Tuesday, December 13, 2016

17 tips on introducing siblings and building strong bonds:

I am a hands-on mom. It may not be considered a defining characteristic but it's something that has been incredibly important for me to maintain as I think about the kind of parent I want to be. I didn't have help with my son when I lived in the US (other than my amazing mom) and in spite of living in india I've chosen not to keep designated domestic help for my daughter - atleast until I go back to work. Yes, people think  I'm crazy to do that when I have other options and no, I'm not looking for parenting accolades either - it's just important for me to give as much of myself as I can to my kids at this age because frankly - they are not going to be that tiny for long. It's just as important if not more to have my kids love each other.  Sure, they will fight once in a while, but overall I need the theme to be love  - my brother and I would torture each other at times but  we couldn't be closer as adults. Ok fine, I don't fully accept that he's an adult as he's my first baby and always will be though technically he just turned 27 .... and is handsome, single, good looking, about to graduate from Harvard Business school  and is supposed to find me a super sister in law in case anyone was wondering. (In case I don't post next month or mysteriously disappear it's because he saw this !)
Baby Bro..

I digress.... This  post is a little  over due as I wanted to make sure that all the things I've been trying at home or reading and experimenting with, are actually working to create a smooth and loving relationship between my kids - and it really is. My son's day starts and ends with asking for and kissing his sister, and he often falls asleep holding on to her while I nurse her and tell him tales about him when he was smaller. So, here are my tried and tested tips on how to introduce siblings and make sure that they grow together to love each other while learning to share your time and affection (but not your love, as love I have learned recently,  multiples and definitely does not get divided). 

For tips on preparing your child to be an elder sibling please click here. 

6 days old..

17 tips on introducing siblings and building a loving relationship between them: 

1. Still Their baby:  As tempting as it is to finally cuddle both (or all) your kids together and say ' my babies', wait a few months before you state those words(I finally did it yesterday at 4 months, and it was digested well!), definitely cuddle them together (again and again, will help you believe that it's real)  but make sure your elder one knows that they are your baby and the little one is 'their baby'. I've maintained this through my pregnancy and continue to do it now and it goes a long way in not only creating a sense of protectiveness but also in reducing jealousy between siblings . 
first cuddle with both MY babies!

2. Don't blame  it on the baby: it's even harder to be home bound or baby bound before you can introduce pumped milk (if you are nursing), when you have a toddler who wants you to drop him to school, go with him for classes and birthdays. Or even when they want you to sit on the floor and play or just pay them attention, but you're busy nursing, do not blame it on the baby. Tell them you have an "ouchie" that's going to take time to heal or is causing you to stay at home or stay in the sofa  (You can even tell them that aliens are approaching and you need to hide, just don't tell them that it's because of the baby). 

3. Let them come to the hospital: when introducing two puppies, or even a puppy and a new baby, it's recommended to do it on a neutral ground so that neither feels territorial about the space. I recommend it for your little one  too - introduce them at the hospital, and the first time they come in make sure someone else is holding the baby and you hold your elder one, and then introduce them ( this is literally what I did when my pups met both my kids, but it worked!). The second meeting can be less structured. Your child may not want to leave you in the hospital though so be prepared to have dad bribe them with things to take them home. 

first introduction..

4. Sibling gift: when they are  the hospital without you , you can tell them that their new baby has sent gifts home for them. Also make sure you have gifts to distract them when you do go home with your little one. I've heard a lot of fuss made about how the sibling gift needs to be big and important but I think it should be small and distracting instead. It's better to give them a small gift a day that will keep them busy on each day then to give them one big gift that they may soon forget about. Make sure you tell them that the gifts  are from their new baby. 

5. Include them in feedings: I had a mini panic attack  the first time my daughter wanted to nurse during hospital visiting hours, but then decided that since he's going to see it anyway, I may as well include  him in it from the beginning. So I let him see it (now, at home,  I nurse in a cover up tho he does often sneak inside to kiss his sister), and i made him sit next to me while I  read him a book. I've fed him, made up stories, done puzzles and all kinds of things while nursing (even in a sling or just under a cover on the nursing pillow). It makes the whole feeding process less stressful for you if your elder one is not waiting (or wailing) for your attention. 

6. Their baby stories: currently, every sentence starts with "when I was little," or "when my baby is bigger" (she can play with me on the trampoline etc). Fuel their imagination by telling them stories about when they were little and making sure they know that they really were your first (they need that right now), and then watch their minds take over as they begin to tell you (often fictitious) stories of when they were little. You can even show them some pictures and  videos of when they were the same age, and make them literally see that you have cared for them just as much. 

7. Matching clothes: this is so fun, and even though my babies are different genders, just putting them in the same color makes your elder one feel bonded and like a pack,  with the baby. 
matching shoes: the little things can matter..

