Books and bedtime

Everything we had read online said that it was never too early to get a child started on reading. I quickly ordered a bunch of recommended children’s books. When they arrived, D and I could not wait to get him started. 

The plan was to read a book to him before bed. This way we would be setting a nice bedtime routine and would find a definite time slot in his busy pooping-eating-sleeping schedule for reading.

D and I put the baby down in the centre of the bed and then settled down on either side so that all three of us could see the book.

“Goodnight Moon” I read the title of the cloth book.

In the great green room

There was a telephone

And a red balloon

And a picture of –

The cow jumping over the moon”

I turned the page

Goodnight room

Goodnight moon

Goodnight light

And the red balloon

Goodnight bears

Goodnight chairs”

I was quite pleased. This book was proving to be a winner. Totally relevant to bed time.

There was the small matter of the baby’s attention being wholly on the lights in the ceiling. I figured he would join the bandwagon in a couple of more pages. You know how some books are? You don’t tune into them before the first hundred pages are done.

Goodnight noises everywhere”

Long silence.

D who had been playing with his mobile on the sly said “Go on. You are doing well”

“The book got over” I said.

Another silence

“Not much of a plotline is there?” I asked thoughtfully

“Did you realise” D added even more thoughtfully “Each line cost us about 100 rupees?”

This thought seemed to galvanise him into action. He grabbed the book from me and began

In the great green room”

Ah, I figured, repeated renditions would bring down the per line cost

But D’s plan was on a larger scale. After the first line, he paused to explain that the room was green. Then pointed at the illustration and repeated ‘green’ several times for good effect.

And so on, we proceeded with the reading. D pointed out the bunny lying in bed, his booties(“Just like yours!”), the tiger rug lying on the floor (“Er..why does a bunny have a tiger rug in his room?”).

He spun out the story for a whole twenty minutes. By this time, the baby was actually staring at the book.

Our little literary giant (Smitten-mommy thought)

Finally, we kissed the baby good night, turned off the lights, swaddled him and put him in his crib.

Five minutes later, the baby was bawling his head off to be rocked.

Oh well, atleast we got him interested in reading. The bedtime routine will happen later.


Baby's first outing

The debate on the baby’s first outing began when his 30th day approached. As per tradition in my house, babies are taken on their first outing on their 30th day and it is always to a temple. My parents were hoping we would do this. They began hinting as much.

“Shall we go to the temple next week?” they would coo at the baby. A baby is a very handy thing to have if you want to drop hints without actually mentioning the topic to the relevant person.  

The reason they were stepping around the topic gingerly is because neither D nor I are big on religion or tradition. 

D and I had a discussion and decided that we would like to take him somewhere where he could commune with nature. So we decided on the Botanical Gardens. We also decided that we would take him whenever we bought a stroller, not exactly on the 30th day. 

Buying a stroller is an activity that can be postponed for an extraordinary period of time. Meanwhile, we began to take the baby for a short walk around the block in our arms. 

These were of course not official outings.

Finally around the 45th day we got him a stroller. We triumphantly bundled him up and decided to do a test drive around the block before taking him to the Botanical Garden.

This was just as well. The baby began to bawl and any ambitious plans for nature-communing would have ended up with nature sporting a torn eardrum.

The next day, we tried again. Luckily he got better at the gig.

Clearly we had to ease him into the real world. After a couple of days, we decided to take him to the nearby convenience store. This was again in the ‘test drive’ category and would not qualify as his real outing we decided.

The experience was not bad.

Then my birthday rolled around and we wanted to go out for lunch. A dash to the food court in a nearby mall seemed to be in order. Not overly ambitious. Perfect for the rainy climate since we go get a taxi at each end and won’t be out in the rain at all.

But, hmmm. Did we really want to take the baby out to the mall for his first outing? 
Wouldn’t that make us shallow?

The thought of hot Channa-Batura at Komala’s won me over. You could not parcel that kind of stuff.

Besides, this was really my birthday outing and need not be counted as the baby’s first outing. We would go to the Botanical Gardens next and that would be the baby’s first official outing. 

A good time was had by all at the mall. My Channa-Batura tasted nice enough and D held the baby during a moment of fussiness, letting his food go cold so I could finish mine when it was hot.

The weekend rolled by. It was still rainy and not ideal weather for a nature trip. Besides, the baby had decided that he did not like being put to bed. So apart from fussing during naptimes, he decided to fuss at bedtime as well. D and I were both bleary-eyed when the weekend began and not in any mood to dress ourselves and the baby up and go stare at some flowers.

Then around lunch, one of D’s friends messaged to check if we wanted to meet up. A couple of them and their families were hanging out together. 

“No. I am too tired. I need to nap myself or else I won’t be in any shape to handle tonight” I protested.

