ONE YEAR BLOGIVERSARY

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When I began writing this blog a year ago, my plan was for it to be a place for me to share and record my journey to motherhood.

I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when it came to blogging. I was never really into writing. In the past I wrote a few diaries at different stages of my teenage life, but never did I imagine that I would be sharing my personal thoughts and emotions with the world in the voice of a mother.

I realized that I loved writing about an experience and sharing the emotions involved in it as it connected with my readers. I started getting emails and messages on my social media asking for recommendations, advice and guidance. Suddenly the blog started to take on a life of its own.

Before I knew it, The Snazzy Mom was gaining traction and I was slowly starting to come into my own as a writer. I started sharing daily snippets of my life on my blog’s Instagram page while constantly engaging with my followers only to realize that within a year I had gained almost  21000+ followers!

A part of me feels like I’ve had this blog forever and the process of writing, creating, and sharing in community with you all has become a normal part of my life that I love and enjoy. Another part of me can’t believe it’s been a year and feels like I’m still so new to this whole blogging world with lots of things to learn.

Time Management has been one of the biggest challenges I have had with my blogging journey. As you can see I am able to complete only 2 -3 blog posts a month. Honestly a LOT of time and planning goes behind each blog post .It might look easy and appear effortless on Instagram but trust me there is a lot of work involved from taking pictures, writing & editing the photos to constantly engaging with your followers. I wish I could tell you that I have it all figured out but honestly I’m still working on balancing time with my full time job, family and blogging.


As I enter into this new phase of motherhood- running behind an energetic toddler, working full time and managing my home responsibilities, I know that this blog will continue to be an outlet, a place where I can share my heart and connect with other women in beautiful ways.

My goal with my blogging journey is to use this space to inspire women to be self confident and be supportive of one another. I hope my blog posts have managed to speak to moms, new moms or moms-to-be all over the world, who are constantly trying to do the best they can for their children and families.

There are a LOT of exciting new things happening here at The Snazzy Mom in the near future! I’ve spent the past year creating content and providing value to the community. I wholeheartedly promise you that that will never stop. But with continued growth comes new challenges and opportunities as well.

I’ve loved connecting with so many of you through sharing life ramblings, experiences, and advice. Like I said before, I truly would not be where I am today without a community of supportive bloggers from whom I have learned so much from. And not only them, but of course my friends and family too. I couldn’t do this without ANY of you. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. XOXO

Arushi (2)

How I Am Working To Build A Lifetime Bond Between My Child & My Dog 

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Our sweet little scruffy terrier (Rio) was competing for attention once his little human brother (Vir) arrived to be a part of his pack. Rio was so sad for the first few weeks that he wouldn’t even look at Vir nor accept sitting next to him. We knew from there on that Rio needed time and space to realize that his baby brother will be his new playmate very soon and so we laid out the groundwork to build a loving relationship between both our babies.

In my previous post When Our Fur Baby Met Our Son I spoke about our relationship with Rio and how we introduced him to our new born. I also discussed how he reacted with the presence of a baby in the house in the initial months. Fast forward 6 months, today Rio and Vir have come close to forging a friendship. Getting them off to a good start took some work! And in this post I will be discussing about how it was all worth it.

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Vir loves Rio, he is obsessed with him. Even before he could really start looking at books, stories, movies, music and toys with imaginary critters in it, Vir built a fondness for animals. He is always mesmerized by Rio’s presence in the house and follows him everywhere smiling and babbling. I believe this fondness also led, Vir to crawl faster than expected. Our high on energy 10 month old is always looking forward to touch Rio, pull his fur or bite his tail. It is amusing to watch his excitement when he sees Rio play tug with us. And honestly it is very entertaining to watch them run around like cat and mouse in the living room

On the other hand our 6 year lazy furbaby is a calm and obedient dog; he is very gentle with Vir and has never shown any sign of aggression. That is one of the biggest reasons why Vir is so comfortable around him. We never have to worry about him pulling Rio’s tail or playing with his favorite chew toy when we are out of sight for a second. Rio has realized that there are three food sources at home now mom, daddy and baby and he couldn’t have been happier. There is a lot of baby food now flying around the house courtesy Vir and there is always someone to catch and clean the floor courtesy Rio. His presence is often a calming source for our kid especially when there is too much crying involved. I just have to command Rio to “Roll”, “Twist” and “Woof” and my inconsolable baby just forgets he was crying. (While Rio is showered with treats)

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Begging for food from his brother

Its true kids love their pets; these creatures large or small teach, delight and offer a special kind of companionship.  If you see my amusing Instagram stories, you know how both of them play around the house, compete for attention when daddy is back from work and laze on the couch or bed looking at story books.

 Vir is still young to understand his boundaries with the dog, and we are glad that Rio can handle the exciting little monster rushing behind him. I know over time both my babies will learn to respect each other and there is a good chance they will be best of pals. But this loving scenario is only possible by doing your best to foster a relationship between them.

Below I am sharing few of my Tips and Tricks on how we worked on our child and dog’s relationship. I hope this helps all parents who are either planning to get a dog for their children or are looking for some advice on how to handle their dog when their new baby comes home.

Our Preparations for Rio in the earlier months

  • We started to socialize Rio with kids at the park so his fear of them goes away. Often kids tried to pet him but he would run away. But, with time his fear ran away.
  • While I was pregnant I started to say the word “Baby” to Rio so he gets used to it. I often pointed towards my tummy and asked him to put his paws on my belly.
  • When I returned home with Vir for the first time, I first met Rio and greeted him for 10 minutes until he was relaxed. Post that I took Vir in my arms and allowed Rio to smell his feet.
  • We included Rio in our day to day activities with Vir, from going on walks together, to allowing him to sit between me and my husband while I was holding the baby. This way we habituated Rio to our new born’s routines, smell and our new habits
  • As mentioned earlier we kept a close watch on Rio when he was in the same room as Vir. We never left him alone with the baby especially for the first month.
  • To avoid jealousy and dullness, we ensured to have some playtime with Rio whenever we could. We also got him new toys and gave him more treats  and ensured to take him out for longer walks so he stayed exercised and stress free
  • I ensured that Rio still had his space as before. He was sleeping with us in our bed as always. (Vir slept in the crib next to our bed) He was allowed in the nursery and if there was no room on the couch for him or anywhere next to us, we would let him find his own space. I didn’t want to confuse him and at the same time didn’t want him to lose his discipline around the house.

