What's New at the Pålssons'


What's New at the Pålssons'
Self-absorbed rambling, useless trivia and shameless bragging

February 28, 2000

Hello there! I hope all of you are well!!

Last night was brutal. Max woke up for feedings at midnight, 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., then woke up for good at 6 a.m. He doesn't usually do that, but I understand he's going through a growth spurt and needs extra food. I almost burst into tears when he woke up at 6.

This morning I had my postpartum checkup. (I can't remember what words are supposed to be hyphenated in English anymore...) I've healed up great but need more exercize, the midwife told me. (I'd already figured that one out, thank you...) I weigh about 5 pounds less than before I got pregnant but still can't fit into all of my pants. Hmmm.

Then I went to a parents' group for English-speaking moms. There were only Americans there. It was a blast! Much more fun than the group of Swedish moms, I'm sorry to say. I feel much more connected to these American women. I wish I could put my finger on the reason, because I would really like to feel more connected to the Swedish women and I feel like it's my fault that I'm not. I don't feel it's a language barrier, since I'm comfortable speaking Swedish.

This new group meets every other week, as does the Swedish group. The two groups meet on alternating weeks, so I don't think I'll get "momed out" if I keep going to both.

I had Max with me all day, and he was great! He was wide awake much of the time and didn't complain even when we were just waiting around. He was very interested in riding on public transportation. He likes to stare at the lights in the roofs of the busses, and he seems to like being underground when we ride the subway. He seemed interested in the sounds and smells, and when we rode the commuter train, he didn't want to stay in his carriage but be held on my lap so he could look around. I was surprised he cared one way or the other. The only thing he really didn't like was riding the elevators at the stations. They always smell like urine -- YUCK! Max wrinkled up his nose and whined! So I didn't take him in any more of those but braved the escalators instead.

After the moms' group, we went to a photographer and had Max's picture taken for his Swedish and American passports. He had just fallen asleep in the baby carriage, so I had to wake him up, and I feared a screaming fit, but he barely fussed at all. As you can see here, the photos didn't come out that great, but does anyone have a good passport photo? Join the club, pal.

After the photos were taken, he stayed awake all the way home. But as soon as we got home, he fell into a deep sleep as I was feeding him. It'll be interesting to see when he wakes up.

February 26

This morning I saw fear in the eyes of my son for the first time. I was giving him a bath and realized there wasn't enough water in the little tub, so I turned on the hand shower and stuck it in there. I don't know whether it was the sound or the Jacuzzi-like sensation, but something scared Max badly and he started yelling. I tried to comfort him without taking him out of the bath, and he would calm down slightly but then start yelling and sobbing anew. From the look on his face, his message was crystal clear: I'm scared! Get me outa here! I wanted to keep him in the bath so he would learn that there was nothing to be afraid of, but I gave that up after a minute or so. We'll have to try again another time.

It hadn't occurred to me before that he's never been afraid (as far as I know). He's been uncomfortable and frustrated, but never scared. Doesn't it seems like it would be necessary to have a concept of time in order to feel afraid? We fear things that haven't happened yet but could or will, right? So does this mean that Max's concept of time is developing?

He's also changing physically. He's a very solid, compact little boy by now. He is chubby (but not exceedingly so). His tummy looks funny -- big and pear-shaped! He has lost most of the dark hair he had when he was born (there is still a tuft on top and at the back of his head), and it's being replaced by red hair just like Bengt's! So I guess he'll be fairer than we first thought. I'm a little disappointed because I was hoping Max wouldn't have to deal with sun sensitivity like Bengt. Bengt can't be out in the sun (even in Sweden) for more than an hour without getting burned, unless he has strong sunblock. So generally Max is looking more and more like a miniature copy of Bengt, possibly with more Gerber-like ears and a wider head from my side of the family.

Two nights ago I got only 4 1/2 hours of sleep, and it was in three different blocks of time. Bengt didn't get much more, but that's because he went to bed late and got up early. We were both exhausted yesterday. Bengt came home from work and napped, then took Max while I napped. What a relief! Then I went and got my hair cut and did errands.

I printed out some strips of paper with black and white shapes across them. Every week I tape a new one to the underside of the medicine cabinet, which is visible to Max while he's getting his diaper changed. Not only does this make him hold still while I'm changing him, but often he gets so fascinated by these shapes that I have to stand there and wait for him to finish looking before I can pick him up, or he gets mad!

On Monday I start another parents' group for English speakers. Max and I will have to go into town (Stockholm) for it, but I think it will be worth it for the contact with other English-speaking families. I think it is important that Max regularly hear other people besides me speak English. In addition, it would be fun to have more English-speaking friends.

Also on Monday I have my two-month checkup after delivering Max. I'm sure everything will be fine. I still have some swelling, but it is slowly disappearing. I think they talk about birth control and so on.

February 23

Max was awake most of the day today, and he wore me out! Taking care of him is more tiring than doing household chores, which is how I spend a good deal of my time when he's sleeping.

