Chasing The Phone

Chasing The Phone

A few times a day, we do a video call with our family back in India so that they can see Nitara and what she is up to. During one such video call recently, while she was sitting and playing on her play-mat, I got an idea. Nitara had recently started to crawl a bit better so in order to show my mom that, I placed the phone in a standing position on the floor, but a few feet away from her. The phone, with my mom on its screen, immediately caught Nitara’s attention. She quickly leaned towards the phone, got onto her tummy and started crawling. As soon as she was in touching distance of the phone, her one hand made an arc in the air, landed on it and lifted it up. She sat up, brought the phone close to her face and started inspecting the screen with my mom on it. Naturally, the inspection proceeded with one corner of the phone now in her mouth, so I snatched it from her, moved to another end of the living room and place the phone down on the floor again with its screen facing Nitara. She was on the move quickly again and headed for the phone, but the distance being a bit far, she stopped in the middle, rested for a few moments and then resumed crawling towards the phone. As soon as she reached it, a familiar look of curiosity came on her face and just as she was about the grab the phone again, I snatched it out of her reach and went and placed back it in the previous corner of the room. This whole cat and mouse went on for some more time after which it was clear that Nitara had exhausted all her patience and energy for the day and gave up and started crying. We had to end the show right there. As it was also dinner time by then, a bottle of milk was produced before her which contributed greatly to calming her down and eventually preparing her for sleep.

Needless to say, Nitara chasing my phone has become a regular feature of our video calls back home.

There’s A Turtle In Our Home

There’s A Turtle In Our Home

There’s a cute little turtle in our home. It’s always lying on its stomach on the floor, facing a direction that it wants to go in. It pushes forward with its back legs, but doesn’t know exactly how to use its front legs in tandem with the rear in order to move forward. And thanks to its unending efforts, it occasionally manages to raise itself slightly but then ends up rolling over onto its back. It doesn’t know how to roll back to its previous position so it starts crying and I have to rush forward to help it back onto its stomach, ready to push ahead again.

But every now and then, I take my eyes away from it for a couple of moments and when I look back, it has moved forward a bit. I look at it and it looks back at me. No movement, nothing. Then I go back at my laptop. After a while, I look at it again and again I find it has moved forward quite a bit. First it was lying on a play-mat. A few moments later, I found it on the floor. Then, in the play gym. Then under the coffee table.

Like I just said. There’s a cute little turtle in our home. It moves when no one is looking, stops when there are eyes on it. Unsuspecting Dad uses the quiet time to catch up on his work. The unaware Mom prepares dinner in the kitchen. All is well, until you hear a thud. No longer able to maintain her balance trying to climb onto the front of the couch, the turtle – our 7 month old daughter – finally falls sideways onto the living room floor and the suddenness of the fall scares her more than it hurts, and she erupts into loud screams again. I rush to her aid again, pick her up in my arms and try to pacify her, while her Mom also arrives from the kitchen and inspects the scene. Our little girl gets a bit of affection from both parents and once she has stopped crying, I put her down on her play-mat again, and hand her her toys. She is happy now. The Mom is back in the kitchen, and I back at my laptop to resume typing the blog post I knew had been pending for weeks. I write a couple of more sentences, and just as my concentration is back, I throw a quick glance around the room to find my turtle again lying on its stomach on the floor. Where is it headed now?

Rhymes On My Mind

Rhymes On My Mind

Remember how some days you wake up, get ready, step out of the home for work/school and realize that you’ve had a particular song playing in your mind, even on your lips, the whole time without you knowing or even being able to make it go away? I know its happened to me quite a lot and most times I’ve been surprized to learn that it could be the worst song I’d ever heard, or it could be one that I last heard years ago, but which had suddenly made home in my mind and just wouldn’t go away. Sometimes, this would last an entire day and I would not be able to get rid of it. Yes, I know it has happened to you too.

