My New Obsession

Blame it on too much time or faster internet connections. I have found an obsession that refuses to stop and is ruining my eyes and life (in a way). This new obsession does not cost much, but requires a hell lot of time. It’s South-East Asian dramas, especially those made in South Korea. Now I know Sung Joon, Kyun Heung Jun, and Lee Min Ho. I am binge watching mini-series like there is no tomorrow, and constantly thinking about how it would be if the stories were adapted in India.

In my upcoming posts I will be discussing some of my most favorite shows.

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Wishes of a new mommy

Every time I visit a bookstore I have this feeling that I could write a book and it would be featured on the front shelf just like the multiple titles sitting in front of me. Similarly, whenever I visit the grocery market I have this feeling that I could pick up the best ingredients to whip up a perfect Masterchef standard meal. But, nothing of this sort happens. Especially with a baby in tow.

Babies truly take up the mommy’s whole entire life. I don’t know how working moms do it, but me an SAHM (stay at home mom) trying very hard to be a WFHM (working from home mom), life couldn’t be more tougher.

For the past many months I have been trying to get back to my cozy career of web-content writing. Every time I open my laptop I find my mind being bombarded with all the baby-associated things I was supposed to do at that moment. Now that my baby is almost reaching a year he knows how to reach out and grab stuff, especially those that mommy uses.

I wish there was a way to make them understand that some things are out of bounds. I wish there was a way to pacify them when they’d cry just because mommy is not letting them touch certain things.

Maybe one day I will be able to write a book or cook some really nice dishes and take pics and post them here.

Until then writing is not only tough, but almost impossible.

Letter 1… for Shubham

My Dear Shubham,

It gives me great pleasure to be writing my very first letter to you. I imagine many more of this to be coming your way in the following months and years. My intention of writing these letters to you is to share with you your childhood and experiences I have had raising you. Many a times, I might put in a few lessons in life as well, to help you in yours. Hope they inspire you and teach you about life, love, and living.

The day you were born was the happiest day of my life. I cried realizing that you would bring me some of the most beautiful memories I will ever have. Your father, my husband has given me a wonderful life and continues to inspire me in my actions and endeavours. We are looking forward to sharing joyful times with you.

It has been almost eight weeks since your birth and we have both struggled through nourishing you, and keeping you clean, safe and happy. Yes, a number of times you have cried and screamed, most of those were because you were hungry. Despite the cacophony, I found an immense sense of joy while feeding you, changing your nappy the nth time, and kissing you to wipe away the pain off your face.

At this moment, I am unwell with cold and cough, and truly miss talking to you as I have lost my voice to phlegm and scratched throat. I also miss kissing you, and bringing your face closer to mine. Then again, I am at present finding joy in feeding you every hour and a half and sharing those tidbits of time feeling you nibble and suck my nipple with gusto.

Without further embarrassing you, I wish to end this letter with this –

Brave is simply those with the clearest vision of what lies before them.

Baby, life is tough, and you will find yourself being faced with troubled times. In those times, you will need to be brave and handle each situation earnestly and sincerely. The outcome initially may not be favorable, but persistance will always garner benefits. Stick to it. Be brave.

Here’s a Picture of you …
Lots of Love and Blessings,
Ma.

The First Few Weeks of You-Know-Who

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The past seven weeks have been a roller coaster ride. With my baby, I have been as busy as any new mother can expect herself to be. From feeding and burping, to pooping and nappy changes, my life has now become a machine working non-stop towards making sure this tiny human lives, breathes, and is well-nourished. Here’s a glimpse into the little guy’s life till now.

My Bundle of Joy

My Bundle of Joy

What’s in a Name? – Everything!

The first task when a baby is born is to give him a name, one that he will be known by to the entire world. It is also one of the most difficult tasks. It took us over three years to decide on a name, as we had started thinking even before starting the process of making a baby. After much deliberations and considering numerous parameters including bilingual parentage, region neutrality etc. we decided that the baby will have two names, which he will be known in different circles.
The one that I gave- Shubham, came to me when it dawned on me that I was part of God’s miracle.
The other one that he will be known as in the academic-slash-professional world, is Ryan.
Although, for all intents and purposes I will call him Shubham in my blog (or Shubs in short). Shubham has Sanskrit origins and means “auspicious”.

Initial Struggles with Feeding

It took me and Shubham almost 3 weeks time to settle with breastfeeding. The first few weeks, there were problems of latching, bottle affinity, and inverted nipple. Slowly things worked out in the right direction. This took quite a lot of tears, screams, pain, pumping, and of course persistence. A LOT of persistence. Now we are happily feeding breast milk any way possible. The times when I get too tired, formula milk and my mom come to the rescue.

Urgent – Need Someone to Invent a Burping Machine!

