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

*the doula hasnt sent me pics yet of his birth, so i will add some later, if they arent too frightening. lol*

Long awaited meeting

fooled ya...this isnt a post about meeting the baby.

so, the virtual friendship with my swedish-speaking finn friend, hannah, that began back when dave got the interview for his finland job, just got real...in-person real. she came back to finland to visit friends and family this summer with her daughter. so this was the first time that we were both in the same place at the same time. we planned to get together, and the connection between us and also our girls was a lovely surprise.

first up, was a weekend meeting at her old stomping grounds (she grew up in vuosaari [the eastern edge] of helsinki) on the beach in rastila. her mother was also kind enough to come with us and we spent a lovely, calm, and interesting saturday relaxing with these wonderful people who i felt we had known for a long time. our girls right away found something between them and they played and had fun together the whole time. they each talked excitedly about the other afterward and seem to have made a real connection.

(Xs initial scrutiny...)

secondly, we randomly decided to head over to linnanmäki the next saturday (it was a cool, grey-ish breezy day that i knew would be my last good chance to lug the belly up there this summer), and lo and behold we bumped into them! the girls were so surprised and happy to see each other again and they rode a couples rides together. we spent the rest of our time at the park with them, and i got to meet hannahs sister-in-law in person too (ive also been facebook-ing with her, to get to know various things about helsinki). so it was a great surprise and nice to have met more of her family.

(the girls and hannah on the airplane ride...they wouldnt let me on; the girls sharing a horse carousel ride)

lastly, we were lucky enough to have them over for a playdate the day Y was born too (more info to follow). since it was hot and i didnt really know what was going on with my body, it was absolutely fabulous to have something to entertain and distract all of us. plus, i think it was a really positive experience for X to have that energy going into the babys arrival. hannah was lovely enough to even personally drive me to the hospital, with her daughter in tow, so that i wouldnt have to go alone in a taxi. such a great gift. even when things dont get to go as youd fully wish (of course it would have been great if dave could have been with me, but X needed him) you can find some pretty amazing alternatives if you have an open mind.

25 July 2014

Final days before setting sail on the RMS titanic 2.0, party of 4

general:
-on friday july 19 i officially wrapped up my work project, or at least the part i was solely responsible for. that felt nice, plus my advisor was pleased with all my efforts and enthusiastically encouraged me to contact her and the group again once im ready to go at more research, so that was a happy note to semi-end on (im still involved in the manuscript and its [hopeful] future publication). and it was also a happy day for X because she got to stop going to daycare. she gets a bit of a summer stay-cation alone with me until babe arrives, and then we all get 2-3 weeks at home together before dave and X get back to work and their regularly scheduled lives.

symptoms:
-sleep. to fight really restless bad night sleeps ive just been trying to occupy myself until a later bedtime (12:30a-ish) so that im truly tired and then i dont toss and turn as much. my legs are so restless from the time after dinner until about midnight anyway that no matter what im doing i want to be in a different position.

-impulse snack. in order to curb bored eating, ive been crunching ice cubes like a crazy person. truly, dave might think im now borderline OCD about it. after dinner i just have an urge to crunch on something, even though my stomach is full. so rather than just put useless food in my mouth, ive been munching basically a full ice tray every day. plus, roaming back and forth to the freezer has also helped give my restless legs something to do.

-legs. ive noticed that when im using my legs (standing, walking, exercising) and i get a fake contraction, my legs tend to go numb. i guess kiddo is so low that when the muscles constrict so tightly in that area, they are also constricting the blood vessels that supply my legs. so labor should be interesting...