But, of late, things have changed a little. Last week, I woke up, got ready, was off to work and the whole day, there was a nursery rhyme stuck in my head and I just couldn’t shake it off. And the reason was simple. We were playing nursery rhyme videos on our TV, while our 7 m.o. darling daughter sat on her high chair across the room with a bib around her neck, having her meal. She finds these videos quite interesting and so they were the best way to make her eat. Imagine the look on your face if something utterly unbelievable happened at the most unexpected time. Can you imagine how your expression would be in that first instant? Now freeze that look for about half and hour and that is how my daughter keeps staring at the TV the whole time these are playing.

So, we get an overdose of nursery rhymes for a good amount of time everyday. And that is why, on some days, upon waking up, I find one of those stuck in my mind. And everytime I managed to clear my head of it, it would start over automatically. There would be an involuntary clicking of the toungue (click–click-click–click-click—-click-click) to set the base and then, the rhyme would begin:

Baa Baa Black Sheep, Have you any wool..
Yes Sir! Yes, Sir! Three bags full..
One for the master, One for the dame..
And one for the little boy Who lies down the lane…

Which is your favourite Nursery Rhyme? Share with me by commenting on this post.

Clap! Clap! Clap your hands!

Clap! Clap! Clap your hands!

Last week, something amazing happened with our 7 m.o. daughter. My wife and I had recently spoken about training Nitara to do stuff like clap her hands and one morning I tried to teach her to clap her hands but it did not work and she was not interested. However, in the evening my wife held Nitara’s hands and started clapping them together while I clapped mine to show her again how it is done. Then we let go and soon we were surprised to see that Nitara began to clap on her own. And that wasn’t all. When she stopped, I started clapping with my hands and kept on saying “clapping, clapping”. Seeing me do it, she started to clap again and we were excited at having taught her some new actions. We had fun for some time and when we stopped, I waited a short while and then just said the word “clapping”. To our astonishment, Nitara started clapping her hands at the mere mention of the word. We couldn’t believe ourselves so we did this a few times by distracting her in between. I even picked her up and sat her on my shoulders, told her we are doing “dansy, dansy” and then let her hands free and said “clapping, clapping”, and there she went clapping her hands again.

We were overjoyed at the whole development. It was a proud moment to know that our baby was responding to us by actions, that she not only heard words we spoke but also listened to them and retained them in her mind.

I was so happy that I hugged her tight and kissed her round cheeks and told her, “I’m proud of you, my baby.” Then a thought came to my mind. More of a reflection. As kids, we sometimes say that one day we would want to make our parents proud. But what we don’t know, and what I learnt today, is that parents become proud of their children much earlier than the children realize. I don’t have to wait for my baby to grow up, do well at her education, chose her career and achieve something big in order to feel proud of her. I already am proud that she is a lovely baby and is learning to do stuff even if it’s something as small as clapping her hands. Before today, I could never understand this. But now, I love it.

So, though it has been over a week, Nitara continues to respond to the word clapping. Not only that, she even does it unprovoked, and often when she is excited. It’s exciting.

Smile, My Little Baby!

Smile, My Little Baby!

From the day my darling daughter was born, the one thing I wanted to see her do the most was to smile. The first expression I saw on her face was that of fear after just having come out into this world. Then, she cried. Over many days and weeks, I kept looking at her with renewed hope that she would smile. But of course, I knew that babies that small don’t know smiling yet. And what will she smile at? She doesn’t understand what being happy means. And what could have made her happy anyway? A large supply of milk and sleeping for as long or as little as she chose?

So, weeks kept passing by but there was nothing. She got her name – Nitara – but even that did not please her enough to pass a smile. A few times, we thought we did she a smile on her face when she was asleep and then that smile would vanish abruptly. It wasn’t really a smile, maybe a twitching of muscles in her face? Maybe her brain was learning how to move those muscles in different manners? Sometimes my mom claimed that she saw Nitara smile, but I couldn’t actually count on that unless she smiled at me and I saw it too. And a smile didn’t really mean much unless we were sure that she really was smiling about something.

Finally that day came and Nitara smiled at me for the first time. It was in response to a toy that I had shown her. But even then, it was difficult to make her smile on purpose. I tried many things, made faces, made funny sounds, sang for her. And finally I got it.

