What's New at the Pålssons'

 

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

May 30, 2000: Max's 5-month checkup and Eileen's sense of "humor"

Max had his 5-month checkup yesterday. When we walked in and I put him on the table, he suddenly acted very apathetic and stared blankly at nothing. Not what you want your kid to do at a checkup! You're all set to show him off and he turns off the juice! He must have just been thinking or something, but he was like that for about 10 long seconds and I was just about to exclaim, "He's not usually like this!" when he perked up. Everything is fine. Max appears to be very healthy and developing normally. He weighs 9075 g (20 lbs.) and is 67.8 cm (26 3/4") long. Big baby! Heavier than most. He is very compact and sturdy.

I have to tell you the two jokes I've come up with recently. There may be hope for me yet?!? First, I was out with some American women and one of them was telling us that if you don't name your baby within one year, this Swedish governmental authority will assign a name to the baby. We were wondering what the government would name a baby. I suggested that they would name him or her Seven Of Nine. You are now part of the collective. Resistance is futile. Ha ha! (If you don't get this joke, then you are either not a Star Trek Voyager fan or you are not familiar with the Swedish "big brother" mentality.)

Then the other night Bengt asked, "Did you feed 'im?" as I was returning to bed at 4 a.m. "Feed whom?" I replied. HA HA HA HA HA HA! Ok, well, to be honest I didn't actually respond like that but came up with it a few seconds after I'd answered "Yes." (Dang!) Then I proceeded to snicker into my pillow at my own little joke for the next ten minutes. Maybe because it was 4 a.m.

Bengt didn't think either of my jokes were funny, so if you agree with him you are not alone.

We are having a difficult day. Max has not been napping well. First he woke up WAY early, then by 2:30 p.m. he had taken three 10- to 20-minute naps, and he desperately needed more sleep but I couldn't get him to stay asleep. I had to change our morning plans and he was fussy and difficult. He wore me out! I was near tears several times. The little varmint! I tried to pat him and rock him to sleep in his crib, but that ended with Max screaming tears of rage and frustration until I caved and took him to bed with me. Should I not have given in??? It's so hard to know! I don't know what the problem is. I know he can sleep by himself. Right now we're supposed to be at our second-to-last swimming lesson. But he finally fell into a deep sleep and no way was I going to wake Max up to go swimming on a difficult day like today!

Thursday is a holiday here, so Bengt will be home. Yippee! We have lots of yard work to do, but hopefully there will be some extra R&R in it for me.


May 29 -- Still working on developing a fixed schedule

We still don't have a regular schedule. It's a bit of a bummer not being able to plan any activities with other moms. (I've stopped going to those two mom & baby groups for the most part, since Max doesn't sleep in his stroller, and going someplace if he hasn't just had a nap is out of the question.) And the trip to Perstorp definitely caused a regression in sleep habits. Last night was the first night that Max slept through as well as he did the week before we went, and naptimes are still a struggle because he wakes up after too short a time and is cranky.

At 6 p.m. Friday we met some friends at a restaurant. At 4:30 or 5 Max was ok but I had a strong feeling that this was not going to go well -- that Max wanted to be at home. (And I don't think I was projecting...) Sure enough, he was very distressed and cried almost continuously at the restaurant and I had to bring him home early in a taxi. I think he would have been ok (though not thrilled) if it hadn't been for the other baby at the restaurant. He or she was fussy, and at every cry from that baby, Max dissolved into tears.

Something similar happened at Max's swim lesson yesterday: Max was pretty happy to swim, but another baby wasn't, and his father insisted. That baby's cries upset Max again and again. He definitely does not like to hear other babies cry! I felt bad for that other baby, too, whose father wasn't listening to him!

On the food front, Max eats a small serving of vegetables every evening. Last night was the third time he'd had peas puréed with potatoes, and he informed me of his verdict: he doesn't like them. He happily ate mashed banana after refusing peas. On tonight's menu: Corn mashed with bananas. Will keep you posted. ;-)

Yesterday Max suddenly stopped sucking in the middle of a feed, turned onto his back, stuck a finger in his mouth and stared blankly at the ceiling, apparently deep in thought. After about a minute, he burst out laughing for no apparent reason! About 20 seconds after that he turned back to finish his meal. Wow. I wonder what he was thinking about! Was he remembering some silly trick that Bengt or I had performed to elicit laughter, or had he thought of something new?

Max is still not mobile at all. He has turned over once or twice, but I'm now convinced that it was just chance. When on his stomach, he doesn't even support himself on his arms anymore. We push his arms under him, but almost immediately they fly up in the air at his sides, and his legs come up off the bed (or floor or whatever), so he's just lying on his stomach with his arms and legs waving around in the air. It looks very comical and he gets very frustrated very quickly! I don't know how to help him figure out what to do on his stomach.

When Max wakes up after a good sleep, he usually calls, "Mmmommmommmommmommm!" Is this pre-"Mommy"? I can't tell. He never says anything similar otherwise. In fact, he hasn't come up with any new sounds at all these last few weeks, except a certain grunt.

To sum up, in the past couple of weeks I don't think Max has come any closer to mobility or speech, but sleep habits and eating habits are in the process of change. Not that we're set on having him walk or talk ASAP! That will come soon enough. Our "goal" is simply to be well and have fun.


May 25 -- Home after a nice visit in Skåne

Howdy, folks! I hope all of you are well. I had 22 e-mail messages and three actual letters in my "In" basket when I got home, so it will take me awhile to answer them...

We had a good time at the Pålssons'. They are simply crazy about Max! It is heartwarming. I got some good pictures of them doting on him.

I was a bit nervous about the sleeping situation, how the new environment would affect Max. (Yes, I am obsessed about Max's sleep habits -- since they so directly affect my own!) Though he has been to Perstorp before, he probably didn't remember anything, and we had a travel bed with us this time. The first night, he wouldn't go to sleep on his own (understandable), but once he got to sleep, he stayed asleep the whole night! The second and thirds nights he fell asleep all by himself -- I was sooooo proud of him!!! -- but woke up twice one night and three times the next! BUMMER! Then he only slept about 45 min. on the train home. So forgive me, but I am ready for a break from Max and look forward to this weekend when Bengt can share more in his care!

On the train on the way home, we had seats in a "quiet car". It turns out that all this means is that mobile phones aren't allowed. Wouldn't you think it would also mean that they turn the loudspeaker (for announcements) down or off, and that loud conversation or partying would be discouraged? Well, it doesn't! There were three Danish teenagers adjacent to us, and they were drinking and conversing loudly, including meowing (?!), imitating the toilet flushing, snorting, etc. In addition, they were using a mobile phone! Doh! Max was very tired but couldn't get to sleep with all that racket. I asked twice to be moved and the conductor finally let us move to another section which was supposedly completely vacant all the way to Stockholm. Max fell asleep almost instantly. But about 40 minutes later some other people got on the train, and sure enough, they had tickets for the seats we were occupying! ARGH! So we had to move again, and that woke Max up. It was the worst train trip I've ever had -- with the exception of the trip down, during which I was nauseous and Max wouldn't sleep and was therefore difficult to keep happy. Boy, if train trips are this strenuous, I'm not looking forward to our flight over to Chicago in August!

Max was happy to see Bengt, who picked us up at Stockholm's Central Station. They had a nice evening together, and then Max and I had a good laugh. As usual, I was making funny words and sounds, and Max laughed so hard that he started coughing -- and then continued laughing as soon as he recovered. He was in his "exer-saucer" (if that's what it's called) and just going wild jumping around in it and laughing hysterically! It was so rewarding and so much fun to see him so entertained.

Later he fell asleep by himself in his crib after nursing. Excellent!

