Monday, April 26, 2010

Notes From the Brat's Sickbed

Ayaan gave us quite a scare over the last few days. It started with a cough but come Friday night, his temperature shot up to 104. Paracetamol gave brief snatches of respite but it kept coming back.

We took him to the doctor on Saturday, who said it was a chest infection and started him on some antibiotics. He also advised us to get blood and urine tests to rule out malaria and a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. The results came in yesterday - negative for malaria, positive for pneumonia. Pneumonia. Scary Word Number One. I know pneumonia is fairly common and, in many cases, mild and easily treated but in my mind, I always associate it with its scarier symptoms and outcomes. Anyway, the doctor said it was the early onset of pneumonia and the antibiotics we had already started would be able to make things right. And then Dottie sent me this link to walking pneumonia and that pretty much describes what has been happening with Ayaan, and this too makes it sounds less scary. 

We asked the doctor about the recurring fever and he said that if it continued to be high, we would have to hospitalise him. Hospitalise. Scary Word Number Two. There's something about the very thought of children in hospital that gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach. The idea of their small bodies in those immense hospital beds and their sunny little personalities in the cold, clinical environs of the hospital doesn't even bear thinking about.

To avoid all these depressing eventualities, I have been monitoring his temperature almost hourly and sponging him down every time it starts getting high, along with the prescribed dose of paracetamol. It usually responds to paracetamol but 6-8 hours later, it starts crossing 102 again. We need to wait and watch today as the antibiotics take 48 hours to take effect but if the fever does not start to break by this evening, we go back to the doctor. Fingers crossed.

Thank God for grandmothers. My mother, on hearing that her precious grandson was sick, dropped everything and took the first flight to Mumbai. It wasn't really necessary but I heaved a sigh of relief when she got here yesterday. I could really do with some downtime, not having got much sleep between the fever watch and the night feedings. The mother-in-law, who happens to be a doctor, too was a great support with medical advice, especially when we saw 104 on the thermometer at 4 a.m and needed some reassurance and tips on how go get the fever down.

Of all the challenges that motherhood has thrown my way, sick kids is the the one I feel most ill-equipped to deal with. To start with, it just breaks my heart to see my bouncy little boy lying listlessly in bed and looking at me with dull eyes. To add to that, there is a feeling of utter helplessness that I can't make it better instantly - because hey, I am the Mama and I should be able to fix this, right? And then at some points, there is a flash of irritation, deeply regretted but undeniable. It happens when the sick brat won't let me leave his sight for even a minute or when he has been coughing non-stop right into my ear and I really have to bite my tongue to keep from saying (to him and the universe), "Enough already!"

The standard advice you get when your kid is sick is to make sure they get enough rest. The problem is that there is no way to get kids to understand this. Their approach to illness is exceedingly short term. When the fever is high, they will lie down listlessly and maybe even sleep, but let the mercury drop even a little and they are ready to take on the world. Telling them that this will make their fever shoot up again is of little use. Ayaan, for example, was threatened and bribed yesterday with everything possible to stay in bed but he managed to pack in a fair amount of activity in the confines of the bed, repurposing some hangers lying nearby into rockets, shouting '3...2...1... LIFT OFF!', leaping through the air with them, landing with a thud and then repeating the process repeatedly...

Sickness makes clingy kids even clingier. Ayaan is happy enough to hang out with Jai and/or my mom when his fever is down. But the minute it starts coming back, no one but Mama will do. Even an attempt by Patti to sponge him simultanoleously or by Dadda to, God forbid, talk to him can set off a major meltdown. It can get a bit stressful because these phases often coincide with when I am needed by Tarana. This feeling of being torn is one of the not-so-nice things of having two kids. The other day, I had put her in her cot fast asleep and gone to tend to a feverish Ayaan. Then just 20 minutes later, she started bawling. I had to make a choice (Jai was travelling) and I decided Ayaan needed me more so I decided to finish putting him to bed before tending to her. It was ten minutes before I was done and she had cried herself back to sleep by then. :(

The boy got smacked. Yes, he's sick. But I was sleep deprived, my patience was wafer thin and he had it coming. At this particular point in time, he didn't have fever and had asked to watch cartoons. The show he wanted to watch had been recorded but it happened to be a re-run he had seen only recently. So he got upset and sought to express his rage by picking up his (full) glass of water and flinging it across the room. Thankfully, it was a steel tumbler but it still drenched everything lying on the bedside table. Like I said, he had it coming and I felt less guilty about this smack then I have felt about smacking him when he has been hale and hearty...