(week 37/38 bump this time; week 37 bump with X)

24 July 2014

X-files - 4.25 years old - Emotional rollercoaster

so, i am now convinced that people who think there is use (or comfort?) in labels like 'terrible twos' and 'trying threes' are just those lucky few who were shocked out of some lovely bubble whereby their super agreeable, easy-going, and almost never grumpy baby started growing and at some point switched to entering more and more of the world around them, and, surprise, they encountered struggles and expressed opinions about that! well, my kiddo came out of the womb opinionated, and each age has been more emotionally charged than the last, i plan to no longer be surprised about it. turning 4 has thus far proven to be an interesting soupy mix of confusion, attitude, trials, and changes. weve had many fun times as well, but the times of tension have been so strong that it makes the difference in the highs and lows feel as exhilaratingly frightening as a rollercoaster.

obsessions: being a cat, pretending, poetry, singing, princesses (and their songs), stretchy animals, collecting and taking care of bugs, swinging

nightmares/dreams: i had locked her in a car in florida but she got out during a thunderstorm. once she got in the building lightening struck and everyone had to get out; papas mouth was on fire; the breakfast place in sweden wouldnt let her have fresh pineapple with breakfast; i had a boo-boo on my ankle (similar to a recent boo-boo of hers) that was bleeding

good picture books: the man who walked between the towersthumbkin explores at night, donald and the..., llama llama misses mama, mortimer, magic beach, zeraldas ogre, gentle giant, benjamin dilleys thirsty camel, little hoot, the berenstain bears in the darklittle sister rabbit

good longer booksmr boo [hannu mäkelä], foxy: finnish folktales for children, japanese childrens favorite stories [sakade]

good special interest books: uncover a shark, surprising sharks, tentacles! tales of the giant squid, where the sidewalk ends, usborne greek myths [amery], fairy tale comics, bug detective [maggie li], poo at the zoo, nicky the nature detective

 (insect enthusiast)
 (helper chef)
 (water lover)
(singing princess; nature nymph)

x-citing developments:
1. emotional rides:
-daycare anxiety. everything was going great until the adults in her daycare room started changing. one was sick for a bit, a favorite of hers (who was just a temporary student) left and a temporary male student arrived and has since left, and one of the most permanent adults in her room, whom she quite liked, seems to have up and left (they dont tell the parents, which irritates me). so there were weeks of revolving new adults who were in charge of her imposing the daycare rules to varying (and confusing) degrees, which made her nervous to a high degree. she started to get anxious about being left at daycare. it also made bedtimes harder (because she didnt want us to disappear) and the morning daycare drop-offs more tearful. i felt bad for her, but i know its a part of life, so i listened to her worries, acknowledged them, and tried to just let her know that we sometimes have to deal with things we dont like but that im here to listen and help when i can.

-growing pains. right after she seemed to get over the hardship of the changes at daycare she moved on to new struggles. these seem to stem from the changes that come with getting older. she was so excited and enthusiastic about 'big kid' things after her birthday. she was helping more, trying new roles on at home (wanting to help me get dressed, wanting to help serve us at dinner and snacks), but then at the same time those 'helper' roles were emerging she also seemed to be tantruming about simple things she already knew how to do and was expected to do herself. we had hour long wailing sessions about getting back in bed at night, blowing her nose, getting help on the playground, and not being carried home from daycare. all these things we had had a set routine for for some time, and she did them independently, or mostly, and suddenly she wanted to be babied a bit and would scream to try to get us to bend to her command. we didnt try to fight her or punish her, we let her know that we were there to help, but our ideas of 'help' werent the same as hers. she wanted 'help' in the form of us doing everything for her, exactly when and how she asked for it, but we offered to 'help' her by watching her do the task and stepping in only when necessary and staying close so she felt safe and not alone or scared.