What Nitara really enjoyed the most was me forming my lips into an ‘O’, opening my eyes wide, and making the sound ‘Ooooooooo’, all together. The more I did it, the more she smiled. Later, when she started to make sounds like ‘A-gooo’, ‘A-gaaa’, using her voice for the first time, I started imitating her sounds. Gradually, I found that she liked my imitation of her and she started to respond to my imitation by making more such sounds, which I imitated again, and so on, and she enjoyed this whole experience so much that her smiles this time were a true result of joy at a new discovery.

Soon afterwards, the smiles turned into laughter. Now, she has been advancing so fast almost anything can make her laugh. Just talking to her makes her laugh. Showing her your tongue makes her laugh out loud. She looks at the most simple things around her, like a photo frame of my mom and me (from when I was a baby myself) throws her into convulsions. My youngest sister, perhaps, is nowadays her biggest source of laughter. They play peekaboo and Nitara has a rocking time with her. In fact, her smiles now have a character of their own. No longer are there simple curving of lips and expansion of cheeks. Now she opens her mouth wide and makes loud joyful sounds when she smiles and you can see the joy in her eyes as well.

So, it has been worth the wait. Every time she smiles feels like the first time and makes me super happy. And, to see a baby smile and laugh and show happiness, isn’t that the biggest reward of being a parent?

How life has changed since the Baby

How life has changed since the Baby

One immediate consequence of having become a father was that it took time away from the things that I generally enjoyed doing before the baby arrived. I loved to read lots of books, write this blog, learn Swedish, and watch Netflix with my wife. Soon after my daughter was born, I did continue to write this blog for a while, though with lesser frequency and they were mostly delayed posts. Then, at around 3 months after the birth, we decided to take parental leave for 6 weeks and visit our family in India. This break, I was certain, would give me time again to be able to do the stuff I was starting to miss over the last few months.

So, we prepared for the travel and I kept notes about our preparation so that I could write a post about it soon. However, I stayed in India for over 6 weeks but not once during that time did I get the opportunity to write a single post even though my mind was bursting with things that I really wanted to write and publish here.

So, what happened? Why could I not do the stuff I really cared about doing for my entire holiday? A few things actually. I realized that neither did I have the time away from my darling daughter (by my own choice) nor the frame of mind to detach myself from her exciting world to be able to do some writing. I could spend entire days, weeks or even months being by her side, watching as she kept trying something new every now and then. She learnt to reach out with her hands and touch and feel my face. She started to grab her toys and then try to put them in her mouth. She tried to roll over on to her stomach but kept failing for many weeks, until she finally did it and then started crying when she couldn’t move back. I saw the first time she saw something funny on my t-shirt (I always wore cartoon prints) and decided to try to crawl to get to me across the bed. She pushed hard with her legs to move forward (a big development) but had no idea how to use her arms and as a consequence of this lack of coordination, she would raise her bums in the air, dig her face into the bed and end up rolling over to one side and onto her back, wondering what went wrong. And I watched with fascination, when even in a state of hunger, she would break her feed and turn her head around to stare at the TV in our room, and then back to the feed and again to the TV, over and over.

On top of that, only a couple of weeks into our vacation I fell sick to Typhoid, which ended up making me too weak to sit in front of a laptop for more than a few minutes at a time. It took me the rest of the vacation period to overcome the illness.

So, due to the reasons stated above, I suddenly realized that I had not been able to make a single post on my blog for over 2 months. So many things had happened in my life as a dad over the past few months that it was now difficult to keep track of all the developments. When my darling daughter transitioned from being a quiet observer to learning to make tiny “a-goo” sounds to call us and then on to filling our ears with her shouting and singing – all in order to amuse herself – seems like a recent blur.

Over the next few days and weeks, I will try to come up to speed again with my writing, the reason being that I am back to Sweden without my wife and daughter – but only for a short while. Next month, I bring them back here and then the routine perhaps would resume and I might find myself short on time again.

