Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Seasonal wish...


I, gentle readers, am having a whirlwind of a festive season and that whirlwind is taking both Darling and the Bumtrinket along with it.

Best of all, is that my Mum is home for the holidays, though only for a week. It's great to have her around and be able to lie next to her and talk to my heart's content. We're both having so much fun with Baby... loads of hugs and kisses and silly songs involved... Hopefully she'll be back again next month, so that's something to look forward to!

Of course, no celebration is complete without literary fare, so during the past couple of days, I have been digging into these...

Yup, 15 of Roald Dahl's finest titles. The collection was a gift from me to Darling... but it's actually a gift for myself! :)

The Phizwizzing Collection

Now, one cannot live on love, books and fresh air. For the Bumtrinket's first Christmas, we went to a celebration at her great grandfather's place (D's grandfather). I have no pictures of the scrumptious lunch we ate, simply because no one wanted to wait long enough for pictures! However, I need to place on record that Darling's grandma makes THE BEST pork curry I have ever tasted! My humble contribution was a peaches and cream cheesecake, adapted from my secret recipe. Happily, pictures are available!



And you know what else made my day? My biggest cousin got me my most favourite chocolate ever, because he heard I was hankering after it...

Yes, that is ONE KILOGRAM of chocolate, and no, I am not sharing!

Naturally, the little pipsqueak had to be garbed in a suitably festive manner. Last week, I went a little crazy at baby shops, visiting about half a dozen (accompanied by Baby and the nanny). The stuff cost the better part of Rs. 3000/-, baby clothes seeming to follow the same trend as lingerie, i.e. the smaller it is, the more it costs... You have to admit though, my purchases are oozing with cuteness and the baby was a picture to behold when she was all dolled up to my heart's content!

Finally, Darling and I watched the Hogfather, punctuated in between by feedings, burpings and rockings to sleep.. .

Gentle readers, may you have a festive season full of joy love and good cheer... and wishes for the very best from myself, Darling and Baby!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How NOT to furnish a baby crib

Cuddle overload!

During my baby shopping days, I went a little crazy with the cot furnishings... bumper pillows, bolster pillows, ordinary pillows, quilts, blankets, cot sheets, draw sheets and lots and lots of cuddly toys. A few days after the cot was lovingly decorated, I received an email with the updated guidelines on preventing SIDS - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Although there is quite a kerfluffle about SIDS in USA, Aussie and Europe, we rarely hear about it in Asian countries. There are many reasons for this... all of them worthy of some consideration.

One is that in SL, small babies are almost always with their mother/grandmother and generally under supervision. I feel antsy about leaving the little Bumtrinket alone even when I go to brush my teeth. I would never dream of having her sleep in another room... as it is, her crib is right next to the bed, and she is only a couple of feet away from me. I can touch her when I want to, I can see her movements and I can hear her breathing. Studies have also shown that close proximity to the parent (mother) helps regulate infant breathing. I think there is a cultural/economic aspect here as well since the vast majority cannot afford the space for a separate sleeping area for a baby.

The other, of course, is breast feeding. Now this is also supported by traditional and cultural values and has been the rule rather than the exception in ancient SL. Exhibit B below is a woodcarving from the Ambekke Devale, and stolen from here.

During the 1970's there was heavy advertising by the milkfood companies, promoting infant formula but thanks to research and heavy lobbying by Prof. Priyani Soysa, Prof Dulitha Fernando, Dr Hiranthi Wijemanne and team, legislation was passed not only to ban marketing (Sri Lanka Code for the Promotion of Breastfeeding and Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes) but also to allow mothers maternity leave in order to feed their kids (Maternity Benefits Ordinance). Since 2005, there has been overwhelming research evidence that breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS.

Source : Unicef, 2009

Our traditional choice of bedding is another factor. Babies sleep on mats or in makeshift cradles made out of a saree or bed sheet. No toxic foam, no soft pillows, good ventilation. Also not much chance of being placed face down as in the West... less chance of suffocation.

Unfortunately, several studies have noted an increase in SIDS in Asia, which is attributed to adopting "Western" practices. In Sri Lanka, opinion is divided as to whether the rarity is due to good practices or due to under-diagnosis.

The American Academy of Paediatrics parental guide to safe sleeping can be viewed here.

My safety tips would be as follows

1. Use a coir (kohu) mattress, with a cotton lining. These are natural, no toxic products like in foam mattresses, allows air to circulate and is cooler for the baby. Make sure it fits firmly in the crib.

2. If you're using cot bumpers along the sides of the crib, make sure they are firmly secured (check every day or even more often).

3. No loose bedding or bits of cloth/blankets on the crib.

4. No pillows.

5. No soft toys.

6. Burp the baby well, hold upright for 10-15 minutes afterwards, and then lay the baby on his/her back (not on tummy).

7. Any "tummy time" must be supervised.

8. If the baby is sleeping on your bed, make sure you/your partner don't fall deep asleep and roll over or squish the baby.

9. Breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed.

10. Make sure baby's immunization is upto date.



11. Sleep in the same room as baby

12. Supervise constantly



Department of Census and Statistics (2003) Sri Lanka Demographic and Health Survey 2002, Department of Census and Statistics, Sri Lanka: Colombo.

Fernando, R & Abayasinghe, N (2008) Sudden infant death syndrome/unexplained infant deaths in Sri Lanka, Medicine, Science and the Law, 48, 4, pp. 325-328.

Nelson, EAS, Fujita, T, Sawaguchi, A & Knight, B (1998) Is the incidence of SIDS increasing in Asia? International Journal of Legal Medicine, 111, 5, pp. 278-280.

