How to Creat Life–the Danish Way

The first thing I did when I found out I was pregnant was hop online and start Googling.  I took a test first thing in the morning, freaked out (in a good way), and resolved not to tell Andreas until he got home.  I finished knitting him a pair of socks, knitted a tiny baby sock to go with them (my way of telling him the news), and then it was about noon and I had four and a half hours until I could tell anyone.  So I Googled.  I googled “pregnancy tips,” “pregnancy week-by-week,” and “early pregnancy symptoms.”  And then I googled “graviditet.”  A lot of the advice was common sense, and overlapped: Eat a varied diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t take lots of medicine.  But a lot of it differed, albeit perhaps slightly.  The American advice said not to drink coffee, or eat sushi, soft serve ice cream, lunchmeat, soft cheeses, sprouts, soft boiled eggs, smoked fish, or even anything at a potluck.

Well, I ate soft serve ice cream,  sprouts, smoked salmon, brie, goat cheese, and soft boiled eggs.  Oops.  But really only “oops” if I was Googling in English, because the Danish advice never mentioned sprouts, or ice cream.  And as far as most other things on the list goes, the official advice is to eat as fresh of food as possible–keep raw things cold, and pay attention to hygiene when you prepare food.  They also say outright that pregnant women can eat sushi.

I joined the August due-date birth board on, so throughout my pregnancy, I would check the forum.  The American women went to their doctor every month until the third trimester.  After that it was every two weeks until nearer to the end when it was every week.  I saw my doctor four times during my pregnancy (one visit was an “extra” to do a quick blood pressure check), and my midwife about the same number of times.  I went two weeks overdue, so I had another midwife visit, and a couple days before my induction, a hospital visit.  To be honest, I don’t know what these women talked about or did at all these appointments.  I could barely think of questions to ask at my few appointments.

I saw enormously pregnant women biking happily down the street (well, at least they looked as happy as anyone biking in Danish weather ever looks).  I saw them walking, running, lingering over lattes, and putting away that out-loud-allowed sushi.  Andreas and I attended a sort of parent-prep class, which wasn’t quite like anything I’d read about anyone else’s prenatal classes.  We talked about our relationship as a couple, and how to best sustain that under the stress of a new baby.  We talked about the birthing process and nursing, and I have to say, there wasn’t this sense of anxiety that I often get when I talk to American women or read American forums.  It was “here are pain relief options–which ones do you think you prefer?” not “here are pain relief options–and there’s no medal for women who don’t use them–but there are definitely risks to some of them–and these decisions you’re making will impact your birth experience, your baby’s alertness, your breastfeeding process, and pretty much the rest of your baby’s life.”

After Theo was born, it as more of the same, to my great relief!  But I’ll write about that a different day, or this post will *never* leave my drafts!

Some Other Things

I feel like I need to remind people (including myself) that I do still do some things other than having emotional baby-related breakdowns, and talking about babies.  One of them is knitting!  I was able to get some done recently, which was really great!  While in the US, I managed five baby hats, a dress for a sock monkey, and a couple dresses for my mom’s doll (whose name is Bella Button!).  I only managed to take a picture of the doll though…

Bella Button

Since then, I got to make my niece’s first-birthday gift (which I still haven’t gotten to give to her…) Also, I keep trying super hard to get it to turn, but for some reason it uploads it this way, and I can’t figure it out so…just tilt your head.


I also realized that Theo had suddenly outgrown all of his hats at once, so I whipped this up during a rare, long naptime:


That’s what my needles and I have been up to!

Other things are going well.  I’ve gotten out three times already this week (so I hit my goal!) and as a bonus, I’ve also worked out three times (yes, five-minute ab workout videos on youtube count.)! Whoo!  What we really need to work on is bedtime.  Theo has never liked evenings, and we still really struggle with bedtime.  We keep the lights low, the playing low-key, and we even have a bedtime routine we’ve been following for a long time, but if it’s after 5 pm, he doesn’t want to sleep.  Not even if it’s a power nap, and if he accidentally does fall asleep, it’s for a half hour ONLY.  Anything longer than that is unacceptable.  We’ve tried tons of different things, and each failed experiment ends with us making a new plan for the next day.  I dread the day we run out of new plans, but I just hope we’ll find something that works before that day comes!

Edit: I just realized this entire post was also pretty much talking about babies and baby things.  Oh well.  That’s just how it is now!

That Sunday Night Feeling

You know what’s worse than Monday morning?  Sunday night.

Monday morning is never all that bad.  When I used to work early or have early class on Mondays, I’d look a bit disheveled, tired-eyed, and nod empathetically when someone said “Mondays, right?” but it was all a bit of a sham.  I actually kind of like Monday mornings.  Sure, I’m tired, but I’m not as burned-out as I was on Thursday.

But on Sunday, you know your me-time is almost over.  You know you’re facing another week, and you’re trying to gear up for it, but can’t really do anything yet.  Andreas gets pretty mopey on Sunday nights.  It’s tough, because I want us to enjoy all the time we have together, but there’s just this mood hanging over our little apartment on Sunday nights, and it’s hard to shake.

Yesterday was Andreas’s first day back at work since he left in October, and boy was it a doozy.  Not the actual first day of work, but that Sunday night.

Andreas was bummed, and I was nervous.  Suddenly, after weeks of having help, really whenever I needed it, I’d be on my own.  On my sleepy own with this little guy who, recently, has wanted my full attention 100% of the time he’s awake (and who hasn’t been a huge fan of being asleep).  It just got worse and worse, and I don’t know if Theo picked up on it, or if he had a belly-ache (as his machine-gun farts pointed to), but he was not having a good evening.  We tried to put him down, and he woke with a shriek after half an hour.  He would cry and cry and fought any of our attempts to help him get back to sleep.  And when we finally succeeded (three seperate times) he woke 15 minutes later, just as unhappy as he was before he fell asleep.

