The White Picket Fence Paradox

They often say that things happen for a reason, and while there may be some truth to it, I have come to believe that things happen not because of kismet, but because we make certain choices in our daily life that have direct and indirect consequences.

My life has gone in a direction I would never have expected it to go. Some people would call it luck, some an act of grace or divine intervention, but to me, it is but the direct and indirect result of my hard work, patience and taking the leap when every cell in my body was screaming to hide away.

And while some things have unfolded in ways that I can only describe as fast and furious, the journey to that point took years, maybe even decades. There were many happy days, and not-so happy days. Some bad days in between. Terrible days every now and then. Even unspeakable days. Each deciding moment eventually leading to where I am today.

Five years ago, I would have laughed if someone told me I’d be living in Norway at some point in my life. It was a country I knew little about — well, maybe except for its Vikings and pricey salmon exports — and the fact that I despise the cold, helped to build my case against what would have been an incredulous idea.

Fast forward to 2017, and here I am, unable to imagine a different life. Despite the challenges that a transplant like myself is expected to go through, like adjusting to a different culture, landing a job and ultimately learning how to speak the language, which I haven’t yet mastered after 3 years of night school! (for those who aren’t in the know, the Norwegian language has many, many, many dialects, so much so that if you drive for a good ten minutes in the countryside, people could be speaking a different variant of Norwegian), I can’t complain. I am where I am today because every little thing I’ve done so far has led me to this moment of contentment and yes — gobsmacked disbelief.

Because after all the doubt, anxiety, confusion, pain of loss, and the sheer stress that comes with having to deal with the upheavel of one’s life, I have a loving and devoted husband, who drives me crazy sometimes (not in the good way!) and at other times splendidly scrubs clean the entire apartment inside and out when all I did was hint that the floors could do with a quick mopping; I have a job that is finally permanent and rewarding; a new house we are looking forward to moving into in a year’s time; and a baby on the way, whom we cannot wait to finally meet in a few weeks.

Sometimes, I have to pinch myself because I think I’ve stumbled into a dream; that perhaps, I’m actually lying somewhere else, in a deep deep transe of some kind, and unwilling to wake up. Or I find myself in a panic, thinking that only the worst can possibly happen now, because no one is supposed to have it this good.

Then again, when I really think about it. Think long and hard, it hasn’t been all pixiedust and unicorns. Because my husband and I work hard at our relationship every single day. We have our honeymoon days and days when I just want to bust his butt for one reason or another. Our first year as husband and wife was rocky and eventually led to ultimatums, but we got passed it and although we laugh at it now, it was a tough period in my life.

My job may be rewarding, but everyday, I have to work hard for it. Like really, really hard, because this is probably the only job I’ve had where there is absolutely no room for downtime. You’re up and at it from the moment you clock in, to the moment you clock out.

A new house may be exciting (what with all the possibilities!), but with it, comes a heftier mortgage that my husband and I have to pay for for a good 25 years of our life. So we have to be extra smart with our money just in case  the world goes into a nosedive and we find ourselves jobless and with skyrocketing interest rates.

Finally, a baby. It may perhaps be the singular most fantastic dream of mine, but now that its reality, comes my many founded fears and doubts. Will I be a good parent? First and foremost, is he healthy? What if there are complications? Women have died during childbirth. Babies too. Will I end up drawing the short end of the stick? I may not dwell on these harrowing thoughts, but they have passed my mind and I can only really hope for the best when the day finally arrives.

So, as timely as everything may seem from the outside, it is but a consequence of a series of fortunate and unfortunate opportunities, both seized and unseized, that have led to this very moment. Of choices made and brave leaps taken. I may owe a bit of it to fate and luck, and blessings from above, but ultimately, I’d like to think that I had a hand in making it happen, and for doing a job well done (so far).

via Daily Prompt: Timely

My Birthing Plan, with No Foam, No Sugar, Soy Milk and Cream on Top

I have always thought that giving birth was a black and white situation. You walk into the hospital and barring any complications, come out with a baby bundled in a soft blanket. Apparently, that’s not the case.

