20-Jun-2013

Six months


Bobo’s sixth month birthday got off to a sleepy start for me. I had been travelling on work for a couple of days and had landed up back jet lagged and tired. But we had big plans for the big day.

We were officially planning to introduce solids to Bobo. N had lent me a book on Baby-led weaning. The idea is you let the baby feed himself. He learns to eat, to enjoy food and controls his intake based on his needs.

This sounded like a good plan. A few weeks of investment and we would have a baby who would be eating like a pro! (I could already visualize Bobo in his high chair picking his sushi with his chopsticks. Relax grandparents – no sushi for him yet…no chopsticks either)

So the journey began with boiled and sliced carrots, sliced pears and a banana broken into half. Bobo was made to sit on his brand new high chair and covered in a bib. He had been sitting on my lap for weeks now watching me eat and I figured he would enjoy getting a piece of the action finally.

Bobo had also been putting everything in sight into his mouth for over a month. Toys, Mommy’s hands, Mommy’s hair, Daddy’s specs, his blanket…The one thing it turns out he was no good when it came to putting it into his mouth was food. The boiled carrots scattered to the floor mostly. The survivors were crushed in his chubby hands.  The pear pieces joined the carrots. But when a piece reached his mouth, he also shoved his chubby fist in to keep the pear there. Chewing fingers and food together is usually not an efficient way of getting food in.. and finally, Bobo just pushed around the banana till it became a squishy mess on his tray and joined the food lying below his chair. In the end, I am quite sure nothing made it to his stomach but oh boy, did we have a dirty floor to clean or what!

He has been getting better though and trying the various fruits and veggies we have put on his tray since. Even better, he has learnt how to drum his tray in the impersonation of someone eager for their food. And learnt a range of expressions to tell us what he thinks of something (Oranges – face screwed up in annoyance. Sweet Pumpkin – “really? Are you kidding?”)

Huh.

A tiny bit a day goes in. I was rather excited at the thought of cutting down my nursing but looks like that is still sometime away….

So back to his sixth month birthday - After the dalliance with food in the morning, it was time to conquer other worlds. We took him to a lovely neighbourhood café where he got to sit on a high chair for the first time (i.e. not counting the morning of course). I could not have been beaming more had he been winning the Nobel Prize. After months of having lie down or sit in his stroller, this was an achievement.

On the way back home, Bobo also got to ride the bus for the first time. He did a proper jack-in-the-box impersonation, swirling his head rapidly from side to side, amazed at this new worldview.  

It had been a big day for him but it had been even bigger for me watching him suddenly a bit more grown up. He is already old enough for me to dwell in nostalgia about what a tiny infant he was. There was a point in time when the highlight of his day was pumping his left hand in the air like Superman. Now, he is on all fours and actually managed to sit unassisted this morning. Soon it will be crawling, standing up, walking and moving out of home to college.  From treating me like a 24 hour diner, he has also started shooting me these super-special smiles that make me feel like a million dollars.

These are all things that makes me want to pause the moment so that I can enjoy it a while longer. These are also things that makes me eager for the future, since he just grows cuter with each passing day.  

04-Jun-2013

Bintan Holiday - Part 2

6.15 in the morning


Two bleary eyed parents. One bright eyed and bushy tailed baby.


We tried patting Bobo back to sleep but apparently he hadn’t got the memo that said people are supposed to sleep in on holidays.


Bobo’s enthusiasm was unmatched and soon we were sitting in the balcony with him bouncing in our laps, hoping our yawns did not suppress the sound of birds. After a while we headed for breakfast.


This was an interesting experience. Normally, we would have been the last people at the breakfast buffet, making it just before the buffet closed. Now we saw the benefits of being early. I marvelled at the cut fruits whose juice had still not started pooling in their bowls. D enjoyed the zero wait at the egg station. We both enjoyed sitting at a table with its entire cutlery without missing the odd fork/spoon that happens as the day wears on.


Bobo relaxed in his stroller. There was no sign of his bump from the previous day.

Post breakfast, however our battery began to run low and we thankfully dumped the baby in the grandparents’ room and slept for a couple of hours. We had never been more grateful to have family around.


Lunch rolled around and we dug into the buffet again.  I pigged out completely and gave a satisfactory burp.


Spending a lot of time with a baby can make one forget social skills. You yawn rather loudly, stretch completely and burp with gay abandon.


After the burp-inducing meal, I eagerly waited for naptime (mine, not the baby’s). Unfortunately the baby decided he had had enough naps for the day and decided to play. I crashed while D rocked him and played with him.


