Watching our baby in the womb

The first ultrasound doesn’t really show you much. The only thing it does is that it confirms that there is something inside and gives you something to start dreaming about. It is too small to look like a baby. Just a foetus. No arms, no legs, just something resembling a head and a small body maybe. No movement.

The second ultrasound was what really shocked us. Being our first pregnancy, we had never seen anything like this before. We could easily tell it was a small baby now and was so much different from the first scan. We could see its hands and legs, and body, and the head and a tip for the nose, the curve for the butts. It was incredible. We were now looking at a living being that we created. I got goosebumps and felt something indescribable in my heart when I saw it flapping about its arms and legs randomly, and twisted and turned its body away from us when the scanner moved over my wife’s bump. It was as if the baby was telling us it did not wish to be disturbed. It was doing something really important, in that it was slowly creating itself and growing up, getting ready for the outside world. Being created from a cell and growing into a fully formed human being is a tough job and our baby is so busy with it that it does not care for being disturbed.

Or? Or, was it calling out to its mamma and papa, trying to touch and feel us, asking us to pick it up and bring it out into the world and take care of it and decorate it with cute clothes and accessories and shower it with love? Maybe, it already knows it has first-time grand-parents, a great-grandmother, and first-time aunts & uncles all waiting for it. But wait we must and so must the baby.

And we wait. 8th January 2017.


Getting Maternity Care in Sweden

Have you just discovered, or suspect, that you are about to become a parent but don’t know the Swedish maternity care system – how it works, do you need to see a doctor or a widwife, how to book an appointment, etc.? Here is what you need to do.

Irrespective of what the maternity care system back in your home country is, in Sweden it is fairly simple, provided you are able to figure it out going through various websites in Swedish. So, the easier method is to follow our lead. And remember that maternity care is completely free in Sweden as long as you have a personnummer. Even the visits to the midwife are completely free, as is the delivery process in the main hospital. Yes, you heard it right!

In a nutshell, this is the procedure:

  1. Search for a convenient midwife clinic (Mödravårdscentral).
  2. Call the clinic of your choice and book an appointment.
  3. First visit: Ultrasound + blood tests, etc. all arranged by the midwife.
  4. Further tests and the second ultrasound.
  5. Midwife gives you pregnancy certificate which you send to försäkringskassan to register for parental benefits and plan parental leave.
  6. Choosing a hospital for delivery.
  7. Wait!

Let’s start from the beginning.

Call the Midwife: (No, not that TV series just now, the real midwife clinic)
Forget gynaecologist appointments, the first step after knowing that you are pregnant is to book an appointment with one of Sweden’s hundreds of Midwife clinics, also called Mödravårdscentral or MVC. Sometimes also called Mödrahälsovård. (I will call it MVC in this post for simplification). How do you find which MVC is closer to you? Visit and click on Hitta Vård, or simply follow this link and make sure you select Mödravårdscentral in the search suggestions and also write the name of your city and/or kommun. Multiple search terms in parallel are possible. See the attached picture:

From the long list you get, choose any MVC which is convenient to you. We picked Mama Mia Söder (in Södermalm) as it was close to home and very convenient for us, but you can read about the various options from the list and choose accordingly. Also, my wife had already heard this name form one of her colleagues so we decided to call Mama Mia. The contact details are listed on their own website (, as well as on the search page on

Book an Appointment:
Once you have the contact details, call the MVC according to telephone calling times mentioned on their website. When you tell them that you are suspected to be pregnant, first they will congratulate you heartily, and then they will book you an appointment with a midwife. On the phone, right then, they will tell you who your midwife will be when you come in on the agreed date of appointment and you can tell them if you have a language constraint or not. It is all cool, they are pretty polite and will listen to you.

One thing to note is that getting an appointment in Sweden means waiting a little bit. It is common that your first appointment with the midwife might fall somewhere between the 8th/9th week and the 12th week. This is totally fine, so please do not freak out about the long wait. When we called Mama Mia, we got an appointment for 4 weeks later and even we had a terrible time due to the anticipation. But it is completely fine, trust us. There will be nothing special before the 8th week anyway.

The First Visit
Our first visit to the MVC (for us, Mama Mia Söder) was filled with nervous anticipation. However, the midwife was very nice and polite and she really made my wife feel special. She took her blood pressure readings, did a blood sugar test and asked various questions to both of us about our medical histories. We were quite lucky that the midwife had already found out that their ultrasound machine was going to be free at that time so we quickly went to the other room and had the first ultrasound. The foetus was quite small and we discovered that my wife was in the 9th week of her pregnancy. We were also pleasantly surprised when, without us asking for it, the lady at the scanner gave us a print-out of the scan, showing the tiny form of little one. And we got to know the due date: 8th January 2017.