He did fall asleep briefly a couple of times, though. One time I had rocked him to sleep in the carseat, which I then carried to his room. When I went back in 20 minutes later to check on him, he was wide awake, just lying there with his eyes wide open, looking around, perfectly content! I hope this means he'll be able to entertain himself sometimes and not require constant attention from me when he's a toddler.

Now that Bengt is home and is taking care of Max, I'm going to watch a movie. The way I feel right now, mindless entertainment is more important even than sleep. You know where I'm coming from?

February 22

Today Max had his two-month checkup (he'll be 8 weeks old on Thursday). The doctor said everything looks great. Max is very healthy and alert. He weighs just under 6 kg (13 lbs. 3 oz.), and the doctor and midwife said that's fine. What a relief! I thought they were going to get down on me for feeding Max too much. But he's following a healthy curve now. He is 57.5 cm (22 1/2") long, so he's on the heavy side for his length, but not extremely so.

Max cried most of the time because we woke him up from the nice nap he was having in the car seat and because the doctor manipulated his legs and hips in uncomfortable ways, shined a lamp in his eyes, put a cold stethoscope to his chest, etc. But he calmed down every time I got to hold him or talk to him. It's very gratifying to be able to comfort him.

But he got his revenge for the exam: He peed all over me after we weighed him (naked).

But Bengt got a worse surprise: When he got to work this morning, he discovered poop on the front of his sweater, right in the middle! Ha ha, nice one, Max! No denying that Bengt's a dad!

February 21

Today was a rollercoaster of a day. Max alternated between being very dissatisfied with life and having a blast. The most exciting thing was that Max finally figured out that I've been imitating him. He says "agooo" or "owwwww" and I repeat it. Then he gets this huge toothless grin and says it again, and I repeat it again. We went back and forth like that for about 20 minutes! It was great!! It's totally wonderful when he smiles.

Another thing we do is practice standing. Max has been able to support his own weight on his legs for weeks already. Of course he can't balance himself, but if we put our hands in his armpits, he loves to practice. At first he couldn't keep his head steady AND hold his body up at the same time, but now he manages very well. I say, "How big is Max?" and he pushes up with his legs and stands there for about 10 seconds a shot, again and again. After about 10-15 seconds his legs start shaking and he collapses. So you know he's really exerting himself.

And, finally, we got him a mobile type thing that looks like a mini swingset that dangles gadgets over Max while he's lying on the floor (or on a bed). One of the gadgets is a mirror facing downwards. Max grins like crazy when he catches sight of himself in the mirror!

February 19

I only got 4 1/2 hours of sleep last night (and it wasn't 4 1/2 consecutive hours), but I'm doing ok. Max has been sleeping most of the day, though, so I'm a little worried about tonight. I should go take a nap but I'm too wound up. In addition, every time I slow down, the tears well up from thinking about Håkan, a long-time friend who I just heard finally died from cancer after a long illness. Really upsetting.

You know what seems weird to me? I think back on my childhood and how the places I lived and things my family did and the way my family was are such an integral part of me. Those things are so central in my life that I have felt, in a way, as if they couldn't have been any other way. And when I was younger, I think I thought that that was just "the way things were". This could be because (at least as far as I remember) we kids weren't involved in family decisions. I don't remember being involved in discussions about what to do or where to go for vacation. I remember when Mom & Dad bought our house on Pickering, but not why. (I remember that money was a consideration, but now that I've bought my own house, I know that there must have been many other considerations, as well.) So it didn't seem to me that these were decisions but givens. And as givens, they acquired a certain fatalistic status in my mind.

Anyway, now that I'm a parent, and I know that Max will be profoundly affected by where we live and what we do and the way our family is, I realize that those things are largely coincidental. Chance. Decisions that could just as easily have gone another way. Bengt and I could have chosen another house in another neighborhood -- or another country, for that matter. I don't know yet "what our family does" or just "how our family is", but those things are by no means etched in stone, either.

It seems so incongruous that such nearly random things can have such far-reaching consequences.

 Ok, enough philosophizing... Max isn't interested in his pacifier anymore. We started giving him a pacifier when he was about a week old, and he used it for a few weeks, but I guess he think's he's outgrown it now. No really, he usually won't take it, and he cries angrily if we try to give it to him.

Speaking of pacifiers, check out this little tyke! (It's not Max.) I thought this was funny.

February 15

Today is going pretty well. The only "bummer" was that Max woke up at 6 a.m. (I myself prefer 7 or 8.) But it's our fault -- we put him to bed at 8:30 last night. With two naps during the daytime, he doesn't need that much sleep at night. Max's stomach seems to be relatively calm today, although after breakfast I spent about 20 minutes providing reading material (= distracting him from the unpleasantness of pooping). Usually he doesn't mind pooping as much as we mind dealing with the diaper.

