Baby Girl is 9 months!

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Nine months in, nine months out! The nine months out were definitely more pleasant. I can’t believe this huge child ever fit inside me. It’s incredible to think that 18 months ago she didn’t exist in this world. And she’s already learned so much and is developing skills every day.

 

The new stuff

She has teeth! I honestly think she got the first one like the day after i wrote her 8 month update. So she has two now and the next ones seem to be coming out any day now! She wasn’t incredibly whiny when they came out but she did get sick with a fever a couple of weeks before.
This has also made it easier and more fun for her to eat solids. She’s still not very excited about food but we’ve come a long way since we started. By now she does open her mouth when the spoon comes but I’m not sure mealtimes are something she looks forward to yet.
She stands up for several seconds now without support, and she could definitely stand up for longer if she didn’t chicken out when she realized she was doing it all by herself. Neither myself nor my siblings walked till we were 1 but I expect that she’ll be on the go any week now.
She doesn’t quite wave or do the gestures for itsy-bitsy spider but she does lift up her hands and wave them around whenever we do either. Also, her vocabulary has reached beyond the letters A, B and M. Every day now she throws in a G, L, D or even an E! It’s so fun to hear her try to talk!
We think she is actually giving us kisses now! When she’s in a really cuddly mood she’ll snuggle up and give you a big slobbery kiss just about anywhere in the face – although she still prefers noses.

 

She loves

Walking! All the time! Everywhere!

And stairs! She’ll gladly crawl up the same flight several times in a row. And she’s as impressed with herself every time.

Chit-chatting and screaming. Yes, screaming is back. I don’t think she’s screamed this much since she was 3-4 months. The stairway in our building is especially echo’y and she loves shouting and screaming whenever we walk in the door – and aaaall the way up the stairs to our apartment. I swear the neighbors always know when we’re home.

Uhm, I think I’m going to mention being rocked to sleep here too. Up until about a month ago I’ve pretty much always breastfed her to sleep. It was the only way. But from one day to another she just wouldn’t anymore and Marcus was forced to wrap her, pick her up and rock her to sleep. He’s done that almost every night ever since. I hesitate to claim it to be one of her favorite things, because on some nights she definitely hates it. But then there are a lot of nights where she lies down and let’s him wrap her, smiles when he picks her up and calmly falls asleep in a few minutes.
Generally speaking she’s been a lot better at sleeping in her own bed this last month than the previous.

 

She hates

Waking up in her own bed. As well as she has slept this past month, she has learned that most often she finds herself alone when she wakes up at night. This means that she wakes up all the way and certainly does not just go back to sleep on her own – even if she actually wakes up between us in our bed.

When anyone she knows leaves the room. She really seems to dread being left alone more than anything else. She’ll start crying even if her grandparents or aunts or uncles leave the room. And even if her mother is holding her.

She really just hates being alone. She always follows me around the apartment and hardly ever leaves the room on her own. I guess I don’t actually have an independent baby yet.

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My husband and I only had 3 things in common – and that was all it took

I remember friends staring at me in awe when I told them I was getting married. At 21. To a guy none of them had even had the time to meet yet. Most of them didn’t even know I had a boyfriend. And then the sigh, or scoff. They didn’t think they’d ever find someone they’d want to tie that tight of a knot with. How could I have found my special someone so fast? A best friend whom I loved more than anyone else and with whom I was positive I wanted to spend the rest of my existence.

Well, I guess it all depends on what you’re looking for. A best friend? That’s always a good pointer. What does that mean though?

Can I admit something? I’m not sure a lot of people know this. I mean really know this.

Marcus and I don’t have tons of things in common.
Seriously. We don’t. We don’t really listen to the same kind of music. We don’t always think the same movies are funny. He likes trying new flavors, I stick to chocolate (always). He’s more trendy, I’m more classic. He likes big crowds, I prefer small groups. He likes to sleep in, I like an early start. We’re actually very different people. Well, especially when we first met.