Oh, I have to tell you two more things:

Bengt called when Max and I were in Perstorp. I held the phone up to Max's ear and Bengt talked to him. Max stopped wiggling to listen and seemed quite surprised, then turned towards the phone to examine it. This happened twice. I was surprised that such a young a baby's reaction can be so much like an adult's would be in the same situation (if a telephone were something new).

The other thing is that I was whispering in Max's ear the other day (just for fun). This was interesting to him. He was listening carefully and imitating me by going, "Hhhhhhhhh!" So he was whispering, too! I was surprised he knew how to make the "h" sound.

Oh, and one more thing: Max bit my nipple last night! It hurt! Good thing he doesn't have any teeth yet! I made sure he knew I didn't like it.


May 20 -- Max was saaaaad!

Max took three naps yesterday. For each of those naps, Max fell asleep by himself in his crib!!! Yeeehaaa! Occasionally he needs to be jiggled back into a deep sleep, but that's nothing compared to the contortions I was going through before.

In addition, last night he slept through the night again! I chose to get him up at 5:30 for a feed, and after that he slept until 7:50.

I have to tell you about when Max woke up from his second nap yesterday. I heard him moaning pitifully, so I went in and he was crying sooooo sadly in his sleep! I rubbed his back and spoke soothingly, but he kept crying. So I gently woke him up and got him up for hugs and kisses. He cried as if his little heart were broken! I got him calmed down quickly and then distracted him, so he was fine, but I've never heard that cry from him before. It's always been discomfort, frustration, pain, hunger, or whatever but never sadness. This was his first display of real sorrow, and it was heart-wrenching! I wonder what he was dreaming about. Poor little guy.

Yesterday I was reading an article in a Swedish parents' magazine about three year-old babies that they'd been following since before birth. I noticed that two of them weighed 9 kg (20 lbs.) and one weighed 10 kg. Max is less than five months old and he weighs about 9 kg! So is Max gigantic for his age, or what?? I don't think he looks particularly fat anymore. Just chubby like a baby "should". He certainly has less of a double chin than just a few weeks ago.


May 19: Max is napping by himself!

Max woke up at 3:30 this morning for a feed, which was ok since I was half awake and needing to feed him. Then he woke up again at 6:00. Totally unnecessary, if you ask me! He mumbled to himself and tossed and turned until I finally got him up at 6:45.

The good news is that when he got tired again at 8:00, he succeeded in falling asleep by himself in his crib!!! Good boy!!!! Ok, I had to jiggle the crib for 1-2 minutes, but I'm more than willing to do that! He's been sleeping for an hour now! I'm so grateful that he's napping without me!

We have a friend here from out of town, and Max and I have a busy day ahead, so I need to cut this short. Take care.


May 18: Very well-rested!!!

Max woke up twice each of the last two nights, but slept long and well in between. But last night was even better: He didn't wake up for his "usual" 1 a.m. or 3:30 a.m. feedings! However, I woke up at 3:50 with overflowing boobs. Being in some pain, I couldn't get back to sleep, so when I heard him stir at 4:45, I rushed to get him up for a feeding. He went right back down and didn't wake up again until 8:30! WOW!

I slept so much that I woke up with a headache! Now that's a switch!

I've been staying close to home in order to try to get a handle on when Max needs to nap. One book I read said not to wait until the baby is fussy (which I was) before putting him down, but to look for earlier signs such as losing interest in toys, staring into space, and yawning. Sounds obvious, doesn't it? Well, then I was dense. Max is much easier to put down if I do it before he gets fussy. Often he's only up for 1 1/2 to 2 hours before needing a nap. And I think I'm starting to see a pattern in his napping. I would love a pattern! Something to plan our days around! Enough of this chaos.

The next step is definitely to get Max to nap without waking up every time he discovers that I've left his side. I'll do just about anything for his well-being, but I draw the line at being a human pacifier for someone who needs many hours of sleep every day! It drives me absolutely insane!

Max's sleep has gotten better since I started giving him solid food. This seems strange to me, because he isn't actually eating more than a couple of teaspoons of food every evening. So I have my own humble theory: It's not the fuller tummy that's making him sleep better, but the extra energy he must expend to digest the food. If you've ever fasted, you know that once you stop digesting food, you need much less sleep. It follows that when you start eating, you need a lot more sleep. Doesn't it?

Other developments besides sleep: Max is starting to seem aware of me as a separate person. He looks at me differently and reaches out to feel my face. At least once per day we lie in bed "talking". He babbles away, with his gaze alternating between his hands (which he often has clasped together on his tummy), my face, and some point over my shoulder. He's so serious in this conversation that it's hard not to laugh. And he's so cute that I can hardly stand it!

Bengt has commented on how you can see Max's pulse in his fontanel, and it looks "alien".


May 15: Well-rested!!!

Last night Max slept from 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.! When I tiptoed in to check on him at 5:30, he was just lying there, staring at the ceiling (where I had put up some interesting things for him to look at). He wasn't even that anxious to be fed!

I changed him and fed him, then had him sit in his chair while I ate breakfast. Then I offered him a bottle, but he pushed it away and yawned. Taking the cue, I put him down again at 6:40 a.m., and he's sleeping again! Incredible! I guess if I hadn't gotten him up at 5:30, he would have fallen back asleep. But I'm glad I got him up -- my boobs were killing me.

I don't know if it's just a coincidence, but I just started giving Max solid food again two days ago, and yesterday evening was the first time I'd given him food in the evening. He ate a couple of teaspoons of mashed potatoes around 6:30 p.m. It doesn't seem like that could have made the difference. But I'm going to keep doing it!

Since fell asleep at 10 p.m. myself, I'm incredibly well-rested today. It's not much of an exaggeration to say I feel reborn.

We had the shower for Liz yesterday, and I thought it went very well. Bengt helped me prepare in the morning and took care of Max all afternoon. We had lunch, and two of the other women brought quiche, salads, etc. I provided a fruit salad, drinks, and part of the dessert. It was fun! The weather was gorgeous, and the three kids that were along were running in and out. The five-year-old had a meltdown about 2:30. I can see that happening to Max in the future, and I hope I handle it as calmly as this little girl's mother handled it.

The gorgeous weather continues here... I love it, though we could really use some rain.


May 12

The other night, Max woke up twice but fell back to sleep when I let him fuss a little (not cry). In the morning he was laughing when I went in to him -- he was in the best mood ever! I was overjoyed that he'd managed to get himself back to sleep, but then things disintegrated the rest of the day. Max wouldn't nap and he got more and more whiny as the day wore on. By evening I was in tears myself. Waaah!

Since that night, he hasn't repeated his behavior of getting himself back to sleep during the night. However, he has fallen asleep several times when placed in his crib awake. So I guess generally things are looking up, sleep-wise.

In the last two days, Max has finally started reaching out his arms for what he wants. Previously, he reached out a little bit toward objects placed on his stomach or very close to him, but now he stretches towards things he wants. Suddenly his baby gym is more interesting!

Max has this rattle that his cousin Ben gave him. It's made of hard plastic and makes a relatively loud sound when shaken. It's probably too large for someone Max's age. He likes to play with it, but I have to take it away from him after a few minutes, because he gets to shaking the thing and it gets out of control. He gets alarmed at the loud noise, and the more alarmed he becomes, the more vigorously he shakes it, trying to gain control! Then he tends to bonk himself on the head with it. It's pretty comical!

Another funny thing Max has been doing lately is trying to "talk" to me while being nursed. It's all I can do not to laugh when he has his little mouth fastened on to me, yet he's talking away, seeming to have plenty to say!

We've continued to use the baby pack instead of the baby carriage or stroller. I can always count on Max to ride for at least 60 minutes without complaint. The only disadvantage is that if we're outside and it's sunny, I have to carry a parasol to keep the sun off Max. He hates to have the sun shining in his eyes, and direct sun isn't good for him anyway.

