Saturday, November 5, 2016

perpetually summer

We saw a monarch butterfly yesterday. Apparently that means we are one week away from the first frost. Nevermind the fact that I saw a monarch three weeks ago…

We also bought some Sam Adams winter lager. Come on, Winter, we are ready for you!

I think this is the first year of my life that I have not needed a winter coat by October. It is definitely the first year when I am still wearing tank tops and sandals.

I am writing this in installments. Taking a couple minutes where I can get them. If you were thinking it sounded scattered, you were right.

For Halloween Chester dressed as...
Not a kitty (mamma's original choice)...
Not an ewok (papa's original choice)...
But...
Quailman!

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I wasn't even sure if the effort to get or make a costume was worth it. I guess I'm not a big holiday celebrator. Plus it is way too warm here to wear either a kitty or ewok costume. Luckily for Chester we managed to think of a costume that was easy to do at the last minute, not too warm for Georgia, and, most importantly, awesome.

Everyone thought he was totally adorable. Approximately one person in the whole town knew what he was dressed as.

So that is what is going on here. I still don't cook or clean. Greg still works most hours of the day (including hours he ought to be sleeping). Our only goal for each day is to spend some time playing outside, which we usually accomplish. It keeps us from getting too overwhelmed at a time when life is just that.

Here is a photo compilation of some of Chester's antics lately.

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The End. Good day my friends.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

GA

And now we live in Georgia!

I wish I could say everything is just peachy. Plenty of positive things are happening, but they are riddled with negatives that cloud them out a bit. Maybe one day I'll be the kind of person who can focus on the positive and let the negative slide.

If you were a company, and you decided to cancel someone's order or appointment, would you inform them of that cancellation? I highly recommend that you would. We've now had three instances of Not being informed, and it is highly disappointing to figure it out yourself after the fact. 

Also, crickets keep coming in our apartment. Like, we killed ten in one day alone. 

But Chester is a charmer, and he makes friends everywhere we go. I like watching him in mayor mode. It is fun to see who he is quick to give smiles to, and who he is slow to give smiles to, and who he won't smile at at all. He also met a dog for the first time and didn't really seem interested or bothered.

He did so great on our long day of travel. The first flight, which was 9 hours, was kind of a beautiful breeze. When we arrived in Newark it was bedtime, and he was eating/sleeping in the Ergo the whole way through security and on a trolly ride that we were so generously offered. 

That was an ultimate positive, actually. I don't know how we got so lucky, but we managed to avoid a Very long walk. 

Another positive -- you don't need to take out computers or liquids or anything to go through security at Newark. Finally, we are getting a bit sensible about airport security. 

So perhaps the peachiness is coming, but it is just taking off slowly.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Sweden is begging me to stay

Or so I'd like to think(:

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Evidence #1:
We moved into this furnished apartment in November. It also had a few plants. I diligently watered the orchid once a week, even though it was just green leaves. Recently it started to grow a new stalk that I assumed would be for flowers to grow on. Then buds started forming. And today the first bud is starting to open.

I had always thought orchids were very difficult plants to maintain, but this one is rewarding me big time. It is also reminding me that there is more to come if only I were to stay in Sweden.

Evidence #2:
I randomly met another mom the other day. Chester and I were sitting in the grass in a park, and he was watching another boy running around throwing a ball with his mom. There was also a little brother in a stroller. Eventually the little boy came running over to us and started throwing the ball to us, and then the mom actually talked to me (this is totally unprecedented in Sweden, where you never talk to strangers).

Totally awesome; however, this is not the time to be making new friends!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

One month


In one month we move to Georgia. In one month, my four years spent in Sweden come to an end.

There are so many highs and lows involved in such a big life change, which makes it a bit hard to process. 

I guess I'll type some facts, which are easier to find words for.

Greg is starting a new job. Tenure-track, which is very fancy. It is also the first time we are moving somewhere with intentions of permanence. 

We've arranged for a place to live. Bought a carseat for the baby. Purchased our flights to get there. 

There will be a lot to do when we arrive. Such as changing drivers' licenses to Georgia. Registering to vote in Georgia. Purchasing a car. Purchasing phones. Figuring out what household items we have in storage and what items we need to buy. Sending Greg to fetch the items in storage. Moving costs a lot of money.

