12 October 2014

Whipp visit

daves parents made the trip over to meet Y, play with X, and explore finland. i think everyone came away with nice memories.

for my part, it was nice to have more people at the dinner table each night. it meant i got to make some desserts, buy a few of the things at the grocery store i'd been waiting to try, and interact with more human beings than i regularly get to. having the guests be family who were very happy to be sharing their evenings with us, as well as stories of their day as tourists, was a shining bonus.

they were here for two weeks and we saw them most days, though not every day. the pace was nice for everyone. we are very lucky to have people who are willing to make the long journey over.

our weekday dinners: grandparents playing with X, adult chatting, and just generally 'being' together

weekend activities (typically only involving dave and X with the grandparents): eating at stockmann, eating nepalese food, visiting daves work, exploring the haltia nature center

(grandma and Y)
(grandpa and Y exchanging smiles)

22 September 2014

End of summer 2014 - city summary

weather: we had a cool, rainy start to summer here (after an unseasonably warm spring) and then all of the sudden it was hot, and theres no AC here. we had something like 25+ days in a row of 'hot' temperatures ('hot' for finland is something like 75F+). this would have been absolutely wonderful, if i hadnt been pregnant or hanging out with a newborn during the heat wave, but we managed. X certainly loved all the swim days.

-pirkkola swimming pond (uimalammikko). in the central park network there is this large sports center area in pirkkola. there are various sports fields, an indoor pool, a gym, trails, and this awesome outdoor swimming area. the woods are cleared away and this man-made pool/beach was created with sand, grassy areas, a small water slide, a fountain, a center area of dry land and the pond can be walked into on the 'beach' side of it and the depth never gets to more than a meter. there is also a playground, bathrooms, and a cafe on the premises. it is free and it is heavenly. i wish we had a car to get back to this place more easily.

(view of pond/pool from the 'beach')
(the velvet swimming cat with her papa)

-rastila beach. rastila is a big nature area in eastern helsinki. there is a nature preserve, a beach, a camping area, and more im sure. my friend hannah and her daughter were visiting her mom for july and they invited us to this beach. its near where hannah grew up and we had the perfect summer day to enjoy it with them. it is a lovely beach in an easy-to-reach location. so nice to know about.

-monte etna. a chain italian restaurant in finland. we needed a place to grab lunch after Ys doctor visit one day. blah. very mediocre food at prices that were too high for my liking. also didnt like the lack of AC on a second floor place with no windows able to be opened.

finn notables:
-parenting independent kids. kids in finland are very independent. society allows this to be so, but of course its also sowed at home. while im all for independence, ive been a little shocked at the pushover parents here. i cant count the amount of times i hear parents telling and retelling their kids that its 'time to go home' or 'time to head in for dinner' and then the kid totally disregards their parents and continues to do exactly what they want for exactly how long they want. only when they are finally ready does the activity stop. i dont think so. im not saying you have to get rude or rough, but you can follow through with your 'its time to go home' by moving your body toward your kid and gently help them end the activity and listen to what you said. since ive rarely seen a public parental/child struggle or temper tantrum, this must be the way they avoid it...by not engaging in any disagreements. it does make for quiet public spaces, but it seems that it also makes for kids who arent able to take anything their parents say seriously.

-racial mix. the other day i went to the grocery store and saw a dark-skinned couple in what i would call 'american clothes' (casual, jeans). as they passed me i realized how struck i was with a feeling of homesickness. they would be just part of the regular mix of the population back home, nothing to make note of, but i dont think ive seen a couple like them since i arrived. yes, there are people from africa here, but most still wear their african print clothing and have different accents and looks. there is also a large population of muslim somalis here, whereas where i grew up pretty much any muslim person i saw was fairer skinned, from the middle east...and i rarely see them here. there are also gypsys here who dress in very large, heavy, black velvet skirts and sequined white shirts (well, the females anyway). the first time i saw them i thought some cast of an opera had just let out. i realize that while there is diversity here in finland, its quite a different diversity than back in michigan. of course the diversity from home doesnt feel like diversity, its just...normal. its makes me appreciate though that no matter what kind of societal mix you are used to, or how 'diverse' it is, it still doesnt mean you are blind to differences, or potential discomfort/confusion/curiosity from not knowing enough about the people you are living amongst.