-there have been a handful of times now where she will choose to climb a challenging (but doable) piece of playground equipment and 'get stuck' and scared on it. she screams for us to get her down right away. this has never been our policy on the playground, she has always climbed whatever she is capable of climbing and when she has gotten stuck she reverses and gets herself out of the situation, mostly by herself, with us there to spot or lay a comforting hand on her back for mental (and/or physical) support. it has always worked for us. lately, shes been getting herself 'stuck' (usually less than 2 feet off the ground) and having 15-30 minute all out scream fits. we are there, as usual, offering our presence, spotting, and a reassuring hand on the back but its not been enough for her at times. yes, the easy thing to do is just to grab her and get her off the thing and take her inside to calm down, but i dont think either of us gains much from that scenario. ive let the situations go on (much to the displeasure and shock, no doubt, of the neighbors), and we always come away with interesting findings (once our nerves have calmed down).

the latest situation was a long doozy of a scream fit on a ladder-like climbing thing in our new yard. she refused to get off or even try to get off the bottom rung. long after we had broken everyones eardrums, X decided she was finished...she bent her knees and hopped down, NO problem. she was mad at me for an additional 30 seconds and then we went together to a bench to sit and decompress. once things were re-stabilizing i asked her how she felt, what she felt in her body while she was on the ladder. she described feeling afraid to touch the ground because there were nightmares there. she mentioned some new rules we had told her would now be imposed (about teeth brushing, our newest arch nemesis of tasks, among other things) as part of these 'nightmares' and some other semi-coherent-based-in-reality things that were clearly bothering her, and it really put the screamfest into perspective. she had used that situation to offload a whole crapload of pent up life frustration. it must have felt good for her, while making me look a little insane, but i suppose those are the burdens im willing to take on until we can manage to move this kind of emotional off-loading to another, more mature, and suitable method.

-her daycare/preschool had their end of the year/summer party. each room of kids (there are 4 rooms divided based on age) had their own song to perform for the parents. X had been singing her song at home for weeks, it was about mice and the kids made mice hats and got mouse tales. but when we arrived at the crowded school grounds she suddenly lost interest in the song. she came out with her group of kids but she didnt do the actions to the song and got pouty and upset, but she didnt want to leave the line of kids. afterward, while waiting for the other groups to go, she got to sit on her favorite daycare grown-ups lap, so that was a positive thing. and i can understand that she got overwhelmed, it was her first 'performance' for such a big group so i think there was just too much unknown/surprise about it. maybe better luck next year.


-sensitive. she has become quite sensitive with her hearing. she gets startled or scared easily in certain situations, and i think, going along with this, its why she still screams/shrieks pretty loudly in reaction to certain situations or emotional moments...her scream volume is so loud (as it was as a baby) that it makes me think it 'helps' her body/brain to block out offending stimuli or emotional waves and puts her into her own little bubble of sorts until she can protect herself to come out. ive seen this kind of explanation given for sensitive kids, and you can almost see the process occurring when you watch her struggle. its been hard to deal with her volume of noise, but it helps me to frame it like this in my mind so its easier for me to want to help during what would normally be a really offensive, painful attack on my ears and brain.

2. digestive.
while her digestive issues to food seem to be waning, it seems her spidey sense for other aspects of smell/taste have 'improved'. she can tell when a 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper has been added to a whole pot of soup...the soup is then too spicy (it 'burns' her lips) and she wont eat very much. shes not strictly a picky eater though, because she will still try everything, and will eat things like goulash, shrimp, salmon, etc. she is also noticing all kinds of smells and finding them to be undesirable. cut grass is the latest one i dont understand (i love it!).

-xylitol (a natural substance proven to prevent cavities that is used often here in gum and toothpaste) seems to make her have to pee repeatedly. this happens to dave too. strange. but when theyve both had it they make a huge amount of trips to the bathroom. when they avoid xylitol, all is normal. good to know at least.

3. bedtime.
-she likes to have 'talk time' after story time at bed time. she also likes to remember what topic(s) we were talking about so we can talk about those things the next morning on the walk to daycare.

-mid-night funny. before i go to bed i usually check on X to make sure her blanket is still on her and she hasnt rolled to the edge of her bed, etc. lately ive found all kinds of silly things in her bed with her, arranged in amusing ways. shes very quiet about it, but clearly she is not actually going to bed at the time we think she is. one night i went in to find her stuffed stingray toy tucked into her IKEA doll bed that she had placed next to her in bed. another night she had arranged her collection of (live) bug jars up near her head in bed. i had to laugh.

