Welcoming Nyra into our family!

Yess…we are finally a family of 4. We rang this year with the birth of our daughter Nyra.

I was wrong to believe that it would be easier the second time around. So far It has not been easy. With Mike busy with his work, his MBA classes, a lockdown in Switzerland, a hyperactive toddler, cold cold winter, this phase in our lives hasn’t always been a jolly ride.

Bringing Nyra into this world was probably the easiest part for me. What started like light contractions early morning around 2 am, got really painful and unbearable around 5 am. By the time we reached the hospital, I was already 3 cm dilated. I was literally begging the nurse to give me epidural (thank you science!). By 11.30 am, after all the pushing and screaming, our doll was finally out. I got to hold my baby girl only for few minutes before the nurses took her away from me. They had to do a small procedure (which took almost 2 hr) on me to remove the additional placenta present in my uterus. 

I had to stay at the hospital for 2 days as I had lost more blood than normal and had to get iron infusion. The doctor wanted to check if I would bleed more because of the procedure. With great difficulty I stayed there. I was missing my husband and son like crazy. Because of the restrictions due to the pandemic, no guest was allowed inside other than the spouse and that too only for a couple of hours. My mother could not travel and be with us too. I just wanted to take my baby home to my boys.

Neel’s reaction when we finally got home was priceless. He was so happy and excited to see his baby sister that he was showering her with kisses and hugs all.the.time. I had to keep him from smothering her!

As expected, the first few nights were really difficult. Nyra did not sleep so well. She was waking up every few minutes both during day and night. I had to feed her constantly and still she was not satisfied. I was worried that I did not have enough milk to feed her. Power pumping and drinking lots of homemade herbal tea (made of star anise, fennel seeds, cumin and ajwain) actually helped improve my milk quantity. However I also ended up having fever with high temperature for a few days. I was always on bed with a baby latched onto me and a toddler by my side (Neel wanted to be with us the whole time). Thankfully Mike had his paternity leave and was able to take care of us.

I was more or less prepared (from the first time) for the pains, sleepless nights, sore breasts, fatigue which were expected postpartum. But what I had forgotten and which took my breath away was the psychological stress that came with it.

The anxiety over the baby, whether she was doing fine or not, my toddler needing my attention and me unable to spend enough time with him took a toll on me. I was constantly filled with depressing thoughts. I felt I had no control over my emotions. I was all over the place- the moodiness, the anger, loss of appetite, the guilt because of pain and being unable to contribute to household chores.

I wanted to be happy and excited for this new phase in my life but all I could do was sit and cry.

I did not know when I would be able to see my family and when they would get to hold the baby. I wondered what would happen to my career or when I could travel next. I despaired that it would be another 3 to 4 years before I could enjoy a nice cup of coffee alone without anyone jumping on me or crying for me.

I realized Nothing and Nobody can prepare you for this emotional roller coaster ride…

Now I tell myself to take it one moment at a time, to first acknowledge these emotions that I have, to be kind to myself, to take small steps to convert the negative feelings into something positive. The most important and the hardest task was to make an effort to discuss my feelings with my family.

Now I know there will be a time for my career, for vacation, for everything else, but at the moment I need to give attention to myself. I need to heal so that I can be there for my family.

Thanks to Mike, my sister and my mom, who have been my constant support, who had to bear my wrath, I am able to get stronger and better with every passing day.

3 months after birth, I am not completely there yet. I still have my burnouts. Some days it can be too much with two kids, but I know I will be fine, things will be fine… 

Like they say “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” I believe I am already halfway there.

Love,

Madhurya

Dear New Mama,

Do you feel like you aren’t getting a moment’s rest? No time to take a shower, to eat something without being interrupted by a sudden wailing? And sleep? What’s that?? How was life before a baby (or a twister more like) rolled out and took complete control of it?! you may wonder.

Many have gone through this before and many still do. But when you are in the thick of it all, it is hard not to assume you are all alone in this. It is nice and necessary to connect with other mamas.

https://www.inc.com/

Motherhood is something nothing can prepare you for. When everyone asked me to get all the sleep I could before a new baby arrived, I found it funny! I thought I would be different, my baby would be different. Thank God I believed it, I enjoyed my first pregnancy in all that ignorance! I hope you enjoyed every bit of that baby inside you, the flutterings in your belly, the relief of listening to the lubdubs of a tiny heart beating, the excitement of the arrival of a new being into your life. It is all too precious!

