Saturday, January 30, 2010

Three and a Half Months and Counting

That title would have sounded a lot more elegant without the ‘and a Half’ but then if I were so punctual with updating this blog, it wouldn’t have been limping along at a measly 165 posts in four years (yes, it has been four years but that’s the subject of another post, which may or may not see the light of day).

Anyway, so where was I? Yes, Tarana is just over three and a half months old and I am shaking my head in disbelief as I write this. When did that happen? My newborn baby has already moved out of the newborn phase and now falls into the 3-6 months bracket. And three precious months of my maternity leave have flown by, leaving me with another three before I have to drag myself back to the workforce.

I am lucky to work for an organisation that has upped the maternity leave to 6 months, following the WHO guidelines that recommend six months of exclusive breastfeeding. The law in India requires companies to only give three months of paid leave (though there are some plans to amend this).

I simply cannot imagine going back to work right now. To start with, there is no way I can continue to exclusively breastfeed if I did that. Tarana still needs 6-8 feeds a day and if I were working full-time, atleast 3-4 of these feeds would be during my working (and commuting) hours. There is no way that I could express that much milk in the nights and mornings in addition to feeding her. For continued exclusive breastfeeding to be even remotely possible, I would need to be able to express and store a few feeds while I am at work. And right now, no company that I know of provides the facilities for this. So unless using a battery-operated pump in the ladies toilet and carrying around an ice-box to store the milk is acceptable, there will be less than exclusive breastfeeding. More than that, I don’t think I would be comfortable pumping at work because it’s not done here so it people would look askance at my periodic and relatively lengthy disappearances to the loo with a whole bunch of expressing and storing gear…

But even if I kept the breastfeeding aside, I still don’t think I am ready to go back to work at month three. Tarana is quite particular in her need of me. While I do try and hand her over to the maids for short intervals so that she gets used to being in their care, she rarely stays with them happily beyond ten minutes, after which she screams blue murder till she back in my arms. I guess this is because I know I have another three months to wean her off my constant presence. And as a result, I have been pretty possessive about my little baby. Even though there are two maids around through most of the day, I pretty much change every nappy and respond to every cry of hers. It was similar with Ayaan as well, though there I didn’t have much of a choice in my manner since my nanny hunt met with success only after he was five months old.

But even beyond the breastfeeding and my own possessiveness, I believe that my baby needs me for six months at the very least. So much of baby care at this stage is about instinct - and I don’t believe anyone else can do a better job of deciphering her needs. And sometimes the needs are not just simple, physical things like a wet nappy, an empty stomach or a tired baby. There are so many intangibles about me that comfort her – the way I smell, that very particular way in which only I hold her, the unique rhythm of my rocking and shushing. And nobody can provide that but me. I saw with Ayaan that as he got older, he was happy enough without me as long as he was fed, dry and rested. But before that, I was his blankie and it’s the same with Tarana. And I don’t think I am ready to yank the blankie away at three months.

Also, there is a question of figuring out what she needs when she is cranky. I am sure given time, my maids could figure it out but I’d rather not have it happen the hard way. At six months, it’s far easier to prescribe a schedule that must be followed in my absence – specific times when the baby must be fed or put for a nap – that ensures that at least 90% of the time, there need be no guesswork about why the baby is upset and also ensures that she does not get over-hungry or over-tired.

At this point, it seems like even another three months will not be enough but I am reassuring myself with the thought that it was with Ayaan and other than the daily drama when I actually left, he was equally happy and healthy once I went back to work.

I think it really sucks that women have to go back to work before it is ideal for them and their babies. It’s heartening to know that the Indian government is considering changing policy in this manner.

On to more cheerful things – a Tarana update…

She is a relatively happy and peaceful baby. She sleeps at least a seven hour stretch each night, followed by another 3-4 hour stretch. She is smiling a lot. She coos and screeches and her big brother screeches right back at her. She loves her daily oil massages but hates her baths. When upset, she only calms with me or Jai. She shows no signs of wanting to turn over though she sometimes manages to travel from one end of her cot to another in the night. We go to the park with Ayaan now and she sits in the car seat and watches the world go by. And then, because a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s three thousand more... :)


  1. Anonymous12:21 am

    Awwwww.....and then more awwwwws. Tarana resembles Ayaan so much!

    6 months of leave..I envy you so much! I need to get back to work 6 weeks after my child's birth. My heart is already breaking.

  2. Such a content baby! Rohini, you are doing a great job! Enjoy your exclusive time with Tarana. Hugs.

  3. She is gorgeous! And she seems so grown up and alert now.

  4. Six months! Glad you get this bare minimum time to b/f exclusively and tune into your child. She's looking roly-poly and utterly delish! Enjoy!

  5. 6 months...that is bliss. Tarana looks super cute in the first picture. A content baby indeed. Not that other pictures aren't cute :)

    But as you said the 'pumping in office' culture is yet to set in India. So maybe the next generation of ladies get that facility.

    As we have good facilities to pump in office as per law, I was able to feed my babies for 15 months. But yes weaning was a battle, but you have a long way to go :)

    Enjoy your time with Tarana and Ayaan.