Speaking of diapers, we're doing fine with the cloth variety. Max doesn't like a wet or messy diaper, and he lets us know when he has one, so we use disposables at night because they feel drier and he doesn't wake up as often. I think we will also start using disposables when we're away from home. That still leaves him in cloth diapers most of the time. We keep them in a pail in the bathroom and wash them about every third day. Surprisingly, they don't stink up the bathroom. I suppose they will once Max starts eating solid food. But we like using cloth because we don't like the idea of all that plastic lying in a dump someplace for many years to come. In addition, it's cheaper to use cloth diapers. Not only are disposable diapers expensive, but here in Sollentuna we pay for garbage pick-up by the kilo! A wet diaper is pretty heavy, and it doesn't dry out in the trash can.

Max has been sleeping very well once we get him down for the night. That is, getting him to sleep for the evening isn't the easiest thing. We haven't got the routine down pat yet, and we and Max haven't decided yet what time should be his bedtime. But once he's down, he sleeps pretty well. He wakes up once or twice each night for a feeding, but after the feedings he consistently goes back to sleep with no help from me. All I do is lay him gently in his crib, jiggle it for 10-15 seconds, and walk out! I can hear him stay awake, making little sounds, for 2-10 minutes, but for about two weeks he's been falling back asleep by himself! Yippee!! Because that was the worst -- standing there jiggling his crib, turning on the blow dryer for the white noise, singing, etc., at 3 a.m. or some other ungodly hour, in an effort to get him back to sleep. Now he does it himself. I'm really happy with that.

I'm in the process of applying for American Citizenship and Swedish & American passports for Max. Good grief! What a lot of things to organize: forms, birth certificates, and pictures with certain dimensions. I hope Max cooperates when he gets his picture taken. I wouldn't like him to have one with him screaming his head off. On the other hand, why should his passport picture look better than anyone else's? ;-)

Maja cracked me up yesterday. She meowed and walked over to her food and water, looked down at her water dish and then up at me. There was plenty of water in there. I stuck my finger in it and touched it to her mouth, but she just looked at me. I could hear her thoughts: "This water has been standing for 14 hours. I can't drink this!" What a spoiled cat. I took the water dish over to the sink, let the cold water run through the pipes (she won't drink it if it's been sitting in the pipes) and refilled the dish. She stayed glued to the same spot the whole time -- right in front of where her dish should be. (Wouldn't you expect her to follow me over to the sink?) Being her owner, I interpret this as a sign of intelligence. She knew I was getting her water even though she wasn't right beside me while I got it. She just stayed where she knew the dish would soon be set down again. Just one more piece of evidence that cats are smarter than dogs. ;-)

February 14

Happy Valentine's Day to all our friends and family!

We're having a good day! Max seems to be feeling much better. He only woke up for one feeding last night, and then he woke up fairly cheerfully at 7:30 a.m. After his morning feeding, he spent about 10 minutes showing off (he can stand, supporting all his weight, if I hold him for balance) and smiling at me. When he seemed sleepy again, I stuck him in the baby pack and did chores while he slept.

Yesterday I called a phone number I'd gotten at the hospital that you can call for help with nursing. The midwife talked to me for about a half hour and was willing to come over immediately (on a Sunday!). I told her it wasn't that urgent and we agreed that I would call her this morning when I was going to nurse Max and she'd come over. (What service!!) So she came over this morning and weighed Max before and after I nursed him, to see how much he is getting. He's getting more than I'd dared to hope, and he definitely doesn't need as much formula as we're giving him. What he's getting from me is well over half of what his intake should be. More like two-thirds. No wonder he's gaining weight so fast, the little fart! :-) She gave me some tips on how to increase my milk supply and said that often times women CAN increase it and stop giving formula, even at this late stage. So I'll give it another try.

The midwife stayed almost an hour, and it was free! Ah, the joys of socialized medicine!

After the midwife's visit, I took Max for a walk and to the shopping center on the bus. He slept the entire time and is still sleeping in his baby carriage in the garage. Why he sleeps better in the garage than in his bedroom is beyond me -- although I'm starting to think we should reduce the temperature in his room.

Last night Bengt and I watched a science fiction movie on our new DVD player (Bengt's new toy): The Fifth Element. I thought it was good. It was suspenseful but not too gory. All of you in the U.S. have probably already seen it (or at least had the chance), but if not, I recommend it.

February 11

We have been having a difficult week. The midwife confirmed that Max has mild colic. (I'd hate to experience severe colic!) So Max is unhappy and none of us is getting much sleep. It's very frustrating not to be able to help Max out of his discomfort. Of course we have tried and continue to try various solutions such as the baby beano drops, baby massage, changing my diet, laying him on his stomach and jiggling him, etc. But nothing has helped very much so far except possibly the drops, which we have learned to remember to give him before EVERY meal. The midwife says that his discomfort has probably peaked by now and that if we discontinued the drops, we would notice more discomfort immediately.

Anna-Brita has been great. She did not know what she was getting into when she came up, because things suddenly took a turn for the worse right when she got here. Among other things, today she took Max out in the carriage for 1 1/2 hours while I slept! I was very grateful for the sleep. The other morning she stood next to his crib, jiggling it, for an ENTIRE HOUR so that Max wouldn't get completely awake and I could continue sleeping. (If he had woken up, he would have had to be breastfed.) I wouldn't have known this except I realized it by chance. Who knows what other favors she has done me without telling me and taking credit. She has been very pleasant to have around, too.