8. Include them in everything: honestly, they can be a huge help to you! Have them pass you diapers, choose the baby's clothes and even rub lotion or massage oil on the baby. My son loves to do tummy time with his sister and have me rub lotion on both their backs. This wasn't as easy at first as he would get very disturbed when she cried.  Even something as small as designating him to be the one to put on her mosquito patch every morning, makes him feel responsible for her and also included in this new dynamic we have at home. I even take him for all her doctors appointments and have him sit with her through vaccines. 
bedtime cuddles..
9. Distract them: it wasn't so easy to involve him in everything at first. He would get disturbed when she cried  during diaper changes and massages initially  (which she did the first couple weeks), so I would distract him instead with a new toy, something he liked, garden time, and train tracks (my bestest friend in the early days). They can't always be included, and in those cases distraction is key. 

10. Plan play dates: the greatest distraction technique is to keep them busy with someone else (even more so if your sending them to someone else's house! ). Though my son didn't want to leave me at all initially in which case I would call a friend home and he would happily play at home and I could get things done around the house. 
Play time!

11. Pay attention: when they need you attention, give it. It's not as easy thing to drop everything and do it, but try to the best of your ability (have your husband hold the baby and give them what they want). The request is usually small but the deed goes a long way. It will help  your older one realize they are still loved unconditionally and are just as important, before the younger is old enough to demand attention. 

12. Have guests pay them attention: yes, everyone will gather around and fuss over the new baby. But ensure that your elder gets attention too, or excuse yourself from the huddle around your baby and give your toddler attention yourself. You can't be in two places at the same time (though you will often find yourself wishing that you could), so take help from your visitors to ensure that either they or you are able to make both your babies feel special. 

13. Be consistent: in your excuses (it's you, not the baby) and in your discipline (you can hug and kiss the little one but not yank her arms no matter how lovingly you intend it to be), no matter what the message. The messages settle in when they stay the same each time and from each parents. 

14. Routines: children thrive on routine, and are calmer when they know what to expect and when to expect it. So try not to shake up their routine and timings even after the baby is here, and try to make sure that you continue to do some of the activities as exclusively as you did before. My son needs me at bedtime and won't sleep with anyone else (he did when I was pregnant and on bed rest but post the hospital he's been so thrilled to have be up and about he's given me the bedtime responsibility right back). And I'm happy to do it , along with his bath which has also been my sole responsibility since his birth - because that's the time of the day he needs me and when I know that he shares his thoughts, fears, kisses and cuddles. I do sometimes have to nurse my little one while putting him to bed - and he's okay with that because he knows that I'm still there for him at his bedtime as he needs.

15. Address the issue: bad behavior often goes away when ignored. However, feelings do not, and this is a time of tumultuous feelings for the elder one, who now has to share the time and affection that was solely theirs. So if you find them acting out, ask them what they are feeling (if they don't know - put words to their feelings - you were angry because…). And make sure they know you love them unconditionally no matter how they behave. You  need  not address the underlying issue of insecurity or jealously (if any)  but if you address the other issues, they will come talk to you when they do feel deeper things. And if they do say something negative about the baby like (I don't want her here right now), it's still okay - address their feelings and pay them attention or if you don't have an option and need to nurse or keep the baby with you, distract them with a story about when they were little! 

16. Good days and bad: there have been days when my son is extremely cranky, unreasonable or just exhibiting normal toddler behavior! It's their age and also the change they are dealing with. Indulge them (to reasonable limits), they are babies too who have overnight become the elder ones in the house hold. And don't fret too much - the good days will be back again, and they too will be grown u before you know it. 

17. Accept the divide: the hardest part of having two kids is wanting to be with both at the same time (and sometimes with none, which is totally okay too). However your  attention and time have to be divided;   you cannot be at home nursing if you have to be in school with your toddler, and you cannot  be  out all day with your elder one specially if you plan to nurse your baby at regular intervals. But remember that your love is infinite - yours for your babies and theirs for each other. And soon, they will have for each other more love than you could possibly account for. 

More to come! 

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be replicated or reproduced without permission. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

15 Tips on preparing your toddler to be an elder sibling:

Inspite of a crazy pregnancy with multiple hospitalizations towards the end, and an infant who nurses 7-9 hours a day, every single day, my son has adapted to all the changes in his life surprisingly well. He adores his little sister and looks for every opportunity to cuddle her, he often tells me he thinks she's getting hungry and needs a feed and even helps out with her diaper changes, bath time , and entertainment.  I did my best to prepare him for the baby before hand and continue to strive to make sure he knows just how important he is to me and every body around. Below are some ways to prepare your little ones for their new roles as elder siblings. 

nothing more heart warming...

15 Tips on preparing your toddler to be an older sibling: 

1. Their baby: sorry moms, as much as you may hate it when anyone refers to your baby as theirs, in this instance it's necessary. Tell your toddler that he or she is your baby but the little one inside you is their baby. I would constantly refer to my bulging belly as "riaan's baby" or "riaan's baby sister", and to date he says he's mama's baby but Kiara, my little one, is his baby. And honestly, it's adorable but also empowers him and makes him feel a part of the journey. 

2. Keep them involved: it's important to make your little one feel a part of the pregnancy and the earlier you feel able to tell them the better. Some parents worry about telling their children before the 3 month mark as kids are not really able to keep secrets and often we don't want others to know until we are out of the "danger zone," so take your time but do tell them before you announce it as you don't want them to hear that they are going to be an elder sibling, or that mommy is carrying a baby, from anyone else. 