It took a while for me to really warm up to Marcus. Our first week dating I remember being worried that I was wasting my time with a guy that I clearly didn’t have enough in common with. He was a wonderful guy and I loved talking and being with him, but I just couldn’t see how we’d become the couple sitting in the couch laughing our heads off at an inside joke on a Tuesday night just because we had each other.
I remember one night in particular. We had gone for a walk together and had ended up sitting in the sand by a lake on an evening in July. I especially remember the insane amount of mosquitos. Anyway, I was feeling guilty and ended up admitting to Marcus my worries. I held my breath. Instead of freaking out or getting sad he told me that he’d had the same thoughts. Immediately I felt relieved but hung my head because I was worried that this was it. And so I braced myself for a break-up talk.
It didn’t come. Instead, Marcus picked up a twig and started drawing lines in the sand. He explained to me that he’d made up a sort of score board, and that only three things mattered to him:

Friendship – Did I seem like the type of girl he could be best friends with. And not just now in our 20s but for life. Could we still be best friends in 50, 60, 100 years? Did he enjoy my company that much? Could he talk to me about anything at all? Did he want to talk to me about anything at all? Did he feel like I really listened to him? Did he enjoy really listening to me? Did he like me enough to learn to love me in the future?

Aspiration – Did we see ourselves in a similar situation in 10 years? Did we want the same kind of family? Did we want the same kind of life for our family? Did we share the same faith? Was that faith as big a part of each of our lives? Did we want to build our family on the same sort of principles and values? Did we have similar ambitious goals for our future family? Did he like the idea of the life and family we could potentially have together?

Attraction – Did he find me attractive? Inward and outward. Did he want to be with me? Did he actually want to make our relationship work? Was he willing to make sacrifices for it?

He looked up. He said that I got full marks on that score board. Of that he wasn’t in doubt at all. And that everything else could fall into place later. After all, we had only just started dating.

About 9 months later we were married. It’s kind of a blur since everything happened so fast. But that night is one of the significant moments that I remember very well during our dating process. Because I knew he was right.
Sure, I could’ve probably said nope and gone out and found some other guy who liked chocolate cake and Harry Potter as much as I do. Or at least more than Marcus. But man, if I’m dead honest – no grey areas or second thoughts – I think I’d have to look for many many years to find another guy who spot on wanted the same life and family as I want. And even made me more excited about my own hopes and dreams than I was in the first place!

I’ll admit it. I kept dating Marcus because I was blindly in love with the life we would have together and the father he would some day be. But now that we are actually living that life, we laugh at tons of inside jokes every day, and I can watch my daughter crawl eagerly to the front door when he gets home from work, I am so happy I didn’t go find a new relationship to base on a meaningless crush.

So no, I don’t think you need to have tons of things in common. Actually, in some ways I think differences can be a blessing. Because they give you so many opportunities to make sacrifices for each other and thereby to demonstrate your love for one another. Once Marcus brought home a 1000-piece puzzle and suggested we put on a movie and put it together after dinner. I’ve rarely felt that cherished and appreciated. Not just because I love doing puzzles, but because I know how much Marcus hates ding puzzles. And even though he could only stand it for 15 minutes and then left me to do the rest on my own, it absolutely meant the world to me.
I’m thankful today that I based my relationship to my husband on the right things, because everything else, sense of humor, hobbies, interests, inside jokes, telepathy, – it all came later. But it came. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have a ton of things in common, you just need to have the most important things in common.

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Family time

A couple of times now Marcus has surprised me by walking in the door an hour or two earlier than I expected him. It’s literally Christmas morning. From that moment and until the second when Baby goes from being on fire with energy to uselessly sleepy, it’s family time. And it only lasts for 2-3 hours.

I hope that in a future life the world will be run by people who work from home. If only that would work!

