Well, this is kind of embarrassing…

So I promise that I have another mouth-watering cake post coming up (I know that it’s mouth-watering, because I just finished taking the photos and I almost drooled on the camera).  But before that, I have to write this post, which is less fun, and a lot more embarrassing.

For the past few weeks, Andreas and I have debated whether or not we should find out if the baby I’m growing is a boy or a girl.  At first, I was all for having a surprise, but as the ultrasound got closer, and I realized more and more how much easier it would be to gather all our baby-things if we knew the sex, it was pretty tempting to find out.  We were at a standstill, but the lovely woman from MontgomeryFest acted as a tie-breaker, and we decided we’d find out!  We wanted our friends and family who are far away, and excited about the coming baby, to be able to feel more “a part” of what’s happening.

So, the scan was scheduled for Friday, and after a late night on Thursday, I woke up at 4am.  And couldn’t go back to sleep.  I spent the morning baking cake in a half-stupor, only staving off a severe case of the grumpies because I was excited about our afternoon appointment.  Andreas came home early, and we set off for the hospital.  When we got there, the waiting room was rather full, and we waited a bit longer than usual.  When they called our name, we went into a sort of strange room, where a student was going to do the first part of the scan, and her teacher, the second half.

Now, I had planned to tell Andreas ahead of time that if they don’t offer to tell us the sex, or ask if we want to know, that he would need to ask.  I know myself well enough to know that I would have a hard time speaking up, especially when I’m on a table with goo on my belly and a stranger prodding around.  But in my sleepy stupor, I’d forgotten to tell him.  Now, when I get overtired, I don’t just get grumpy (although goodness, do I get grumpy), but I also get anxious.  While they were doing the scan, showing us all the heart chambers, and the halves of the brain, I was taking it all in, and filing it under “things to be grateful for” in my brain, but I was also desperately trying to get up the courage to ask about the sex.  I couldn’t seem to find the right Danish words, and I sent Andreas some pleading looks, but he mistook them for beaming joy or something, because he didn’t say a word.  I was so anxious, I was practically paralyzed, my mouth just wouldn’t move.  I couldn’t ask.

The woman tried to get some good photos (although the baby had its head buried somewhere around my hipbone) and then wiped off the ultrasound wand, and told me I could dry off my belly.  Andreas and I were left alone for a few minutes, while they filled out some paperwork, and I could finally spill what I’d been dying to tell him the whole time.  Turns out, Andreas forgot to ask.  He just completely forgot that we could probably find out the sex today.  He asked when they came back, but they said that they don’t look unless we ask, which we hadn’t, so we thanked them, and went on our way.

When I get tired, I’m also prone to overreacting, which I promptly did, as I tried in vain to hold back my tears on the way back to the bus stop.  I knew that I was being ridiculous.  We had a healthy, perfect-looking baby, and I hadn’t even been that set on finding out the sex until a few days before the scan.  But I knew, at the same time, that I wasn’t crying because we didn’t know if Baby Us is a boy or a girl.

I was crying because I felt helpless.  I felt vulnerable and cowardly and really out of my depth.  I felt like “how am I going to be a mother here?  I can’t even speak to people here.”  I was mad at myself, and so frustrated about my anxiety.  Even now, when I’m not overtired, and I’ve had plenty of time to get over the disappointment of not knowing, it brings tears to my eyes.  I know that I’m incredibly lucky.  I have a perfect-for-me, loving husband (who totally understood why I was crying), who I get to live with and see every day.  I get to live in the Magical Land of Denmark that enchanted me from the moment my plane touched down three years ago, and we have a baby on the way–something I’ve dreamed about since I was small.  I know that my life is wonderful, and I’m incredibly grateful.  But that doesn’t mean it’s been very easy, or that it will get a lot easier anytime soon.

It’s just discouraging when I feel like I can’t get over my anxiety enough to do a “normal people” thing, like asking a simple question.  Some days are better than others, but the bad days are still just as discouraging as they ever were.

