Saturday, August 2, 2014

Unpredictability (updated)

That seems to be the general theme now.  My grandpa is in very bad shape: multiple strokes, deafness, etc have left him as a mere shadow of the dynamic and independent person he used to be. He is unbelievably frail, and yet has chugged along in this state for years now. My grandmother, a fiercely independent woman used to insist on taking care of him by herself, generally enjoys excellent health. We eventually persuaded her to move to Mumbai (a city she understandably dislikes, as it is so much less comfortable than Bangalore) by dangling the carrot of a great grandaughter. It worked. They have this beautiful bond: Gauri adores her, and she in turn lights up when she sees Gauri. My mom has always said how reserved her mother is, and yet this woman turns to mush when she sees my baby. I think the time Gauri spends with her on a daily basis has really helped my child too.

Last week, my grandma had two heart attacks. It came out of nowhere as these things always do, and I shudder to think how everything would have gone down had she still insisted on living by herself far away in another city. She is only here because Gauri is here, and that is a rather thought-provoking thing. She is doing okay after an emergency angioplasty with two stents in, but the precariousness of the situation has hit home hard. In all this, it was always my grandpa's health that worried people, and this happens to my grandma.

There was such an air of unreality around the whole thing, and still is. Thankfully, my mother is a rock in such situations, which really helps calm the rest of us down.

My grandma should come home in a few days, and hopefully, all will be well. Gauri is also contributing to the general unpredictability. It seems like she has five different sleeping patterns, and she keeps switching them around to keep me guessing. I'm philosophically opposed to imposing a strict schedule for how she should be spending her days and nights, lack the discipline to do it even if I were so inclined (I think), and also have an incredibly stubborn child who sleeps when she wants to sleep, wakes up when she wants to wake up, and eats when she wants to eat. There were an entire roomful of people determinedly trying to wake her up during her naming ceremony: this child determinedly slept through their efforts and woke up with a bright smile once they all left.  So, imposing a strict schedule to generate predictability as is the popular trend seems to be pretty much a non-starter here.

The one thing I CAN and want to control via schedule is when to give her a massage (my mom's contribution mostly), followed by a bath. These two (especially the massage) really seem to help her sleep. On her best nights, she nods off within an hour of her nightime bath, and wakes up at 6-7 am (!!!!). On other nights, she takes 2-3 hours to sleep, but sleeps till 7 am. Then there are in between nights where she wakes up every 3-4 hours and goes quickly back to sleep.  Slightly worse are the nights where she sleeps quickly but she wakes up every 1-2 hours. The worst nights are when she seems to incorporate Nessum Dorma as her personal motto and keeps me up till 3 am. Sometimes even 5 am. I never know which pattern it will be. I do know if I skip the bath and she has not stayed up all day, I'm likely dead meat.

Another challenge with this baby is boredom. All of us talk to her, and we have long rollicking sing-song conversations. Then there is her gym (somebody gave me this one as a gift and she loves it; should I also buy this one to keep it mixed up? Is the kick and play piano gym better? She also loves to be borne around being shown the ceiling fan (her great friend) in different rooms (rolling eyes).  With all this, this kid still is bored occasionally and tries to screech the house down when we stop playing with her and set her down. It is raining cats and dogs continuously, so I can't take her out till this deluge ends. It is time to introduce touch-and-feel books. Anybody have any recommendations?

Any ideas on books and other ways to keep her entertained would be very welcome.

Updated based on comments: Thank you all for the recommendations! I researched exersaucers, and the one thing I found is that they have a shorter usage window if you have a tall baby.  Gauri has gone from the 25th percentile at birth for height to the 80th percentile by 3 months of age, and she is probably passed the 90th by now, so I think she would have only a short time with it. I hence decided to go with an activity table: I picked this can remove its legs and put it on the floor, so she could use it unsupervised as soon as she can sit up unaided, which should not be too far away. I also got the kick and play piano gym, and I'm trying to restrain myself so as to not also buy the rainforest deluxe one.  


  1. So sorry to hear about your grandmother, I hope that she is able to heal quickly and get back to playing with Gauri.

    We like reading the simple That's Not My ____ by Usborne books. There are a bunch of them to pick from, we have the truck, car, puppy and monster ones, and now my two year old "reads" them to me and makes me feel all the funny things in them. They are very sturdy, short and cute.

  2. Is she able to sit in a bouncy swing yet (I'm thinking not) or rocking seat? Maybe some motion would help keep her happy. My niece loved anything with sound, press a button hear a sound or song, also just playing music or singing and dancing with her.