Anyway, that's it for now. Shall update on Ayaan's health. 

Update - 27th April: The fever still keeps coming back every 6-8 hours, though it is reducing in intensity and touches between 101 and 102 degrees. The doctor ordered another x-ray, which we took across to him this afternoon. He says the situation has not worsened but has not improved much either. He has added another antibiotic to the already heavy cocktail of medicines (2 antibiotics, paracetamol, expectorant, decongestant, vitamin syrup...)  and we need to go and see him everyday till he takes a turn for the better. It's either that or hospitalisation and I prefer the former. The man in question is currently between fever bouts and is bouncing around like a bunny on speed! 

Update - 28th April: There's been a marked improvement today. The doctor was pretty positive and the H-word (hospital, in case you are wondering) wasn't mentioned. He said that the phlegm was loosening up so there would be a lot of coughing but that's a good thing. He even said we could go ahead with our plans to travel to Bangalore this weekend. We need to see him again on Friday and then repeat the x-ray a week later to be a 100% sure that everything is back to the way it should be.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Baby Showers Galore

Itchy tagged me with this award a while ago with this.

I couldn’t have been more surprised because creativity is definitely not one of my strong suits. But she stated a very specific reason for tagging me – my baby shower ideas, which you can find here and here.

This reminded me that there was a much ignored unfinished post languishing in my Drafts – the post on the lovely baby showers that I was privileged to be at the receiving end of last year.

The post on the baby showers was supposed to go up, as would have been ideal, before the baby arrived. But it was still partially written when the delivery date got advanced and the rest, as they say, is postpartum chaos. So I am completing the post, correcting tense and posting it now. Better late than never and all that jazz…

This pregnancy was extra special because of all the extra love, attention and blessings I received for myself and the baby. The big difference from last time was the fact that I have a virtual life beyond my real one and ever since I announced my pregnancy, I have been amazed by the amount of goodwill I have got from readers of the blog, both on and off the blog. Thanks, guys. :)

The other thing that really maxed out this time was the baby showers. I had four absolutely awesome baby showers, each different and unique in its own way. Last time, I just had the traditional baby shower that my mom did. But this time there was that and three more from different group of friends.

The first shower was a lovely mish-mash of Indian and Western traditions. There was a sort of godh-bharai element – a sari was draped around my shoulders, flowers were put in my hair, glass bangles were arranged on my wrists and fruits placed in my lap.

Then all baby girls in attendance fed me some kheer to ensure that the baby would be a girl (it worked!). There was also a lovely cake and lovelier gifts like a handmade blanket, a super-soft Mothercare blanket and a ‘Big Brother’ tee for Ayaan.

The second shower was the traditional Tamilian valai kappu ceremony, or rather, our version of it, that my mom organised in Jaipur. I was decked up in a sari, a huge bunch of flowers in my hair and a flower garland around my neck.

The ceremony required me to pray to a Ganesha made out of turmeric. All the other ladies present came and paid their respect to the idol. Later, it was dissolved in a bowl of water and the water was thrown outside the house, representing the discarding of any evil spirits. Then everyone present put bangles on my wrists. And I got some moolah and some nice gifts like a set of silver rattles for the baby.

The third baby shower was thrown by my office gang. Now ,I had organised three unique and pretty rocking (even if I say so myself) showers within this same gang so these guys were under a lot of pressure to outdo my shower. And they really did. It was a mad, crazy, and definitely more than a little risqué baby shower.

The theme was ‘kindergarten’ and all the women took this opportunity to wear their miniskirts and skinny tees, while the boys came (yes, it was a co-ed shower) in their rattiest shorts. We were all given handkerchiefs and name tags to pin to out chests and lollipops to snack on. Now, this is where any resemblance to the innocent environment of a playschool ended. To start with, there was free flowing ‘big people’s juice’ (what Ayaan calls alcohol) so everyone (except poor old abstaining me) was nicely buzzed.

The first game involved three of the guys standing with balloons under their tees. I was supposed to guess which balloon had a baby inside and then burst the balloon to see if I was right. I was terrible at it and went through the two wrong balloons, with a set of balls and a toy frog in them respectively, before I got to the one with a remarkable ugly baby doll.

