30 November 2012

Three months

My little boy is 3 months old today. People have been warning me that time flies by quickly and I have no doubt about it, especially now. It is amazing how much he has changed in these three months, much less the amount of changes in just this last month!

I'm thoroughly enjoying watching Paxlet grow, learn and discover new things. I am truly content to experience the here and now and to see what happens as he progresses at his own pace. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit I'll be happy when we sleep a bit longer at night and the boy's a bit more interactive (sitting on his own, baking with me, coloring, etc). But for now, I'll continue to enjoy the gorgeous smiles from my beautiful boy.

Weight & Length: We had our much waited for 3 month check up today and boy, oh boy! has Paxlet grown. He's up almost a kilo in weight: 7 kilos 175 grams (15,8 pounds)! And he's also grown 5 centimeters this month: 62,5 cm (24,6 inches).

Sleeping: We're still constantly only getting 2-3 hours of sleep at a stretch with the occasional longer stretch thrown in. It's usually not so bad, because most wake ups are Paxlet being hungry, for which I can give him a boob and we can both fall back asleep.
Also, Paxlet generally falls asleep either on the boob or by being so tired and walked to sleep. I know I need to start teaching him to fall asleep without either of those, but when I don't have to go to work for a while still, I'm not so rushed yet.

Eating: Paxlet doesn't choke or gag while eating as much anymore. I believe it is because he is older and can handle it better when my milk lets down, although we do get the occasional chocking fit. He also hasn't had a cold since that first one at one month of age.

Diapers: I've tried cloth diapers once in the last month. The first attempt was fine. He wore it and dirtied it without any issues. I put a clean diaper on him right after that and he fussed to no end. We took it off and all was rosy again. I think it had to do with the lining of the 2nd diaper. It was a bit rougher and I think that is what Paxlet didn't like. I should try diapers again...

Clothing: He is wearing size 60-68, although mostly 62s and 68s (2-4 months). I prefer clothes that don't have zippers or buttons. Or, rather I wouldn't mind zippers so much, if they used snaps for the last inch or two at the top. I just hate the way zippers bunch and bulge on saggy little baby bodies shoving the clothes up into their chins.

Hair: Paxlet's hair is growing, slowly. It still looks like he doesn't have much hair, but there is more than before.

Personality: He's such a happy baby! Not only does he let us know how happy he is with his smiles, coos and talking, but he also lets us know when he isn't happy with something. Thankfully there isn't too much crying, but he is verbal with his desires.

Milestones & Firsts:
laugh out loud - I think we might have gotten a giggle/laugh on the 19th, but I am very sure that we got a full on laugh this past Monday night (26th). He wasn't staying asleep when I tried to put him down, several times, so I figured we'd try a bath with the new "bath support" I'd just bought earlier that day. Previously he hasn't really liked being in the bath and preferred showers, but after a few seconds hesitation, Paxlet decided he loved this bath support, grinned and then laughed! A real laugh! I can't wait to hear more of those.

Paxlet has been practicing the Finnish vowels: o-o-o-o, ah-ah-ah and he finds if funny when his dad goes through all the Finnish vowels (a, e, i, o, u, y, ä, ö). Paxlet gets a big grin on his face.

smile spontaneously - This has been happening for quite some time. Paxlet smiles when he wakes up from a nap, when he looks at one of us and we turn our attention to him and even more recently, he has started smiling at strangers (when we are at some of the baby & mom clubs).

roll over (one way) - We're only getting a half of a roll at the moment. By this I mean that Paxlet will go from his back to his left side and no further.

grasp a rattle held to backs or tips of fingers - Paxlet is grabbing things, like our fingers and clothing if it comes to near, but especially his spit rags! Spit rags are fun to chew on and coo into. He isn't grabbing things 100% of the time yet, as I still don't quite think he realizes those phalanges* at the end of his arms are his.

bear some weight on legs when held upright - This little boy couldn't be any happier when he is in a standing position. Paxlet does NOT want to passively lean back like we've seen many other babies do. He would rather be sitting up, with help. But even more-so, Paxlet would like to be standing! He's even pushed himself up to his feet a few times, with us supporting him of course. He gets the biggest grin on his face each time he accomplishes standing up.

keep head level with body when pulled to sitting - This is something that he does quite often, but not always. When he's tired his head will just loll back.

turn in the direction of a voice, particularly momma's - Paxlet does turn to my voice and even towards Mr Siili's at times. I think he is slowly taking notice of the cats too.