08 September 2014

Visit from marmee and pal

my mom and al (marmee and pal to X and Y) came for a visit for 5 days. they were welcomed by lovely weather (high 60s and sunny) and a VERY excited granddaughter.

they had 3 weekdays with us, where they played with X from the time we picked her up from daycare until bedtime. they played outside, met some of the neighbors, read books on the ipad, found fun youtube videos to watch, did princess hairdos, and generally were very, very silly together.

on saturday, we all went to the city center and ate at stockmann, walked the esplanadi, strolled through the market square, went on the new finnair sky wheel (ferris wheel), and walked across senate square. a quick and dirty tourist loop that turned out to be just right for everyones energy level for the day.

(walking through a community garden in arabia)
(riding pals shoulders through the market; in the sky wheel)

on sunday, we all had brunch together. then, dave and i (with a napping Y) went on a grocery store run while X played with marmee and pal (this was our first chance to be away from X for a semi-alone 'date' time since Y arrived. it was a nice little slice of time).

overall, it was very nice to have had our first family visitors, and it was great getting to mostly keep up our regular routines. X loved the devoted attention and it gave everyone some much needed time to dust ourselves off and regroup since Y was born. now we can march on into this busy end of the year walking a little taller. thank you for making the trip marmee and pal, we hope you enjoyed your visit!

(marmees little princess and her little frog prince)
(male bonding)

06 September 2014

The mr. Y grows - 6 weeks old - A mellow fellow

*note: these summary entries for Y will be called 'the mr. Y grows', get it? the mystery grows...i amuse myself*

 (he sleeps)
 (...and sleeps)
(and he awakes!)
(and is very curious)

1. life
-first night home from hospital: ate for 1-2 hours, screamed about gas pain for 3+ hours , fell asleep next to me around 2:30a and we woke up refreshed at 7a. he didnt want to eat until 9a.

-it seems his gas pain is definitely from lactose/dairy issues. all the gas pain seems to reduce his interest in eating (understandably), which, among other reasons (the heat, being a newborn, etc), was why at 3 days of age he had lost 10% of his hefty birth weight, thankfully he had so much to start.

-on day 4 he started eating (i hadnt had dairy in my diet for several hours) and eating and eating without pain and things went great. he was born with a great latch and was very efficient to bring in the milk. it wasnt fun to wait around on day 3 with engorged boobs and no kid who was awake or interested. but we joined forces on day 4 and that was just lovely.

-on day 7 we had an appointment to get him weighed and the weight loss had stopped, so now he needed to regain.

-on day 9 we had another appointment and he still hadnt gained weight, but he was looking and acting fine and making his diapers as messy as he was supposed to. also, the nurse didnt seem concerned, she just said he could be starting out slow to gain.

-on day 10 he started a growth spurt and finally figured out how to properly drain a boob before falling asleep. also, his cord stump fell off overnight and his belly button looked gross.

-after the growth spurt we had a nurse appointment. he was finally gaining weight, and his belly button area just needed to be cleaned for a bit longer and things would be fine.

-his week 3 growth spurt involved lots of wakefulness (5+ hours at times) so that he could just continuously drain both boobs, endlessly. apparently he would like to make up for lost eating/weight gain time. he is really heavy now! and growing out of the 'newborn' clothes.

-after week 3, his sleep habits changed dramatically and he settled into a more regular sleep routine. during the day he seems to prefer a short (~45 minute) nap in the morning and a monster nap (~3 hours) in the afternoon (he can mostly only sleep for this long if close to my body: in bed, in the ergo-carrier), though thankfully we can start out in bed (so i can get a nap in too), for example, and then transfer into the carrier without trouble. hes awake and grumpy (tired + hungry fighting against each other) in the evening, but finally goes to sleep around 9-10p. then he can do one 3 hour sleep stretch and then wakes 2-3 more times before morning. he also, thankfully, now mostly understands that night is for sleeping and not partying.

