My gratitude for your fragility

Holding you, cuddling you. I wonder though. How is it possible for you to bring me such joy with just a touch, just a hug, just a cuddle, just a giggle.

I can feel the softness of your cheeks. I can’t think if a better place to keep mine.

I can feel your ribs, the shoulder blades. And I am reminded, how fragile you were when I first touched you. Just a layer of flesh over a network of delicate bones. How I feared that you might break if I held you too hard, too close.

Now I don’t fear the fragility. I embrace the gentleness that it evokes in me, the blind trust that you place in me and the knowing trust that God places in me.

I keep telling myself. This joy is short. You will grow up before I can accept it. You will not want a cuddle but a perfunctory hug. Strength will displace fragility. Independence will displace your needs.

I try not to think of that. But I know one thing for sure. I am so eternally grateful for your fragility. It has made me a mother. A gentle, caring woman. Your fragility has opened up tender feelings from deep within, breaking my shells. For that my dear, I thank you. Thank you God. For trusting me.

Image courtesy: Hedgehog94 / Getty Images

When you are with me

When you scream, you show me your impatience. And teach me patience.

When you smile at a flower, you show me your spontaneity. And teach me presence.

When you imitate my clap, you show me how you observe. And teach me mindfulness.

When you look at the switch to turn on a light, you show me your intelligence. And teach me to nurture it.

When you keep trying to open that door, you show me your persistence. And teach me restraint.

When you rush to me for comfort, you show me your vulnerability. And teach me to be secure.

When you fall down and still walk, you show me your resolve. And teach me determination.

When you point at everything to read and see, you show me your inquisitiveness. And teach me curiosity.

When you are here, in my life, you show me the meaning of pure joy

Guide to weaning – traditional and baby led

Baby led weaning (BLW). It’s new and yet we have been doing it for centuries. It’s brave and yet tested. It takes patience and that’s parenting anyway. It’s logical and yet you need to trust only your baby.

Baby led weaning means allowing the baby to feed themselves right from when they are ready for solids, approximately the 6 month mark. Starting with purees, to foods shaped like a finger, to foods shaped like a small cube. Essentially the baby learns to eat with repeated practice. Baby eats involving all his senses. Baby eats what we eat with slight modifications. Overtime, as they are exposed to the wide variety of foods, they develop a healthy eating habit, can feed themselves, to what they want and how much they want. The parents role is limited to what and when to offer. How much and how to eat is left to the baby.

Check out Baby led weaning book for details.

So is BLW the best? Should you feel happy if you follow it and guilty if you don’t? Are you robbing your child of independence and setting up a bad relationship with food otherwise?

This is a question that many new moms are faced with. No one, absolutely no one, wants to raise a baby with a poor relationship to food, a picky eater. What we all have are the best intentions.

But that doesn’t mean baby led weaning is THE correct approach to weaning. It is a methodology that is very empowering for the baby. But feeding a small child is a two way process. It involves the baby and the parent. Although BLW can be empowering for the parent, it may not be the case always. It might in fact lead to increased anxiety, worry. That in turn, reflects on the baby.

How can we decide then?

Ask yourself these questions.

Are you a very anxious parent, constantly worrying about the child, what they do, how much they eat? Some anxiety is warranted. But is this all you think about? Then you are an anxious parent.

Then you need to learn to relinquish control. You need to trust yourself and the baby. That doesn’t happen overnight. You need practice. That’s where BLW can help. The initial few days may be incredibly hard. Take support to help you stop projecting. To stop you from insisting the baby. To monitor you and assure you that the baby is doing fine. Once, you get comfortable, as the baby’s skill improves, you’ll find your anxiety reducing. Feeding with anxiety can lead to insistence even when the baby is clearly communicating otherwise. This can lead to complex issues like spoon aversion, picky eating that are hard to reverse. Take help and try BLW. It’s what might be best for both.

Are you a parent plagued by underconfidence? Questioning your every decision, looking for approval? Try BLW the same way and for the same reasons as anxious parents.