Childbirth has come a long, long way since my grandmothers’ time and much like how people order their coffee these days — single/double/triple shot, nonfat milk, soy, almond, half-and-half, latte, cappuccino, machiatto — there are a lot more different options to choose from: Natural. C-Section. Water Birth. At the hospital. At home. By a doctor. By a midwife. With a doula, and without. Even pain relief comes in a variety of forms these days. Acupressure. Acupuncture. Breathing techniques. Hypnosis. Massage. Meditation. Epidural. Gas. Demerol. Or nothing at all. And did I mention that you can even choose the position in which you would want to deliver? Semi-recline. Squatting. Lying on one’s side. Standing. Leaning on your partner. On your hands and knees.

Has it always been this complicated? This confusing? (If only they offered just as many options when it comes to buying baby stuff — because it’s in this department, where Norway needs greater variety and options).

And the pressure women feel these days to opt for as naturally a birth as possible, foregoing the comfort of anaesthesia, makes planning for our little jelly bean’s birth all the more challenging, more frightening.

Maybe I’m strong enough to go through labor without any medical intervention. I am my grandmother’s granddaughter after all, the Amazonia who directed, choreographed and arranged the birth of her first child whilst in the middle of labor because my grandfather was still attending to his patients (they owned a small hospital and clinic back in the day).

Then again, what if I’m not?

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Ultimately, it’s going to be my decision and people can judge me all they want — but as with everything in life, we have all been given the right and liberty to choose (of course, within certain legal, ethical and moral limits!). So, go jump in the lake if it bothers you when I decide to get pumped up with drugs (they’re there for a reason, otherwise, it wouldn’t be on offer in the first place).

We attended the state-sponsored birthing course a few days ago, hoping that it would help me decide on a birthing plan. I had this image of a Lamaze-type class where everyone would be sitting on the floor and throughout the course of the afternoon, be taught a couple of breathing exercises we could use, on top of the usual “what to expect” information, and maybe the cliche video of a woman giving birth. Instead, we were sat around a conference table and given slide handouts. Then for nearly three hours, we listened to a PowerPoint lecture on things I had already read about at some point, and learned from somewhere or someone about the stages of labor, what to do in each stage, who to call, where to go, etc.

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Scandinavian baby staples. Wooly onesies. Sophie the Giraffe. And free reading goodies from the Health Center.

It didn’t prepare me at all for what’s to come and I was nowhere closer to completing my birth plan — other than the fact that I now know which ward/s I could potentially request to be checked-in to at the Women’s Clinic downtown.

Nevertheless, like all things, the silver lining was that — while I may not have learned anything new, my husband learned a great lot. He knows what to expect now and while he’s terrified out of his mind about what’s going to happen and what could potentially happen during childbirth, he has come to appreciate this epic challenge that we (moreso, I) will have to undergo in six weeks’ time. He has found ways to support me even more than he already has to make the home stretch feel a little less overwhelming, like giving me a 2-hour back massage and head cuddle in the middle of the night, for example, after what can only be desrcibed as an emotionally and psychologically draining day for him at work (he quit his job yesterday for what he hopes is going to be a better one!) — just so that I can sleep better at night. Bless him.

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Whichever the case may be and whatever I do decide to do or what not to do, or what the circumstances ends up dictating (a birthing plan is never bullet-proof!), I am going to try and take this whole childbirth challenge like I would whenever I order a cup of coffee:

Simple and to the point, with perhaps a little frill and just a tad bit of sweetness on top…

…then enjoying every moment of it, when it’s finally handed over to me, all wrapped up in a pretty and delicious little package.

The Case of the Vanishing Feet

Ever since I found myself growing a human being inside me, I’ve had to cut down on some pampering luxuries in an attempt to keep myself as toxic-free as possible. And while most of what I thought I should avoid are in fact quite safe to do — manis, pedis, hair coloring and your occassional massage — now that I think about it, are things I shockingly haven’t done in years.