We've been warned by other parents of boys that babies tend to pee when you take off their diaper. Being constructed as they are, the boys tend to squirt. We are warned to keep a washcloth or something on him while he's bare. Well, Max hasn't done this in months. He doesn't pee when his diaper is off. I even had him on the bathroom floor for about a half hour last night after his bath, and he didn't pee. Why would that be?

My friend Liz's baby is due next week, and we are having a shower for her here on Sunday. I'm looking forward to that. It's kind of strange for me that soon one of my friends will have a baby younger than Max. It even seems weird to see women with younger babies at the shopping center. I think of Max as brand new, but now there are even newer people around than him!

But it also makes me realize how far Bengt and I have come as parents these past few months. When I think of how stressed we were those first couple of weeks and months compared to now, I'm really glad to have more experience and a baby that's a bit more sturdy. I don't envy brand new parents at all! In fact, I feel kind of sorry for Liz and Bengt (her husband's name is Bengt, too), knowing what they're probably headed for in the coming weeks! We weren't unhappy, but I hope they enjoy the experience more than we did.

Max and I are going to Perstorp again May 22-25. I hope the train trip and everything goes as well as last time.

The other day I heard on the radio that Skansen (Stockholm's park/zoo) was having its annual event where toddlers who feel ready can give up their pacifiers by donating them to the park's kittens! I think that is such a great idea! It makes it so much easier for the kids to stop their habit if they believe their pacifiers will be used by those cute little animals! They have a little ceremony and the children get lots of praise for their gifts.

The weather is still fabulous here, and our cherry and apple trees are in bloom! This afternoon Max and I are meeting two moms and two babies down at the local park -- the same ones that were here for brunch last Saturday. Max is already up from his morning nap so I'm a little nervous about how he'll behave.


May 8: The obsessed parents

Here's a quote from the "Four Months" chapter of Touchpoints by T. Berry Brazelton. I was laughing out loud as I read it today, because I'm so obviously the typical case in point!

Over many years of practice, I remember looking forward especially to the four-month visit. Parents and baby are now "an item." Bonds of affection are weaving them tightly into a family. Even brand-new parents are likely to be more self-confident at this visit. Either parent may carry the baby, tossing him about like a package. When they sit down, they place the baby out in front of them to coo and gurgle over him. If he is sleepy, they wake him to perform. They watch other people to check whether they are noticing and admiring this remarkable offspring of theirs. Innocent bystanders in the waiting room are regaled with his latest achievements. It's likely that friends and co-workers find them a touch boring.

Once in the office, both parents tend to tickle him and to coo in high-pitched voices—anything to elicit one of his adorable responses. When I must undress him, they hover over me to be sure I'm handling him properly. When I give him an inoculation, they wince and grab him away from me. They know him now and are at a peak of their love affair with him....

So, yes, I think our little buy is absolutely adorable! Especially today. He was so agreeable, so willing to entertain himself and be entertained. We spent hours outside, sometimes just sitting (Max in the shade, Mommy in the sun).

For awhile Max was playing with my fingers as I occasionally took bites of an apple. Then I realized he was sucking eagerly on my fingers because of the apple juice. I put the apple up to his mouth and rotated it as he sucked the juice off of all the areas I'd bitten into. Then I bit into more areas for him. I felt kind of guilty because he's supposed to get used to the taste of vegetables before fruits, but I didn't resist. He was enjoying it so much, and so was I!

There's no danger in letting Max suck on something I've already bitten into, is there? Unless I was sick or something, in which case he'd already be infected, anyway?

We had a breakthrough of sorts last night: Max woke up for feedings at both 12:30 (because I didn't wake him before I went to bed) and 4:00, but after the 4:00 feeding he fell back asleep by himself! He objected when I moved away from him in bed, so I went to get him a bottle, and by the time I got back his eyes were half-closed and he was just mumbling sweetly to himself. I left the room and waited quietly, and he fell asleep and didn't wake up until 7:00! Of course, I was so sure he would awaken at any moment and cry that it took me forever to fall back asleep, so I didn't get much sleep after that feeding. But it's a good sign!

Since Max clearly detests riding in his baby carriage now, I tried putting him in the stroller the other day. He's too small for it, not steady enough for long rides. So we're using the Baby Björn baby pack for now. It makes my back a little sore, but it's tolerable -- and kinda nice having him strapped to my body, leaving my hands free!

"Swimming lessons" yesterday went ok, but it is very clear to me that Max can't handle new things at every lesson. It would be different if we were going every day and practicing what we learned at each lesson, but a week is an eternity to a baby and I don't think the exercizes from the week before seem very familiar to him. From now on, we're just going to go and splash around and listen to the instructor. We don't have to try everything she teaches us. The main thing is for Max to have fun and keep enjoying being in the water.

I hope to put a sound file containing Max's laugh on this website soon. He has the most wonderful, unrestrained laugh, from deep in his little chest! It's so contagious! It's like the laugh of an angel.


May 6: Brunch and comparing babies

Howdy. Hope you're all having a good weekend. We're having some gorgeous weather, and I hear you Michiganders are, too.

We had two couples and their babies over for brunch today. They all live within ten minutes of here. Susanne and Dave's daughter Hanna(h?) is about two weeks older than Max, and Kim and Ulf's son Jonah is about two weeks younger. It was so much fun! I don't think we talked about anything but our babies and childrearing issues, but it was so interesting looking at each others' babies and comparing what they're doing and what difficulties we're having. I don't think any of us is comparing to see which baby is further along or anything like that. It's just interesting to see the different things they're doing and get tips on what solutions to try for the problems. But I'm actually interested in what other interests (if any) these people have! We just haven't gotten to that, yet!

I've noticed that Max is slower than other babies to reach out and grab things and manipulate them with his hands. Other babies his age play with their feet, and I've never seen Max do that. He is also not ready for solid food and isn't a great sleeper. On the other hand, Max has extremely strong legs and good balance for his age. And from what I can tell Max has a wider than average range of "words" in his vocabulary, and he clearly responds verbally when spoken to. He certainly laughs out loud a lot more than most other babies. I'm sure all of this is normal. I'm so amazed that babies develop so differently. They have strengths and weaknesses and their own personalities right from the beginning!

This evening I gave Max a bath and he really enjoyed it. He grabbed the sides of the plastic tub and kicked with his legs, smiling the whole time. I always let him splash and play at the beginning and end of his bath (that is, before and after I wash him).

After his bath we laid on the bed together nose to nose and "talked". It sounded for all the world like Max was telling me his impressions of the day, even though his words didn't make sense. Wow! He's only four months old, and he's really got that conversational vocal melody down pat! I just supplied the usual "Yeah, I know" and "Oh, do you think so?" wherever it seemed appropriate...

I keep trying to read baby books to Max, but he's clearly not interested. He lasts about 15 seconds. I guess all I can do is keep showing them to him, and eventually he'll get interested.

I suppose I could mention other things that are going on that don't concern Max! Believe it or not, I still have other interests. I'm still on the board of American Citizens Abroad, for instance. In fact, I put together this year's member directory last weekend, and today I got the printed directories and newsletters. Another board member is coming over tomorrow to help stuff, label, and stamp envelopes for this month's mailing. I think this is a very worthwhile organization. I've gotten (and shared) a lot of valuable information and made lots of good contacts over the years.


May 4: Inconsiderate man coughs on Max!

Took another trek into Stockholm today. We didn't drive but took the baby carriage on the bus & train after all. But this time I took the Baby Björn baby pack. Max got upset about all the sudden loud sounds but calmed down when I put him in the baby pack, so he spent most of the day in that, and I pushed the empty carriage.

