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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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.

Traveling with Babies: Do you really need to buy a car seat?

maxi-cosi-pebbleFor a long time before our baby arrived, I was in two minds about whether to buy a car seat for our baby or not. Car seats can be expensive, considering the fact that we don’t even own a car. The only reason I was even thinking about buying a car seat was in order to bring the baby home from the hospital after delivery and for those rare occasions when we might need to hire a cab. Another occasion could have been when we flew to India with the baby. Though many airlines offer a bassinet for babies, they are limited in number for each flight and there is no guarantee that you will get one every time, and to travel long haul with a baby strapped to your chest or in your lap sounded to us like a big nightmare.

So, I had my eyes on a few car seats which were not too expensive and kept a check on any offers online as well as offline. It finally happened that I ended up buying the Maxi Cosi Pebble.

This car seat has very good reviews everywhere and is accepted on all major airlines. Its market price was around 2400 SEK, but I got an excellent deal for it via babyshop.se, where it only cost me 1200 SEK after discount. So, it was a great buy. I also had the option of buying the 349 SEK car seat from Biltema, and in retrospect I feel it would also have worked out just fine if I were only going to use it in taxis locally. But since my plan was also to use them on airplanes when we visit India, I wanted to have the most approved model so that there is no confusion with the staff on a plane.

But, do you really need a car seat to bring a baby home from the hospital after delivery? I found that if you called up a taxi company, such as Taxi Kurir, you could then ask them to send a taxi with a car seat. So you don’t really need one of your own, unless you actually own a car and intend to use it regularly. Otherwise, with a good stroller, the public transport in Stockholm is excellent and one doesn’t really need to travel around in a taxi. I do not intend to do that either and am looking forward to many metro and bus rides with our baby in her Bugaboo. But you need to decide what works best for you. For me, it was a great deal at a great price and I could afford it, so I went with it.

So, in a nutshell, my belief is that you do need a car seat if you have a car. This is quite obvious. However, if you don’t have a car, then you can consider saving that money and spending it on something else, considering that taxi companies do offer the facility if you call and book in advance. It all depends on how big a use you think it is going to be, will you be flying with your baby with this car seat? How long can you use the specific car seat before the baby outgrows it and needs another model? Can you get by with a cheaper model, like the one from BilTema I mentioned above? Another important factor to consider is how good a resale value a specific car seat has as that can reduce the final cost of ownership.

Do share your thoughts on this with me by commenting below.

It’s a Girl !!

its-a-girlOn the morning of 13th of January 2017, and after an excruciating 28 hours in labor, while it was freaking cold and snowing outside, the clouds parted and our ray of sunshine, our sweet little angel, finally entered our world.

“It’s a girl!” I announced to my wife with tearful eyes as the midwife turned the baby and opened her legs. The very next instant, the baby was placed on the mother’s chest, skin-to-skin. We were spell-bound. In that instant, we forgot all the tiredness that we had been feeling over the last 2 days. We had our baby in our arms.

We couldn’t believe it was a girl. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because we had become so used to the bump that it would still take time for us to process that it has now become a real person. We had imagined it would be a girl. We had also imagined it would be a boy. We knew it could be either. But seeing our baby girl for real turned out to be so different from imagining.

After a while, the nurse asked me if I would like to hold my baby for some time while they helped my wife relax. They asked me to take off my t-shirt and be skin to skin with my baby because she needs that. I was so scared. She was so tiny. I was scared of picking her up. But they told me I would be just fine.

It’s my daughter… It’s MY DAUGHTER!

And then I held her in my arms and everything else in the world became unimportant. This, Now, was Everything.

Our little baby girl is adorable and quite healthy. The mother is doing excellent, though still a bit exhausted. Our mothers are here to help us and they have both been amazing in sharing our load.

Even now, 2 weeks after the birth, I can’t believe I have a baby now. I can’t believe I have a daughter. I can’t believe I am a Dad now…. Maybe it will take some more time to sink in. Maybe, I should change the tag line of my blog now.

How has your experience been? Do share by commenting below.

(This post was originally written on 15th Jan 2017, but I forgot to publish it and only realized that today.)
(Pictures will be later.)

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.