I’ve always found the bit of pampering therapeutic. Before I moved to Bergen, I had a rather luxurious routine of hair blowouts (when I was too lazy to wash my hair) and hair treatments, and the monthly visit to the nail salon and face spas, on top of my weekly massages — all of which would cost me no more than $100. It was my elixir and it helped to perk me up whenever the stresses of big city life — long work hours, manic commute, bills, expensive and private healthcare, etc — began to feel like I was being dragged  into an ever-expanding bubbling tar pit with no means of escape.

And now that I’m living in what has recently been declared the happiest place on Earth where the stresses of life are perhaps not really stresses at all in comparison to the world’s many problems; where education, healthcare and potable water are free, and new mothers get paid to stay home with their newborn for nearly a year; and workers have the right to take 5 weeks of paid vacation; I find myself wanting even just a modicum of pampering but am unable to do so because I can’t for the life of me justify spending $100 on one simple mani/pedi. So for the last 3 years, I’ve gone without any of it and while I’ve survived so far, the call for a good lacquer and highlight is finally ringing loud in my ears.

I mean, I haven’t been paying too much attention to my feet these days (what with it being winter and all, and the fact that I can no longer see them unless I’m propped up on the couch) but the sight of them (at 2.30am as I am writing this piece, mind you) all swollen and neglected from being pregnant has prompted me to do something unthinkable — almost akin to me getting more than 2 haircuts a year, and done with a lot of hesitation! — I booked myself a mani/pedi at a professional spa.

It took a lot of convincing on my part as I am not so easily swayed to part with $100 unless I’m getting something of equal value from it. I mean, I can’t even be persuaded to buy my child a $30 onesie if I know I can get it for a fraction of the price somewhere else with just the same quality and using the same organic fabric. What more a mani/pedi that would probably last me a good 3 weeks? A baby onesie would last a fast-growing baby longer than that.

Then again, I have to remind myself that I am no longer without a job and I finally have comfortable savings set aside, (not to mention that I can no longer touch my toes without having to do some ill-composed yoga pose) so perhaps a one-off spend wouldn’t be so bad?

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It makes one rethink one’s needs and desires, and what it really takes to keep a sound mind in a world (and by world, I mean, societal pressures) that just won’t let you stop. What would be a simple cup of tea for some may be a 3-week holiday in an exclusive resort in Seychelles for others. It’s all about perspective and what we’re used to, I suppose. What our view on reality is, and how open we are to wanting to see beyond our own looking glasses — because really, there is a much wider world out there for us to truly see, and many more realities to consider.

In the case of my vanishing feet, however, it’s making myself feel just a tad bit pretty (even for just a short while) at a time when, despite this mythical “glow” that only others seem to see, I feel like a seacow out of the water.

via Daily Prompt: Elixir

Of Errands, Brunch and My Love for Organic Hipster Cake

Like most people, our weekends are spent running errands and completing chores we had postponed during the week. Gone were the days when I would wake up early and head out for brunch with my besties in the newest cafe in town or our usual old haunt. Such was the life in my twenties.

These days, I can count the number of times I’ve had brunch — in my one little hand — with friends. Perhaps, Norwegians just aren’t brunch people? I still haven’t quite figured that out, even after 3 years of living here.

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My favorite deli shop, Colonialen Fetevare, serves some of the most delicious sandwiches fresh off the shelf (photo courtesy of Bergen Sentrum)

I tried dragging my husband out to brunch today (despite the grey and gloomy weather), hoping to have a hearty sandwich and hot chocolate at my favorite deli — Colonialen Fetevare — but was merely met with sleepy grunts. So, we ended up doing 2 batches of laundry instead and running baby shopping errands. Foldable baby tub and free diaper genie. Check. Check. And the first 10 episodes of Grace & Frankie Season 3. Check.