We did use the baby carriage when Max fell asleep in the restaurant, and I moved him to that for his nap. However, another restaurant guest promptly put a stop to the nap by turning away from his table to cough loudly, directly at the carriage. Max woke up, startled, but I jiggled the carriage and he went back to sleep. However, then my lunch companion recognized someone at that table and called softly over to him. The guy, hearing his name, turned around and started talking very loudly back to my companion. That did it -- Max dissolved into tears and was awake for hours.

(Normal restaurant sounds and people talking in normal tones of voices don't wake Max once he's asleep. But LOUD coughing and hollering in our direction would wake anyone up. Argh!)

Anyway, from now on, I'm leaving that carriage at home! Unless Max likes the stroller -- I'll try that out around our neighborhood one of these days.

I had a dentist appointment this morning, but the woman was sick so it was postponed. It was a follow-up appointment. I was there about four weeks ago to have my teeth cleaned and see to a gum inflammation. The hygienist told me I wasn't flossing often enough. Yikes, embarrassing. Since I started doing it every day, my mouth feels great! The difference is amazing.


May 2

Today I drove Max to a big store near here, and he was overstimulated again. He had recently had a three-hour nap, so he couldn't have been tired. He just does not like sudden sounds or particularly loud or unpleasant sounds. This store has a little recycling room where you can return cans and stuff, and we went in there but Max started crying immediately because someone was throwing glass into a container, making shattering sounds. So we went outside and waited until we could have the room to ourselves. We went in there and I started putting cans into the can-crushing machine, and he didn't like that, either! It wasn't even that loud! I had to put him at the opposite side of the room while I did it, and keep talking to reassure him, and even so he whimpered the whole time.

Then I wheeled the cart into the store, and they have a flat escalator that takes you downstairs. Just the little bump you have to go over when getting on the escalator startled Max and he started crying! When you get to the bottom, there is an even bigger threshold, and I had to lift the front of the cart over that threshold or he would have gone ballistic.

Then any time there were loud voices next to us or announcements over the P.A. system, Max whimpered or started crying, and had to be comforted. For heaven's sake! Needless to say, I got my shopping done as quickly as possible and got the heck out of there! On the way home, Max was so exhausted that he fell asleep in the car, even though it is only a 10-minute drive.

So what is going on here? Is it just a sensitive stage, or what? We are supposed to go into Stockholm again on Thursday, so I'm wondering how to handle that. I may drive, since the bus and train ride might wear him out before we even get there...

I bought Max a couple of nifty teething rings today, since he's been mouthing everything. I had read about them in a consumer test of teething rings and these were best, but strangely, Max didn't like them. (I guess the people who carried out the test weren't babies! Duh!) The rubber end was too wide for his mouth, and the plastic prongs at the other end seemed too thick for him to want to put into his mouth (though they would have fit in there). He didn't seem to know what to do with the thing. So I took it from him and started chewing on it, shaking my head like a dog would shake a -- well, whatever it is they shake. This was the most hilarious thing Max had ever seen. He laughed as never before! Needless to say, I kept it up for quite awhile. :-)

Then Bengt came home and I wanted to show him what had entertained Max so much. This time Max wouldn't even crack a smile. That left me shaking this teething ring in my mouth in front of Bengt, making a complete fool of myself.

Our little guy is so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed sometimes, and with his stubby hair sticking up, he just looks so funny! I crack up when I see him. He reminds me of a squirrel or chipmunk. Or a hedgehog -- though I don't really know how hedgehogs act. I just like the word "hedgehog"... Hedgehog hedgehog hedgehog hedgehog.

I told you we were going to start giving Max solid foods. We gave him what the Swedish pediatricians recommend for a baby's first meal: a mixture of cooked potatoes and parsnips and a little formula. He seemed interested but not excited (who would be?). He opened his mouth for the spoon, and he swished the stuff around in his mouth for awhile, but he didn't seem to understand that he was supposed to swallow it, so he didn't and it eventually dribbled out of his mouth. But I guess that's the way it usually is when babies start eating. In any case, it was kinda fun.

However, after three little feedings (and they were really just tastes of food -- I'm sure he didn't get more than a teaspoon down each time) during a period of two days, he had such bad gas that we've stopped. His digestive system is obviously not ready for it. Our friend Betsy had warned us that this could happen. (Thanks, Bets! It was good to be forewarned!) We'll try again in a couple of weeks or so. No hurry!

I may have mentioned before that there are at least two other English-speaking families in Sollentuna with babies who are almost exactly the same age as Max. That is a pretty amazing coincidence! Bengt and I are having them over for brunch on Sunday. Neat, huh? We're excited.

And finally, have a look at this website of catscans! That is, literally cats that have been scanned! You can skip the top of the page and scroll down towards the bottom for the good pictures! Bengt wants to scan Maja, but I think it's kind of mean.


April 29

Well, Max did have a reaction to the vaccination, albeit a mild one: He spent one hour Thursday evening screaming as never before, until Bengt got some Baby Tylenol in him and it took effect. And he was pretty sluggish all day Friday.

In general, though, Max is becoming more and more alert and aware. He "talks" with us a lot and smiles when we say one of his "words" to get him talking. He doesn't cry much, though he fusses if he's bored or hungry or overstimulated. He smiles at me when I come to get him out of bed, and he smiles at Bengt when he gets home from work. What a nice welcome! Max laughs out loud a lot, too. Bengt holds him face down and flies him in the air like an airplane, and I thought it was too early but Max laughs -- he loves it. He also laughs sometimes when we talk to him, and when we tickle him. I'm glad he's ticklish. Bengt isn't at all, and I am, and that's so unfair!! (Of course we're careful not to overdo the tickling with such a little boy.)

We are having another three-day weekend. The weather is GORGEOUS today, so I want to get off the PC and out in the yard. Max is taking his 10 o'clock nap now, right on schedule! Yay! And last night we had the best night ever: Max slept from 9:30 p.m. to 4:45 a.m., and then from 5:30 to 7:00, when Bengt got up with him. I got a lot of sleep last night. But I still have the sick headache I've been fighting off for three days! Argh!

Hope you are all having a good weekend!


April 27

Max had his first vaccination today -- a single injection for all of the following:

  • Diphtheria

  • Tetanus

  • Whooping cough

  • Polio

  • Haemophilus influenzae type B

He was supposed to have this shot a month ago, but I managed to put it off. He gets the second dose in two months. So far he hasn't had any reaction to it -- knock on wood. They say some babies have attacks of screaming several hours after the injection. Yikes!

The midwife weighed Max, and sure enough, he weighs 8360 grams or 18.4 pounds. Big boy!

One observant reader pointed out that I told you about a plan for changing Max's sleeping schedule (see March 29), but I never got back to you with the results. Well, I was hoping you'd forget about that! :-) We put off implementing the plan for one night, then another night, and before long we'd blown it off. It's one thing to sit there and work out a plan on paper, and another thing to stand there holding a hungry, crying baby at 3 a.m. We decided (or realized) that he was too young for our intervention.

The good news is that the last few nights he has finally been stretching out the feedings all by himself! Three nights ago he slept six hours between feedings, and last two nights six and a half! After that long stretch, he sleeps several more hours before the final feeding. He still sleeps around an hour after the last feeding, but that's ok with me since it's from around 7 to 8 a.m. rather than 5:30 to 6:30.

Max and I had an absolutely awful day in town yesterday. It was a nightmare. First, Max didn't stay asleep for his 10:30 nap, so he was tired when we left at 1 p.m. I thought that wouldn't be a problem because he would fall asleep in the baby carriage. But instead, he stayed awake for the bus and train trip into town, and when we got off the train he started crying. After about 10 minutes I figured out that he was too hot in the baby carriage, even though he was wearing only indoor clothes and it was only about 62 degrees. That carriage really heats up when the sun shines on it! So I took him out and calmed and fed him, then took off his pants and opened the top up some more so he'd be cooler.

