Friday, May 30, 2008

Aaaargh one moment...awwn the next...

I wanted to write a post or at least mail a bunch of my blog pals about how frustrated I was feeling about the last few days. I was annoyed enough to tell people not** to respond back with the word "Phase". I didn't want to hear it. KB had suddenly gotten into this weird mode of crying loudly for the strangest of things. For about 5 days. Just out of the blue one afternoon, when I casually went in to shower, he just started crying. Like he was worried that I would disappear. I thought it was a one time thing. That evening, I went into the bathroom, that's it, he dropped what he was doing, followed me, stayed outside the door and cried his guts out. Later we were heading out to the park. My father-in-law was coming with us too. I buckled up the kids in their car seats and my FIL sat in the front and I went into the house for about 30 seconds to get something. And KB was crying so much in those few seconds. I could not move away from him. He did that a couple of times with B too. I just felt like tearing my hair apart and running far away from my children. KG who is normally a good eater has now started being impossible mainly during lunch time. She just does not want any rice of vegetables. Cereal with fruit, she is OK with. But rice with veggies, she literally grabs the spoon tight and tips the food down and examines her hand. She cries (no tears) loudly if I insist on feeding her beyond that.
You can imagine my anger considering all of this, especially KB"s sudden crying bouts went on for over five days. Few nights back I lamented to B, "I gave up my career to spend time taking care of my children and at the end of the day, I felt KB may have been better off in day care from 3m on".

And for no reason all this changed last afternoon. He doesn't care if I go to the restroom or shower. No crying. He has been so patient if while I am giving him his lunch, I need to run upstairs to change KG's diaper. He waits patiently and then continues eating. I just don't get it - just too random. But my theory is that he probably needed more food but just didn't want to eat more...or he is now sensing that when people like my brother visit they favor KG a little more. And that probably has made him feel the competition more now. He being the gentle kid will not take it out on KG but will cry himself and take it out on me without even realizing it. All this is my random child psychology.

In any case, just a little while back KB said "Good night" to me and went to bed. As is the routine, B carried him upstairs and KB was leaning on B's shoulders. Legs on either side. I felt sad that I had even fought and showed so much anger towards this sweet little child the last few days. He was leaning so innocently on B's shoulders and reminded me of how much he needs us for his sense of comfort and security.

This afternoon, while I was getting my bagel toasted during lunch time, I left KG inside the graco play yard. She is left in it only for about five minutes usually when I need to do take KB to the bathroom - since she immediately comes crawling into the bathroom. I had just taken KB to the potty and got him cleaned up. I figured while she is in there, I will get my bagel toasted and then come and sit with the kids while I ate it. KB walked to the play pen and entertained KG while I was in the kitchen. I just came to see what they were up to when I heard chuckles and gurgles of laughter from KG. She would put her hand on the mesh and KB would ram his head gently on her hand saying "tucku tukku" and she would laugh. They went about doing this for nearly 20 minutes. She just laughed and laughed at what KB was doing. If I did the same thing, she didn't care for it. It was just delightful to watch their carefree interaction. At that moment, they were a team, I was just a witness. It was beautiful. That two children can feel that kind of connection, bond and liberty and play with each other and entertain each other so nicely. These are the kinds of moments that make up for the down swings I go through when I think of the uncertainty ahead of me in my career path. You cannot expect these spontaneous moments to necessarily happen when you have free time. But when it happens, it feels good to be present. For they will be children only once. This is not to question or judge any one's personal choice. I am writing about how good it feels to be able to ride up with your children during their best moments when you go through every bit of their difficult moments too with them. I feel thankful during such moments that I am blessed to be able to spend my time in their company relishing their childhood. I am partly writing this down for myself to read when I feel upset and down about how I am constantly tending to children or attending to domestic chores. And this is for those of you who are in the brink of quitting - that the rewards are going to be very intangible, it depends on you to put a price on it. It is exhilarating, magical and fleeting - the good moments with your children when you stay home with them during their early years. A lot of work, a lot of patience but the rewards are to be etched in memory! Or well, in your blog!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I am still here...

Sorry folks for not having updated in a while. Bunch of people have emailed me asking me about KB and in general what the news is at my end. About KB - referral for the derm not here yet. His regular pede says most likely they will not even ask for a biopsy when they examine his birth mark. Just that the doctor who asked me to check it out is not his usual pede and she might have just been cautious. In some ways, I have forgotten about this even. Just one of things that need to be done whenever I get the referral for the derm.