And while our Saturdays are normally spent attempting some level of productivity, our Sundays are usually geared up for the new week ahead. It used to be a frustrating and meaningless routine until my husband and I started a new tradition of taking short walks around the marina, ending at our local neighborhood cafe. Part grungy roastery and beanerie, part coffeeshop, Bergen Kaffebrenneri is my husband’s way of rewarding me for getting my ass out of the house for a bit of fresh air. And it’s worked great so far because I love cake and coffee, and did I mention they have a flea market out on the parking lot?

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My favorite local neighborhood cafe and beanery in the hipster part of town, Bergen Kaffebrenneri (photo courtesy of JM Norge AS).

Despite the seemingly mundaneness of our weekend lives, I am relishing our passive routine because things are about to change in 8 weeks’ time — and no doubt, we would be wishing for things to be simpler again. Because brunches in the future would mean having to prepare one other person other than myself (and I already take a long time to get ready, as it is!) and our walks around the marina will now include a pram, a diaper bag, a changing pad and whatever else is needed for a baby’s day out. It’s exhausting just thinking about it.

But whatever happens, we will still have cake. So that’s nice.

via Daily Prompt: Meaningless

Nesting Anew

As I sit here in the dark, battling my insomnia with a cup of hot tea and the sixth episode of Netflix’s The Iron Fist, I find myself looking out the window and admiring the stunning view from our living room. Of downtown Bergen and the lofty mountains behind it.

It’s been our view for these last 3 years and I’m going to miss it when we finally make that momentous move to the suburbs in a year’s time.

We bought a house a few months ago and as a result, I found myself officially graduating into adulthood. The kind with a 25-year mortgage.

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The new master bedroom opens out into the garden, and although our view is nowhere near as grand as this photo (courtesy of Room Decor Ideas Europe), I’m excited at the prospect of designing everything from scratch.

Never in my life did I even think I’d be able to buy a home. Well, not entirely on my own since my husband has a larger stake in the investment than I do. Nevertheless, it’s a brand new one and twice the size of our little near century 2-bedroom apartment. Goodbye cramped living-slash-dining-slash-TV room. Goodbye non-heated floors. Goodbye shifting walls that have to be repainted each season in order to hide the gaps between the boards. Goodbye view.

Our apartment has undergone a series of make-overs since my husband first bought it in 2014. It was his welcome present to me when I moved to Norway, which was in fact, also a non-romantic prerequisite for me to be able to move to Norway (not the part where he bought an apartment, but the fact that he had to ensure I had a place to live in before I moved).

But I digress.

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Ett Hem’s dining room is one of my all-time favorites, and I’m wondering if I’m able to pull this off on a smaller scale and an even smaller budget? If only I could call Ett Hem my home! (photo by Magnus Marding, courtesy of Ett Hem Stockholm).

We’ve put a lot of work into our first home, so much so that it looks nowhere near how it did when my husband first bought the place: Old flowery wallpapers painted over with layers of apple green, TARDIS blue, ox blood red and finally — eggwhite. Chipped and uneven wainscoting. A haphazardly built flatpack kitchen. Single paned windows that let every manner of dampness and draft into the already poorly insulated house. And uneven rickety old floors.

It became our project as fiance/fiancee and as new husband and wife, turning the old-fashioned and run-down apartment into our modern, colorful and cozy home.

Now, before my momentous move to Norway, I had never really lived on my own in the sense that I had my own apartment to keep. The only other time I found myself “living independently” was when I went to London to take my postgrad. Before then, I was your typical middle-class Asian kid who lived with mum and pops until marriage beckoned. So I never really knew how it was like to live outside my cushy bubble, moreso be faced with the daunting task of furnishing and decorating an empty apartment that would make my mother — who was known for keeping a stunning home with impeccable furniture and decor — proud.

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While I’m partial to color, I’m tempted to try a more tempered and natural palette for the new house. Perhaps. (photo courtesy of Domino)

Minimalism has been the key element to living in a small apartment. We had to find smart solutions and we tried to make the most out of every usable (and even dead) space available. My husband even went as far as tearing down a section of the living room wall so that he could make a built-in TV shelf, thereby removing the need for your typical home entertainment bench that would have otherwise taken a third of our little living space. It was a genius idea, and the fact that he made one without any previous building experience was impressive.