Once Vir started getting mobile

  • I kept a watch out for any signs of aggression from Rio, especially when Vir is around trying to chase him.
  • I always reward him with treats for all positive reactions and firmly say “NO” in case there is any unwanted behavior.
  • When Vir started to sit we use to leave a treat on Vir’s lap or make him hold it out for Rio. This truly helped develop a bond between them as Rio was happy to realize the baby is also a food source
  • At least once a week we take Rio for his outing with the family in the car to a dog park, coffee shop or even at our friend’s place so that he feels loved and secured.

We had success in training Rio to respect the baby, his toys, his food and his space. Yet I have more work to do with Vir, to teach him to respect animals. Our son is too young to understand this concept, but we ensure that he doesn’t hurt Rio by poking him or hitting him. In time I look forward to teaching Vir to stroke Rio gently and explain that Rio’s tail is not a toy to pull. Once Vir starts to walk and carry tiny objects in his hand, I want him to start caring for Rio by offering him water and food in his bowl.

I am aware that the learning process involved for both Rio and Vir in building a friendship and lifetime bond will take some time. But the thought of Vir and Rio playing with a ball or strolling at the park together while enjoying each other’s companionship melts my heart  and makes this wait tad bit harder.

In the mean time I plan to give my dog and the kid the best chance for a successful relationship by taking deliberate steps to create a kid-loving dog and develop empathy and respect in Vir.

arushi

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First few moments with 3 day old Vir

My 2017 Goals, Keeping it Real

It’s the dawn of a New Year and as always a few resolutions are to be made. Honestly, most of these resolutions don’t stick for a long time, and I end up breaking them by mid of the year or even as early as 2 weeks. So, I am tired of these resolutions and won’t bother making them this year.  Instead I have set up realistic specific goals for myself and look forward to achieving them.

A goal is more flexible and achievable for me. I don’t have to be ‘resolute’ in my journey to achieve it. As I got to the end of the year, I looked back and assessed how it went. I tried to categorize the year into eating habits, fitness regime, health, family, baby, finances etc and drew from there my top goals for 2017.

I strongly feel if we do not take the time to think about our hopes and dreams and set goals and actions steps to get there – nothing will ever change. By working on each aspects of our lives that are important or we are frustrated with, we can feel better about ourselves.  In my previous post I stressed upon the taking out Me- Time, and that is more of a lifestyle change I am already working on.

But setting goals is important for us because doing so helps us change things in our lives that are not as we would like them to be.  Defining goals that pertain to both ourselves and our relationships with those who are important to us can result in changes that make our lives happier and more fulfilling.  Isn’t that what you want for 2017 and moving forward?

Below are my TOP 2017 Goals . Please do share yours.

Happy New Year Everyone !

Love Arushi

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Holiday Baby Gifts Made Easy {$50 GIVEAWAY by IncrediBundles}

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November is almost ending, Thanksgiving is here already and that means there isn’t much time left for the holiday shopping! The holiday season brings in so much hope and love in our lives. It is such an important time of the year to connect with our loved ones. At the same time it can be a bit stressful especially for the last minute gift shoppers like me!!

Additionally baby showers and birthday parties are a common affair these days. I am always excited to help out my friends with ideas for party themes,planning or even hosting one. However don’t you think when it comes to gifting we all stick to the basics on the registry or go for the most convenient option – Gift cards?

To help you all out with your gifting experience for  the holidays / baby showers/ birthday party gifts, I wanted to share with you a versatile and innovative personalized gift service-  IncrediBundles.com.  It is a one stop shop or home to extraordinary baby gifts, featuring a line of foolproof baby stuff that allow gift-givers to give the nursery essentials that every new parent wants and needs.

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So before I recommend it to you all I tried it for myself by ordering a custom bundle and selecting the toys and books I wanted for baby Vir. What I  liked about their service was it takes the best award-winning products for babies and bundles them together in a reusable storage container, making the gift innovative, practical and chic !!

Below are the products I got for Vir, I needed some Learn, Play and Explore items that Vir can use over a period of time. These  bundles are brimming with the safest, highest quality toys and books for babies. Vir’s box came with a book and 3 toys-  The Fluffy Chick Cloth Book, Hape Clown Stacker, Skip Hop Bandana Buddies Activity Lion and Melissa and Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench

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I am listing out some of my favorite bundles you can choose from –  learn and grow bundle , book bundles featuring award winning books, diaper bundle, sleep bundle, organic bundles, bath bundles .

I would definitely recommend this service to anyone in need of a baby/child gift!!! I love the ease of checking out! It took me maybe 5 minutes to add everything to my cart and then submit my order! This service saves you time and gas!

I’ve teamed up with them for a $50 GIFT CARD G I V E A WA Y  on INSTAGRAM

 It is very easy to enter.

*STEPS *

1. You must be following both myself (@the_snazzy_mom) AND @incredibundles_babygifts

2. Tag 2 or more people on the GIVEAWAY PIC ONLY . Click here for the Pic (Every name entry is a separate entry so more chances to win)

3. Mention All Steps Done

*For Extra Entries*
• Like my  FB  page TheSnazzyMom and let me know what will you get with get with the gift card !


Giveaway will run from 11/20/2016  to 11/27/2016  , and a winner will be announced on 11/30/2016.

Good Luck!

***This Post was sponsored by IncrediBundles, as always views and opinions are mine***

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When I had to leave my 5 month baby for a Business trip. 

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The Snuggle is Real 

My head was hurting, my heart was racing. I felt I couldn’t breathe and all of this was happening exactly at the same time while I was waving goodbye to Vir from the window of my cab. Leaving the baby for the first time is not easy and even though I spent a ridiculous amount of time snuggling him and kissing him beforehand, the moment of panic at the door was not going away. I still can’t tell whether at that moment I was feeling guilty of leaving him for 2 days or if I was terrified of the thought of how will he survive without me. It was one of the weirdest moments of my life and is very hard to describe in words. It felt like I was carrying an extra bag that day – A bag of Guilt.