There are also a lot of trivial things. I'll need to start doing my own grocery shopping instead of getting groceries delivered. I'll also have to reprogram my brain to US food items instead of Sweden food items. Mayo in jars instead of tubes. Tomato paste in cans instead of tubes. Or maybe these things have all changed in the past four years? No American sauce. Plenty of Annie's mac'n'cheese.

And of course, when the brain gets overwhelmed I just start thinking about food. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Accomplishments

We are raising a very accomplished kid. Here is a quick post to photo document some of them.

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Drooling. A lot and often. Preferably on his pappa's button shirts.

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Thumb sucking. This started regularly on April 6th and does not seem to be a one-time deal like it had in the past.

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Rotating. At 3.5 months he is not really mobil unless you count rotational motion. I'm not entirely sure how he does it, but he can achieve the amount of rotation seen above in the time it takes me to eat a bowl of oatmeal.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Regular days

I am typing this at 8 am on a weekday while Chester and Greg sleep through the alarm. Neither of them can be bothered by the beep beep beep beep.

Last night we were looking at some photos of the baby when he was super brand new and tiny. He already seems so big and old!

If you trust clothing sizes, here he is maxing out his 9 month size jammies.

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And here are two more photos, exhibiting nonplussed mischievous behaviour and delightful sophistication.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Less good days

Recently Greg had to take a quick trip back to the US for four days, so Chester and I were on our own. And being on our own for the evenings and nights is a totally different ballgame than being on our own during the days. Totally. Especially since Greg changes all the nighttime diapers.

But we survived, and even thrived a bit. We managed to get outside every day. Once just a short trip to take out the trash. Once a very long walk in town with a friend and her baby. And once even in the rain. Chester is newly liking being in the ergo baby, which makes for very nice walks for us both.

And going outside was about the extent of our expectations for each day. Keeping expectations low was good, and it made it easy to feel a bit successful each day. Other than that we spent a lot of time doing Chester's favorite activities, such as eating, sleeping, playing, bouncing, singing, reading, and lots and lots of tummy time.

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The baby may have watched some tv while pappa was away…

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Going back a couple weeks, I'll briefly write about the one day that was the roughest so far in Chester's life. Immunization day. This consisted of two shots, one in each thigh, simultaneously. The actually shots were not so terrible. Greg held his hands, and they were almost finished by the time the pain registered and he started crying. He was quickly distracted by the nurse's keys, and probably cried for less than 30 seconds.

It was the evening that followed the shots that was the roughest of rough. He didn't end up falling asleep until midnight, and the hours leading up to it were filled with desperate attempts to make the baby happy. I foolishly read that giving babies acetaminophen/paracetamol (Fun fact: why is the same drug called by different names depending on if you are in north america or europe?) made the immunisations less effective, so I didn't get any ahead of time. He never got a fever from his shots, but he was clearly not feeling too happy and seemed to be having pain in his legs. But we all survived, and we are better off for it!

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And the day after, he was so tired that he just fell asleep while playing. A sure sign of a very tired baby.

Friday, April 15, 2016

A good day

A couple weeks ago we had to go to the migration board to get new photos taken, so Chester and I decided we would try to make a fun outing out of it. Or I decided and Chester didn't object, so we went with it.

After the photos we started our walk to the center of town. Chester slept in his pram until we got about halfway when he woke up and let me know he was hungry. We were just approaching a nice park where a pack of dogs was being walked, so we stopped at an inviting bench. Before we got on our way Chester got transferred to the wrap, which worked out really nicely. I've recently switched to using the woven wrap we are borrowing, since he's getting a bit too heavy for the stretchy wrap. The woven wrap is also much cooler, and we are happy to avoid the overheating we experienced with the stretchy wrap.

Then we made our way to the library, where we picked out some new books and also took advantage of their changing room which was surprisingly luxurious. Chester then fell back asleep, so we decided to head home. After we got on the bus it started raining, so I felt pretty pleased that we had been able to be out and about so much and avoid the rain.