So, one thing that I really did learn from my experience until now is how the arrival of a child changes the lives of the parents forever, whether it relates work, social life or just personal preferences. You suddenly realize that you can no longer accompany your friends to that bar that you frequented. You can only hear of others telling you about their upcoming foreign vacations, but you yourself can no longer plan one. So, a lot has changed and sometimes we hope to be able to do the same stuff as others, but we are new parents and still getting used to the new life. However, contrary to what I always hear, I wouldn’t really call it a sacrifice at all. I don’t think I am making a sacrifice if I am giving up on a few things I liked to do so that I can take better care of my daughter. I am happy to do everything I can for her, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. I do it out of love.

And love it really is. Of a kind that I have never felt before. Or never felt possible. Remember the first crush in school? Remember the first time you thought you were in love? Or the first time you actually got loved back? The time when you thought you would die if you did not get your love back? Or the time when you got married? All of those feelings simply pale in comparison to the feeling of love that I feel for my darling daughter.

Darling, she really is. It is impossible to explain how happy she makes me feel when she smiles at the stupid faces I make in order to amuse her. Every single time she smiles seems to me like the first time and fills me with life. The only thing I want to do all the time is pick her up in my arms, hug her and plant tiny kisses on her round round cheeks.

So, on the one hand while having a baby has taken away the routine of my life, my passion for reading and writing and being able to socialize with friends in the same way as before, it has also brought me happiness and love in its purest and most pleasurable form – the love of a father for his daughter. So, the scales are tipped heavily in the favour of the good compared to the bad.

And that is all that matters, doesn’t it? How has your experience been like?

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Pee, Poop and Burp: The First 40 Days

Pee, Poop and Burp: The First 40 Days

For the first 2 days after our baby girl was born, she only needed a change of diaper every 6-8 hours. She had her typical blackish gooey poop and we could barely tell if she was peeing at all since there were no leakages. The midwives told us that the baby did not need to burp because she was having very little breast milk in the beginning. So, I thought we were doing fantastic at under 3 diaper changes a day. In fact, I enjoyed changing her diaper a lot. She never cried, except when hungry, and even then, it was a low cry and she would calm down as soon as she was fed. She was turning out to be an extremely well-mannered baby. And I proudly trumpeted this fact to friends and family.

WRONG!

Only a few days on and the little one gave us a shocking reality check. She now pooped much more often, more like 6-8 times a day and specially after each feed, sometimes more. At times, she pooped again immediately after the new diaper was put on. And then you needed to redo the whole exercise of laying her down on the changing table, remove her diaper, clean her with a wet cloth and dry her and put on a new diaper, all the while putting up with her relentless ear-shattering shrieks and howls. (Did I mention that she hated being put down on the changing table now?) Often times, having just been cleaned up and the next diaper on its way out of the bag, the little one discovers she forgot to pee in the previous diaper and does that on the changing table itself. Sometimes, directly on my hands. We scramble to prevent the pee from flowing onto the changing mattress and clean her up once again before putting on the next diaper. The shrieking and howling continues relentlessly.

Where Pee and Poop were causing such mayhem, how could the Burp stay behind? Having a really small tummy, she was always too full after a feeding session and appeared irritated, so I would lift her to my shoulder and pat on her back a bit in order to elicit a burp. But it wasn’t that easy. It still isn’t. Before we even pick her up for a burp, she throws up a mouthful of milk onto her chin, neck and clothes. It’s a race between her and us, can we pick her up in time to prevent her from vomiting? Even when we pick her up first, we need to hold her straight otherwise she simply vomits out all the milk and then wants to be fed again. Holding her straight was yet another challenge because she would start scratching my neck with her fingernails, pull at my collar and suck my shirt for milk, all the while throwing her little frail head around wildly while I struggle to hold it in place.

At other times, she would asleep while on the breast and wake up shortly afterwards to realize she has her mouth full of milk. Not knowing what to do with it she ends up coughing all of it out onto the tired mum, following the scene up with another burst of crying and maybe re-feeding.

So, the first 40 days with our little baby have been much tougher than I had ever imagined. There were times when it felt like either we were the worst parents or this was the most difficult baby ever. I often wondered why babies just don’t stop crying even though we were doing everything that they needed. I also wondered if there was something that all other parents knew, but not us, which made our parenting a bit worse.