Paxlet and I started testing out different mom & baby clubs this month. We've found a couple that we like (more accurately, that I like as Paxlet is too small to do much yet). The first few times we went to one of these clubs, Paxlet just stared at people, furrowed his brow or looked like he was contemplating something serious, if he wasn't sleeping. The last couple of times he's actually smiled at people and talked with me a bit.

*We've been calling his fingers 'phalanges' after we saw Dr Temperance Brennan, in the TV series Bones, wiggler her fingers at a baby in one episode saying "look, dancing phalanges". Mr Siili and I giggled and have been doing it ever since.

24 November 2012

Paxlet's grandpa and aunt coming to visit

I can't remember if I've mentioned it or not (and I'm too lazy to go look), but my dad and sister are coming to visit at the beginning of December! That's right, Paxlet is going to meet his grandpa and aunt on my side of the family for the first time! I'm so freaking thrilled that they are coming! They'll only be here for a week, so we're going to have to pack a lot of stuff into that short time.

This will be only the second time anyone from my family has come to Finland in the 13 years I've lived here. The last time was 12 years ago when my grandma (dad's mom), dad and sister visited. My mom said she would visit if I ever got a child, but she didn't live to see this happen. So, having my dad, and sister, visit is the closest I'm going to get to that. This makes their visit all the more important and exciting.

I knew that when I moved half a world away to be with Mr Siili that it would be harder to see my family. I also knew my family doesn't travel much and that it would be and has been up to me (and Mr Siili) to go visit them. I've known this all along. But, now that Paxlet is here this reality is hitting me harder than I thought it would be. I'm coming to realize just how little Paxlet is going to see my side of the family, other than via the video Skype chats we have. And as my stepmom pointed out not too long ago, we'll mostly only be faces on a TV screen/computer monitor to each other.

There are some thoughts jumbled in my head and I'm not sure I'll be able to get them out in a way that conveys what I am feeling and thinking, but I'm going to try anyway.

In the past, my stepmom, mom and I had some issues. I feel that my stepmom and I have worked through some of them, at least enough to be civil and on decent terms again. With my mom, I feel we worked through things more, but nothing is ever perfect. My mom had told me that the one thing that would get her to travel and visit me in Finland was if I had a baby. Then my mom had a heart attack and died 6 months before I got pregnant. I never got to have my mom come see my life here and see that I am truly happy here. Before Paxlet was born, my stepmom and dad were excited to get their first grandchild. We were even Skyping most weekends and it was great. My dad even said he'd come visit once Paxlet arrived. Then, a few weeks after Paxlet was born, my stepmom wasn't so enthusiastic anymore and said that she just couldn't handle only seeing Paxlet via Internet. She needs to smell, hold and snuggle him, as she is a very hands on and 'irght in front of you' sort of person. It was also suggested that we (Paxlet, Mr Siili and I) travel to the US instead, my parents would pay. For several reasons, that's not happening, at least not for now. I was feeling extremely disappointed because I knew if my mom was here, she'd come visit. And when it looked as if my dad might not come visit, I was hurt. Immensely. It was just important to me that some part of my family make it here so see my boy and the idea of it not happening just left a big emotional hole in me. So, having my dad and sister! come visit me is so unbelievably cool! I would love it to be longer than a week, but I'm not going to complain!! We'll just have to make the most of the time we do have together.

In a nutshell, even though I have moved away from my family, they are still very important to me and I still need them. I'm just waiting until we have "beam me up, Scotty"-technology to make the trip 'home' a quick and painless one.

23 November 2012

Thankful Friday (a day late, sort of)

I say "sort of" because Thanksgiving seems to be the day where people express their thankfulness, en masse. But, really, there shouldn't be just one day a year in which we express that we are thankful.