The good news is, that even though my anxiety doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, my writing skills are improving a lot with the class in Danish grammar that I’m taking these days!  Hopefully in a few weeks, I’ll continue with this class, and also start the one to help me prepare for my big Danish test that’s coming up in May!  Crossing my fingers to get into a daytime class!



I have been busy!

The past several months I’ve been vaguely wondering to myself how I’ll be able to handle it when I’m busy.  I’ve felt stressed out and anxious just being a housewife and waiting for visas, and I thought “how am I going to survive when I actually have stuff to be stressed out about?!”

It turns out that my anxiety is pretty much the same, no matter how much stuff I have going on in my life.  If I don’t have things to feel stressed about, I feel anxious about leaving the house.  If I don’t have to leave the house, I feel anxious that I *should* leave the house.  The past few days have been sort of a whirlwind, and we have a lot to figure out, but I feel just as or even less stressed than I normally do.  I’m perfectly confident that when I have to start language classes, I’ll definitely be nervous, but I’ll be fine.  I won’t fall to pieces.  I’ll just sweat a lot, stutter a bit, and be perfectly fine.

If anything, having real things to stress about really helps my anxiety.  Last week, I was preoccupied with getting an apartment, and as I got myself ready to run to knitting group, I realized that I was so preoccupied that I wasn’t even nervous!  I just kissed Andreas, ran out the door, and was fine!

Anyway, before I start anything life-changing like going to class multiple times a week, we have to complete the actual move.  We’re hopfeully moving most of our stuff tomorrow, so I’ve been a packing maniac today!  It started off slow, but has picked up and I’m nearly finished already!  We’re not going to move in completely until we have internet there, so we can look important stuff up like how to get places and “leaky faucet fixes,” so until then we’re going to be staying in Sweden, but without all of our stuff.  Should be fun.

This is my life today:

General Update *salute*

Sorry if you didn’t get the vague How I Met Your Mother reference in the title, but I couldn’t help myself…

So, I’m planning a couple more “themed” posts in the near future, but honestly, I’ve been a bit of a mess recently, and couldn’t manage it.  Sometimes, I surprise even myself by how fragile I can feel.  Any change (at all) is really difficult for me, and even when I’m in the midst of change, and I know that it’s just all the unsteadiness that is making me feel anxious, sad, upset, angry, nervous, and homesick in turn, I still can’t manage to feel okay.  It’s times like these when I’m ever-so-grateful to Andreas and his endless patience and support, and when the storm is over, as I am tentatively hoping it is, I always feel the urge to somehow reward him, and I’m never quite sure how.

Anyway, my first week in the new apartment was only okay.  I wasn’t used to living with people who aren’t Andreas, and having to close the door when I pee, or not feeling comfortable going into the kitchen to have kitchen adventures whenever I please (which is one reason for the shortage of bake-y posts recently).  I had a couple of breakdowns, and felt much better afterwards, and am doing so much better now, but it wasn’t fun for a while.

Anyway!  I’m much more cheery these days, and getting used to sharing spaces, and trying to start going about my usual routine without feeling lazy, or guilty for not being more social.  I started knitting again, and have now finished the pieces for a sweater for my nephew, and now just need to get a zipper, put it all together, and knit the collar on!  When that and a few other small projects are off the needles, I’m hoping to have heard the news of whether I’ll be having a new niece or a new nephew come January, invest in a set of KnitPros and be up to my elbows in baby knitting!

Also: Andreas has a work “teambuilding” sort of activity tomorrow, which is going to take his entire Saturday.  From what I’ve heard about it so far, I’m pretty sure it’s going to make a pretty good blog post, so I’m excited to share some of his stories.  He’ll be getting home likely in the wee (or maybe not so wee) hours on Sunday morning, so although I’m losing most of my precious Andreas-weekend-time, I’m hoping some of the outrageous stories he comes back with are worth it!

Since I’ll be home alone for most of the day tomorrow, I’m hoping I can find something exciting to bake!  Hopefully some sort of double-layer cake.  I decided to forget about the fact that we’re only three(ish) people to eat whatever I make, and bake something large anyway.  I’m a bit tired of making miniatures, and my sister-in-law has a lovely springform pan that I’m dying to use, so a whole, large cake it is!  Here’s to hoping I remember to keep my camera nearby!

