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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What’s in our Diaper Bag?

What’s in our Diaper Bag?

In the months leading up to the birth of our baby girl, I spent a lot of time researching what should go in our diaper bag. I know, I know, what some might say. That it is the job of mums and not dads to plan diaper bags, and my wife complains just as much that I never let her do it either, but what can I say? I just love doing this stuff.

So, coming back to our diaper bag. Let me start with the bag itself. We bought a Skip Hop Chelsea (Black) even though, at around £85, it was far more expensive than I had earlier budgeted for. There were other very pretty bags, and I liked the Elodie Details diaper bags in particular but my wife did not like them too much. So finally, we decided on the Skip Hop Chelsea for these reasons:

  1. It had a lot of different pockets and compartments outside as well as inside and seemed easier to organize the stuff.
  2. It is of very good build and will last us a long time.
  3. Its looks are elegant and classy and i thought my wife can easily carry it anywhere and it will look decent.

But do not think that I am recommending this bag to you over all others. This was just something that we liked personally but your choice might well be different.

So, that was the diaper bag. Now, what do we have in it?

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  1. Diapers: We have a collection on Libero Touch, Pampers and Toujours diapers at home and which ones we carry is not that important here. But we make sure that we have 3-4 diapers in the diaper bag which we do not touch at home. The reason for just so few is that we know we will never be away from home for more than 3 hours, so 3-4 diapers are enough. They also act as a buffer in case we run out of our regular supply at home. These can last us half a day.
  2. Waste bags: to dispose of those soiled diapers. We bought a pack of Libero waste bags which contain 45 pcs and we think they should suffice for a really long time.
  3. Diaper Creams: I had researched and asked a few friends about which diaper creams are good. We had also ordered some free babyboxes earlier which came with some sample creams. These, because they are small in size, take very little space in the bag and we know in the beginning that their use will also be very limited. The bigger sized creams we have are stored on our changing table and if we need to carry them with us in future, we will simply pick them up. We are using Bepanthen and Inotyol as diaper changing creams. We are also carrying samples of Burt’s Bee nourishing lotion, a small bottle of Libero baby oil, some unperfumed baby creams by Apoteksgruppen. Another body lotion that we have is one we found at the children’s clinic (Barnavårdscentralen in Sweden) as well and the nurse recommended it as safe for use on our baby’s body and face: Decubal basic, original clinic cream. Remember that all creams that we use on Babies must be without perfumes, colourants or parabens.
  4. Wet wipes: We find it practical to keep small packs of wet wipes (pack of 24 pcs) handy in the bag. At home we avoid using these packaged wipes, instead we soak dry wipes (see next point) in water and use them to clean the baby, whether it is just a sponge on her body or while cleaning her during a diaper change. But when outside, the wet wipe packs come in very handy. The only thing to look for is that the wipes should not contain any perfume or other chemicals.
  5. Wash cloths: in Sweden, they are also called Tvättlappar, and they are the recommend option. Our midwife told us not to use wet wipes, but dip these tvättlappar in water and use them for cleaning instead. One can either buy reusable (at grocery stores such as Hemköp) or disposable wash cloths.
  6. Hand towels: a couple of these, just in case.
  7. Changing pad and mats: Our diaper bag comes with its own changing pad which, though not an ideal solution, is definitely a life saver and can be easily cleaned. We also have a few single-use waterproof mats, or the Libero Changing Mats, which we got for free from the hospital. These come in handy too as they protect the changing pad from getting dirty.
  8. Pacifiers: in the beginning, we were very apprehensive of pacifiers and, though we have a few at home, we never included them in the diaper bag. However, on one of our short trips in the city, our baby girl started to cry bloody murder on the way back and at that time, we sorely missed having a pacifier at hand for such desperate moments. So keep a couple in case the baby spits out one onto the floor.
  9. Nasal Spray: we carry the salt water spray from Näsfrida. This contains no chemicals and is super useful if the baby has congestion in its nose due to cold. Just spray it into either nostril and it makes the mucus soft and allows the baby to breathe easy and can be administered as many times a day as needed.
  10. Spare change of Onesies, Caps, Mittens, Socks: you never know when the baby feels a little more cold or when the clothes she has on get soiled by a diaper malfunction.
  11. Nursing Pads: We have a box of nursing pads at home, but we have also kept 2-3 pcs of them in our diaper bag in case my wife is nursing away from home and there is leakage. You can either buy branded, such as Libero, or buy the local department store brands, such as COOP, Hemköp, and others.
  12. A small rattle toy to distract the baby.
  13. Cotton pads for wiping off dirt or oil from the baby’s face.
  14. A couple of bibs and burp cloths.
  15. A spare feeding bottle.
  16. Waterproof adhesive bandage for the baby.
  17. Lip balm for the parents, because you never know when you miss it.