I hope everyone had a great Turkey-day. Here in Finland, it was a Thursday like any ol' other regular day. Except, it wasn't quite a regular any ol' day for me. Thanksgiving is my second most favorite holiday, after Halloween. And I totally miss Thanksgiving. I miss the food and the family getting together. Even after 13 years of being away from it, I still miss it dearly. So, I spent the day thinking of my family and not feeling very grateful.

I know I have a lot to be grateful for and generally I think I am grateful for what I have (most of the time anyway), but yesterday, I just wasn't feeling it. So while I read many blog posts and FB statuses about what other people were/are grateful for, I just couldn't bring myself to write anything. Today's another day and I'm in a better frame of mind and feeling much more grateful.

I'm grateful for...
...my wiggly, drooling all over me & everything else, grinning, cooing, wanting to sit up-not leaned back little boy. He is the joy of my life! I am so thankful for him, even in the moments when I want a few minutes to myself.

...Mr Siili. I know I don't tell him enough that I am grateful for him. I will do better. He has put up with me and loved me for so many years and I know he'll continue to do so for many more.

...living in Finland where I am given the right to take at least 10 months of paid maternity leave. When I think about it, I already dread going back to work next spring, yet I know I am so lucky to have this chance to be at home with Paxlet for this long.

...my family and Mr Siili's family.

...my dad and sister coming to visit me next month. I've got a post partly written up on this subject and hope to post it this weekend.

...Rusty and Mansi. While I don't pay as much attention to the kitties now that Paxlet it here, I love them just the same and I'm glad they are in my life. Although, sometimes it's a love-hate relationship with Mansi, the spazzy and energetic youngster.

...the interest rates being insanely low for our home loan.

...every single person I've met online, face-to-face or not. You have all left a warm spot on my heart and in my life and helped me through some of the darkest days and rejoiced with me during the better ones. Thank you!

...being able to get around town by bus, with the stroller, for free.


...momma & baby groups that I've been testing out to see if I can find some other moms that I might have something in common to hang out with.

And the list could go on forever, but I won't.

21 November 2012

I knew better than to eat an entire chocolate bar

But, I did it anyway! And now I'm paying the price. The price being Paxlet crying because of an upset tummy. I've done it once before in the 3 months since he's been born, with the same results.  Doh! I really should have been better about not eating the chocolate. We were out and about today and I got hungry with only chocolate on hand. Bad me. I did have some rye bread with cheese and some carrots with me, but I ate them! And then I was still hungry. I need to remember to bring more food with me or buy some proper snack until we can get home.

There really isn't too much in the way of foods that I eat that seem to bother him. We're lucky, I know it. So far we are sure that too much chocolate does it (eating a bit of chocolate doesn't seem to do it), onions might upset his tummy and the tandoori chicken I made at home from a pre-made sauce REALLY upset his tummy. Also, the one time I ate sweet potato, it gave me gas and it seemed Paxlet had issues too. I know some of the gassy, fussy issues a baby has can be just due to an immature digestive tract. But for the time being, I should definitely remember the few things that bother my boy and try to stay away from them for everyone's sake.

19 November 2012

Update - Movie night with the girls

The movie Breaking Dawn part 2 was great!! I am so glad I got to see the movie and I definitely want to see it again, but I'll wait until it comes out on DVD.

I was definitely nervous and apprehensive about leaving Paxlet home alone with Mr Siili. They did survive though. I was informed that Paxlet cried for 2 of the 4 hours (30min + 1,5hrs) I was gone. Mr Siili says he thinks Paxlet's tummy was bothering him. At least both were sleeping (for 20 minutes) when I got home.

Paxlet seemed a bit clingy the rest of that night and all of the next day. He was eating every hour to couple of hours. My breasts didn't feel like they had any milk (very flaccid and empty feeling) in them for the next 36 or so hours after I fed and pumped before going to the movie. Having Paxlet feed so often made me concerned about leaving him "alone" again so soon, so I decided to not go to my work christmas party. Even if Mr Siili did threaten me with no christmas gifts if I didn't go. Honestly, I don't need any christmas gifts this year, I have my little boy!

