Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Large and slow

In response to the question, "How are you feeling?" I'd have to say the most honest and accurate response is large and slow. I mean this in the best of ways. It is strange to be physically limited, and sometimes it is frustrating to not be able to do simple things like carry my groceries home. But it is also crazy and amazing. And my wheely grocery bag is amazing too.

I think I've gotten to the point where I identify so strongly as a person who is pregnant that by the time this baby is born, it will be a big transition to go back to identifying as a non-pregnant person. Now that we are down to the last month, that time feels like it is approaching very quickly.

In general I'd say large and slow also translates to feeling quite calm. I guess I am more curious and interested in how and when this will all happen. It has also been interesting learning about some of the differences between having a baby in Sweden versus the US. Although I should clarify that these are differences between having a baby in Sweden and my perception of having a baby in the US based on what I've heard from others or read on blogs (so, potentially not general truths).

I had already known that epidurals were less common here, although I didn't know by how much. It is about 50% of women in Sweden, compared to a quick google search (again, potentially inaccurate) of 60% in the US, which is actually a lot closer than I originally thought.

Also, if your water breaks, here they want you to go to the hospital to get checked regardless of whether labor has started or not. And if things seem fine, they will send you back home and give you three days to have the baby. My understanding is that in the US once your water breaks, you go to the hospital, you don't get sent back home, and you are to have the baby within 24 hours.

A final, and fun, difference that I'll mention is that the top method of pain management is to use laughing gas. I guess it is a blend of 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen so that it works to relieve anxiety and pain, rather than working as an anaesthetic. The recommendation is to start using the gas at the beginning of a contraction (if you decide you need/want it) and to stop at the peak of the pain. Then you exhale your next three breaths back into the mask to avoid filling the room with the gas and influencing the medical staff. The midwife joked that it could be nice but is best to avoid. So it is an important job of the partner to remember and help with this, because women tend to forget that part while they are in the midst of labor pain.

So you see? How can it be anything but interesting to see how things will go:)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Three quarters through

This is another post about pregnancy. You're welcome.

I can't believe I've already reached week 30 of pregnancy. I've also reached the point where people have started guessing that I'll be having my baby "soon" or "at any time now". That's actually been going on for a couple weeks, and then I have to tell them I've still got around two months to go. But know that I write this out of pure amusement and no hard feelings. I've also had an acquaintance hear me talking about pregnancy and say, "wait, you're expecting!?" Granted, this was while sitting across from him at a long table in a cabin without electricity and only the dim light of candles and lanterns. Later on I walked by him and he noted that the key is to see me in profile.

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You can be the judge of that.

In other news, I've been spending the week packing and cleaning in preparation for our move to a new apartment on Saturday. We have a crazy amount of stuff, considering we arrived in this country with two suitcases, a backpack, and a small bag each. I don't really know how or why the stuff grew exponentially. For now I'm focusing on just getting everything packed, but I'm hoping I'll have the energy to do some smart minimising while unpacking.

And now I think my lunch break shall be over. It is time to get back to checking off items on my list!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Knitting and a round belly

Lately I have become completely obsessed with knitting. Baby things are tiny and adorable, and I just can't stop knitting them! Plus I also love browsing through patterns and choosing the perfect thing, and then going to the yarn store and browsing through all the yarns to find the perfect fit for the perfect item I plan to make. I've even been blocking my work, which is something I've never done before. In my mind this is the true sign of dedication.

For the past month or more I've been keenly aware that I look a lot more pregnant than I am. I'd estimate that I look about a month to a month and a half further along than I actually am. I guess photos can be deceiving, but I also have pregnant friends that I see in real life. I've even googled 'would they miss twins at an 18 week ultrasound'… the answer is no, no they would not. I might be growing a giant baby inside of me. Compare these to the ~19 week photo to see just how much growing I've been doing lately.

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That is the face of a person who knows you are thinking that maybe my belly is not so large. But I'm prepared to show you that that is a deceptive photo.