The next game was a ‘Sniff and Taste the Diaper’ game. Yeah, gross. But basically, different diapers had different brands of chocolate bars melted into them and the team to guess all right won. That, I hope, will be the last time that I eat something out of a diaper :D

Then everyone divided into groups and performed somewhat R-rated scripts revolving around me and ranging from the moment of conception to Ayaan’s discovery of the birds and the bees. It’s a good thing that I was already in my ninth month because there were moments there that I was laughing so hard that it could just have started off labour!

The cake was hilarious too. It has this woman lying back in the throes of labour with the baby crowning. And in memory of my erstwhile (pre-pregnancy) sins, the lady was holding a glass of wine in one hand…I guess it’s probably obvious why I won’t be posting a picture of that on this otherwise G-rated blog :)

Again, there were many gifts and unknown to me, one of my friends was writing down my responses to each gift. He later announced that there is an old wives' tale (yeah right!) that a woman’s response to her baby shower gifts is what she said at the moment the baby was being conceived. So here’s his list of what I said, printed verbatim from his much embellished notes:

  1. Oh sooo cute (about 50 times)
  2. Awesome!
  3. So sweet ya!
  4. Oh Ayaan can use this!
  5. It's a onesie... (don't ask)
  6. Sweet
  7. Oh it's pink and warm
  8. Oh, Ayaan will definitely love this
  9. Can't get over how small this is
  10. Oh this is very useful
I actually remember saying all of these except No. 7, which I think he just made up :D

And then there was the last, but definitely not the least of my showers thrown by some of my oldest friends. The funny thing was this happened to be on the very next day after the previous shower. Of course, I didn’t know this since I happened to land up at my friend’s place thinking that we were meeting for a small, intimate girls’ afternoon. Surprise!

The theme for this shower was ‘Yummy Mummy’. The girls put a lot of effort into the décor and there were standees and posters of pregnant celebrities, Angelina Jolie and Britney Spears to name a few. And there was one special standee where my face had been plopped onto some famous, pregnant woman’s body. If only I had looked that fit!

There were fun games too. We were made to sample various Gerber pots and guess which vegetable/ food they were. They all tasted uniformly terrible, I have to say, and we all vowed never to shovel the stuff down our kids’ throats. Then we had to check for a list of things in our handbags and the person with the most things won. But the most fun game involved this chart which had pictures of babies (celebrities as well as friends) on it and you had to identify who they were. Good fun, though one of my friends was not amused when I guessed her baby picture as being Salman Khan!

Again, lots more gifts. Buy my favourite gift of all was this caricature of preggo me that my friend got made.

So that, in a very big nutshell, was the story of my four baby showers. A big, heartfelt hug to all my friends for making this such a special pregnancy for me. And thanks for the inadvertent nudge Itchy, or I might have never got this done.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jaipur Vignettes

Flying Solo

When I decided to spend Ayaan’s March break with my mom in Jaipur, I considered taking my maid. But then I remembered that my mom had retired and the two of us could manage the kids between us. So I told Jai to go ahead and book tickets just for the three of us.

Life was cruising along just fine till a dinner with friends, about a week before I left. When I happened to mention that I was travelling alone with both the kids, I was told that I was being awfully brave to attempt travelling alone with two kids. Now, that got the alarm bells ringing in my head. Because it is a known fact that when your parenting choices are commended as ‘brave’, it is very likely that you are actually doing something monumentally stupid.

So then I proceeded to get tense. Was I being silly? Should I fork out money for a criminally expensive last-minute air ticket so that my maid can come along and help? I thought about it and decided to take my chances. And I am glad I did because none of the stuff I worried about came to pass.

My biggest worry was that Tarana would bawl her head off. Now, this is normally not something that gets me overly anxious, being a second-time mother and all, but there is something especially nerve-wracking about being the sole adult in charge of a screaming infant in a confined, public space, while other unencumbered adults shoot daggers at you with their eyes. But thankfully, all of her crying did not total up to more than ten minutes and never more than a couple of minutes at a stretch. On the way, I carried a bottle of expressed milk and some pacifiers (which she will only deign to suck at in a desultory manner IF you hold it for her), which were popped into her mouth at the first sign of trouble. And she also napped for about twenty minutes, so all was good on that front. On the way back, I didn’t have a bottle handy (not having carried my trusty breast pump), so I managed to nurse her in short bursts since she finds the nursing cover a huge distraction…

The second major worry revolved around Ayaan having one or more of his famous nuclear meltdowns. But he was remarkably well-behaved. On the way to Jaipur, I could give credit to the cartoon channel on Kingfisher but on our return flight, we were on low-budget Indigo and he was totally cool on that as well. The fact that we bought him a special only-for-the-flight sticker activity book helped too.