Even the kitchen took some rethinking and after tearing down the old one and building the new one from the ground up with only our basic Ikea building skills to guide us, we managed to double the workspace without sacrificing any space.

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Designing kitchens is a nightmare. We have a month to finalize the layout and color scheme, and I have been unable to decide on either. Do we go light or dark? Do we add an island or keep the space open? (photo courtesy of HTH)

More importantly, it was being clever with the interiors — which, I’ll be honest, hasn’t been an easy journey for lil’ flakey ol’ me. As my husband put it, I would change our furniture every month if I could, and we have our nightstands as proof (for a small apartment with two bedrooms, we have two too many nightstands). And goodness only knows how many times I’ve bought thingamabobs and whats-its to decorate (and redecorate) the apartment. Impulse buying is minimalism’s worst enemy, and I’ve had to remedy the situation by continuously purging the excess.

So, over the course of our 3-year journey as homeowners, I’ve learned to be prudent about my buying decisions and looking past the latest trend in interior design. We have already started visualizing how our next home is going to look like, with me going as far as internalizing the character of every room. What inspires me, really? And what aesthetics please me the most? Am I really the earthy colorful mod-hipster (sans the glasses and hair fringe) that i think I am? Or am I its streamlined and modern antithesis? I’ve been building mood boards for the new apartment and needless to say, it’s turning out to be a little bit of both with just the right touch of good ol’ Americana Hamptons living.

How I’m ever going to pull that off — remains a mystery.

via Daily Prompt: Minimal

Happy Freebies

Like most people, I find myself mindlessly glossing over Facebook, curious as to what other people are up to, but mostly because I have nothing else better to do after a busy day at the office. Though unproductive, it’s a great way to switch off — even just momentarily — before the demands of the real world call on you to get your ass off the couch because there’s dishes to be done and laundry to fold.

While I tend to skip all the ads and pages that Facebook thinks will be of interest to me, there are a couple, I confess, that have made me stop and go ‘hmm, that could be fun’. From hi-tech carry-on suitcases with GPS trackers to remarkable paper tablets, I’ve fallen victim to some of Facebook’s advertising ploys (thankfully, I haven’t charged anything to my card just yet!).

A couple of weeks ago I accidentally stumbled upon a page that I didn’t even know existed in a country like Norway quite often bereft of a good bargain or discount (unless it’s second-hand). It was a freebies website for mamas-to-be looking to try out products for their soon-to-be-born babies (or are just in it to get a free goody-bags). Interestingly, they’re called babyboxes (babypakker in Norwegian). They contain a generous sampling of maternity and baby products that help parents prepare for the arrival of their little bundles, quite possibly inspired by Finland’s world-famous state-sponsored 2-in-one maternity packages and box cribs called äitiyspakkaus. And although Norway’s options are few and far between compared to our lovely Scandinavian neighbors, all I had to do was place my order — and voila, I’ve got baby wipes and diapers covered (the latter for maybe a good couple of days or so, depending on how much of a pooper our little jelly bean is going to be!), plus a few other practical and entertaining treats for both mama and baby.

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Apotek 1’s Baby Box is probably the best of the options. From baby wipes to diapers to bottles, and even a 2-month free subscription to Viaplay.

Of the choices available to Norway-based parents, I would recommend the baby packages from Apotek 1, Rema 1000 and Barnas Hus. They seemed the most practical of choices and didn’t require any unnecessary ‘subscriptions’ (I say unnecessary, because I ended up subscribing to Libero and Barnas Hus’ member clubs when placing the orders, but I was already thinking of joining them anyhow considering I would be changing a lot of diapers and buying a lot of baby/toddler stuff over the next couple of years!).

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Rema 1000’s babypakke mostly showcases their own products, which is always worth a try!

