This Moment Last Year

This Moment Last Year

At exactly this moment last year we were on our way to the hospital for the delivery.  In the taxi were seated Nupur with her mom and my mom at the back seat and me at the front. Nupur was scared, the moms focussed towards making her feel easy, and I was telling myself that I need to think straight during whatever came next. In some more time, we were going to move into Nupur’s delivery room at Södersjukhuset, Stockholm.

The countdown had begun to what was going to be an excruciatingly long day filled with nervousness, fear and happiness, and the back of the mind realization that lives were going to change forever. And a new life was about to be born. Someone truly wonderful was about to arrive.

And She Walks

Just as I boarded the bus to the airport in order to catch the flight to India to be with my daughter for her first birthday, I checked my phone to find a video from my wife from earlier in the day. It was a video of my little girl chasing her granddad and walking twenty tiny steps without support. A big milestone has been achieved.

Before they left me behind in Stockholm and went to India a month ago, my wife estimated that our daughter was about to walk soon, but I told her that she would start walking when I joined them in a month’s time. We were also watching keenly to see if she would start walking by her first birthday (13th January) or not. I have to say I’ve been dreading missing her first steps and they happened just before I was about to travel. But to find out that she has started walking today, it doesn’t feel like I am missing anything since I will see her tomorrow anyway. My mom just told me that even I had starting walking right on my first birthday. So, it feels more like a return gift from her to me in advance for her birthday in 3 days. What more could I ask her for before I start my trip?

Time to buy some Nike soon?

My Daughter Speaks My Name

My Daughter Speaks My Name

Today, something truly amazing happened. My 11 m.o. daughter, Nitara, had been mumbling a lot since many weeks, in a language that only she understood. The only two words she could speak clearly were ‘Papa’ and ‘Baby’. But today, she said a new word.

Only last night was I feeling sad that my little girl had left me all alone and went with her mom to my parents’ in India. I missed her so much and thought she would forget me over then next one month before I joined her.

But little did I know a surprise was in store for me. My mom called me at around 2am India time and asked me:

‘How often has Nitara spoken your name?’

‘Never.’ I answered, hoping that my mom wasn’t pulling a joke on me.

Mom turned to Nitara and and called out my name, ‘Shitij.’

My daughter said something but I couldn’t understand what.

Mom called again,’Shitij?’

And it was as if a hundred years passed before I heard..

‘T I T I T !!’

I couldn’t believe my ears and I couldn’t contain my happiness. So I laughed out loud. 

‘Shitij?’

‘T I T I D!’

‘Shi..tij…?’

‘T I .. TI..D!’

It just went on and on. I was so happy. My sweet little baby girl called out my name. We immediately switched to a video call and repeated it a few more times. And what made it even more special was that it was my mom, Nitara’s grandmother, who called and gave me the news that my little girl had started to speak my name.

Now I miss my sweet baby girl even more. But I am still happy.

Baby, Mommy Leave For A Long Holiday

Baby, Mommy Leave For A Long Holiday

The past few weeks have been particularly tough for us. I’ve been busy like hell at work and have had no time even to respond to texts from friends and family while in office. When I am home though, I spend all my time taking care of our daughter while my wife finally gets to take a break and focus on the home. Nitara is almost eleven months old now but all of a sudden, she has become very difficult to put to sleep at nights. As a result of all this, we have been super stressed since a while. I have not been sleeping well and could really use a break.

But on Sunday evening, it was finally time for my wife and our daughter to travel to India for over a month without me. Over the past couple of days, I was growing sad at the thought of being away from my babygirl for the next month. On our way to the airport I started to feel gloomier and it was tough for me to stop kissing her round cheeks and put her down on her stroller before she could leave for security check.

On my way back home, I tried to distract myself by listening to music on my phone and constantly reminded myself I was free to relax after such a long time. I decided to have a nice pizza and a beer that night and watch something interesting on TV. By the time I got home, my mood was quite upbeat at last and there was a spring in my step as I reached home and opened the door. Just a few steps in and all my sadness came rushing back as I found, still lying open in the middle of our now silent apartment, my daughter’s play book and the page I had last seen her looking at only a few hours back when I had picked her up and made her wear her pink jacket.

I sat down next to the open book and touched it and felt as if my sweetheart would suddenly come crawling behind me and make some noise. I felt sad again and realized that I would rather spend years of sleeplessness, being driven crazy by her antics and incessant irritating crying than to wish for a single day of alone time without her sweet presence next to me. I knew I missed my baby so much. But I was happy she was soon going to be with her grandparents who would give her just as much love as I do.

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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Why we bought a Baby Carrier and you should too!

Why we bought a Baby Carrier and you should too!