Other smaller worries like managing the diaper change (I just took Ayaan along and made him go as well so that I didn’t have to make a separate trip) and managing luggage (handed kids off to mom/ Jai waiting outside before collecting it) were barely blips on the radar. Overall, I was mighty proud of the three of us :-)

De-girled…. and Re-girled

I decided to finish of Tarana’s mundan while I was in Jaipur since I wasn’t quite sure when I would be back. Getting it done there is so much easier since there is guy who comes home and does it. With Ayaan, I waited till he was just over a year old and it was a VERY bad decision. He cried loudly and pitifully through the whole procedure and has to be physically restrained by two people while his head was shaved. It wasn’t that he was in any pain – he was just indignant at being held down against his wishes. At five months, Tarana was quite happy to sit peacefully in my lap through most of the procedure (you can actually see her grinning in the picture below)

and then the finishing touches were put as she rested on my mom’s shoulder.

I had another, somwhat less rational, reason for doing it early. And that has to do with the fact that she is a girl. I wanted to get this bald phase out of the way as soon as possible so that I can get on with the prettifying of her head with clips and suchlike. In fact, I actually had second thought about doing it all, given the lovely crop of hair she was born with. But then everyone says that it improves hair growth and I didn’t want to regret not having done it if she grew up to have fine or sparse hair. So anyway, all’s well that ends well. Other than the fact that she has a pretty substantial bald spot at the back of her head. I fussed over this for a bit but collective wisdom says that this is normal given how much time they spend on their backs and that it grows in eventually so I am cool now.

The other transformation we effected was piercing her ears. After asking around, I figured that you could either get them pierced when they were babies and didn’t really feel much pain. Or wait till they were old enough to want it and didn’t mind the pain. I decided to go with the former because like the clips, I was dying to get started with the earrings (Yes, I really am that shallow :p).

We got it done at one of Jaipur’s oldest and most trusted jewellers. My paediatrician suggested that this was a better option than going to a doctor since these guys were more experienced. The earlobes were pierced with a thin gold wire, which was then tied into a kind of knot. It took all of five minutes and she didn’t cry above 30 second per earlobe. The post-piercing care we followed was also recommended by the jewellers – we applied a paste of turmeric (known to be a natural antiseptic) and ghee for 3-4 days and kept rotating the earring so that it didnlt fuse with the healing skin. And that was it. Now for the picture…

The Busy Brat

Keeping Ayaan’s, often destructive, energy under check is no mean task so, for the sake of everyone’s sanity, we decided to keep him super busy. His daily schedule was something like this:

6.30 – Wake up, milk, feeding the birds in the garden, general floating around
7.30 – Daily dose of cartoons for an hour
8.30 – Breakfast
9.00 – Splashing around in his paddling pool for an hour
10.00 Bath time
11.00 Painting and craft class for two hours
1.30 Lunch
2.30 ‘Quiet time’ for an hour – afternoon naps are a rare commodity these days but this is my way of ensuring that he gets some down time and I get a break
4.00 Book reading class
5.00 Hanging out with the kids at the NGO my mom is involved with
6.30 Back home
8.00 Dinner
9.00 Bedtime

In spite of this packed schedule, he managed to find the time to drive the dogs crazy, break the birds’ water bowl, write on one entire white window pane with a black marker, have many meltdowns, and other such stuff too numerous to mention. And was protected from the worst of my wrath by his grandmother’s love…

My birthday

I turned 34 while I was in Jaipur. I wanted nothing better than a chance to sleep in late and generally relax. But the son had other plans. He told my mother that we must have a party with streamers and cake. And since she can’t deny her precious grandson anything, a birthday party was planned and executed by the two of them. Ayaan went to choose the cake personally. He apparently dismissed all the cartoon character cakes because 'those are only for children' and all the chocolate cakes because 'chocolate is unhealthy and Mama does not like unhealthy things' and chose a square-shaped pineapple cake. And made my mom put up streamers and balloons. The invitees were the kids from my mom's NGO who had a complete ball as pin-the-tail and passing-the-parcel was played and I funded a set of new clothes for them all as return gifts. Nice :)

In other news, we had a monkey invasion. Two monkeys entered the living room and started doing battle. Thankfully they decided to take it outside before anyone or anything was harmed but those were some seriously scary five minutes…