It’s an overwhelming feeling, having a family. Because you realize (hopefully) that the only thing you want in life is to be with them. And all your major decisions are based on how to best support them. I guess I can only speak for myself though.
I definitely have other dreams too. I’d love love love to write and publish a book some day! I would absolutely love to run a family business with Marcus! And I want so bad to finish a good education. But I don’t want any of these more than I want to just spend happy days with my family. Happy blissful days in a green field, under warm blankets, out seeing the world. Does life really get any happier than that?

These pictures are from our family time last night. The grass was newly cut and the sun was out. It was amazing! And what better place to let a baby run wild than a wide open lawn? She was in heaven!

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Just had to throw this one in here too. Look who’s standing up (for a few seconds) all on her own!

Honoring the time out

Good evening, everyone! I hope you’ve all had a great day and that you’re now enjoying a peaceful Sunday evening surrounded by loved ones.

Can I just talk a little bit about Sundays without getting religious about it?
At the moment I’m lying in my bed in my bright bedroom. It’s the first (wow) 15 minutes I’ve had completely to myself in a while. The window is slightly open so I can feel a soft breeze. It’s been nice and warm today, which has enticed me to show my pale winter legs in church today. The sun is not going down yet but the sky is turning orange and birds are singing their hearts out. I feel so peaceful.

Already this solitude and quietness feels rejuvenating and will probably help me be a little more patient when any second Marcus brings up a hungry Baby.

Yep, here he comes.

But those 15 minutes out of a day are what Sunday out of a week is for me. A time out.
Growing up, my parents have taught me that Sunday is a day for family. No cleaning, working, shopping or whatever. I’ve even always tried not to do homework. In honor of the time out.
And say what you may about it probably just being because I’m used to it now… but I really don’t know how I would function without a day like this. Where I can turn off my brain and forget about any and all obligations. Except for the obligation I have to my family.

And isn’t that the biggest obligation? Is it Sunday that serves the rest of the week – or is it actually the rest of the week that by letting us get through work and bills and groceries and cleaning and deadlines and events and plans actually serves Sunday? Allows us to clear one day of the week to focus on what is really most important. Our families.

I don’t know what to tell you. But for now I’m gonna close my eyes and listen to the birds for another minute. And then maybe play a game or go for a walk with my family. Or – let’s face it – I’ll probably just end up pillow-talking with my husband while I nurse our baby to sleep. But it’ll be uninterrupted family time. An seriously, it’ll make Monday mornings feel a heck of a lot easier.

So, if you’re not religious, forget about keeping the Sabbath holy – I just really love that I have one day off. To honor the time out.

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Baby Girl is 8 months!

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The other day I sent my mom a random picture of Baby sitting in her high chair drinking water from a bottle. My mom’s reaction was, ‘she looks so different!’. We’ve only been gone for what.. three weeks?

It is insane how quickly she develops. Sometimes she’ll do a face or bust a move or make a sound that for a terrible second makes me think she’s turned into a toddler before time! Then she loses her balance, rolls over and takes a while to work her baby abs into a proper sit-up – and I know all is well.

 

Favorites: As she is on the move, now faster than ever, she absolutely loves being left on the floor to explore   anything.

She loves her toys! And most definitely the ones that aren’t actually toys. We keep her stuff in a little bag, and its contents are everything from rattles and balls to bag clips and measuring spoons. A few weeks ago I bought her a new binky (in our desperate attempt to teach her to take one – any good tips?) and ever since she has played much more with the box it came in than the actual binky.

I’d have to say that her absolute favorite thing to do is standing up and walking. She stands up everywhere now! She’ll grab hold of whatever’s close and try to hoist herself up – even with things that don’t support her weight (like my hair). Getting to her feet is something that is sure to always bring a triumphant smile to her face.

 

Hates: Uhm.. I honestly don’t think she has any major hates for this month.

She got sick a few weeks ago and she absolutely hated having her nose wiped. But who likes that?