The baby packages will also give us a chance to try out different brands and see which ones we’ll eventually stick with. Is Libero really better than your average grocery diaper brand? As a market researcher in my previous life, this experiment will be interesting (can you imagine trying out a diaper sample that can’t contain poopy blowouts(?!)) — but more importantly, I managed to save us a couple hundred of kroners, possibly even more. And that’s always a good thing in my book.

via Daily Prompt: Luck

How a Project Manager Prepares for the Birth of a Baby

As a project manager with serious type A personality and a matching OCPD diagnosis to boot, you would think I would have this whole baby preparation planning all figured out.

In reality, it’s quite far from the truth, and I am placing the blame on my so-called pregnancy brain. It’s been driving me crazy how I couldn’t seem to get my myself as organized as I wanted to be. We started so great after the pregnancy test, and then somewhere between the first ultrasound and today, we’ve been playing serious catch-up. I mean, it hadn’t even occurred to me that I would probably need a breast pump until my bestie Lexy, who is expecting a baby in August, brought it up (amongst other many things that got me panicking).

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Thankfully, and with a little bit of discipline, I think my husband and I have (finally!) gotten certain things under control. Not the whole extent of it, but just enough to make us feel like we’re ready to have this baby. Sort of.

BUDGET

This was perhaps the first thing my husband and I looked into when we found out we were expecting, and rightly so, because we live in one of the most expensive countries in the world. Even with our double income, we didn’t want to spend more than what was needed (with a few indulgences here and there, of course).

While the actual part of bringing a baby into this world is free in Norway, everything else isn’t. They’re also priced at such a premium that even during the biggest Winter Sales, I still found myself baulking at the prices. A baby onesie, for example, was selling for 250kr (USD 29) — and that was already on sale at 50% off. Even brands like H&M and Lindex can cost a pretty penny at retail price, and considering that a baby outgrows everything every couple of months (sometimes weeks, even!), clothes shopping alone can already take over the budget. And did you know that prams came in various sizes, so much so that you have to upgrade to a new one once they’ve passed the 12-month mark? Because these days newborns apparently have their very own prams designed just for them. Insanity.

So, how exactly did we budget for our little jelly bean’s arrival? We did our research. We went to bank websites and even government websites that published reports on childcare costs in Norway from the day they’re born until they turn 18. The newborn figures were far too overinflated for our taste (I guess the reports take every kind of parent into consideration, including the very indulgent ones who splurge tens of thousands of kroners on their baby nurseries) but we used them regardless as a basis for how much we thought we needed (the absolute worst case scenario) to keep our little jelly bean properly taken care off and happy when he finally arrives — without mama and papa having to dip into their savings accounts.

After a couple of rounds of cost-benefit and value-investment analyses, our golden number came to about 5,000kr/month, which we decided we’d split halfway down the middle. Then multiplying that by the number of pay checks until the expected delivery date, it seemed a decent amount of money to spend on a Norwegian baby ‘s arrival (perhaps even more than enough).

So far so good, we were right on the nose and on budget.

TIMELINES

This is probably the area where we lost absolute control. I’m approximately 8 weeks away from full term and our shopping list is still as long as my husband’s Viking-sized arm; not to mention that it took me months to realize that I had to actually get myself a midwife; just barely made it on the list for the state-sponsored birthing and breastfeeding course before my due date (otherwise, we would have had to pay for a private one); and am just 2 weeks away from not filing my maternity benefits application on time!

Looking back, this would have been something that I would have focused my (wandering) attention more on, and also taken into consideration all the other timelines (most of them, already established) required to welcome a baby into world — meaning doctor’s appointments, mandatory medical exams, preparation classes (whichever ones you intend to join) and the ever famous bureaucratic red tape. The last one is perhaps the most important one to plan for since they’re completely outside the area of your control. The last thing you want to happen is not to receive the benefits due to you when you finally need them. It also helps a great deal if you know how the system works, which was sadly not the case for us.

