SOS

Baby boy has arrived. We call him Viggo. Silas calls him Lego. I guess in his head it’s the same 🙂 although he is harder to play with at the moment. He is so small compared to Silas, who now seems gigantic! I had read that this would happen and it is actually true. It is especially funny when I change Viggo’s nappy and then Silas’ nappy afterwards. Silas seems way to big to still use nappies. We had sort of started toilet training Silas, but we are pausing now as becoming a big brother is change enough right now. He seems to be handling it quite well. Especially now that I can take care of him more and more.

Just before birth when I was way too big and after birth when I was recovering, it was very hard to take care of Silas and obviously he was mad and sad. I was mad and sad! I missed him terribly and I’m guessing he missed me terribly too. However, as I said the more I recover, the more I can take care of Silas again and the happier we both are and the more accepting of Viggo he is. I sense he is going to be a great big brother! We are still getting to know Viggo, and he us, so it remains to be discovered what kind of little brother he will become. A great one, I am sure, but now he is only 2,5 weeks old.

I am getting used to sleepless nights and constant feeding and nappy change. In my next life I want to be a man! Although Baby-daddy is quite helpful and I wouldn’t want to do this without him. Single parents must be superhuman or something, otherwise I don’t see how they manage. We also have 3 grandparents close by to help out and I still find it hard. There are so many expats here in Luxembourg who are all alone and they must be superhuman as well. Especially those with several children. One is hard enough, add a second or third and a village is needed! Gladly, I have the feeling that, at least the English speaking, expat community is very helpful and nobody should be feeling alone.

It’s just about asking for help, which for many people is quite hard to do. For me it’s really easy. I am very good at delegating, so good in fact that I often end up doing nothing. Family and friends don’t like me very much for that, but I find it quite practical 😉 Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People usually want to help and it’s so much easier for them, if they know what they can do for you. Just the other day, a friend came by to see the baby and within 10 minutes, she was hanging my laundry while I was feeding 🙂

For emotional support though, I have a hard time asking for help. When I am sad, I prefer to deal with it alone as supposed to talking to a friend. I know this is not ideal and I wish I would be better at calling up a friend to talk. This is something I would like to work on this year!

It can be quite lonely in the beginning with a newborn baby. It is hard or complicated to leave the house. It has to fit the baby’s feeding and nap schedule and you have to remember all the stuff to bring. If you are a practical person like me, you also need to plan the outing so that you always have access to a place to feed and change the baby should this be necessary. And finally you have to be fresh enough to want to leave the house.

So unless your friends come to your house, it is quite a daunting task to see friends. The crazy Danes have come up with a brilliant concept they call “Spis og Skrid” or “SOS”, literally translated means “eat and piss off”. It means guests come, guests eat and guests leave. This way you can still see your friends and you don’t mess with the children’s bedtime.

We had such a night last Friday. Our friends came, we ate and they left. Bedtime was only moved a little bit and mommy could go to bed early as well. Having a baby or having children does not mean you have to stop living. You can still do pretty much the same things as before, with a little planning and adjustments it is possible.

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Although I do miss a good glass of wine and getting a little tipsy among good friends!

All in good time, all in good time my friend.

Have a great week and next time you enjoy a glass of wine, shout out a small “skål” for me!

Turn! Baby turn

BellywithArrows

Through my journey of becoming more health conscious, I naturally did some research of becoming “cleaner” during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. While there is a lot of different advice out there (most of it very contradicting!), we are pretty much in control of what we eat and do during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This control however, disappears when it comes to childbirth.

In Luxembourg we are monitored during pregnancy a great deal more compared to other countries. We get an ultrasound every four weeks and during the last two months it’s every two weeks with an obstetrician. We get money back from the state if we attend all these controls, otherwise we have to pay for them ourselves.

Is all this monitoring really necessary? Probably not and for some women this can be very scary, but for others it can be reassuring. This depends on the person you are, I guess. I think there is a fine line between what a pregnant women needs to know and what she doesn’t need to know.