 

The new stuff: I can’t even remember.. did I write that she was crawling already last month? Let me check real quick…

It appears that she was army crawling a month ago. But folks, she is crawling for real now! We got all excited the first few times she did it, but then I watched her the other day and it kinda looks like she doesn’t really move her legs much. It’s like she only uses her arms and her butt just kinda wiggles along behind her. Not quite sure, that might just be when she’s in a hurry. She was venturing into my sister-in-law’s room for the first time at the time. Pretty hyped.

Just the last few days she’s actually sat patiently and opened her mouth at the right times when we’ve fed her. To say that I was beginning to lose hope is an understatement. I’m not sure I even ever had hope. – I haven’t been the biggest fan of spoon-feeding her. I might write a blogpost about that later.
I guess I just expected that she’d be more excited about eating by now. At least some things. Granted, there are some things she will eat more of, but so far it seems that eating pureed food is more of a chore for her than an exciting part of her day. Is she my daughter? I guess she hasn’t tried cake yet…

A new thing that especially her parents have noticed is that she is tons more cuddly now than she’s been since she was a newborn. Especially when she’s sleepy she doesn’t mind lying on us. She’ll even (on purpose!) crawl up in our arms when we’re in bed and lie down her head and even fall asleep! Oh my tender little mommy heart! It’s the best feeling ever! When will she learn how to give me hugs and kisses??

I’m a real stay at home mom

I’m a real stay at home mom now. I am a mom. And I stay at home. From work at least. Our life has changed a bit since Marcus started working. We are no longer stay at home parents. Now I’m a stay at home mom.

Marcus’ alarm goes off at 6.30. Mine goes off at 6.35, just in case. We’ve calculated 10-15 minutes to lay in bed and talk. We haven’t quite shaken that habit yet. It’s nice. Marcus whispers ’good morning’ in Baby’s ear. She smiles in her sleep but doesn’t open her eyes. It’s too early. She rolls over. Face down. We laugh.

We talk over today’s plans. Marcus should be home by 7. In the meantime I’ll watch the baby. Our life is pretty simple. Marcus tickles Baby’s nose. ’Wake up!’ She starts whimpering. I give Marcus a pleading look. He leaves to take a shower.

I lie back on my pillow. I’m still pretty sleepy.

Marcus opens the door. I must’ve dozed off for 10 minutes. Baby is awake too. She’s already pulling herself up on her wobbly legs and grabbing the headboard tight. Her diaper looks pretty heavy. I grab her around her waist and kiss her chubby neck. She giggles.
On the changing table she really starts to wake up. I let her hold a pack of baby wipes to keep her occupied while I slap on a clean diaper. I put her back in her PJs, the day hasn’t quite started yet.

Marcus emerges from the bedroom. He can’t decide on a tie. I say the blue one. I prefer solid colors. By the way, he has time to have breakfast together if I want. I agree, one thing less to have to do alone with the baby.

It’s bright in the kitchen. I put Baby in her high chair and she happily slaps her fat hands on the table. Marcus gets out some dark bread. I’ll have that too. I can’t really reach the cereal anyway. Milk? Yes please.

Marcus is almost finished with his food when I sit down. He’s actually in a hurry, the train leaves in 20 minutes. I take a couple of quick bites out of my sandwich and get up to kiss him goodbye. I hug him tight. Five more seconds. Baby gets a kiss too but whips around in her chair when he leaves the room. She starts to cry. I pull her out of her chair. Marcus jumps back into the room. ’It’s okay, Baby!’ He’s surprised that she got sad. We walk into the hall and I ask Marcus when he thinks he’ll be home. Still 7. Another quick kiss before the door closes behind him.

I hoist Baby up higher on my hip and walk to the window. We watch him walk down the street for a few quiet seconds before he turns the corner and is gone.

I turn to Baby. ’It’s gonna be a fun day! Are you excited?’ She grabs my nose. ’But first, we sleep another hour’.

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Random selfies that we send to Marcus during the day when we miss him.

