Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Random Tuesdays 02/28/2012

Two years ago I became a Mom, and I'm so proud to be one :) I already posted a photo of him as a newborn, so here's the light of our lives at 27 weeks of gestation. Already a handsome lil man ;)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Love/hate relationship with snow and a little bit of jewelry

Many of the blogs on my blog list are declaring that spring is here! I wish...spring is definitely not here. In fact there's so much snow it's been really hard to get out with the stroller. I tried on Tuesday and got stuck, apparently you really can get stuck in snow with a stroller. Luckily one of our lovely neighbors helped us out of the snow pile and we got home. After that we've been just sledding everywhere, no point in getting the stroller out. That has limited our social visits quite a bit though and I'm really bummed we missed one princess' birthday party on Friday :( Despite the inconvenience, I still love snow. It makes everything so pretty. It covers our unkept (by previous inhabitants) yard making it look great for a while. We'll have to do some serious work with it when spring comes.

As for the jewelry bit, I loooove big earrings and I love my wedding bands, but other than that I rarely wear much jewelry. I almost never wear necklaces and only wear bracelets on a special occasion. That was until I discovered the Swedish (gasp!) jewelry-makers Snö of Sweden and Våga. At first I just bought their cute earrings, but then I ended up buying one of Våga's necklaces and I loved it! Now I've realized maybe I can wear necklaces after all, and have been busily shopping all around ebay for pretty jewelry, super-addictive! I'll let you know if my bidding amounts to anything.

Here's my new favorite Våga necklace:

Hope everyone is having a great weekend! :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Babies! - what was it like to have one in the United States :) pt IV - the baby and more hospital stuff

I never went into labor, so I can't tell the usual stories about how much labor contractions hurt etc. I did have contractions for many many weeks though, so I have a pretty good idea how the bigger ones must feel like. I spent many nights awake counting the contractions and hoping I wouldn't have the baby just yet. Well, I made it to 8 months and like my nurse said, I should be proud :) And I am proud of my lil man, who clearly is a fighter!

In the end he did show up very suddenly. My husband (then boyfriend) had gone home for the weekend, when I had to be taken to the hospital once again. I talked to husband and told him I'll be fine, little did I know haha. It turned out that I was not fine and I was told I was in such a huge risk of having a seizure (due to high blood pressure) that the baby was going to be born in 20 mins. I told them very adamantly that no he isn't, but for some reason they didn't listen to me ;) While they were preparing the O.R, I quickly called husband (who was 7 hrs drive away) and then called my roommate to come to the hospital, so someone would be there for me and take photos. At that time I was living with a couple of male roommates, all aged 21 :) They were the sweetest guys ever, who probably hadn't in their wildest dreams imagined that they'd be seeing a baby born at that point of their lives :) Anyways, one of my roommates did make it and was there with me the whole time, until my husband got there (about 4 hours after the baby was born, he drove fast!). I have to say I could not asked for a better roommate! He handled the surgery like a champ and took amazing photos too!

There's not a whole lot to tell about the c-section. I told them I wanted to see as much as I could and I didn't want any restraints, since I'm a very calm person (they sometimes put restraints during the surgery, so you won't move since you are not under full anesthesia). I got an epidural and then felt a little tugging and pulling and there was the cutest baby boy ever :) My roommate took photos of the surgery and then followed the nurses who took care of the baby, while I was taken to the recovery room. The c-section was not painful in any way and I was given plenty of painkillers to remove any pain I had afterwards. In fact, I declined the painkillers most of the time, since I didn't feel the need for them. The nurses thought I was a real trooper, but to be honest, it was not that painful. Within 12 hours of the surgery I was up and walking, albeit very slowly :) I never had any trouble recovering from the c-section and the only reminder of it is a small scar.