During my first pregnancy I wasn’t given much information from my doctor and I never worried about the wellbeing of my baby. This time I have a new doctor and he shares a bit too much of his thoughts and I have worried a lot more.

However, no matter how much we are monitored, nobody holds you accountable for your unhealthy diet or lifestyle, although many studies have shown that poor diet during pregnancy can greatly affect the health of your child when he grows up. The same holds true during breastfeeding and what you feed your child later.

During childbirth though, everything is checked and controlled. My first birth did not go as I had imagined. Although it is hard to imagine something you have no idea what feels like, I did not expect this.

I was told during all our preparations that the midwives would encourage you to go as far as you can without any medical interventions, and the birth should be as natural as possible. Now, this was not the case for me.

Contractions started at home, but I had no idea if this was the real thing or just practice contractions, as it was quite early before my due date. We called the hospital to get advice – big mistake! They said we should come in and we did.

I was expecting them to tell me “yes, labour has started, now go home and do the work and come back when it becomes unbearable”. The midwife did not say this. Instead, she let me walk around a little (I was only 1 cm open) and after a few hours (when I was 3 cm) she encouraged me to get an epidural. Anyone with good knowledge about childbirth knows that opening 1 cm an hour is pretty good! She should have let nature takes its course!

But I trusted her, so I said yes. After all, she is the professional. This was a big mistake. Here after I am not allowed to drink or eat or walk. I have to lie down and basically wait for baby to come. Obviously, the baby had no way to move downwards because I couldn’t move around and let nature do its work. Luckily, I had a very experienced doctor and it ended with a vacuum suction to get baby out. I am convinced that if I had had another doctor, it would have ended in a C-section.

I once heard a story that the reason women give birth lying down is because some 300 years ago a French King (1) wanted to be present at the birth of his child and since he was King he could do whatever he wanted. For a better view his Queen was asked to lie down. Now, because the King and Queen did it like this, everyone else was doing it like this too. This position is also a lot more convenient for doctors and midwives, so they can see what is going on, but really bad for natural childbirth. The baby needs the help of gravity to find its way out, so why should we lie down? Makes no sense.

I was very depressed after this experience. All I was told before birth was that women have done this for millions of years and your body is made for it, so therefore it will go smoothly. Well, it didn’t and I swore that next time would be different.

This time we signed up for HypnoBirthing classes in hopes of learning something new about childbirth. They have been amazing. We are taught why childbirth is so painful and it basically boils down to fear! Control your fear and you control your pain. So we learn techniques to relax and to not be afraid. I love this and it really makes you feel close to nature!

The most surprising thing we have to learn is to be our own advocates. How to verbalise our wishes throughout childbirth to the midwives and doctors. If midwife suggests an epidural, but you are not sure, we learn how to be strong enough to say NO!

Isn’t that horrifying? We have to fight to have the childbirth we want, even if childbirth is supposed to be the most natural thing out there! It should be the other way around, no? That we have to fight to get pain medication?

The advice we received is to stay at home as long as possible and only come in when I think baby is just about to come. This is basically to avoid being influenced my midwives and doctors. As soon as you come in to the hospital they will start to take over control and having the natural childbirth you wish for gets harder. Unless you have a very strong partner who can be your advocate! You are busy with contractions and have no more energy to also fight with the staff.

This is not the idea I had of midwives as I thought they would always be on the mother’s side – it is after all her doing the hard work! I am sure not all midwives are like the ones we have experienced and maybe if you are out there, you must speak louder so we can hear you!

Until a couple of weeks ago we were convinced I would have this natural childbirth I was dreaming of, of course with the possibility to take the epidural in case I need it. But…

At a check up I found out that my baby is breech! At 34 weeks, my baby was breech! My doctor immediately started to talk about C-section! I was devastated. NO! This is not what I wanted. He said that there was nothing I could do about it and I could only wait and see if baby would turn by himself. However, this is unlikely because there is so little room for him to do so at this point. He might have said some other things, but this is what I heard.