But by then he was overtired, and every little sound and bump in the sidewalk irritated him. I had the sun at my back, and I shielded him pretty well with my shadow and by pulling the carriage backwards, but Max cried with renewed vigor every time he got a ray of sun in his eyes. Someone bumped the carriage and he was inconsolable. A car horn blared near us and Max started screaming bloody murder. He was trying to go to sleep, and usually he can ignore sounds and movements, but this time he just got more and more hysterical. I could comfort him by taking him out of the carriage, but then I was stuck in one place, because I couldn't hold him while pushing the carriage. As soon as I laid him down in it again, he'd start bawling again. What was I supposed to do? Wait until 2 a.m. when the streets quieted down?

I would have just turned around and gone home, but by the time I realized he was not going to calm down until it got quiet, I figured it was quicker just to meet my friend in the park, as planned, than travel homeward. So I had to just let him cry, trying to look composed, while pushing the baby carriage through the streets of Stockholm. I was a wreck! I was thinking that all the other people were thinking about me the same thing that I'd thought when I saw something like that before I had my own baby: How can she just ignore her screaming baby and keep walking?! If someone had stopped me and said something like that to me, I think I would have yelled at them, I'll give you all my money if you can just make my baby stop crying!

Well, with a heroic effort Max finally succeeded in falling asleep five minutes before I arrived at the rendezvous point where my friend was waiting, and she probably found it difficult to understand why I was so frazzled. We went to the park, and Max woke up after an hour or so and was perfectly content. When it was time to go home, I took the fastest possible route and it was touch-and-go.

So he was really sensitive yesterday! I don't know if it was just that day, or if this is some new stage he's going through. He seemed to be discerning each and every sound, which completely overwhelmed him. I think that before, he was just hearing a dull roar and was therefore able to tune it out and fall asleep. Yikes! Do they make baby earplugs? I guess he'll just have to learn to deal with it. Any of you are welcome to send advice.

Max's hair is growing on top of his head, but not on the sides. When we don't smooth it down, it looks like a mohawk! He looks like Sonic Hedgehog. We think it's cute now, but if this continues, people are going to think we cut his hair this way on purpose. Hey, maybe we should! ;-)

I'm off to an Active Parenting introduction seminar this evening. Should be interesting.


April 24

Hurrah, Max seems to be getting on a schedule! It's not the best schedule, but it's nice to have some predictability! The schedule is:

  • Sometime between 7 and 9 p.m.: Fall asleep for the night

  • 10 p.m. if I get him up before I go to sleep, or 12 or 1 a.m. if he wakes up by himself: Up for first feeding

  • 3 or 4 a.m.: Up for second feeding

  • 6 or 7 a.m.: Up for third feeding

  • 7:30 or 8:30 a.m. (an hour after the third feeding): Happy camper greets mommy with big smile and very wet diaper

  • 10:30 or 11:00: Down for nap (interrupted by one feeding if he wasn't stuffed when we put him down)

  • 3 or 4 p.m.: Up for his longest waking period

So he only takes one nap, but it's a long one. He's been on this schedule for about a week, so I'm starting to expect it. When we start giving him cereal and small portions of solid foods next week, there may be a change for the better (less waking up for feedings). Yippee!

Now I've just knocked on wood, because if I didn't, Max would totally depart from his new schedule the second I post it on our website.


April 20

My parents arrived on Thursday the thirteenth, and we've been having a good time. They were very excited to meet Max for the first time. We were all very excited that first evening. The best part was when we stood in the kitchen and Bobbie and Max started giggling at each other. It was so contagious that Marlin and I started laughing. Soon we were all laughing and there was no stopping us! It was a memorable moment.

One of the first thing Bobbie noticed about Max is his very long, thick torso. She has her two nephews to compare with, and she says Max definitely has a long body and relatively short arms and legs, like his daddy and uncle. That would explain why the clothes for six- to nine-month-olds fit in the torso now, even though we have to roll up the sleeves and legs. That would also explain why he weighs so much. I stood on the scale the other day and then took Max in my arms, and according to that method, Max now weighs over 18 pounds. Max is bigger and seems more sturdy than many babies who are two and three months older. (I don't mean to brag about it -- there's nothing intrinsically positive about it, I guess. It's just an observation.)

Max was christened on Palm Sunday, April 16. Bengt's parents and brother came up for the occasion. The ceremony at the church was nice, and the children's choir sang a welcome song for Max (with his name in it). Max wore a long white christening dress with a light blue bow and ribbon hanging down the front. Unfortunately, he was a bit cranky at church, and he cried when the minister took him to baptize him. But it could have been worse.

Afterwards we had coffee and cake, and later on we ate a yummy fish stew that we had bought from a fish restaurant, followed by more coffee and apple crisp. The wine flowed freely and it was a really nice celebration. Max got lots of presents and was passed around among all his admirers, and by evening he was so tired that his eyes were rolling around in his head! We took a bunch of pictures....

Since we had the christening on Sunday, we had a swimming lesson on Tuesday instead. Bengt was at work, but Bobbie got in the pool with us and Marlin was there to watch. Max enjoyed it more than he has since the first time, so we will keep going to those lessons. Another little baby in the group made it very clear that she did not want to swim that day, so her parents didn't force her. I guess that happens sometimes.

The pictures that my friend took of me and Max at our first swimming lesson came out great!

I had a cold recently, and then Max got it from me, but it wasn't too bad. He was cranky and woke a couple of extra times one night, and then he got a slight runny nose. We gave him a little squirt of baby Tylenol when it was at its worst. Then Bengt came down with it. His nose was running like a faucet and he felt pretty crappy. Marlin and Bobbie have also had mild bouts of it. Share the joy, right?

Bengt's new job seems to be going well. He says it is very busy, but he has continued to come home at a reasonable hour and spend time with his family.

Marlin left today for a trip to Portugal with a friend, but Bobbie is staying until Monday.

People ask me if I miss my job at ReadSoft. I don't miss it much, and I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it, but I'm interested in what's going on there and I'm very happy I have a job I like to go back to when my maternity leave is over. What I do miss about working at ReadSoft is the relative predictability of my days. Max still doesn't have a regular schedule, so that's still a stress factor in my life.

We have started to keep Max up later, but he still wakes up for a feeding around 1:00 a.m. and then between 3:30 and 4:00 a.m. and then wakes up "for good" only an hour or so after that feeding. He can't be hungry that soon, and we have the blinds drawn in his room, so we can't figure out how to get him to sleep longer. I take him to bed with me (because he cries if I stick him back in his crib), and often we doze off and on until 7 or 8, or even 9, so it can't be because he's used to stimulation that early in the day. I'm not getting any quality sleep after that 4 a.m. feeding. So needless to say, I'd appreciate any suggestions that you mothers may have on how to get Max to sleep a little longer after that second nighttime feeding!

I asked the midwife if I could start giving him cereal. I was thinking of trying it at night, even though I don't think Max is staying awake in the mornings out of hunger. But she just said, "Nope! You'll have to hang on until he's four months old." Normally I'd just go ahead and do whatever I want, but if something goes wrong, like Max gets some kind of food sensitivity, I don't want to have myself to blame.


April 9

It's been a week since I last wrote. Max had his third "swimming" lesson today. This time he was a bit less happy with it, even though he'd had a nap and a meal beforehand. Hmm. And immediately after the session, he completely fell apart. Bengt thinks it's just a coincidence that he's become progressively less happy in the water. But I'm thinking that if it's any worse next time, I'll just blow off the lessons. There's no sense in giving Max an aversion to water just because we paid for the class. If he's not having fun, then forget it. We can try again in three more months or wait even longer.