Now that I've typed this out, it seems like a day that most would rate somewhere between standard and boring. But in my mind it was good or even very good. I think it has to do with it being one of the few outings we've done where Chester was calm and content the entire time. It was just a nice and relaxed outing, where I felt able to attend to Chester's needs fully and easily. Outings can sometimes feel so difficult, even for just a short walk around the neighbourhood. In general Chester is a good kid who doesn't get needlessly upset, so when he gets upset on outings, it is only me to blame. (Not to say I am wallowing in guilt, but only to document facts.) So yes, standard and boring, with everyone content, is what I will call a good day(:

And some unrelated photos, because look at those cheeks!

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Go big or go home + Chester is ten weeks old!

I can't write a blog post without writing about the baby, but we'll save his updates for last, so skip down to the bottom if you only care about the boy (and I don't blame you if that is the case).

So, apparently there is an option to get your groceries delivered directly to your door. And since I get stressed out trying to take the baby shopping (who always needs to eat right as I get into the checkout line), I started looking into this. For some reason I thought the shipping cost would be outrageous, which is why I never looked into it before. But it is actually comparable to the cost of a bus trip to the store and back. Or, if you order above a certain money value, you get free shipping. As soon as I read that I started adding items to my virtual shopping cart.

I think I had written about grocery shopping recently. In our new apartment we've had to be more deliberate about shopping, since there is not a store we can walk to in just two minutes. And being deliberate about shopping also meant we were saving quite a lot of money. It didn't seem like we should be buying more if we were doing shopping more frequently with less planning, but that was definitely the case. So anyhow. Now that we have a baby I haven't been doing any big shopping trips for a week's worth of food, because I just can't carry it all. I guess I could try to use my wheely bag and also push the pram, but that is just not a challenge I want to give myself right now.

I have so much to say about groceries!

But this is probably getting boring, so I should wrap up this train of thought. So I ordered groceries and they were delivered to my house the following day! I'm excited to have found a way to not need to carry home large packages of things like diapers and paper towels and boxes of cereal. And I'm excited to use outings with the baby for purposes other than shopping, like meeting friends or going to the library. This whole endeavor feels like such a smart decision. I wish I had gotten to this place sooner!

And the baby!

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He is two months old already! Over two months, in fact!

He smiles and laughs and makes a lot of noise. He is particularly chatty in the morning when he first wakes up. He pretty much spends his days eating and sleeping, although his stretches of time when he is awake are increasing. So we read books and practice tummy time and make calls to grandparents in the US. We are trying to get accustomed to liking our pram, and/or liking being worn in the wrap, because either of these would make outings much more pleasant.

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He gets his socks off all the time, but it was pretty crafty of him to get the sock off and have it end up near his left hand like that…

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Monday, February 8, 2016

How our days look now

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It seems a bit strange to me, but the first time Chester and I had a day home on our own was the day he turned 4 weeks old. Greg was home with us for his first ten days (when we weren't at BB). And then my mom and step-dad were here up until the 4 week mark.

So now Chester and I just hang out for a good portion of the day.

Although I guess Chester is sleeping for most of our time together. He is starting to be awake for longer stretches of time, and I think it makes us both question what we are supposed to be doing with that time. He used to fall asleep while eating, sleep for a variable amount of time, wake up, get his diaper changed, then eat again and repeat. Now he doesn't fall asleep every time he is eating, so then we have time to stare at each other for awhile. Or get fussy. Sometimes we lie on our back and then on our tummy and then on our back again. Today we sat down and read half a storybook.

When Chester is asleep I like to attempt short and quick outings. Our first day together we took the bus to the store and bought taco supplies (it was a Friday) and took the bus back home, all within an hour. That was partly due to a perfectly timed return bus, for which we did a small bit of running to catch. Another day we met up with Greg to go to the library. We wanted to check out the children's section and also pick up Chester's free book, his gift for being born. They have lots of good places for feeding a baby, and a bathroom that is well-equipped for changing diapers. I plan to make use of these spaces whenever I am in town and in need.

