I would) and more. I took maternity leave from October 27th 2008 to spend some time with Mom and...

...the waiting continued into the early hours of November 5th, 2012.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I am a baby.

Usually S's bath time becomes a mess, because of A. A wanders into the bathroom, sticks his hand into the potty, pumps all of the hand soap, gets into the cabinet under the sink and plays with the plumbing there, pulls his brother's hair from outside the tub, pulls the water tap the the extremes and more and more (as if the above is not enough)...So, we started to close the master bedroom door and keep the knob protector on so A cannot open the door.

Around Aug-Sep of 2012 (A was about 2 yrs old), C was giving S a bath in the master bathroom. He closed the master bedroom door so that A does not go in and make a mess of stuff in the bedroom and/or bathroom. A went till the master bedroom door (there was a protector on it), he tried to open it – he could not – he immediately said -
           “Nana (Dad), can you open the door for me, please?”. 
Nana did not respond. Noticing that C did not open the door, A spontaneously said – 
           “Nana (Dad), I am a baby. Now, can you open the door for me, please?”

…Now, who can resist opening the door??? Only parents, I think - because we see the naughty spark through that cute smile. But I must admit, I was so amused that I carried him into my arms and played with him till C was done (pausing my dinner preparations)...

Oh my dear Akhi - I love you to the moon and back... (Or may be to eternity and beyond...)


This was way back in Fall of 2012, during one of our skype sessions with C’s parents. I served lunch during the online session. And I just wanted to have a decent lunch hour – without any nudging/yelling to eat. While I was busy getting A to eat; S was engrossed in talking to his grandparents that he had not taken even his first bite (in the past 20 mins).  (I think he was purposely not paying attention to my repetition of my lunchtime punch line “Eat your food. Else, you will not grow tall like Nana.”). But A took away most of my attention, that I could not handhold S that day during lunch. Observing the situation, my father-in-law intervened and –

KKD Tata: Siddhu, eat you food quickly. If you eat your food fast, then you and I can chat for a long long time. 

S: What will you give me if I eat my food fast?

KKD Tata: I will give you a blue airplane (S’s favorite color at that time was blue)

S: Ok, I will eat. (He began to nibble)

KKD Tata (to make S eat faster): Siddhu, you are eating with a spoon. Ohh, how nice? I don’t know how to eat with a spoon. Will you teach me to eat with a spoon if I give you the blue airplane?

S: Yes, I will teach you. See, how well I can eat with my spoon. 
He showed his grandpa how he can eat with a spoon and finally was done with his entire lunch. Thank GOD (Actually, THANK GRANDPA!)

KKD Tata: Now that you are done with your lunch, can you teach me how to eat with a spoon. You ate so well. I also want to learn the same from you.

S: No, I will not teach you. You did not give me an airplane. So, I will not teach you. BTW I want a brown airplane, my brother wants a red one and dad wants the blue airplane. So, when you give us our airplanes, then I will teach you to eat with a spoon. And since you anyways know how to eat with your hand, you don’t need to know how to eat with a spoon. (During the conversation S remembered that he likes Mater more than McQueen and Doc Hudson – that is why he started off with a blue airplane and ended up with wanting a brown one)

Oh My Siddhu Cutie Pie!!! You are growing up so fast - I just hope time could stand still the second you were born... SLOW DOWN DEAR...

Children's Logic 101

It has been a little more than four years now as a mom. And in those 4 yrs, I understood that children have a phenomenal thinking power. I always thought that children are too little to understand what we tell them. But life in the past couple of years has taught me that the right mix of patience, firmness, letting go and spending time with a kid will help a child in assimilating what an elder wants them to. That also makes the kid more curious. S is an extremely inquisitive kid and hence questions people a lot - Why can't the moon and sun be together in the sky? How can a caterpillar become a butterfly? How can I become tall without eating any food? Why did mom and dad not take me on their earlier vacations? Why does KKD grand dad have a mustache?Why does mom do magic  (straightening) on her hair? Why does Hanuman and other gods have earrings? 