CONTROL CHECKS

I got into making checklists only just recently, when I finally got my head out of the clouds, and all the nasty side effects of my pregnancy had started to wane. Whether you do it on paper or on your mobile, or go completely zany and create a master spreadsheet of sorts, checklists are a must-do and its important for both parents-to-be to be in on the game.

And the best part is, we didn’t even have to create a checklist from scratch because the internet is literally drowning with checklists. From the uber-practical to the ridiculous (I mean, having a baby food catcher bib sounds awesome, but it only takes a curious and feisty baby to learn how to dig his tiny hand into that catcher full of food and you’ve got yourself a monster catapult machine).

We opted for checklists that divided the necessities from the nice-to-haves, and even went one step further by dividing the immediate must-haves from the ones you can buy after the baby is born (as seen on the Danish website Vores Børn’s Den Store Huskeliste Inden Fødslen). This checklist has helped us manage our budget and spread out the costs. It’s also made me feel a little less unaccomplished, knowing that I don’t need to have EVERYTHING in place before our jelly bean is born (even though everyone else I know is ahead of the game).

Other checklists we’ve also had to consider were specific to our needs as parents-to-be. While I haven’t gotten around to making them just yet, I know we’re going to eventually need 3 packing lists for the hospital (for me, the baby and even the husband), and even a list of questions to ask our midwife during the birthing and breastfeeding course. No stone left unturned, as they say. I want to make sure we’re as prepared as we possibly can be now that we’re a little bit more in control.

SOURCING

Having worked in a consulting company in the past, the word ‘sourcing’ has stuck to me like glue. When planning for the arrival of a baby, it’s important to narrow down your source of suppliers depending on your budget and requirements.

My husband’s requirements were such that everything we were going to buy had to be quick and practical, and it didn’t matter so much if it cost more. He just couldn’t envision himself, for example, putting a crying newborn into a car seat by himself, and then struggling with the seatbelt under the pouring rain (we do live in Bergen where it rains 250 days in a year!). So, we narrowed our newborn carseat choices down to those with an ISOfix base since our car was already equipped with it anyhow. All it takes is one click, and voila, baby is secure!

My requirements on the other hand, included aesthetics and overall usability. I wanted to buy pretty things that grew with the baby and didn’t require too much handling for it to work.

So we ended up choosing the BeSafe Newborn carseat with ISOfix base and the Stokke Cruzi pram, which we bought second hand for a third and half the retail price (and luckily for us, we got the pram almost brand new — as it had just been replaced by the former owner’s insurance company after an airport mishandling mishap and by the time the replacement arrived, their baby had outgrown the pram).

I had personally test-driven a bunch of baby prams available in Norway by pushing my friends’ prams for them during our girly coffee dates and Stokke was by far the easiest to maneuver, isn’t bulky and best of all, adapts to a growing baby. The only thing that annoyed us was that while BeSafe’s carseats were compatible with most Stokki prams — where you could click the carseat into the pram base, making for an instant functional “pram”, it wasn’t compatible with the Cruzi (the older versions, at least). But babies aren’t meant to be in carseats for prolonged periods anyhow, so we just let this little oversight pass.

As for baby clothes, I resorted to buying everything online. While I may have splurged on a few Danish and Swedish designer baby items, most of our little jelly bean’s everyday clothes I got from Mango, Zara, Benetton and Carters. Mostly from their outlet/sale sections, where you can get an adorable baby onesie or kimono shirt for as low as 30k (USD 3.50)! It also pays to know how to knit and I taught myself over these last couple of months how to knit baby clothes so I didn’t have to splurge on 100% sweaters and hats, which would have cost quite a bit if I bought them off the rack.

DOCUMENTATION

And finally, with everything said and done, we’re finally getting around to compiling all the documents we’re going to need for the baby’s arrival.

In Norway, that would be the mother’s medical pregnancy records and the application for parental leave, which is a series of documents that you submit to social services (should you be eligible) to be able to go on paid parental leave.

The documents are a bit tricky to fill out since there are a number of possibilities to choose from, so it helps to ask and read about it ahead of time.