Now that your baby is here, get all the help you can. You don’t have to do it all. You’re hanging in there, trying not to lose your mind. That’s more than enough. You don’t have to have a clean house, 3 different meals a day. You don’t have to be the perfect wife, the fun mama to your older child. These roles will be waiting for you whenever you are ready.

I know it is annoying when someone gives you advice (without your asking) or tells you to do something differently. It is hard to let it be. But know in your heart that it all comes from a place of love and concern for you.

Take time for yourself… go for a stroll, do some stretches, take a long shower, go for a drive. Spend time with that amazing person (you!) even for a few minutes.

You must’ve put your career, your everything on hold for this baby. Have faith in yourself and these words that it will be waiting for you to get back when you’re ready. If not, you’ll figure something out. A job that doesn’t respect a mother and raising kids is not worth keeping.

And you will eventually get to this other side where we’re waiting, rooting for you. Your baby won’t remain that cute, colicky munchkin forever. It will grow up and you will too. As you fret and fear and lose yourself in the muddle of mommyhood, take time to breathe, to resurface, to look around and cherish what you already have…

Love,

Your friend and sister.

How to get kids to read (more)

As a child I was surrounded by books. When there was nothing else to do, my sister and I naturally gravitated towards books. We did not have many children’s books though. We read whatever we could get our hands on. Our parents weren’t worried about what we were reading. We were library members and often visited bookstores- a very uncommon thing in India in the 90s.

I clearly remember picking up a Sidney Sheldon book to read, for the first time. Nowadays people might find it terrible that a child be allowed to read an adult book, but I turned out Ok, well, almost! So I believe any reading is good reading. The picture of a friend who would read the newspaper covering the fried snacks we munched on, comes to mind! 🙂 I encourage my kids to read all kinds of age-appropriate literature.

For kids ages 10 and 7, my kids read considerably more, They just enjoy inhaling the smell of a book, the anticipation of the arrival of a new book, the experience of doing nothing but immersing oneself in a good book and telling us all about it!

So how do you get them to this stage? Here are a few things that have helped me along this reading journey-

  • Start early – This is a no-brainer, but many fail to do so in this day and age. They ask, here in India especially, ‘Oh what’s the use? The child is not even listening or understanding.’, but they do. I observed my daughter trying to imitate my facial expressions as I read to her as a baby. I let my kids play with the books, and sometimes even chew on them! Be prepared to read the same book over and over again!
  • Read to your child – no matter how old they are. For a while I was ashamed that I was still reading to my kids when they were supposed to be reading by themselves. Oh what the heck! They loved to hear all the different character voices I made and I enjoyed snuggling with them on the bed and reading to them. But when I listened to podcasts like “Read- aloud Revival” I felt assured that I wasn’t hindering my kids’ progress. Most of the times, kids simply skim through the pages to get to the end of a story. They need to hear how a word sounds or comprehend the deeper meaning of a character’s speech and thoughts. By reading aloud you are taking their reading to a higher level.
  • Keep trying new books and genres – I’m always observing my kids and talking to them about what their current interests are. When I found out that my daughter enjoyed cooking and eating, I bought her the “All Four Stars” book and when I realized that my son preferred humor instead of action in the Avengers series I bought him, I ordered the “Wayside school” and the “Weird School series”. It is frustrating when a book doesn’t end up piquing the interest of my kids. But I suck it up and try to put a different book in their hands.
  • Read books yourself – Model the behavior you wish your kids to emulate. This applies not just for developing reading skills.
  • Cut down Digital Distraction – We have a rule in our household- No TV until we have finished all our school work and chores and only during and after dinner. Getting bored and doing nothing is permitted but reaching out for digital devices to entertain is not!
  • Carry a book wherever you go – so that there’s no chance you get bored on a long drive or a boring party! Sometimes I carry my kindle so that I can read aloud and all of us are happy! My sister’s mother-in-law keeps a stash of books ( along with some toys, which she changes often) in her car to keep her grandkids busy on their outings. I thought it was a brilliant idea!
  • E-books are perfectly alright – I used to be a purist about paperbacks once upon a time, but now I buy whichever is cheaper and easily available.
  • Talk about the books you’re reading– kids love to talk about what they do or read. Showing interest and really listening to them as they enthusiastically enumerate every. Single. detail will help build their love for reading.
  • Don’t compare your children’s reading level with someone else’s- My daughter reads faster than me but she might be reading slower or fewer books than her friend. It is all ok. Reading , like any developmental phase, happens at different paces for every individual.
  • Take a chill pill- you are not a bad parent if your child doesn’t like reading yet, nor is there something wrong with them. The problem could simply be not finding the right book to read. My teenage cousin wasn’t a big reader, but I like to think that I changed that by giving her the twilight series. Now she reads more than I do!