Even Maja (the cat) seems disturbed by all the crying. She is probably wondering when Max will be going to his new home. (Don't we all give our children away after 6-8 weeks? I admit that at times I'd like to! :-)

February 7

Ok friends, this is what I really think of breastfeeding: You read so much about how it's not only best for baby but it's physically satisfying and easier than preparing bottles of formula. A warm meal all ready for baby at any time! Every woman should breastfeed her baby, if possible!

Well, consider these fun facts:

  • It hurts like hell until you get used to it. They warn you about this, but even now (after five weeks), I don't find it pleasurable but mildly uncomfortable.

  • It takes longer for baby to empty your breast than a bottle. That adds up to more time awake in the middle of the night than if you'd had to get up to prepare a bottle! (You can prepare the nighttime bottles in advance and keep them in the fridge. It only takes 25 seconds to warm one in the microwave.)

  • Milk tends to leak out at unappropriate times. My breasts start spurting as soon as I hear Max cry. Which, as you know, is often.

  • Leaky breasts mean you have to wear a bra with disposable pads stuffed in the cups all the time, day and night. You're not even safe when you're sleeping. The other night I dreamt that I was nursing Max, and when I woke up the sheets were drenched with milk. (Ok, "drenched" is an exaggeration, but I had to change my shirt and the pillowcase on the pillow I was hugging.) Except that Bengt has come up with an alternative to wearing a bra. I hesitate to tell you this. DON'T try to picture this in your mind's eye: I tape the pads to my chest with Scotch tape! I kid you not! It works!

  • Every time you hold your baby, whether he is hungry or not, he starts rooting around, looking for the food. Only rarely can you just sit and enjoy each other. At least this is how Max is. To him, I smell like a good meal.

  • When you breastfeed, you can't measure how much milk your baby is getting. You don't know whether he's getting enough. If you fall asleep with the baby at your breast, then you might wake up and wonder if he's had a meal or just a light snack.

  • The baby is dependent on you for food day and night. Of course, you can pump the milk out and keep it in the fridge. Well, I don't consider myself a squeamish person, but attaching a pumping gadget to my breast to milk it is not my idea of a fun time, either. Am I a mother or a moooother?

  • Nursing bras are very expensive and need to be washed often.

  • If you're large-breasted, you will have trouble finding bras that fit. In addition, the large-breasted woman can have difficulty nursing the baby while sitting down because it's hard to position the baby properly. (I don't think I want to go into too much detail here...) It's much easier to lie down. But obviously you can't do that when you're away from home.

So, I'm more than a little disappointed with the breastfeeding thing. I'm only still doing it because, after all, it's the best nourishment for the baby. If I thought anything else came close, I would GO FOR IT!! And I don't think Max would mind at all. He doesn't seem to have any preference -- bottle or breast.

February 6

Hello! I'm in a good mood today. Max only woke up once last night. He was fed at 11 p.m. and then didn't wake up until 5:30. After that feeding, he fell asleep again and didn't wake up until 9:30. I don't remember when I last got that many hours of sleep in such long stretches. Ahhhh!

I forgot to write that I gave Max a bath by myself for the first time on Thursday (Feb. 3). I thought we might both end up in tears, but it worked out great. Max didn't complain at all. The bathroom was nice and warm, and I put the baby bathtub in the big bathtub and filled it with nice warm water. I washed Max's hair and dumped cups full of water over his head to rinse it, and he didn't complain at all! He just blinked the water out of his eyes. He even smiled once during his bath.

We are signed up for baby swimming lessons which start on March 26. They don't really teach the babies to swim, but the instinct not to breathe under water is maintained. I've always loved the water and swimming, and I want Max to have the same enjoyment and not be afraid to get his head wet. Anyway, in the literature for the course it says that you can prepare your baby by not making anything of it when they get water in their faces. Dump water over their heads during their bath and take them in the shower with you. I was skeptical, but so far Max doesn't seem to mind it.

Bengt's mom arrived again today and she says that Max looks a lot different than when they were first here. He's bigger and more mature. I'm looking forward to letting Anna-Brita take care of Max while I go swimming and maybe run to the store sometimes without him. Of course I love him, but having a little person attached to me 24 hours a day is quite an adjustment.

I ordered a new breast pump, and when it comes I'm going to try again to increase my milk production. Now that I'm more relaxed and less sleep-deprived, it might work. It would be nice if we could stop giving Max formula. Formula is not as good for him, and it makes him smell bad!

Gotta go fold laundry. Again. Sigh.

February 5

I took Max for a checkup yesterday and he had, indeed, gained almost 700 grams. The midwife didn't bawl me out, but she did show me Max's weight "curve" (which is basically a vertical line) and say in her subtle way that she thought Max would do better if his weight were following a more standard curve. She said that she is sure that Max has stomach pains. You can see it in his body language. He is a little colicky.