4. physical. she figured out how to swing by herself lately. she can lean back and pump her legs and go endlessly, and high. her joy in figuring it out for herself finally was contagious. she has always loved the swings, and now that she can do them herself i think it will be a really easy way to spend lots of time on the playground.

5. personality.
-expressing herself. she has been expressing her happiness and comfortable-ness with other people more easily lately. she is now very comfortable with her little friend and her family who live in our same building and she even plays alone in the yard with the girl. ive seen her run out and say 'oh im so happy to see you. i love you. isnt this fun!?' she is also very comfortable with my friend tracie. its very interesting to watch her expressing herself more to others.

-pretend. she definitely uses pretend characters and scenarios a lot more now. and not just for fun play stuff. she seems to make herself into a certain 'character' for daycare and will sometimes tell me how 'the gruncher' felt about something, or how 'the cat' feels about a certain situation at home.

-nature explorer. she has held tadpoles at the beach on the vantaa river, regularly handles insects, and we have even kept snails, ants, caterpillars, millipedes and beetles in jars at home. she is fascinated by them and likes to pick leaves for them and mostly takes care of them thoughtfully. she used to keep them on her dresser at night but now we keep them on the porch in the new place. weve even had some moths hatch out of their caterpillar cocoons. so shes learning and seeing a lot.

-she likes to do dance routines to music now, and she does a lot more of listening to the lyrics and doing what the actions for the songs say.

-i got a disney 'fairy tales' music CD from the library, not realizing it would just be princess music (yeah, im not smart) and X totally became obsessed with learning the lyrics. we spent a few days sitting on the couch with the songbook that came in the CD pointing to the words/lyrics as the music played. she made me sing along (be glad you werent in the house) until she knew the songs well enough to sing them herself. then she started 'performing' them, and she has asked me what the songs mean and what certain words are and why the princess feels that way. so while it did turn her into the world of disney princess things, i find that her interests in it are very broad and actually educational, so i havent been as nauseated. side effects however are that she likes to have her hair brushed and braided now and she wants to grow it long (thanks rapunzel).

6. quotes/anecdotes.
-while reading about the heart/blood one day she stopped and asked me 'mom, does your heart beat faster when you feel love?'

-at dinner one night she asked us: 'do you think there should be more grown-ups in the world?...do you think there should be 2 more grown-ups? because one day i will be a grown-up and the baby will be a grown-up.'

-conversation: (X) 'momma, did you love me even when i was in your belly?'. (me) 'yeah'. (X) 'did you think to yourself...this baby [meaning herself] is going to be crap?' (me) laughs.

19 July 2014

Buddy brunch and pics of the pad

what a gorgeous weekend day!

sunny, high 70Fs, breezy. these are the perfect finland summer days people live for, and we got one on a saturday so everyone could enjoy it together. today we also spent the morning welcoming our first guests with a brunch. X made friends with this english/finnish-speaking girl at daycare and they happened to (at the time) live in the building behind us, so both of our families got to know each other and weve been hanging out with them more and more. now we actually live in the same building and i think a real lasting friendship is mounting.

anyway, they came for french toast, eggs, bacon, scones, and fruit today and we all had a lovely time. the girls played all over the house testing out all the best nooks and crannies that even this smaller apartment has to offer (theres Xs bedroom of course, but also our balcony has a loft and the walk-in closet became a cat cave pretty quickly). after a nice chat with the parents, their younger daughter needed a nap so they went home and X and her friend continued to play. for hours.

dave and i sat around twiddling our thumbs. we arent used to getting a break on the weekends like this! and all through the late morning and early afternoon little kids from our building were ringing our doorbell to get the girls to come out and play, but they were still working at playing throughout the house. finally after 2-3 hours inside, we made a snack and got them to eat with us outside and then they were motivated to play in the yard and ran off with the gang of kids (they all are about the same age and go the same daycare around the corner), leaving us in the dust.