Max had a checkup on Tuesday. He weighed 7630 g (16 lbs., 11 oz.) and was 62.3 cm (24 1/4") long. Whoa mamma! That was a jump over the curve. He's growing fast! But at least his length and weight are proportional. The midwife always looks so pleased with him. And she said to me, "He's so fine. Do you see what a fine baby he is?" I wonder if she says that to all the moms.

He was supposed to get his vaccination on Tuesday, but the fridge at the clinic broke down Monday night and all their vaccine was ruined. So we have a new appointment for this coming Tuesday. It's a quintuple vaccine, for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and polio. Yikes! I'm not looking forward to it. I wish I could take the shot for him.

I woke up this morning with a cold. DRAT! I have a moderately bad sore throat and a mild headache. And I feel tired, but that's nothing new. I actually got in a nap this afternoon, and it helped a little.

Today I finished watching all those Friends episodes that I mentioned last week. It was two entire seasons, so that was a lot of Friends! I will miss them. My TV vacation is over. No more TV for me for awhile. Unless my parents bring me some Star Trek Voyager episodes... They're arriving this coming Thursday.

Big day tomorrow: Bengt starts his new job. Although he was there three times this week, when he was supposed to be off! (Eileen is rolling her eyes in exasperation.)


April 3

Yesterday Max had his second "swimming" lesson. We dunked his head under water three times, and he didn't complain (though he sure looked surprised). He liked floating on his back, with only my hand under his head, and while on his stomach he kicked his chubby little legs like a frog and drank what looked like a few pints of water. (I tasted the water myself, to see what the attraction was, and it wasn't bad!)

Bengt went with us this time and captured Max's first dives on video. Neat! But since he was filming from above, he accidentally got a few rather shocking shots of my cleavage, as well. :-(

Max was so tired when we got to the pool that I'm surprised he did so well. He hadn't napped much, and the lesson was at 2:30 p.m. Like last time, he fell asleep in the car on the way home. When he woke up at 4:30 to eat, he was still so tired that his eyes were rolling around and he couldn't stay awake to eat, but he was too tired to sleep -- a combination which resulted in hysterical screaming. Eventually I managed to get enough food in him that he could fall asleep again, and except for a few more nighttime feedings, he slept until 5 o'clock this morning. Man, we MUST make sure he sleeps plenty before his next swimming lesson!!

While Max was sleeping so much, I was taking the opportunity to... catch up on my correspondence? clean the house? do a few of the thirty-odd items on my "to-do" list? spend some time with my husband? Guess again! I took the opportunity to take a complete break from reality by watching a bazillion episodes of the TV sitcom Friends that Bengt borrowed from a colleague. You know how when you watch a weekly show, you end up feeling kind of disappointed that you have to wait 7 days for the next installment? Well, I had to wait only about 7 seconds. I don't know how many episodes I watched. It was more than one entire season, in any case! I watched for HOURS! It was great! That show has some really funny scenes in it. I was cracking up on the TV room. I still have more episodes to watch, but I have to take a break because I dreamt about Friends all night last night. I think I dreamt I was a "friend".

And now that I've had that wonderful little break, I'm ready to face motherhood and sleepless nights again.

Max has been "talking" a lot lately. Yesterday he suddenly stopped eating, looked at me, and started babbling in a tone of voice as if he was telling me how his day went. I just listened and agreed with him occasionally.

He's been laughing a lot more, too. He laughs when I tickle him a little and when I talk in a funny voice like Donald Duck and shake my head. I don't understand what's so funny about that, but when Max laughs, I laugh too and we end up having a great time!

I don't know if I've mentioned Max's wet cornflake sensor. If there are wet cornflakes in the house, Max wakes up and demands attention. I don't know how many bowls of soggy cornflakes I've dumped. Our cornflake bill is astronomical. :-)

Speaking of cornflakes, our local grocery store used to deliver our groceries free of charge if we ordered $80 worth by Internet. However, they've now discovered it isn't profitable, so they're discontinuing the delivery service! Boo-hoo! Now we'll actually have to go do our own shopping!

Bengt is home this week, since he arranged for a week off between jobs. Friday was his last day as Technical Manager of Torget, and next Monday will be his first day as Technical Manager of Everyday.com. Good luck with your new job, Bengt!

I just hired someone to wash all of the windows in our house. Two guys are coming tomorrow morning and they expect it will take about three hours to wash our 23 windows. What a relief that will be. The windows are filthy and we haven't been able to find the time to wash them.


March 29

I have got to start getting more sleep. I can't function any longer on only 4-5 hours of quality sleep per night. Max is still waking up three times per night for feedings. He goes right back to sleep after being fed, but I don't! I have to drink water, go to the bathroom, sometimes have a snack, put the breast pads back on, etc. By the time I get back to bed, I've been up for a minimum of 45 minutes and it takes me awhile to wind down. Then I might be able to sleep for 30-60 minutes before he wakes up for his next feeding. That's just not enough! Today I dragged myself out of bed in tears when Max woke up. It's a consolation when I go to him and he breaks out in a wide toothless grin when he sees my face. I don't know what I'd do without that encouragement. I'd probably be up on the roof with a shotgun, as Bengt said!!!

I have a Plan for how to wean Max off of that middle nighttime feeding. I worked it out after having read a book on children's sleep habits. Max is too young to have us interfere much with his habits, but this is ridiculous. He is not sleeping well, either, if he's waking up three times every night and getting 1/3 of his nutrition at night. I'm going to run it by the midwife when we see her on Friday (because Max is getting his first vaccination -- yikes!), but I think we'll try it regardless. Desperate situations require desperate measures. Bengt and I intend to implement my plan starting Friday night, because he'll be home over the weekend and all of next week and we can share the burden of comforting Max at night if need be. I hope it isn't hard on Max, but none of us is sleeping well and it's our job as parents to help Max develop healthy eating and sleeping habits and fit into our family.

There was a lot more I was going to tell you, but I can't think right now what it might have been! I'll have to start making notes to myself. My brain is mush.


March 26

We had our first baby swimming lesson today! What a riot!

First I learned to hold Max on his back -- except I only have to hold his head; the rest of him floats! His head goes pretty far under water. The ears are usually under water. After a moment's initial hesitation, Max liked it! He moved his arms and legs in the water and smiled a lot! Then I learned to hold him on his tummy, facing me, with my fingers spread out under his chest and my thumbs helping to support his head when his neck gets tired. Max thought this was even more fun than lying on his back. I bet the water tickled his whole body as I dragged him through it. He kicked his legs a lot and tasted the water. He didn't mind getting his mouth under water or his face wet when the other babies inadvertently splashed him. He seemed very relaxed in the water, though he looked at my face much of the time, which I took to mean that it was reassuring to have Mommy right there.

After we parents learned those two holds, Max and I spent the rest of the time switching back and forth between the two, and looking at all the colorful toys that were floating around in the pool. Sometimes I held Max to my chest to give him a little rest, but usually he kicked his legs away from me to float on his tummy again! I was really surprised at how much he liked his first experience at the pool. The other babies all liked it, too. Only one baby protested for just a few seconds a couple of times.

When the lesson was over, I dried Max off and got him dressed as quickly as I could. That's the worst part of swimming -- being cold afterwards. But I managed to get him dressed and into his car seat with a minimum of fussing. He fell asleep in the car on the way home and still hasn't woken up. The instructor said the kids are usually wiped out afterwards, even though that first lesson is very short.

When we got home, I was so excited to tell Bengt all about our swimming lesson! I really wish he'd gone. (I assume he'll go next Sunday, now that he knows how much fun it is!) I told him how much fun Max had, and he said, "It sounds like you enjoyed it as much as Max." So true! It was really uplifting! I'm already looking forward to next week.

We've had a lot of nice weather lately -- cool but clear. Today is beautiful, as well. Bengt is out sweeping the driveway and doing other outdoor maintenance.


March 25

Hello!