I have been giving Max those "baby beano" drops and they seem to help, but it's difficult to remember them each time. (When a baby is screaming for food, going to the fridge for drops isn't the first thing that comes to mind.) The midwife said to try to remember them every time. She also said to stop feeding him so often. We've been giving him small meals 10-12 times per day. She said that 5-6 times a day is enough at his age, and it would give his stomach a rest in between meals. I've read, too, that babies don't need to eat so often at this age, but doesn't it seem like smaller and more frequent meals would be easier on his stomach? Even I eat 5-6 times a day, and I'm an adult (I think)! Well, we'll try her suggestion.

Max is smiling more now. This morning I coaxed several minutes of smiles and gurgles out of him! How gratifying!

Our current joke is, "Do you want me to put Max in his crib to wake up?" Because it doesn't matter how soundly he's sleeping -- if you put him in his crib, he wakes up! Argh!

I have some bad news: I took a roll of film to the lab on Wednesday and it was unexposed! The film hadn't been loaded correctly in the camera! (I suspected as much when I rewound the film and felt it slip into the cartridge after only one or two revolutions of the lever.) I was in tears. Among other things, we had gotten a picture (we thought) of Max's first smile. So now we have to start a new roll of film and there won't be any new pictures for awhile. Sorry!

Wednesday was a horrible day for another reason, as well: I didn't get much sleep! Max woke up at 5:30 a.m. That's ok, if I can get in a nap during his nap at 10:30. But this time I didn't. I really wanted to go sleep in another bed because I don't sleep so well next to him. He makes all kinds of little noises and I'm a light sleeper. But every time he fell asleep and I left his side, he was awake 5 minutes later. I would just be getting comfy and relaxed in the other bed, and I'd hear him start crying. This happened twice in a row, and each time it took me 15-20 minutes to get him back to sleep. I was dead tired.

The third time, I stayed at his side for an extra long time and thought, "This time he's down for the count." I got into the other bed and was so wound up that it took me a good 20 minutes to relax. Then, when I had just fallen asleep, I heard him stir and cry out. I woke up but the cry didn't sound serious so I waited to see if he'd fall back asleep. He did, so I started going back to sleep. Then he did it again. And again. And again. Argh!!!!!!!!!

Finally, I thought, "Well, he's not going to take a real nap. I might as well get up and get ready for his next feeding." So I got up (in tears, from fatigue) and put the bottle in the warmer and went to nurse him. He was fast asleep and he slept for 90 minutes after that. But by that time I was so upset and wound up that there was no way I could sleep. I got some chores done instead.

I didn't get to sleep during his early evening nap, either. I was just too tired and too tense by that time. I did rest in bed reading a novel, though. That was some compensation.

February 2

Do you know what a yard sale is, in the context of skiing? I didn't, until Lin sent me this entertaining explanation:

My new skis are great, but they don't really make me any braver. ( I'm a bit of a scaredy cat and consistently underestimate my skiing ability.) My friends took me up to this "intermediate" hill, which I was a little unsure of, and the intermediate part was blocked off for races, so we had to go down the advanced hill. "Um, excuse me! I didn't sign up for this!", I called, as they went shooshing down. You'll be glad to know that I made it down unscathed and without falling, although it was probably not a pretty sight. If I don't have a yard sale, I call that victory. ("Yard sale", in case you don't know, is when you fall in a big way and all your gear is scattered over the face of the hill....skis, poles, goggles, hat, etc., and the people in the chair lift yell, "Yard sale!", as if the poor skiier isn't humiliated enough already!) Fortunately, I haven't had one of those in a while, but if I keep following my friends down the big hills, there may be a yard sale in my future.

Ha ha!

January 31

Bengt and I noticed yesterday that Max feels VERY heavy. Plus his face looks fatter and his tummy has grown so much that the skin actually looks tightly stretched over it! So we weighed him this morning. I stood on the bathroom scale and checked my weight with and without holding Max. (Not very exact, but probably not too far off, since we have an expensive digital scale.) He weighed 5 kg (12 pounds)!! If that's true, then he's gained almost 700 grams in five days! The midwife is going to give us a good scolding. We've been giving him way too much formula. But he cries for food all the time! We try to distract him, give him a pacifier, just cuddle him, etc. but he lets us know very clearly that it's food he wants and nothing else will do! He screams bloody murder, and it's really hard to resist giving him more food in that situation, especially since we feel bad about letting him go hungry during his first 10 days of life.

Last night I had a brainstorm: Max was not hungry but thirsty! I could give him water! Bengt and I checked some of the baby care books we have here (we have a whole library full of them) and found that it is, indeed, okay to give a baby water. Nobody had mentioned this to us before. So I tried that this morning after Max had a huge meal and still wanted more.

However, Max made it very clear that water is the most vile liquid ever invented. Then he proceeded to throw up his entire meal all over himself and me. "Take that, Mommy!" What a mess! It was a bit shocking! (Now we know why no one bothered to mention to us that it's okay to give water to babies...)