Blame it on the bottle, crying and taking in air, or the fact that burping does not come easily … my baby suffers from gas. He farts like an adult, and when he burps (if he burps) it is LOUD! He also wants milk every hour, even now! His pediatrician, who incidentally is also my uncle, insists that I burp him every half time of his feed, or if he doesn’t burp keep him erect for half an hour. But it’s just so not possible. How do you do it mothers? I am having a hellish time with the burping thing. I wish where was a machine that could make babies burp. Seriously!

Gastrointestinal Problems is Genetic … just my theory

Is this much gas normal for babies? If not, I think GERD is genetic. I have been a silent (or pretty audible) sufferer for many years.

There is so much more I can share, but right now, need to catch some sleep before Shubham wakes up and needs another round of feeding and burping.

Oh, Help me God!

We Have A Baby!

Date: 26th September 2014

Day: Friday

My baby was born through a caesarean in the evening of 26th. A boy. Almost two and a half kilos, he was found to be normal, slightly underweight, yet with all proper organs and body parts. Despite my attempts at being strong, I had tears in my eyes when I first saw him. I couldn’t believe there was this little boy inside me all this while. For nine months I had been eating for him, sleeping for him, planning for him, and even watching select tv shows for him (did not watch much of action movies and tv shows)!

It was for the first time I felt something I had never felt before. A feeling which has no name. Maybe I can say protectiveness, awe … the feeling that says that little being is your own!

My life is now changed. Completely. I will still be a wife, daughter, sister, aunt etc., but now I will be first a mother and then everything else. Good bless this child with the best of things in the world. Hope to have a wonderful life with my son, husband and everyone one else.

We have a baby. Yay!!

Nine Things I Learnt in the Past Nine Months

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Nine months of pregnancy is long and short, both at the same time. During these months I not only did my best and my worst, but also learnt stuff that I don’t think I would have ever learnt in my non-pregnant existence. Listing down all those things I want to share with my future self and everyone who wishes to read.

  1. Your hair and skin will never feel as good as it does when you’re pregnant.
  2. Drinking water is the best habit you can acquire in life.
  3. Meltdowns are always regrettable.
  4. The feeling of love and gratitude increases multifold when you have a strong support system.
  5. A new arrival can generate many positive and negative emotions inside the would-be-mother, but at the end of the day what matters is how you act on it and let yourself feel.
  6. Husbands are precious.
  7. There is a new sense of respect for your body when your body is harbouring another human being.
  8. You find a new respect for all mothers of the world.
  9. All kinds of pains have a new meaning and you realize their purposes. Ultimately pains become second nature to the expectant mother.

Well, here are nine for now. You can add in from your experiences

The Week When Things Fell Apart and Some More

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I am scheduled to deliver a baby tomorrow, a baby who is barely big enough to come out of my womb. All thanks to my super scared doctor and in-laws who don’t want to antagonize him. I have already gone through the five stages of grief and somewhat come to terms with this predicament. This grief although was compounded because of many more issues cropping up in my last week before the new-arrival.

Day 1:
It was Saturday evening when I got the news. The doctor was completely apathetic towards my requests of having the baby in October. He was in fact downright rude, that too not just to me but to my whole family. He did not give straight answers to any of our questions and concerns. He treated my father-in-law, who is over 60 and commands a lot of love and respect wherever he goes, with utter disrespect. He made us question our own judgement of selecting him for my treatment. Granted I have the gall stone. Agreed there may be complications. But there is always a better way to explain to the patient and her family. I felt sad for his students, who took the fateful decision to take OB-GYN as their PG subject. (yes, Dr. Sukanta Misra is a professor in a prestigious medical institute in Kolkata). This doctor came with recommendations from other doctors. Why else would my family have chosen him?
Lessons in life 1: Don’t trust just about any doctor’s judgement, trust your instincts more. Be prepared to stand by it. Even when your family threatens to not support you. It’s your body, your baby, and ultimately your life.

Day 2:
So, Saturday evening and night and whole of Sunday went with tears, rage, and helplessness. I did not know what to do, where to go, and how to take this whole baby-coming-out-early-through-a-scheduled-C-section news. I, of course, blamed the swindlers, who go by the term doctors and medical professionals today. I wished for a plane ticket to go to the US, where the OB-GYN prepares the would-be-mother for a normal delivery from the beginning (case in point Mila Kunis and a bhabhi of mine). I just wanted to save my baby from these theives for another few weeks. However, in such situations, a woman like me and in my situation cannot do anything.
Reason: God. He decided to give me little confidence in myself and also decided to come down to earth way early than other years (Durga Puja in Kolkata, is what I mean).