About the movie itself...
There were sweet/romantic moments, sappy moments, funny moments and some exciting and scary moments. My emotions were all over the place! Without giving anything away, I do want to say that I was very surprised by one part of the movie. I mean, I was very! surprised! At first when 2 things happened, I wasn't happy with it and a bit (ok, a lot) shocked, but when the third thing happened I started crying. The tears just started flowing and nothing could stop them. It was my momma instincts kicking in and all I could do was think of my little guy and I was heart broken. Thankfully that feeling didn't last long during the movie, but it sure shook me up.

15 November 2012

Movie night with the girls

Tonight at 5 minutes past midnight,  I'm going to be watching the last Twilight movie with some girlfriends. I'm excited and can't wait to see the movie! I'm also a bit nervous as this will be the first time I'm spending any significant time away from Paxlet. And this will be Mr Siili's first time really watching the boy (not counting the couple of times I've ran to the store alone, very quickly).

I'll pump before leaving, change Paxlet's diaper and hopefully have him in bed asleep. I am sure I can do the last two and Mr Siili can always walk/rock the boy to sleep.

I know it is only a couple of hours, in the middle of the night.Let's see how it goes...

Oh, and then Friday evening is my work's xmas party... I plan on attending!
- JustHeather

14 November 2012

The holiday season is upon us

I know this by several ways. The days are shorter and nights darker. Halloween has come and gone and Thanksgiving is near. All the stores have christmas crap stuff in them and christmas songs playing over the air. And I'm getting stressed and sad.

I love Halloween, but it isn't really celebrated here. Sure, in the last few years, you can find more Halloween costumes and related stuff in stores. Some daycare centers, kids clubs and schools have a day where kids get to dress up and adults go out to bars to drink. But there is no trick-or-treating and I get strange looks if I do dress up for the day. Even if it is only my devil's horns or cat ears. I miss Halloween.

And then comes Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving doesn't exist at all in Finland. And I miss turkey-day! I love the food! The getting together with family. And especially the food. But, the night before Thanksgiving, when I was 14, my grandmother (mom's side) passed away. Every year around this time of the year I think of her and everyone else who has moved on. Starting last year, that includes my own mom. I started thinking about my grandma and mom today. It made me cry.
This has nothing to do with the post, I just felt like putting a picture here.

After Thanksgiving comes christmas. Finnish christmas is different than what my family does in the US. I do like the Finnish christmas, it's just different. I especially like the food. It makes up for not having Thanksgiving.  I do love the family time and being together. I also love baking cookies and other holiday treats. I'm very thankful I have Mr Siili's parents and that we spend christmas with them. It has definitely made the holidays easier.

But christmas itself, is still the same. I'm not a religious person, so the whole meaning of christmas doesn't really do anything for me. I've struggled for years to find meaning in the holiday. Something more than people just wasting money on gifts that people don't really need and also people being greedy for gifts they get. I hate the stress of gifts! Which is why for the last few years, and most likely this year too, I've taken to baking goodies for most everyone. (I have no idea if they like them, but I haven't heard any complaints.) As I said earlier, I like baking and I figure most people will like the treats, plus after the holiday season is over they won't have more junk laying around that they don't really need.

Once again, 'tis the season for me to think of family that is no longer with us. 'Tis also the season to stress once again what to do about christmas gifts. I know I'll feel better once I get a bit of sleep.
Until then: Bah, humbug!

08 November 2012

The post where it's all roses and rainbow, unicorn farts

Yes, this is going to be one of those sickeningly sweet posts. Life is definitely not perfect, far from it actually, but that is not what this post is about. This post is about how after 4 years and 4 days of waiting for Paxlet to be in my life, he is here and how it couldn't be any better.

Paxlet is such an easy baby. And it all started once I got pregnant. (Getting pregnant was the nightmare.) The pregnancy itself was easy and so was labor & delivery. Paxlet was born healthy and full-full term, 8 days over the EDD, in fact. All of this 'easiness' has just continued in his life.

Paxlet doesn't cry that much, I can't remember a single episode going anywhere near an hour. We haven't had to deal with colic, reflux, or major upset stomach issues. Even when he is fussy or won't sleep, it's only for a night or two and I am still able to get some sleep, just not as much as I would like (pre-baby style).