The hospital had excellent services, the nurses were very helpful and they always had time for me. If I needed them, they were always a phone call away. The hospital also had a lactation consultant who helped me to start breastfeeding the baby. She was a gem, I had all these silly questions and she answered them with patience :) The consultant was also just a phone call away and I think she was probably my favorite of all the staff members, she was so caring! The hospital also had excellent room service, so whenever I was hungry, I could just call and order. The menu had a variety of meals to choose from (appetizer, main course, dessert, non-alcoholic drinks) and as a vegetarian I was happy to notice they had several different vegetarian dishes as well. There was a separate night menu in case you got hungry in the middle of the night. Once a day the dessert cart came by and I could choose a piece of cake. They had super-yummy cheese- and chocolate cakes among others. So I was being well fed :)

When the baby was about a day old, a administrative person came to my room to fill in the baby's information, including his name. In the U.S the babies often have names before they're born and I was being very "secretive" according to my friends when I didn't tell them what I was going to name the baby as :) I did announce the name right after he was born though and I recall the nurses asking me the baby's name while I was still in the O.R! The babies are often officially named at the hospital, so they can have their birth certificates and social security numbers as soon as possible. You can wait to name your baby afterwards as well, but if I understood correctly the baby won't be able to get an insurance or social benefits until he or she is named. I think majority of parents name their baby officially at the hospital.

I was at the hospital for 3 days, which was the maximum time the insurance would pay, some insurances allow even less hospital time. I think some women leave the hospital the next day, since they have to pay certain percentage of their hospital bills themselves. Unfortunately my baby didn't weigh enough to be discharged at 3 days, so he had to stay there for a few more nights. The insurance did pay for one extra night for me to stay at the hospital as a "hotel guest" though, which meant that I could sleep in my room, but couldn't use the room service and the nurses would no longer attend to me. That was fine with me since I was feeling much better by then. After that I had to leave, so I went home for the nights and when I woke up I went straight to the hospital to be with my little man. He was discharged a few days later and has been fine ever since :)

After we got home, I had a nurse from the hospital come by and check up on him once and after that my nurse from the first time moms programs continued her visits, which was really nice since otherwise I was home alone with a newborn baby after a major surgery :) There are no paternity leaves in the U.S so husband had to go back to work right away. And maternity leave is pretty nonexistent as well.
We also continued seeing our primary care physician, who took care of everything. All in all having a baby in Nebraska was a pleasant experience. The quality of health care was excellent and health care professionals bedside manners were just from another planet compared to some of their Finnish counterparts I've met. A very stressful and complicated pregnancy turned into an easy birth and now I have a wonderful little man brightening my life :)

The precious outcome at the age of 1 week:)

Is there anything else you'd like to know about having a baby in the U.S? Please feel free to leave me questions in the comments box, I'll try my best to answer :)

Pt I, Pt II, Pt III, Pt IV

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Random Tuesdays 02/21/12

Miami beach, Florida, 2006. It's always nice to look at some warming photos in the middle of the winter :) This was taken during a spring break trip to Florida, lots of fun memories!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Babies! - what was it like to have one in the United States :) pt III - classes and hospital + a baby shower

Before I got pregnant, I didn't really know much about babies. I'd never even held one in my whole life! So I figured it was time to educate myself by taking a couple of classes. My insurance covered a birthing class and baby care class. I think they normally cost like $65/class. My insurance also covered a baby car seat fitting in which they also gave a car seat for the car (!). Besides these two classes I also attended an 8-week baby care class organized by the local anti-abortion organization out of curiosity (I'm very pro-choice by the way, but not pro-abortion).

I did not learn that much at the anti-abortion baby care class, but I got to meet other moms, most of them very low income women. Most of us were in our 20s, I assume, but there was also this 12-14 year old girl there, with her mom. I have to admit that I felt really bad for her, whoever got her pregnant should be jailed, she seemed so fragile. Good thing she had a very supportive mother. A couple of the moms seemed to be there because some legal trouble had required them to, they were not first time moms. Husband (then boyfriend) and I found this class to be very eye opening, we really started considering ourselves privileged to be able to have such a secure life. The class discussed raising children, financial matters and the organization also provided the moms-to-be with baby furniture, baby clothes, diapers etc. Despite being very critical about these anti-abortion organizations, this one seemed to care about the well-being of the babies after they were born as well. The lady that ran the class was very sympathetic and understanding of the moms situations. She really cared for the women and tried to help them in every way she could.