KG is a handful - she is turning one on June.17 - will try to do an update on her sometime. But she is all over the place, puts things in her mouth before we can even blink and purses her lips tight when we try to pry it out...KB still takes a long time to eat even if it has gotten better. So when I feed KB it is quite an effort on some days when she won't sit in any one zone for longer than five minutes. I have to get up and run behind her, put her in a safe spot away from the stairs and resume feeding KB. In the meanwhile somehow try and finish the cooking before that window of time when I can take both kids out for a walk or to the park and then come back and get started on lunch time routines...

Memorial day weekend was spent mostly at home relaxing. My older brother visited us and he dotes on the kids. He has one son who is now quite grown up - so he is thoroughly enjoying my children whenever he visits. Especially KG. She is a charmer with her chubby cheeks and bubbly spirit and she has much less stranger anxiety than KB used to at her age. So my brother was thrilled that she came to him very easily and just stuck to him all weekend (or he to her!). She used to wake him up in the morning by snuggling up to his face (we held her on his back). He just loved waking up to her face every morning that he was here. Reminded me of the times when I was in graduate school and used to visit my sister for X-mas holidays. I used to watch movies or be on the phone and go to bed late and wake up late the next morning. My sister used to send my niece, who was a little girl then, to wake me up and it was such a treat to wake up to her bright smile and sweet voice saying "Wake up Noon Chithi, Wake up". And I used to pull my comforter on my face and she would play around with me by calling out for me again and again.
I used to tell my sister to not come herself but send my niece to wake me up. I used to wait until my niece was up even if I was awake before her.

My sister too visited us over the weekend for a few hours. She (unlike my brother!) dotes on both kids equally. KB is very attached to her and had a great time playing with a remote control car that she had brought along for him. All of us went in two cars to the local park that evening. The weather was gorgeous with plenty of white clouds and birds chirping and kids running around in the park. KB now goes on the small slide "ulta" (reverse) and then climbs a ladder to get on the big curvy slide. That is his latest fancy in the slide area of the park. We had a great time at the park. I had to do a ton of cooking since there were so many people visiting over the weekend (B's cousin also visited us with her parents last evening) - but it was overall a lot of fun.

KG is refusing to nap regularly and it is driving me nuts. One day she is totally fine and drifts off to sleep as soon as I leave her in the crib. And just when I think, "Oh good, things are in order", my dear brother comes and holds her or runs around with her all the time. She is now used to that and brother has left. This rowdy KB now expects me to hold her and take her out at the slightest whimper to play with the leaves and watch the birds in the sky! If you are an aunt or an uncle and think "Oh kids are so much fun, I want to have five of 'em", beware - it is just a trap. You play and pamper and cuddle and squeeze you little niece or nephew and drop a crying bundle on the poor mother and go away with your friends - when you are an aunt or an uncle. Beware, you become a parent and you are the one left with a cranky little one when the doting aunt or uncle leaves after a few days of making merry!

When your siblings come and visit you during the holidays and spend time playing with your children, you just want to say a special thanks to your parents for giving you siblings in the first place. It is such a good feeling to see your siblings shower their love on your children. I just hope KB and KG are there for each other and their children and have the good fortune of physical proximity too - hope they are not in two different countries! But who knows with amazing advancements in technology, it may not even matter if they are in two different planets!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Health matters most...

As a parent you ride the tide and go up and feel the exhilaration when your child is in good health, looks happy and does things that fill you with pride and joy...and ride the lows and feel the pain of difficult days when your child seems to treat you like an enemy, when you only feel anger towards the child...and on some days the lows come with a feeling of unbearable love and a sense of helplessness when your child is sick and you wish you could just physically take the pain unto yourself.

I often wonder about parents who cope with real illness for their child. Serious debilitating or sometimes fatal illness. I have written about such people in this post. I support St.Jude because parents who cannot pay for the treatment can also seek refuge and find hope in getting treatment for their child at that hospital. I cannot imagine how horrible it must be for parents who have to suffer the pain of first seeing their child sick with cancer and on top of it not be able to afford treatment. It must be the worst kind of pain to feel that helpless.

Although I always feel truly and most sincerely for them, it is still something that happened to someone else. Today I came a teeny bit close to experiencing what the kind of horror must feel like.