-week 5 nurse and dr appointments: he was normal for everything. he weighed 10.5 lbs. and is growing very well now. i was measured for things as well, all is getting back to normal, and i have about 9 more pounds to lose.

2. 'personality'
-the kind of sleeping he did in his first days is in fact why there is the phrase 'sleep like a baby'. it was very peaceful, easy, deep, relaxing, and refreshing. at least now i know that that kind of newborn isnt a myth.

-he found his hands basically on day 1 for soothing himself (which works sometimes).

-it seems his #1 preference for soothing is nursing (shocking), whether he is full or not. the kid just wants to wind himself down with boob. around week 4 i introduced a pacifier for when i have filled him up with milk and he still cant settle to sleep (to avoid the excessive spitting up). he is only mildly interested in them, but takes it enough to calm down and get some rest, sometimes. the stroller seems to only moderately work for soothing (it calms him but he doesnt often or very easily sleep in it), he doesnt seem to like rocking or bouncing yet (including the bouncy chair), and even the carrier, doesnt work unless he is full of milk.

-at around 5 weeks, he was able to sometimes be put to sleep (once full and in a warm, quiet, dark-ish place) by being upright with his ear on my chest and his back patted. so lovely.

-the biggest reason he has trouble sleeping is because toots/gas wakes him up. im hoping once his digestive system matures a bit in a couple months that that issue will be gone.

-when he is awake and happy he is very calm, quiet, and curious. he stares intently at one thing or another (he likes shadows and my face) and can be in his own little world for 5-10 minutes without needing to be picked up.

-he also finds being outside to be a calming experience.

momma mentionables:
1. i forgot how much i like seeing dave interact with a baby. so sweet.

2. i had very painful uterine contractions until 1 week post-birth (more so than with X). i had heard that is normal with second kids.

3. i was able to have another great labor experience and this time even the post-birth experience went well. i got a topical anesthetic spray before the 6 stitches i needed post-birth and i did opt to take the mild pain meds for soreness and inflammation while in the hospital overnight, but otherwise i was not unexpectedly given a shot of extra oxytocin in the leg after the birth (as in canada) and nothing else was done or given to me. of course less tearing helps too but the 'down there' recovery and the boob engorgement phases of post-partum were much easier this time with the gift of a more mellow, sleepy baby. i will forever thank him for that, even if he turns around and robs me of sleep soon (famous last words?). i also noticed that at least initially i havent experienced the wild wacky hormones that made me feel out of myself last time. i feel like me, in fact, in the first week or two i think i was actually 'high' on oxytocin ('everything is so great'), or maybe i was prepared for the worst and got something very enjoyable instead, or its a combination. and maybe the later phases of post-partum life will get me down (certainly there will be hard times) but having this gentle ease in has been so amazing. if i didnt have notes on Xs first weeks and months, i would never believe one family could be so battered by one arrival and so soothed by another. however, both (though very different arrivals) feel like very special gifts of very distinct and separate sorts. and its a good reminder that they are their own unique people.

4. so far, going from 1 to 2 kids is heavenly compared to the trauma of going from 0 to 1. aside from being woken up in the middle of a sleep cycle (yawn!) i think its been much easier to just go with the flow this time around. each trouble/bump smooths itself out with time and i find staying in the current moment really helps a lot for day-to-day struggles.