The biggest news so far this weekend is that I stopped by the video place the other day and found not one but two new Star Trek Voyager tapes! They were episodes from the fifth season: Juggernaut, Someone to Watch Over Me, 11:59, and Relativity. I've watched them all already, and I was in heaven!

Ok, now I can tell you the latest on Max... He has laughed out loud twice more since I last wrote, but not like that first time, when he was cracking up. These were just little giggles. But they're still music to my ears!

He seems to be getting more and more observant and willing to lie still and observe rather than be carried around and entertained most of the time. He can now lie awake in his baby carriage while I'm shopping and just listen contentedly to the sounds around him and look up. We also bought him a new "baby play gym", a mobile that you set on the floor and it dangles toys over him. He likes this one better than the one we bought at Ikea. However, he still hasn't figured out that he can reach up and swipe at the toys to make them move. I take his hand and pull it up to the toys sometimes, but it hasn't sunk in yet.

We've solved the bottle crisis. It was some kind of delayed nipple confusion. The last few times we've tried the bottle, he's taken it with no problem when we gently force the nipple into his mouth all the way up to the rim of the bottle. That's the way he used to take it automatically, and I finally realized that lately he's only been sucking the nipple about halfway into his mouth. Then the milk doesn't flow right and he gets angry and frustrated.


March 20

Max laughed out loud yesterday!! I think it was probably the sweetest sound I've ever heard! I wish the whole world could have heard it. We were sitting there "talking" to each other. Max was staring at my lips, so I talked slower so he could see how my lips moved. He tried to move his lips the same way. After awhile I started talking nonsense, just funny phrases and sounds, and changing my facial expressions. When I suddenly looked surprised, Max mirrored that expression and laughed! Then I repeated the nonsense phrase I'd been saying ("Mommy boo-boo!") and looked surprised again, and Max looked surprised again, too, and talked back and laughed! We did it again and again! It was awesome. I can't wait to try it again today. I have to choose a good moment, though.

Last night I felt exhausted and not at all interested in being left alone with Max today (Monday). So Bengt stayed home this morning. By the time I got up at 10, Bengt had given Max his breakfast, played with him and put him down for a nap, and cleaned the kitchen! How wonderful that Bengt was willing and able to stay home for a few extra hours! He is a gem.

Through a mailing list for English-speaking mothers in Sweden, I got contact with four other English-speaking mothers of young kids here in Sollentuna! I think at least four of us are meeting for lunch this Wednesday. I'm really looking forward to it.

Max has his first "swimming lesson" on Sunday. Except they don't really learn to swim, they just get used to being in the water, I think. This morning when I was giving Max a bath, he suddenly tilted his head back while I was pouring water over the back of his head to rinse out the shampoo, so he got a whole cup of water over his face. He stopped breathing and blinked his eyes until the water ran down, but he didn't complain. I hope this means he will be ok in the pool.


March 19

Oops, it's been a whole week!

Max and I were in Perstorp with Bengt's parents Wednesday - Saturday. Max charmed the pants off them with all his smiling and gurgling! They are completely smitten. One time, they said they would watch Max while he napped so that I could go nap myself. I left them staring at Max, who was sleeping in his carseat in the livingroom. When I came back up two hours later, they were still sitting there watching him sleep! That's not what I meant by "watching Max"! :-) But that's what they did...

We had a wonderful time. And everyone we met admired Max, which of course warmed my heart. And everyone said he looks just like Bengt. He really does.

We took the train both ways, and that went fine. On the train Max slept, ate, and sat contentedly looking around. On the way home, he fell asleep around 6 p.m. and didn't wake up until midnight, hours after we got home!

Wednesday morning, before we left for Perstorp, I felt like I was coming down with a terrible cold. I had a headache and a sore throat. I didn't want to cancel our trip and disappoint Bengt's parents. Bengt called them up and told them I had a cold. They said, "We'll manage." So I packed my bottle of echinacea and we got on the train. I still had a headache when we got to Perstorp, but the sore throat was gone and the headache gradually disappeared during that first night. What luck!!!

Tuesday, before our trip (hmm, I'm telling everything in reverse chronological order here), we met the Swedish moms' group and the babies to take a walk by a lake together. But soon after we started the walk, Max started crying. He would not be consoled, but screamed more and more insistently. So I had to turn back. I went back to the clinic, which was our meeting point, and took Max inside, undressed him, checked his diaper, tried to feed him, etc. but he just screamed hysterically. It was one of the few times recently when I haven't been able to help him -- very upsetting for both of us. Finally I took his pants off and he calmed down enough to start nursing. Those pants were really NOT tight. They were roomy rib-knit leggings. But that was the second time that's happened (he stops crying when I take off his pants), so I'm thinking he doesn't like having anything around his waist at all. I guess he prefers overalls or one-piece suits. Weird.

Tuesday night I was stressed from what had happened earlier that day and from preparing for our trip, and nervous about my first overnight trip with Max. As usual, I vented to Bengt. He really helps me maintain balance. Afterwards I asked rhetorically, "Where would I be if I couldn't talk to you when I'm feeling like this?" Immediately he replied, "You'd probably be up on the roof with a shotgun. 'Die, scumbags!'" HA HA! The mental image of me as a sniper kept me laughing for 10 or 15 minutes! Bengt's comments and comebacks crack me up!

Lately Max has been occasionally rejecting his bottle in favor of nursing. I'm surprised by this, since I always heard that one of the risks with giving formula is that they may prefer the bottle and refuse to nurse. But Max prefers nursing, even if he can't always get a full meal from me.

Another new thing is that in Perstorp he seemed to feel shy sometimes. If I was holding Max on my shoulder when people came to talk to him and smile at him, he often smiled back but then hid his face against my shoulder. What's that about?? I wouldn't have expected this behavior until much later. At times he was a little overwhelmed from all the attention and stimulation. At those times he turned away and started crying, so I took him away from all the action. We could lie quietly in the bedroom, or he fell asleep. But this face-hiding was something different. He was all smiles but still hid his face.

Last night Bengt "took" Max so that I could get a solid night's sleep. I slept from 10 to midnight, when Bengt brought Max to me for nursing, but after that I slept until 6 a.m.! What a treat! I woke up feeling totally refreshed. I don't know which was most helpful -- the six consecutive hours of sleep, or not having to half-listen for Max's cries while I slept. In any case, maybe I can arrange to get it one weekend night per week! What a treat!

There's not too much going on with us this week. This is good. Have a good week yourselves, all of you!


March 12

Friday I took Max to apply for his Swedish passport. Then I got home and was checking out a website for English-speaking parents in Sweden, and on the “bulletin board” I saw that someone was selling a Dutailier glider for $110! And here we were thinking of ordering one from the U.S. for around $800, because we couldn’t find one in Sweden! (They’re not big on rocking chairs here, and especially glider rockers like Dutailier's are virtually unheard-of.) So I called the woman immediately, and when she said she still had it, I drove over there (while Bengt watched Max) and bought it on the spot. It is in excellent condition and the upholstery is fairly neutral. What a deal! Of course we didn’t get to choose the finish or upholstery, but this one is fine and I’m pleased about all the money we saved. When we’re finished using it, we can probably sell it for the same price.


March 10

Max had a checkup today, and his weight had leapt a bit above the curve. However, his length did, as well, so that's to be expected. He is now 59.5 cm (23 1/2") long and weighs 6545 g (14 lbs. 7 oz.).

Max eats like a little piggy most mornings. Yesterday morning he ate so much that he promptly fell asleep, panting slightly, with his little round tummy sticking out from under his shirt, and his arms sticking way out at his sides like Archie Bunker after Thanksgiving dinner. Ha ha!

I noticed yesterday that Max was suddenly making a lot more sounds, but this morning he really surprised me. When he woke up at 6:30, I took him back to bed with me, and he lay there smiling at me and babbling all kinds of different sounds, both vowels and consonants. It sounded like he'd been practicing all night! He smiled extra big when I "answered" him. I love his big toothless grin!