KB has been throwing up since Friday. On Friday I just thought it was the combination of cheese and yogurt soon after that messed up his stomach. On Sat night, he just threw up suddenly after dinner - even then I thought he was just not chewing properly and just got it all out. But yesterday, he threw up his lunch, dinner and night time milk. Gushed out. Lunch time he threw up only a little. Dinner again he was refusing to eat well - I got really stressed out and told him that he was not being nice to mamma and was being so difficult and refusing to eat. He ate a few spoons for my sake but didn't even want yogurt which he normally likes. So I just gave up and let him go. Night, I gave him his milk and even before he finished it, he got it all out all over himself, me and on the couch. Thankfully B was home since it was Sunday night, so he took care of giving KB a bath to clean him up and I took care of the other clean up.

I took him to the doctor today while B worked from home those couple of hours to be with KG while she napped in the morning. The doctor who checked him is not our usual pediatrician but the doc who was available in that group with a morning appointment. KB behaved so well and allowed the doctor to check him without crying or resisting like he used to last year. She said he has the stomach bug and that he will be OK in a few days. This pediatrician looked at his birth mark - a little blotch of black - near his navel and asked me if his regular pediatrician was aware of it. I told her he knew of it but had not checked it since KB's two year check up. She casually said "Well, then you should take him to the dermatologist since I see spots on the mole and they will do a little biopsy to make sure it doesn't lead to anything else".
I was too tired from all the work I had the last two days to even react to what she said.

As I was driving back home and I saw KB looking very weak from not having any real food for a while I suddenly thought about what she said. "Biopsy" is the only word that kept coming to mind. The first time that I have had to even come near this term in real life. Not terms used in my textbook. I still am writing this in the confidence that it will all be OK - just a routine thing to do to be cautious. Yet if I think with my heart and I look at my dear sweet gentle KB and think of even this little word and the horrors that it has brought to some people all in the same breath - I just choke up with tears. I cannot think any further. I still don't. I am writing under the assumption it will be, it HAS to be OK. Nothing can be wrong. I feel so sorry for having made him feel bad for not eating his food last night. In the pettiness of every day life and the aggravations that I face with some people, I suddenly think to myself, I just want the kids and husband to be healthy and safe. Nothing else matters. I talk about my family but I really mean it for all who I am close to. And pretty much for every one. Good health is the bottom line. The first priority in my prayers. Keep them in good health.

It will probably be a week or so before we get the referral and get to take KB to a dermatologist. But I am going to assume all will be OK and that we just need to go through the routine exam for children who have such birth marks. But that one word biopsy brought me a little closer to understanding what the parents of children who have cancer must be going through. To see their world collapse in front of them at the dreaded C word being mentioned in the biopsy result. I shudder at the thought. I salute their courage and I pray for their good health and for my children.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Potty training - one month. What works...sort of!

Things never happen as planned when it comes to kids. I had decided originally that I would start potty training KB when he turned 27m old. But at that time KG was only five months old, it was the beginning of winter, I had a bunch of flight trips coming up, my mother had left – I just didn’t feel ready for it. So I just let it be. I figured I would wait till it warmed up and my trips were done with. But I had a line of guests visiting us every weekend almost…and I had two weekends without guests after which my FIL was coming to stay with us. This was last month. I figured I just had to start the dreaded training that weekend and have at least two weekends before my FIL arrived. I figured any change in routine will make it that much harder once he came. So when KB turned 32m old, I started his potty training. I decided to go the “all out” route (meaning no diapers or pull ups) rather than step by step because I was afraid that if the training dragged on for months bit by bit, I would find it really hard what with the increase in cooking (since FIL is diabetic and has to have proper healthy meals on time unlike us who would just eat what ever!) and having to take care of both kids by myself.

I am writing down what I did in some random order – it has worked reasonably well for the most part. Will write down problem situations at the end of this post. But I think one key thing is that the parents have to be ready for this mentally too for it to work well and also you have to judge when the child is somewhat ready for it. In my case, I felt KB was ready for it because I took him to tour his school and he has to be potty trained to join that school. He loved it so much and when I told him he needs to be potty trained that became his incentive instantly. No stickers needed. Just the mention of W school each time he talked about learning to use the potty…

Anyways – here it goes – what worked for me for potty training KB. (Note, this is not for parents in India who potty train their kids the moment they start walking! Or even before that! :) )I am not saying it is totally done – but it is not as bad as I expected it to be – KNOCK ON WOOD LOUDLY!!! Lest he regress! J This is a list I made for my friend who wanted me to send her tips to potty train her son. Figured it might help others too – so here it is.

- Allocate three full days straight for the initial training. No outings planned – except very local ones – say walk down the road to the park.

- With KB I took him to the potty even before that – first I got him used to flushing – which all kids enjoy. Next I used to take him to the potty after his poop session while he was still on diapers - but I used to wipe him off there and make him flush.