But after the first 40-50 days, things have improved and we are now in a different phase with our baby. More on that later.

How has your experience been? Do let me know by leaving a comment below.

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And remember, you can always get in touch with me if you have any questions, by visiting my Contact page or emailing me at: peepoopburp@gmail.com.

Singing to my baby

Singing to my baby

In those early days after her birth, when it was impossible for us to know how to calm a crying baby, we tried many things. Picking her up in my arms and swinging her a little used to soothe her. It worked most of the times, but not always. In most cases, we found that the only solution was to feed her. But the moment you took her off the feed, she would start crying again.

But how do you put a crying baby to calm down and sleep?

As new parents, we were utterly clueless about things. But one day, out of sheer desparation, and without realizing, I started singing to my baby girl. At first, she did continue to cry but her howling reduced considerably and soon afterwards she became completely quiet and went on staring at me. At this, I realized that she probably found my singing a soothing change and this encouraged me to keep going on. I must have sung to her for at least 20 minutes non-stop. During the whole time, I obsered how she kept looking at me and slowly started to drift off to sleep. My wife looked at me with utter disbelief, because neither had believed we had any way to putting the baby off to sleep. But now, I had apparently found a way. I felt so happy and proud of myself. I know that my wife has the bigger connection with the baby because she feeds her all day, but I had just achieved something that she could not. I had contributed as a dad in the care of the baby and I felt on top of the world.

I cannot say that this works perfectly because the next time I sang to her it made her cry even more. This time, I was puzzled and, frankly, a little disheartened. Here I was thinking my baby loves my singing but now that seemed like a fluke. But I did try it many times in the days and weeks to follow and got mixed results. Then, I realized something. My baby did actually feel soothed by me singing to her, but it all depended on which tune I chose. At times, it has been the nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, while at other times, it has been some old bollywood songs. But i have also learnt that sometimes the baby really is hungry after all, and as a Dad i need to respect that and not force my singing on her.

If you are wondering how to sooth your crying baby and push it over the edge into the world of sleep, try singing to her. And if she doesn’t respond at first, don’t lose hope. Maybe it’s time for a change of tune. Maybe she isn’t ready yet. Trust me, she will be ready soon. And when she shows that she likes your singing, that moment will be priceless.

How has your experience been singing to your baby? Do comment below and share.

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Our daughter Nitara Bagga is one month today

Our daughter Nitara Bagga is one month today

Hey World!

Meet Nitara, our charming little princess who has all grown up to be one month today. We are so glad to have her in our lives and we love her very much. Here’s a Happy One Month to her from her mom, dad, grandparents, great-grandparents, as well as aunts and uncles.

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Bringing our baby home from the Hospital

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On 16th January 2017, we brought our newborn baby girl home from the hospital. It was indeed a very special day for us. In the morning, I reached the hospital around 11 AM after doing a bit of grocery shopping. Shortly afterwards, the midwife on duty told us that we should be able to take  the mother and baby home today as they were both doing well and there were a lot of people waiting to be accommodated as the hospital was full.

We readily understood their problem (we ourselves had to wait a couple of hours to get our room 3 days earlier so we know how important that was). I left for home to fetch the baby’s car seat and, on the way, picked up some stuff to decorate our apartment for welcoming the baby. Our neighbor and Nupur’s (my wife’s) mom decorated the apartment while I arrived back at the hospital with the car-seat.

Once we were done with the formalities (which consisted of just signing a piece of paper) at the hospital, we carried the baby in the car seat till the hospital entrance and then took a cab home.

For those who are interested to know, I had bought the Maxi Cosi Pebble, which is an infant car seat and can be used until the baby turns 1 year old. It turned out to be quite easy to attach the car seat and it held up very well over the entire journey back home. You can read more about why I chose it here.

When we reached home, our moms welcomed us warmly and we were very happy to find the apartment so nicely decorated. We celebrated a bit by eating nice food and some sweets. We changed our little one into more comfortable clothes and then put her down on the bed to sleep. We had decorated her cot but she still hasn’t slept in it because she always needs to be close to her mom, which is fine for us.

Here are some pictures.

Do share your own coming home experiences by commenting below.