In this visit, we had a hundred questions for the midwife and she gave us a brief overview of what to expect over the next few weeks/months. To put things in short, the midwife booked a few more appointments for the future and explained what each would be for.

Further Visits and other tests:
I remember three visits as the most important ones. The first of these (in the 12th week) was for collecting the mother’s blood samples for testing for various diseases. Note: They only call you later to tell you about the test results in case they find something in the tests, otherwise there is no further talk about these if all results were fine. So, be happy if you never hear about the results later. Then, there was to be a second one (in the 13th week), when they do the ultrasound and perform a test for Down’s Syndrome. These two visits were a bit of a nervous time because the readings from the blood tests as well as some measurements taken during this ultrasound, put together (also called CUB screening or KUB test) give a numerical probability of the baby having Down’s Syndrome. Fortunately for us, it was revealed that the probability was extremely low (1 in 3900) and there was no need to carry out any further tests for this disease (translate this page to English or download this pdf in english to read more about the tests). We also got the opportunity to print some more images of the scan (this time there was a fee of 100 SEK to print a picture – Optional) and during the scan was the first time we saw the baby move its tiny arms and legs as if playing an imaginary game and even turn the whol body around in the womb – oblivious to the fact that we could watch him do this even before he was born.

The third important visit happened in the 21st week and was the last estimated ultrasound scan to check that the baby was growing as expected. It was also now that we had the possibility to find out the sex of the baby, but we decided to keep it a surprise. If everything continues to be well, there will not be any more ultrasound scans.

A few days later, we went in the meet the midwife and we listened the heartbeat of the baby through an instrument and it was quite a moving experience as well. She also asked us if we preferred any specific hospital where we would like to deliver the baby. We decided on one which was closer to our home.

So, here we are today. After this, it is supposed to be one visit every four weeks for a while, and in the last 2-3 months the visits are going to increase in frequency until it becomes once a week as we move closer to the due date.

I hope sharing our experience will make it easier for other expecting parents in Sweden, specially those who are from other countries and don’t really understand the system too well in the beginning.

So, if you are about to enter this new world of parenthood like us, I wish you All the Best! Remember that the maternity care system in Sweden is very very good and the experience is hassle free and the convenience of the parents-to-be is paramount.

To learn more about our experience, don’t forget to follow this blog and share it with your friends. If you have any questions, do post in the comments section and I will be happy to answer.

Why Pee Poop Burp?

Ok, so about an hour after we discovered we were going to have a baby, I realized that it meant I was going to be a Dad (it’s a little different, you see?). Another five minutes later I knew I wanted to blog about this. But I was not certain because I was worried I would start the blog but might, after a while, stop paying attention to it and it would just die away. I do have a knack of doing that, in fact, my own original blog has gotten dried up over the last 2 years because I’ve basically not had the energy to keep going on. So, that could have happened to this blog also.

Over the weeks and months, as I started to think about being a father more deeply, the idea of this blog kept coming back to me. I mentioned it once to my wife and she said I should definitely start doing it. For a few days, I kept thinking about a name for the blog. But nothing smart came to me.She suggested something like Daddy Diaries, A Modern Dad’s Diary, etc., but I wasn’t really convinced. Finally, one evening I opened my laptop at home and seriously asked my wife for suggestions again – challenging her creative prowess. After a bit of discussion, we figured that it should be something different and she suggested Pees and Poops. I liked the idea very much but wasn’t happy with Pees (sounded a bit like peas) but then it finally struck me. I said to her, “How about the three most common things every baby does and which parents must constantly care about?”

“Pee, Poop, Burp!”

The moment I said it, I saw my wife’s face lit up. This was going to be it.

Being there for the mother

During the first 2 months of her pregnancy, my wife didn’t even notice anything different about her. We only found out towards the end of this period that she was pregnant. But it was just as she entered the third month that her health started to decline slowly. At around 1.5 months, despite being otherwise healthy, she had lost all taste for non-veg food such as chicken and other meats. This came at a bad time for her since we were vacationing in Rome and Florence and the sole purpose of our trip was to enjoy the amazing food Italy has to offer. We have long been fans of Italian food, so it was specially disheartening to see her push away the lovely pasta carbonaras and the super delicious pizzas. Fortunately, she still had the energy in her to sightsee and shop around, so the trip was otherwise very nice.