3. Doctors appointments and supporting roles: part of keeping them in the loop is taking them to appointments when possible or even to an ultrasound. I didn't intentionally take my son to an ultrasound - though I had shown him pictures all along - he did however come to the hospital during visiting hours and see my undergoing an ultrasound, and was absolutely fascinated. Infact he asked to see his sister through the computer several times after that, and it really helped make him feel a part of the process. I also had him hold my hand and help with  my daily progesterone injections that I had to take for months on end, he now thinks he's a little doctor but definitely felt a part of everything. Plus he enjoyed the one one on time, and felt like he would get an outing with me whenever I took him out. 

4.  Keep them empowered: make sure they know that they are the big sibling and they have responsibilities, tell them how teju have to be in charge of taking care of the little one as they are 'elder' now.

5. When they were little: as much as they are elder, they were the little ones once too and don't let them forget that. Show them videos, pictures, albums and tell them stories of when they were little and about when they too were in mommy's tummy. It's important that they realize that they too were given the attention that your newborn will get (and honestly, even more than your newborn will get since you already have a toddler to take care of - but that you need not share). 

6. Set up the room/ baby space before hand: you may feel kicks and rolls but it's not easy for a toddler to understand what  changes  are in store for him, so make the necessary changes around the house as early as possible and then explain to them that their little baby is going to occupy these spaces soon ! It will make it more real and less of a shock when there's another baby in the house. 

7 . Use other care takers: while you, like me, may be tempted to make the most of your time with your toddler as an only child and give him all the time and attention you possibly can right now, the withdrawal or reduction of that attention when the baby comes can make your little one feel that the baby took away all the additional attention he or she was getting. So instead, spend time with them like you normally would and also try to get your toddler used to spending time with dad, and grandmom/ grandad/ your siblings. It will come in handy when you need it most ! 

8. Use books: cannot tell you enough how much it helped to have read him so many new baby books.. When my daughter was born my son quoted his big brother book and Said "too little to talk, too little to walk.." They may not put it together till they see the baby, but it will help you eventually. Also, if you know what you are naming the baby, you can point to the pictures and name them after your kids.. A little goes a long long way here! 

seriously, the best book.. our "riaan and kiara" book

9. Prepare them to share: it's not going to be easy for them to share your attention and time overnight but you can prepare them to share other things. Have play dates and teach them that others can use their toys too. Also and more importantly, practice what you preach and share your things with them if they ask you for them. It's cringe worthy when my little boy tries on my jewelry cause i don't want him to break anything, but at the same time if I don't show him I can share, he will never learn. ( plus you can distract him quickly and get your things back). 

10. Talk to your toddler as often as possible: atleast fault.  Explain to them that you will be in hospital, that babies cry, that they will have to share their space and things, but also that they will be a part of everything and are special to you and that you adore them. They may not respond in a way you want or even at all - you may not even be sure that they understood you, but do it anyway. It will come back to them and help them when the time comes. 

11. Give in on the small things: now and later, pick your battles. They will be sensing the changes in you - my son realized I wasn't carrying him as much - and so he would sob for me to carry him. I would do it anyway for a couple minutes and then sit with him in my arms. Just listening to what they want and doing it, would diffuse the tantrum, make him calm and make him able to listen to what I needed from him and what I had to say. Plus, there's no such thing as too many cuddles. 
12. Give them some space: my son loves to do activities with me and I would spend all afternoon post work everyday planning and doing structured activities with him. But I realized, out of exhaustion, that if I step back he will entertain himself and keep himself busy whether it's parking cars of pretending to make me food. Not only is pretend play really good for them but it's also good for them to be able to play by themselves and keep themselves busy. So hang around but hang back (like you would have to when your sitting in the room and nursing a baby), and you will see how your baby lets his or her imagination keep them busy. 

13. Sleep: the last thing you need is for two kids to be up together at night on top of you - trust me on this one cause I have the whole household on top of me right now (my son was sleeping through the night in his own room towards the middle of my pregnancy but due to my multiple hospitalizations and bed rest he now wakes up at night to make sure I'm not going anywhere).  So sleep train (tips here) and do what you can to get your elder one to rest because it will give you more rest when the baby comes. 

14. Potty training: if your child is the right age to potty train, do it. They often get thrown off with changes around the house so if this is well established before, it is more likely to stick after. (Tips on how will follow soon). Plus, you're going to be spending a ton more on diapers and wipes - you may as well save where you can. 

15. Hold on tight: your older one will suddenly seem grown to up when you are back from the hospital and realize that he or she is now the bigger baby. Their hands, feet and personality will all seem bigger than it was before, making you realize that everything has changed all over again, for you too. So cuddle, kiss, and hold your little one for as long as you can...your arms will soon be too full to squeeze that tight. 
my last ever bump-fie

Much more to come!xx 
- TKV 

p.s. forgive my typos & the strange and annoying formatting (I've been struggling to fix it but oh well .. priorities!), have reverted to writing on my phone (on airplane mode ofcourse) while nursing...

all content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be reproduced or replicated without permission

Thursday, September 29, 2016

17 third trimester symptoms and ways to feel better (plus, signs of labor):

Hi Moms,

The third and first trimester mirror one another in many ways including the exhaustion, and constant need to pee. However, it does help to know that the end (or actually the beginning) is almost here.

