Sunday, March 25, 2012

A one-derful celebration

I have to document Xena's first birthday in excruciating detail because it would be the only one where she didn't have a say in anything - the theme, the decor, the guests, her outfit, the cake, etc. etc. I have been warned that starting with the age of 2, toddlers completely take over their own birthday parties and you'll be the one not getting a say in anything. So I thought I'd do a post on how her first birthday went so she can grow up, read it and say, "Mommy, what on earth did you make me wear??"

First things first. I found it very strange to plan her first birthday party because medically she's still considered a 10-month old, and would only be considered a 1-year-old on 13 May, the day she was supposed to be born. Viv and I even had a brief conversation on when we wanted to do the party - 17th March when she was born, 13th May when she was supposed to be born, or 21st May when she came home after spending 2 months in the ICU. We finally decided on 17th March because it was truly her 'birth day'.

The plan was to have a mega-party with both sets of grandparents, but my parents' passports, which had been sent for renewal around the time dinosaurs roamed the earth, had still not reached them. Sigh. Mera bhaarat mahaan. Anyway, Viv's parents reached on 15th March, and Xena immediately recognized her grandma... from her skype sessions! We were stunned to see the grin she gave her grandma every time she saw her.

We had been researching cakes, and a lot of my friends who have babies the same age were going for themed cakes like Spiderman and Disney and what not. Frankly speaking, I didn't want to do it because we didn't know if Xena would be into Spiderman or Disney or Transformers or whatever. We decided to just have a nice big cake with nice icing. We were checking out cakes in different shops when we passed by Swensens and I just casually suggested that maybe we should go take a look if they have any nice cakes. Good thing we did that, because we found THE.PERFECT.CAKE. It was an absolutely gorgeous 2-layered 1-shaped ice-cream cake. Both of us loved it and quickly placed the order. They told us that we could choose the flavours we wanted for the two layers, and we decided on butterscotch and strawberry. Viv asked them if they could put butterscotch as the top layer, making me wonder what difference it made, but the poor guy puts up with so many of my idiosyncrasies that I owed him this little one. Both of us burst out laughing when we saw the memo the cashier had written for the baker. There was only one line to put the information about the flavours and the poor thing had tried to squeeze in our special request. This is what she had written "Butterscotch & strawberry. Butt on top."

Xena and I had done a recce of all restaurants near our place, and finally decided on Indian Curry House. However, they did not allow private events on Saturday evenings (because they probably make obscene amounts of money from the weekend crowd) and suggested Saturday lunch instead. This suited us perfectly because there was a higher chance of Xena being alert and happy in the afternoon than late in the evening (her official bedtime is 6:30 pm!).

Next was outfits. Well, since a lot of people had said that Xena looked more like Viv and various members of his family, I was on high alert not to make the party environment conducive for more such comments. So Xena and I dressed alike, in pink lace outfits. I was dying to wear a sari, but it would be difficult to manage her in one, so I opted for a pink lace churidaar kameez which perfectly matched her pink lace outfit that my sister had sent from the US. Pink was the obvious choice because sometimes my gundi really looks like a boy, and I cannot count the number of times I've been told by strangers, "Your son is so cute." and "How old is he?" and the less offensive "Is it a boy or a girl?" Even the Swensens cake lady pointed to Xena and asked, "Oh, the cake is for his 1st birthday?" Argh. Just to drive home the point, I also put two small bows in her hair and made her wear frilly lace socks with her shoes.

On the morning of her birthday, the in-laws wanted us to go to the temple so we got up really early and got ready. Xena wore this really cute 'pavade' (lehenga choli) that her grandparents had got stitched for her. She was starting to get a little hungry, sleepy and cranky towards the end of the temple visit so Viv asked my mom-in-law and me to head home, while he and dad-in-law went to pack breakfast for everyone. We grabbed a cab which was driven by possibly the most insane cab driver I've ever encountered. She was bowled over by Xena's outfit and kept looking back and proclaiming how cute it was, and every once in a while she'd say, "I should keep my eyes on the road, yeah?" And then she did the unthinkable -- the reason why I refuse to take cabs. She asked me how to get to my place. Me. Of all the directionally challenged people in the world, me. (And that's why I take buses. No bus driver has ever asked me how he could get to my stop.) I thought 'Siglap mosque' would suffice (we live opposite the mosque), but she just joked "From temple to mosque, ah?" and started laughing so hard we had to laugh too. Anyway, thankfully this crazy driver answered her own question, with something like, "I'll take the KPE, then the CTE, then the PIE and then the ECP?" and though it sounded like she was just randomly listing names of expressways, I nodded vaguely. Suddenly she swerved and said, "Oh no no no! I can't take this. I'll end up back where I picked you up!" Sheesh. Well done, I thought. Nice contribution to the stereotype about female drivers.

