Dec 13, 2013

Adu @ 2 months

My lil Adu turned two months old today. Time just flies by... especially with a baby. I didn't cut a cake or do any 'celebration' as such for his monthly birthday, but thought of recounting on the journey so far. From being a fragile, helpless, one cry for all needs new born, and an anxious, scared mother, we have come a long way!

Here are some things he did / does that amuses me...
  • He enjoys his bath, oil massages by ajji, clothing, nappy changing and does not make any fuss, but just hates wearing his hat. And even if we manage to put him one, he quickly manages to get out of it by shaking his head off it.
  • He suddenly realized he recognizes me, sometime in week 6. In the middle of a night, as if meeting someone very familiar suddenly after a long time, he looked at me and with a beautiful toothless smile exclaimed 'Unngga!!!'. Ever since, i've become his Ungaaa!! 
  • He now has a distinct cry for every need of his - hunger, need for a cuddle, need for his amma's cuddle (of course it is different from the previous one!), sleepiness, nappy change, need for a burp, or just boredom - all have quite different cries.
  • He clearly recognizes me now, and today, even gave me lots of smiles - the real kind of smiles, looking straight into my eyes, conversing something with me with his coos and gurgles.... Ahh.... what a bliss!
  • He and his ajji have a non stop conversation forever, when he is in a mood for it!
  • He loves to sleep on his appa, listening to his and ajji's songs - he sure is a music lover
  • He is one angry baby when hungry! Even if i am late by .001 second when he is hungry, he almost brings the roof down! And when offered to eat, he grabs and also does some strange sounds as if showing his contempt! I can, however, carry him and distract him for a couple of minutes, or put him on my bed, and cover him with my blanket, which reassures him that I am coming to him soon.. then i'll have a breather of about a few seconds before i get to him!!
  • He is one burpy baby - just like his mom ;) After every few minutes of feeding he needs to be burped, which he clearly demands if not done.
  • After doing his potty, he gives one beautiful smile and then gestures his right hand as if shouting a slogan or saying 'Jai'! This has been so right from his first poo!!
  • He now has started focusing on his hanging toys and kicking or beating it and watching in amuse. He however cannot hold them yet.
  • On nights when he does not sleep and keeps us awake too, he surely rewards us with something sweet to compensate for the lost sleep - like a sweet toothless grin, a special conversation, a new sound, a series of smiles in half-sleep, and so on. All these are worth much more than our sleep and keeps our spirits high!
How amazing and wonderful it is just to sit and watch a baby grow! And sad that it just passes off so quickly...

Love you, Adu... So grateful for coming into our lives and making it so much more colorful :)

Dec 12, 2013

Dairy free diet : Update

Unfortunately it is CMPA that Adu has :( . The elimination diet that i followed almost proved it. I was on a milk free diet for 15 days during which he had improved and then i tested with just a bit of milk in coffee and less than a teaspoon of ghee. And almost on the same day, he again showed symptoms. Also his rashes kind of increased this time. And again, i ate something outside, which worsened his condition. 

Then the pediatrician confirmed it and said we just have to accept it. Though not life threatening, any little amount of dairy that i consume is going to affect him. Kids are likely to grow out of the allergy, some after a year, and most within the first few years. Till then, we got to be careful. 

Coming to my story, I have pretty much got used to dairy free diet now. All I miss is some filter coffee and garam chai in this cold weather. Apart from that I have found quite a number of dairy-substitute products. It is not as big a deal as I had thought, anyway! Of course the big challenge would be when I visit India, lets face that then.

For now, there is no issue as such and my baby is growing well as well. Grateful for it :)

Dec 4, 2013

The first challenge - Dairy free diet

Ohhhh it came as a big shock for us when Adu (let's call my baby boy so) was suspected to have developed what is called Cow's Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA). It was kind of indigestible for us when it was explained. Apparently the infant's immune system mistakenly sees the milk protein as something the body should fight off. And this causes an allergic reaction, which can cause an infant to be fussy and irritable, and cause an upset stomach and other symptoms.

It all started with Adu throwing up, losing appetite and crying in the night for a couple of days. He is otherwise a no-cry baby, very cooperative in all terms till now and a happy baby in general. He made us call the health care number two nights in row and then we took him to the hospital. Seeing the symptoms the pediatrician suspected him to be allergic to cow's milk. We just nodded, not understanding it fully. Only when they explained in detail did we realize what it exactly was. 