I had had a baby carrier in my list of things to buy while expecting our baby. Over time, I had done my research and decided that if I ever had to, I would buy the ErgoBaby 360 baby carrier. The reason I did not buy it in advance was because I wasn’t sure whether we really would need a baby carrier. I mean, I knew what it was for and how it could be beneficial, but the really high price (around $160 or SEK1500) made me put the decision on hold and buy it only if it deemed necessary. There are so many products out there and thanks to their marketing, everything seems necessary to first time parents.

Anyway, the first few weeks that I was home on parental leave with my wife and baby, we managed just fine as we also had my mom with us for help. All day long, either of us would take care of the baby so that no one in particular had to  stress out all the time. Despite this, within a few days I had started to feel my back hurt. Ditto for my wife as well. The reason wasn’t that the baby was so heavy (3 kg is nothing), but that your posture changes when you’re holding her up so much and it puts a lot of stress on the lower back. Over short terms, it doesn’t affect you much, but it takes a few days to start feeling the effect. At this stage, I did reconsider buying the baby carrier but the real push came a few days later when my mom left us and my wife and I were finally on our own.

On the very first day, my wife called me up at work around noon and told me that she felt absolutely tired because of holding the baby all day long and she wasn’t even able to prepare any food for herself. Her back was killing her and it was only day one of taking care of the baby alone by herself. I could hear in her voice how difficult she felt the situation was. I wasted no time and went online and purchased the ErgoBaby 360 from babyland.se and selected the same day delivery option. Fortunately, the delivery was free because the order was above SEK 1000 and we got the package delivered home the very same evening.

Did the baby carrier help us at all? It absolutely did. The first time I wore it around me with the baby in it, I could immediately feel the difference. My arms were finally free and by my side while the baby was held close to my chest and absolutely still. No longer was I forced to stand in an uncomfortable position in order to hold her correctly. Her head was just under my chin and I only had to bend my neck down in order to kiss her head. And the baby? She was so comfortable, she slept for over 1 hour in that position in the carrier. It was fairly easy for me to inspect her posture and ensure she was sitting comfortably inside the carrier. I did not feel any weight because the carrier’s thick band around my waist ditributed it very well. When I moved, it did not feel that it disturbed the baby at all. And so I spent the next one hour walking around our apartment, watching TV while standing, then sitting down for a while and getting up again. I joined my wife in the kitchen while she made something for us to eat. During dinner, I unfolded the head cover from the carriers front top pocket and covered the baby’s head so that I didn’t spill any food onto her. And it all worked just fine.

During the first couple of days itself we realized what a life saver the ErgoBaby 360 was for us. Though my wife finds it a bit difficult to put on by herself, I attribute that to her lack of practice rather than a problem with the product, though to be fair, it does take a bit of skill (but that is why you need some practice).

One of the reasons why I chose the ErgoBaby 360 over others was that I read more good reviews about this baby carrier than any other. My favourite review site bäst-i-test.se (though only in Swedish) also listed this as no. 1 and I usually take their recommendations without question. This carrier has a good build, a wide waistband and comfortable shoulder straps to distribute the baby’s weight well. For a newborn who cannot support her head during the first few months, one needs an ErgoBaby infant insert which is bought separately, but I purchased the ErgoBaby 360 Start Paket, which includes the infant insert.

Of course, ErgoBaby 360 isn’t the only option in the market. Another good option is to buy the BabyBjörn One baby carrier. It has equally good reviews as the ErgoBaby 360 and is comparatively slightly cheaper. Personally, I haven’t tried out any other baby carriers myself, but am quite convinced that these two are the best of the lot.

So, what should you consider while buying a baby carrier?

First and foremost, is the price. Can you afford a ErgoBaby 360 Start Paket (incl. Infant insert), which has a marked price of roughly SEK 1500 (I got it for approx. 1200 after discount on babyland.se). If not, there is no problem in going for a cheaper option by looking at other ErgoBaby models and the Babybjörn models. (There are some other brands also, but I haven’t done any research on them.)

Is the baby sitting in an ergonomic position in the carrier? Babies are supposed to sit in frog position and having the correct ergonomics is very important. ErgoBaby360 had the best ergonomics of the lot that I could figure out and therefore I went with it. Some older models of BabyBjörn were heavily criticized for not been ergonomic but the BabyBjörn One, released in 2015, has fixed that. So, do consider the ergonomics.

How long are you going to use the baby carrier that you are planning to buy? Is your child’s age/weight close to the upper limit for that carrier? Is it worth spending more on a carrier if you are going to use it for a shorter durations?

Material. Think about where you will be using the baby carrier. Will it be a hot environment or cold? Does the carrier that you are considering look like the baby will feel too hot in it if the environment is such? Having a mesh instead can help cool the baby down but it can get dirty easily and might cause a rash to the baby if it is expeosed to her skin. Is the material Oeko-tex certified? This basically means that the fabric is free from hazardous sunstances.

Baby position in the carrier: There are some carriers, such as the ErgoBaby 360 which allow the baby to sit in 4 positions: Front Carry Facing You, Front Carry Facing the World, Back Carry (like a backpack) and Carry on Hip. Not all carriers allow all 4 positions, so think about how you intend to carry your baby and invest accordingly.