So we finally reached home and realized that uh oh, I didn't have my keys. I had not anticipated that Viv won't be with us on the way back so I had not taken my keys. Besides, my sis-in-law was home. Except that she wasn't. She had gone to run an errand at the bank, so mom-in-law and I were stranded with a cranky Xena getting increasingly uncomfortable in her silk pavade. And then, the sun shone and the birds chirped and my diaper bag came to my rescue. All the times when I had lugged along the large diaper bag full of diapers, wipes, extra clothes, towels, toys, blankets and what not, I rarely needed to use it. But this time, I was so glad to make full use of the bag's contents. I changed her clothes, wiped her face, hands and legs, and she was much calmer. Mom-in-law and I found shelter near the barbecue pit downstairs. I fed Xena and waited for her papa who was rushing down in a cab to rescue us. It was too hot for her to fall asleep there and I was worried that if she didn't nap in time, she wouldn't be up and fresh for her party at noon. Soon, Viv and dad-in-law were back, and we got home.

It was already 10:30 am. I quickly put her down for a nap, while the rest of us got busy. Viv had to go pick up the cake. Sis-in-law and dad-in-law left early to put up the happy birthday banner and balloons. I got dressed and kept Xena's clothes, shoes, socks and clips ready by the bedside. And then I watched her and I watched the clock. And I did that many more times. She usually sleeps for about an hour in the morning, but I suppose the morning's activites and the heat had exhausted her. I was worried that the guests would reach before the birthday girl. And that's exactly what happened. She woke up at 11:55 am and by the time I got her ready and left the house, it was 12:15 pm and sis-in-law had called to say that several of the guests (yes, even the Indians!!) had reached sharp at noon. So I put my Olympic stroller-pushing skills to the test and quickly got there. She was soon surrounded by eager faces, many of whom were meeting her for the first time. She was alert and happy and readily welcoming anyone who wanted to hold her. Soon the place was full. Our initial plan had been to invite about 50 people, but we had our university gang, Viv's cricket group, his colleagues, my ex-colleagues, and others under 'miscellaneous'. Pizzadude was mock-offended when I told him he fell under the 'Miscellaneous' group, but then where do you put people you meet through your blog? ;) So list bante bante ban gayi, and soon the number was touching 80, excluding kids. It was really great to catch up with old friends after so long, and even Xena was socialising with her baby friends!

The food was super yummy, and the non-Indians were especially bowled over by the butter chicken. Around 1:00 pm, when we decided to cut the cake, we realized that Swensens had forgotten to give us a knife to cut the cake! We asked the restaurant for one and they gave us a butcher's knife! Finding it a bit odd to cut a baby's birthday cake with such a lethal-looking weapon, we asked for a regular knife. It turns out that the ice-cream was so cold and hard, a regular knife was of no use, and we ended up using the butcher's knife anyway. The cake was a big hit with the guests, especially the kids.

Speaking of kids, I had prepared party favors for them in the form of goodie bags, each containing balloons, chocolate, candy, a whistle, a yo-yo, a bottle of bubble-blowing solution and a set of fancy pencils. The restaurant also had a kids' play area in a corner so all of them had a good time.

Xena was getting tired towards the end of the party, but not once did she cry. We were so proud of her. After everyone had gone back, we started packing up too. And then we saw the mountain of gifts. Thankfully, one of Viv's colleagues helped to transport the mountain in his car to our place. (The gifts occupied the entire stretch of the floor from our living room through the dining room to almost the kitchen, before they were unwrapped later in the night.) Xena took a good long nap and woke up refreshed to receive her birthday wishes from my mom and dad on Skype. I wish they had been here. It would have been so awesome. But Skype is the next best thing, and I was thankful for it.

And thus went Xena's first birthday party. We have come a long way from the uncertain and scary days surrounding her birth, and when I look at the ICU pictures of her on the day she was born, tiny and frail and battling for life, I can't believe this is the same baby. Yes, there are some battles still remaining, but we have done well so far. We have done very well.

These two pictures of Xena were taken exactly one year apart. I have kept the picture on the left really tiny as it's not for the faint of heart.


Kay said...

gold!!OMG,my first gold on my favorite blog!

Kay said...

ok I HAD to post that first before someone took away my spot :P I loved the post!Baby Xena must have had an awesome party.Gundi didnt even cry!I remember mine was bawling so much that I wished I hadn't had a party. Coincidentally he had a number one shaped ice cream cake too cuz I couldn't decide what he'd really like.He's 3 now and no,they don't take over.Atleast mine hasn't... :) Anyways,here's wishing Xena a very happy birthday and lots n lots n lots of love.Sashbhai,get ready for the terrible twos!