Ultimately, it is all about gifting the joy of reading to your child. Rest assured that they will reach out for a good book to escape when things aren’t ok and enjoy when life’s good.

Manasa

Winter thoughts and Crafts

“We are Not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm”.

I read this somewhere and felt it reflected the thoughts I’ve been feeling lately.

I’ve been speaking to lots of people and getting to know how they are dealing with this Pandemic. I am thankful that we are able to live an almost normal life here. Even though cases are increasing here in Switzerland, we are still not having a lockdown. But people are scared and worried. It is normal to feel this way. However, does worrying solve this issue? I doubt it.

Along with stressing themselves, people are transferring this stress to their extended families and friends. Because of this, relationships have been tested. Friendships have been broken. To these people I can only earnestly say that even though we are not in the same boat, we are all in the same storm. We are all going through the same s***. Some, more than others.

Instead of bringing others down with negativity, do your best to be positive, be thankful for the friendly people around you, for all the lovely festivities coming up and nurture your relationships in the best way possible. Support each other and be kind!

Now that I am close to the last month of my pregnancy, doctor has recommended that I stop working. It’s really cold and snowing out here, so I have nothing much to do. When I am not doing household chores, cooking, dropping Neel to day care and going grocery shopping, I have been doing a lot of DIY crafts and activities.

1. Diwali crafts

Neel and I made these lanterns and diyas. I let Neel draw on color paper before cutting them to make the lanterns. For diyas, I followed this video.

2. Advent gifts

Every year, around 24 ladies from our village come together to make advent gifts. Each one makes 24 identical gifts and labels them with the number provided by the organizer. The organizer will then rearrange all the gifts in such a way that each one in the end gets 24 different gifts to be opened from 1st of december till 24th of december. This year I made these frames/ wall hangings out of washi tapes and cardboard boxes. In every frame, I stuck Christmas card which I made using thick golden cardstock.

3. Christmas tree hanging

This year, because of the Pandemic and my current situation, we will be spending Christmas/ New year at home and so we decided to put up our own Christmas tree. Along with the regular Christmas tree decorations, I decided to make some of my own handmade ones too. Using empty toilet paper rolls, I made these golden flowers.

4. Christmas gifts

I made these handmade gifts for my friends using mason glass jars, golden washi tapes, golden color spray and candles.

5. Christmas activities

Neel and I are doing a lot of activities together in the spirit of the holiday season. We both check Pinterest for inspiration and if he likes something he says “shall we do this together mama?”

Playdough Christmas tree

Christmas tree cards

Neel is my partner in all of these creations. He is one excited kid when it comes to celebrations and festivities. I think he gets it from his mama. Thanks to him, I’m enjoying making crafts, decorating our house and celebrating all the festivals. So you can see, I have kept myself busy lately and I don`t think I will be stopping anytime soon (until the baby arrives at least). I hope you all enjoy this holiday season in whichever way possible, small or big, with or without family, and make the most of it.

