Kanika Chadda Gupta

Month: May 2017

My First Mother’s Day

Dear Krish and Suhana,

It’s because of you, I’m a mother. Unlike the other facets in my life from my career to how I maintain our household, I thought I could plan exactly when I wanted to take on this role, but the universe had different plans and you took us by surprise. These three months have been the most fulfilling in all our lives. You have given us newfound purpose and the will to keep striving, the intention to be kind human beings, and hope for a brighter future. 

I still remember the day I surprised your Papa with the news that I was pregnant. It was our 3-year wedding anniversary and we were on our way to Cape May, New Jersey. I kept this big secret the entire 3.5-hour car ride. When we got to the lovely bed and breakfast on the beach, I surprised him with a card and a small box. I told him to turn on his phone and record the moment. This wasn’t unusual since we recorded the moment he proposed to me too. When he opened the box, he found a ring of plastic baby keys. You see, Papa keeps many spare keys at home just in case we have house guests and he gives them a pair so they can truly feel at home. In my card I wrote, “Don’t worry. I already made spare keys for our new addition.” He was ecstatic. We hugged and cried and basked in what was to come.

Ten weeks later, we went to our first ultrasound appointment. The technician wanted to make sure there was a steady heartbeat. “Sounds good.” She said. “Um, wait a minute, I hear something else. There are two heartbeats. You’re having twins!” She brought in our doctor to take a second look and lo and behold, she was right. We stared at each other in the dark room in total shock. I can still hear the cadence of the heartbeats in my head. We’re going to be a family of four! A few weeks after that, we found out that we were having a boy and a girl. “We EACH get a clone??!” We were so excited.

I took my pregnancy in stride. I didn’t complain once. I wanted you both so badly and wanted to be strong from the get go. We kept the fact that we were expecting twins our little secret. Part of me wanted to protect you against the evil eye of others and another part was just nervous as hell at how things would pan out. On the day of your delivery, I was alone at home. At 3:00 am, my water broke. Papa was on the west coast in Seattle for work. We thought we had at least a month to go so agreed it wasn’t a big deal if he traveled, especially since he doesn’t travel often to begin with. I called him in a sweat. “Jaan, my water just broke.” He couldn’t believe it, “You’re kidding!” and then quickly got into problem-solving mode. “Ok. Now what?” I said we should call the on-call doctor, then Dada & Dadi to take me to the hospital, and then Nana & Nani so they could drive from Maryland to New Jersey. Everything progressed like clockwork. It was a rainy night in January, which reminded me of Lord Krishna’s birth and how his father Vasudeva waded through the river during a torrential storm to leave him with his dear friends Nanda and Yashoda in Gokul. He and his wife Devaki made the ultimate sacrifice for their son. That is why we named you Krish. Suhana, we came up with your name because it’s similar to your dad’s – Sunil. Anyway, I digress. Dada and Dadi drove me the hospital, I walked right up to the maternity floor and when the doctor did a sonogram, she said I was contracting. I couldn’t feel a thing. She said, “We have to operate on you within an hour. Baby A is head down, Baby B is breached. We’ll be doing a C-section.” Monu masi was by my side by then and said she would scrub in. I was rolled into the OR, had an epidural (which was the most painful thing ever!), and soon after felt calm since I was numb from the waist down. The nurse asked me what I wanted to hear on Spotify and I told her to play Jagjit Singh bhajans. “J-A-G-J-I-T…” I spelled it out for her. Another nurse said we could do a video chat with Papa, so Monu opened up Google Hangouts and called him. She panned the phone so he could see the 2 doctors and 10 nurses hovering over me, the curtain that demarcated the surgery, and my smiling face (in my silly hospital gown and blue cap). I was feeling drained from the series of events and asked the doctor, “Will I be able to sleep?” She responded, “It’s going to go by fairly quickly sweetie.” As the song, “Hey Govinda, Hey Gopala” resonated the room, we immediately heard crying. Krish, you were out at 7:24 am. Two minutes later, we heard Suhana’s cries. That was it. Monu Masi squeezed my hand and we both welled up with tears. All of our lives were forever changed.

Your Papa took the first flight out and got to the hospital around 6:00 pm that day. He was in awe when he saw you both. When I held you skin to skin, you two held hands on my chest and ever so slightly moved your tiny fingers. It was the most beautiful sight. Thankfully your Papa and I have photographic memories; We can recall every instant since your birth. We are so thrilled to be your parents and feel humbled that we get a chance to learn and grow with you day by day.

Happy 1st Mothers Day to you, my sweet children.

Love always,

Mummy 

Flaunt Your Baby Bump

Pregnancy is your time to embrace your womanhood and show off that bump! Gone are the days of dowdy maternity wear (think flowers and polka dots) since boutique retailers are changing up the game with timeless staples that are trendy, smart, and ohhhhh soo comfy. Spandex, where have you been all my life?! Here are some of my favorites.