  3. If she can reliably hold her head up and is trying to reach for items then maybe an exersaucer will be good for her. Our first was ready for one before she was tall enough so we used a pillow under her feet. It was a life saver! Sending good thoughts for your grandmother.

  4. Yes to the touch and feel books or even a bath tub book that way it doesn't get wrecked with her possibly pouring it in her mouth. And I would say yes to the piano thing. My girls loved music. And just a though but what about the baby Einstein dvds? Both of my girls used to love to watch them and listen to the classical music in it. The level 1 dvd was perfect it was 24 minutes of me not having to entertain them (I could eat lunch! )
    I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother. But how special that your daughter gets to spend time with her. That is awesome.
    All my best to you!
    (A lurker for years) :)

  5. I second the exersaucer recommendation - even if you have to wedge her in there with towels or blankets. Gives her a different perspective than another gym (though that second one is the one we have), and she's less likely to get bored as quickly.

    So sorry about your grandmother -hope her recovery is smooth and quick.

  6. I, too, was going to suggest the exersaucer. E loved hers & I started her in it as soon as she could hold her head up.

    I am very sorry to hear of your grandma. I hope she recovers well.

  7. I'm glad you're not getting an exersaucer. In my opinion, it's not healthy for a baby's skeletal and muscular development to be propped up in positions they aren't ready for. If she can't stand independently then she shouldn't be standing at all. And no baby wants to be confined--they need to move. I also don't think babies should have overstimulating toys that flash lights and make noise. Overstimulating toys also are not conducive to good sleep habits. TV or DVDs for a baby this age is universally discouraged. Is it possible that the fussing that you're interpreting as boredom is actually fatigue? Their sleep patterns change so quickly it's hard to keep track, but watch and listen very carefully. Once you understand her circadian rhythms there's no need to be strict about a schedule. Just give her the right cues (bottles, sleep sack, music, whatever your routine is) and she'll sleep. Or she may not, but don't write her off. Sleep is so important for their development. You don't mention her naps. Is she sleeping well during the day?

    As I don't have the time to write very eloquently or thoroughly, here are three links you may find of interest. Janet Lansbury says it all much better than I could anyway:

    Sorry if I sound very preachy, but there are companies that are getting very rich marketing products to parents that are not in our children's set interests.

    1. No worries...I preach ALL the time :) I did read the arguments against exersaucers, and I was not sure what to believe, but that was part of why I decided against them. One link suggested an activity table in place of an exersaucer, and that was why I went for it (plus her height thing). No DVDs or TV or phone time or watching Elmo videos off YouTube for her either (agree totally there), but it will be hard for me as she gets older: I am usually superglued to my smartphone, and may actually have to give that up....oh the horror :) Her circadian rhythms seem well in place...she may take a while to sleep occasionally (many nights are no trouble whatsoever) but when she does, she increasingly sleeps a good 8 hours at a stretch and when she wakes up, she sleeps for another 3 hours after drinking. Once this nearly 12 hours of sleeping is done though, she is bright eyed and bushy tailed and only naps for like 2-4 hours between the hours of 12 pm and 10 pm. She is not overstimulated (does not seem to be to me) but she does want stuff to do. She focuses like a hawk on whatever is engaging her at the moment : conversations with us, the ceiling fans (objects of unending fascination), her one gym (which she LOVES), playing with her hands (shorter periods), but if you leave her to keep doing the one thing for like over half hour, she sometimes gets annoyed, and appears to want to mix it up. I could try to make her nap more in the 12 pm-10 pm period, but I'm afraid this will mess with her night sleep cycle (don't know if that is an unfounded fear).

    2. Thanks for understanding. I just see products sold to parents and want to tear my hair out. Potty seats with iPad docks! Activity Centers with iPad docks! Changing table pads with straight jacket straps so you're baby can't touch his soiled diaper while changing, but oh, can you imagine having your most intimate parts touched while your hands are bounded (ok, I guess this appeals to some, but adults!)

      I know your time is precious right now, but Dr. Weissbluth has a book, Healthy Sleep, Happy Child, maybe? He also has a website, google, but I may have added an extra letter to his name. He is a pediatrician and his information is science based. It may be worth a perusal. Sleep begets sleep, so you may be happily surprised that is she has more daytime sleep her nighttime sleep will not suffer and may even improve, be more consistent. But she sounds like she's getting a good 14 hours a day, at least.

      Yesterday Asa only had a short nap, about 45 minutes. He is 20 months old. Went to bed at the usual time, 6:30, and was up and crying at 5:30. I know this was a result of his screwed up nap yesterday. Usually he wakes at 6:30 and will babble and play for about half an hour before he wakes up.

      Take care! Keep blogging. I love reading over here.