Love,

Madhurya

Reflections (November ’20)

  1. I began the practice of writing, meditating, exercising and blogging for 10 to 15 minutes everyday.
  2. It stresses me out when I have to post something on a particular day, but when I work on bite-sized pieces everyday, I don’t mind it as much.
  3. Discipline is my middle name. I’m nothing if I’m not disciplined.
  4. I’m not a very impulsive person, and I’m very protective about my time. I can’t stand it when something unplanned gets tossed into my schedule. I like to be prepared before I face a day. But, given time, I’ll warm myself to the new idea.
  5. I love being that person people find comfortable talking to, someone they can turn to. I want to be known for being a good listener than for being a talker.
  6. I feel like I’m slowly feeling comfortable in my own skin.
  7. Kids respect my ME time. They don’t disturb me when I’m writing or meditating.
  8. I felt bad about being rough with Medha regarding her studies. I realized I needed to be a patient, creative teacher before I expected her to be an enthusiastic learner.
  9. Medha is quieter compared to Madhav, my younger one. Who knew, my son, who didn’t begin talking for a long time, now doesn’t know when to stop!
  10. Kids have to figure out what makes them tick. All I can do is instill them with the core values of hard-work, discipline, kindness and integrity. In fact it is far easier for me to show them how these values work in real life by practicing them myself.
  11. Kids experiencing slight discomfort in their bodies can unravel me. I need to steady myself and remain strong for them.

Books I read

The Monk who sold his Ferrari

Lady of Bolton Hill

The Sunday Lunch Club

Krishna’s secret.

All the books I read were good. Sunday lunch club was a bit slow but it was a delicious read.

My hope for December-

That I continue to read, write, exercise, meditate and blog. All these things kept me mostly sane and productive through the month of November. December is all about holidays and travel around here. I hope it doesn’t throw me off-balance. 🙂

So, what are your hopes and dreams for December? And for 2021?

Love,

Manasa.

In the time of Coronavirus (In Switzerland)

Some of the things we’ve been doing with our 2 year old during these uncertain times are –

  1. We have a huge field next to our home. It is usually empty and whenever Mike and I are not working, we like taking long walks while Neel cycles.

2. Trying to keep in touch with my friends and family, especially the ones in Switzerland. We are constantly messaging each other to find out how everyone’s managing their kids at home.

Neel is missing his cousins and friends a lot!

3. It is so difficult to manage a toddler at home, especially being a working mom. I have prepared lots of activities for Neel to play with while I work. Though it doesn`t keep him busy all the time, it certainly helps once in a while.

4. Reading lots of books. I am currently reading Liane Moriarty`s “Nine Perfect Strangers” and I am enjoying it thoroughly.

5. Mike and I sometimes play scrabble after Neel has gone to sleep. I enjoy this so much more than watching TV.

6. Baking!! I have started baking breads, buns and cakes.

7. I began working on another Crochet mandala which I hope to transform into a blanket!

8. As the weather gets better, Mike enjoys working in the garden with Neel. Neel loves to help his papa and tells me “Mama, stay here” (to make sure I don`t disturb them)!

8. I decided to learn something new and ordered materials to learn Hand Lettering. I’m practising my new skill every single day.

Honestly, when we are not working, Mike and I are truly enjoying this time we are getting with Neel. We are very thankful for the life, health and time we are blessed with. The only downside to this whole situation is that we will not be able to visit our family in India as planned. I really hope and wish that we will get to see them all soon.

Madhurya.

Things I do to keep Neel busy!

Now that Neel is 9 months old, he is quite active. When he is not playing with his toys or crawling all over the place, he stands up holding something and is slowly learning to walk. He doesn’t sit in one place. He gets so bored at home and expects me to take him out for walks all the time. When we are out, he is the happiest!

As I work 2 days from home, I’m trying to find different activities to keep Neel busy. So far I have tried these after checking many websites on pinterest:

  • Keeping Neel in his playpen right next to the sofa– When I sit and work on the sofa, he plays in the playpen. I do this to show him that I am right next to him. I sometimes keep the TV ON. I know it is not a good idea, but it is OK once in a while! (I do need to somehow get my work done! 😦 )

20180719_081955_resized

  • Playing with edible sand- Its a simple recipe- Mix flour, coconut oil and some food colors and put them in a tub or cardboard box. Toss a few toys in as well. This worked for sometime until he found it too tempting to start eating it. He still needs to get used to this concept that he is not meant to eat everything!

20180711_094518_resized

  • Playing with kitchen utensils– He loves to play with the steel utensils I have brought from India. He enjoys the noise they make while banging them on the floor.