Inside this extra baggage was the guilt of leaving Vir at home while I traveled, guilt of not rocking him to sleep those 2 nights, guilt of leaving my husband on his own to manage an infant and taking leave from work. From the moment I sat in the cab till I reached the airport, I was stuck to my phone the entire 40 minute drive, watching Vir play with his Nanny while I kept taking heavy breaths with moist eyes.

Honestly I am so blessed to be a full time work from home mom. I can see my child whenever I want, have the flexibility to manage my work and calls, apart from adding income to the household and doing what I love most. Having a house with an office space I am able to get so much done effectively on a daily basis. And with the help of my nanny I don’t have to worry about Vir either. It’s the best scenario I could have asked for. However being a Sr. Account Manager and handling a huge pool of clients across the country, travel in my job role is inevitable. Honestly, I have always looked forward to my work trips as I not only get to reconnect with my colleagues but also get a break from my routine.

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Likely, most of you are not gasping in horror at the thought of leaving a 5 month baby with his daddy, while mom goes on a business trip. Business travel is fact of life for few moms far sooner than 5 months and many 5 month old babies are not exclusively breast fed. But this is a very big deal for me, as I never left Vir for more than few hours a handful of times until this unexpected work related travel. The very thought of getting on an airplane without Vir had been giving me heart palpitations. I was having anxiety of what might happen when I would be away. Will he be all right , will Deep be able to manage the baby, what if Vir doesn’t take the bottle , what if I miss my return flight, what if things falls apart…..I was losing my sleep. The angst of leaving a kid behind is natural and biological; it is out of concern for our children or even out of the fear of leaving our comfort zone as a new mom. The fact that we control our household makes leaving the responsibility on someone else more difficult.

But having a supportive and understanding husband and a loving and hands on dad can make a mom’s life more manageable. I am so blessed to have a husband like Deep. He is a great dad and I knew in case of any urgency I can count on him to manage Vir. This trip was a huge learning experience for me and Deep on dealing with our fears and anxiety as first time parents. While Deep is now more confident in handling Vir, I am more comfortable in leaving the responsibility on daddy at unplanned situations.

But then there are other situations out of our control, like my nanny was not able to make it the next day while I was out and the ordeal on the date I was flying back….

After a very productive meeting, I was looking forward to getting home from LA and snuggle with my baby. To avoid the crazy LA traffic I reached the airport early only to learn that my flight was delayed by an hour. I immediately rushed to the airlines counter to see if I could reschedule my flight to an earlier time, and I was lucky to get one. But, that luck was short-lived; I was put in another frustrating situation where my rescheduled flight was delayed by 4 hours due to maintenance!! Wow !! That is exactly what I needed on my first trip away from Vir. (Screaming in my brain) It almost felt like my nightmare was coming true. But honestly, there was no point getting mad at that time…  Rather, I actually felt blessed, as the flight I was supposed to initially take got cancelled!

After speaking to Deep and knowing that all was good at home, I finally found the time to get something to eat and make most of the delay with a pumping session.  (If you follow me on instagram , you must have been pretty amused with the instastories I made that day.)I pumped at the ladies room standing for an hour splitting the pumping session on each side while watching Vir and Deep play on the camera, as the nursing room at the airport was occupied. While pumping I was able to speak with Deep through the house camera mic function, it gave me so much relief and I almost felt I was with them. Apart from that, I was glad to take the express milk home, unlike the last few pumping sessions where I had to pump and dump. (I hate throwing away breast milk, it makes me feel terrible)

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After an exhausting 10 hour wait time from LA to Houston between flight delays, traffic and flying time, I was finally home at 11 pm holding Vir tightly in my arms, with a heart full of joy and a needy dog liking my face and asking for equal attention.

Even though we might be connected with rapid transit and wireless technology, the emotional distance while traveling is challenging. I wish I could handle everything at once, but motherhood has taught me the unfortunate rule of being a human: I can’t. We have to make hard choices and cope up with the real world. And as a working mom I have to act like one and deal with my lifestyle changes while coming up with strategies that work for my family.

Yes ! The Struggle is Real !!

…In  my next post I will be sharing with you how I prepared to leave my baby overnight for work  and what I discovered about being a mom when I was off the clock.

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VIR’s First Diwali !

In my last post I wrote about how much I missed celebrating Diwali at home in India. And this year I long for it even more as its a very special one, since we have our beloved son Vir celebrating it with us .

The entire week I was face timing with my mom and brother and hearing their daily activity updates, shopping sprees, reminiscing old days and getting to share the real Gharwali Diwali experience with them. My mom got Vir a really cute ethnic outfit which she will be sending with my cousin sister and even though its is arriving post Diwali, I am super excited to dress him up in it. There is a charm in wearing vibrant desi/ Indian clothes, they make the festival so much more authentic.

Vir is 5 months old this month and loves being around people, he enjoys getting all the attention and lately has been putting his entire fist in the mouth and babbling. He has also started to flip over on his tummy and is in awe of Rio. Rio too has also started warming up to Vir and its a great feeling to see both my boys finally  show some love towards each other.

I am glad to share with you all, Vir’s first Diwali story  at our home in Houston  with these pictures.We celebrated it with our loving friends with great home cooked food,  Coconut ladoos ,Rasgullas,music, lots of cheer , laughter and a long game of Flush. I hope you enjoy looking at them .

(If you follow me on Instagram , you must have seen some of our celebration pictures and videos on my Instastories too)

Thanks to our friend Abhishek for these lovely clicks.

My Anarkali dress : Meena Bazaar

Vir’s Cardi Set from : Amy Collier Designs

 

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Home made coconut ladoos

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Our wonderful friends !!

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Diwali cannot end without some sparkles.

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The focus of this pic was on our fur baby Rio who was waiting to eat mom’s coconut ladoos.

 

Missing Home This Diwali !

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Hi Everyone!! Hope you are welcoming Autumn with high spirits as this is the season of festivals and celebrations. Festivals are a huge part of anyone’s culture and ‘Diwali’ – The Festival of Lights,  is one of the most significant festivals celebrated by me and my family.

This year we are celebrating Diwali on October 30th and although it is almost 2 weeks away, I just don’t feel the same excitement and fanfare around me as it was back home in India…..