On our journey back to Stockholm, she finally showed the first signs of nausea, though even now, it was quite in control. She only felt motion sickness, but never really threw up.

Over the next week or so she was a bit steady with her health and we took a trip to an island in the Stockholm archipelago with my sister and her husband and did a bit of barbecue. My wife was still repelled by meats and now her hightened sense of smell was at its peak, so we kept her a bit away from the cooking. But otherwise, she was fine.

Over the next 2-3 days was when the most noticeable decline in her health began. She started feeling more and more out of energy and stopped eating almost everything. She took longer naps during the day and sometimes refused to even talk about food.

There came times when her nausea made her vomit so much, she would get frightened that the spasms caused by throwing up might harm the baby. But her midwife had already told us that the baby continues to be safe in the womb, and even if the mother stops eating completely, the baby continues to suck all the nutrition it needs, be it at the cost of the mother’s health. This was soon visible as my wife started to throw up day and night. She ate nothing, but vomited a lot. The really strange thing was that, when she felt the nausea, she couldn’t even manage to rush to the washroom and threw up immediately, whether she was in the bed, on the sofa or right outside the washroom.

Some nights were so bad that she vomited every 15 minutes, and I slept with a bin next to me which I would immediately bring to her service as soon as I could tell she was feeling sick again. One specific night, I remember having such a light sleep myself because I was worried she would get sick again soon, and she did. In all, the poor soul lost around 8 kg of her weight in just about 4 weeks. Carrying a lot of plastic bags whenever we stepped out of the house became a routine.

She is now in her fifth month and all the nausea is already gone and she seems to have gained back a kilogram from the lowest point. She is also quite active now – though not the same as before getting pregnant – and her bump has become quite prominent and people at work have started noticing and congratulating her. It is such a relief to know that your partner is not suffering any more. Nice to see her up and about, going to office everyday and coming home and making dinner.

However, I also do know that this is only a brief reprieve and that the really tough times are yet to come when her bump will become large enough to restrict her movements again, when she will again have to be very slow and careful with her activities and above all, the hell she is about to go through with the delivery.

As much as I would like, I cannot take any of her discomfort onto myself so that she feels better. But what I know I can do is to be there for her all the time, understand her problems and emotions and be the nicest husband that I can be. I must shield her from stress, both physical and mental, and do things which make her happy. After all, it is in a way unfair that the mother has to undergo so much while the father can basically rest his ass on the couch and eat and drink whatever he likes. I wouldn’t mind taking up part of her burden, but knowing that it’s impossible, I can only take relief in the fact that I have the opportunity to be there and take care of things when she doesn’t have the capacity for it.

Anyway, we still have a long way to go. Lots to do. January 2017, we are waiting for you.

It’s gonna be a…. Boy? Girl?

As soon as we learnt we were going to have a baby, I was pretty sure in my mind that I would like to know the gender of the baby in advance. My wife, on the other hand, felt exactly the opposite. For her, the surprise was important. Over the countless weeks that followed, we both put our arguments forward, trying to convince the other why one of us was right.

For me, knowing was important for two reasons. First, I don’t like uncertainties and prefer knowing over not knowing. I wanted to enjoy the whole period leading up to the delivery framing my thoughts more deeply about the baby and feel more of a bond with it when it is born. Knowing would also let me prepare things accordingly, buy the right colors: blue or pink, the right bibs: sporting a lion or a kitty. I wanted to enjoy knowing. The second reason, though less important, was that, back in India, it is illegal for doctors to reveal the sex of the baby (believe me, it is very very difficult to find out there). But here in Sweden, having had the option available, I wanted to take it just for the reason that I could.

My wife’s only reason for not knowing was that the lesser you know, lesser you tell the world and therefore, lesser people talk about it. She is a bit superstitious, in that she didn’t want to celebrate something way before its time.

However, after some time, it so happened that she got completely convinced by my arguments and agreed to finding out the sex of the baby at the next ultrasound, which was also going to be her last. Now that she agreed on this, she started to see all the advantages, such as being able to prepare with the right colors and the right name, and so much more. Overall, the excitement of being able to find out in advance proved too much for her to let go.