These are the factors that I could include in this post and already, the post has become quite long. So, in a nutshell, our baby carrier turned out to be a life saver for us and it gives us the comfort and freedom we longed for without letting our baby out of site.

What do you think about this? Are you using or planning to use a baby carrier? Do share your experience by commenting below.

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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.

Which Diapers do we use for our Newborn?

Which Diapers do we use for our Newborn?

We got quite a few diaper samples from the various babyboxes we had ordered. In addition, we also got a few discount coupons from promotions and other sources so we ended up buying quite a few different brands. These included Pampers, Libero Touch, Minstingen and Toujours (from LIDL). Here is a brief review of these diapers and how they worked for us.

  1. Libero Touch: Starts from Size 1, which is their smallest size. It is marked for weight category 2-5 kg. These were also the diapers that the hospital gave us when our baby was born. They were quite easy to put on, had an indicator which changes color to blue if the diaper was been soiled, and the fit was excellent for our baby. We found absolutely no leakages and it handled all loads equally well. At the end of 3 weeks, when I first started writing this post, our baby was still comfortable in this diaper, though now we had suspected that she might be about to grow out of this size. So, we did try Size 2 after a while and that worked absolutely fine as well. Our Review? Libero Touch was the best newborn diaper we have used. We also used Libero Newborn 2 for a while and it worked equally well. No complaints, except that it is a bit expensive compared to the other brands.
  2. Pampers New Baby: Also starts from Size 1 which is their smallest size. It is marked for weight category 2-5 kg. In our case, we tried these diapers a week or so after the baby was born but we found these to be slightly loose on the baby, as compared to Libero Touch Size 1. At around 3 weeks, we had already suspected that it leaked once slightly when our baby had filled it too much, but otherwise the diaper handled the load pretty well. Our baby is 2.5 months now and we have been using their Size 2 since over a month now. Theye are very good value for money and have done pretty well. However, it is worth noting that there have been quite a few instances when our baby pooped heavily and this diaper failed miserably to contain the load and the poop leaked from the top at the back side and spoiled all her back and clothes. I cannot say why there were such major leakages at times, but it could be because of too much poop and our baby was having a few problems with gas. But since we have not tried any other diaper during this gas problem, I cannot say if the leakage could have happened with other diapers or not.
    Verdict: I would rate the Libero Touch as having a much better and comfortable fit than Pampers, but the price per diaper is quite high for Libero. So, I would recommend you choose according to what works better for you.
  3. Toujours (only at LIDL stores): Starts from Size 2 which is their smallest size. It is marked for weight category 3-6 kg. In our case, we tried these diapers 2 weeks or so after the baby was born but we found these to be much bigger on the baby as compared to both Libero Touch Size 1 and Pampers New Baby Size 1. Now, it did leak once or twice when our baby had filled it too much, but that is understood because the diaper was obviously quite big on the baby. So, we decided to pause the use of these diapers and continue with Pampers and Libero. It wasn’t that this diaper was loose around the baby’s waste, it just seemed far longer at its lowest point when put on the baby and therefore there was a chance of leakage. We did continue using these diapers when our baby was around 4 weeks old and these started to fit quite well then. I don’t think we faced any more leakages, and even if there were, they were very minor. The good thing about Toujour is that they are lighter and much thinner than Pampers and Libero, without really losing a lot on capacity. I liked that. Toujour are also comparitively much much cheaper. It was therefore that we stuck to using Toujours a lot more than the others. Again, they do not perform as good as Libero/Pampers, but our approach was to use Toujours during normal course and put on Libero or Pampers at night when we expected a heavier load or if we were taking the baby out.
  4. Minstingen: Recently launched by Axfood AB and availale only in Sweden via Hemköp and Willys. We haven’t as yet been able to test these diapers since they start from size 3 and our little baby has still not grown into that category. However, working for Axfood myself, we recently got a lot of free samples to try and are looking forward to do that soon. One thing to note is that they appear to be good value for money since they are not as expensive as Libero. More on these later.

My recommendation: I have said this above and say it again. We liked the Libero Touch the best amongst all these diapers over the first few months. Their fit is really good. However, these are also the most expensive of all, whereas Toujour being the cheapest, was having the biggest fit and therefore slightly unsuited for newborns upto a few weeks. But after about 4 weeks, Toujour became our goto diapers for a couple of weeks until our baby became to big for them (week 6, maybe?). Pampers are priced between Libero Touch and Toujour, but their performance is also in between them both, and we found we used them the most after the baby reached 6 weeks and now we are already in week 9 and it looks like they might  fit another week.

And lastly, none of these diapers caused any diaper rash on our baby, but we did use diaper rash creams as a precaution once a day.

How has your experience been? Are there any other points worthy of noting when comparing these diapers? Do let me know by leaving a comment 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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