My parents watched me become a first-time mom from thousands of miles away
My parents watched me become a first-time mom from thousands of miles away
Raising a child takes a village—but what if you live across the country (or even across an ocean) from your village?
Parenting can be the most beautiful and exhausting journey you will ever experience in your life. And in this journey, having a pair of helping hands that can care for your little one can be a blessing. But when grandma and grandpa live thousands of miles away, it can be challenging to navigate through it alone. And getting enough sleep when you don’t have help is necessary for first-time parents.
Pragnya (37), a first-time Asian-American mom and one of our community’s earliest members, shares how she and her partner, Sriram (38), used Cradlewise’s caregiver technology to stay connected with their families across nations. The couple also divulges how their parenting style with their daughter Maya (14 months) differs from their families.
Reconnecting with old friends
They met Radhika and Bharath at a farmers’ market demo in the Bay Area. (Pragnya, Sri, and Bharath, a co-creator at Cradlewise, went to college together.)
“We have known Bharath since I guess we all were kids, like 16, 17-year olds,” says Pragnya. After the couple found out they were pregnant in 2020, they learned that Cradlewise was launching in the U.S. and reconnected with them again.
Pragnya says, “And I think at that time, I was fairly early in my pregnancy, and I was just looking at all the products people say that the baby is going to need.”
Rather than researching and buying a bassinet, crib, white noise machine, and baby monitor separately, Cradlewise’s all-in-one aspect provided Pragnya with a holistic solution to her baby’s needs. “The crib is like three products in one. And I don’t have to invest in investigating each product that I have to buy. And it’s the integrated experience that I really like,” Pragnya says.
Maya’s transition to the crib at eight weeks old
Pragnya’s parents flew into Oakland for her delivery and stayed with her for eight months.
(Being one of the early adopters of Cradlewise during the pandemic, she didn’t receive the crib until Maya was eight weeks old because of the global supply shortage.)
“We just put her down, and 15 seconds later, you can see her eyes open, and then you watch her doze off. So that felt like magic. I think my early impression was like, `Oh wow, this works.’”
Pragnya elaborates, “The major value that we got was like those night wakings. What would happen as a new mom is every time Maya got up, I would get up as well and pat her down. And that is like every few minutes during the limited sleep time that I was getting and that time was interrupted by me just trying to be there for my baby. But once the crib came in, it allowed us to have more of a continuous night of sleep. So that was a relief in those early months and obviously a continuing source since we realized that the crib could do that.”
Since her parents were with her, Pragnya was able to help troubleshoot and set the app up on their phones.
“My dad is OBSESSED with the app,” says Pragnya. “He’s the one who was primarily, completely using the caregiver functionality in a way to track the baby from when he woke up to when he went to sleep. He would use his entire day to monitor her while she was sleeping on the crib.”
Addressing the accessibility pain points of Pragnya’s dad helped the Cradlewise team improve the app’s overall quality. “I think the app got really battle-tested, with someone who is not tech-savvy and but still really wanted to use it,” Pragnya shares.
Worlds apart but close in spirit
Now that they are back in India, her parents continue to use the app. Since India is approximately 13.5 hours ahead of the West Coast in the U.S., Pragnya’s morning is night time for her parents. And they make it an evening ritual to watch Maya’s activities. “Sometimes we get complaints like, oh, she was up for a really long time, and you guys didn’t pick her up.” 😂
Pragnya’s dad uses the app every day to give her sweet updates of what Maya does in her sleep and when she wakes up.
“Now that she’s in a different room, I don’t see her waking up but he’s there online at 6 or 6:30 a.m. our time because he knows that’s the time she wakes up. And it’s kind of nice that he gets to see her that close, even if he’s not nearby,” says Pragnya.
“They have missed all the more fun milestones of her walking and talking for the first time live. So they feel like this is a way to get some of the moments back.”
Different parenting styles
Pragnya reflects on how her experience parenting Maya differs from her own childhood, growing up in India. It’s a perfect example of how raising a child is a unique and intimate experience for each parent. And how not one specific kind is the right way.
“We co-slept with our parents until we were five years old. And for my parents and in-laws, it was a really alien thing to put an eight-week-old baby in her own crib or bassinet,” says Pragnya.
Pragnya and Sri also started sleep coaching Maya. “We didn’t really attempt sleep coaching until my parents had left for India because we knew the idea just wouldn’t go down well with them. The thought of letting Maya be by herself and protest for a little time before I went to pick her up, would have been hard for my parents to see. So, literally the week my parents left, we attempted to sleep coach her, and she was quite fine,” says Pragnya.
Pragnya wanted Maya to have sound sleep practices, so sleep coaching was vital to her. “Whereas my mom was a full-time mom, so if she didn’t sleep through the night, she could afford a couple of naps during the day or when my dad could watch me sleep. And we don’t have that luxury with full-time demanding jobs.”
There was also a difference in how Pragnya chose to feed Maya from her parent’s generation. She breastfed and supplemented with formula milk since she felt it was the right choice for her baby. “I don’t think there’s a lot of education before the baby is here about how each feeding option is good enough, depending on the sources that you read. But with your family, they have opinions about breastfeeding, and it’s hard not to let that implicit pressure cloud your judgment,” says Pragnya.
And even from a community-building perspective, her mom’s approach was different from hers. Pragnya sought advice and camaraderie in talking to her friends over Whatsapp. “Whereas with my mom and in-laws, it was a lot of neighbors and family who they lived with, and there were maids to help when my mom needed help,” says Pragnya. “When I was struggling with Maya, I could leave her with my mom and take an afternoon to catch up on laundry or baking while she was here.”
But Pragnya wanted to know how her mom did it all by herself. And when she did ask, she’d say, “I would do all my personal chores when the maid would come. So the maid would take care of you while I go take a shower, use the bathroom or fold the laundry.”
Food for thought
Pragnya reflects on Maya’s sleep journey for the last 14 months.
One thought at the back of her mind before getting her Cradlewise was whether her baby would become too dependent on the product to sleep. “Is this going to form a habit or dependency for my baby? And what if we are traveling? Would she be able to sleep somewhere else?”
But after using the crib for the past year, Pragnya quickly realized that the crib helps Maya stay asleep for longer stretches. “She has developed her own sense of how to fall asleep, and the crib doesn’t necessarily interfere with that. But it gives her that nice environment in which she can continue to sleep if she’s woken up,” Pragnya shares.
“I think having good sleep practices is really helpful for both the parents and the baby. But it’s especially a big sanity factor for parents and investing in anything that can assist you to put those good sleep practices in your kids is a good investment to me.”