Day 3:
Come Monday and I was getting prepared to announce this to my freelance coordinator and a friend. And as if on cue, God decided my problems were not enough. My laptop did not open at all. The thing that I had considered my baby my last three years, did not switch on! I was preparing to complete my last article, send a few important mails, and make some significant bank transactions (baby delivery through C-section costs, big time); and my laptop just would not work!
Lesson in life 2: It’s damn unfair.
After the Saturday and Sunday, Monday threw me out of my chair (figuratively). I was numb for quite some hours. But soon I realised nothing could come out of a meltdown. So, I first talked to my husband, who panicked. He knew I was close to a major breakdown. Strangely, that did not come. I told him, I would keep this issue aside and concentrate on making my last five days at home worthwhile (afterall I had too much on my plate to worry about another problem). I had to prepare for the hospital and then again I was going to stay at my parents’ house for the next month and a half. I wouldn’t be returning home before November. This meant, making some space for the baby and his/her stuff, arranging my files and important documents, calling some significant people up and telling them the news, coordinating with my company officials and finalizing my leave formalities, working out last minute details to ensure smooth arrival into my parents’ home, spending worry-free last few private-days with my husband, and (biggest among these) mentally preparing for a major operation.

Day 4 & 5:
Tuesday and Wednesday pretty much went similar to Monday. I made extensive lists to streamline the entire week. First, I apologized to my coordinator for not being able to complete my last article. Second, talked to her about my pending article approvals. This took almost three days (starting Monday)! Third, arranged my files and documents, and while doing it corresponded with the laptop repairer and seller about my laptop issue. Also shared this issue with family. Silver lining: My brother came forward to take the problem out of my hands and into his. God Bless him!
Lesson in life 3: Never consider yourself alone when you’re facing a tough situation or situations. Your family is truly your support, no matter how small or big. Share it with them.

And some more:
Moving on, while I was going through these issues, my husband and other family members went through theirs. My father contracted cold, cough and fever, my husband’s company decided to issue overtime work to compensate the coming extended holidays, his bosses decided to keep meetings at odd hours, coming Saturday and Sunday were declared working days,  there was a feeling that we’d be facing money crunch due to the over-priced hospital I was going to be admitted to and doctor’s stand-offishness, our common-room TV’s picture tube became a no-show, our washing machine’s pipe cracked, the maid decided to take an extended holiday of three days during this particular week, Kolkata experienced five continuous days of rain thus bringing up prices of all food items especially fish (if you understand Bengalis, you’ll know what a devasting predicament that is; although this did not concern me much – I don’t have fish much) etc. Can’t write anymore, its all too depressing. Hope you get the picture.
Silver linings:

  • My laptop can stay closed for two months, and my husband can use my wireless laptop mouse, since I will be super busy with baby.
  • Both my mother and mother-in-law took the responsibilty of getting me started with the baby.
  • My husband has been spending every little time he got from office with me. Even when he literally spends more than four hours each day travelling to office and returning.
  • My father-in-law appreciates everything I cook, even those with less or more salt.

Lesson in life 4: God always helps no matter how tough he makes situations sometimes. Thanks God.

Day 6 & 7:
Well, that’s what my last five days has been like. Today is Thursday, and I have planned to finish my hospital and Hastings packing, cook paneer makhani sans garlic-onion-butter, have ice-cream, take the prescribed Betnesol injection, and spend my last few hours with family. Tomorrow, early morning we’ll be leaving for the hospital, and in the evening welcoming the new arrival. Wish us luck!

Why Baby Showers in Bengal are Nothing But Worthless?

It was Baby Shower yesterday. In Bengali, it is held in the ninth month and called “Shaad” (or Swaad). Since historic times, Shaad was held to feed the would-be-mother all the things she liked as in those days women were not treated or fed well. In the present times, this ritual is just a ritual and without any actual significance. In Hindi, baby shower is “Godh-bharai”, and is usually held in the 7th month. On this day, she is usually showered with gifts and a huge event is held with loads of guests to celebrate motherhood and would-be-coming family member. Having married into a Bengali family, it was Shaad for me.

Honestly, I have no idea why we tend to stick to old rules when they have no significance. Isn’t it time to change the rules and make those that have some meaning?

In my opinion, today, Shaad should not be held at all. If you want a reason to party, just throw a party, why make a big deal out of cooking fried stuff when you already have gall stone? On top of it every moment is passing by in fear of the impending pancreatitis.

The party should be such that the would-be-mother can for a change relax and have a good time. In the present time, what she needs more than food she likes is the time when she can simply stretch and sit without worrying about cooking, cleaning, remembering stuff for others and working. She should be given a day when she feels happy and stress-free. Such events only adds to her stress. I couldn’t sleep last night as the time given by the “panchang” was early morning. I was scared I’d wake up late and Ma will have to do everything alone. I did not want that. I was required to take a bath by 8:30 AM. I usually bathe at 12:30 PM! I was required to have lunch at 9:30 AM! Tell me, does it look like the woman will be liking this? Also, does it look like it will be a happy event with everyone around enjoying? After all everyone would have to turn up early to attend the function. They also must have had to dress up early in the morning. Isn’t Sunday supposed to be a relaxing day?