You might also consider adding some spare cash for emergencies, a contact information card in case you misplace the bag, and any regular medicines that you yourself take.

So, what do you have in your diaper bag? Any recommendations? Do let me know by commenting below.

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.

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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.

Crossing the Due Date

due date calendar

Today, 8th January 2017, was our baby’s calculated due date. But the little angel has decided to make us wait a little longer.

We had come to anticipate that our baby might arrive earlier than its due date. Why? Simply because we had been told that the baby can come anytime from two weeks before till two weeks after the due date. Add to that our excitement, being first time parents, and the fact that both our moms have arrived from India for the birth of their first grandchild. So, starting a few days before christmas, when folks at work started going for holidays, I would leave work everyday wondering if I would be coming back the next day or not. I’ve been going to bed every night half expecting to be woken up at odd hours to discover that my wife’s pains have started. Days have turned into weeks, temperatures have plummeted over 20 degrees, snow has covered the whole of Stockholm, but our baby has not yet shown up.

I remember once asking our mid-wife if it becomes apparent during the later stages of the pregnancy whether the baby might come earlier or later. Maybe the position of the bump might indicate something? She told us that there is no such prior indication and that the baby decides when it wants to come out. “Oh!” said I as I looked at the bump, “So, YOU decide?”

I spoke to the baby a few days back and told it (we still don’t know if it is a he or a she) that we have already completed all the shopping for it. I asked the baby what more it needs me to do before it is happy enough to come out. I did not get any answer, not even an acknowledgement.

So, I thought to myself if there was something I have forgotten to do or was there a certain way I needed to call the baby out? That it has grandparents and great-grandparents and uncles and aunts desperately waiting for it obviously makes no difference to the baby’s mood. I had to try something different.

So, that night I had an idea. Maybe the baby needs some sort of homely Indian stimulation. I created a playlist of top Govinda (a popular Indian actor from the 1990s) dance songs on YouTube and played them for 2 hours while we sat in front of the TV watching. In between, I would ask my wife if she felt anything different. No! So, the next evening, I created an even bigger playlist of other popular Bollywood dance numbers – old and new – from Salman to Shah Rukh to Aamir (amongst others). Despite another couple of hours wasted in front of the TV, nothing happened now too.

I have tried everything else I could. I have sung to the baby, danced, thrown commands at it, suggested dates, pleaded, but nothing seems to work. I guess it gives me a glimpse into the future of our household. Gone are the days when things progressed according to my planning. Something, rather someone, else is going to beat my plans from now on.

So, today, the due date is here and about to pass in another few hours. But our stubborn baby has quietly demonstrated who exactly will be making decisions over the next few decades. And, I better get used to it.

So, we wait again.

The Count Down is On: 2 Weeks to Go

The last few days are upon us. Our due date is now less than 2 weeks away. And everyone says that the baby can come anytime, and without warning, during the 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after the expected date. So it could be today. Or tomorrow. I don’t know.

How do I feel? I am not sure. There was a time over the last couple of months where I was completely immersed in planning and shopping for the baby, and all the fun had made me quite excited and eager. However, now that the wait has shrunk from months into weeks, and weeks into days, I am starting to get the jitters.

