Baby Lelan -4 Months Old! 

Dear Lelan,

How is it already 4 months since I gave birth to you? It feels like yesterday that I was getting ready to welcome you and here you are rolling over and sitting up like a big boy. You are a dream come true, darling! Every morning, you wake up with a big smile, happy to see me and ready to face the world. It’s so infectious! You are still a creature of habit and we’re more than happy to keep up your schedule. Most days are the same with your eating and sleeping patterns and the only time we notice a shift is when you’re going through a developmental milestone. We’re going through the 4 month sleep regression right now… You only fight us during daytime naps and at night you are asleep by 8pm and sleep through the night until 5 or 6am the next morning!

At the end of 3 months a glorious thing happened… You discovered your voice! You started vocalizing non stop and the more you heard your voice, the more you loved it. Your dad and I were beyond excited to hear you ‘sing’. You still do it selectively here and there, when it’s just the three of us. When I play you the classics, like Ella or Etta you intently listen. You absolutely love watching, listening to Tamil song videos on YouTube. You are a talker. After a walk with grandma you love to tell me all about it. If you’re displeased with something, you definitely let me know. Sometimes it sounds like you’re yelling, but I know that’s just your way of communicating and I’m always here to listen and lighten your load.

You’ve started teething already! You drool everywhere and chew on everything. Your aunt Rakhi bought an amber teething necklace for you that you wear almost every day. I think it’s helping… Grandma bought you a couple of teethers and you love chewing on them as well. But, you still prefer your fingers to everything else. I have to constantly remind you to ‘take your fingers out of your mouth’, to which you totally oblige. But, within seconds they are back in your mouth again.. Haha! You’ve stopped sucking on the pacifier except for when you’re tired. It’s a sure sign that your ready for a nap, so it’s a permanent fixture in your crib next to Mr. Whale and Mr. Mouse who are both your sleeping  buddies. You also like Mr. Monkey who likes to travel with you in the car and the stroller. You LOVE books. Grandma has been reading to you almost every day and you watch her with great animation.

You are still very easy going and adjusting to your environment. This month brought a lot of changes. You met Gina, your new babysitter and so far you seem to be taken with her. Grandma still comes over to watch you a couple of afternoons and you just light up for her. You spent your first night away from home at grandma’s house like a big boy. You’re turning out to be such a well adjusted, confidant boy and so much fun to be around! A couple of weeks ago, you rolled over for the first time. At first you were unsure about this new trick, but now you’ve mastered it. I think it’s just a matter of time before you start crawling… We better start baby proofing our home. You also met a new pediatrician this week and handled your 4 month shots like a champ. You only cried for about a minute and once I gave you the sugar water paci, you calmed down instantly.

I’m beyond excited to see what the next month brings. Every day, you’re show me something new and it’s all so fascinating. I’m so lucky to have a front row seat to all your antics. Always remember that I’m just a shout away… Watching you thrive in difficult situations gives me immense pride because that’s all I ever want for you… to be a capable, trusting human being who always finds his joy.

Love,
Your Mom

Honey, I fired the pediatrician!

20160829_111843.jpgHere is a piece of mommy wisdom that I will carry with me forever…

You can tell a lot about a person by the care they take when changing a baby’s diaper!

In the beginning, babies are tiny and fragile-looking things, their arms and legs feeling like jello, that it is nearly impossible to change their nappy without fearing for their safety. But, by the time they are 3 or 4 months old, they morph into squishy, squiggly little creatures who can’t stay still long enough to be changed. Diaper changes turn into acrobatic balancing acts that require focus and care. Diapers themselves have a come a long way… There is technology built into each diaper to indicate how wet, full or long they can last. They have an inner and outer layer, designed to keep your baby dry and velcro like tabs that keep the nasty nasty in its place. Putting a diaper on a baby is truly a skill that needs to be mastered and believe me, your baby is paying attention and keeping score. And, when you rush through the job, you not only lose out on the precious opportunity to connect with your little one, but they make you pay for it almost immediately!