Finally at 3.30 p.m., when it became clear that Bebo was in no mood to take his afternoon nap, we decided to head to the beach.


With a small baby, you are not sure when the perfect combination of events will happen – the baby is awake and fresh, the weather is pleasant and is not too sunny or rainy, there is no nap or nursing coming up. So when the decision to go to the beach was taken, we paused only to grab a few essentials.


When I say ‘grab’, I of course mean ‘meandered around the room reaching out for most of the baby supplies we had got’

-    -      The baby’s swimming trunks (we had bought him this cutesy blue one. He owns two more. For a baby who has never been exposed to more water than what is in his tiny bathtub every day, he does have a killer beach wardrobe)-
-       
-       -    The baby’s diaper bag which is always stocked with a complete kit for changing him

-      
-       - The baby’s towel

-      
        -    The baby’s hat (Inherited from M, his regular source of clothes) and

-          the camera


Fifteen minutes later, we were lying on a towel on the sand, with the baby changed into his swimwear. The grandparents had also caught up with us. It was time for the big moment – taking Bobo for his first dip in the sea.


Then we realised that in the process of grabbing Bobo’s stuff, we had forgotten to change into swim gear.


Oh well. We would just wade into the water in our regular clothes.


The baby was his usual curious self as we took him to the water. He watched the sea comfortably perched in my arms. Then D stripped down and sat at the edge of the water and held the baby in his hands.


Bobo was sort of ok but clearly a tad anxious. We took multiple snaps, made many videos with the point-and-click camera (the video camera had been forgotten in the room. It had been a dead weight in our luggage).


Then, we moved in a little deeper though the water was still only knee deep. I slowly lowered Bobo in the water and he bawled. The sounds of waves breaking was a bit too deafening for his five month old self.  We beat a hasty retreat and headed back to a couple of beach chairs which had freed up.


The weather was lovely. The baby was calmer now that he was away from the water. We put on his hat and he settled down to lovingly chewing his toe (his latest trick).


The rest of us chatted and snacked (luckily I had remembered to grab food!).


I also indulged myself in people watching. A bunch of four American women played beach volleyball which suddenly turned into football. One of them displayed some really neat footwork. Next to them was a newly married Indian couple. I had spotted the girl earlier in the day shopping for a bikini and now she was in the beach in her new finery, albeit worn with shorts and a sarong draping her modestly. The other side another, presumably newly married couple spent the entire time taking turns to pose and take pictures of each other. And these were not the regular people poses either. The girl would lie down in the water and shake her legs in a girly, flirty manner. The boy would stand immersed to his chest and flex his muscles.


The evening went by quite nicely.


Finally it was time to head back and get started on the baby’s bedtime routine. Which was done fast and without much fuss.


The parents had volunteered to babysit while D and I took off for some much-needed couple time. We sat in the restaurant by the beach and talked. Before we had the baby, we never fully understood the concept of ‘couple time’. We were mostly in each other’s faces. We were now too but with a baby around, conversations were never completed.


Spending time with a baby is one of the most awesome things in my life right now. But every now and then, it is also awesome to walk in the beach holding hands and watching lanterns floating into the air. 


02-Jun-2013

Bintan Holiday - Part 1


Note – The baby has been nicknamed ‘Bobo’ for this blog. 


I love travel (as anyone who has read this blog has probably guessed). D loves travel too. It is one of the things we love doing together. So when Bobo came along, I was keen to start travelling as soon as we could.


People told us that we should actually travel when he was small and not too much of a pain to handle. I could not get my mind around that idea. He seemed too tiny and too fragile the first couple of months. We were too overwhelmed with the idea of parenting to even consider experimenting with travel.  Besides, any travel from Singapore would involve going to a new country. The idea of that seemed a bit overwhelming too. Still with much foresight, back in March we booked a getaway for a long weekend in May. Bobo would be five months by then. Hopefully we would be better prepared as a family to travel.


As D-Day neared, it was obvious that we could not have picked a better time to start travelling. From four months on, Bobo had started becoming more and more interested in the world around him. Practically anything could amuse him and he loved being shown the outside world. Plus he did not tire as easily as he did when he was a young baby. Also he was still breastfed, so we did not have the added complication of carrying separate food for him.


Our destination was Bintan, an Indonesian island located about an hour away from Singapore by ferry. We were taking the afternoon ferry on Friday and would return by the morning ferry on Sunday. The plan was to chill out on the beach. No hectic sightseeing, which was usually the mainstay of most of our holidays pre-Bobo. 