I called the midwife today and asked, "Is this really what you want us to do -- refuse to give him food when that's clearly what he wants?" YES was her adamant response. We must not give Max more per day than the maximum recommended amount for a baby his age. Oh man! She made suggestions, but they were all things we'd already tried. Then she suggested that maybe he does have tummyaches, after all. Some tummyaches go away while you're eating and for a little while after. Others actually feel like hunger. I know that's true -- I've had stomachaches like that. So she told us to give Max these drops before each meal until we meet again on Friday. (As far as I can tell, the drops are like Beano for babies.) We'll see if that helps.

But lemme tell ya, it's totally stressful to refuse to give a baby food for any reason, even for his own good, when food is clearly what he wants.

I mentioned to the midwife that I had gotten the idea of giving Max water. She chuckled with malicious pleasure (or maybe I was imagining that :-) and said, "Most babies don't like water." I think she knows how it turned out.

Max and I went to see my homeopathist today. Among other things, she is going to send me the recipe for a tea that is supposed to increase your milk supply. I'll let you know if it works.

A non-baby-related story: I went to the store the other day and went to get a cart. At this particular store (as at many others in Sweden), you get the cart outside the store, and you have to insert money to unlock it from the row of other carts. You know -- like they do at some airports so people don't take off with the carts. Anyway, I took the money out of my wallet, stuck it in the cart, and gave the cart a tug, but it was stuck somehow and I couldn't get it loose. So I went to another row of carts and got one. I went into the store and, because I was hungry, I decided to buy a muffin at this little stand in front. When I was getting ready to pay for the muffin, I realized I didn't have my wallet. PANIC!!!!! My wallet contained several hundred dollars in cash (long story), my driver's license, credit cards, etc. Yikes!! I took off back to the carts, realizing I'd left my wallet in the cart I'd tried to get first. On the way out, I watched the people coming in. One guy was clutching a wallet, but I couldn't see it clearly because it was dark out. (It's dark almost all the time here this time of year, as you know...) I looked at him and said, "Did you find ... ?" and he held it out and said, "Yes, I just found this wallet in a cart and was on my way to Customer Service to turn it in." He handed me the wallet. Thank heavens! I was so relieved! Anyone could have found that wallet and just kept it, or taken the cash and turned the rest in. I thanked the guy profusely -- I actually think it made his day to experience my gratitude rather than just turn the wallet in anonimously.

Nothing like that has happened to me in years. I must be distracted. At least I haven't forgotten my baby in a store yet! :-)

January 27

We had a checkup yesterday and Max had gained 530 grams in one week! (That's well over a pound!) The midwife just pointed to the digital weight display and smiled -- that said it all. We done good. But he was just catching up, and now he can stop gaining so fast, she said. She warned us against giving Max too much formula. It's okay if babies get fat on breastmilk, but not on formula. We're not to exceed the recommended serving size for any meal.

Max has smiled three times so far. I mean three times besides the usual smile-like grimaces while pooping, which don't count. These were social smiles, made while Bengt and I were facing him and talking with him. We actually happened to get a picture of the first smile, because he seemed so happy that we had whipped out the camera! Lucky one!

A funny thing happened: When Bengt and I were driving out of our neighborhood the other day, we passed a family of four. A little boy was pulling a sled -- they were obviously on their way to or from sledding. Anyway, the little guy had his eye so intently on our car (so as to keep out of the way) that he wasn't watching where he was going. He fell over the mound of snow that's created when the snowplow comes through and toppled headfirst into the ditch! I'm sorry, but it was hilarious! I'm sure he wasn't hurt -- his fall was cushioned by all the snow... But I wish you could have seen his little legs flailing in the air! Bah ha!

Of course, I wouldn't like someone laughing at MY kid that way ... unless I was laughing myself.

By the way, tomorrow is Bengt's 39th birthday. :-)

January 25

Max slept almost all day today. Some days he's so alert, and other days he sleeps constantly. I guess it all evens out.

I think Max is at his cutest when he's eating or just about to eat. It's the sounds he makes -- little sighs of contentment and big gulping sounds (very rewarding). Also, when he realizes that food is about to be "served", he gets real calm (even if he's been screaming for food), his eyes get big, he puckers his lips, etc. If he gets the nipple in front of him, he sometimes savors it lovingly (like a wine conesseur might savor the smell of a good wine) rather than latching on immediately.

On the other hand, he has also learned WHERE to find the nipple (mine) when I lay him down on the bed to nurse. As soon as I lie down next to him, he sometimes rolls over towards me and LATCHES ON quick, sometimes before I'm prepared. Woa! Ouch.

This supplementing the breast milk was a good thing in unexpected ways. Of course the main thing is that Max is getting enough to eat now. He has filled out and has great big chipmunk cheeks! But also, I've gotten into the routine of giving him the breast every other meal, instead of every meal and then add formula. That is, one meal is breast milk, then the next is formula, then the next is breast milk, etc. This isn't what the midwife said to do, but it works great for us. My milk has a chance to build up, and it is very satisfying to give him an entire meal and not have to go warm up a bottle after that. Also, Bengt can give Max an entire meal of formula. That means I can do something else for a number of hours, knowing that I won't have to nurse for awhile. I can even leave the house for hours at a time. Temporary freedom! I don't think it has affected my milk production negatively so far.