17 August 2014

3 week baby stay-cation ends in a birthday celebration

dave took 3 weeks off work for paternity leave. it was nice but strange having all 4 of us home with no agenda. id say that certainly dave was un-used to it, but he was great in every way. however, i dare say he will be quite happy to get back to work, its hard being home with and in charge of a headstrong, active kid non-stop for 3 weeks straight, not to mention sharing said home with a newborn.

i was basically housebound, couch-bound most parts of the day feeding the little mister so he would plump up. i tried to get out and hang out with X as much as i could, which ended up being more than i expected and i think it was enough to keep any baby-stealing-mom-resentment at bay, for now. dave came out of the stay-cation gates with lots of steam for daily excursions with X that were quite fun (swimming, playgrounds, nature walks, a movie at the theater, etc) but by the end of week 3 we were all a little stir crazy to move on to the next stage of this family configuration...regularly scheduled life. we finished off the end of our time together with a birthday weekend for me involving lots of chocolate cake (yum) and a nice family photo.

 (sibling love)
 (3 of the 4 togetherness)
(the whole family in front of annala mansion)

27 July 2014

Hospital stay heat

i stayed in the hospital for about 22 hours after Y was born. that was plenty for me.

after Y was born, i was able to call dave and X from the delivery room and they were allowed to come and hang out with us. they arrived pretty quickly via taxi. while we waited for them, Y nursed and relaxed. he was an expert right away with his latch, but he was a little tired and disinterested in the activity. it was nice to see he already had the hang of it though.

when X arrived she was very curious, and sweet, and mature, and excited. it was so cute to watch her. everything was just calm and relaxed and we all were just there, together. i also ate a dinner of sandwiches over Ys head. then i was checked by the midwife and okayed to get up, so then i got a lovely shower (much better than post-delivery with X). then it was getting to be time to leave the delivery room and go to the recovery ward so X and dave left, with her a new lizard (toy) friend in tow. we gave it to her, at the hospital, to be the new brother of her current favored blue lizard toy. she really loved that.

(everyone meets)

i was the first one in to our recovery room so i chose the nice spot by the window. the damn place had no AC though so everywhere was very uncomfortable (no AC in the delivery rooms either!), it was about 84F that day and the next. later, my roommate arrived, and thankfully she was also an experienced mom so our babes didnt cry for too long each time throughout the night. Y was happy to sleep in his hospital crib next to me (unlike X) so i got to lay all by myself in bed, which was a great thing in the sticky heat. blah.

during the night, he needed a few diaper changes (they dont provide baby wipes at the hospital. i think people in finland often just rinse their babys bum off in the sink under warm water instead), but other than that he mostly nursed and went back to sleep. in the first 24 hours he was super mellow, very easily slept alone and was able to be moved, asleep, without being irritated.

(from the hospital crib)

at some point in the hospital, as gas pains arrived and created discomfort for Y, i realized that he likely is lactose/dairy intolerant. after his delivery i had cheese with lactose and butter. then all there was for me to snack on in the recovery wards fridge before breakfast was cheese. so i had some. then i had cheese and yogurt again for breakfast at the hospital. and yogurt again for lunch. each nursing gave him more and more gas and he was increasingly more and more uncomfortable. im glad at least i was able to react quickly and save ourselves weeks of screaming and lost sleep and worry. big thanks to miss X for teaching us about that one!

the hospital was crowded with women in the recovery wards, and without AC i was ready to go home. it was also boring without anything to do (no wifi, no TV, no regular visits from a nurse). these measures are meant to promote bonding with baby, but i was ready to do that at home. we got a visit from the wards baby doctor and Y was given a thumbs up for leaving early. you get to leave the hospital without naming your baby in finland, which was different from the high pressure we felt to fill out the birth certificate form in canada before you leave the hospital. we did get a hospital birth certificate for the US embassy/citizenship filing saying 'boy whipp' was born. we do, however, also have to get an official finnish birth certificate with his name on it (supposedly info on this comes in the mail at some point from the maistraatti).

at around 3p the day after Y was born, X and dave came to pick me up with the car seat and we took a cab home. back at home, we celebrated after dinner with GF vanilla cupcakes with a hefty amount of homemade chocolate chocolate chip frosting and some lovely flowers. Y slept through the meal in his car seat so i got to eat with two hands. yay!