The previous weekend I had made a list of things we had to take with us. People had warned us about the ‘new parent-trap’ where we would be really eager to carry the whole house with us. Despite these warnings, we ended up with a massive suitcase half of which was filled with Bobo’s stuff. How could we leave behind the third spare blanket in case we managed to drop the first two somewhere? (Of course in the end, it turned out that we could do without the third spare blanket. Even without the second spare blanket)

We reached the Tanah Merah ferry terminal an hour and a half before the departure time. This would leave us enough time to check-in, drop off our baggage, complete security and immigration and also have a spot of lunch. Infact it gave us more than enough time to do all these things and we soon found ourselves sitting in the departure area.

Singapore is an extremely well –ordered country and we had entirely forgotten what happens when there is no order (relatively speaking). The ferry tickets did not have seat numbers. This meant a free-for-all would ensue when the gates opened and we had to position ourselves as close to the boarding gate as possible. Except as time went by, multiple queues began to form since it was not clear which of the four gates would be the boarding gate. There were four of us adults (including my folks) and one baby. So we could spread ourselves thin and cover all possible bases. In the end, my mom and I hung out with Bobo pretending to keep him engaged, while we gossiped and did people watching. My dad and D bustled about in a manly manner joining different queues. Bobo was busy sucking his hands raw (he loves sucking everything these days. His hands, bib, mittens, the onesie he is wearing, any toys in the vicinity, the seatbelt of his stroller…as I said, everything).

Surprisingly again for Singapore, the terminal did not have a baby care room. I had to 
discretely nurse in the terminal. We had to change Bobo’s diaper right on the seats.

Oh well. Motherhood teaches you to lose any self-consciousness you may have had.

As the departure time approached, the crowd grew restive and finally boarding was announced. There was a rush (of course nothing compared to what I was used to handling in India) and in the end we all managed to get good seats together.

Once we had all settled in, Bobo blessedly fell asleep. We began to admire the view, eat our packed snacks and do desultory conversation when the baby woke up again.

I began to try and put him back to sleep. Unfortunately I missed some crucial cue and ended up just agitating him instead of soothing him. Bobo began to cry.

And cry

And cry.

If the earth had opened up and swallowed me then, it would not have been too soon. I had become one of those parents who I used to shoot dirty looks at.

Apparently, you don’t lose all self-consciousness with motherhood.


With a howling baby headed for a crescendo, I spent the rest of the journey standing rather miserably in the luggage area. D joined me and tried his bit but to no avail. The grandma tried for a while. Eventually when the ferry docked, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Bobo was beyond tired by now and just lay quietly in my arms as we disembarked, made our way to the hotel and waited in the spacious lobby while D spent over an hour trying to check us in.

Bintan Lagoon Resort was enormous and was packed to the hilt. By the time we managed to get two rooms on the same floor, it was close to five p.m. and we were all rather tired. To make matters worse, though our rooms were on the same floor, they were at the ends of a long corridor, involving a fifteen minute walk.

The room itself was rather nice. There was a double bed on one side and a low floor rise on the other side. The floor rise had a nice double mattress in which Bobo could play. We had gotten a blanket from home to cover the mattress. This was immediately unpacked and before long the baby was comfortably sprawled, sucking his favourite toys.

The room also had a baby crib (which we covered with our own mattress cover and wiped down with Dettol – the second act was a bit too excessive now that I think about it).There was a nice balcony from which we could hear birds and see a lot of green.

We began unpacking but D and I were still fractious, tired from the travels. Before long we were snapping at each other and at some point we heard a gentle thud. Bobo had rolled from the low floor rise and fallen on the floor.

Our hearts stopped.

The first time your baby gets hurt must be one of the most awful moments of your parenting life. I scooped him up and held him as he cried. D hovered around anxiously. We are usually careful about leaving him unattended, and believed in doing things like putting on seat belts even if it was for a minute. So this came as a shock.

A few minutes later, we noticed a bump on the baby’s head but otherwise he seemed to be fine. We called his paediatrician and got instructions on what to watch out for (dizziness and/or vomiting) but were told that he should be fine otherwise.

Finally both of us relaxed and decided to stop getting worked up and just go with the flow.

We put Bobo to sleep and then ordered dinner in the room. The grandparents trekked to our room and the four adults sat in the balcony, eating food and drinking beer and generally chatting. We could hear insects, we could see the gorgeous full moon. It was rather wonderful.