Shubha Samalia said...

Hey, sayesha...this is Shubha, a frequent visitor at ur adda.......:P
Wish Xena a lovely long life..god bless always...:)

Sru said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arun said...

Think they're teasing thou with tales of transition of toddlers into the terrible twos!

Sru said...

Hiii Xena... Many many many happy returns of the day...God bless you :) U will practically grow up thru this blog :)
Waise SILVER!!!!!! (Kab se try kiyaaa ab kisine claim nahi kiyaa toh maine hatiya liyaaa muahahahaha)

Neksht tym...GOLD :P :)

rt said...

Happy Birthday XENA! Have a brilliant one and wishing you grow up a blogger like your mom to tell your side of stories which i am sure we would be reading for years to come!

Bubblegum.... said...

Woooooooooooooooow... Massssssssst! Happpppy Birthday to Xena... :) Cutie-maha cute lag rahi hai!! :) I was eagerly waiting for the post!!

Btw cake dekh k jo mann mera baichen hua hai.. India mein dhundhna padega cake ko! :D

R said...

happy budday Xena! May you like a long healthy life:)

R said...

not 'like' , live. htough ofcourse, you should 'like' it as well.

Alice said...

Even though I have been following your blog for ages, and have read all your Baby Xena posts, right from her birth waala one, that 1 pic says much more than any one of your posts. You brave brave people.

Happy birthday to the lil gundi.. when she grows up she'll realise how many lives she has touched through this blog.

And before I start blubbering outright.. muah, and may God bless you all.


Anonymous said...

Has it really been one year, Sayesha, since you described her birth story!? Happy birthday to little Xena, who, for her resilience, is easily my favourite-st blog baby around :) I comment infrequently, but have followed her 1 year (still can't believe it!) with you through the videos and anecdotes you post. Would love to keep reading.

You're quite the inspiration for me, S, on many counts :)

Kanan said...

Happy belated 1st birthday to Xena! :) God bless her.

Her looking like a boy was so cute and funny.

Archana said...

Happy Birthday Xena baby!

Sayesha - In the first pic I couldn't believe that the object next to your hand was a baby. I was wondering why you had posted a picture of your hand and a fruit (a vegetable? a toy?) till I read your caption and enlarged the pic. You, Viv and Xena have come a really long way! Congratulations and best wishes for an even brighter future!!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to the princess warrior! And congratulations to the warrior's warrior-parents. My 32-weeker is 2 years old this month, and thriving (touchwood!), and so shall Xena be :).

Some unsolicited mommy advice ('cause that's what we do!): The next year should be the best time ever - around the 16-18 month time is when they're CUTE as hell, not yet painful & tantrum-y, and they're learning things so quickly they're fun to be around. And not nearly as needy and helpless as one-year olds. Enjoy her...
And for her next birthday, plan for a party organizer to do all this hard work - organizing location, arrangements, entertainment for bands of shrieking toddlers, etc. They're worth every cent.

Varsha said...

Very happy birthday Xena, and seems like a really great party!
Can't help comparing Vihaan and her all the time. But yes, I can 'feel' the feeling. And as they say, be ready for the terrible twos, the thoughtful threes and the fabulous fours. That's how far I have come till now.

Mary said...

Happy Birthday to a beautiful little girl! :) She looks so pretty! :)

My little premature brother(s) (I have 2!) were always allowed to have 2 birthdays as kids - one on the day they were born and the other when they developmentally turn 1 (the due date!). :)

Mary said...

Best best best wishes to the little one, the fighter ! :)

Divya said...

Here's wishing the little princess a wonderful year ahead and a life time of health, happiness and love!!

Meenakshy said...

oh! such a lovely post. My blessings for her healthy and happy good long life. When they take over, for all you know it becomes so easy too. My son wanted an Orange colour cake for his third birthday party. I requested the cake people to make our "usual" pineapple cake and add orange color to the icing, which they obliged with no extra cost.

ಅಶ್ವಿನಿ/ Ashwini said...

Happy birth day Xena! Lots and lots of hugs and kisses. Long live gundi :)

~ PragyaN ~ said...

Happy Birthday Princess! Wishing you all the world's happiness :)

Shalaka said...

A very very Happy Birthday to Xena.. Lovely birthday party description except you need to add a full photo of mom + xena together in pink :)
and that last picture really speaks a thousand words! I am SO SO happy for you guys! Wish you the best!

Kanan said...

Btw, where did the subscribe to comments button go?

Varenya said...

A very happy birthday to xena..wishing her the best that world has to offer!!