Spring Family Photoshoot of 2015

Marcus’ birthday present for me this year was spot on. About a week ago we drove down to Herning to visit our good friends Hans and Katrine Borgenfalk. Hans is so incredibly talented and we are so happy that we got to to have him do a photoshoot of our family before we left Denmark. All credit and our great gratitude goes to him! These pictures will be cherished forever!

Check out his work here!
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Moving to Sweden!


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We’re down to our last week here in Aalborg. Marcus recently got a job in Stockholm, which means that we’re packing our bags yet again and moving our little family back to Sweden.

Yes, I am sad to leave my family and hometown again. I’m going to miss the liberty of spending the day at my parents’ house if I want to.. and Sunday family dinners. It’s been such a blessing – I never thought I’d come back and live here ever again when I left. Especially having my mom close by when I had the baby. For a small student family with next to no money I feel so fortunate that we even had the freedom to choose where we wanted to spend this last year of Marcus’ schooling.

Can I just dedicate an entire paragraph to Danish food? Cause that I will miss – especially pastries and cakes. Nothing against Swedish or even American food, but I realized not until I left Denmark just how much I love some foods here. And I know it’s purely for emotional reasons. It’s just what home tastes like. So, I’m REALLY gonna miss being able to get good cheap pastries at any store anywhere.

Although all of the moving has felt like such a hassel, I can see now that everything has really worked out for the best. I know this move will too. I’m excited to move back to Sweden, I really love Stockholm, and more than anything I’m so excited for Marcus to start his new job. I know he’s so excited to work on his career. These past couple of years have been very humbling and we’ve learned many lessons about how to make do and save money. But I can’t express what a relief it will be to finally be able to really save up money.

I’m gonna feel so grown up sending my man off to work every day! That should be fun! That’s what I tell myself anyway. It’s also been a gigantic blessing that we’ve been able to spend almost every hour of the day together for so long, and especially after the baby came. It’s going to be a huge change to not do everything together anymore. But that’s life and I can only thank my lucky stars that our situation has been so idyllic.

All in all, moving back to Stockholm will be a big turning point for us. It’s not only moving to Sweden, but also moving into a new lifestyle. Exciting times are coming!

 

My breastfeeding story

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Being a survivor of getting pregnant, morning sickness, evolving into a whale, contractions, labor and then the whole dewhaling process, I have experienced many things that have left me thinking, “why didn’t anyone tell me this??”.

Breastfeeding is on that list.

I’ve always known that I wanted to breastfeed, that wasn’t a big decision for me. Throughout my childhood I’ve watched my mom breastfeed my four younger siblings and heard her speak of what a wonderful thing it was. So, naturally, I wanted to do it too.

I say that there were things that I wish someone had told me. I wish I’d known or at least to some extent been more prepared for how hard breastfeeding would be. Having said that, I don’t think my mother lied to me or tried to keep the truth from me. But I really think that mothers are designed to focus on the beautiful things and to forget a little about just how hard the hard times were (thank goodness for that!).

So, I’m writing it all down – putting it all out there while it’s still fresh in my memory, to any expecting mama out there who wants to read a true story.

Here is my true breastfeeding story.

I think the first question I asked after I became a mom was to my mother just a few minutes after giving birth, “should I just try to feed her right away?”. It wasn’t asking permission so much as asking for a confirmation that my instinct was correct. Our newborn baby seemed to latch on pretty perfectly right away, and I leaned back, exhausted, and soaked up that first real moment of motherhood.

Other than bringing on a bit of pain in my healing abdomen, breastfeeding proceeded quite effortlessly the next couple of days. In the evening of the third day we were having take-out with both of our parents and I started noticing that my breasts were hurting a bit. After they left we went to bed and one of the hardest nights of my life began. My milk was coming in – fast! My breasts were swelling to the size of melons and they were so sore that I couldn’t even lie on my side. By morning they looked like balloons that had been blow up way more than they were supposed to and they just hurt so bad. I quickly found out that the nipples were stretched so tight that the baby was having a hard time getting it far enough into her mouth to eat.