But along with this understanding capacity children too (like adults) are blessed with selective hearing (A's teacher calls that silent defiance)...Right now A is in the silently defiant phase (he started being so after his 2nd birthday). And off late, he is getting a lot of timeouts in school because of that nature...I have never had much trouble with S in general; except for two avenues - toys and food. There is nothing I can say that will get him to like food or put toys away. He will have some reason or the other to NOT eat food and to NOT put his toys away (He takes his legos to the loo too!) Though, S has gotten to the next step of applying his logic in different situations and coming up with solutions. Below are some examples of his logical reasoning...
#1 Growing up (and ‘growing’ small)…
Whenever S acts up or is busy in a conspiracy with A, we tell him “Siddhu, you are teaching bad things to your brother. If you want to be a good boy, you cannot teach bad things to him.” (Though most of the times, it is the opposite). On Friday (06-Oct-2012), S and C were having a conversation and he told his dad,
“Dad, right now I am a small big boy and A is a baby boy. In a while, my brother and I will become big like you and Amma. And then, you will become like me, a small big boy and Amma will become like A, a baby girl (He meant the sizes). When that happens, you cannot and should not teach Amma any bad things. OK?”
#2 No Puttaparthy Granddad…
I have been working on S’s eating ever since he turned 1; this was another technique. I divided the food into spoonfuls and gave a name to each spoonful. And he decided whose spoon he ate first, second and so on…One day during summer of 2012 (S was 3 yrs old).
One day S was having his meal (yellow lentils and rice) and I was dividing his food into spoonfuls – the usual order is Akhi, Mom, Dad, grandparents (all 4 of them), his favorite toys , his favorite relatives etc. That particular day he said,
“Mom, I don’t want Puttaparthy Tata’s spoonful. He is not in our house; so, I don’t want his spoonful. I will instead eat Swami’s, McQueen’s and Mater’s spoonfuls…”
I was shocked because he always says that Puttaparthy granddad is his favorite one. But at the end; all that mattered to me was he ate his food without much fuss (though it was his favorite food – muddhapapu annam)…J

#3 Don’t love Ammamma.
One day while S and I were having a conversation I asked Siddhu, “Do you love ammamma (my mom)?” Without any hesitation he replied -
“No, I don’t like her because she never comes to our house in USA.” (Though she came for both my deliveries, he said this… L …Poor Ammamma.)

#4 So Sweet …
One Sunday night (3-Feb-2013) I was making phulkas for dinner. And whenever I do so, both my boys want their turn in rolling a couple of phulkas. Since they are too short to reach the countertop, they drag dining chairs (or toddler chairs) and stand on the chairs to reach the countertop (Here, I must tell you that the credit for this idea goes to 2-yr old A who has been doing this ever since he was 18 months). Both of them had their fair number of turns and hence a satisfied A was off playing around. S (who is a keen observer) was still giving me company in the kitchen. Suddenly he said to me,
“Amma, today is a Sunday and you are making rotis. But do not make rotis on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. You can make rotis on Saturday again. Even though I like rotis, I will eat rice or pasta. Because when you are flipping the roti with your hand, your hand will get burnt. And I don’t want your hand to get burnt.”
It was so sweet that he said such a thing. But later thoughts also made me feel that it might have been one of S’s trials to escape from food.
P.S. When the roti puffs up on the flame; S always says “Mom, look the roti became a balloon.”

#5 I am all alone
My friend (Michelle) and I went shopping to Walmart with both the boys on the night of Thanksgiving 2012.  C was busy shopping elsewhere (@ Target). So, Michelle and I decided to split the boys and each of us stood in different lines – S went with Michelle and I took A along with me. While Michelle(and S) were in the line for Christmas trees;
S to my friend (with very sad expressions on his face): My daddy left me and went away long back. Now, my mommy too left me and went away. Now, I am all alone in this huge Walmart store. I am all by myself. Who will take me home? How will I get to my mommy, daddy and Akhi?
My friend: Siddhu, I am there to take you home.  I’ll drop you at your home.
Siddhu (very sad): But, you are not my mommy. And you do not have a car seat in your car. So, you cannot drop me home in your car.
Being Thanksgiving, there were lots of people in the queue who could hear the conversation and all of them (including my friend) burst out laughing. Michelle later told me “Oh My God!  Sai, Siddhu has changed so much. He has become a big boy and is all naughty…He said all these things and I was scared because everybody around could hear what he said - especially with all the rules around parenting in the US..."