While I had a crazy last trimester in my second pregnancy with multiple hospitalizations and preterm labor (which is why I have been MIA) - however, for most the last trimester goes quite smoothly and I thought it was the easiest one the first time around.. So hang in there, you will have your baby in your arms really soon! 

Also, for those of you wondering what things are looking like down there or trying to decipher what your physician is talking about, here are the three terms you have to understand : (tons on this in my previous post on labor and delivery but for those who want a quick reference  see below) 

Dilation - how much your cervix has opened. The goal is 10 cms, and the journey from 0 to 10 can take weeks or hours (rarely, though it does happen in subsequent pregnancies -  minutes). Once you have passed 4, you are in active labor (also known as "I can get an epidural" zone). The role of contractions is to make you dilate.

Stations: where baby's head is at. Negative stations mean baby's head is inside, and 0 station means baby's head is engaged enough that if your dilated enough and the doc says go, it's safe to push. 

Effaced: how thick your cervix is. During effacement, your cervix is getting thinner to prepare for labor. These numbers are discussed in percentages. 0% effaced means your cervix is  long (average is a little over 4 cms), and 100% means it has thinned out completely. 

Here are 17 common third trimester symptoms you should know about: 

1. Stretch marks: these often show up right at the end, and often the day after you think you have gotten away without them. Unfortunately, no matter what you use - stretch marks can happen. It depends on your genetics and the elasticity of your skin. However, keeping your skin hydrated really does help, so does exercising during pregnancy as helps your belly stay toned . (I managed to not get them the second time around though it may just be because I put on half the weight this time around so my skin didn't have to stretch as much). 

2. Pregnancy insomnia: I wake up less often with a new born then while I was pregnant as I had to go to pee ... And I had to roll over, stretch, belch and whine about how tired I feel. Pregnancy pillows, sleeping closest to the bathroom, having less water in the evening  and trying to empty your bladder as much as you can before you sleep, will all help a little. Ofcourse, If your little one tries all their stunts and acrobatics at night, like most (since they are asleep when you are in motion and awake more when you are at eat), try to count kicks instead of sheep and hope that it helps you sleep ..

3. Hunger: no matter how well you manage to curb your hunger and zip up the first two trimesters, when the third hits, you are likely to feel much much hungrier than you did before. For some reason all I could think of for a lot of my last trimester was cheese, cheese and more cheese. But don't worry, your child is growing faster than before and now needs more calories and some fat, so go ahead and give in, you are now eating for 1 and a quarter (no, not two unless you want to look like two of you!). 

4. Pee..more pee, even more pee: can i get that catheter already? You can't really avoid public restrooms anymore, but feminine hygiene wipes or even baby wipes in your purse (get used to it !), can save you from some uncomfortable rashes and infections. 

5. Bursts of nesting energy: even if your husband insists its too early to get the bassinet out, listen to your instincts and feelings and do things when you feel ready, you really never know how the  pregnancy will proceed, when your energy will run out and how many days you will be too tired to redo the closet or do up baby shelves, so keep things ready.  I ended up in hospital at 32 weeks with a viral and again at 34 weeks with pre term labor and in a panic about all the laundry left to be done at home, though I didn't deliver till 37 weeks I had to delegate a lot of the things I would have liked to do myself. 

6. Braxton hicks or false labor: apparently you can have these through your pregnancy and they only get strong enough to feel in the last trimester. Frankly, I didn't feel them at all in my first pregnancy, and I felt them throughout my second one (as early as 16 weeks). So while every woman and every pregnancy is different, if you feel pains coming at regular intervals that do not go away when you change positions and seem  to be getting closer together in time or lasting longer in duration - call your doctor ! 
However, if they go away when you change position, or they are at odd intervals (20 minutes, then 15 mins then 20 mins apart again) don't worry - they are false labor and you need not sound an alarm. And ofcourse - if you have a heavy discharge of any kind (with contractions) , or your water breaks (with or without contractions)  call your doctor. 

7. Hot flashes: I've been pregnant through an Indian summer and a New York polar vortex filled winter (different pregnancies) , and let me tell you - It was easier to waddle in the snow than to melt it out in the crazy heat! Whichever climate you are in, try and dress is layers so you can quickly undo some layers when you go indoors from the cold, or add some on if your stepping into air  conditioning after the heat. Stay hydrated (and use a strong deodorant). 

8. Upset tummy: while constipation is much more the rage, an upset stomach is also common and can be caused my hormones. Keep that in mind before subjecting yourself to a stool test. While my stomach was a mess through my last trimester during both pregnancies, a sudden change in this area can be a sign of impending labor . 

9. Leaking everything: and I mean everything.. So get familiar with panty liners and nursing pads, they will be your companion for months to come. 

10. Jumping ribs and baby hiccups: that small rhythmic movement that you thought may have been your heart beat? It's the baby's digestive system getting ready for previously undigested food  (eventually), and throwing hiccups your way. They are so adorable in the day and equally annoying at night when you want to sleep. 

11. Little jabs and baby pressure: while the little kicks and movements have been gentle and sometimes difficult to differentiate (from gas) so far, they can actually get a little painful in the third trimester when the amniotic fluid levels drop, and the baby's space is also suddenly less than it was before. 