its a new thing, adjusting to X just being off with friends in the yard, on her own. i havent known how to relax in the house because ive always had to be 'on', watching, being present. but she knows all the paths/places around here and the kids are all very conscious to stay in the yard (they dont wander to other yards/playgrounds...that ive seen). plus, there are so few cars that ever come down our road (and the kid are very aware and alert each other too) that things are just so safe its like a dream. and on these beautiful summer days it all seems that much more surreal, to have her outside living this old-fashioned american childhood. you can still get it here in finland and i just love that.

i also love that we have, more or less, settled in to the apartment now and it really feels like home. my least favorite place is the bathroom, because its a bit tight, but all the other spaces are roomy and well-thought out and it feels really spacious for the size that it is on paper (810 sq ft). i think we will be very happy here. here is a tour of the place, in pictures:

(welcome. our entrance/hallway; the first door off the hallway is our bedroom)
(in the back of our bedroom is an archway into a walk-in closet; the other end of the walk-in closet is a shelf [aka babys changing table] with a nice window)
(the view from the bedrooms)
(the walk-in closet also exits into the next room, our office; Xs room and bunk bed!)
(IKEA stuva set-up across from her bed)

(the bathroom at the end of the hallway has 2 rooms...the toilet room and the all-purpose wash room)
(the living room flows right over into the kitchen in back)
(nice open kitchen with a shady maple tree outside)
(the balcony [with drying rack and kids loft/nook] is off of the kitchen; and our view from the balcony...boulders for eating ice cream on, a flat picnic area above that and off to the left is a deep shady yard)
(the yard has a play house, sandboxes, a slide, swings, climbing equipment, picnic tables, clothes lines and a carpet beating station. it reminds me of nice campgrounds from northern michigan; buddies on the slide)

17 July 2014

Titanic 2.0 prepared for launch

so ive got about one month left, or a few weeks, or no time at all, depending on what the kiddo decides. im feeling better at this stage that i was with X, and the weather has been kind so i dont think i can complain.

general: 
1. lately ive realized that i cant recall what its like to hold and manage a little baby anymore. i know i did it, and its not that im scared, i just cant remember.

2. i havent found the right words to describe what ive been feeling, but its something like i can tell that this baby is my buddy. like we are in this together. i dont remember this kind of feeling with X, though its not like i didnt feel connected to her, it was just different.

3. i had an unexpected, random, lovely surprise in discovering that a fellow health researcher, in our research group at work, is also pregnant. we basically have the same due date and are pregnant with our second kiddos. she and her husband are both finnish, her husband travels a lot for work, and she seems similar minded in many aspects of life and seems interested and motivated to hangout during maternity leave. im happy to have added a new friend to the repertoire, and its one who fills of hole of being able to relate to work struggles too. nice to be slowly rounding out my friend needs here.

4. for anyone interested in more information about giving birth in finland, this webchat lecture was a nice summary. it was given by a finnish doula who trained in the US for a group here in finland called 'duo' that supports intercultural families. fyi, if you click on the link for the video, the lecture starts around the 5 minute mark.

symptoms:
1. tmi. my week 28 dr appt confirmed what i already knew, i had a pregnant lady 'down there' area trifecta. perhaps two of the issues are more well-known and are slightly more easy to joke about (in trusted company), but this third one was new for me. googling around though, i find, once again, that i am not alone. you can read more here if you are curious, this mama says it with more humor than i can muster.

2. nesting. dave says i am doing this much more noticeably than with X. i say its mostly because im just antsy to get settled in our new apartment. i cant help with lifting or doing much of the other moving grunt work but im excited to get into a new place thats a little bit larger, and this time the things we will fill it with are all ours. we can settle in more and really get comfortable.

3. exercise has made me feel so much better. i cant believe what 20 minutes a night can do. it makes me feel pretty flexible and energetic. until about week 32/33 i had energy for it every night, and as a result i was always waking up feeling pretty good. at around week 35/36 the energy for exercise has come back so ive been trying to do it when i can. my feet and legs are not up for it every night, but when they are i can still manage the whole video and feel nice afterward.