Oh my dearest Siddhu….I just cannot express in words how much I love you and how much of happiness I wish for you…

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mutually exclusive - S and food...

Expanding on the topic of children and their observation power, the following happened between me and S.
S is not at all a foodie; he has never been one. So if given a chance, he can eat his meal for more than a couple of hours. That is how disinterested he is in a meal. I have always been working on S’s eating. Since most of what I have worked with before (pleases, yells, stories and sometimes feeding (which I am not a great fan of)) have ended up in high levels of irritation, I thought of trying a different technique for S to eat all of his food (an entire balanced meal) within half an hour. The most important part is ALL FOOD and HALF AN HOUR… I thought that a technique which will show him that there are consequences to his actions will make him more responsible and also lessen my irritation levels. Hence I started the following technique – put the plate of food in front of S, tell him how much time he has, just observe and remove the plate once the allotted time was up.  This method has many other caveats not mentioned here- make the food very interesting (different shapes and variety), no multi-tasking during meal time, not losing my balance/temper, making food more fun and more...
So, finally one day everything went as planned. S ate his meal in less than half hour and he ate everything on his plate. (Though I gave him his choice of food item – roti instead of rice).After his meal I told him, 

Myself: See Siddhu, how easy it was when you ate on time, without much fuss and most of what was on your plate…Everybody is happy,  Siddhu’s tummy, Siddhu and Amma…So, can you eat like this everyday????
S: Yeah.  But Amma, you did not loudly, loudly and more loudly, shouting at small little cute Siddhu saying ‘Eat, Eat, Chew, Swallow…..’ like you do every day. You did not very very upset or mad at me…But Amma, what do you always say upset and not sad?
Myself: Because sad is only sad; but upset is sad + angry.
S: So, that means you did not get sad and angry at me because I ate all my food very very quickly. OK, Amma. Then every day I promise I will eat very quickly and not make you upset while eating. But will you promise me that you will not talk very loudly with me while eating…Pls, amma?
Myself: Promise Siddhu…

(Not that he kept his promise. But at least it is getting better…)

He just could not get himself to say the word scream or yell. Instead he only said ‘talk loudly…’..So, sweet…

And that is when I realized that come what may, I should not yell at S. He can only be won by Love...trying hard to practice the same - hard because both my boys together driver me nuts sometimes - but that is what it is and I AM LOVING EVERY BIT OF THAT CRAZINESS....So, far I have been pretty successful at not yelling at S (but I must admit that the meal time is easier because of hubby dear. He has committed to taking care of S's meal times every single day)...

So, lesson learnt from my little master - No yelling at home, only firm talking...

P.S. - I have dealt with a lot of eating issues in S and will be blogging about all my techniques used in another post pretty soon.

Grumpy Grandma...:-|

On 13th Jan, 2013 (Sunday), the following conversation happened between me and Siddhu –

Myself: Siddhu, it is nap time. Can you go to bed?
S: Mom, I would like to chit chat with you (He said this in Telugu – Amma, neetho kaburulu chepthanu)
Myself: OK, Siddhu. Let us spread your sleeping bag and lie down for half hr, just like you do at school.
S : OK, Amma. But you have to be by my side.

So, I was sitting by him and he was lying down on his sleeping bag and we were chit chatting about all weird things (flying cars etc). My father-in-law came by and showed him a black and white photo of a lady in her early 20s and then-

Father-in-law: Siddhu, who is this in the photo?
S: I don’t know. Amma, can you tell me.
Myself: Siddhu that’s your grandma (dad’s mom).
S: No, that can’t be.
Myself: Why?
S: Because they both are different – the grandma standing in the kitchen and the one in the photo are different.
Myself: How are the two different?
S: The grandma in the photo is not grumpy. Grandma has to be grumpy. See grandma in the kitchen, she is grumpy always.
Myself:Which grandma do you like; the grumpy one in the kitchen or the smiling one in the photo?
S: (thinking) Mmmm..I think I like the grumpy grandma in the kitchen...:-)

What else to do, but myself and my father-in-law burst out laughing and my FIL said to my MIL – “Vani, I told you that you have to learn to smile before you come to the United States.”