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When we are at home I've been having a good time getting Chester comfortable being worn in the wrap. Right now we both like it a lot. He likes to fall asleep while being worn, and I like to get laundry done (or blog?) while wearing the baby. Mutually beneficial. And hopefully good training for dancing in the future(: Priorities, you know(:

Plus, bonus, when I have the wrap tied on, but Chester isn't being worn, then I feel like Rey from Star Wars.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Our time at BB

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After Chester was born we spent a few more hours in the labor & delivery room. Then we got moved to a room in the BB department, which is where you stay for the remainder of your time at the hospital. Chester was doing really great after he was born and would have been ready to go home fairly fast, but they had decided I should stay for three days for my own recovery. During those days I hardly even got out of bed. And Greg changed every single dirty diaper. Greg also fixed all of my meals for me (which the hospital provided). We also had a call button at the ready, for summoning nurses or midwives whenever we pleased. One of the most beneficial parts was that each new person who came to check on us had their own bit of advice for us. One showed us how to clean Chester's belly button with a cotton swab. A few had different thoughts or ideas about breastfeeding. Greg and I both learned a lot during that time.

That first stay (foreshadowing) at BB was such a cozy time, where we were almost in our own little Chester-centered world. I had a book and knitting along but never touched either one.

So Chester was born on a Friday, and we left BB the following Tuesday. Then on Wednesday we had a home visit from a midwife through a service that (translated) is called BB On The Road. One thing she checked was his bilirubin levels, which were too high and required us to go for a blood test at the hospital the following day. So on Thursday we went back to the hospital. Chester got checked out by a doctor and got his blood test. They told us that we could go home and they would call us back with the results in an hour. And when they called back, his levels were too high and we were told to go right back to the hospital to the BB department.

So, even though we knew that he might need to go back for the UV light treatment, I hadn't realized what kind of timeline we were talking about. I thought they would have us back the next day, since they had told us to go home. We travel by bus, so we are not particularly fast about getting around town. And because of this misunderstanding, we had just started doing laundry when they called and told us to go back. I got pretty stressed out about my failure to ask the appropriate questions and let myself get surprised with information. Due to the shared laundry situation, we waited for the washers to finish and then hung wet clothes all around our apartment (well Greg did… I was still in bed quite a lot at that point).

And back to BB we went.

We got put into a little temporary room where he could do his light treatment. They used a thing called a bili-blanket, which was a sort of flexible, plastic-y blanket thing that glowed blue that Chester had to lie on. And when he was eating I also had to hold the blanket wrapped around his back.

It was well into the evening by that point. I was feeling stressed and miserable since I hadn't brought any painkillers with me (of course simply asking for some was a solution for that). And they moved us to a permanent room. And I got a dinner (unfortunately for Greg, meals are not provided for the partner). And that was when we realized they intended to keep us overnight. Somehow I thought the light treatment was a more short-term thing. But no.

I've already forgotten the timeline, but he was getting regular blood tests to check his bilirubin levels. At some point he got an additional light, which was a lamp placed above him to shine on his belly. That one also required that he wear little sunglasses, which he did not like. We had one of my favorite nurses at that time, and she managed to get him to wear his sunglasses.

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By Friday night they were happy with his bilirubin levels, but they wanted to take him out of the lights and make sure the levels kept going down without them. So we spent a second night there, but at least Chester got a break from the sunglasses and also got to be held by me or Greg all the time. Saturday morning at 6am he got his follow-up blood test. It took several hours until a doctor was able to give us the okay for going home. We were super-ready to be out of there. I'm guessing they don't often see a room evacuated quite so quickly.

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Luckily for us, we got to leave right as my mom was arriving in Uppsala, and they even came to meet us at the hospital!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Chester!

On January 1st of 2016 Chester Alexander was born.

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He is a super amazing kid. And he happens to be asleep right now, which makes the start of my first full day alone with him pretty good. So now seems like an appropriate time to start blogging about his birth.

Here is the thing. Reading birth stories on blogs is probably one of my favorite things. I think it really helped me get comfortable with the fact that it is most likely that if you plan your birth very strictly, the reality will be very different from that, if not opposite. It makes sense to me now. Before the birth, you have ideas of how things should go and so you make plans accordingly. During labor, you just sort of go with whatever is best for the health of the baby and you at any given moment.