The bright decorations at the mall, the shiny packaging on the sweets,

 the aroma in the meals, the sparkle on the clothes,

the buzz at home, the lamps on the floor, the gifts galore,

the shiny lights on the street, the new Bollywood beat,

the hymn of the prayer, the agarbatti smell in the air,

the colorful rangoli, the diya  and roli on the pooja thali ,

the ladoos and  the burfi , the win in teen pati,

I miss it all …..I feel the absence of my family.

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Image: Pinterest

Of course it is hard to find the same cultural experience here in United States and I know it is silly of me to even expect it. But hey! At least I can long for it. The other day I was in Michael’s to get some supplies for Vir’s Halloween costume which I intend to DIY, and as I stepped into the store, the buzz and hullabaloo reminded me of the scene at the firecracker store in my hometown in Rajasthan, where we would go when we were kids. How we loved going through all the different colored sparkles, amused ourselves looking at the creative names on the new rocket and chakri boxes and searched for that new cracker which our neighbor wouldn’t have, while making sure all of them were within our budget.

As a kid, Diwali for me was about new clothes, firecrackers, chocolate covered dry fruits, decorating the balcony with lights, meeting my cousins and enjoying the break from school. Chores like cleaning the house, shopping for gifts, selecting that dress, seeking for more pocket money were the little things we looked forward to every year as Diwali got closer. As I got back from Michael’s the first thing I did was to create a Diwali wreath with the help of my cousin sister and my dear husband. I just wanted to get a whiff of that the Diwali spirit which has been lost in modern times.

Today, I am so thankful for all the cultural traditions that I grew up with. With every passing year, I have learnt to appreciate the meaning of each of these traditions even more. They constantly remind me of who I am and where I come from. These festivities also make me reflect on the literal importance of the holiness of each occasion. Staying away from home has made me preserve these traditions even more…..my culture, religion and language are the essence of my Indian Heritage and as a new mom I feel it is my responsibility to introduce my child to them and maintain their essence in our lives.

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Image: Rang Decor

Even though I have been visiting India every year since I moved to Houston 6 years back, I sometimes get nostalgic. Especially during the festival season! On our trips to India, we would travel between 3 states to visit our homes and squeeze in as much as we could within the 2 to 3 week vacation. Lately, these trips have been planned around marriages in the family. A perfect opportunity to meet all our cousins and family members at the same place and the same time, dancing off to latest Honey Singh’s songs, while wearing  elegant desi outfits and enjoying the incredible food.

However, right now, at this moment , I wish I was home preparing besan ke ladoos with my mom , making  rangoli with my brother, choosing the color for this year’s salwar suit, packing the gifts for my friends and practicing my skills for teen pati. And even though there is time to book my tickets and head off to India, there are work and life commitments that I cannot get out of. Celebrating Diwali at home will have to wait again.

Yet!! I believe, it’s more the reason for me to celebrate my ‘Gharwali Diwali’ with similar emotion and joy at my home in Houston, because this Diwali is SPECIAL !! We were blessed with our son ‘Vir’, our bundle of joy this May !!  And even though it will be difficult to recreate the same sentiment, I aspire towards sparkling my home with happiness, decorating it with shades of love , preparing the food with more joy and stand in the light with my husband and son beside !! My hope is not to lose my texture as an Indian in a foreign land with time, but to celebrate its elements and authenticity as much as I can.

A Happy Diwali to you and your loved ones!! May the divine light of Diwali spread peace , prosperity , pleasure and good health into your lives.

Do share with us on how  you are planning to celebrate Diwali and what is missing this time.

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Happy Diwali !! Acrylic Rangoli perfect for wooden flooring.

 

Tips for Traveling with a baby. (Our short trip to New York)

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Vir enjoying the breeze and views on the boat tour to Statue of Liberty! Highly recommend it

We just returned from our trip to New York City and I couldn’t wait to share some pictures with you! Mostly though, I wanted to share our experience of traveling for the first time with the baby. Travel is definitely not the same anymore, yet we discovered that even New York City is a friendlier place when you have a baby with you.

It had been almost 8 months since I visited my colleagues and friends on the East Coast, as I was busy preparing for the arrival of baby Vir. This gave me an opportunity to plan a work trip cum mini-vacation to New York City.  The last time I was in a flight, I was 5 months pregnant, flying to India for my brother’s wedding all excited and thrilled. Even though I was excited to meet my friends and colleagues, I was nervous as I was going to be travelling with a 3 month baby. Images from my past flight experiences with crying and howling babies in the plane flashed in front of me, reminding me how much I dreaded sitting next to a crying baby. I know first hand that the city can be intimidating to come with a baby as everything is spread out, you have to walk a lot and you aren’t sure what is baby friendly. It was nerve-racking thinking about issues like, baby fussiness on the plane, judging stares from strangers, changing diapers at a germy roadside bathroom or moving around in NYC with a stroller. Now there is no denying that a vacation with a baby is tougher than a vacation with just grownups, but in our case, the mini vacay turned out to be quite a pleasant experience.

I did a lot of research online, consulted many mom friends for travel advice and got a ‘go ahead’ from the pediatrician before I made the travel plans. The main bases one needs to cover are Eating , Sleeping and Getting Around. A well fed, rested and comfortable baby is usually less fussy or a happy one. “Babies can be surprisingly good travelers,” says Shelly Rivoli, author of Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Trips with Babies, Toddlers and Preschool-Age Children. “The major advantage is that they’re not very mobile yet.”

My first advice is  Don’t over pack : I allowed myself plenty of time to pack the diaper bag. I thought through every possible scenario and packed all that stuff that I needed. In fact I shared my diaper bag pic on my instagram to get more input from all my mom followers. (You can also catch my daily updates there ) With an infant I think you need more stuff, yet I tried to leave as much behind as I could. I made sure I had minimum 3 days supply of clothing so that there was enough time to do laundry if needed. We didn’t over-pack diapers and wipes as it is easily available everywhere. But I made sure to carry at least 6 diapers in my diaper bag, allotting one per hour for travel time. I carried 4 pieces of Vir’s favorite Pacifier as they always tend to disappear and I was sure I would lose them, which I course I did! (I was too late in buying pacifier clips, highly recommend buying them) A solid supply of wipes and cleaning cloths are a must, as you never know of diaper blow out and spit ups, plus I used wipes to clean every surface close to the baby in NYC. TipI also made a small travel pouch with Vir’s bath and medicine supplies that I will need on all my trips, it is good to have it ready.  In big baby gear items we carried the boppy pillow, car seat, a caddy stroller and the baby carrier. You can also rent these items (babysaway.com, rentittoday.com) but since it was my first time, I didn’t want to take any chances.

 

Hungry Baby is Grumpy Baby: As I am exclusively breast feeding, I made sure to carry my nursing scarf, an extra supply of pumped frozen milk packs ,my Madela breast pump, storage bottles and a cold pack to carry the frozen milk. I nursed Vir during takeoff and landing to avoid the ear pain due to cabin pressure change in the flight. Babies have narrower Eustachian tubes, and changes in cabin pressure during take-off and landing can cause ear pain for them. Swallowing helps relieve the pressure, and that can come in the form of nursing, a bottle, or a pacifier. While travelling around the city I always made sure Vir was fed before we left the hotel. I also carried some pumped milk and my nursing scarf every time, as you never know when duty calls.

 

Nap Time is essential for your Sanity : We booked the flight around Vir’s naptime and it totally worked, as he was cheerful in the morning flight and slept easily on the return night flight. I highly recommend carrying a pillow, as it makes it so much easier to feed, carry and lay the baby in your lap. Maintaining Vir’s nap times and sleeping routines daily was important to have a happy baby join us for our day trips. We made sure Vir was well rested before we left the hotel. And to avoid any fussiness we took short breaks every 2 hours to sit, feed and put him back to sleep. Of course we knew that there will be several breaks for changing diapers, stretching and wiggling so we planned our trips accordingly. Tip -I had made a list of stores and places convenient for feeding and diaper changing in the city.

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He was great during the flights !

Getting Around : The best bet to travel with a baby is in a car. However I wanted to gain the City mom experience and traveled in trains, cabs and even a boat with Vir. One of my biggest concerns was maneuvering the stroller around the crowded tourist spots, stores and restaurants. Thankfully we carried our small caddy stroller, as it was perfect for squeezing through the tight lanes of the shopping stores and light enough to carry. Baby wearing also worked out perfectly for us. I love wearing Vir in our babybjorn and it was extremely convenient during our day and night trips. We wore him mostly at crowded places like Times Square, Rockefeller center, Madison Avenue etc. Tip -I practiced wearing Vir much prior to our trip, to get him used to the feeling and to see if he would be comfortable in the carrier. At the same time I wanted to train my back with the carrier. So far, Vir loves being worn and it has definitely been fun carrying him around. Honestly, with some practice and a comfortable baby carrier it can feel like a breeze.

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I walked almost 3 hours around the city wearing Vir !

Adjusting our Mind set : I was mentally prepared that most of the things won’t go as planned. There will be delays and it might take twice as long for activities that would have been way faster without a baby. Planning ahead of time and adjusting and readjusting your day trips will be the key to a stress free trip. Also flexibility is key to a fun and relaxed trip. Make sure to follow your baby’s cues on your day out.

This was a memorable trip as it was Vir’s first time travelling in a plane, train, boat and cabs. I never wanted to give the excuse that I couldn’t travel because of the baby. I believed that it was a silly excuse and didn’t ever want my baby to hold us back from life experiences; I want him to experience them with us. Looking forward to our adventures with our little one.

Remember, Happy Baby =Happy Parents.

For more travel advice on travelling in a flight with a baby you can refer to Mommypoints.Boardingare.com they have some great tips and links for reference.

You can also check out mommyppopins.com for Things to do in NYC with an infant.

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So glad to have Mom on this trip with us !

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Date night at a Rooftop Bar overlooking the Empire State Building!

 

 

 

When Our Fur Baby Met our Son! 

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Rio warming up to 3 month old Vir

I am a mother of two. One is an adorable 3 month old who loves to smile and squeal.The other is a 5 year old terrier, who loves to chase squirrels and cuddle. One is our baby Vir and the other is our “fur baby” Rio !

Hell yes my dog is my baby!! I feed him, bathe him, walk him, play with him, take him to his vet appointments, buy him treats and toys, dress him up for Halloween, protect him from danger (stray cats in our neighborhood are vicious!), worry about him all night if he is ill, comfort him when he is scared, take family pictures with him, miss him when I am traveling, scold him when he is naughty and most importantly, love him with all my heart as I am his MOM. No wonder I didn’t refrain from celebrating Motherhood as a Dog Mom for the past 5 years.  Oprah’s quote – “Biology is the least of what makes… someone a mother” has stuck with me all this time.

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Rio when he was a puppy

The feeling of maternal love and the sensibilities of a mother first came to me when we adopted Rio from a local shelter here in Houston, when he was just 4 weeks, back in 2011. He just didn’t walk into our house with his tiny paws; he walked straight into our hearts.
We knew we were ready for this commitment of loving and caring for him for the rest of his life. His dark brown eyes and constant need for cuddle and kisses filled my heart with immeasurable love and an immediate need to protect and treasure him! For us Rio isn’t a domesticated animal but our first child. And I don’t mind saying that Rio trained me to be a better mom, since I made those classic first born child mistakes with him.

 

I believe it is the little things that shape our relationships in life, and my relationship with Rio is no different. Everything I do for him results in love and gratitude. His unconditional love, boundless energy, unrestrained affection and loyalty make us smile even in the worst of days! The mere mention of “Let’s go” makes him jump with joy. Watching him stick his head out of the car window just cracks me up every time. And the best part of the day is coming home to a wagging tail.

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Our pregnancy announcement photo shoot at home

When we found out that we were pregnant we were excited that our pack was going to grow! From flooding hormones to slight differences in routine, it is more than likely that Rio picked up on changes even before I started sporting a bump. He would sit and stare at me and follow me everywhere in the house, especially when I was suffering from nausea. (He would always be standing outside the bathroom). Rio also started camping at my feet in the bed and liked laying his head next to my belly when we watched TV. Things would sometimes get weird when he would chew up my underwear while I was gone. Now that I think about it, maybe he was acting out or feeling neglected. But he was definitely picking up something. They say a dog can tell that you are pregnant “Although it hasn’t been scientifically explored, it’s within the realm of reason,” Jennie K. Willis, an applied animal behaviorist, told Animal Planet.

Some people believe that it can be dangerous to bring a baby into a home with a dog. However, according to all the dog parents and owners between our family and friends; ‘Dogs have been loyal, loving and protective family members for them’. We were quite confident that Rio would be a good dog around Vir. As he prefers the company of human friends over dogs and is most excited when our friends come over (I think he is convinced that they are his buddies and are there to visit him). Yet, we often wondered how Rio would react when he would see Vir for the first time. Would he be scared, friendly, excited, indifferent or jealous? We researched online on how to introduce your baby for the first time to your dog, read online forums and checked out the cute videos recorded by awesome dog parents.  Please look up dog adoption and training guide for more information and tips on dog and baby relationship.

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Rio meets Vir for the 1st time

As newborn baby Vir entered his house for the first time, Rio waited anxiously at the door the entire day. I walked in first, hugged him and let him know that I missed him too. Once his initial excitement had died down a bit, we moved to the living room to introduce Vir to Rio. I remember he was excited, anxious, nervous all at same time and started to whimper as we walked into the house carrying Vir. We sat down on the couch and Rio immediately jumped next to me (still whimpering) and was bewildered to see Vir for the first time. He kept licking me and Deep and then very slowly, came close to Vir and sniffed him. Their introduction was priceless. Rio was extremely curious, but above all he was gentle towards his baby brother. It was a very emotional moment for all of us; I wasn’t prepared to see Rio whimpering like that for almost five to ten minutes after we got in the house. I was in tearsLet me tell you, Rio has grown extremely needy since the baby has got here and is comp

eting for our attention by acting cute.  Sometimes it seems he is trying too hard as he tries to play on his back or rub his face on the carpet or just constantly wag his tail while staring at us. He is slowly getting used to the fact that this new human is here to stay.I wished the two would have hit it off as BFFs right from the start, but it seems we will have to wait a bit longer. Rio still maintains his distance from Vir and avoids getting too close to him unless I call him to sit or sleep next to him. He does not show much affection towards Vir, but at the same time thankfully he isn’t jealous of him. (I think, he thinks of him as a mischievous tiny human, who has not only taken his spot on the sofa but is constantly pooping, and peeing all day!!) ( You can follow their journey on my Instagram account)

IMG_6687We are working on creating that special bond between them. We make sure to include Rio in all our daily activities and keep the same routine as earlier. Rio knows that the baby comes above him in the pack order as he is  aware of his boundaries of where he is allowed in the house and that the baby’s stuff is not his to chew or play. (Rio avoids everything but chews on his diapers when we are gone, I don’t know why he does it, but we are dealing with this phase right now). We call Rio every day to come and sniff the baby and also give him treats when he licks Vir’s feet to associate with space and respect. Its now a rule in the house to play with Rio first and then hold the baby, especially when our guests come over, as he would jump in between to get all the attention first. (jealous one)

My relationship with Rio made me realize dogs are nothing like humans; they can go through hell, yet forgive easily. This kind of love is one of the best things in life to experience as he filled a space in my heart that I never knew existed. It is an amazing feeling to be licked on your face when you are stressed or rubbed by a wet nose when you are lonely. No matter how crappy your day is, there is always a happy face waiting for you to get home.

I am thankful for my Dog for all the paw prints on my floor, for all the slobbery kisses on my face and for the fur on my clothes… for there will come a day when there is too much room in my bed.

“Parenthood requires Love not DNA”- unknown 

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Pregnancy photoshoot at home. (Photo credit: My dear husband)

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Catching a nap on the bump

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My Post-Baby Weight Loss Journey

 

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After a good run ! 10 weeks postpartum

I am three months and 1 week postpartum and you might wonder why I am already talking about weight loss. I have been struggling to write this post and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit this to the blog. Yet, I am posting it and I have decided to do so because it will not only motivate me to continue to work towards my “goal” but also give me a chance to celebrate my progress so far.

Will I ever get back to my pre-pregnancy physique? When will I hit my goal? How long will it take me to fit in my jeans? Will I have to continue buying bigger size clothes? Ahh!! .….all the questions pop up in my head as I step into my closet. No matter how many clothes are hanging in your closet, there are always those days when you feel you have nothing to wear. It’s all there but it’s all wrong and then you want to shop. I’ve faced this almost every day for last five months. Earlier I was so big that I could survive only in my maternity clothes and now, when I am neither 9 months pregnant nor my original size, I am in this no man’s land with only a handful of stuff I can fit in.

To fulfill my goal and stick to this weight loss journey I am putting a stop to buying any bigger size dresses or jeans or shirts. I think that this will encourage me to stick to my workout routine and healthy lifestyle to get back in shape and not fall off the wagon.

Pre- Pregnancy

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Last year Aug 2015, hiking Whistler Mountain, Vancouver

I feel I have always struggled with weight. I’ve always been the tall and athletic body type and never close to the slim shape. I played basketball and represented my school, college and state at competitions for almost 7 years. My love for sports directed me towards a healthier lifestyle and maintaining a workout regime so far. But my love for chocolates and cakes would wash away all that hard work and I would end up at the same weight rather than losing it! Post college I started getting comfortable with this theory and worked out so that I could indulge in my favorite food. I always enjoyed cardio and high energy activities like jogging, swimming, kickboxing etc . I have never been a big fan of dieting or staying on a controlled diet or eating clean. Right before pregnancy I was 150 pounds (68 kgs), a few pounds over what I envision my ideal weight to be, but I was working my butt off to maintain it. (Thanks to my metabolism which dipped like the oil prices last year, as I turned 30)

Pregnancy

When one is a pregnant you get a license to pack on the pounds!! Now since I have been pregnant let me tell you this is a load of bull….. I was obsessed with my weight gain (some of you might relate to it, except for a lone few who can rise above the weight gain issue). I stepped on the scale every day, I wanted to make sure I stick to the healthy weight gain between 25-35 pounds; in fact my target was to gain under 30 pounds. I was eating healthy, eating more green vegetables, fruits, eggs, milk, multigrain bread; cheese etc. (Bought mostly organic food) Also made healthy smoothies with Greek yogurt, almond milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds, spinach etc as staple ingredients. I ensured that I was having high nutrition snacks like dry fruits and nutritive bars daily.