It was rough.  I was tired, anxious, and feeling seriously depressed.  I tried to stay present, but I was forced inside myself, and couldn’t even be there for Andreas.  We both had full-on break-downs.  It was basically the worst.  And I only write this because if someone else happens upon this blog at some point, and sees our cute pictures, and my posts about how much I love my family, my husband, my husband’s family, my new life, etc…I also want them to see this.  That there are moments were I so, so don’t love it all.  Where I feel like I’m not only not the best mom I can be, but am an awful mom.  I felt like I did not deserve my little Theo–like I never should’ve even thought about having babies.

I don’t think that now, of course.  I don’t think it when I’m lucid and it’s daytime, and my baby isn’t screaming.  I know it’s not true.  But in the dark hours, I think it, and I believe it.

So today, when Theo was napping, I thought I’d write in my journal.  I picked it up and realized I haven’t written in it since nine days before Theo was born.  I started writing, and figured out some stuff along the way.  First of all, I know that if I didn’t have Theo, I’d have hours even darker than those the other night, wishing I had Theo.  And second of all, just because I’m doing my best, doesn’t mean that I can’t do even better tomorrow.  I can’t do any better than my best, but I can hope that tomorrow, my best will be better than my best was today.

It’s not all peachy and baby giggles and belly noms.  Not even close.  But it’s good, and it is what I always wanted, and what I want now.  And it’s okay to have moments when you forget that, but it’s important that you remember again the next day, and hopefully make your best better.

On Being Right

Being right is something I’m sort of giving up on at the moment.  Not that I don’t think I’m ever right anymore, but needing to be right isn’t doing me any favors, and I need to let go.

I read a really interesting article lately, about the whole gluten-free, paleo, high-protein, caveman-food sort of thing that’s going on right now.  It started out as an interview with the author of a best-selling book (about how gluten causes pretty much most of our modern diseases).  He passionately talked about his claims, his book, the “one simple change” people could make to change their lives for the better.  The piece went on to interview others, introduce the studies he used as evidence (which didn’t completely support his radical claims) and ended with the thoughtful statement that making a decision, and believing you’re “right” is what really makes a difference for people.

I totally agree.  I’m not going to talk about the above-mentioned diet arena (because if you get me started, it’s a little hard to get me to stop), but I totally agree.  People need to think they’re right.  If you think the diet decisions you’re making are the “right” choices, you’ll probably feel better.  If you believe your major life decisions were the right ones, you’re probably going to be happier.  And if you believe that the choices you make as a parent are the right choices, things are probably going to work better.  It’s about being right, and it’s about confidence….which I don’t have a lot of.  But I’m working on it.

In the beginning, it was a little simpler.  We’d do whatever it took to get Theo to eat okay, sleep okay, poop okay, and not cry.  It was not easy, by any means–because he didn’t do all those things, despite our best efforts–but we didn’t really have to think if we were going about things the wrong way, the right way, or the maybe-okay way.  We just did what we had to do.

Now that he’s four months, we have to worry about habits–bad habits, good habits–habits, habits, habits.  We have to make sure he can fall asleep okay (without too much rocking, shushing, singing, crying (on anyone’s part), etc.)  We have to make sure he STAYS asleep.  We want him to not eat too much at night, and eat more during the day.  We hope he’ll start gaining more weight, so we struggled over when to start solids.  We’re worried because he’s started adamantly refusing a bottle (no matter what’s in it), which means I can’t really leave him for any amount of time.  We want him to learn to play by himself for stretches of time.

I never thought I’d worry too much about what other moms thought.  I thought I’d know what I’m doing, and I’d do it, and I’d feel comfortable in my Mom-skin.  Unfortunately, that’s really not the case.  As a nanny, I was confident.  The moms told me what their plans were, and I followed through.  I got a four-month old to start falling asleep by himself.  I fed solids and changed diapers, and stopped feeding bananas, and started feeding pears with a couple of words from baby’s Mom.  But now I’m baby’s Mom, and I have no one to tell me what to do.  Or even if I did, I’d probably disagree, not follow the advice, and then feel even more conflicted than I already do.

The even bigger deal is that I was an awesome nanny.  I was GREAT with the babies.  I was patient as all get-out, playful, fun, stimulating, relaxing–whatever baby needed–I could do it.  And I’m not just saying that because one of the moms occasionally pops by on here (Hi!).  What’s really been hurting lately is that I’m not the mom I thought I’d be (especially the mom I thought I’d be, judging on my nannying abilities).  Turns out, when I’m sleep deprived, my patience dwindles to next to nothing (who’da thunk it, right?) and I’m not as good at sleep training.  I’m not as good at decision-making.  I’m not even as good at putting cereal into little baby mouths.

And though I’m not really happy with the way things are going, I know that I really am being the best mom I can be.  Sometimes, I think that’s really unfortunate–that as not-well as I think I’m doing some days, it’s still my best.  But it’s all I can do.  And I can resolve to do better the next day, and to remind myself that it’s not all hard.  Theo laughs every time I nom his belly.  That’s easy.  At least that’s easy, and I don’t think there’s any controversy over the nomming of baby bellies.  So I will nom Theo’s belly unabashedly, and do my best to muddle through the rest, and believe I’m right (at least some of the time).


Anticipating belly noms!

Anticipating belly noms!