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Still not convinced?

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I'd say that amount of roundness feels pretty true to life.

So that is me. At 24 weeks pregnant. Not 30.

The good news is that my weight gain seems to be on a normal track. I go to see the midwife next week, so hopefully she won't disagree!

Friday, September 4, 2015

A good day

By 5pm it had already felt like a full day. A full day with plenty of good.

I started the day with Swedish class. I'm back again, going to class five hours a day. It was actually a huge ego boost to go back to the class. It had felt like I hadn't advanced much, but going to class made me realise that I really am much further along than when I last left off. So all is good there and hopefully before long I'll be able to take the final test and officially be finished.

On Fridays we finish at noon, so I got to meet up with Greg and some friends for lunch, which is always a good thing. It is rare that the full group is all able to make it due to traveling or meetings or what have you. So, extra nice today.

And after lunch I ventured to the library. I had a stack of books I needed to return, and a list of potential replacements. This year has been far and away my best reading year of my adult life. I figured I could only make a stellar reading year better by adding in a little Astrid Lindgren, in Swedish of course. I decided to try a few of her other books and wait on reading Pippi for the time being.

Other notable things about this good day:
1. I may have found purple maternity pants on a site like ebay, but please don't tell anyone, because I really want to win this auction.

2. There was a cat sitting in our backyard meowing super loudly, so I stuck my head out the window and called to it and it just stared at me and then resumed its loud meowing.

3. There is a local book club (in English) that I haven't gone to yet, because the books always seem a bit out there. The next one could be potentially really good, so fingers crossed for that.

4. When we are in the US there is an opportunity to go to a contra dance with Notorious, who I think is a super fantastic contra dance band.

5. I was sitting with my arm next to my belly and got a huge karate chop from our baby. Startling and awesome.

6. As I started to get hungry for dinner I remembered that last night I made double-dinner, so all I had to do was heat up some leftovers! Plus, tacos on friday, like a good Swede:)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Halfway / The Quickening(?)

It feels unreal for me to already be halfway through this pregnancy. How did that happen? So far I've seen the midwife once and had the ultrasound. It will be another month before I start having regular appointments. And the pregnancy just goes along happening.

Overall pregnancy is very weird. I guess I've probably given most people the impression that I've just gone on feeling like my normal human self most of the time. Which has not really been fully honest. I think I've felt like a normal pregnant human, but that is a different thing from the human I used to be. And it just keeps changing. It is like I get a body of a new person every week. By the end of the week when I'm starting to figure out how that person's body works, then I get a new one to start over with. Some of the bodies are similar to what I'm used to, some are quite dissimilar, and there seems to be no pattern for how they occur. All I know is this week's body could happily live on tomato sandwiches.

Oh, and I stumbled across this super image, further proof of the weirdness of pregnancy. Move it or lose it organs.

Moving along with no segue…

At the beginning of this pregnancy I learned about a thing called The Quickening. So I've been waiting for that. Except that maybe it already happened? I assumed it would be one specific event, but I'm starting to be more and more convinced that the movement I feel is actually our baby. Especially now that I know all my organs are clearing out, what else could it be? Perhaps the quickening marks the time at which you are sure about what you are feeling, regardless of any former suspicions? Perhaps there is still time to let the town know a celebration is impending?

And a [week-old] photo [that I surprisingly don't hate] for posterity.

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Friday, August 7, 2015

It's a baby!

Sometimes you go for so long not talking widely about a thing that it makes it sort of hard to start talking about that thing. We had been slowly disseminating the news that we are going to be having a baby, but then we went for our ultrasound and suddenly it seems necessary for everyone to know about this great thing. It doesn't even matter that I know ultrasound images are completely uninteresting to most people. My baby's ultrasound image is the best ever, so of course everyone needs to see it(:

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This image is from Thursday, when our baby was 18 cm long and weighed 200 grams. Well done, baby. We were really happy to find out that everything looked good. We aren't going to find out the sex of our baby until it is born, and I hope it doesn't confuse anyone when I alternately refer to our baby as he, she, or it. I only do it with love.