 

As I wanted to be in the healthy weight gain spectrum, start first trimester I was running 3 miles, four times a week and swimming occasionally. Second trimester my energy started getting low and I began to walk 3 miles and do some weight training. Fast forward to third trimester I joined yoga and even with back pain issues I made it a point to go for a 2-3 mile walk daily with my fur baby Rio. Deep also accompanied me to keep me going.

Yet I gained 43 pounds!! I couldn’t believe it. Moreover, my yoga class was torturous; To make matter worse, where I live, pregnancy seems so competitive ! Somehow everyone manages to stay slim and gain weight just around their belly.

No matter how crazy the weight gain issue makes us, most doctors agree that we should keep check on our pregnancy weight gain, as many studies show it can lower risks of pre- eclampsia, gestational diabetes and other pregnancy complications.

Now 3 months Postpartum

After baby Vir’s arrival in May 2016, I was looking forward to lose the weight so that I could feel like myself again.  I wanted to live the lifestyle of my goal as I couldn’t believe that I had gained 43 pounds after working out almost every day and not falling for those ghee loaded “laddos” and sweets lying in my refrigerator. Within 3 weeks post delivery I had lost 15 pounds. Of course, Vir was 7 pounds of those.

I read success stories online of women bouncing back to their pre-pregnancy weight  in 4 months just by ‘breast feeding’. Also some stories mentioning that the ‘last 10 pounds will be the hardest to lose’ and  how the ‘wider hips and bigger breasts are here to stay’. These anecdotes helped me prepare mentally as to what I should work towards to achieve my goals and at the same time be realistic about them!

I believe its important to have your energy levels back; as life of a new mom is very demanding. I didn’t want to lie down and rest while my family manages things at home. The C section made mobility hard for me but I wanted to be up and working. For me getting my body back was also finding and developing my inner strength. Post my 6 week check up and getting thumbs up on starting my workout regimen from my doctor, I ensured that I got at least 4 days of workout weekly and started with 2 mile brisk walks around my neighborhood. The first few days of walking 2 miles were hard. My belly would hurt if I tried to jog,  but gradually it started getting better. To kick start my workouts Deep bought me a Polar A 360 fitness tracker which helps me keep a tab on my daily steps, workouts and weekly fitness reports. It also buzzes every 50 mins prompting me to walk if I have been sitting for that long. I highly recommend getting a fitness tracker.

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Walking Rio while wearing Vir in Baby K’tan , 8 weeks postpartum.

2 months postpartum, I had lost a total of 22 pounds. Even after that I was somewhat horrified to discover that I still had a belly and looked 5 months pregnant.

I am 3 months postpartum as I write this post and have lost a total of 30 pounds !! 🙂

I still have 13 pounds more to go ! To reach my goal my fitness plan includes 3 miles for at least 4 days a week in the evening as its super hot here in Houston. Rio and Deep are my workout buddies and sometimes when the weather is good, Vir also join us in his jogger. (Highly recommend a getting a jogger so you can start going on long walk/runs with your baby. Great way to unwind and the babies seem to love it). Honestly, the new game Pokemon Go is also making my workouts more fun and has somewhat helped me maintain my 3 mile run and not cheat on my workouts. (I am very competitive when it comes to gaming and Deep is currently leading).  I also do 1 minute planks 5 times everyday to strengthen my core muscles and tighten the belly.

Since I am a breast feeding mama, I am not working on curbing my diet or following a restricted meal plan.  I eat 6 small meals a day. Milk and fruits is a must daily and as I am a vegetarian, cottage cheese, pulses, beans and green veggies is what I live on. Yes I am chocoholic and I can’t do without 1-2 small pieces of dark chocolate daily and  my homemade healthy popsicles . However now I have moved on to chocolate chips which are used in baking to work on my cravings and eat less calories. I also indulge in cupcakes and frozen yogurt on weekends.  No soda, no junk and no processed food for me!!

“Be gentle with yourself and accept the changes of your body” says my Mom and I think she is right;  I don’t want to lose steam too fast by focusing on my weight loss.  My plan is to include different types of routines like weight training, yoga, rowing , home exercises in my regimen than simply running. I am building my endurance and my back and leg muscles groups so as to join Kayla Fitness BBG program by next month. For me it isn’t about a skinny body, but more of a healthier and stronger body. (you can see my workout updates on my Instagram page. Do follow!!!)

My hope here is not to get frustrated but to stay motivated and keep reminding myself that I have created a fabulous tiny human being, who adores me! The best advice I want to share is “Let’s not obsess over how we LOOK but how we FEEL !!! ”

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3 months Postpartum !! I finally feel I can run 3 miles at a go 🙂

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Multitasking  !!  (This pic is from when I was 10 weeks postpartum)

 

An Expectant Dad Chronicles

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Arushi is 4 weeks pregnant! At our friends wedding in Houston

Let me begin with saying that it was not just my wife who was expecting. The two of us were working on this life project together. I didn’t know how to handle every hormonal situation, but just being there, listening, talking, comforting, caring and loving her; made me feel more involved, we were a Team!

We had been trying for just a couple of weeks. So when Arushi told me that she was pregnant, my response was “you’re kidding me! Already!” rather than an emotional and more appropriate “Oh my God, we’re having a baby!”.

Even though it was a planned pregnancy, that doesn’t mean that I was prepared for fatherhood! I thought I’d have more time… I’d do my research, read books on parenting, and seek the wisdom of the more experienced. Now the clock had started ticking.

Arushi had her list of things she needed to do and I had mine…I sifted through Amazon looking for the best books for pregnancy and gain knowledge, after all my reading material had a new theme. ‘Origins’ by Annie Murphy Paul, ‘Brain Rules for Baby’ by John Medina and ‘Be Prepared- a Practical Handbook for New Dads’ were the 3 books that I read to get prepared for what was coming. The app Ovia was another indispensable tool that kept me informed on the progress of pregnancy and provided me with a window into what was going on with my wife- mentally & physically. (The app’s weekly updates would have this fascinating comparison of the size of the growing baby with a fruit or vegetable). We both shared so much in this phase – Good food choices, healthy habits, baby’s weekly development etc. Honestly, this gave me a sense of being part of the pregnancy.