  1. Asos Maternity. When it comes to high street, Asos just gets it. Don’t be afraid to look edgy. Harem pants, jersey dresses, yes please!
  2. Shopbop. If you’re into designer duds, you’re sure to find outfits that strike your fancy on this marketplace. From slouch dresses to off-shoulder tops, you’ll look like a glamizon in these outfits.
  3. Rosie Pope. Active wear for expecting moms is especially hard to find so I was relieved to say the least when I came across this collection. I worked out with my personal trainer until my last trimester so was in desperate need of workout pants that had some give. This gear will last you a while since you’ll need the tanks & yoga pants when you’re aiming to get back to your pre-pregnancy bod. Now go kick some butt!
  4.  Isabella Oliver. Well tailored clothes make the woman. You’ll look tres chic in these maternity tunics and skinny jeans. 
  5. Liz Lange Maternity for Target. Sometimes it’s all about the basics. I lived in ribbed tanks and leggings when I was at home, gorging on vanilla ice cream and watching “Felicity” reruns. Team Ben or Team Noel? Years later, I still couldn’t decide.
  6. Seraphine. This line had the best wrap dresses, which can be worn pregnant or not!
  7. Destination Maternity. With collections like Jessica Simpson, Motherhood, and Pea in a Pod, this is a one stop shop. They have nursing bras and maternity panties here too. Trust me, you’ll need to revamp your underwear drawer once you get the good news.
  8. Pinkblush. If you’re planning on doing a maternity shoot, you may just want to browse their maxi dresses. They’re sure to make you feel like an ethereal beauty. 

How to Soothe a Crying Baby

Hearing your little one cry can be absolutely heartbreaking and can leave you feeling helpless, confused, and just plain down and out. If you’ve already checked out the obvious reasons for crying (hungry, dirty diaper, cold or hot, sleepy), and there aren’t any other factors at play like a fever or dehydration, then fear not! I’ve come across some easy ways to calm your baby down. The idea is to recreate a semblance of the womb. That was your baby’s happy place. Take him back there and show him that he’s safe and sound. 

  1. The 5 S’s. In the bestseller, The Happiest Baby on the Block, Dr. Harvey Karp uncovers the 5 S’s to soothing a baby: 1) swaddle, 2) side or stomach position, 3) shush, 4) swing, and 5) suck. Each kid prefers a different combination of these tactics, but believe me, they all work. Read the book. It’s a miracle worker.
  2. A warm bath. My babies love bath time. They are mesmerized by the faucet of flowing water and are so blissful when I pour warm water over their bare tummies. Just like us adults, they feel relaxed after a bath and are calmer when you follow up with a feed or putting them down to sleep.
  3. Skin to skin. Babies want to feel close to you and much like their first few days of life, skin to skin time works wonders long after infancy. Remove your baby’s clothing (leave his diaper on along with a cap if it’s cold) and place him gently on your chest with his arms and legs in a froggy position. Not only does skin to skin provide warmth, it helps regulate your baby’s temperature, heart rate, and even boosts breast milk production for mom. Read more about the benefits here. Daddy and other loved ones can do skin to skin too. Babies can never get enough!
  4. Sing. Sing to your little one. I watched a Ted Talk called “What Babies Learn Before They’re Born” where speaker Annie Murphy Paul explains that a baby learns to identify his mother’s voice before he’s born. Singing songs that you sang during your pregnancy will sound familiar and nostalgic and might just be what they need to hear.
  5. White noise. Bookmark this YouTube link, White Noise for 10 hours, stat! It claims to help colicky babies calm down. I play it for my twins and it puts them in a trance. It’s hypnotizing. I believe it’s because this whirring sound is what they heard when they were in the womb, and it causes them to reset. 

Over time, you’ll find that your babies become easier to read. Above all else, always trust your gut. You know your baby’s needs better than anyone else.

Time is of the Essence

 

When you’re a working mom with kids, time is always of the essence! Time management isn’t a commodity, it’s a necessity if you want to accomplish personal goals and be an involved parent.

In this video, I outlined my time management strategies, which include the following:

  1. Google Calendar
  2. Work out in the A.M.
  3. Cook on the weekends
  4. Meditate
  5. Live your dream

These tactics have allowed me to stay on track and not feel overwhelmed by the endless to-do lists. Let me know if any of these tactics work for you!

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk – Increase Your Supply!