Waking up next to a baby boy whose sparkling eyes light up when he sees me, giving me the biggest grins and smiles while cooing to me, makes up for any tiredness. I've come to look forward to the times he wakes up, because I know there are lovely baby grins waiting for me. It just melts my heart.

As Paxlet is getting older (he's only 10 weeks), his interactions with me and the world are growing. Not only does Paxlet have long (and meaningful) conversations with me (and Mr Siili), he also regularly 'talks' to his bunnies hanging from his bouncy seat, giving me a few minutes to make tea and breakfast or get a little something done. It seems every day I hear new sounds coming out of this sweet boy. In fact, just yesterday I heard a piercing squeal of laughter that he hadn't done before. All I could do was laugh at his cleverness.

There are so many little things I just love to watch Paxlet do. Such as seeing him taking notice of the images on the wallpaper next to his changing table, to sticking his tongue out in response to me and daddy or him licking everything he can get his tongue on. There's not much I don't love about Paxlet.

I can't wait to see what else the future brings us. I'm excited to see how he develops, what sort of person he becomes and learn just how smart he will be. In the mean time, I'm more than content to just be here, right now, with my little boy and see what he does.

Yes, this was a post about a mom who is head over heels and totally in love with her baby boy. He just melts my heart in ways I never dreamt of.

05 November 2012

Unexpected kindness is the best

Recently, a fellow blogger went to Paris for part of her holiday. In her comment section, I mentioned that the one thing I wished I had done while there, but didn't, was buy a piece of art work from one of the artists on the hill near the Scared Heart church. Much to my utter surprise and delight, she bought a little something and sent it to me!

Thank you so very much, Sometimes!

02 November 2012

Vaccine study participation

In Finland all children have the possibility to get vaccinated, free of charge. These vaccinations are offered and given during routine check-ups at neuvola visits. All vaccinations are optional, but in Finland only 1-4 children out of 1000 aren't given any vaccinations as per the guardians' wishes. So the vaccine rate is quite high here.

When Paxlet was a few weeks old, Mr Siili and I received some information in the mail about participating in a vaccine study, to which we agreed to participate. This study will replace the series of vaccinations that are given in the neuvola visits. Paxlet will get all of the vaccines he would normally get, but he'll get them via this study instead. This study will have two groups for the vaccinations: one group will get the same thing as you would from neuvola (commercial vaccines) and the other group will get the test vaccines (deemed to give as good as protection against diseases as the neuvola vaccines), plus both groups will get Hep B, which is not routinely given to children in Finland in the course of the routine vaccination series.

The diseases being vaccinated for are whooping cough (hinkuyskää), diphtheria (kurkkumätä), tetanus (jäykkäkouristus), polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and Hepatitis B. In addition, the babies in this study will also get a vaccine for the Rotavirus, which they would normally get at neuvola. Although through the study the vaccination that will be given has a wider range of protection. So, over the course of the next 11 months, Paxlet will get these vaccinations.

At the first visit, they (the people running the study) explained what would happen during this study and that we could stop participating whenever we wanted, if we chose so. They checked Paxlet over and took some blood, which he hated as they prevented him from moving his arm when he wanted to move it. (How dare they take away his freedom of movement!) We also received a thermometer, thermometer protection slips, a bag (cool!) and a booklet to record Paxlet's reactions, if any, to the vaccinations.

In the booklet to follow his reactions, we were to follow his main potential reactions for 5 days. The things we were to observe were his temperature, any possible change in sleep, eating or temperament along with how the injection area looks (swelling, pain, lumps). And if Paxlet gets sick or something changes within 14 days of when the vaccination(s) was given, we need to write that down too.

This time around, Paxlet was given a shot in each thigh, which he didn't appreciate, thank you very much. He was a bit fussy the first day and had soreness in both thighs for a couple of days. He might have puked a bit more than normal, but I didn't really think so. He did get a lump from one of the injections and we're following that to see when it goes away. Thankfully our baby boy wasn't too affected by it all and life was pretty much back to normal quite soon.

We go back for our next vaccination(s) in December when he's around 3,5 months old.