That and the next couple of days I had to call my mom and midwives several times to help me feed my baby. After trying several techniques, the best one we found required me to use both of my hands to squeeze the tip of my boob into a more pointy shape, and someone else to jam the baby’s open mouth onto the nipple until she latched. Once she had latched, all there was to do was keep her on there and endure the burning pain from my now bleeding nipples. – I’m very sorry for being so bold and illustrative, but it really hurt so bad that I shut my eyes, let the tears run down my face and rocked backwards and forwards rapidly to keep from crying out.

It was really bad like that for about two weeks. Then it was only bad. After about a month it was painless.

Those first weeks were tough. I don’t think I hardly wore a bra – or a shirt. I remember getting out of bed at night when the baby woke up and doing the two-man breastfeeding maneuver on the couch in the livingroom where there was more light. I would always wake up in a puddle of milk – nursing pads are pretty useless when you leak about a cup of milk at night, I slept wrapped in a cloth diaper. I felt pretty weak in those days and there was only so much I could do to not start crying or knock someone silly when they said, “make sure to enjoy these first weeks!”.

Then it got better. Do not underestimate nipple butter, or the element of time. And for goodness sakes, trust the annoying women who keep telling you that it’ll get easier than breathing if you just hang in there!

Because they’re right. A good month after giving birth it was over. And painless.

Then came all the figuring out how to integrate breastfeeding in my daily routines. I had to make sure to have a cloth diaper on me at all times, and a blanket to cover up, I had to wear practical clothes (which meant no dresses in church) and develop a skill for locating corners and secluded areas in public places.

I really tried to enjoy breastfeeding. But I realize now that I was a bit traumatized from those first weeks. Breastfeeding wasn’t fun, it was a chore. About a month in, our doctor informed us that Baby hadn’t put on enough weight in here first month and suggested that I supplement with formula until she gained her weight back. It was a little discouraging. I’d slaved for weeks to get food into this child and now it seemed it hadn’t been enough. I wasn’t about to give up though. I asked the doctor if we could have another week to try to get her weight up on my own. She said that was okay and we scheduled a weigh in the week after. For that next week I felt like I fed her more than not. When in doubt of what to do, feed the baby. Up until then I’d been bad at keeping her on the boob for very long at a time due to pain, so I did my best to keep her on for as long as possible to make sure she got the fat milk. Also, I’m not a huge fan of feeding schedules. If I learned anything back then it was that newborns don’t have routines. If she wanted food, I fed her.

The week after she was back to a normal weight and we haven’t had any major problems since.

We started her on solids about two months ago and I’m still figuring out how to balance that with breastfeeding. My plan is to keep breastfeeding till her first birthday. Since she turned 6 months I’ve started to dread that day. When I won’t be nursing anymore. Because yes, now I love breastfeeding. I think I just had to learn to enjoy it despite all the hard times. I realize it’s probably like that with many things with your first baby. I expect that things will be much more enjoyable with the second when I know what is coming and how I and my body will react.

These days I actually mostly breastfeed lying down when possible. I find that Baby can better relax and get comfortable that way? She often puts a hand on my face or squeezes one of my fingers while she eats. I love it. I feel like those are our own little special moments just for us.

I’m not gonna lie. There have been so many times when I’ve wished I had chosen to bottle-feed instead. The freedom of leaving her with someone else for more than a couple of hours or even letting Marcus feed her for a change. It would certainly have made my first month less dramatic. But now that I’m on the other side I can truly say that I’m glad I hung in there. Glad that I don’t have to drag bottles and formula around everywhere I go. I’m also really thankful that I haven’t had trouble lactating or had any major latching problems.

I’m sorry for rambling on for so long, and if you made it to this part I’m truly thankful that you let me finish. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing and I just wish to encourage anyone who wants to or is struggling to stick with it.

Because it really gets better.