It is strange how opinions change. Because not only did she end up changing her mind, so did I. It happened one day that I was talking to my mom and she said that someone had predicted to her the sex of my baby-to-be. Though I do not believe in such predictions, it did take a place in my mind for a while and I realized that it disturbed me deeply. Somehow, something had come and taken away from the fascinating discussions I was able to have with my wife. Always discussing what we would do if it were a boy, or if it were a girl, pondering over each scenario, all of that was great fun and kept us excited. But once we found out the gender, what then? Nothing?

So, it finally dawned on me that I would be happier not knowing. That I would appreciate both a boy and a girl equally when it comes out because, by then, I would have gone through that nervous anticipation as a father where sometimes there would be good days and sometimes bad days during and I would not want knowing in advance to influence that genuine nervous anticipation. After all, it was my secret to keep and only mine to disclose.

My wife has been quite surprised that the tables had now turned completely. She now wanted to know while I wanted it to remain a suspense. It is, in a way, a good thing that both of us came around to appreciate the other’s point of view. And once you do that, your final decision, whatever it might turn out to be, could never be wrong

In our case, we finally decided not to find out. So, at the ultrasound, when the nurse told us she would be scanning the baby’s lower body and that we could look away from the big screen if we wanted it to be a suspense, my wife closed her eyes while I looked away too. Every moment, I felt enticed to look at the screen; the truth was right there to discover. But I didn’t look.

So now, we wait for January 2017.

Baby? Foetus? Parasite? The first ultrasound experience

2nd June 2016

A few days after we discovered my wife was pregnant – and she had done a second test to be sure, and then a third test before I had to stop her madness – we asked ourselves: what next? Initially, she thought we had to meet a gynaecologist – after all, that is what you would do back in India – but I did some research of my own and the matter was finally settled and we called a midwife clinic in Södermalm called Mama Mia and they gave us an appointment for 2nd June.

In between, we had an Italian trip planned and we found out it was safe to travel. We had a good itinerary but the saddest part was that my wife just could not eat anything during the whole trip since she could not bear the smell of meat (any meat). I felt sorry for her because here I was relishing carbonara, pizza, porchetta, everything that we both loved, while she sat small faced nibbling at a plain baguette we bought at a grocery store near our hotel.

Finally, the day arrived when we met the mid-wife for the first time. We were both a bit nervous and after a bit of discussion, we had the first ultrasound. After a couple of minutes of trying to make sense of what we were seeing on the screen, we finally saw it.

I still do not know what I had expected to see, because what I saw was a very tiny oval-shaped figure – like a small toad in a bubble. To me it was not a baby yet. I preferred to call it a foetus. I later told me wife that it is like a parasite which lived and fed on the host and survived only as long as the host did and it sucked out whatever it needed from the host without giving a damn about her health. Perhaps, I did not want to rush into an attachment at such an early stage. I mean, there were still a lot of tests remaining and one could not be 100% sure until much later so I was perhaps trying to shield my emotions. But before you go judging me, I was enjoying every moment of it anyway.

It was when the mid-wife announced that it appeared to be doing okay did my wife finally breathe a sigh of relief. She was obviously quite tensed, maybe I was too.

We got a print of the ultrasound and on our way back in the metro, while me wife took out the picture and looked at it secretively, I saw a woman sitting with her own baby on the other side of the aisle turn her head slightly towards my wife and smile. It was a smile which, perhaps, I could never understand before that day – she knew exactly how we felt.

How did you feel when you first saw your baby (or foetus) on that monitor? Did you think it was just a foetus like I did, or was it something else? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Finding out: We’re gonna have a baby

Finding out: We’re gonna have a baby

A morning in May 2016. Stockholm, Sweden.

I knew it even before my wife called out to me and said the words. It was that kind of a morning.

I was about to leave for office shortly, but there I stood, staring at the floor, waiting for the Mrs. to call out and announce that the test was positive. She was pregnant!

I was quiet for a bit, gathering my thoughts together. Not sure how to respond, not really knowing how to feel. Just because we planned it, doesn’t make it any less surprising. On second thought, I wasn’t surprised so much as I was shaken. Surprise is when something happens unexpectedly. I was shaken because I hadn’t really considered how it would feel to hear the words for real.

As she stepped out of the bathroom, I gave her a few nods of agreement, a very slight smile – we were both more nervous than excited – and said we would talk again in the evening. She agreed and I turned around and left.

A little while later, sitting in the metro, it suddenly struck me. I was going to become a father.

Me! Me? ME??

With my head down, I stared into my lap and imagined a day when it would seat a creature that would just pee, poop and burp in it.

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself just yet. Today is only day one. We need to wait. Sure there will be some tests required. Back to the present.