First few weeks flew by fast, informing family & close friends. Then came the morning sickness. No one warns you about the morning sickness! Don’t fall for the innocuous sounding name. It gives you a false impression of something like a mild nausea in the morning. It lasts all day long, everyday for a month and can be quite extreme. Needless to say, Arushi wasn’t in a good mood during this phase. And I learned very quickly, never argue with a hungry pregnant woman.

The morning sickness eventually subsided. We had barely let out a sigh of relief when Arushi started experiencing Sciatica pain. I received daily critical feedback regarding my back massage skills for that period. Bought new massager, tried yoga, off-the-shelf pain medication. Only thing that ended up being somewhat effective was professional massage. The pain thankfully went away after about 3 weeks. So, advice for husbands- if you are not good at massage, surprise her by taking a massage class. She’ll appreciate it a lot. I also got to practice my photography skills as Arushi wanted to document her bump. Easiest way to earn some brownie points!

It’s a baby boy! We found out in the 8th week itself. It was a surprise for me to know the gender so early in the pregnancy (through non-invasive prenatal test). The news all of a sudden made me realize the huge responsibility that I was about to take on. Now, apart from being a good father, I needed to be a role model for a tiny man. Just like my father had been for me.

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My Favorite from the maternity photo shoot.

Second trimester went much smoothly. It was also an exciting time as we got to see the baby for the first time during the ultrasound. Trust me, it was quiet something to be able to see a fetus grow and move inside the tummy. It was a transcendental moment. We had read how important it is for overall health of the baby that the mom stays active. That inevitably meant that I had to stay active. I would typically work out a couple of days a week. But now, Arushi was dragging me to the gym or the park, everyday. At first I complained a bit, but then I figured, if I wanted to run around with my kids 10 years from now, I could use the exercise.

The third trimester was when the baby weight gain accelerated. And with that, Arushi’s attempts to stay within the healthy weight-gain spectrum also intensified. I tried to comfort her anxiety about weight by pointing out articles mentioning that every woman has a different weight gain curve, and just because she had gained weight rapidly during past few months didn’t mean that she’ll continue to gain weight at the same pace.

Our weekly activities and projects started as the final weeks started getting close. We started buying stuff for the baby. My DIY nursery project of putting together the crib, nursing chair, dresser and decorating the nursery was in full swing. We had our maternity photo shoot. Our friends threw us an amazing baby shower and we ended up with more baby stuff than we could’ve asked for. We also did the hospital tour. Being familiar with the inside of the hospital, definitely made us feel more comfortable when we eventually went there for delivery. We read more stuff on the internet and flipped through a couple of handed down parenting books. We also watched a few videos online, as we agreed on not doing Lamaze classes or any other parenting classes.

Our hospital was 10 miles from our home. I was antsy about what we would do if it baby decides to come during rush hour traffic. And of course, that is exactly what happened. I got the call at work from Arushi at 4:00 pm saying that she thought she was having contractions. It took me 35 minutes to get home and then it took us another 50 minutes to get to the hospital! Arushi was surprisingly calm and asked me to relax and kept saying she was fine throughout the drive.

An experienced friend of mine had given me a simple piece of advice -” trust your doctors & just follow their instructions.” And that is exactly what we did. After around 6 hours in labor Arushi finally got the epidural. The nurse informed us that based on her progress, the baby would come sometime in the morning. “Cool! I can amuse myself by reading my baby’s horoscope.” As I looked up for the date online, it occurred to me. Tomorrow is Friday the 13th! “Oh crap! We are going to have a Friday the 13th baby! Can’t we do something to get him out in the next one hour?” Of course the nurse said no. But, for those of us not suffering from triskaidekaphobia, you’ve got to agree- it’s a pretty cool day to be born on! For the rest of you… stop being silly.

“It’s time to push, Deep!” Arushi said excitedly while waking me up at 4:30 am. The nurse started to get the things ready for the delivery and within 5 minutes, Arushi was pushing, with me on her side holding her hand. I was truly amazed at how brave she was at that moment, shivering and pushing and focusing, all at the same time. She pushed for an hour but as she was running a fever and the baby’s heart rate was climbing, the doctor made the call to do a C-Section. We knew ahead that this could be a possibility. We were now faced with a situation that we had hoped wouldn’t arise. Again, I just followed the simple advice and put my trust in the doctors & nurses. After all, we were at one the best women’s health hospitals in the nation.

Arushi was wheeled away to the surgery room while I was dressed up in scrubs and asked to join later. In what felt like an eternity, a nurse came to get me. This was the first time I’d ever been in a surgery room. It was very busy, with everyone very focused. That’s one thing that the movies definitely get right. Arushi was on the operating table, wide awake and there was an opaque blue curtain across her waist blocking the view below. Boy was I glad for that curtain! I had been quite calm through the entire labor. But I don’t think I could have handled seeing her being operated on or seeing her in any kind of pain there.

About 10 minutes later, at 7:05 am on Friday the 13th, I heard the cries of my baby. I instinctively knew that he was going to be alright, even though the doctors had informed us that he would need to be taken immediately to the NICU for monitoring. No baby bawling with a lung strength like that had could possibly have anything wrong with him (he still likes to give us displays of that lung strength every now and then). He was quickly wrapped up and the nurse handed Arushi the baby. It is a beautiful sight to behold. A mother’s first expression as she holds her baby for the very first time. Soon, the baby & I were immediately escorted to the NICU while Arushi was being stitched back. By the time I could gather my feelings and realize what was going on, this little 7 pound human, our son, baby Vir was placed in my arms.

I was a changed person- for the better. I was now a father.

 

By – Deepanshu

 

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When Vir was getting his measurements I got his footprints !

 

P.S – I am currently reading ‘Baby Sense’ by Megan Faure and Ann Richardson and refer to ‘Baby 411’ for all the wisdom, advice and answers we seek as new parents.

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Hey you!

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Can’t believe my first Father’s Day with 4 week old baby Vir !