At times, I feel I cannot wait for the baby to come. But other times, I get really scared when I think about whether I have prepared correctly or not. What would happen when my wife’s pains start? Will it be slow pains at first which increase in an orderly fashion and give me indications of when to call the hospital? Or will something happen in a flash and I will need to act quickly? How well will I manage those tense moments when I take her to the hospital? Though we have already packed the maternity bag and the baby bag, will I still miss something on the last day? These questions give me a hard time.

A few nights back, while sitting in the living room watching TV, my wife let out a slight moan of discomfort – like she often does – but this time it gave me a jolt to imagine that that moment could just as easily have been the onset of labor. I started wishing ‘not today, not today’ in my mind and it took my some time to calm down. Since then, I have gone to bed every night hoping for an uneventful sleep. I feel utterly unprepared, even though I have done everything to prepare us and our home to welcome the baby. All our shopping is done, work is taken care of, in fact both our moms are here to help us through the coming weeks. The maternity ward’s number as well as those of the taxi companies are in all our mobile phones as well as pasted on the fridge in the kitchen. I keep reminding myself that when it is time, I have to think about my wife and baby’s safety and comfort above everything else. Yet, despite all this, I am nervous that I might be missing something.

I know that my being nervous sounds so unfair, considering what my wife might be going through in her mind. The baby is growing inside her and not me. It is going to come out of her causing her the worst imaginable pains and for an unknowable span of time. I imagine how scared she feels on the inside. She asks me everyday if the baby is going to be alright. ‘Of course!’ I tell her. We are two healthy parents going through a normal uncomplicated pregnancy, so we have no reason to feel worried. But I guess you do feel worried nevertheless.

All I do every morning is look at the fact that my wife has woken up feeling good and I hope to keep seeing her like that for just a few more days. I want her to be able to go to work and to the markets a little bit more before the baby comes. Maybe she is still preparing herself on the inside just as much as I am every day.

Even this morning while I was on my way to work, and right now while I am writing this post, I found myself asking mother nature to let the baby come as close to the expected date of 8th January as possible, believing that the next few days will end up preparing us better. Whereas the truth is, no amount of time can prepare you for it completely. So, we take each day as it comes.

Mum n Baby’s Secret Language

The mommy often tells me that she can feel the baby moving and kicking around quite a bit in the belly.

‘It’s quite active today.’ she says often.

‘It’s moving so much today that it’s crazy.’

I put my hand on the bump and for a short while try to feel the movements. But I get no response.

My hand still on it, she looks right at me and asks me, ‘Did you feel that?’

‘No, I don’t feel anything.’ I complain. It’s as if the baby knows it’s someone else interfering with baby-mommy interaction and so it goes quiet. There seems to be this secret language between them using which the baby keeps telling its moods to the mother, while I – the father – have no idea what’s going on.

I wait a bit more, hoping to feel my baby’s movement at least once. But, there’s nothing. And then I finally give up once again and pull my hand away. It is a bit frustrating. The mother is in constant touch with the baby all the time and is on her way to forging a strong bond with it so early in the relationship, whereas I can only scratch my head and wait for the birth to happen so that my baby can get to see me and know that it has two parents.

On the other hand, I sometimes marvel at how magical the whole experience is. We are making a human being almost out of nothing. We are creating life. And my wife is playing a role that is so much more special than mine that I now find it natural why mothers enjoy that special bond with their kids which fathers seldom seem to be able to share in.

So, I often tease her and say, ‘Remember that this is my baby and that you only have it for safekeeping.’

At other times, I speak directly to the baby in its bump and remind it that it’s actually daddy’s baby in mommy’s belly. This gives me some solace. Makes me feel like part of the process. I am not irrelevant.

How has your own experience been? Please comment below and let me know.

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.

Free Stuff for your baby in Sweden

img_3119Over the last few weeks, I have been immersed in researching what stuff we need to buy for our baby which is due in early January 2017. I have found, to my delight, that that many Swedish stores and websites send parents free stuff, also called Baby Boxes, which contain samples of various baby products such as diapers, baby moisturizer creams, bibs, soft pillows, etc. I think it is a good idea to get started with the these boxes to see and test what sort of baby products are available in the market.