12. The  belly drop: quickening or belly dropping, usually happens late in the last  trimester and can be an indicator  that the end is near (not too near but within the distance - 2 weeks or so away) for those who are pregnant the first time, in subsequent pregnancies the drop is "supposed" to happen even later. Though in my case it didn't happen at all the first time and happened around 32 weeks the second time (I did go into preterm labor at 34 weeks). So if you do feel like your belly has moved down and you not at 37 weeks yet, do inform your practitioner who may want an ultrasound or do an internal to see if you have started to dilate. 

Once your belly does drop - your heart burn is likely to reduce and the pressure in your ribs will also get better, however, your urge to pee will increase as will your hunger (thanks to more pressure on the bladder and less on the stomach). 

13. Itchy belly: since your skin is stretching  to the max, your belly and even chest and thighs can feel itchy. Keep moisturized with a good stretch mark cream , while they may or may not keep  the marks at bay they will offer some relief. Also, clothes that don't cover your belly with spandex (low rise pants, or jersey dresses if the climate approves will help you feel better). 

14. Itchy hands and feet: quite an unusual symptom but an annoying one nonetheless !! It's hormonal and there's not much you can so other than moisturize and distract yourself. 

15. Discharge: while some is normal, call your physician immediately if you see blood or anything other than mucus. Also, if you lose your mucus plug before 37 weeks, talk to your OB. It's not a sign that labor is going to be immediate but definitely one that you have started to dilate. 

16. Bed rest: while this is not really a symptom, it's an outcome that can happen if your body is throwing labor signs at you or your getting contractions too early. There are medicines that can slow down labor (if you haven't started to dilate) , but having your hips raised against gravity can often be as effective and would be prescribed if needed. It's not ideal but if you do end up in this situation like I did , try and be positive and remember that you will miss your time in bed soon. I did this with a 2 and a half year old to entertain who ended up spending 2 weeks entertaining me in return and it went by faster than I can remember. Lots of tv shows, and good books, some cross stitch or other nesting activities than can be done laying down / are the best ways to pass your time. 

17. Desperation to be done: I was sure that the second time around I would want my baby to take her time to cook and come out as I have had my hands full with one - and there was a part of me that did want her to take her time - but a very very small part as the rest of me was desperate to just get the pregnancy part over with and hold my baby in my arms no matter how full my heart and hands  already were. Wanting to hold and finally see your little bundle,  but also just wanting to be done with being pregnant makes the last trimester feel like it's going at snails pace (along with you since your lugging around weight and definitely showing at this point if not waddling), but  your baby will be here sooner than  you think.

Goodluck mama, for all that lies ahead !  

More to come!

Loving the graphics? Follow along at @mommydiaries on Instagram! 

P.S. - Incase you were wondering where I had disappeared to - I had a crazy last trimester (with almost a month of bed rest thanks to preterm labor) and then have been juggling my two with little time for much other than breathing! I do have a number of interesting posts lined up though ( I've been jotting   down points while nursing again ), so stay tuned. 

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be replicated or reproduced without permission. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

20 ways to manage being pregnant with a toddler:

Toddlerhood is no cake walk, specially with the terrible twos kicking in or "threenagers" running around. Adding a pregnancy to the mix just makes it all that much harder for you, mom. While my first baby was not planned, my second one was as I wanted my kids to be close together in age and grow up together, even know I knew that it would not be easy to be pregnant with a two year old and I am expecting a battle for attention up ahead. However, it does help to keep the bigger picture in mind - your little one may soon be the elder one but when you step out of the house, they will never be alone or want for company again.

I'm not going to pretend it's easy. This week, I found bruises on my belly that I know have nothing to do with the kicks and tumbles of the little one inside me but are from the kicks and tumbles of the little boy on the outside, who no longer allows me to enter the restroom unaccompanied. And yet, my maternal intuition confirms that everything is eventually going to be totally fine (after an adjustment period of course).

While deciding to expand your family is a personal decision and one that should accompany a lot of thought (though I know from experience that accidents do happen!), there are ways to make your life easier if you do find yourself pregnant with approximately 30 lbs already sitting on your hip.

For tons of tips and tricks on toddlerhood and on toddler behavior click here, and for more on pregnancy or on coping with  trimester one, or trimester two click here.

20 ways to make your life easier when you are pregnant with a toddler:

1. Put your toddler to work:
Toddlers love to help (almost as much as they like to test their limits) so involve them in small chores that make your life easier like throwing things in the trash, bending to pick up something from the floor that's been dropped, fetching you medicines and shoes,  or helping clean up (though this works better with cleaning mom's things than their own, it all reduces the number of times you have to get off the couch, floor or bed).

2. Lie down and play:
The first few times I lay down on the floor or couch while doing something with my toddler, he was not having it. Kept pulling on my arms and telling me to wake up. However, if you remain interactive and show them that you're still awake and paying attention, they will eventually get used to your more horizontal state (and you will be able to keep your feet up or get a break while playing).