We had a great ultrasound technician, but I did not know that if your baby is stubbornly refusing to turn the right direction for measurements, the technician will (somewhat vigorously) shake around your belly with her ultrasound wand. Makes you feel really good about how jiggly you were already feeling…

A more enjoyable part of the experience was hearing about the "ability" cord. This woman's English was way better than my Swedish, so it only makes me wonder if I've been saying anything as ridiculously cute. In general, it seems that pregnancy-related words are much more sensical in Swedish. For example, the amniotic fluid is called "fetus water". So simple. So of course it should be an ability cord. Umbilical is a completely nonsensical word.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

New Record!

I think three months of no web-logging is a new record for me. But I'm always bound to return eventually.

Folk dance school ended in May. I might be a bit desensitised to saying goodbye to people. It was sad to leave everyone, but since the end of the year didn't come as a surprise to me, it was not devastating.

Now I am unemployed. It is a comfortable situation though, a situation made by choice. It is surprisingly easy to be quite busy even while not working. I do really appreciate having the time to hang clothes to dry on the line outside. Normally laziness would win and everything would get thrown directly into the dryer. I also took the time to harvest some flowers of the elder bush in our yard to make fläderblomssaft. I think this officially makes me Swedish?

Last week I spent the week with a friend going to plenty of folk dances during Musik vid Siljan. I got to reunite with some dance friends and make some new friends. And I got to spend every evening dancing either until sunrise or until the mosquitos were just too much to handle.

I should also document, for posterity's sake, that it is possible to order a "hawaiian burger" in Sweden, which comes with a slice or two of pineapple on it. Not surprising, coming from the country that puts banana on pizza…

This has been sort of hodgepodge, but I never claimed my return would be spectacular(:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

universality and headshots

You know that thing where you point and nearly or actually touch the front of a person's shirt, and you tell them they've got something there, and when they look down you bop them in the nose? Apparently that is universal. You know what is not universal? Dr. Seuss.

Admittedly, these things are probably not so black and white and a bit more situational. But it is a truth from my experience.

Dr. Seuss does have a Swedish wiki page, and the last line says approximately: In english speaking countries, he is the most widely sold children's author, even if he was never especially big in Sweden.

Onward.

Yesterday I gave Greg a haircut and he trimmed up his beard. (Happy birthday to my MIL, who is the one who appreciates this the most.) Then we spent a bit of time taking photos, because he needed a new professional headshot (think linkedIn, or an academic website, etc.). I think it was a good endeavor. I took 101 photos, 42 of which I think he has a natural or good expression. And of those, 7 are respectable and usable for professional purposes. There are also some pretty great outtakes, which I can only hope will one day make it to the interwebs via twitter or something similar.

Maybe it is rude to talk about it without showing an example, but unfortunately for you, the purpose of the photo taking was for his use, and not for my personal blog use. We'll survive the lack.

At any rate, I'm thinking that I'd like to do this more. It might be more difficult to get natural expressions from people who are not my husband. But it is a thing I enjoy doing, and I think it might be a thing people want/need but find difficult to ask for. Anyone in need of a professional headshot?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Commuting

There was a time in February when my morning commute corresponded to sunrise and my evening commute corresponded to sunset. It was really beautiful. One time I brought my camera on the commuter train and was clicking away like a tourist.

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Above are the burial mounds in gamla Uppsala. Also note that many of these have reflections of the train lights, just to clear up any possible confusion.

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The final of the above photos was taken just after getting off the train in the morning. The photos below are taken in the afternoon before getting on the train back home.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

St. Paddy's Aurora

Did you know that in Finland, the legend goes that a fox paints the aurora with its tail? The finnish word for aurora translates to "fire of the fox" and of course it sounds adorable (as all finnish words do). These are the fun things you can learn when the aurora goes crazy and everyone is talking about it. I even overheard a conversation on the train about the northern lights. Being able to overhear and understand Swedish conversations is probably one of my biggest accomplishments of the past year. It is funny to think about what sorts of small things keep you from feeling isolated.

ramble ramble photos!