Are you a confident parent, who can trust yourself and trust the baby. Do you follow your baby’s cues and respond appropriately without projecting your expectations? Then you can do whatever you feel comfortable with. Traditional spoon feeding or BLW. There is nothing wrong with traditional weaning. We only need to be careful about two things. Follow the baby’s cues and do not insist. Else it can lead to spoon aversion. Don’t stay on the same foods and textures for long. Progress to table foods and textures as you observe your baby to handle it. This can avoid picky eating.

There are other external factors like family support which I will cover in another post.

Does this guide help? What approach did you follow and why? How did it go for you? Let’s talk about that!

Breastfeeding – what you need to know

As a pregnant mother, with multiple complications and on bed rest, I had time to kill. As in previous posts, I spent most of it on spirituality to gain mental strength. Little time, I spent Googling the pregnancy itself. However, I spent no time preparing to be a mother. Out of fear of jinxing it. Sounds silly. But the fear was real. I don’t regret it as such because I know I coped well and it kept me calm and sane which was the prerogative then.

However, in hindsight, it would have been helpful if I had known about certain things as a new mom. It would have eased the first few months tremendously- not only for me. But for my family too.

The first on the list is about breastfeeding. Here are my learnings from the process.

  1. Breastfeeding is hardly natural
    • Breastfeeding is hard. It isn’t natural. It doesn’t come easily. It is extremely painful the first few days. It takes consistent and deyermined practice from you and the baby.
    • It may feel like you are not producing enough milk. But don’t give up if you had planned to breastfeed. Nurse and nurse more.
    • If you have other issues like forceful letdown or oversupply or tongue tie, work with a lactation consultant to find suitable remedies including pumping.
  2. Babies cry a lot in the first few days
    • Babies are inconsolable the first few days. Obviously they have had a traumatic entry into a new world that is very scary. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are hungry. How can we know the difference? Check this video.
    • I wish I had seen this video earlier. I have no idea if it works cos I saw this too late. But if it does work, it’s a life saver.
  3. Learn as much as possible about breastfeeding before delivery
    • How does it work, what is a latch, how do you know if baby is actively sucking or there for comfort, how do you know they are done, one breast or two, which breast to start with. Many more queries. If possible, attend classes to understand this.
    • This video, I love. Again I came across this much later.
    • The best resource I found for these queries is here.
  4. Know babies signs
    • How do babies look when hungry, tired, sleepy, full? Check videos and if possible take classes to understand this.
    • When I started feeding, as my entire journey was colored with self doubt, I mistook baby’s sleepiness for being tired and assumed he isn’t getting enough milk.
  5. Lactation consultant
    • Know what to ask them. DO NOT believe everything they say. Accept their advice, try it. Return if it doesn’t work. Keep working with them till you get it right. No matter how long it takes. They are expensive though. If possible, set aside a good budget for this.
    • There will be a separate post on how to work with them.
  6. Listen to your mother
    • While lactation consultants and breastfeeding support is good, I believe sometimes it is overrated. Perhaps for the business, for the pump manufacturers. The previous generation moms and those from lower income groups feed with guidance only from their moms. They feed intuitively. And mostly successfully. So if you want to do away with pressure and be guided by just your mom or sis who has done it, please do so. You can seek support if it isn’t working. Else don’t fix what isn’t broken.
  7. Listen to only one person on a topic
    • Do your research. Find that one person whose advice you want to follow.
    • When I had breastfeeding issues, I asked the gynecologist, the pediatrician, family doctor and multiple lactation consultants. Each person’s advice was different. It was confusing and nothing worked. I wish I could have had ONE trustworthy person whose advice I could have followed blindly.
  8. Postpartum depression is real
    • With the swathe of hormonal changes, feeling out of sorts is normal. How out of normal is something that can be totally misjudged. Learn and educate family about signs of postpartum depression or anxiety. Take help if anyone, including you, has even the slightest doubt that you have it.
    • In my case, I just cried and cried. Got angry for everything. It persisted for months. No one knew it was depression. I am not sure if depression contributed to lack of milk or the other way round or if it was a cycle. Whatever it may be, I wish both my family and me were equipped with knowledge of recognizing and addressing the depression. It might have made my breastfeeding experience better.
  9. Lose your logic
    • I believe in measures. Everything I do is calculated. The recipes I cook, the routes I take. I even make excel sheets with detailed comparisons before making any purchase. So believing in a process I couldn’t see was hard. There was no way to know if the baby was drinking enough, how much, was there a pattern. Nothing.
    • For breastfeeding, it’s essential to lose your logical brain and trust yourself and the baby. This is VERY HARD.
    • Check for signs of healthy growth to reassure yourself that the process is working.
    • If unable to get over this, buy a weighing scale and measure the baby for how much milk has been consumed. However, this is a very last resort. Its is easy to lose yourself and obsess over numbers. It is best avoided.
  10. Getting into a pumping schedule is immensely difficult
    • It takes supreme willpower to follow through. If exclusively pumping, it is doubly hard. Family support is essential. Educate them on what might be a necessity and set expectations.
    • Pumping sucks. It is mechanical, impersonal, stressful, frustrating and time consuming with multiple sterilizations. But it may be needed. Keep an open mind.
    • Also pumps are expensive. Plan for this in your insurance or set aside a budget. Research and find a good double pump. Also set budget for a pumping bra.
    • If you intend to pump while working, research handy carry bags and storage solutions. Check and adhere to breast milk storage guidelines.
    • Best resource i found for pumping.
  11. Feel empowered
    • If you have tried and failed or don’t want to try or want to do combination feed, ALL are acceptable and good. It only matters if the baby is well fed, taken care of, is healthy and happy. NOTHING else matters.
    • You are the best person to make the choice. Do not leave it to the family or doctors. You and only you can make the choice of feeding. Whatever your decision, it is right.
    • Lose the guilt. Be confident. You are a mom, not a feeder alone.
  12. Don’t overcompensate
    • It is natural to feel you are failing as a mom. Especially if you are a first time mom with grandparents helping out. Right from lifting the baby to bathing to changing, everything seems wrong when contrasted with how grandma does it. Added with postpartum depression this is debilitating.
    • I overcompensated my feelings of inadequacy by vowing that baby would never go hungry. I insisted on giving the bottle after every feed. Even after rejections. In a few months, this lead to bottle aversion. I am aware of many moms who suffer with low milk supply doing the same. They now struggle with bottle aversion.
  13. Trust your baby
    • Your baby knows how much and when he wants to feed. Accept this. He will not and should not feed as much as you think he should. Always follow and respect the baby.