  6. Awww sweet pics..especially the last one...I guess even I was lucky because I was allowed to work from home after my 3 months of maternity leave for 2 more months....Its going to be tough for you to leave her..but understand...I am sure Tarana wont give you too much trouble :)

  7. love the pics, ro. t looks like such a content baby :)

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  9. awww she's adorable! i have a 23-day old baby boy who screams blue murder every 45 minutes or so! how DID u cope??? i did not know it was humanly possible to reach such levels of tiredness! :) dreading the day my mom goes home. btw, thanks again for your very helpful shopping list, it really stood me in good stead! i sent the link to 3 moms-to-be hehe.

  10. Anonymous9:03 am

    she's sooo cute!! I think I did the same thing with my son when I was on my maternity leave.

  11. 6 months is quite good...but its quite tough to leave ur heart and soul in maid's care and go to work..

    Tarana is looking super adorable.

  12. She looks so cute and so so BIG! I mean what - she was just born yesterday wasn't she?

    6 months is good Ro, baby on solids etc. Makes total sense to me - it's crazy how some developed countries don't give more than 6 weeks !

  13. aww! please give her a big slurpy kiss from me!

  14. Darling darling darling Tarana! She is such a cutie...big hugs to the beautiful child.

  15. Hello, just found your blog and had to comment because your views on exclusively BFing for 6 months mirror my own. I'm a first time mom and I extended my maternity leave to 6 months so I could exclusively BF my daughter. I am determined to keep her formula free for as long as I can, so I went out and bought a twin pump, took a deep breath and walked into our facility manager's (a retd colonel, no less)office and asked for a room to pump!! To the mans credit, he didnt even blink. I saw him freeze for 10 secs and in the next 3 mins arranged for an unused room to be cleared and provided me the key to use as long as I like. So I have been pumping twice a day in office for the last 3.5 months. My point is, I know India still has a way to go in these matters but you'll be presently surprised if you take the first step. All the best, and kisses to your adorable babies :)

  16. She looks so the last pic I see that she resembles Ayaan quite a bit. Glad you get six months to fully be there for must be a relief for you that you can breastfeed her the whole six months. Pumping at work is hell even here in the U.S where some of my friends say they have very nice rooms to do so...just having to break off from meetings and just having to keep track of the storage/timings etc...

  17. Gosh she looks so content and adorable, lots of hugs and kisses to Tarana. Enjoy the rest of your maternity leave! I was all set to get back to work after 6 months, then I had to take a forced sabbatical of sorts and now I wonder whether I'll ever be able to go back as Nikki grows older!

  18. To echo all the other voices up there, she looks so much like Ayaan now :-) Here's to another enjoyable 3 months of being with her at home.

  19. To echo all the other voices up there, she looks so much like Ayaan now :-) Here's to another enjoyable 3 months of being with her at home.

  20. I was going to hig you, Ro, but now I want to wail because I want to cuddle my baby and I caaaaaaaa'nt.


    Come live in Cal. Great food here. And some of the people are pretty nice too. Club scene sucks eggs but hey, I get my share of Girlie and that should be good enough for everybody, no?

  21. Awww.... she looks SO cute... Yea for the BFing. I'm all for exclusive BFing till six months as well, but things are much easier for me since I'm a SAHM. And glad that she's such a 'settled' baby. We're in the process of trying to rid our 4.5 month old of 2 hourly nightly feeds... and it ain't easy:) Hugs to both the kids.

  22. awwww! she is adorable!

    and i think six months leave must be made mandatory! 3 months is just too little. i managed to get 4 months paid leave and then extended it by another 2months.

    am sure Tarana will settle down comfy!


  23. [Cluelessness] 6 weeks???!!! Ouch!

    [A Muser/ Dipali/ Starry/ Mona/ Preeti/ Shobana/ Sujatha? Abha] Thanks :)

    [Manchus] You worked and breastfed for 15 months? That is pretty inspiring :)

    [R's Mom/ Vandana] I think she will be ok. Ayaan is the one who is going to be hard to leave. He has become super clingy and has a tantrum even if I leave the house for half an hour :(

    [Wordsmith] Just keep repeating to yourself - 'This too shall pass'. Glad the list helped

    [Poppy] If by yesterday you mean almost four months ago, then yes :)

    [Choxbox] Done! :)

    [Smitha] It's not just the pumping no? You need a place to store it too...

    [Noon] Yes, I can imagine. Having to pump in the kids of a work day can't be easy

    [NMOTB] That's what scares me about taking a break. The thought of whether it will become a permanent thing

    [HGM] She does na? I should put up his baby pics for comparison...

    [Sue] What? No hug for me? :(

    [Preeti]Phew at the 2.5-hourly feeds. That's one aspect I have been lucky on with both kids. Tarana also waked only once in the night and sometimes not even that

  24. Aww, higs then. :)

  25. Anonymous10:44 pm

    I haven't been through your archives, but what did you do when you had Ayaan? Did you have to get back to work after 6 months then too? It must be really hard for you.

    The pics are very cute, she does look very peaceful and content.

  26. Reading your blog after a long time. Hugs to you and the kids. Hope we can meet sometime and watch each others' kids in action!