- I got him “The first years” potty ring with a handle – handle makes them feel secure initially. Now he doesn’t use a potty ring – only two weeks – they will get used to it. Con about the ring – it is not wide enough of a hole in my opinion.

Oh BTW – don’t get a potty chair etc - pain in the neck IMO. Just go straight to the potty with a potty ring. Too much of a pain to clean up if you use the potty chair etc.

- I got him “Elmo can use the potty” (since he loves Elmo) and “It’s potty time” books. He got used to reading about it and thinking about it.

- I took him to Target and made him pick his underpants. NO training pants or pull-ups. I think it works – to not give them that option at all. More accidents may be – but still worth sticking to it I think. Lucky for me – they had Elmo underpants. So I made a big deal of how he is now a big boy and just like Elmo from the book he too will be wearing big kid underpants.

- I bought FIVE of the 7 pack of underpants. We needed about 21 changes the first day! J

- What ever incentive you think will work - use it. Candy for some kids, stickers etc may work well. But incentives do help. As I said in KB’s case, he was enamored with the idea of school (since he doesn’t go to day care or preschool yet) – so that was his incentive. Each time he sat on it and “went”, he would say, “Now I can go to W school”.

- Prepped KB big time the previous two days saying in excited tones “Wow – no more diapers for KB since he is going to be a big boy” etc…and next morn after his milk – just took him off diapers. Pretty much emptied out his diaper drawer! J Expect him to just go where ever. But hopefully you can catch him in time at least for No 2. God hope! Thank fully – GOD please – so far escaped that gross mess. But hopefully you know his schedule and you can catch him before No 2. But he will surely have plenty of No 1 accidents the first day. So have mop cloth ready. Also BUY some plastic sheet – I got plastic tablecloth – to put under his bed sheet.

- Give him lot of fluids the first day so he gets a lot of opportunities to go sit in the potty…take him to the potty as often as he permits…every time he makes a mess you still take him and run to the potty and say he needs to tell you before he has to go.

- Don’t give him the diaper option – day or night. It helps really in developing that sense of control.

- Another KEY thing – you have to either stop nighttime milk or give it a whole hour at least BEFORE his bedtime. If not you will have to take him to pee at around 11.00 pm. But do it. For me, this was the big challenge. I take KB out every evening. Come back, make dinner and around 8.30, used to give him dinner and then around 10.00 pm his milk, change his diaper and he would go to bed. But now I have to give him dinner by 7.30 pm (I have to give KG her meal at 6.30pm which gives me very little time to cook our meals) – so that he will finish by 8.15 pm, have his milk by 9.15 pm at least and then go to bed at 10.15 pm. Just before bedtime I make him use the potty and then go to bed. But these days he just wakes up around midnight if he wants to pee and we take him to the potty. He is not happy about getting up, but he does it anyway. Same for naps – I just give him his lunch and about 45 min later, I make him pee and then go for his nap. He manages to keep it dry and goes when he wakes up.

Problem situations:

Day one – he had many No 1 accidents. He still managed to tell us for No 2 thank heavens.

Day two – much fewer accidents. Surprisingly he was dry until morning (because I gave him his night milk nearly 2h before bed time the first two nights). Couple of nights, he was dry till about 5.30 am but around 7.00 am he was little wet – not fully though. But after those first few days, so far it’s been dry till morning (since we manage to take him when he cries a little in the middle of the night because he feels like going – the whole thing takes about 5 minutes).

I still have a hard time mainly when he is playing in the playground at the park. Especially on colder evenings. He is so engrossed in play that he tries to control himself as much as possible. Each time I ask him, he just says, “Already done”!

And when he cannot control anymore, he comes running to me and says “I need to go” and by the time I put KG back in her stroller and run with them both to the restroom (since I cannot leave her alone unless I go with another friend to the park), it is a little late. I just carry a pair of change clothes and change him there. He is not dripping wet, just a little wet from the delay. So I just clean him up and change him there. Am hoping this will resolve in a couple of months so he develops full control. I don’t know how he will manage in school. I still help him with getting on the potty and also with wiping. But I figured I would make him do everything start to finish once he develops some more bladder control. Until then I just help him out. He enjoys flushing and the ceremony of soaping his hands until there are a lot of bubbles and drying his hands etc. Praying that he will continue to be good (some people say they can suddenly regress as well – hope that doesn’t happen!) and also hope the playground situation gets easier.

Will stop here – if these tips help anyone, do let me know – just so I can feel good that it was worth writing it down! J