Thursday, August 2, 2007

Two Rather Distinct Parenting Styles

Vijay is one paranoid Dad.

Almost from the moment Peanut was born, he wanted to be the one handling her. He was with me in the delivery room and insists she actually came out beautiful, which I refuse to believe (I have seen too many birthing videos for that and was careful not to look!). He was pestering the nurse to let him hold her immediately and has had eyes only for her ever since.

While in the hospital post delivery, I was completely exhausted and Vijay had anyway pretty much taken charge - he was changing her diaper every time and generally looking after her, only handing her over to me for the feeding sessions, and that too, was most reluctantly. (I am telling you, if it weren't for nature designing us such that I have to do the feeding, I would be totally out of this equation by now.) In any case, on Day 2, she started crying quite uncontrollably and nothing Vijay was doing was soothing her. I woke up and checked - she was quite clearly hungry according to me, and once she was fed, she calmed down.

But Vijay wouldn't have any of it. He was sure that it was something extremely serious. The cries, he said, were not the hunger cries but cries of pain. I asked him how the hell he would know that, but he just enigmatically said that he just knew. I then asked him, in that case, how come she stopped crying after the feed? He looked at me like I was from another planet and said that it was only a matter of coincidence that her pain stopped when she started feeding. I gave it up but he didn't.

He insisted, the next day, on asking three different doctors what was wrong with Peanut. I tried not to roll my eyes when each of them said 'Nothing'. He insisted that they had been the most heartrending, terrible cries. Each of the doctors smiled indulgently and told him not to worry so much - babies tend to cry - and if it was colic, it would have been for more than the described three minutes. By this time, I could tell Vijay was on the verge of imitating the cries for the doctors, so I would hurriedly jump in and explain she was fine after the feeding. The doctors, being the professionals they are, controlled their urge to roll their own eyes and walked out, telling Vijay not to observe her every move so closely. Vijay muttered darkly to himself and only stopped sulking when he found something else to worry about.

He worried about whether she was feeling too cold, and added another blanket. When I tucked it around her, he decided she was feeling too hot and removed it. He made her wear gloves so that she would stay warm and not scratch herself - when she started putting it in her mouth, he removed it. He made her wear a hat as recommended by the doctor, but when I did the same, he decided that she didn't like it much, so he removed it. He lamented her long nails and got a pair of nail clippers with a magnifying glass, but didn't have the heart to cut them - after one attempt, he gave up and put the gloves back on again. The few times in the hospital that he was asleep, he would get startled awake by the slightest noise, while the baby slept on peacefully - and would rush over to check that nothing was wrong with her. (How a baby can sound like a distant slamming door, I fail to understand, but never mind that). He has worried about each temporary rash, the little bandages where they have taken her blood for testing, her umbilical stump, each bout of sneezing and hiccups. And by the way, he is trying to teach her to say Papa although she is six days old.

As I mentioned earlier, he has been changing each and every single diaper with the expertise of someone who does it for a living - with the consequence that I haven't had to change a diaper for the first five days - in fact, neither me nor the nurses at the hospital were allowed to do so. Half asleep, he would come and inform me 'Her Enconium is still coming out' before nodding off briefly on the spare bed. I was mystified but deciphered this to mean her Meconium, or first bowel movements after birth. ( Vijay is wonderful under pressure but his command over the language becomes suspect -when we were waiting for labour to start, he drove me nuts by asking me nervously if my 'Contraptions' had begun).

As a consequence of all this, our man was totally devastated as he had to go to Bombay yesterday morning for two day of work. While he is officially on leave from now, he has committed to finishing some project and may have to fly to Bombay for a day or two in the next few weeks. While leaving yesterday, he was very morose, and said that he was afraid 'she would forget all about him'. I tried to reassure him that it was only a matter of two days, and that she would surely be very happy to see him, would probably rush to answer the door herself when he returned. He ignored the sarcasm and yesterday rushed home after work to our flat in Bombay and insisted on trying to do a video chat with her, on the net. We finally managed to set up the camera so that he could see her and he started gooing and ga-ing. We couldn't see him because there was some problem with the webcam at his end, but figured that would be okay as the point was for him to see her. But, No! Vijay was again disappointed because he wanted her to see him so that she wouldn't forget what he looked like. I gently tried to explain that she is not able to focus on anything yet, so how could he expect her to look at the computer screen and recognize him on some fuzzy pop-up window. Vijay was convinced it is all part of a conspiracy to keep them apart.

He is returning tonight from Bombay and I am really glad. I miss him and his fussing over her (I, of course, no longer exist except to provide him with updates about her, but that's okay). And he misses her like crazy and I really don't want him to miss these early days, when she is growing up so fast (Yes, I know it is only the sixth day - so?).

And finally, it is confession time for me - while he was away, me and Sis were changing her diapers - G was holding up her legs while I did the wiping and all the rest of it.The first time we did this, it went really smoothly and we were fairly surprised at our proficiency- but congratulated ourselves at this achievement.

I was most determined to go it alone the next time, and I did so soon after- and that's when I discovered that somehow, we had omitted to throw away her dirty diaper the first time - but had instead, wrapped it up along with her in her blanket, where she lay peacefully with it for over an hour. I was very mortified by this and wondered whether to tell Vijay. As you can see, I am using the blog as a confession medium. I am also hoping some of you will tell me that you have done this before, or at least that, that it sounds like a most natural mistake ( Trails off on this pleading note...)

The paranoid, proud and possessive Papa can hardly bear to let go of her...

...And while the Papa is away, I get to hold my laughing baby! See, she has clearly already forgiven me for the diaper disaster!


  1. i would like to re-assure you, but i don't think i have ever left my dirty diapers in my bed. will check when i get home and let you know.

    as you can see, i am trying to re-ignite the smart-alec in me but it doesn't seem to be working.

    loving the blogs and the pics duh duh. very sweet to hear about the VJ-peanut equation as well :)

  2. Aw! she is really adorable. May I add she looks a bit like V? (umm, that is standard right, attributing the good looks of the baby to one or the other parent?!) And as K Jo said, its all about loving the family & of course the father-daughter bond is special (as is the mother-daugher bond!) Hope you are doing fine too.

    Many Congratulations!!

  3. umm... no. no dirty diapers wrapped up. but worse that i refuse to bring up in public... bless her and you.... she is GORGEOUS

  4. I've done far worse. Not confessing though. :)

    You might enjoy reading my early days with The Bhablet, if so check my archives after Spetember 2007. Not much there, but occasionally informative.

    I'm sorry but I cannot in all conscience say that Peanut looks like her dad. She's far too pretty for that kind of teasing!

  5. Haha, I just think its too cute how Vijay obssesses over the baby! I've heard many new Dads are like that, and fortunately, their obsession doesnt reduce even after many yrs! :))

  6. We were at a wedding yesterday when a friend said that we'd have to bring a towel for her husband to mop up his tears with when their daughter gets married. Looking at Vijay's track record till now, I'm wondering how he'll even let her go to school:)
    Lovely pics, Y, especially the Laughing Peanut. Enjoy your lovely baby, dirty diaper stories and all!

  7. LOL! That's really sweet!

    Moppet's Papa was like that too, for the first month. I have even seen him elbow my mom out of the way in his rush to change Moppet's poopy diaper. Unfortunately for me though, the novelty wore off rather quickly, and once he went back to work, all he wanted to do when he got home was play with her. All (ok, most of) the dirty work has been left to me ever since...

  8. this entire episode between Vijay and ur baby gal was really really sweet!

    i was lolling away at some parts at his fussing over her!

  9. I am still chuckling about the dirty diaper. Priceless.


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