3. Quiet activity time:
Having your child learn to play quietly, this will not give you some peace now but will also come in handy when you are around a sleeping baby, nursing or even holding your new little one while your energetic toddler is in the same room, wide awake and ready to play. Give them an activity they can do on their own (you will have to set it up of course) like coloring, stickers, blocks or some puzzles, and then tell them to do it on their own and slowly step back (may have to be a step or two further back every day if your toddler is very used to having you around). Start with 5 minutes and slowly increase the time.
This will also help you get time to nest and do things around the house, while your toddler keeps him or herself busy.
Quiet time with his 4 legged pals
4. Enlist help:
It used to take a village to raise a baby, and while you may have managed with limited help so far, it's still not too late to ask for all the help you can get (for your toddler). Enlist your parents, husband, and friends as often as possible so that you can get away for doctors appointments without having to lug around a little toddler who may get cranky in the waiting room, and definitely so that you can get in those much needed naps. It will also help your elder one settle into their new role as an elder sibling faster if he or she is used to stretches of time without mom watching over them.

5. Plan play dates:
that you don't have to go for yourself (at least not every time), so that your little one gets used to being out and about with you (it's sad, I agree) and learns that mommy cannot be a part of absolutely everything. Rely on your friends and relatives - specially those that also have children. Take this time to get some rest!

6. Toilet train (if they are old enough):
In some countries, toilet training is not usually started until 3 years of age (specially for boys), while in others there are playschools that insist on the children being "diaper free" around 2 and a half years old. Whichever side of the spectrum you fall on, if your baby is old enough to tell you when they want to go - feel free to start. Whichever methodology you choose to use, the less pressure you put on yourself and your tot, the easier it will be to handle.
Changes at home often sets toilet training back, which is why it will help you later if this process is completed before the baby comes (also, it's one less set of diapers to worry about!)

7. Travel:
"Baby moons" are all the rage nowadays, to get some time alone with your husband before the little one comes. But if you already have a little one, don't hesitate to take them along. Not only are you enriching his or her experiences, you are giving them alone time with both parents, increasing their sense of security (which will only help you later) and creating memories that will last a lifetime.
(Of course, feel free to put hubby on all duty that involves carrying, chasing or bending.)

Babymoon in my happy spot: Paris 

8. Take time outs:
Whether you believe in time outs for your children or not, they are a must for you to take mom. I have definitely closed the bathroom door (with me behind it) and stood there for a minute or two when I felt I was about to explode (it really does help calm you down, and can sometime work as a discipline tactic if your son is as attached at the hip as mine is). However, time outs when you get to do something just for yourself is even more effective at helping you recharge and mentally prepare for the sleepless nights ahead.

7. Nap when they nap (or as often as you can):
As a working mom, this is usually not possible for me, though I do make it a point to use my previous gym time as nap time when I can. However, if you are home with your child when they go down for their nap, try and get some rest too (laundry and the dishes can wait - I have found it easier to do house chores at night then in the day when the nap provides a great break from the exhaustion - specially in trimesters 1 and 3).
Need more pillows..!

8. One-on-one time with your husband:
Whether you are feeling super romantic,  just can't get far enough away, or are some where between these two when it comes to your affection levels while pregnant, you are going to miss your time with your husband when the baby comes (even more than you did the first time around). So try and get some one on one time with him even if it's at a movie where you can keep your legs up, or at a quick lunch or dinner spot where you can both discuss anything but babies!

9. Keep work informed:
I've been working part time since my son was born as I like to spend the afternoons with him. However. make sure your superiors at work know that you are pregnant so that you are able to get some relief for doctors appointments, and even to get some time with your toddler who is going to have to share your attention soon.

10. Pass on the feeding (and diapers) when possible:
I love sitting with my son while he eats his meals, and even feeding him by spoon or hand myself. However, I had to avoid this for the first half of my pregnancy, because most smells - even ones that are probably not foul at all, would have me heaving and sprinting to the bathroom. It's not always avoidable, specially when you're the only one home with your baby, but if you can take that space to make sure you keep your own food in - do it. (and definitely pass it along, for diapers)

11. Sleep train if you haven't already:
Waking up with one child is exhausting, but two? Unimaginable.
I'm not a believer in cry it out (yes, I have tried it and while I understand the merits, it's not for me), but my son was sleeping through the night at some point and then regressions hit, and night terrors and my husband eventually brought him to our bed. While he still sleeps in his own bed he does come to cuddle at some point at night which is now an acceptable 6am on most nights. However, if your (almost) elder one's sleep schedule is not acceptable to you - this is the time to fix it, in a whatever way that is most acceptable to you (for information on different ways to sleep train, click here). Have your husband step in and help since you really do need your sleep now even more than before and remember that there will be ups and downs, and even more so when they are more unsettled and insecure with another baby in the house.

12. Allow yourself to nest:
Whether you have the space to do up an entire nursery, or you are squeezing your little one into yours or your (almost) elder child's room, take time to do things up the way you want to and ready yourself for your little one. Not only will you get used to dedicating wee bits of time to the new baby, but it will help prepare you, your toddler and your home! So take time to nest and do it sooner rather than later to help your toddler conceptualize that the baby in your tummy is going to be on the outside soon.