...Kids have such a pure heart that they say everything that comes to their minds. And as a parent I understood that one can learn a lot from children. t is just that as adult, I think that children's observation power is negligible, but such incidents tell me time and again that in fact children can have a very keen observation power...

Now, for the lesson learnt - I better not be grumpy before my kids again.

My dear Siddhu, Mommy loves you a lot, lot, lot; to the moon and back...

Airplanes and Ammamma

In August of 2012 (27/8/12 to 02/09/12), we went on our second family trip to California. Though we visited Lego Land (San Diego) and Disney Land (Anaheim), our pit stop was my aunt’s (my mom’s younger sister) residence. My aunt (i.e., mom’s younger sister) is S’s Ammamma (the Telugu word for grandma). And I call my aunt Pinni (the Telugu word for mom’s younger sister). So S combined the two words and started to call her ‘Pinni Ammamma’ just so he could differentiate between my mom (his ammamma) and my mom’s sister (his pinni ammamma). I thought that it was wonderful logic for a 3yrs old’s brain… But C feels that I feel proud and happy for the boys’ every tiny word, action and thought. I just think that is a characteristic all moms, worldwide, share and are proud of…:-P

By the end of our trip to CA, S was hooked on to airplanes and ammamma.
Then when we went online with my parents (08- Sep-2012), he had the following conversation with my parents –

S: Ammamma, why don’t you come here and live with us?

Ammamma: Why don’t you come here and live with me and Tata for a while? It’s a warmer climate and I will play whole day with you. There will not be any school here too.

S (to me): Amma, can I go to Ammamma’s house and live with her?

Mom: Then Akhil will be alone. He will feel sad and will miss you.

S (to me): Ohh, that is OK. I can take Akhil along with me.

Mom: But, you need to go to Ammamma’s in an aero plane.

S (to his Dad): Nana, can you buy me an aero plane. Akhi and I want to go to Ammamma’s place in India.

Dad: Siddhu, we need lots and lots and lots of money to buy an aero plane and we do not have that much of money. So, let’s wait and see. In the meantime, Ammamma can come here and live with us for a while. How about that?

S: No, I want to go to India in an aero plane. I will talk to the airplane uncle and ask him to lend me one. I know he will, because he is a nice uncle and I am a good little boy.

Mom: OK. But even though the aero plane uncle lends you an airplane; you cannot drive it since you are small. You need to be tall like Nana.

S: Then here is the thing – I will become big like Nana. I will drive myself and my brother in the airplane to Ammamma’s. When I reach Ammamma’s it will become night and I will become small again. When I am small, I cannot drive my plane. So, I will park the airplane behind Ammamma’s house. Akhi and I will sleep and enjoy our time at Ammamma’s. Once it becomes day, I will again become a big boy. And then I will drive my plane back to our house. I will become a small boy and go to school. And then again after school, I will become a big boy and will drive my plane back to Ammamma’s. And then again when I reach Ammamma’s it will become night and I will become small again…….(the same sequence of events continued for about 20 minutes).
Anybody who tried to interrupt with any question was getting an answer only in the following terminology; airplane – becoming big and small by the wink of an eye – travelling back and forth between India and the US in a matter of seconds etc etc. No amount of diversion worked. S only spoke about airplanes and visiting Ammamma. Then finally giving up,

Grandparents: Siddhu, We are very sleepy. Can we go to bed?

S: Tata, you can go to bed. But Ammamma, you stay awake and talk to me. Though, you may lie down and talk, you don’t have to sit up like that. See me, how I am lying down – you do the same, OK? (By this time, S was lying down on his belly and cupped his chin in his hands and was staring at the laptop screen. And then once grandma came into the position S was in, it was again all about airplanes and ammamma…)

...S chatted with his grandma for a whole half hour after that – all on his own. Also, he did not want any of us in the room. If C or I entered, he said “Amma, I am talking some secrets to Ammamma. Please can I be alone when I talk to her.” So, we just left and closed the door behind us. But when we eavesdropped, we understood the conversation was all about AIRPLANES AND AMMAMMA. Such was(and still is) his fascination for the same…