The paid classes had higher income parents and the low income parents were noticeable absent. I think my husband was one of the few guys attending the free classes at the organization, but the paid classes had both parents there. The childbirth class was an express one, 16 hours of childbirth education in one weekend! They had longer ones too, but husband's work schedule didn't allow us to take one of those. This express one was really enough for us, since I never did go through labor. Basically we introduced everyone, watched dvds (really gross ones I have to say haha) and practiced lamaze breathing and other relaxation techniques. None of this ever came in handy, since I ended up having that emergency c-section. The only thing this class did, was make really scared of childbirth :D The baby care class was more useful, we learned a lot about caring for the baby and also baby CPR, which I found very important to learn about. The class was attended by both parents and we got our designated baby dolls to practice with :) We also got this rather good booklet about baby care, which I read afterwards several times. Both of these classes were held at the Catholic hospital, but religion was never mentioned.

The hospital also had free arranged tours for parents-to-be, so we attended one. I didn't really need to because I had already been there so many times, but it was good for husband to see the place. A lot of the parents attending were there to shop for a hospital as in they were trying to decide, which hospital to have their baby in. This was kind of a sales pitch for the hospital staff and they gave all sorts of brochures praising the hospital and a thank you gift (a photo frame) for coming to check out the hospital. The hospital's baby center was really nice and
home-y. The birthing rooms had a jacuzzi, a tv, a couch, recliners etc. and lots of room to walk around. There was a room service you could call to order foods and also a kitchen for the dads to snack from (it had coffee, soft drinks, milk, ice cream, jello, crackers, soups etc.) There were separate wings for birthing rooms and recovery rooms. All of them were private, so no one had to share a room at any point. The corridors were quiet, in fact I never saw or heard other moms while I was a patient in there. I just saw their babies through the nursery window :)

Since I didn't know much about babies in general, I had never been to a baby shower either. When my friends suggested they'd plan one for me, I was a little hesitant. I don't like being the center of attention and I didn't really know what they were about. Turns out the baby shower was a lot of fun! We played different games, for example a baby food quiz, and enjoyed good foods. The baby also got a ton of presents, including toys, clothes and diapers. I think moms-to-be have baby showers in Finland these days as well, although none of my mommy-friends have chosen to have one.

Stay tuned for the last part... :)

Our room at the hospital

Tired husband sleeping on the couch :)

Pt I, Pt II, Pt III, Pt IV

Friday, February 17, 2012

Babies! - what was it like to have one in the United States :) pt II - doctors and nurses

There are no health care centers specifically meant for pregnant women in Nebraska, like they do in Finland ("neuvola") In fact there are no public health centers like there are in Finland at all. Instead a pregnant mother is taken care of by a primary care physician, your own doctor, or a gynecologist throughout the pregnancy. Since I was on state insurance, I didn't really get to choose my doctor. I did get to choose whether I wanted a male or a female doctor, and I chose the latter. I was, once again, lucky and my doctor was amazing. She worked in this Christian health care center, but she was in no way judgmental, and in fact very culturally educated and open-minded. All her babies were born in the nearby Catholic hospital, which is where I had my baby as well. And no, I'm not Catholic and I'm not overly religious either, but this was never a problem. Being foreign was not a problem either, only once the nurse that called me in looked really dumbfounded and said that she is very surprised to see that I'm white, since judging by my name she was expecting an Asian patient :D Just to be clear, I had one of those usual Finnish last names at that point :)

All my doctor's visits, which I had about once a month, were pretty much the same. They checked my weight, took a urine sample, checked my blood pressure, listened to the baby's heartbeats and asked me how I was doing, did I need anything etc. My doctor always had plenty of time for me, answered all my questions and remembered who I was and what had happened before. She also sent me to a specialist from early on, since I had complications and they worked together. I ended up having my baby only a month too early, probably thanks to them. The nurse that did home visits told me afterwards that she never thought I would make it to 8 months, so that's how complicated my pregnancy was. So besides my doctor's visits I had nurse, through a program for first time moms, visiting me every month during my early pregnancy and then every two weeks in my last trimester. With her we went through everything there was to know about being pregnant (nutrition, development, warning signs etc.), childbirth, and about taking care of a baby. She brought me brochures and we watched dvds and talked about what it was like being pregnant, and what it was like to become a mom. She was just amazing and I'm so glad I had her as my nurse. I'm especially glad that she was around to talk to since none of my friends in the U.S were pregnant or had children. She visited us once a week for a while after I had the baby as well. She basically weighed the baby and we talked about how to take care of him and how I was feeling. I really wish all first time moms had such an understanding and knowledgeable person to talk to, I don't know what I would've done without her.