13. Exercise:
Chasing a toddler is exercise enough but it may be exercise your body has gotten accustomed to. While you cant make drastic exercise routine changes, when you do have those rare but sudden bursts of energy, make the most of it. You can build up your stamina slowly by walking a bit a day and increasing the time, or if you were heavy lifting all along - go right ahead, as long as you have checked with your practitioner before hand. Not only will it help you lose weight and get into shape after the baby is born (yes, working out during pregnancy helps the weight come off faster after delivery as well), but the muscle strength will help you juggle and bounce your two (or more) babies together later.

14. Pass the buck,  not the bugs:
It's sad but true - kids get germs - they pick them up off the floor, put them in their mouth, and either get them from or give them to other kids. And while they build their immunity or get sick (and then build up their immunity), your immunity while pregnant is suppressed (so that your body does not treat your fetus like a foreign body and reject it), which makes you a lot more likely to fall sick when exposed to germs that your children carry but that may not even make them sick at all.
Baby wipes: handy for everything!

15. Dealing with the crankies (and clingies):
Whether or not your child fully comprehends that there is going to be a new sibling. they will notice the changes in you, and can react strongly to them. My son became even more insistent (lying down on the floor, flailing his arms and shrieking insistent) that I "stand up"and carry him, when he noticed that I was carrying him and sitting down instead of walking around like I usually would. Give in on the small things and when you can even if that means you walk for a few seconds before sitting down, and when they are in a rational mood reason with them and explain the situation - say that your back is hurting or that you are tired (don't mention that it is because of the baby as that can make them more insecure). Give in on the small things where you can and the calm will eventually return (my son now drops me to the car when I want to go to work and to the gym in the mornings, and he follows me to the bathroom to wash my hands - but will let me go to work and workout, and lets me take a shower alone - so I count that as a win).

16. Make the most of safe play spaces:
Safe indoor play spaces where you can sit out and sip something (booze free ofcourse), read a book (or my blog), chat with your friends or put your feet up while your tot runs around inside with their friends or even on their own are really a blessing. Trampoline parks are great if the space is for children-only, but any kind of supervised indoor space will tire out your toddler with fun and have them ready for an early bed-time, while you get a few moments to unwind.
Trampoline park (I sat outside the net)

17. Cuddle up for movie time:
I've never been a fan of screen time - not even educational screen time. But as you near the end of your pregnancy, you will feel the need to have more down time and watching short movies or videos a couple times a week will give you a short respite (I limit it to 30 minutes of nursery rhymes twice a week the old fashioned way - on the television and not the iPad or phone). This is best though if your baby is over 2 years old as television in any form is not recommended for children under 2.

18. Move playtime to the coffee table or the couch:
If it's no longer easy for you to sit on the floor for all your activities with your tot, choose ones that you can do while seated around the coffee table or couch. While I do still sit on the floor in my sons room in the afternoons and do activities with him, we sit on the couch and have story time, do memory games on the coffee table, and he gives me foot massages while I lie down (at his own insistence, I promise). This just makes it a lot easier for me to be as involved with a little less stress on my back and belly.

19. Celebrate your baby:
Your little one is soon going to be the elder one, so do not miss out on opportunities to show them how special, unique and loved they are. Because even though you are going to be a mom again, they are going to have a special new position that they need to be ready for, and security that they are loved by you no matter what, will go a long long way. We have been celebrating quarter birthdays and going out for meals to get one on one time and recently went for a short goldilocks play. Try pick things that you can continue after the baby - like cutting little pastries, so that your doesn't feel resentful that they lost something.

20. Prepare your tot to be an elder sibling:
There's an endless number of ways to do this (much more on this to come), but the most important one is talking to your toddler. Whether they seem reasonable to you or not, preparing them by telling them what to expect will help make a calmer transition when the time comes. Talk about your hospital stay (particularly if your child, like mine, is not accustomed to being without you), the fact that babies cry a lot and need a lot of attention, tell them that the little baby will be sensitive and cannot be  rough housed with and that they also will not be able to talk - things that seem intuitive to us are not so much for our little ones who probably have not been around too many babies.

practicing putting baby to sleep..

While being pregnant with a toddler is difficult for us, sharing our attention is going to be even more difficult for our toddlers. We may be too busy to realize what we are missing, but they will miss their time as an only child - at least for a short while, until they embrace their new roles and siblings. So make sure you rest, and do not strain yourself, but also indulge your little ones as they will not be your littlest ones for too much longer.

Much more to come - with tips on preparing your tot to be an elder sibling.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

12 Second trimester symptoms and how to deal with them:

The second trimester, often referred to as the best one, offers relief when it comes to some of the pesky first trimester symptoms like nausea and frequent urination (don't get too comfy, this will come right back with a vengeance).
However, there are a number of other symptoms you should be on the look out for, and some tips on how to deal with them if they do come for you.

For first trimester symptoms and tricks click here, and keep in mind that many of these do stay with you throughout.

