Friday, October 22, 2010

The Evidence

In the last post, I mentioned that thanks to the husband's brilliant (not!) photography skills, there was not a single decent picture of the birthday girl. Now, I got the feeling that some of you thought I might have been exaggerating so here's the evidence to prove that I was not... and believe me, I am not withholding the stuff. This is all there was.

It's quite the cautionary tale. I call it How Not To Photograph Your Baby

Lesson One: Keep the light behind you

This one had the potential to be a really cute mother-daughter pic but for the fact that you can barely see the mother and daughter in question.

Lesson Two: Try to catch the baby in a good mood

Believe it or not, this is the best solo shot of Tarana from the party. At least, you can see her dress. Sort of. It was a white satin affair with a very light classic Winnie the Pooh print. Courtesy her Mamu from London.

Lesson Three: Wait till the baby looks at you

Ok, so maybe I am being a little unfair. I mean, babies do this all the time, right? You set up the frame and just as you press the button, they look away. So in a roll of otherwise good pictures, you'd probably delete this and move on. But what if this is one of the good pictures?

Lesson Four: Try and keep the baby in the centre of the frame

What I said in Lesson Three. Understandable but...

Lesson Five: Hold the camera steady... with both hands

I am not kidding. Jai holds the camera most casually with one hand. And this is one of those somewhat bulky prosumer cameras. Add low light situations and we have a lot of blurry pics... :)

(Sidenote to Jai: Sorry, darling. But a girl's got to put her money where her mouth is :) I promise to make it up with a post about what a great dad you are turning out to be)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

And Then She Was One...

Yes, that's right. My little baby is now a one-year old. We celebrated her first birthday last week and my last baby is no longer officially a baby. *sniff*

My initial birthday plan was to do nothing much more than cut a cake and carry on with the rest of the day as usual. But the big brother would not hear of it - the little sister had to have a birthday party with presents, streamers, balloons and a chocolate cake. That, combined with the fact that my my mom flew over from Jaipur just for the occasion, changed my mind so we had a small little do at the house with some friends and their kids.

It was nice, relaxed evening with old friends. We chatted about this and that while the four kids (ranging from just-turned-one to five and a half) pretty much ignored each other and did their own thing. The food was uncomplicated too - the chocolate cake, mini-quiches and mini-tarts were outsourced, there was a running supply of potato chips for the kids and my maid whipped up some hot, fresh pakoras for the adults.

My mom took charge of the decor and Jai was in charge of photography, which explains why there isn't a single decent shot of the birthday girl. :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

By The Water Cooler

That my friends, is a sneak peek at Parul's second book - By the Water Cooler.

Her blog is one of my favourite reads and I had a lot of laughs reading her first book - Bringing Up Vasu - and am look forward to this one hitting the shelves so that I can rush out and pick up a copy.

Parul has a fun contest going on over at her blog, calling for anecdotes from the workplace.. I really want to participate but my limited creative juices seem to have all but dried up.

Check out the contest details here... and unleash you inner Dilbert.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Sleep Chronicles

When Ayaan was about six months old, I sleep trained him. He was a very bad sleeper and refused to nap during the day and at that point, I had tried almost everything else and was running out of options and patience. So I read Ferber and followed his advice to the T. It was harder than was suggested but at ten months, Ayaan was completely trained and sleeping through the night. (The detailed post I wrote about it at the time can be found here).

Of course, I would have preferred to not let him cry it out. But things had come to such a pass that my sanity, his health and our happiness depended on him being able to sleep a reasonable number of hours in a day. But I have often wondered whether it was my fault that things got to be that way. From the day he popped out, he was a baby who would soothe only when he was being carried. I, aided by my mother and mother-in-law at various points of time, spent many uncountable hours walking up and down the house with him. He seemed to have an in-built motion and gravity sensor that made him take umbrage the minute the poor soul carrying him decided to stop pacing or, God forbid, sit down. Everyone said you must not let a little baby cry. At that age, they cannot manipulate you - they are just telling you what they want. Well, in Ayaan's case, he wanted to be carried till my spinal column felt like someone had been at it with a hammer. So that's what I did but somehow that got in the way of him being comfortable with being put down in his cot for a nap...

Anyway, when Tarana was born, I vowed I wouldn't let things get that bad. To start with, things went well. She was sleeping 5-6 hours at a stretch at night by time she was three weeks old and when she did wake, I would feed her and put her down next to me on the bed. She would play for a bit and go back to sleep, after which I would pop her back in her cot. Her napping behaviour was somewhat more erratic but overall, we were getting by and it didn't seem like any drastic measures would be required.

Then when she was six months old, she got sick. And with a stuffy nose, sleeping in a flat position became understandably difficult. So between an exhausted Jai and a fever-ridden me, we took turns sitting up with her asleep on our shoulders. It was just a few days, but it turned out to be habit-forming and she developed an aversion to sleeping in her cot. There were some really horrible night when she would be up for three hours. Actually, Jai and/ or I would be up for three hours at a stretch - she would sleep on our shoulders but get up the minute she was put down in her cot. Her naps totally went to hell. It took ages to rock her into a deep sleep and then she would sleep no more than fifteen or thirty minutes.

Again, things reached breaking point. But I still dithered on taking more drastic steps. Whenever I felt just about ready to throw in the towel and let her cry it out, she would go through a good phase and my resolve would weaken. Then, there was the whole hoo-haa about sleep training possibly causing long-term brain damage. Let's not even get started about the latent guilt about sleep training Ayaan that came bubbling to the surface. But let's just say that it made me even more reluctant to sleep train Tarana and add to that the burden of guilt. Lastly, by the time I was considering this, Tarana was already crawling, sitting up and pulling herself up to stand. I worried that she might get agitated and hurt herself on the sides of her cot...

Given that I was confused about how to correct her behavior, I decided to correct mine. I started going to bed really early - as soon as the kids were in bed, in fact. That effectively dealt with my sleep deprivation so I limped on for another couple of months. But Tarana was still not getting enough uninterrupted sleep so she was pretty cranky in the day. And without any lengthy naps and a grumpy, clingy baby, I found it hard to get any time to get my own stuff done or to spend much quality time with Ayaan.

I finally decided to experiment with a modified sleep training method. In Tarana's case, getting her to sleep wasn't a problem. She was asleep within minutes of being rocked - the issue was getting her to fall into such a deep sleep that she would not wake up when she was put down. To put things into perspective, her eyes would close within 3-4 minutes of being rocked but the last mile of getting her to be a 100% asleep would take anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes. It was also a pretty elaborate process - first, I would walk and pat her, then I put sit down and keep patting her, then I would stop the patting and just sit and even then, when put into her cot, she would stir and so then some patting was required to get her to settle. Not fun, to say the least.

So I decided to do away with the 100% fast asleep objective. I would rock her to sleep for the initial 3-4 minutes and then put her cot and leave. (This was different from the Ferber method I followed with Ayaan where I put him into his cot fully awake). In this case, she was already very, very sleepy. So she cried only for about 5 minutes on the first day. And except for one occasion when she howled for 10 minutes, the crying never exceeded that. It's been about three weeks now, and she usually cries for under a minute before sleep overwhelms her.

So yes, I am sleep training her. But this is a relatively gentle method that I feel no qualms about. The crying is minimal and she is sleeping much better. She now takes two naps during the day, both lasting between 45 minutes and an hour. And she wakes only once for a feed at night. We are both more rested and she is much less irritable during her waking hours...

On a related note, do/ did any of your babies meet the sleep quotas recommended by the sleep experts? Neither of my kids ever came close to the hours prescribed here. Even now, Tarana sleeps an average of 11 hours in a day, which is quite a long way off from the 14 hours that they say she should be sleeping.