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(:

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:)