Have you faced breastfeeding issues? How did you manage? Share your story and let’s talk about that!

How to Stop Comparing Yourself with Others

We compare. Period. There can be no debate on this. Unless we are supremely confident or indifferent or antisocial, chances are that we compare ourselves to others. In career, in choice of mate, in choice of appliances, in diet, in everyday decisions. The list is endless.

Parenting is no exception.

Sometimes comparison is good. It pushes us out of our comfort zone spurring us to decisive action. However, comparison in parenting is particularly debilitating as we feel we are somehow failing a small human who is completely dependent on us and has no means of effective communication.

The realm of influence doesn’t stop with us. It affects the next generation. This thought is sufficient to makes us feel inadequate and eat into our confidence.

How can this train of thought be stopped?

  1. Extend the comparison to other spheres
    • Sounds counterintuitive isn’t it? To kill comparison with more comparison? The fact is, no one has a perfect life in all respects. There is always a balance. When you look hard enough, you will realize that they have it better or are better in one aspect. However, you have it better in other aspects.
    • While doing this, mark out the aspects for which you are truly grateful. Do you have helpful parents, a compassionate workplace, an understanding partner?
    • Come to see the truth. That everyone has something better than you. You have something better than everyone.
  2. Cherish your uniqueness
    • We understand at some level that we are unique, our situation is unique, our child is unique. So comparison really isn’t applicable.
    • Cherish your baby. Cherish what you bring to the baby. Remember you were chosen as the parent. Believe that the match is perfect.
  3. Social media prudence
    • Do you believe everything you see in a movie? Of course not. It is curated for entertainment. Social media is curated for followers. Don’t believe everything you see.
    • If a particular account makes you feel bad consistently, unfollow it.
  4. Soak and seek information
    • If you genuinely find yourself lacking in an area, accept it. Parenting is all about learning constantly.
    • Make a goal to fill the gap. Find books and articles that are relevant for you. Seek information, upgrade yourself. See my earlier post on how this can be done.

Does this process help? What do you think? How do you stop comparison? Let’s talk about that!

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