Now what should I do? Naturally I went home to Google and needless to say Google had a lot of advice and suggestions on what to do. I tried some of them and found a few that made sense to me.

At our next appointment, a week later, baby had actually turned 90 degrees and is now lying transverse, from side to side. This was very good news to me and to my doctor as well – who now hopefully understands that I want to have as natural a childbirth as possible. Chances are baby will turn further the next couple of weeks! What a relief! We are back on track! I hope!

Please don’t get me wrong, I think medical intervention can be life saving in some circumstances and should not be underestimated. Some women need a C-section and I am grateful for them that this is a possibility. However, the C-section rate in Luxembourg (30%, 2) is more than double the acceptable rate as established by the WHO (3). This indicates that unnecessary surgeries are done for the wrong reasons. Women need to be empowered so they have the confidence to make choices that are right for them. For me personally it would be a complete failure to not be able to at least try to deliver naturally. If complications occur and a C-section is necessary, then thats that.

Here is my message to all women! We need to take back control! We go through 9 months of pregnancy and we have to endure the agonising pain of childbirth – we should be in control of what happens to us! And remember: Where the mind goes is where the body goes! So believe and trust in your body and speak up and demand what you want!

Phew, I feel better. The feminist in me has spoken!

Lastly, to all my fellow natural childbirth believers, please help me pray to the birthing Gods that my baby will turn head down by the time he is ready to come out, so I can have the natural birth I want! Thank you!

What are your birthing stories? Was there a time when you had to take back control?

Time-out or not to time-out?

IMG_3899Silas is doing so well in the new day-care! I am so happy. It was definitely the right decision. It seems they are so much more in tune with his needs and understand him much better. Or are they just better teachers? They understand his sensitivity and let him act accordingly, for instance he gets a little scared when there is too much noise or too many people. Instead of leaving him to it, they console him and hold him – exactly like I do when I can tell he is uncomfortable. If he has decided he wants to play with a balloon that was originally intended for decoration, they let him! Because who cares? I have a suspicion that they were not so adaptable in the old day-care and I also had the feeling that they were more old fashioned in disciplining, for instance giving the kids time-outs in the corner as punishment when they have misbehaved.

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My baby-daddy and I come from very different cultures although our countries are not too far apart. In his strict French-speaking world a time-out in the corner is a very normal consequence of misbehaving. In my culture however, we would never dream of doing something so humiliating for the child. What I have found works for me is to ignoring. Children need an outlet for their feelings, be it negative or positive feelings. When Silas has a tantrum, I let him. I let him feel all the feelings he needs to feel and when he is done, he can get a hug from me, if that is what he needs. If he misbehaves, for instance throws food around, which I do not tolerate, I will tell him in a firm voice, that he is not allowed to do this. He then usually continues and I ignore him. At some point he will stop, as it is not fun if I don’t react, and I’ll ask him to pick it up and I wont budge until he has done so. I find this technique much more effective than all the screaming and arguing other methods usually lead to.

To get back to the point, my baby-daddy did put Silas in a time-out once because of something I don’t remember now, and he weirdly enough seemed like he understood. I don’t think kids are born with a natural understanding of time-outs, so Silas had definitely done this before, which made me believe that he had probably received such time-outs in day-care – where else?

Luckily my baby-daddy agrees with my more Nordic approach to raising children, we both just need to learn how it works. Maybe we need harsher methods or different methods when Silas gets older and/or when there are two children. This is the beauty of parenthood. I definitely don’t know everything and I have no clue what challenges will be headed our way after the age of 2! I learn while he is growing. Of course I will mess up and I have in the past, I’m sure, but it’s fascinating to see him grow and us with him. We learn something new all the time and I think we are doing a pretty good job so far. Lets all hope and pray that we can keep up the good work 🙂