If the diagnosis turns out to be true, Adu will not be able to have any milk or milk products till he grows out of this allergy, which can be in a year, or two or three or if he is not so lucky more. And as for the immediate consequence i was asked to stop eating everything dairy if i were to continue nursing him; else I could choose to stop nursing him and switch him to full time formula. This would first be evaluated with a dairy-free diet for two weeks initially, observing him, followed by a dairy diet for a couple of days. If the symptoms recurred, I'd have to quit dairy as long as i wish to feed him.

The source of the problem, as we speculate was that he was on formula part time. It was inevitable for us to feed him formula in his first week, when my supply was low, and he had high bilirubin levels for 3-4 days (infant jaundice) which required him to eat lots of food and digest it in order to reduce it. And subsequently too, he needed formula feeds a couple of times a day, when I could not fill his lil tummy. The formula is generally based on cow's milk, and the baby had apparently developed an allergy towards the cow's milk protein. And this had surprisingly happened after 5 weeks. I could not take it in that an Indian baby would be allergic to something as inherent as milk!

Now coming back to the point, I definitely did not want to stop nursing him - already i was feeling bad for having to give him a couple of formula feeds. So the only option for me was to stop dairy for now. Coming from a traditional South Indian vegetarian family, this was indeed difficult for me - especially now, as my postpartum diet consisted of large amounts of milk and ghee. It was then that i realized how addicted i was to dairy!

My meals consisted of addition of spoonfuls of ghee and ended with curd rice, my snacks consisted of milk, my bakes consisted of butter or other dairy, my filter coffee would not taste the same without milk, my tea was full of milk, the innumerable Indian sweets that I loved were full of ghee or milk.... the list was endless (Wondering about my calorie intake reading the above, well, I'd burn these fats too, so i'm definitely not obese :D )

I'd feel like crying when people around me would get themselves a good cup of filter coffee, or offer me something with milk forgetting my diet. I'd see the pack of sweet lying in the counter and miss it already.  

And my little baby could not have these too, till however long it was... that was even sadder. Trust me, i was planning for his first birthday cake already! And I had been thinking of what all to bake for him as soon as he started eating them... I'd started calling him Krishna, and now that seemed like a paradox. It was a difficult week for me... 

Now about ten days into the diet, it does not look as dark! I've indeed survived... but then I realize how difficult it is to quit some habits and addictions... especially when it comes to food. I now know why non vegetarians find it so hard to give up meat. In fact, I myself would think of becoming a vegan time and again but had not gathered enough will power. It is not impossible but not easy as well... 

Anyways, now I'm hoping that his diagnosis turns out to be false and I get back to my original diet, but also prepared if it turns otherwise. I know it is not impossible... and in a place like this, there are definitely alternatives too...

Nov 28, 2013

And then another mother was born....

And then a mother was born....

After more than twenty four hours of pain. Well, the word pain can truly be understood only by a mother... a mother who has gone through the labour pain, to be exact.

When my midwife asked about the Braxton Hicks contractions (practice contractions that the uterus undergoes before labour in preparation for the big job) that i got towards the end of pregnancy, I'd say it was sometimes painful. And when D asked how he'd know when I got true labour contractions, she simply smiled and said 'You'll hear the difference!'. And my mom would say it was something that one can hear from block away!

And I used to wonder how it would be...

In fact when my water bag broke the day before my lil prince was born and contractions started soon after, I could still bear it. Yes, it was the most painful pain i had experienced till then, but i didn't know then that it was just a fraction of what would follow! Yes, seriously!

It was the most painful twenty fours of my life... every hour was more painful than the previous. And then I remembered my mom quoting my grandma that a baby will be born only after the mother thinks she can take the pain no more and will die of pain. Well, i did decide I'm dying at one point, but still the little one did not arrive till a few hours later!

Now to be frank, I hesitate to call the usual headaches, tooth aches, throat pain, joint pains and so on as 'pain'! It sounds rather funny!!

Well, is that not how I was born too? Even my mother would have experienced the same pain, may be a little less or a little more. That is what every mother has gone through for ages and ages and that is what will continue to be.

But what an amazing way nature has... just after the baby is out, all the pain is gone - well, not exactly (it in fact continues!) but then, the feeling of pain is gone. It just disappears when hearing the sudden cry, when holding the little, tender being in arms. People had told me that before, but one needs to experience it to understand. It is just beyond words to describe the feeling of holding a new born close after hours of pain. Love, affection and all the good feelings just overwhelm at once. All you want is cuddle the bundle snugly close to you...

I guess that is what motherhood is all about! They say 'With every baby, a mother is born'... And now i understand it :)

Nov 25, 2013

Those nine months...