One night, around midnight, I was feeling especially exhausted from the long day of work and “change-feed-put down to sleep” (repeat 11x times 2) routine. Half asleep, I propped up my hospital grade Medela breast pump on my night stand, plugged in the necessary parts (which look like you’re about to build a handheld periscope or a mini beer funnel), plugged in and was ready to go. After my session completed, I took the bottles off without their caps and placed them in my lap for just a second. As I turned to put away my phone, I noticed that I spilled the milk on me, the comforter, and onto the floor. “Nooooooo!!!!” I literally cried over spilled milk. That stuff is liquid gold! I wasn’t producing as much as I had hoped at the time (especially since I had two mouths to feed who were a month old), so I decided to take my milk production into overdrive. Here’s what I did:

  1. Supply and demand. I got on a breastfeeding & pumping schedule where I would alternate nursing the kids, pump, or tandem breastfeed when the three of us were up for it (using a Twin-Z pillow. It’s amazing!). Any lactation consultant will tell you that breastfeeding increases one’s supply since a child can extract more milk than a pump, and the more you do it, the more you produce. I didn’t exclusively breastfeed since my babies were given bottles at the hospital, but I nursed and continue to nurse as many feeds as I can and pump the rest. I just listen to my body’s cues and take breaks if I need to rest.
  2. Water. This seems like a no-brainer, but believe me, good ol’ H2O works wonders. When nursing, you need the additional liquid intake to flush out toxins and keep your body hydrated in order to produce milk. I drink a pitcher of water a day (8-10 eight oz. glasses). I always drink a full glass during a feed or pump session.
  3. Oatmeal. Oatmeal is an excellent source of iron and since many mothers face maternal anemia, the high doses of iron in oatmeal and bran cereals help increase supply. I eat oatmeal (I love Red Mill Steel Cut Oats) with walnuts, blueberries, and a touch of honey every morning. Add cinnamon as it makes your breastmilk taste sweeter and babies love it!
  4. Warm Compress. Sometimes low blood circulation is the reason for inadequate milk supply. You can combat this with warm compresses with a small towel or Lansinoh Therapearl 3-in-1, which I highly recommend. You can use it as hot therapy (for plugged ducts and let down), cold therapy (for pain relief from soreness), or as an aid while pumping.
  5. Fenugreek. Fenugreek contains phytoestrogens that are believed to stimulate sweat gland activity and since mammary glands are modified sweat glands, consumption can create an increase in milk supply. Methi is the Hindi term for fenugreek and it’s a staple in Indian cooking. I take methi seeds raw (1/2 a tsp) swallowed with an 8 oz. glass of water every morning. If you can stand the bitter taste, you can also soak the seeds in water overnight, boil the solution with the seeds, strain it, and drink the tea. You can even ask your mom or mom-in-law (God bless them!) to make you methi ladoos which are an age-old cure-all for new moms. Here’s a recipe we used. When you make these ladoos in a big batch, put half in the fridge and the other half in the freezer (they last for 6 months!)
  6. Fennel. Fennel seeds are a known galactagogue, or substance that helps the body produce more milk. In addition, fennel seeds aid with digestion and prevent colic pain in babies. Add a tablespoon of fennel to one cup of hot water and let it steep for 30 minutes. Drink this tea twice daily for best results. You can also mix 1/2 cup of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and rock candy (misri) in a bowl and grind it all up into a powder. Have one teaspoon with milk three times a day. If nothing else, you can add fennel into your cooking and masala chai. It’s the best.
  7. Cumin Seeds. Cumin seeds are believed to stimulate milk production and also combat acidity, constipation, and bloating. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds with a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Take this mixture with a warm glass of milk before bed. If you want a solution that’s more concentrated, you can add 2 teaspoons of cumin to 1/2 cup of boiling water. Strain the cup and add 1/2 cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of honey for taste.
  8. Cinnamon. According to Ayurveda, cinnamon may help improve the flavor of your breast milk and babies seem to like it. Mix a pinch of cinnamon powder with 1/2 teaspoon of honey and drink it with warm milk. You can also add cinnamon to your tea. 
  9. Garlic. Garlic is also a known galactagogue. According to studies, nursing mothers who eat garlic tend to feed longer and babies seem to like the flavor of the milk. Grate 3 garlic cloves. Boil the garlic in water so that it is reduced to 1/4 the portion. Add a cup of milk and bring it to a boil again. Remove from heat, strain, and 1/2 teaspoon of honey. Drink this elixir in the morning. 
  10. Supplements. I take a lot of pills. Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle, Fennel Seeds, and Malunggay are meant to increase milk production. For good measure, I also take my prenatal capsule, Immune Support gummies, and a probiotic. I know my body only retains what it needs and discards the rest, but I feel this miracle mix is working for me.
  11. Lactation Cookies. These special cookies contain ingredients like brewer’s yeast powder, wheat germ, flax seed, and rolled oats, will all impact milk production. Shout out to What’s Up Moms’ awesome recipe. Watch and bake along here.

These Ayurvedic home remedies have been passed down for generations in my family and I managed to find variations of these recipes online. What I love most is that they are all natural, which means no side effects! Let me know if these tricks work for you. And if nothing else, make sure you close your pump bottles so you’ll never have to cry over spilled milk!