I would love to show you this toothless grin, but the pictures that were supposed to be finished at the photo lab on Wednesday were still not done today! Drat! But hopefully tomorrow...

Max hasn't started reaching out and grabbing things yet, but when he does get ahold of something, he now wraps his fingers around it, checks what it feels like, and brings it to his mouth to see what it tastes like. He also sticks his hand in his mouth a lot, and the drooling that we'll be living with for the next few years just started yesterday. (Before yesterday, he drooled only rarely.)

The other day Max was protesting loudly and then let out a loud juicy burp at the same time. I didn't hear the original, but I wish I had a recording of Bengt giving me the instant replay! It was priceless!


March 8

As of today, our little Max is an American citizen. We got his passport at the Embassy today. He still has his Swedish citizenship and will never have to choose between the two. He can move between the two countries as he pleases and he'll never have to worry about residence permits, green cards, etc. Nice!

We also applied for a social security number and were told it would take about a year to get it! But we're not in any hurry, so what the heck.

And we booked tickets for our first trip to the U.S. Max and I are coming for sure August 2 - 24, but I'm not certain about Bengt since he starts a new job on April 10. He may come for a shorter visit, taking a later flight to the U.S. or an earlier flight back.

I wonder how Max will do with the time difference. I think I will try to slowly switch Max to a somewhat later schedule before we leave Sweden. We'll have him going to bed at 1 a.m. Then when we get to Michigan, it will be 7 p.m. and we can easily (?) stretch that to 8 or 9 p.m. Coming back is going to be the killer. It always is.

After our visit at the Embassy, Max and I went to NK, a department store in Stockholm that is having 40% - 70% off baby clothes this week. That was a disappointment. They didn't have what I wanted, and it was stressful, since the aisles were crammed with stressed moms, crying babies, strollers, and baby carriages. Not my idea of a fun afternoon! I got out of there as quickly as I could.

I'm having a quiet afternoon. Max is zonked out in our bed and Bengt is "working at home" (if you can call napping on the couch "work" ;-). Tomorrow Max has his checkup at the clinic. Then we'll probably go apply for his Swedish passport. I think it's ironic that his Swedish passport will take two weeks, whereas we got the American one on the spot.


March 7

Yesterday was a rough day. I busted my butt trying to keep Max entertained and happy, but he was whiny and dissatisfied all day. That's so frustrating. I'm willing to give Max almost all of my energy and attention, but when I do that and he's still displeased, it makes me wonder:

  • Am I a bad mom? Does Max not like me?

  • Is Max a difficult baby? Hard to please?

  • What the heck did I go and have a baby for?!?!?!?

But I was pretty tired yesterday (as I am many days), and that made everything seem worse than it was. In addition, we didn't leave the house except to go out for a walk with a neighbor who has twins.

Today I met up with four other moms & babies who live in the area, and we took our kids out for a LONG walk in baby carriages. It was sunny and relatively warm, and all the babies slept the whole time. Afterwards we went to someone's house and drank coffee and had cookies. Then our babies woke up one by one. We fed them and all the babies showed off their special talents. Max's special talent, of course, is to stand up straight and tall, with my hands for balance. His other talent is to produce such gigantic BMs that no diaper can contain them. He showed off this talent, as well.

Also, the babies all looked at each other and smiled and gurgled. It was a riot!

It's becoming increasingly clear to me that Max needs stimulation. He needs to get out and experience something completely new every day. Going for an hour's walk around the neighborhood in the baby carriage isn't enough. Another mom told me her baby is the same way. They're much less restless and whiny when you keep them stimulated. Funny. I thought that little babies needed to be, well, babied! Protected from too much commotion! Not so. So from now on I'm not going to hesitate to take Max on errands with me or to meet friends or whatever, even if we're out most of the day. He doesn't fuss -- at least not at this stage. As long as I keep him well fed, he is either quiet and alert, or he falls asleep.

Speaking of stimulation, Max and I are taking our first overnight trip away from home next week. We are taking the train down to Bengt's parents' place (without Bengt) on Wednesday and staying until Saturday. It is a 4-hour trip. We'll get to see Uncle Anders, as well. We're all looking forward to it.


March 5

Going out to dinner Friday night with friends was fun. Getting away from home with out "the guys" was a good break. However, I sat across from a 9-month-old little girl, and watching her made my breasts leak the whole evening, and by the end of the evening I was soaked. It was uncomfortable and embarrassing, though I doubt that anyone else noticed, since I was wearing a beige sweater and the restaurant wasn't brightly lit.

I had no idea that watching someone else's cute kid could have that effect. But now that I think about it, in certain other cultures women breastfeed each other's children, so of course women can have the same physical response to others' children. All little round faces set off the same reaction. Interesting.

When I took Max out in the baby carriage the other day (as I do almost every day), I thought it would be nice to pick him up and let him look around. It was a sunny but cold and windy day, but he was dressed warmly. Imagine my panic when I took him out of the carriage and he basically stopped breathing! He looked alarmed, got little bubbles around his mouth, and I could not detect any breathing! I thought he was choking and looked around me for help. There was no one around, and it occurred to me that the cold wind on his face might elicit some kind of negative reaction, so I quickly stuck him back into the carriage, and his breathing returned to normal.

I was too alarmed to try it again, but when I carried Max in the car seat from the car to the grocery store yesterday, I found I'd forgotten the sun & wind protection thingy that goes around the top of the car seat, and the same thing happened. He sputtered and foamed at the mouth until we got inside. Yikes! I've never read about this happening. I can only guess that the cold wind sets off the same reflex in Max as being under water does. Babies don't breathe under water, and some apparently don't breathe when exposed to cold wind, either! No doubt he'll outgrow it before long. (On the way back out to the car, I draped my coat over the car seat and everything was fine.)

Last night Bengt and I watched The Matrix. I thought it was well-done and suspenseful, and the story was intriguing, but the fight scenes were much longer than necessary and I didn't enjoy all the violence, even though it wasn't Rambo-style violence.


March 3, 2000

We've had an interesting week. Yesterday Max slept most of the day. He also slept pretty well last night. Tired guy! I think he's sleeping better because he's getting past the colicky stage. He's also in a better mood most of the time. Early this morning he was all smiles when I put him back in his crib after his 5 a.m. feeding. "Agoo! Agoo!" he said and smiled up at me and cuddled down into his blanket. And he shows some new talent every day. This morning he showed me that he can stick out his tongue at me when I stick out mine at him. We stick our tongues out at each other and laugh our heads off. It's a blast!

Other tidbits:

  • This week I saw him slowly raise his hand to his mouth and stick his fist in to suck on it a number of times. Thrilling! This was the first conscious movement I saw him make, besides the sounds he makes on purpose.

  • Max usually doesn't mind having his diaper changed, but a few days ago when he was treating me to many small BMs in a row, each of which required a diaper change, he got tired of having his butt wiped and locked his legs together! He has strong legs! And it was so funny seeing his chubby little knees pressed close together. I was cracking up.

  • If I ask, "Ready?" before I pick him up, he stiffens his neck, supporting his own head so I don't have to worry about it.

  • Today when I went to get him out of his car seat, he lifted his arms toward me. I think it's a little early for him to be doing that. Probably just a coincidence.

Bengt and I gave Max a bath last night. He seemed a little nervous at first but did just fine, even when I poured water over his head. I was afraid that his experience the other day would turn him off to water for awhile.

This evening I'm going out to dinner with some friends. It will be my first time out alone without Max since he was born. It will be a welcome change, for a few hours. At the moment we're in the midst of a snowstorm. But I expect the commuter trains will be running normally by this evening.

Have a good weekend!

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