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

What does it mean?

Scene: A weekday evening. Greg has gotten home earlier than expected. Went food shopping. Meghan has gotten home later than expected. Stopped by the food shop on her way, thinking Greg wouldn't be home yet.

M: Hi Honey, I'm Home! (parts of this dialogue are re-created and did not actually happen) I didn't think you'd be home already.
G: Yup, I'm making dinner!
M: Oh good! I actually also just stopped at the store and bought dinner.
G: What did you buy?
M: Frozen pizza.
G: That's what I'm making! What kinds did you get?
M: Mozzarella and Gyros, you?
G: Mozzarella and Salami!
M: I see we also both bought bananas.
G: And did you also buy salad greens?
M: Yup.

In addition to buying three of the exact same items, the following purchases were made: fil (a swedish yoghurt-like food) by Greg and müsli by Meghan. Both also checked to see if the Peach-Jalapeño ice cream had been restocked.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Aurora article

I wrote an article for the Aurorasaurus blog? Did you hear? Well, really it is just a blog post, but I think it is more official than my regular posting. So clearly I can call it an article, right?


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

firsts

You know what I ate for the first time [knowingly] in my life?

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Banana split! Greg made this one with a fried banana. I ate the whole thing and kind of enjoyed it. Although I don't see my future self going after a banana split anytime soon.

Shortly after my first banana split experience, I partook in a dinner among Swedes which included a giant bowl of ice cream as dessert. The giant bowl included: vanilla ice cream, banana slices, little meringues, and chocolate sauce.

This is going nowhere. Bye!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sportlov, days 4 & 5

Still just sporting along. Or not, but enjoying myself nevertheless.

Thursday:

1. Oiling my dance shoes. I feel like that is not the proper expression for the activity in which you put oil on your leather shoes. Maybe I should write "conditioning" my shoes. I don't know, but I did it. My shoes had been looking pretty dry, so it was needed.

2. Not walking Greg to the office, because I walked almost there to meet up for lunch. Luckily it is Thursday so I got pea soup and pancakes.

3. Knitting. I am really liking the tie in linen stitch. Plus it will be reversible, depending on whether Greg wants to be sporting (YES, sportlov pun) a more textured look or a more flat look. Since I finished all of the good podcasts, I've been watching some Swedish television, which I think counts as language study.

4. Plus Duolingo. Which really hates me. Low bars forever.

5. Laundry. All. the. laundry.

Friday was more of the same, but noteworthy are:

1. Knitting. I finished almost the whole thing while watching movies/series of Jane Austen novels.

2. And I finally did some more fitness, since I skipped Wednesday and Thursday.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sportlov, day 3

New record today! I saw five dogs on my walk from Greg's office back home! With the exception of the stretch when I was walking on ice covered with a bit of water to make it extra treacherous, I was really on the look-out, so I feel certain I didn't miss any sightings.

Wednesdays sporting, list style:

1. Walking Greg to the office. And walking back home, while counting dogs.

2. Boiling eggs for lunch. Everything feels like sports when it is sportlov!

4. Duolingo. I did twelve lesson practices to try to strengthen my skills. It only raised bars for one category. This is getting ridiculous.

3. Knitting(:
And un-knitting):
And starting over with knitting(:

I finished Greg's tie, but it was about 5cm short of the recommendation. Buying an entire ball of yarn for 5cm seems silly, so I had him try it on. It turns out that the front part is a bit wider than both of us would prefer. The seed stitch of the tie was also quite stretchy, which made it frustratingly difficult to tie. In a moment of clear sensibility I realized that if it wasn't working, it wasn't going to be worn. So the entire thing got pulled out. Sort of sad, but at least it is just a necktie and not a whole sweater.