I had my Baby Shower yesterday, and I am still tired. I am having gastric troubles and my whole body feels overworked. The most ironic part is more than me it was my mothers who worked more yesterday. My own mother had to wake up early, get all the work at home done, and then travel with father more than 20 km to reach our house to attend the event at 8:30 AM. She was also to attend another Puja the same day. My mother-in-law woke up at 5 AM, took a quick bath, and started cooking. And it was not just 1 dish … it was 8 dishes! I’m sorry, but I wish to bann Shaad for eternity.

Women today get to eat everything they like, whenever they want to. They have understanding husbands who bring them food and snacks they crave for. Their father-in-law dote on them so much that each word they utter out is fulfilled as soon as possible. Their mother-in-law pamper them and do not even let them work much. Shaad has been happening every day since the time we came to know about the pregnancy. Why then should a date be set to show the world that you care for your daughter-in-law?

Here is hoping our next generations can make rules in sync with their times.

Pregnancy: The Time of A Life

Pregnancy, the way wannabe mothers describe it, is a beautiful time in a woman’s life. It is when she gets to experience womanhood in its purest form and gets the ultimate joy in life – a baby that is her own made out of her own flesh and blood. If you ask the already experienced mothers, they consider pregnancy to be a difficult time, which ultimately gives you the joy of life – a baby. However, if you ask me – case in point, the pregnant woman who is just stepping foot on the last leg of the impending motherhood, I will have a different reply.

I see pregnancy as a time when your expectations take new turns, and you start preparing for a complete transformation of your life. I honestly do not know what will happen a month from now, will I be holding a healthy bundle of joy or watching a tiny human from the hard glasses of an NICU. I am scared. And this fear wasn’t even there about two weeks ago. This fear was implanted in my mind by my OB-GYN, when he uttered a scary word.

Apparently, I may have pancreatitis towards the end of this month. According to him, pregnant ladies with gall stone have a chance of contracting acute pancreatitis suddenly. He listed down symptoms that I will have to keep in mind, and call him immediately if I experience any of them. And here, I was just beginning to enjoy the little time left with me before the new arrival.

Two weeks ago I had begun to appreciate the little transformations in my body, and the way I had started to think about this whole thing. I was enjoying my time with my husband and family. We were all happily preparing. And now, we are back to worrying. I don’t like it. I want to be carefree and think positively about this. But my thoughts are now centered around my pancreas. I do not want to have any pancreas problem. I want to enjoy my last few days with myself and my close ones. Pregnancy should not be like this. It should be a wonderful time. It should not be a worrying time.

Please pray that everything goes well.

Best Weekend of the Past Year

Weekends during pregnancy are a whole new experience, especially for someone nearing her eighth month. Weekends teach us limits and relationships. Usually during weekdays, you are working, your husband is in office, and basically you’re following a set pattern. During weekends the pattern breaks. Work is on a pause, husband is home whole day, and all you feel like doing is going out with him, eating stuff you don’t get to have on weekdays, and watch just about anything on TV.

My weekend was, well, to put in one word, awesome. Actually it was one that came after a very very very long time. The past many weeks have been quite stressful for me. I’m someone who feels dead if she has to stay at home at a stretch and doesn’t get to go out. My husband has been working his butt off and has felt the same or maybe more stress in office. It’s quite strange, but every couple probably goes through this – just when they are supposed to start a family, their career also requires them as much. We are just another couple.

Anyhow, this weekend we decided to consciously break the evil cycle we were caught in. We ended up spending some quality time together – talking without interruption, watching TV together, and going out for lunch. The best part was I got to have my favorite pasta in white sauce and crispy chilly babycorn, the two dishes I can have my whole life and still not get bored. Another good thing that happened was that a part of my room now looks so much more cleaner, thanks to my husband as he did me the favor of dusting the area.

Pasta in White Sauce

I also cooked some dishes this weekend, some native (missi roti and alu matar sabzi) and some experimental (for me; cottage cheese, peas and tomato sandwich). Glad they turned out well. I always love it when my food is appreciated, especially by my husband. It means the most to me.

Cottage Cheese, Peas and Tomato Sandwich

Apart from all the fun and satisfactions, I got a reality check – my pregnancy has reached the time when I must learn to curb my going-out-desires. I should now stay at home, so that my baby doesn’t have to feel the extra jerks on the bumpy road. I have a feeling it may not be good for him/her. Just another few weeks to go … maximum two months. I have to find new ways to keep myself busy and happy at home so that the craving for going out decreases. Any suggestions for staying in next weekend?