20180711_162426_resized.jpg

  • Goody bag– Everyday I place some items inside a bag and point it to Neel. He finds it interesting to open the bag and remove all the items from it and play with them. It keeps him busy for a while.
  • I pour some water on his high chair and place some bottle caps. He really enjoys splashing about.

20180718_090858_resized.jpg

  • Playing with bubble wrap– He is still too young to understand the concept of bursting the bubbles in the bubble wrap. But he enjoys crawling all over the bumpy sheet.

  • Making a fort out of the lounge chairs– Mike has made a fort by rearranging the lounge chairs outside in our kitchen garden. We have placed some toys around and he plays with them in a secure area.

20180718_173545_resized

What do/ did you do to keep your kids busy? I would love to know some tips and tricks. Please share…

Love.

10 things that have made my life (a bit) easy as a new mom

Here they are:

  1. Swing

We bought this swing before Neel was born. A lot of people recommended this to us in case the baby turns out to be a light sleeper. I found this on Amazon. We installed the swing in our living room and used it during Neel`s day-time naps. I was able to do my work and keep an eye on him. He slept great in the swing. But we made sure not to use this during his night sleep. We wanted him to sleep in his bed. But on some nights when he was an absolute terror, we had no option but to use the swing. He was able to fit easily inside till about 4 to 5 months.

The swing comes with spring (costs extra) and belts inside to keep the baby safe. The drawback is it needs to be swung manually, which can get a bit tiring and boring!

20171020_115339

  1. Rattle Toys

I bought a few of them in bright colors. They can be held easily. Neel loved them and still does. I keep one or two in my bag to keep him entertained on our travels.

20180621_095322

  1. Stroller/ Car seat

We bought our stroller and car seat from Joie. Till about 4months, when Neel slept a lot during the day, we could just take his car seat out with him sleeping in it and put it directly on the stroller, without waking him up. You don’t even need an adapter to fit the seat on the stroller. For walks and to run our errands, this was quite helpful.

  1. Night Light

I bought this at a shop called Rappelkiste in Germany. I used this light till Neel turned 5 months old (I stopped using this when I started to sleep-train him. More on this in my next posts). When he would wake up in the middle of the night and was not ready to go back to sleep, he would just stare at the projected pictures on the ceiling and blabber at them. I would let him play around till he got tired or bored.

  1. Pillow

I bought this pillow during my pregnancy to help me sleep better. After Neel was born, I used this pillow to place him on. When Neel started to roll over, we had really bad nights. Every time he moved or turned, he would wake up and cry. They say the best way to stop this from happening is to swaddle the babies. Sadly, Neel never liked swaddling. So I used this pillow to keep him from moving a lot and that actually helped. It also helps in transitioning babies from swings to beds.

  1. Baby crib mobile

We bought this mobile at Ikea. I loved its simple and cute design. We did not hang this on his crib. Instead, we hung it above his changing table. He loved it. It was quite amusing to watch him look so animatedly at it as if he was challenging the creatures to play with him.

  1. Sippy cup

Neel, like most babies, never liked to drink from feeding bottles. He only wanted it from the source herself! My mom suggested to try different bottles or sippy cups. And he really liked the sippy cups better. Now I am also trying to get him used to the steel cups (which you generally get in India).

  1. Jars

When we started to feed solids to Neel, I wanted to store his food in sealed containers to make sure it wouldn’t get spoiled. As I made his food in large quantity, we used these jars of different sizes to store it. And it was easy and safe to take them while travelling too.

20180621_102954.jpg

  1. Car seat mirror

I use this to make sure that I am able to see Neel while driving. When I drove and he cried in the back, it used to make me very nervous. So we fixed it in front of his seat to make sure that nothing was bothering him physically (like one time his cap had covered his eyes and he was crying a lot). You can buy this in most of the hardware stores.

20180117_161724.jpg

  1. Baby carrier

Another item which I think was one of our best investments is this carrier from Cybex. Thanks to the elastic material in the center, it adjusts according to the shape of the baby and I don’t need to adjust any straps. It is quite ergonomic too. I used this a lot when I traveled to Dubai and India.

What helped/helps you as a new mom? I would love to know…

-Madhurya