That should have been my first clue about my pediatrician. The first time she examined my son and put his diaper back on, I didn’t think much of it. Maybe she was in a hurry, I thought to myself. Doctors are notorious for being overbooked and I have empathy for them. Her bedside manners seemed pleasant enough that I didn’t mind a crooked diaper with a whole butt cheek hanging out. But, during subsequent visits I started noticing that her skills were rather lacking… When I say my 6 yr old niece could’ve done a better job, I’m not exaggerating!

If you’re silently thinking that maybe I’m overreacting, let me assure you that there were other signs that led me down the difficult path of firing my pediatrician. Parting ways with a doctor is never easy, no matter how long you’ve known them. There is a feeling of awkwardness when you make such a decision. Then there is the hassle of finding a new doctor, transferring records and starting all over again with someone new, who may or may not live up to your expectations. It’s all a gamble, still there are times when it’s better to go than to stay!

Here are a five reasons why I fired my pediatrician!

    1. Thou shall multitask! Every time I asked my pediatrician a question when she was in checking out my son, she shushed me. It’s as if she couldn’t look into his ears and listen to me at the same time. When she was finally ready for me, she rushed me so much so that I always walked out feeling like I had missed something.
    2. Thou shall give sound advice! There were many things our pediatrician said that made me raise an eyebrow, like giving water to a 2 month old and telling me to increase my son’s food intake during one visit and chiding me for the same during the next. But, it was when she instructed me to start my son on solids at 4 months old that I really put my foot down.
    3. Thou shall not make us wait! Time is money. While I was able to get appointments regularly, the wait during these appointments, in spite of an empty waiting room, was bothersome.
    4. Thou shall not overcharge! After my initial visit I received a bill for charges for the services rendered. When I questioned about insurance payments, I was reassured that there was a billing error. Three months later, I received another bill for 3 times the amount of the original bill. Again, I’ve been reassured that this is a billing error. While the office manager is never around to take my calls, he still hasn’t returned my voicemail a week later!
    5. Thou shall embrace technology! Doctors are not techies, I get it. But, at the very least you must be able to log into your EMR system without having to call a “younger person’ to assist. During my last visit, the pediatrician was unable to pull up my son’s immunization schedule to validate a shot he was about to get. This made me very nervous, since I was previously told that he wasn’t getting a shot during this visit. After several minutes of fumbling around, she summoned her receptionist who rolled her eyes so hard that I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable just being there.

There are times when you just have to go with your mama gut. I walked out of her office a week ago and vowed never to go back. Once you’ve lost confidence in your doctor, there’s no use pretending otherwise. Luckily my mother in law came to the rescue with a recommendation from one of her friends and this guy seems like a good one, at least on paper. We meet him next week and you better believe I will be taking notes on his diapering skills. Fingers crossed!

Heaven 

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I cannot imagine a heaven, my love
you are a galaxy
wrapped in skin
and I am content here with you
Suddenly, I feel very small
holding you in my arms
Suddenly, it is enough to know that
I can dissolve into the earth
sliding between the roots
of an ancient tree
gathering moss
all over me
This is forever.

He said… She said… 

Me: (all nostalgic) awww babe, this time last year we were just finding out that I was pregnant! 

Him: (without looking up from his phone) oh, was this when you pee’d on the stick and gave it to me in a box as a gift? 

Men!!!!!!!!! 

Baby Lelan- 3 Months Old!

Dear Lelan,

You are 3 months and 3 days old today. These 90 some odd days with you have been the happiest days of my life! Every day you show me what a marvelous creature you are and already, I’m so proud to be your mommy.