Speaking of the camera…I’ve been meaning to take more pictures, but I’m so used to not having a memory card and not bringing my camera with me when I go out.  I even forgot it when we went to an awesome concert on Monday, which I’m definitely bummed about.  I want to make sure I get shots of some of the cool things I pass every day without thinking about it, and so hopefully I’ll have a photo-tour of Malmö coming soon!

I’m doing much better these days, and even though some things are tough and not getting any easier (i.e. having patience while waiting for a visa and not knowing where we’re going to be living come December), right now I’m in an okay mindset to deal with it all.

But…you know…Migrationsverket, I really wouldn’t mind hearing some good news sometimes soon…say, Monday?

And now, as a reward for reading my recent, drab, photoless posts, here’s a picture of me and Andreas “smoking” some hazelnut-filled wafer-roll cookies that we bought specifically so that we could pretend to smoke them.

The Courage to Walk Four Feet

I’ve spent the last half-hour being the biggest self-bully I think I’ve ever been.  I was in the midst of baking hamburger buns (coincidentally the best buns ever) when my doorbell rang!  What a lovely surprise!  I opened it to my neighbor and my sister-in-law who invited me over for a chat and a piece of cake (or at least, I think she did.  She was speaking Danish, and my brain wasn’t expecting that, being quite preoccupied with trying to remember what one is supposed to say/do when one opens the door.)

However, I declined the delightful invitation, saying I was in the middle of baking bread and couldn’t really leave.  They smiled and said that’s alright, but they’ll be right across the hall if I want to come over.

They’re so nice.  They’re so sweet and nice and I so want to walk across the hall and knock on the door and talk to them while their sons play wild games, but instead I’m listening to said sons and said wild games through the wall and unsuccessfully holding back tears because I don’t have the balls to go over.  Most people don’t even need balls for that.  To be fair, though, it doesn’t take much to send me into tears lately.  Yesterday I drooled a large blob of toothpaste on my shirt and bawled for fifteen minutes.

I’m trying to convince myself that I’ll go over on my way to pick up Andreas from the train station, even if it’s just to say hi and thanks and bye, and hopefully I’ll be able to.

It’s just hard to stop berating myself for being such a silly, silly person, and I just think about how I wasn’t always like this.  Proof:

See?  I’m so social and confident and outgoing that I don’t care that my new friend seems completely uninterested in me.

Ah to be four again…

Things I’m Afraid To Tell You

I saw this blog challenge first here and then followed it back to the original post here.  I thought it was pretty neat, because I’ve been a bit more silent lately, and part of the reason is reluctance to share what’s going on, so I figured I’d take advantage of this challenge and be a little more transparent.

Things I’m Afraid to Tell You

1. I’m positive that I have serious issues with anxiety, both plain old social anxiety, and anxiety about life in general.  All this time to myself in this brand-new life that I wasn’t really prepared for has really magnified it all and brought them to my attention, and while I’m doing my best to fix it by myself, I don’t think I can.  The reason I’m most afraid to talk about it is that I don’t want to sound angsty and repeat myself all. the. time.

2. I’m actually pretty proud of the little things I do well, and I think about them when I’m feeling sad or a bit useless, even if I brush it off when people compliment me on them.  For example: typing quickly, knitting quickly, learning language well, writing poems, and sometimes baking.

3.  I’m so afraid that people will take my shyness as being standoffish or aloof that I tend to “overcompensate” by baking people treats, knitting them things, or leaving nice notes.

4. Sometimes, I need to be nicer to my husband.  And also, less stubborn.  I work on this every day, and I think I’m getting lots better.

5. I want children a ridiculous amount.  Seriously.  When I see a baby, my heart melts, when I hold a baby, I basically turn to jelly (not literally, though, phew!  Don’t worry, I won’t drop your baby!)  I browse pregnancy and baby blogs like nobody’s business, and I often feel like the only young, childless woman who does this.