The hospital nurses were really friendly as well, some of them overly friendly. I look quite a bit younger than I am (at least compared to my American peers) and often the nurses assumed that I was a teenager, especially since I was not married at the time. I was hospitalized several times during my pregnancy, so I met quite an array of nurses. They were all these smiling warm people that took my condition seriously. One of them seemed to take quite the liking to me, probably since she thought I was really young, and as I was leaving home she came and hugged me with tears in her eyes and said she would adopt me if she could :-) A lot of the nurses were wondering where my Mom was and why I was in the U.S without my parents. One of the nurses was also very concerned about my school, now that I had a baby. I told her I plan on staying home with the baby for a while and she told me that "you know, it's really difficult to go back to school if you drop out now" :D No one ever asked me what I did for living and just assumed I must be in school.

All in all the health care professionals were caring and knowledgeable people (although perhaps a bit naive...) and I felt like I was in good hands. And in case anyone was wondering, the Catholic part of the hospital could only be seen in the crucifixes on the walls, the health care professionals did not mention religion ever. A priest visited my room once and asked if I wanted to discuss bringing my child up as a Christian, but as I was not Catholic, I didn't feel the need for it. I was also visited by a Lutheran volunteer, an elderly lady, who brought some pictures I could hang on the nursery's wall. She also asked if I wanted my congregation to be notified of my child's birth, but when hearing it was in Finland she smiled and said she'd let me do that :-)

To be continued... :)

Helping a minutes old baby :)

Crucifix in the room we stayed in with our newborn baby

Pt I, Pt II, Pt III, Pt IV

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Babies! - what was it like to have one in the United States :) pt I - costs and insurance

One of my friends suggested I'd write about having a baby in the good ol' U.S of A. No worries, this won't be one of those TMI birth stories, just a description of what happened.

A lot of my friends in Finland have asked me how was it different from having a baby in Finland and to be honest, I really have no idea! I've never had a baby in Finland, nor do I really plan to. My friends have told me something about their experiences and judging by those I'd definitely choose Nebraska over Finland. That is, if I had the money to choose...

Having a baby in the United States is extremely expensive. Even with a really good insurance you'll probably end up paying quite a bit for having the baby. I have to say that I was one of the really lucky ones and got state insurance due to my low income. I was working as an archivist/conservationist when I got pregnant and only had travel insurance from Finland and grad student medical insurance from the University. Neither of these two covered a normal pregnancy; the travel insurance covered complications, but not for example a normal childbirth. The university insurance considered pregnancy like any other disease (yup, that's what they told me), 20% co-pay and there was also a limit to the costs. Before someone says "why didn't you get a better insurance, if you knew you were getting pregnant!", I'll admit that getting pregnant was a huge surprise for me, I'm one of the 2-3%. But it was a happy surprise, I didn't know I wanted to have children until I got pregnant :) As for getting a better insurance than my current ones, it wasn't really an option. I had a pre-existing condition (pregnancy) and no commercial health insurance company was going to accept me.

After I found out I was pregnant, I planned on returning to Finland. I planned on working for a few more months and then flying back. Turns out I had one of those extremely complicated pregnancies, spent majority of it hugging the toilet/plugged into an IV/in bedrest. My doctor told me that I was under no circumstances allowed to fly, so I was stuck. Luckily the state of Nebraska at that time was extremely lenient when it came to cases like mine. I got the limitless state insurance, because my baby would be a U.S citizen when born on American soil (to an American father as well I might add). Now I was incredibly lucky, because right after I had my baby, the state changed it's policy and no foreign person, pregnant or not, is anymore eligible to the state insurance. Previously only pregnant women were eligible, since they were giving birth to future citizens, whose medical bills became the state's problem after they were born. And as everyone knows, good prenatal case helps to lower healthcare costs after birth. The policy was changed due to political reasons, since "undocumented immigrant women were having babies with taxpayers money". What the general public failed to understand was that once these babies were born, taxpayers would pay the healthcare costs anyways and would end up paying more, since there would be more problems with these babies, who had not received prenatal care. But this is a political issue I might tackle at another time.