Anonymous said...

god bless the little angel/gundi :)
She is looking so adorable. said...

A very happy B'day to Xena..may she gets all the happiness of this world :)

Prathima said...

Heartiest wishes to the li'l gundi. Wishing her a long, healthy and happy life :-)

Divya said...

Heartiest wishes to the little one, i have been siliently following your blog and more since since Xena'a arrival..being a new mom I know how it feels to see your little one grow up and oh so fast...
best wishes and great health and happiness to you guys..!!
great job on party planning !!

Ketaki... said...

Happy Birthday Xena.. We wish you a very healthy and happy Life.. :)

Stupidosaur said...


anishya said...

Happy b'day Darling Xena !!

Anonymous said...

Hey Sayesha, long time lurker. :) Just wanted to wish the choti gundi a life full of love, laughter and happiness. May she completely take over your 70th b'day party plans and take her revenge for this one! :P

Love to you & Viv!


Anonymous said...

Wishing Xena a belated Happy Birthday and sending best wishes her way for a healthy happy life ahead! Muah! She's looking super cute! :)

Sayesha said...

Thank you! :) Yes, we were kind of expecting some crying at least, but there was none! :)

Thank you! :)

I actually thought you were an authority on this, until I realised that you were just showing off your alliteration skills. :P

Thank you! :)

Thank you! :) Wow, I hope Xena discloses her blog URL to her mommy....

Thank you! :) Yes, the cake was yummmmm! Yahan aao, cake khao. Remember what Saif said about cake in DCH? ;)

Raam Pyari,
Thank you! :) Hope she lives and likes a long life too! :)

Thank you! :)

Thank you! :)

Thank you! :) Her hair has started growing now so soon she will start looking like a girl I think. :P Or a boy rockstar...

Thank you! :)

Oh you had a 32-weeker too! Best wishes to your little one, and thanks for the mommy advice. I was a bit sad that time is passing by so fast and she's not doing some of the cute things she used to, but looks like there's more cute stuff ahead! :)

Thanks! :)

Thanks! Yes, we will celebrate on May 13 too! :),
Thanks! :)

Thank you! :)

Thanks! oh wow, is orange his favourite colour?

Thanks! :)

Thank you! :)

Thanks! :) Arre the photo at the end of the post has both baby and mommy in their pink outfits. :)

???!! It's not there anymore??

Thanks! :)

Thank you! :)

Thanks! :)

Thanks! :)

Thank you! :)

Thanks! :)


Thanks! :)

Thank you! :)

Thanks! :)

Serendipity said...

Wishing all of you a happy Xena birthday !! Sayesha , she looks beautiful in the pink frock :)

Nachu said...

Happy Birthday Xena!! Wishing her happiness and laughter filled year ahead..

Kudos to gundi Xena for staying cheerful all day !

Shalaka said...

No no - I noticed that, but usme to mommy dikhti hi nahi hai. that's why i said "full" photo :))

Kanan said...

Sash, that's right, can't subscribe to comments of individual posts any more.

Arun said...

Caught! :)

Three birthday cheers to the Tiny Tapori! May she keep you wrapped around her little finger and dancing to her tune!

Calvin said...

Belated Birthday wishes to Xena!! :) She is truly a warrior!! :)
The last picture was really shocking, and i am so weak hearted! Kudos to you and Viv, for going through all this with so much strength and Dignity.. You set an example for me! :)

Hugs :)

Anonymous said...

I am on on and off visitor but a regular reader :) had to de lurk to wish Xena on her birthday!! wish u a long happy and healthy life dear little one!

humblog said...

Belated birthday wishes, and wish there are many more to come where you can indulge all her girly nakhras...

BTW I was blessed with a daughter on the 24th.

Shekhar said...

I know I'm a little late (saccha desh-bhakt hoon), but God Bless this wonderful kid.

Happy Birthday Xena. :)


Belated birthday wishes to Xena.

Hope to see Xena one day after all her battles completed ..I think she will make very big in her life... make all her followers like me proud..

Have a nice year Xena

Kanan said...

Comment for subscription.

reena said...

When beti follows mom's footsteps of being a born gundi just by cutting her 1st ever b'day cake with a butcher's knife what could she gift you more.

Belated Happy Birthday Xena!! Love both of you :)

Sudeep said...

Oye! What is with you guys ki tum birthdays aur anniversaries ussi time pe laate ho jab main blogs se duur hota hu?
A very very happy birthday to Xena. I pray that as time passes by you look back at those initial scary days like 'why were we scared, all has been so great after that'. Wish her a super duper year ahead and a healthy one too. And you guys also have a great year with many tales to tell us about her :)