4. out of breath/heavy. around week 32/33, all of the sudden i felt quite heavy and i also started to feel rather out of breath. this combination contributed to increased tiredness (i assume).

5. nauseous/uncomfortable sometimes. this seems to be coming from uncomfortable positions the baby is choosing to settle in rather than from food.

6. allergies. i spoke too soon. some flower or something opened up and ive been sneezing and have an itchy, runny nose and sometimes itchy eyes for weeks now. not so fun to have an additional reason to be uncomfortable. and i really have to drink a ton of water to counteract all the nose blowing, which then makes me a pee machine. its hard work staying hydrated!

week 28/29 dr appt: this was my first visit with the doctor (the previous visits were with the public health nurse). we did all the same measurements as with the nurse, but she also checked my cervix (normal in all ways). i gained less than 2 lbs in the last three weeks. the babys heartbeat was 130 (she thought s/he was sleeping).

(week 29/30 bump this time; week 29 bump with X)

kela package: at around 30/31 weeks i received word that my application for maternity leave was approved and the amount that i would receive (its listed as a per day rate and is based on your salary and other life situation issues, even women who were unemployed previously get a 'maternity leave' payment). it also mentioned that our government-issued box of baby stuff would arrive soon. and it did. you get a notice and you go to pick it up at your local post office. it weighs about 8 kgs, so dave carried it. we unpacked it as a family. its pretty rad. the box has a nice piece of foam at the bottom and it can really be a baby bassinet. there is a full set of bedding, a sleeping bag for warm naps in the stroller, a full set of cold weather gear, pants, bodysuits, rompers, sleepers, it seems like a selection of all sizes to get you to age 1. there were also little accessories (bibs, socks, tights, hooded towel, bath thermometer, brush, nail scissors, baby book, practice toothbrush).

(the box and its contents)

week 31/32 appt: i have gained the exact same amount of weight at the exact same time point as i did with X. everything at the visit was normal. babys heartbeat was about 135. the nurse said the baby was mostly head down (a little angled) and that is good, but the baby can still change positions. at week 34 they want the baby to be staying head down. if baby isnt, we get an appointment at the hospital to try and turn the baby.

(week 31/32 bump this time; week 31 bump with X)
(week 33/34 bump this time; week 33 bump with X)

week 34/35 dr appt: all measurements were normal. didnt gain weight (this is misleading because i was measured on a different scale than previously). baby heartbeat 150, head down (but not 'fixed' yet). the kiddo is riding pretty low but that means less heartburn for me so that is nice. apparently my cervix is at a 2 (out of 3) and softening, but still closed, so its at a normal stage for this point. i am now done with doctor visits for regular pregnancy monitoring (the final visits are all public health nurse). 

tour of hospital (kätilöopisto): this is the hospital in central helsinki that i hope to give birth at. the tricky thing is that in finland, when you are in labor you call your first choice hospital to see if they have room for you to come in, if not they direct you to the next closest and available hospital. so the choice is not really up to me, but thats okay, we'll just see how it goes. anyway, we had a tour of the hospital in english, so that was nice. noteworthy things about the hospital: they have tons of equipment (birth balls, birthing stools, rocking chairs, midwives trained in acupuncture, a room with a tub, etc) available for use. the mom is considered a client not a patient and you are treated like a regular, healthy person. you are met at the ward by your midwife and taken to the room that will be your delivery room right away, you get your initial check in there, labor in there, and deliver in there, no moving around. on the recovery wards you are encouraged to be as independent with baby care as possible while being supported by post-partum midwives along the way if needed. 

(week 35/36 bump this time; week 35 bump with X)
(week 36/37 bump this time; week 36 bump with X)

week 36/37 appt: everything was normal, except my hemoglobin was a bit low. baby heartbeat was 130. apparently only gained half a pound in 2 weeks, but each of these rooms i have gone in lately has a different scale so im certain these numbers are not as they seem. babys head is down and we are all set for basically being full-term now. any day or week now...