“They are headed to this awesome microbrewery”, D said with a gleam in his eye.  I could see thoughts of cold beer and greasy food were already swirling in his head.

“Right. I can nurse the baby and have a bath in half an hour” I said, gearing up for action. I was not going to have any cold beer. But greasy food and other grown-ups was beginning to sound good.

We were in a taxi before I thought to weakly ask “is it a good idea taking a baby to a microbrewery?”

“Why not?” D said “Besides it is actually a restaurant, it is indoor, won’t be crowded now and everyone else is bringing along their toddlers”

Ah. Other babies. I am not such a bad mother after all.

We got there. D drank his beer. I chomped on the food. The baby, after having stayed up all day, finally napped in my lap through the music, lights, conversation et al.

Forty five minutes later when we left, all three of us were feeling much better.

“So is this the baby’s first official outing?” D asked.

Both of us knew better than to say “a microbrewery” if sundry relatives asked us about the baby’s first outing.

“Na, I think we better make it the mall”

But next week, we are definitely going to take him to the Botanical Gardens...

Birthday Post

After two months, I have recovered and am raring to go.

“To go where?” is the question.

My schedule these days is tied to the baby’s schedule. He is quite a sweet one, all things considered. He mostly cries to indicate hunger, wet diaper, sleepiness and general requirement of TLC.  Except that all of this happens in a two to three hour loop. So after I have run the gamut of activities, it is time to start nursing him.

I have a full time helper and D is a pretty hands-on dad. Yet a lot of the work does fall onto me considering I am at home on maternity leave. I would have palmed off a lot of the work to mom except that the folks have decamped for a couple of weeks on other unavoidable engagements.

There are the lovely smiles of recognition the baby gives me and the times he coos, but most of the time, it is just work.

When D said that my birthday present this year would be a day of me-time I whooped in joy. All I had to do was nurse him and the rest of the time was mine to do what I wanted to.

I could not wait for my birthday to arrive.                                                    

This is how the day went

2.40 a.m. – Nurse the baby, burp him and hold him straight for half an hour (He has a mild case of infant reflux. So the-burp-and-holding-him routine needs to be done after every feed) and then put him to sleep

5.50 a.m. - Nurse the baby, do burp-and-holding routine and then put him to sleep
Both times D offers to take over after the nursing but I figure out he has to manage the whole day and I may as well cut him some slack

7.25 a.m. – Nurse the baby, hand him to D and go back to sleep. Sleep the sleep of the dead. D and helper put the baby down for a nap. Baby does not sleep the sleep of the dead. Like always, a struggle ensues to get him to nap on his own while he tries to insist on being held. (Luckily, most nights, he goes down without a struggle). This part is the most frustrating in his routine and hearing him cry can be very distressing.

9.50 a.m. – Nurse the baby. Hand him to D. Go about morning activities in a leisurely manner instead of pretending I am in the Teeth Brushing Olympics. Have hot dosas one by one instead of swallowing the whole bunch cold. D and the helper start the napping routine again.

11.15 a.m. – Hear the helper and D bathe and massage the baby. Turn back to reading the newspaper.

12.15 p.m. –Nurse the baby. Hand him back to D.

1.15 p.m. – D and I take the baby out for lunch to a nearby mall. First proper outing for baby. He sleeps for half an hour in the stroller and then stares around in wonder at the bright shop lights for half an hour. The only person staring around in more wonder than the baby is me. Wow, this is what wandering around aimlessly feels like! I had forgotten in three months.

2.30 p.m. – Reluctantly return home with a fidgeting baby. D and the helper entertain the baby.

3.00 p.m. – Nurse the baby. Hand him to D. Ponder for a minute if I should use this time to go shopping or if I should nap. I am asleep before I can finish pondering. (In all honesty, I take a nap daily at this time. So no change there).  D and the helper start the baby’s napping routine.

5.00 p.m. – Wake up. Nurse the baby. Hand him to D.  Attend phone calls from India as people begin to realise it is my birthday and Singapore is ahead of India and so they better call now.

6.00 p.m –Get dressed and head out to Orchard Road by myself.

Window Shop

Window Shop

Window Shop

Sigh. The bright lights of Topshop, Promod, Zara, H&M, Forever 21.

7.00 p.m. –Speak to D. Baby fed with expressed milk stored the previous day. Plus playtime done. Plus more naptime struggles.

Window Shop

Shop.  Yes, I could not have possibly had my first post-baby shopping trip and just done window shopping!

Think about how blessed I am to have D and the baby in my life. Distance does make the heart grow fonder.

I am ready to head home to the smiles of my little boy. Though, I am still going to make the most of the rest of the day. 