I did some research (ahem, googling) and found out that in general, knitting is just stretchy. And a seed stitch is probably one of the less stretchy types of stitch you could do. My options were to do a seed stitch using smaller needs, which would certainly require an additional ball of yarn. Or to change the stitch. I'm trying out a linen stitch right now. I really like how it looks, and it seems much tighter than the seed stitch. So we shall see!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Knitting and Reading; Reading and Knitting

My sportlov posts have made me realise that I am doing knitting and reading. I hadn't knit anything in a long time, so that is really the new element here. And this means I have now reached eligibility for the Yarn Along blog link-up, which I had previously only observed from a distance.

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Photographic evidence of what I'm reading and what I'm knitting. Not pictured: my glee to have stumbled upon a legitimate reason to join such a lovely blog linkup.

Sportlov, day 2

What kind of sporting did you do on Tuesday Meghan?!

I'm so glad you asked.

1. Walking Greg to the office. I once again enjoyed the longer route through the woods home. I saw two dogs and a man on his balcony in a robe smoking a cigarette.

2. Duolingo. I can't keep my bars up, and I'm trying really hard to fix that this week. Here is an actual duolingo sentence:
Vargen hoppar över stolen.
It means:
The wolf jumps over the chair.

This is not the only gem I've gotten.

3. Knitting.

4. While listening to podcasts.

5. Fitness for core strength.

6. Cooking dinner. There is usually a pretty long turnaround time between when I find a recipe online and when I actually make it. However, when you have had an idea to make tomato soup in the back of your mind for months, and then a recipe that looks super good appears, there is just a one day turnaround. I'm happy to say that you would not regret it if you made this tomato soup. Top it with some avocado slices and you won't regret that either.

7. Reading.

This day was pretty much exactly like yesterday only different and better. Because, Tuesday!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sportlov, day 1

It is sportlov this week. That means the sporting holiday. For all those living in Sweden who are called to the mountains for skiing and sport. Sportlov occurs on different weeks in different regions of Sweden so that the ski resorts have a nice, steady flow of sporters.

I'm not at a ski resort this week, but that won't stop me from compiling a list of my sporting activities for each day of this holiday. Here's Monday's lineup:

1. Walking Greg to the office. This consisted of exactly what it sounds like, a half hour of walking and talking with my husband. This was a nice return to our former daily routine. Plus on my way back home I took a slightly longer route and walked through the woods. I saw four dogs.

2. Knitting. I'm working on a knit tie for Greg. Jimmy Fallon is wearing them all the time, and I think they look so good. Hopefully I can make Greg's look similarly good.

3. Light household cleaning. Dishes. Sweeping. You know.

4. Podcast listening. This happens simultaneously with sports #2 and 3. I am super into the Invisibilia podcast right now. And I've been doing some This American Life and Radiolab.

5. Swedish studies with Duolingo.

6. Reading. I am on an Ian McEwan kick. I recently finished Sweet Tooth and then reserved The Children Act from the library. When it was available to pick up, I managed to also borrow two additional books of his. So it is a thing.

7. Fitness. I figured I better list the actual sporting last to give the appropriate impression of my sports list. I've been doing videos from Fitness Blender to strengthen my core. It is useful in life and dancing to have a strong core, but usually I'm so physically tired at the end of a day of dancing that I couldn't possibly think about doing anything else. So during vacation week I am dedicating a little bit of every day to core fitness. Ta Da.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Winner bicycles!

In Sweden you can buy an ice cream treat that is similar to a Choco-Taco, but it is called a Winner Taco. I had been talking about it to Greg for a while, and the whole time he thought it was called a Winter Taco, which I was just pronouncing sloppily. But now every time I intend to say Winter, in my head it just sounds like Winner. Hence, the Winner bicycles.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Winter photos in Uppsala

Last weekend we finally got some snow that didn't immediately melt. I went out and took some photos.

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I also paparazzi-d the bicycles like crazy. Those will get a dedicated post of their own.