I had been wanting to have a baby.... and thoroughly enjoyed my pregnancy and birth. Oh well, i did not say it was an easy pregnancy or an easy childbirth. Wait... i think easy and difficult are pretty relative terms. People with a trouble free or rather morning-sickness-free pregnancy call mine as a difficult one, and those with more complications call mine an easy one!

For one, i had morning all-day-sickness not just in the first trimester, but throughout the pregnancy. Right from the time i discovered i was pregnant in week 6 till the day my lil one was born - okay it was till hours before he was born! Being the foodie I am, I hated food like anything and meal times were like a punishment to me. Except on rare occasions, like when eating out or when there was something exceptionally good. And even then there was this risk of it going down the drain as I could throw up anything anytime! Let me tell you honestly - it is no fun hugging the ceramic bowl in the bathroom everyday, twice or thrice a day... it just drains off all energy, takes off any little appetite one might have... but then when you are pregnant, you have the mental appetite to eat or not, your body does have the appetite. 

And well, it is no fun that way, trust me! You are hungry, eat something, rather healthy, start feeling uneasy right after and a couple of minutes later throw it up, and then after exactly five minutes you are hungry again. And wait, you cannot even ignore it, as there is a lil fella inside you, urging you to eat. Again. Immediately. And you go back tot he kitchen to repeat the whole story again. If you are lucky, you will retain it. Dee and later mom had difficulty making something to my taste! They would be delighted if occasionally i'd eat something happily... and then not throw it up for the next few days!!

And then it turns into a bigger problem - someone inside feels cramped and so presses against the lil stomach and as a result, the contents of the stomach and its friends rush upwards, towards the entry point - resulting in severe acidity. Hugh!

I was surprised how every part of one's body - yes every part - undergoes a change when one is pregnant! From aching legs to tooth pain (what is the relation between tooth and pregnancy, God knows!), discolored skin to join aches, raging hormones to mood swings (the effect of which is more on others than self!), and a completely topsy turvy abdomen! And then the sleepless nights when tossing and turning on bed was an adventure due to a huuuge belly... of course this is a common thing, if one were to carry an offspring full term.

But apart from all these, I must say I did have a healthy and easy pregnancy. I continued almost all the daily activities, continued to travel, had many exciting and adventurous trips, kept a journal of pregnancy, and all that... Did not take any supplements at all, except for the folic acid in the first trimester, underwent just a couple of ultrasounds, as opposed to the amount of supplements one is administered and the number of scans one is made to go through these days. Also, did not meet a doctor even once here in Sweden, and whole of pregnancy and most of childbirth was managed by the midwives here. It was a surprise for us that people are advised to meet the doctor only in case of complications. This was all a paradigm shift even for us, but then we are thankful that it went this way. And thankful that we were here in good and safe hands.

So when i look back now, i can definitely say it was an easy and healthy pregnancy inspite of all those troubles... Or is it the mother in me that feels so?

Nov 22, 2013


This was in the initial days of my Swedish classes. There were people from countries across the world enrolled and we were all getting to know each other.

The first few days went in learning the usual questions and answers for the same like
- What is  your name?
- Where do you come from?
- Where do you stay? and so on.

And then it progressed to 
- How old are you?
- Are you married?
- Do you have kids? 
- How many siblings? and so on

And after that came more details on Question words. And some in the class who did not know English and us who did not know their language were all conversing in sign languages and in the bare minimum Svenska we had learnt till then. And there were a host of mistakes we did, especially with the confusing question words - using something for something else, others not understanding sometimes and correcting at other times.

So this girl from the class, from some middle eastern country knew very little English and was at our table talking something. From the class of previous days, we'd learnt each others' age and marital status. And apparently she was barely 19 and was pregnant. 

The first question she had for all of us is how many kids each of us had. Not many in the group had kids and well, we were all elder than her. She went on asking each one the same question and got her response. And when I said I still didn't have kids, her next question was 'Varför?' [means 'Why?']

Given our little knowledge of Svenska, we all assumed that she is asking the wrong question, may be she meant to ask something else. Someone asked her what was her question and she repeated 'Varför?' 

This was a common question that comes from a super-inquisitive 'ajji' or 'aunty' or so from where I come from. But I had been glad about people not asking about your personal life here. Thank goodness I was not the only one who was shocked at this question! 

After a few moments of recovery I got back my balance and asked her back 'Varför?' She didn't understand what I meant. Then i made myself clear why she wanted to know about it! That confused her enough while the rest of them were giggling about my response! And when she asked the next few people the same question, she was smart enough not to ask 'Varför?' again! And they almost thanked  me for saving them from having to face that embarrassing question!

The others, who have become quite good friends now, laugh at that incident even till date!