So I got the state insurance, which was a very good thing, since the hospital I had my baby in estimated that the costs were over $50 000, probably closer to $100 000. So when I say it's expensive to have a baby in the U.S, I mean it's ridiculously expensive. Obviously a normal childbirth does not cost this much. Unfortunately I had to stay at the hospital multiple times during my pregnancy and had ultrasounds every month and on my last trimester, every week, sometimes twice a week. I had serious blood pressure problems and prolonged nausea, which caused me to be stick thin. In fact I was so thin, that when I had to have an x-ray, the nurse asked me if there was any chance I was pregnant. I was eight months pregnant and had the baby the same day :-) And in order to kill the possible suspense right here, I ended up having a perfectly healthy (tall and skinny) baby boy :)

Basically the state insurance (also known as Medicaid) paid for everything, including cab rides to the hospital/clinic. I would just order a cab 24hrs before my appointment and they'd come and pick me from my doorstep. This was a necessity, since I didn't have a driver's license and there was no public transportation to speak of.

I decided to publish this entry in four parts, so to be continued... :)

It's a boy!

Pt I, Pt II, Pt III, Pt IV

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Random Tuesdays 02/14/12

Happy Valentine's Day on Random Tuesdays! Here's an oven-meringue-ice-cream-heart-cake that I made for hubby last year :) It tasted a lot better than it looks :D I used to love this cake as a kid and I think it was one of the kids' favorites at Finnish birthday-parties. It's sort of like Baked Alaska

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Reality of Archaeology - life in ruins

I stole this from facebook and although I graduated a couple of years ago this still is so true :)


Archaeology - some people dig it, some people don't

Friday, February 10, 2012

Q&A: My American Husband in Finland :)

Like every other Finn, I've always been curious what people think about Finland :) This time I asked my husband to answer some questions about being an American in Finland. Here are his answers:

1. Where are you from? Where have you lived?
" I was born and raised in Nebraska. I lived most of my life in a small town of less than 2000 people. However, I moved to the state capital to go to college. It was there that I met my beautiful wife..."

2. You landed in Finland because…
"I moved to Finland because of her. I wanted to start a life together and Finland seemed like as good a place as any"

My gorgeous husband :)

3. The best part of living abroad is…
"The best part of living in Finland (besides being with my family, of course) the opportunity to experience new things. Every day is a constant reminder of how lucky I am to be living and working here, everything that happens is something entirely new for me"

4. The most difficult part of living abroad is…
"The most difficult part of living in Finland is, of course, being so far away from the rest of my friends and family in Nebraska."

Visiting Helsinki in 2010

5. What did you know about Finland before you came here?
"Before I moved here, my knowledge of Finland consisted of a.) saunas b.) metal bands c.) dark and cold"

6. What was your biggest surprise about living in Finland?
"My biggest surprise about living in Finland was how genuine the people are after you get to know them. Finnish people really do keep to themselves, but if you do manage to get a conversation going and get to know them, they are very personable folks."

7. Do you think Finns are different from Americans? If so, how?
"Finns are very different from Americans. Americans tend to be very independent and ambitious in the way that they need to control their own destiny, or seize the day (it's the Pioneer in us). Finns seem very content with the structure of the daily routine. However, if you get a few beverages in a Finn, they are absolutely more crazy than any American I've ever met"

Enjoying Finnish winter/early spring after moving to Finland in 2011

8. What is the funniest/weirdest thing about living in Finland?
"The funniest thing about living in Finland is trying to explain to people where Nebraska is in the U.S. and what cities/landmarks we have nearby. There aren't any, and people always seem surprised when I explain how isolated my hometown is"

9. What do you miss the most about your home country?
"What I miss most about my home country is probably my guitars and being able to play them whenever I want. In a close second place would probably have to be doughnuts...I could eat those all day"

10. If you could live anywhere (hometown excluded), you'd choose...
" If I could live anywhere, it would probably have to be in Nepal. I love the mountains and I would have no problem going away and living in a small mountain village in the Himalayas."