6. I used to think I had really good self-esteem and body image.  Turns out, I just had a great body.  Even letting a few pounds of muscle laze their way into fat had turned me into a belly-fat-pinching, arm-fat-jiggling worrywart.  It’s gotten better, but it’s not great.

7. I feel guilty for being so afraid all the time and not enjoying this awesome experience of living abroad enough.  I feel like there are thousands of people who could “do it better” than I can.

8.  I like watching reality TV (like Top Model, Project Runway, 16 and Pregnant, and all the shows about families on TLC).

There’s Good News and there’s…news about me freaking out.

The good news is that Andreas got his job!!  I’m awfully proud of him, and so happy.  Not just because him having a job and a source of income is a relief to us, but because he was really excited after the interview, and eager to work there.  I know he must be nervous, but he doesn’t that *that* nervous, so I’m not worried about him.  I’m just proud my husband is employable!  To most people who have been employable and employed for long periods of time, this might not seem remarkable, but I feel so very, very unemployable here, that it seems like a miracle!

We’ve been keeping somewhat busy over the last few weeks, sometimes watching our nephew, doing errands and errands and errands.  Andreas’s job is across the Øresund in Copenhagen, which means he faces an hour and a half of commute each way while we are staying here in Malmø.  He’s okay with that, but to me, it means spending 12 hours a day, Andreas-less (and anyone-else-less, as I’ve yet to meet anyone here in Malmø).  It also means that we have some leftover errands that I have to do on my own (handing in my permit application, doing things like going to the bank, going grocery shopping, picking up packages, and even apartment shopping).  This would normally make me nervous, even in the states.  I call myself a gutless anxiety-ball, Andreas calls me a “gentle soul.”  He’s pretty nice.

Anyway, I’ve always gotten nervous before I leave the house, even in elementary, middle, high school, and college I got this nervous bellyache every morning as I put on my jacket and shoes to catch the bus.  Even after college, the only thing that got me out the door on Saturday mornings for errands was the fact that it was the only time of the week I wasn’t working during bank hours, and I was nearly out of cheese.  A girl can’t live without cheese.

Usually after I get out, I generally enjoy myself.  Even being out doing errands, I’d usually see a cute baby or two who would boost my spirits, and I’d come back feeling much better than I did before I left.

But here, in Sweden, it’s a whole different story.  Some moments in the day I feel SO BRAVE.  I feel like I can go out there, pick up my packages, go to the library, and walk down the Swedish street, courageous and impervious to anxiety.  Most other moments I feel like I’ll never be able to.  Like I’ll never push myself out this door without Andreas to hide behind.  But there are some things that I HAVE to do, like my permit application.

I know that doing businessy things in a strange country is an intimidating thing to begin with.  I’m sure that other people have struggled with the exact same thing.  But I feel like…they MUST be braver than me.  I feel like everyone is braver than me.  Maybe they are.  I’m going to try really hard to face my fears and be okay out there alone in Sweden.

I’m also going to join the American Women’s Club in Malmø and try to meet some people.  But to be honest, being not alone in a foreign country is perhaps more frightening than being alone in a foreign country.  I’m not just terrified of going out in public.  Social situations are even worse. But I’m going to try!

But I’m trying to think of how brave Andreas is for starting a new job and traveling back and forth between Denmark and Sweden every day, and I feel like I have to be able to do this.  There’s a blog I read by another Midwestern transplant in Sweden (you can find it here).  In one of her posts about learning language, she talks about being brave, and how one thing she does, when she’s not feeling particularly brave, is to pretend she’s doing it for one of her little sisters.  This really struck a chord with me, because the only time I’ve ever interacted alone with a Dane in Denmark who wasn’t my family, was this one time when I was at Ikea with a friend who was from Hawai’i there for the wedding.  We wanted cinnamon rolls, and although she picked up “ja” pretty quickly, she probably couldn’t order a cinnamon roll, so I did.  I had to.  How else was I going to get her a cinnamon roll?  (They ended up being out of cinnamon rolls, but that’s beside the point.)

If all else fails, I’ll just hum “be brave…and then be strong” from Mr. Rogers under my breath any time I leave the house.  Maybe that’ll work.