Reid, GM (2006) Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS): Microgravity and inadequate sensory stimulation, Medical Hypothesis, 66, 5, pp. 920-924.

Unicef (2009) Infant and young child feeding programme review: case study - Sri Lanka, New York: Unicef.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I love it when...

... she goes "brrrrrrrrrrrr" when being burped and blows milky bubbles

... it's feeding time and she gets all excited, starts kicking her legs and literally pants in anticipation

... she unlatches and then rests her cheek on my breast and looks at me (like, okie, thatz enuff miluk, I wantz to be wif my Ammi)

... she grasps my finger in her hand, even though I know it's a reflex

... she sucks on my pinkie, and then it slowly dawns on her that she has the wrong appendage

... she gurgles in the bath when I splash her

... she protests against a wet nappy by lifting her bottom off the cot and wriggling it

... she sleeps with her fists clenched over her ears (like, Shhhhh, I'z tryings to get some sleeps!)

I just love her... so SO much!

Monday, December 5, 2011

To C or not to C

So yeah, I had a C section. There were many reasons, and I won't be going into them here. It's not easy to decide between a normal vaginal delivery (NVD) and a C section (CS). NVD is the "natural" way to go... but also involves torn vaginal walls, a lot of pain, bleeding etc. Unless you plan on giving birth in a barn, it's not truly "natural" either... drugs such as oxytocin are given to kick start and maintain the contractions, and pethidine or even an epidural is given for the pain. This is because :
a) no woman should be in unnecessary pain (unless she wants to)
b) prolonged labour means loads of risks to both mother and baby

Almost always, an episiotomy cut is done, effectively widening the vaginal passage in a manner that will not affect the muscles controlling the bowel. So you end up with stitches, whether you like it or not.

CS is basically abdominal surgery... you get sliced open, there's a lot of blood and pain once the anaesthesia wears off.

NVD is safer for the mother, riskier for the baby. But it's better for the baby because the brain gets "moulded" and extra water is squeezed out of the baby lungs. CS is riskier for the mum, but the baby is born all pretty and rosy, not having gone through the trauma of being squeezed through a bony passage. NVD is unpredictable, you never know what might go wrong at a god-awful hour when no doctors are immediately available. CS offers a measure of comfort for the control freak.

I know a lot of people think that mothers going for C sections have it "easy". A couple of months ago, some of the Sinhala blogs on Kottu were discussing if mothers who deliver "normally" (NVD) love their children more. This offended me even then... how can pain be a measure of affection? I can't compare the two, since I didn't go through both*, but I can assure you that the C section is by no means easy.

The actual delivery is like the proverbial piece of cake, but afterwards, the mother has to deal with the contractions of the womb, since it is now going through the process of getting back to size (this happens naturally with NVD and is mostly complete by the time the baby is out). The process is helped by hormones that are secreted in response to feeding.

The difference? After a C section, the womb has a large surgical cut along the lower part... so with each contraction, the raw edges are squeezed tight against each other.... over and over again. For 2 days, every time I fed my child, I could feel the contractions one after the other, pain rippling through my insides in relentless waves. Sometimes it would make me moan with agony, tears dripping down onto the innocent little face nestling at my breast. The nice doctors offered me pethidine, but I refused, because I knew it would make the baby sleepy and make breast feeding more difficult to establish. And there's the pain from the surgical skin cut as well... a burning red gash across my lower belly.

I know it's not a competition, but on behalf of all the much maligned mums who go through a CS, I'd like to place on record that it's certainly not an easy piece of cake to eat!
* I need to ask my Sis-in-law or my friend T who both went through hours of labour and then had to have emergency CS, yipes!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Out and about!

We had our first major outing today... and by "we" I mean Darling, myself and the little Bumtrinket. After six weeks (six weeks!) of being cooped up in the house, I was like a bird, flapping away towards freedom, and in high excitement, babbling away like a bubbling brook. Seriously, six weeks and the only outings were two visits to the Paediatrician and one to my VOG... (specially considering my active pre-baby lifestyle), I mean, who wouldn't get postpartum depression?

Don't get me wrong, I love being with the little pipsqueak, changing her, feeding her, rocking her... just watching her sleep gives me little goosebumps of joy and watching her develop and grow is incredible. She gave her first responsive smile three days ago... her first social milestone. And it was amazing... instead of her usual slightly blank smile (also directed at the light bulb, the water jug and Eeyore), she looked at me, focused on my face and this wide, delighted smile just spread across her baby face as if she was thinking "Yes! There's my Ammi!" I was so excited, I was literally hopping about when I interrupted Darling at his very important meeting and told him the good news.

But I digress.

One reason for the new found travel is obviously, that she is 6 weeks old, and ready to brave the wide wild world. Another is our aristocratically named Nanny. Readers, introducing Charlotte, a gentle soul with just the right knack to handle the baby and the slightly neurotic mama at the same time.

Today being a "neketh" day half the eligible couples in SL are getting married, and we happened to be invited to two of them. So we went. Darling, me, Baby, Charlotte, Eeyore, changing mat, nappies, baby wipes, baby dresses, et al. We made a glorious and conspicuous entrance at one hotel, caught up with the "gang", mwah mwah'ed the Aunties, nicked the key to the room reserved for the happy couple, fed the baby, then breezed out, only to make a similar appearance at a similar hotel nearby.

We came home, nerves slightly frazzled, with a voraciously hungry baby and a dizzily exuberant mama.

Watch out Colombo, here we come!