8.30 p.m. – Head back home. Have dinner, chewing every mouthful. Drink, not gulp the water after the meal.

9.15 p.m. – Nurse baby. Hand him back to D. D changes him into his night suit and puts him to sleep.

Watch back to back episodes of How I met your mother on DVD.

12 a.m. –Birthday comes to an end. I hit the bed

The next day, I am back on the job. Feeling much much better.  


TV or not TV

TV watching had become a rare and precious event in my life. First it was all the moving-to-Singapore routine. Then between work and setting up a house, there was no time for TV. When I finally had to stay at home thanks to pregnancy complications, the in-laws were around to help. Pretty much like everyone their age group, they are glued to the profusion of Hindi serials that abound in Indian TV. I could watch all the Parichay or Uttaran or Big Boss I wanted to watch. Or I could sit in my bedroom and read my books. After about ten minutes of watching the first serial on the first day, the choice was quite clear. 

Everytime I passed by the hall they would sweetly ask if I wanted to watch something. I usually declined. The in-laws were literally losing weight helping us set up home, taking care of cooking, housekeeping etc. The least I could do was to let them enjoy one of the few things they took pleasure in. 

The in-laws left, the parents came and then the baby came. Considering I was running short on sleep with the baby, watching TV seemed like a distant dream. Even when the situation stabilised, I still could not watch anything given the odd times at which the baby nursed. Thus, a movie would reach a crucial scene and I would run away to nurse. 

Then my parents discovered Video-on-Demand. They were also pretty much housebound and were delighted to be able to catch movies. That is, till they saw they had to pay per movie. The great Indian middle class mindset kicked in and they debated for a while if they should be going ahead. 

‘Would I watch the movie too?’ they wanted to know. After all, the more people watching it, the more the paisa vasool 

‘Certainly not’, I shrugged with the conviction of someone who watched only Oscar nominees. Quietly ignoring the fact that I have a history of staring blankly at rotten eighties Hindi movies when they play on TV. 

I pointed out that it was certainly cheaper than watching a movie in the theatre and this argument convinced them sufficiently. 

They signed up for the latest Tamil hit movie and watched it with a lot of pleasure. 

Then watched it again. And again. And again. 

If we were going to pay good money, then by God we were going to watch it as many times as we possibly could in the 48-hr rental period. 

In the last half an hour before the rental was to expire, I began watching it. Engrossed, I did not notice the clock ticking away and was shocked when the screen went blank. 

‘Renew it’, D suggested.

I was aghast at the thought of having wasted all the time when the movie was available and felt terribly guilty about spending more on the same movie. 

For about fifteen minutes. Curiosity got better of me. Besides, Video-on-demand was my only shot at actually a full movie in a long time. I should not have to be apologetic about it. 

So I watched the movie. 

Where do I find the time? Especially considering that we have a golden rule ‘No TV for the baby for as long as we can help it’. This means the TV is not switched on when he is around. 

Now that reality is sinking in i.e. he is in the living room all the time, we have diluted to this rule to ‘No TV to be on when the baby is awake’. Anytime he is asleep is fair game. We are on the verge of diluting this rule to ‘No TV when the baby’s head is turned towards the TV’. But we have resisted so far seeing how rapidly the baby can turn his head away from the Chagall painting on the wall, towards the TV. (Yes, my little one is endlessly fascinated by paintings. The genius…Ok new smitten-mom)

I meander. 

The baby’s sleep schedule has stabilised a bit. The nights have become easier. However, daytime naps are had only in the comfort of my lap or in someone’s arms. (A habit I am supposed to break, but how?). So once his bath, massage routine is done and he has drifted off, I put him in my lap and watch TV. 

This is nearly a dream situation. I have the “I wish I could help out with actual household work but poor me cannot move for an hour. Such are the demands of motherhood” look on my face.  A perfect marriage of timepass and motherhood.

I watched English Vinglish on demand.  I got through most episodes of How I met your Mother – Season One on DVD. 

I was planning to move to Season Two and also watch Hunger Games when the baby decided that he is done sleeping at 11 a.m. and can we have some activities please.

So now I am back to figuring out when to watch TV. Perhaps a break is good. Watching How I met your Mother has gotten me a bit nostalgic about the child-free, carefree days. Not withstanding the fact that I used to sleep off at 10 p.m. and never used to hang out in the bar with a bunch of close friends like the characters of the series.  Most of my friends had had babies long ago and it was a rare night when they got out to party. Maybe once a year. 

I guess I will find another slot but for now, it is cooing ‘ah-goo’ and ‘Ink’ at the baby in the mornings. And I realise that these moments can never be on demand or kept in DVD for later.  

Wait, the post-9.30 p.m., “after the baby goes to bed” slot is looking positive. Maybe..