Traditionally there are 5 ways to discipline: 1) to give or 2) take away something positive, 3) to give or 4) take away something negative and 5) to do nothing. I definitely think that giving or taking something negative are the worse ways to discipline. This would be, for example, to yell and scream (giving something negative) or to threaten to not get angry if they behave (taking away something negative)(I must admit I have used this method a lot! “If you don’t come here this instance I will get very angry!” and I can tell you it’s not very effective!). The best ways are the remaining three. Telling them they can have something they like if they behave or take away their PlayStation if they misbehave. Lastly, there is the ignoring method. Unfortunately I grew up with mostly yelling and screaming which I think is so counterproductive. Growing up, my best friends mother was an expert in the ignoring method and it worked like a charm. My friend knew she had misbehaved, when her mother did not speak to her and she did everything she could to please her. I thought this was a very smart way to deal with an out of control teenage girl 🙂 It was annoying for me because she would stay at home and not hang out with me, but effective parenting!

Talking about raising children and disciplining is a very delicate subject, especially here in Luxembourg. There are so many ways to do things and every country and culture has their own way. In Luxembourg there are so many nationalities and as a result many different cultures. It’s so important that we all respect each other’s way of dealing with things – within limits of course. Every parent only wants to do what he or she thinks is best for their child. And who can really blame them for that? What do you think is the best way to teach a child?

Crazy pregnancy hormones?

One day, Silas was called home from day-care with fever when a mix of mother/pregnancy hormones kicked in with a determination that the day-care he was in was not taking good enough care of him.

Of course they should call me when my kid has fever and they recently implemented a no-tolerance policy that all sick kids must remain at home. I completely agree with this, but where was this all the other times my kid got sick because of some snotty child, whose parents had deemed him/her ok enough to go to day-care? At the same time, many other issues surfaced that I had previously just pushed a side as not really important. All of a sudden they all seemed really important. I got mad! So mad that I started my search for a new day-care.

I found a short list of potential new places and had my list of arguments ready for when Mr baby-daddy came home. When he did, he was bombarded with explanations, websites and arguments to why we should change. Obviously, he first thought I had received a new batch of crazy pregnancy hormones, but after some thinking and having a look at the new day-cares I had found, he started to agree with me. We sought advice from his mother, who is a child-psychologist and our friend, who is a kindergarten teacher, both thought it was a very bad idea to change day-care so close to Silas becoming a big brother. His world would be disrupted enough as it is, there is no need to make it worse.

I was devastated! Why hadn’t I seen all these things earlier? Despite the good advise, we went to visit one of the potential day-cares anyway and we loved it! We loved the teachers, the place, we just had a good feeling and Silas could start right away! We had to make a quick decision, weighing pros and cons. Even Mrs mother-in-law changed her mind.

So we did it! Silas went for a couple of days and of course, got sick! Really sick, we had to go to the hospital. Luckily, he recovered quickly and has now been at the new place this week.

They tell me that he participates with excitement in all activities and he is such a sweet boy! What can I say? “I know!”. The old day-care seemed more like a babysitting services, where the kids are watched but not really stimulated. In this new day-care, they have English lessons for crying out loud!

I think he seems happier. He loves to learn and always wants to be tested in the “new thing he can do”, for instance he knows all colours now (in 2 languages!) and wants to be asked all the time. I love that he is so curious about life and loves learning. I pray that he will keep this up for the rest of his life.

During these weeks, I have had to put all my activities on hold, which has been really difficult for me. Why do I have to stop everything I am doing when the kid is sick? It is difficult enough to not have a career at the moment while trying to find my place in the world – now I have to be the one to stop everything because I don’t work for a bank? Anyway, I made my peace with it – sort of…

I really hope the new day-care is the right decision for us and that we can soon get back to a normal routine. I want to get back on track with writing this blog, catch up on my courses and to prepare the arrival of the new baby-boy!

By the way, my belly has gotten really big the last couple of weeks!

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32 weeks pregnant, 91 kg, baby-boy is about 2 kg, normal and healthy pregnancy so far and only 6 weeks to go!