I'm itching to go swimming, but they say to wait at least six weeks. Bummer!

January 24

Bengt went in to work today (although he's going to be home for the rest of the week), and he has a business dinner tonight, so today was my first full day home alone with Max. It went pretty well, I think! I'm starting to notice some patterns in his habits. That is reassuring, considering how I feel about predictability in my day (see below). I look forward to knowing when Max is probably going to want to sleep, eat, etc. It doesn't have to be written in stone, but if I could just have some idea...

I read aloud to Max for the first time today. Which book had the honor of being the first? Stingray Sound, of course, written by none other than my own mother. I think that's pretty appropriate.

January 23

I think the hardest part so far is not having any control over how I spend my time. I'm used to having some sort of mental agenda and timetable when I start my day. Now, I never know just what the day will bring, and it's the boss (Max) who decides WHAT we will do and WHEN we will do it, 24 hours a day. I get so frustrated when I think he's down for a nap and I start some project, only to have him wake up 5 minutes later. Or I think he's awake and it's time to play with him or feed him or something, and suddenly ZONK, he's out like a light. It's difficult for me to relinquish that control. But it's becoming crystal clear that I must!

Oh man, I think Bengt and I got some great pictures the other day. I'm going to try to get over to the photo lab on Tuesday and get that roll of film developed.

January 22

ARGH!!!!!! It seems like everything in our house (including me) has some sort of pee, poop, spit-up, formula, or drool stain/smell! We didn't have good control over our liquids today!

January 21

Today (Friday) at the weight check, Max had gained 155 g -- what a relief! So we are on the right track. And I feel much better. I don't have to worry and make sure that Max gets every single ml of milk that I can squeeze out. When he's done with me, Bengt or I give him formula until he's full. When he wants to eat more often then I can feed him, we give him only formula. So this way he gets enough to eat and I get a break.


Otherwise, things are good. I gave Max a bath by myself today. I took him in the sauna (heated only to 40 degrees C), wrapped him in a towel, and slowly lowered him into a tub of warm water, then removed the towel. He didn't cry, and you should have seen his face! He had such a look of surprise -- "What's this?! I'm wet!" His eyes opened very wide and his jaw even fell open! It was so cute. I wish I could have taken a picture, but I was hanging on to him with both hands to keep him from going under.

January 19

At the checkup today, Max had only gained 25 g in two days, so we have to give him a supplement. We started him on that as soon as we got home. He gobbled it down in two minutes flat and was a completely different little guy afterwards -- quiet, alert, satisfied. That just proves how much he needed it. He gave us a big fat burp and a big juicy poopy diaper, and now he's asleep (as is Bengt).

I'm bummed that I worked SO hard for two days with nothing to show for it, but hey, what more can I do? Nothing. He'll still get whatever milk I have, and the formula will be good for him, too. I'm relieved, actually. I'm looking forward to all of us sleeping better and Max being more satisfied and gaining weight.

So that's the scoop.

January 18

Hi! Max had a checkup yesterday and the midwife said he is not gaining fast enough, so we are on a schedule of feedings every two hours, day and night. UGH! As if that weren't enough, Max suddenly wants to be fed even more often at night. I didn't get a bit of sleep last night, until 7:30 a.m. when I woke Bengt up in tears and he rocked and consoled Max for almost two hours so I could sleep. I think my milk supply is increasing now, which is the point. When each feeding is bigger, I won't have to feed him as often. We go back to check his weight again tomorrow (although I don't see how you can get an accurate picture of what's going on after only two days...). If he doesn't start gaining weight faster, we're going to have to supplement with formula. Bummer. But whatever -- I'm not going to get upset about it. I'm doing my best, and the main thing is that Max gets enough to eat.

That's about it for the time being. I know it's not much, but there's really not much going on here besides eating, sleeping, and pooping. More later.

January 15

Hello! Yesterday was a total loss; I had a migraine headache. Probably from lack of deep sleep. I didn't feel particularly tired, but my eyes were burning (this was before the headache hit). So Bengt spent last night in our bed with the baby, while I spent the night in the single bed in Max's room. Bengt came and woke me up every time my services were required. He burped the baby and after each feeding I went back to the other room and went back to sleep. The result was that I slept MUCH more soundly than I've been sleeping since we got home. At one point Bengt said, "This is no problem. It's clockwork." I said, "Are you sleeping in between his feedings?" He said, "Yes. Well, more like dozing." "Well, try dozing every night for a week and see how you feel."

Maybe I can get Max's room again tonight...

Bengt and Lin are in the TV room watching Life of Brian, which they both love. I'm completely Monty Python-illiterate. I don't find any humor in it whatsoever! I feel like a loser.