I have already started registering and ordering these products and will describe each in a different post later, but for now the following are the options you have:

Babybox.se
Registering on this website places an order for a babybox from each of the following stores in Sweden:
Apoteksgruppen
Babyproffsen
Lloyd’s Apotek

All you need to do is, register online and they immediately send you an email with your order number. Go to your nearest Apoteksgruppen, Babyproffsen and Lloyd’s Apotek to collect your baby boxes from each of them. Each store has a different assortments in their boxes but basically you will get some helpful parental booklets, discount vouchers, baby creams, diapers, pillows, bibs, etc. (I have collected the free boxes from both the Apoteks listed on this site but am yet to go to Babyproffsen so I will share more details on their contents later.)

Apotek Hjärtat: Startbox
With Apotek Hjärtat, the box is named Hjärtats Startbox. You can read about it here. Even though the website here shows that the box is worth 349 SEK, it is free for those who sign up to become a member in their Klubb Hjärtat (for free). When I registered with them and ordered it, I got a mail saying it will be in stock in a week or so (owing to the high demand) and when it is available, they will send me a message to come and collect it. I will post details when I get it.

Allt för Föräldrar: Gravidpaketet
On this website, when you register and order your free Gravidpacketet, they will send you a post home with many free vouchers and discount coupons along with their parental guides. I have placed order for this already and I will update this post when I receive the packet. I guess these coupons might help obtain some stuff for reduced prices.

Libero Startbox
You can register for this here. They send you the startbox a few weeks before the expected due date. First, they confirm your phone number via email and then later send you an SMS with details of your order, which you can pick up from any ICA Maxi Supermarket. I have registered yesterday but will wait a while to see when they contact me. Then, I will post details of their box as well.

Babybag
Babybag is also a popular assortment of samples that is available with many of the hospitals and mödravårdscentral (mid-wife clinics) so it is best to ask your midwife about it. More information is available here. I will find out more about this when we see our midwife next. So, follow this post for more information on this.

BabyToBe
When you register at BabyToBe, they send you a list of discount codes, which you can use to buy some baby products at reduced prices as well as a free gift worth 300 SEK when you buy something from sveabarn.se.

Goboken
Goboken offers free books for kids according to their age. But honestly, I didn’t quite understand how it worked, though what I do understand is that if you register with them, they send you free welcome gifts. However, their registration asked for the baby’s name and birthdate, so I decided to register with them after the baby is born. Perhaps, if I figure out something earlier, I will definitely update this post.

I hope you found this list useful. There are many other resources available online but almost all are in Swedish, so I have tried to collect all this information in english so that it is easier for non-Swedish speakers to search and read. Naturally, this list isn’t complete yet, but I intend to update it with more information soon.

Have I missed anything here? Did you find any of my information is incorrect? Please let me know by leaving a comment below. I would love to know of more sources for free goodies for our baby.

Love for the Unborn

It is a slightly different sort of feeling today. My wife is over 4 months pregnant now and while I have been looking at baby products like toys, gyms, neck slings, etc., I  am positively overwhelmed. There is so much I need to and want to do, whereas the baby is still over 5 months away. I want to buy the most colorful bibs and toys, and my heart is set on the most expensive baby gym and stroller I have seen yet. I have basically forgotten about everything else that, until a few months back, I wanted to buy for myself. No longer am I wishing for the MacBook, or the Hoverboards so popular these days. Neither am I thinking of a gift for myself on my 33rd birthday, which is only about a week away.

But more importantly, I felt something even more incredible. While I was looking at some baby carriers, I felt this strong urge to pick up and hug my baby. I felt as if we already have a baby and someone has taken it away from me and I just felt unable to bear the separation. I just wanted to hold it close to my chest and not let it go, and protect it from the world. Gosh! It feels like I am the mother, not the father. Never expected I would have started to feel this much love and attachment for the unborn little one this early. Do dads really feel the way I am feeling?

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.