12 second trimester symptoms that every expecting mom should know:

1. Back pain: Your center of gravity is no longer centered and there is increased pressure on your spine, which can cause pain. Often times though the discomfort is from sciatica which radiates up and down your legs, and there is a simple stretch you can do that does offer relief and helps you get some sleep at night. This one below is as simple as it looks but make sure to lean forward and press down on your knee. Sleeping with a pillow between your legs (and on your side, even though you are likely to lean forward towards your belly - which is okay, as the pillow will keep your belly slightly elevated, and stop your baby and bladder from being squished) is also very helpful. Topical creams like Bengay, Volini (in India), and peppermint oil are safe to use and can also offer relief (note: make sure the cream does not have any asprin in it and diclofenac containing sprays can only be used under 30 weeks of pregnancy).
The sciatica stretch that counts

2. Congestion: Still snoring or sneezing away? Sleeping on double pillows, using a vaporizer like Vicks, and trying to stay on your side can all bring relief. Talk to your doctor though if you remain congested for am extended period of time or if you have fever (which can be unhealthy for the baby). Turns out, while uncommon, it is possible to develop asthma during pregnancy, so don't shy away from talking to your physician about what is going on. (I've learned this the hard way after 5 bouts of the flu during my first trimester, fortunately, we managed to figure out that it was asthma - which I've never had before - and the inhaler has been my saving grace).

3. Morning sickness: can stay with you well beyond your first trimester, and in a few cases can hang out with your baby right till the end. While it wasn't so harmful in the first trimester, it can now stop you and your child from retaining the nutrients you need, so look into additional vitamins and supplements that can help you, and don't be afraid to take what you need intravenously (iron is often given this way, as it can increase your morning sickness when taken orally).

4. Breathlessness: This tends to be worse when lying down, and towards the end of the second trimester when your little one is likely to turn (head down) and then wedge their little feet into your diaphragm. Prenatal yoga can help with these symptoms and give you little coping mechanisms, as of course can lying down on your side (and falling asleep).

5. Carpel tunnel: While swelling and water retention in the hands and feet affects a majority of those who are pregnant (thanks to the increased blood flow and pressure from your growing uterus), in some cases it causes carpel tunnel in the wrist and ankles which can be identified by pain below the thumb or radiating up and down the wrist and arm. Quickest way to treat it is to immobilize the joint with the brace or support, and to use topical creams (which are much safer than painkillers though paracetamol and acetaminophen can bring quick relief too).

6. Tooth and gum pain: Yes, really. So, use a mouthwash after brushing if flossing is too painful to your sensitive gums. Gargling with hot water also does bring relief.

7. Leg cramps and restless leg syndrome: are both able to keep you up at night, and can be caused by hormonal changes and the increased pressure on your legs from your increased weight, and growing body (and baby). Crawling, tingling and burning sensations are also common in restless leg syndrome along with pain and mild cramps.  And yes, it can happen even if you are alcohol, caffeine and tobacco free and are regular with your prenatals. Soaking your legs in epsom salt (in a bucket or bath tub without immersing your entire body), can not only bring you relief but the magnesium can help you sleep better.
(Note: Anemia during pregnancy can exacerbate these symptoms so make sure to get that checked out by your doctor.)

8. Nesting: Itching to have your nursery done already, shop for baby clothes, laundry absolutely everything, organize the kitchen or start up that sterilizer? Use your little bursts of energy when they come, to get as much done this trimester, as it will become less safe to climb up into places and unfortunately, your comfort level will decrease in the third trimester as you begin to carry around even more weight.

9. Nightmares: It could be that scary movie you watched but it's more likely the hormones surging through your body (and brain). It helps to turn off the technology an hour or so before you go to bed. (Thought honestly, I'd rather deal with the nightmares than not read on my iPad before I sleep, but I have noticed that it does help to turn it onto night mode and read with less light. Also, reading is better for your sleep cycle than watching tv until you fall asleep). As a second time parent though, I would suggest you do whatever you want to do until the baby comes, because you are going to miss your time to yourself and your freedom to choose your own activities, once your little bundles of joy (and dictatorship) arrive.

10. Hair and Skin changes: There are a whole bunch of old wives tales that tell you about hair and skin changes, and how those tell about one gender versus another, including the horrible saying that girls "steal" their mother's beauty and make you put on more weight than boys. Don't buy into it ladies - your daughters are just as special as your sons, and somehow the symptoms fall on both sides of the spectrum for most. I've had wonderful skin this time around while I had acne with my son, but lovely thick hair the last time while I'm losing whatever I had left this time around (I blame the anemia not my child). For the curious though, below is one of the myths and their gender indication (courtesy: baby center).

More importantly: if you are losing your hair, there are hair vitamins that are safe during pregnancy, along with some serums (that have growth hormones and not minoxidil/rogaine). There are also acne creams that are safe to use during pregnancy.

11. Baby movement: As a second time mom, I must confess that this is not as fun as the first time around, specially since my ribs and bladder are now being used for target practice in the middle of the night. However, that doesn't mean the little flutters don't amaze me every time anyway. So enjoy the flutters, the movement and the little twitches of your belly as they occur, in the grand scheme of things it doesn't last long but is your little one's way of reminding you why you are sacrificing all that you are, and making sure you know they will have you on your toes with their arms cuddling you, really soon.

12. Unbridled Excitement:  Well ofcourse, you do have a new life inside of you!

Make the most of this time, moms, as your second trimester will be done before you know it and your little one will be out and about soon after.

More to come!

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