Lin and I took Max out for his first ride in the baby carriage today. He was great! He didn't complain while we added layers of clothes, and for most of the ride, he had his eyes wide open. He was looking at the inside of the carriage and taking in the new smells and the feeling of cold air on his little face. It was precious!

January 7

Today we had to go out and buy new baby clothes -- smaller ones. Max was swimming in the size I bought for him before he was born. We only bought a few things. He doesn't spit up and can wear the same clothes for days without getting yucky.

Bengt fell in love with Max as soon as he was born. He has been able to comfort and care for Max since the very first minutes. I took awhile to warm up to him. Maybe because labor and delivery were so painful. (I think I was actually in a little bit of shock. I know that afterwards I was wandering aimlessly around the corridors of L&D. Thinking back, I don't know what I thought I was doing. I felt like a train wreck. Bengt was sitting in our temporary room holding and admiring Max.) I still don't really feel like I've fully grasped the fact that this little bundle is here to stay. I feel more attached to him every day, so I assume that the maternal feeling will continue to grow for awhile. It doesn't worry me that I didn't fall in love with him immediately. That's just the way I am. I didn't expect to be overjoyed when he was born. I was infinitely relieved that the worst of the pain was over!!!!!!

I've written down all the details of the labor and delivery for my own uses. Right now Bengt is checking the details to see if they jive with his recollection of it. Later, I'll write about the period after delivery, when we stayed in the "patient hotel". If you want to read what I've written (warning! all the gory details are included!), then let me know and I'll e-mail it to you when it's done.

January 5, 2000

Howdy. We've been home since January 1. Life is pretty good. Max is a good eater and a good sleeper. He makes eye contact and he definitely lets us know when we do something he doesn't like! We got ourselves quite a little character.

The breastfeeding is still a bit painful but it gets better every day. We went for a check-up today and Max is gaining weight well (so far). I'm still pretty sore, so they examined me as well, and I have a pretty large hematoma (that's just a fancy word for bruise, isn't it?) that will take awhile to heal. I'm ok as long as I sit on something soft or (better yet) stay horizontal!

The delivery was quite an ordeal, I have to say. It gave new meaning to the word "excruciating". I couldn't have done it without the wonderful help and support of Bengt and the midwives at the hospital. Afterwards one of the midwives came and talked to me about the delivery. She said she felt inadequate because I was in such pain and normally they would have given me an epidural. But the anesthesiologist had nixed the epidural ahead of time because of possible deformed blood vessels in my spine. ARGH! So I had to make do with laughing gas, acupuncture (which they use for relaxation -- it worked great!) and paracervical blockade (PCB), which didn't work very well. During the final stage, I pushed for almost two hours. A midwife had to lean with all her weight on my stomach to help me push him out. (Max was born with his hand up against his cheek, so I had to squeeze his arm out along with his head.) I was screaming my head off, I'm sorry to say. I'm still "processing" the experience, and I'm not anxious to do it again!!

After delivery, it was Max's turn to scream bloody murder. He hollered angrily for ten minutes!

We really got FABULOUS care at the hospital. Bengt and I were completely amazed. We were just talking about it again today -- that we don't think we could have found or afforded such care in the U.S. even if we'd been determined to -- and this is the standard care! Our tax dollars (or rather, our tax kronor) at work!

I wanted to e-mail pictures or put them on my web site by today at the latest, but a catastrophe happened: When Bengt rewound the film, it got jammed in the camera! Not realizing it, he opened it. Today he took the camera to a lab and they took it into a dark room and got the film out. He left the film there for developing -- we'll see what they can salvage. But they were swamped with everyone's Christmas and New Years pictures, so they couldn't get to it today. And tomorrow is a holiday here. So we can't pick up the pics until Friday at the earliest. SORRY for the delay!!!!! I wish we could show our little treasure to you right now, in person! I will post pics as soon as I can!

Today I took Max's diaper off and he peed all over me for the first time. (He's already peed on Bengt twice.)

Max has a flat butt, so his diaper keeps falling down. Today a monster BM got smeared all over the inside of his nice new white pajamas. Lovely. We did our first emergency load of laundry.

I'm sitting here with the baby monitor in front of me. Bengt just went up and said into Max's end of it, "This is Max speaking..." What a hoot. We are having some laughs. I can't believe Bengt still has his sense of humor after all he's been through. Life with a newborn and a recently pregnant wife can't be easy, but he says he's having a ball. He takes care of Max more than I do. I do the nursing and Bengt does almost everything else. Bengt and Max sitting on the couch entertaining each other is really a sight to see.

It is great to fit back into normal clothes again. I have only 3 pounds left to my pre-pregnancy weight. Also, even though I hadn't yet tired of being pregnant when Max was born, it is, indeed, nice to not have this energetic little guy kicking around inside of me. I can lay on my back again, eat and breathe comfortably, bend over to tie my shoes, etc. I don't miss being pregnant at all, even though I enjoyed it. Having a spunky little baby is better!

Hope you all had nice holidays.




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