(flowers and cupcakes)

26 July 2014

Happy birthday 2.0 Y-ou!

our little mister (Y) was born today, on his grandma mary anns birthday. it was definitely a surprise birthday party. heres how the day played out...

id been having fake contractions of a similar discomfort/pain level for a week or two so the first ones this morning seemed like business as usual. i started to have perhaps a few more than normal on our grocery store trip at 11a. but, it was hot out and the walking to/from felt like quite an excursion so once we got home i put my feet up and/or laid down as much as possible. later, my friend hannah and her daughter came for a play date and i just sat on the couch with my feet propped up the whole time. during the visit i noticed that maybe every 15 minutes i was getting a noticeable contraction, but it was still at about the same pain level as earlier. at 3:20p, i decided it might be good to write them down, even though nothing else of note was happening. at 4p, the mucus plug came out and i figured things had sufficiently started going into action. the pain stayed about the same, however, the timing got closer together. i called my doula and our babysitter (she wasnt available). then i called the hospital (katilöopisto, my first choice hospital, and the nearest) when the contractions were every 5 minutes. they let me come in, even though they were overbooked. i was the last person they let arrive before they 'closed' for a bit. hannah was still here during this and so we told the girls the baby wanted to come and the playdate needed to end.

hannah offered to drive me to the hospital, which was awesome. dave couldnt come with me, but i had a friendly face (not a cab driver) to help me arrive calmly. my doula was able to meet me there right away and, bam, i was all set. my midwife was young and nice and spoke english well and was very calm and encouraging. i got a belly monitor on and got helped changing into hospital gear in between contractions and when i was checked...fully dilated. lol. my water hadnt broken yet though, so i was told that unless i felt like pushing i would just be waiting for the water to break during a contraction. it kept feeling like it wanted to but it wouldnt, or i couldnt get it to go like last time. so, with a contraction, the midwife poked a small hole and it broke. then, holy crap, did i need to push, and it hurt! much more than i remember with X, the pushing hurt!!! i had i think 4-5 pushes this time (only 2-3 with X). i only got his head part of the way out with one of the pushes so i had to hang out with that stretching pain for what felt like forever waiting for the next contraction. damn. i can easily say that was the worst thing i have ever felt. eesh. shudder. but the super duper feeling of relief of being done pushing him out that washed over me afterward...that kind of high can never be duplicated. simply the best, at least i can remember that feeling too, to go along with the worst pain ive ever had. also, the horrible, painful pause with his head stretching meant i only had a first degree tear (instead of second degree with X) and didnt have as much bleeding.

and then he was on my chest. i had had my glasses taken off of me at some point so i was blurry-eyed staring down in his general direction asking 'is it a boy?' lol. the midwife and doula must have been a bit confused. clearly...theres the penis! he also came out with darkish hair (like X) and was very calm after birth. he wasnt crying, not like he was limp and scary not crying, just not crying, like, no big deal, im chill. and perhaps that will be the characteristic that he carries along with him for life. let us all hope.

some stats on the kiddo:
weight: 4060 g (~9 lbs)
height: 50 cm (~20 in)
time born: 6:08p

as for his name, family and friends, via email or facebook, know what it is, but i can offer a further explanation (see below). as for the blog, he will be known here as 'Y' (dave gave me that idea. so weve got the two sex chromosomes, X and Y).

first name: it is an easily pronounceable english version of the city we lived in and loved in france. the deal was sealed on my male name back when i had the dream that he was a boy. the titanics sister ship was called the 'britannic' which is very close to the name of the french province where we lived.

middle name: well he has the same astrological sign as me, plus, its an actual finnish name so he can use it here some day if he wishes.

celebrity babies born around the same date:
-model doutzen kroes welcomed daughter myllena mae
-singer amy lee welcomed son jack lion

shares his birthday with (many) famous people, including:
-actress sandra bullock
-actress helen mirren
-singer mick jagger
-director stanley kubrick
-author aldous huxley
-childrens author jan berenstain
-scientist carl jung
-playwright george bernhard shaw