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You experienced so many new things this month. To start off, you decided that you no longer wanted to be swaddled. I tried to ease you into the transition by keeping one arm in but you let me know that you were ready by breaking both arms free. I cannot describe the feelings as I watched you sleeping like a big boy. You were barely 9 weeks old!  I sat in your room imagining you as a grown man with a quiet resolve, capable of doing anything he puts his mind to. My heart swells with pride even as I write this…

A week later, your daddy and I took you on your first adventure. We traveled by plane to North Carolina to see your extended family. You screamed your head off until we were about to board, inviting nasty looks from the other passengers, but quietly settled in for the ride once we were airborne. Thank God! In Raleigh, you met all your cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles on my side. You sat with your thatha and paati and showered them with smiles. You stole the heart of your cousins, especially Madden who wouldn’t let go of your hand. Arya on the other hand begged to hold you the entire time, proclaiming that she never wanted to let you go as soon as she got to hold you. Then we drove to Charlotte where you spent the day with your dad’s family. Shane rubbed your forehead and blew kisses in your direction. And, Johanna squealed next to you in her bouncer. All your aunts and uncles simply adored you. You were such an awesome companion on the 2.5 hour car ride each way. And, you handled the return trip back to NY like a pro!

The very next day, you had your first round of immunization shots. Talk about a packed schedule! I postponed my start date at work by a week to make sure I was available if you needed me. But, once again you showed me what a resilient boy you are. Aside from crying at the doctor’s office, you went about your day without much fuss. You were a little cranky right before your bath, but I gave you some children’s Tylenol and you went right to sleep. The next morning you were your usual cheerful self. Such a good boy! At the doctor’s we found out that you are 24″ long and weigh 12.3lbs.

These last couple of weeks have come with its own set of changes. I went back to work and daddy has been watching you in the mornings and grandma in the afternoons. At first you didn’t understand why mommy couldn’t be with you all the time, but once you figured out that I was just in the other room, you started easing into the new normal. In the midst of all this, we’ve been trying to get you to nap regularly and you’re adjusting to all of it beautifully. You now take 3 distinct naps and eat every 4-5 hours for a total of 30-32oz. Most nights you’re asleep by 8pm and you sleep a solid 8-10 hours.

From the beginning you’ve shown me that you’re so much more than just a baby. You’re a little person, with feelings and emotions and not every need or every cry can be cured by sticking a bottle or paci in your mouth. You are a thoughtful, intelligent being who is hard at work trying to process the world around you. You are always trying to communicate your needs to me and I’m learning to meet you at your level. You’re developing at exactly the right pace for your age. I know that most days all you need is my acknowledgement rather than a fix. So, I try to imagine where you’re coming from and try to support you the best way that I can. You have been very patient with your daddy and grandma as they learn about you more intimately. We all love you in our own way and want nothing but the absolute best for you!

Yesterday, you started singing. I know this should probably go into next month’s update but, I just can’t contain myself. You’re a wondrous little human and I’m just loving every minute of your existence!

Love,
Your Mom

Helicopter Mom!

Over the weekend, I was *lovingly* referred to as a helicopter mom…

Considering that the only person I know who has been called that was my sister, who is an amazing mom with two super smart and sweet kids, I feel honored. However, I started wondering… Am I? what does this term even mean?

Who is a helicopter parent?

“Although the term is most often applied to parents of high school or college-aged students who do tasks the child is capable of doing alone (for instance, calling a professor about poor grades, arranging a class schedule, manage exercising habits), helicopter parenting can apply at any age. “In toddlerhood, a helicopter parent might constantly shadow the child, always playing with and directing his behavior, allowing him zero alone time,” Dr. Dunnewold says. In elementary school, helicopter parenting can be revealed through a parent ensuring a child has a certain teacher or coach, selecting the child’s friends and activities, or providing disproportionate assistance for homework and school projects.”
Read more: http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/what-is-helicopter-parenting/

It doesn’t sound like me at all. Besides, my baby is barely 3 months old and depends on me for his every need, so hovering is part of the job right now. He needs his mommy more than anyone else in this world. But, just because he’s a baby it doesn’t mean that I have to treat him as if he’s clueless. In my short time as a mother, I’ve come to appreciate babies like never before. They are so much smarter than we give them credit for. At five weeks old, my son first tried to communicate with me, mostly through cries and grunts. When his needs were met he rewarded me with a heart exploding smile. He’s 12 weeks now and I can safely say that he’s perfected this skill, along with many others.

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“Between birth and age 3, the number of synapses (connections within the brain) increases twenty-fold from 10 trillion to 200 trillion. Because this is too large a number to be specified by genes alone, the new synapses are determined by experience. A baby is adding synapses at more than 1 million per second, responding to its experience of the world. During this period, synapses become ‘hard-wired’ by repeated use, implying very rapid learning via early life experience.”
Read more: http://www.wavetrust.org/our-work/the-evidence/6-messages-about-violence/wired-in-brain

So, if it seems like I’m already a bit regimented with his schedule, you’re not entirely wrong. In order for our household to function effectively all of us need to be on a routine. Starting from when we wake up to when we fall asleep, each hour is somewhat defined based on the baby’s needs. His schedule dictates ours and we’re more than happy to accommodate him. Since he was a week old, I’ve been tracking his input, output and resting patterns. Yes, there’s an app for it! Why? Because, I’m a nerd understanding his nature helps me better care for him. He wakes up around the same time and goes to bed around the same time every single day. What happens in between those hours can really throw off this schedule. So, my job as his mom is to make sure his need for a rhythm is met. He eats every 4-5 hours depending on how much we feed him at each meal. He sleeps roughly every 2 hours or so with a longish nap in the middle of the day. Some days he takes 2 longish naps in the middle of the day, and on those days I do my happy dance, but as long as he’s had at least one long nap he’s the happiest baby on the block. There is nothing unpredictable about his schedule, really, only variations. 

My mother was a doctor when she met my father. My grandmother didn’t think that my dad should marry his equal- welcome to India in the 1970’s- but my dad married her anyway. Within 10 months I was born. Back then, having kids was the pathway to solidifying your marriage. My mom was a feminist in her own right! She wasn’t going to give up her career so, I was dropped off with a family friend every day. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are with this other mom, who loved me like her own. While this arrangement suited my parents’ lifestyle, it was the cause of deep anxieties within my own. Imagine being an infant where constant transitions, surprises and excitement were the norm. Now combine that with the knowledge that babies experience rapid growth on all fronts during these years and NEED some sense of stability and security. I was well into adulthood by the time my issues of abandonment and lack of discipline were reconciled.

This is not intended as a referendum on my parents’s parenting skills. I have immense respect and admiration for all that they’ve sacrificed for us. They weren’t bad parents by any stretch of the imagination, but let’s face it parenting wasn’t taken as seriously as it is today. But, I digress… Two decades of research in early childhood development has proven that boring works when it comes to babies! Children need routine. Babies, especially, thrive on monotony and since I can’t be there for him every minute of the day, wouldn’t it be nice to depend on some daily experiences? To be able to predict, for example, that after his morning nap, he’ll get changed into new clothes and go downstairs to play. Or that afternoon naps will happen in his crib at approximately the same time every day and when he wakes up he will get to play with his toys. Or walks will happen in the evening, or bath time will start around the same time, followed by the same nightly ritual concluding with a bottle. When he knows what to expect every day, he is better prepared to enjoy it.

“Infant expert Magda Gerber emphasized the importance of establishing a daily sequence of events — not arbitrarily imposed, inflexible, or on the clock, but formed together with our babies in response to their individual needs. “In a predictable environment, and with regular, dependable schedules, they feel comfortable, cry less, and life is easier for both infant and parents. Infants who do not need to adjust to too much unnecessary stimulation will eventually regulate their sleeping and eating patterns. This regularity will, in turn, give parents some predictable time for their own needs and interests.”
Read More: http://www.magdagerber.org/blog

I want my baby to start building trust in his environment so that he may become better equipped to deal with unpredictability in his life. If that sounds like a contradiction, I assure you it’s not. Helping him develop this trust is the single most important thing I will ever do for him. And, almost all of it happens in the first year! While I’m not a stay at home mom, I have the luxury of working from home and I intend to take full advantage of it. This means, I get to be ‘around’ him every day, reassuring him when he needs it. Forming a secure bond with my son is vital to his happiness. This also means that his environment is controlled and relatively constant. Our home will be his haven. Sure, there will be occasional stays at the grandparents or travels to far away lands, but those will be the exception, not the rule.

As a parent, I want to give my son every advantage in life. The constant push and pull of wanting to let him develop on his own and doing things for him is what good parenting is all about. I think what people mistakenly think of as ‘helicopter parenting’ is actually a respectful approach towards caring for a child.

Do you have rituals with your children? Please feel free to share them in your comments.

Baby Lelan- 2 Months Old!

Dear Lelan,

You are growing up so beautifully and effortlessly that some days I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. In the last month, you’ve shown us so much more of your personality, yet the essence of you has remained the same… YOU ARE ONE CHILL DUDE! You only cry when your basic needs have to be met, which for someone your age is pretty remarkable.

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These hilarious pictures were taken before and after feeding and it is quite indicative of your personality. I wasn’t trying to torture you but you can go from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds like your daddy and really work yourself up into a frenzy. But, as soon as your needs are met, you’re back to your sunny disposition.

You started smiling a little earlier than usual, but in the last month you’ve really perfected it. You are the happiest when you wake up in the morning. I live for those toothless smiles!!! Around the first month mark you started losing your hair on top of your head and the sides. We called you Friar Lelan because you looked like a little monk, but your hair is starting to come in nicely now. Around the same time, you also developed baby acne, but I will spare you the embarrassment by not posting any pictures. You were still the cutest baby in town!!!

At five weeks we transitioned you into your crib and you took to it like a champ. I could barely sleep that first night, waking up every so often to check on you, but you did wonderful, my darling! You’re such an independent spirit! You have been sleeping through the night since you were almost a month old, for which I’m very grateful. I’ve watched you in your crib for almost an hour just babbling and quietly playing with yourself. You love sleeping on your belly, but I’m afraid to let you sleep for longer periods. For the most part you are a back sleeper. Yesterday, you slept for the first time without being swaddled. You’re flying through these milestones and I’m happy to take your cue. I hope and pray that I’m always tuned into your needs, like I am now, so that I can help you move along in your journey.

You have met so many new faces this month. For father’s day we went to grandma’s house and met more of your dad’s extended family. On 4th of July we went to a pool party where you met your grandma’s friends. We drove to New Jersey to attend your very first birthday party last week. There, you met my friends and their babies. Uncle Jai and auntie Shivi came to visit you on Sunday, July 10th and we celebrated auntie Shivi’s birthday. You loved sitting on uncle Jai’s lap and watching TV with him. It’s been quite an eventful month and we hope to get you out more in the coming months.

You LOVE music… Daddy and I make up silly songs for you all the time in exchange for the biggest smiles. You love bath time and no longer cry during diaper changes. You take meal times very seriously! Currently you’re eating 6 to 7 oz every 4 to 5 hours. We haven’t weighed you since your last doctor’s appointment, but you’ve filled out quite well and I suspect you’re somewhere around 12lbs and maybe 24in long. You love staring at the Montessori mobiles. You make such adorable cooing sounds while underneath them.

My love, so many adventures await next month and I can’t wait to experience them with you! Being your mom is my greatest joy and I take this role very seriously. I will always make you my number one priority, even when life pulls me in other directions. I’m learning to trust you… because already I can see that you know your needs better than I. You are a determined boy and I’m here to help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be!

Love,
Your Mom