In my plans, I wanted as little intervention and medication as possible. In the moment I wanted all the drugs and things! Well, nearly all of it. Toward the end when I was ready to throw in the towel, I realized that the only thing left would be an emergency c-section, which motivated me into pushing properly, because I really wanted to avoid that if I could.

The other thing I can't fathom is how so many women remember the details of labor and delivery in order to be able to write out their birth stories. How? This was the hardest thing I've done, and I was so out of it that I hardly remember any of it.

These are the things I remember. I guess Greg remembers with better clarity and could probably fill out this timeline a bit.

I went into labor at 9 pm on new year's eve (or was it 11 pm?). I remember telling Greg I was going to try to go to sleep, because I read that eating food and resting up are the best things you can do.

Sometime in the middle of the night I woke Greg up. I made him start timing my contractions. And I made him push on my lower back during contractions because they said that was supposed to help.

Close to the time when the buses start running we called the hospital to talk to a midwife. She said that since it was my first baby I should take two tylenol and a hot shower. She figured it was still too early and wanted me to wait it out at home a bit longer.

I remember the shower made the contractions come even closer together. I also remember Greg asking me how long I was supposed to be in the shower, according to the midwife. I didn't know, but figured I should stay as long as I could stand.

Eventually I called back and did a better job of sounding serious, because the midwife I talked to agreed that I could go to the hospital. We called for a taxi, and the driver seemed pretty excited because I was the first woman in labor he had to drive to the hospital, so he was going to check that off his list. I got there and was put in a temporary room where they want to be able to monitor you for an hour. I stayed in that room for a long time. I was glad they didn't try to send me home, even though I was only dilated 1 cm. But they also didn't have any proper delivery rooms available, so I had to wait it out in the temporary room. At one point I puked. It ended up being a big mess, because Greg's frantic search for something to puke in resulted in a bag that unfortunately had a hole in the bottom. I was already so out of it that I didn't know the woman who came in to clean up was a different person than the one who had been checking on me (my nurse instead of my midwife).

This is where the memories start to get really patchy. I guess I got a real room. I started using the laughing gas. And then I think they let me have a higher concentration of laughing gas.

At the time when I intended to tell them I wanted an epidural, the midwife came in and said she thought I should have it.

I got the epidural, and it was apparently too effective. I couldn't feel anything from my neck to my toes. It is a really weird sensation to see people lifting and moving your legs around, knowing they are your own, but not feeling like they are a part of you.

The too-effective epidural caused a steady flow of new people in and out of the room. They were worried that it would affect the baby, so they were monitoring him and me super closely. I think I only remember this because Greg talked about it afterwards.

I do remember overhearing a conversation in Swedish where the anaesthesiologist made a comment about the epidural being "good for her" even if it was too effective, and I laughed and he was surprised to learn I understood some Swedish.

At some point I finally got to 10 cm dilated. But! It was not yet time to push, because I was not fully dilated. What? Everything I had ever heard or read said 10 cm = fully dilated. How? Why?

At another point, probably before I was to 10 cm, the epidural wore off, and a new anaesthesiologist came in after a shift change to give me a little booster. He just wanted to give me a tiny bit to avoid the previous situation.

Pushing seemed to last forever and was indescribably painful. Every time someone would suggest I was "almost there" I expected the baby to be born within the minute, which he never was. When he was finally born, they put him right on my belly. The cord was quite short, so he couldn't be higher up on my chest. Greg said I was so in shock when they put him on me. I believe that, and sort of still feel a bit of shock about how the whole thing happened.

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I remember someone telling Greg to put a hand on the baby while he was on my belly, because something was about to cause me pain and I guess they were worried I would drop the baby?

He was on my belly for a long time before I asked Greg if he knew if we had a boy or a girl. He didn't know either, so the midwife rolled the baby over for him to see. And lucky he was a boy, because we never did settle on a name for a baby girl.

Fairly quickly after he was born, Greg and I got to hang out in the room alone with our baby. I think it is nice how they just let you be alone with your baby. Later they came back and weighed and measured him. Chester was 4400 grams and 51 cm long, although Greg and I suspect that his length was a bit under-measured at birth.

I think I will stop here for now. Hopefully I'll continue to find time to write and avoid my usual blog silence(: