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.
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.

What it really means to be a Father

What it really means to be a Father

superdadOver the last few weeks, I have been thinking deeply about what it means to be a father and what the main role of a father is. While I wait anxiously for the day when our baby finally arrives, a few things have shaped my feelings not only about what being a father would mean for me personally, but also how it does and will affect my wife and baby in the short as well as long-term.

The first was that, being in her eighth month now, my wife has been slowing down drastically in what she used to be able to do, from going to office to taking care of the home, cooking, etc. I found myself empathizing more with her, constantly trying to make her more at ease. I started taking us out for dinner frequently, so that she didn’t have to put effort in cooking dinner everyday. Whenever she seemed out of energy, I did everything I could to make her feel comfortable. Over time, I realized that it was making her happy and feel loved, and what else could I value more than having our baby born to a happy mother? And it wasn’t just for the baby, it owed it to my wife to do everything I could for her because she was going through so much at a personal level also.

The other thing that caused the biggest change in me was a bit more complicated. Many weeks back, my wife suddenly felt a bit scared by something and I was surprised by how her body started responding. She felt weird in her tummy and even the baby felt weird and kicked a bit more. I immediately stepped in to calm her down and insisted that she had nothing to worry about as long as I was here. She started to feel relaxed and slowly her physical discomfort drained away. This was the first time I realized how important I – the father – was to them. Even the unborn needed me to be there. They were my responsibility.

Over the next few weeks, there were some things that started to worry me deeply. I can’t share what it was, but suffice to say that it was not related to the pregnancy, but some factor outside of our control. As I thought more and more about the situation, the more worried I became. I was so stressed that I worried about it every minute for over a month. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t enjoy time with my wife or my friends. But as much as I wanted to, I never mentioned anything to her. And the reason was that I didn’t want her to worry. I didn’t want anything to affect her. Even though it later turned out that I was imagining too much and there was no need for me to worry about those things, I realized how important a father’s role is in the family: to keep them away from worries.

Also, while I was so worried, I could not say anything to anyone. But in all that worry, I suddenly saw some light. I decided to tell my dad about it, and immediately after sharing a bit of it with him I realized that I felt so much better and safer myself because I knew he was there. I knew that in the worst of situations, he would bail me out. So, even though I am now a grown man of 33 years, there are still times when the world scares me but I have a dad who I know will always be by my side to protect me and make me feel safe. And one day, I have to be that man for my children.

So, today I think I know what being a father – a Dad – really means. It is far more than love. It means making your family feel safe and secure and protected. It means becoming a wall between the world and your family.

Fatherhood is so underrated. What do you think? Do leave your comments below.

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.

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.

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.