Is there something else you'd like to know about being an American in Finland? My darling husband said he'd do his best to answer :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Blogs in Finnish - blogihaaste!

The following entry is about blogs in Finnish, so the entire entry will also be in Finnish :)

Sain blogiurani ensimmäiseen haasteen iki-ihanan Friolandian ihanan positiiviselta Eveliinalta, jännää! Eli tarkoituksena on nimetä viisi blogia joita seuraan ja joilla ei ole yli kahtasataa lukijaa. Samalla haaste lähtee näiden blogien innokkaille pitäjille :)

Olipas muuten vaikea valita viittä, luen lähemmäs sataa blogia. Onneksi valinta helpottui sen verran, että useampi suosikkiblogini oli jo moisen haasteen saanutkin, joten jätin ne valinnan ulkopuolella ja voi olla, että valitsemanikin blogit ovat jo haasteen saaneet. Alla kuitenkin viisi seuraamaani ulkosuomalaisten blogia, ei-missään järjestyksessä :)

Katie's Castle - ihanan myönteistä ja mukavaa bloggailua elämästä Teksasista

How to become an emigrant - asiallisia huomioita Amerikan ihmemaasta Chicagosta käsin

Kakunpalanen - humoristista kirjoittelua ja matkakuvia Washington D.C:sta ja muualta

Happiness Is - aivan ihana elämänmakuinen blogi arjesta amerikkalaisen aviomiehen kanssa Kansasissa

At Home with Sofia - ettei nyt menisi pelkästään amerikaksi :), niin tässä uusi tuttavuus eli bloggailua kauniine ja herkullisine kuvineen Itävallasta

Toivottavasti onnistuin saamaan kaikki ääkköset paikoilleen :) Läppärissäni ei nimittain ole skandeja, joten copypastasin kaikki äät tähän tekstiin. Minulla on kyllä jossain suomalainen näppis, mutta en nyt tähän hätään sita löytänyt. Siinä siis yksi syy siihen, miksi blogini on englanniksi. Toinen syy on rakas aviomieheni, joka haluaa lukea blogiani :) Saattaa olla, että jossain vaiheessa vaihdan blogin kielen suomeksi ja miehen on vain opeteltava suomea ;)

Seuraava postaus taitaakin muuten liittyä siippaani :)

Ihanaa torstaina kaikille!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Random Tuesdays 02/07/12

Southern Vermont, 2008. Vermont is definitely one of the most beautiful places I've ever lived in. Even the winters are gorgeous! This photo was taken from my friend's backyard.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Someplace warm...

I'm having the worst case of sniffles and have decided that if we move somewhere from here, it better be someplace warm! I'm so sick (no pun intended) and tired of being sick all the time :( And the worst part is that stay-at-home mommies get no sick-days, no rest what so ever. But I'm very happy about one thing, it seems like our lil man has stayed clear of whatever is bothering husband and I. As much as I hate being sick, I'd rather it be me than the lil man.

Here are some photos from our trip to Galveston Island, Texas from 2010. I'd so much rather be there right now, even if it's raining:)

I'm not quite sure what our hotel was called, Commodore on the Beach maybe?

View from the balcony

Nature had left its marks

It was lil man's first vacation, at 1 months. And no worries, we shielded him from the sun otherwise:)

Hope everyone will have a warm and cozy weekend! :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge

We went to visit the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge in December and it's just beautiful. The spring and fall are really the best times to visit the refuge, but it was pretty breathtaking in December too. The refuge is located around the Niobrara river and is about 77 km2 in size. There are a lot of bisons, elks and birds around. If you want to know more about the refuge, please check U.S Fish & Wildlife Service's website

Here are some photos from the Refuge and around Cherry County, Nebraska.

Niobrara river

Victoria Springs cemetery, I think old cemeteries are interesting. You can learn a lot by just reading the gravestones.

The usual landscape in Nebraska; cornfields and cattle

Cherry County, NE

Niobrara river

Buffalo at the Fort Niobrara

Some more buffalo

Fort Niobrara

Cherry County landscape

Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!