PS: This was written and saved as drafts sometime last year and i had totally forgotten to post it... Here it is now... after i have a baby!

Nov 4, 2013

New kid on the blog!!

Yes! I'm a mother now!! To a sweet lil baby boy!

He was born on the 13th of Oct, Vijayadashami, an auspicious day in Hindu calendar, on his due date! And life has changed quite a bit since then! He does keep us all busy round the clock, though he is not a troubling baby. Life does change after a baby!

So my guess is this blog also might turn into a mommy-baby blog... or this may inspire me to write other things too, more frequently now on. Lets see.... Right now, i have so many things to write and so little time....

Let me sign off now, and get back soon with more stuff...

Feb 6, 2013

Cooking and Us

To my Swedish classes sometimes I do carry lunch - the last few times it was some rice variety with veggies or greens. Of course a different one every time, given my appetite for good variety of food and love for cooking. I was initially apprehensive to carry Indian food, with so many flavors, but as i got to know my friends' love for food and their readiness to try out different cuisine I got comfortable.

Some of my new non Indian friends here, are especially fond of Indian food - and more of the spicy, hot varieties. And I do offer them my rice whenever they are around and being great foodies that they are, they relish my methi rice, spinach rice, rajma masala and so on.

The most common question I'm asked is "Do you cook everyday?"
"Yes I do", I say. The fact is, I cook twice a day - like most of us Indians - Breakfast and lunch to be packed in the morning and something fresh for dinner in the evening. That makes it three mostly different meal a day! When the fact that I do cook everyday itself is quite indigestible, I do not mostly get into the details!

And then I'm asked for details like whether I cook in the evenings and save the leftovers for lunch  next day, how long do i spend in the kitchen, whether I cook before breakfast or after breakfast and so on. [The fact is most of us Indians do make breakfast too - cereals and bread are only emergency breakfast items for us :) ] 

And they wonder how many hours a day I slog off in the kitchen. But the fact is that cooking fresh for every meal hardly takes a lot of time - especially when you have some experience and when you like it. How long does it take to make a flavored veggie rice, for example? Cook rice in a pressure cooker, and while it is cooking or cooling, saute some veggies in a pan along with some spices and mix it with the rice! Tada! Yes, it is that simple! And those who do know cooking did agree with this - it doesn't take more than 15 minutes of your active time - especially here, when most veggies are available in frozen form! This is it, unless I'm trying out some extravagant item for the love of cooking.

This left me wondering how different our lives are and what could be the reason for this...
Firstly, I've grown up eating fresh food for every meal, almost always... and that has continued even after marriage at the in-laws' place. And it was the same even when I had a full time, super busy life. So it is in a different country too, where you get ready made foods of all kinds. Food and cooking has been an inseparable part of our lives. When I can't or on't want to cook, D offers to cook. Not that we do not eat out, but it is something we do occasionally or the fun of trying out different places, or when we really feel like it.

Second, the concept of frozen foods for us Indians is quite new. And I bet many have not yet embraced that lifestyle yet. Refrigerators are a recent inclusion in our kitchens. And we hardly know about the freezers - except for the small compartment at the top of the refrigerator, that is used to store ice-creams or to make ice cubes!!  

Thirdly, we believe that eating fresh and homemade is healthy.

And not to forget many of our elders' beliefs that left overs should not be eaten the next day. In many households even today, cooked stuff are not stored in refrigerator, let alone frozen!

Of course many urban families have embraced the western culture of frozen and ready to eats, but I'm sure there is a large chunk of people like me who still hold on to the old roots!

Feb 3, 2013

Svenska and the new friends

Of late, I'm trying my hands at learning Swedish - going to classes here, called SFI. It's fun and very nice to learn a new language. Swedish has been a lot more easier for me than Japanese, that i tried to learn a couple of years ago. May be because of its close relation to English. However, it is significantly different from English in terms of vocabulary and grammar. 

Classes these days are a lot fun filled! We have people from different countries, from all over the world... from countries like Ethiopia, Somalia to US and UK. Out of them all We are one close group of about 10, two from Italy, one each from Kenya, UK, Vietnam, France, Bosnia, Germany, Moldavia and ofcourse me from India. Its almost like a global conference during the breaks!! And we've been going out for cofffees, for museums etc and loving it all.

Also had a series of luncheons where one of us cooked lunch for all the others a day and it was fun. My methi malai mattar, capsicum gravy and jeera rice were a hit, though quite on the spicy side. People even asked me for the recipe ;)

And ohh btw, i'm taking my second test tomorrow - level C in just abt 2 months... Going back to school at 30 is fun indeed!