Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A wee reality check

Stockholm's Grand Hotel and Strandvägen  |  A wee reality check on afeathery*nest  |

Apart from still needing to find a solid boy name, R and I are doing pretty well on the baby prep front: we've been reading about what's to come in a few months with labor and delivery and we've chosen a birthing center and booked an informational meeting and a parent preparation class there. We've picked out a stroller, crib and high chair (just need to actually order and have them delivered) and scoped out the changes we need to make to our insurance post birth. Plus, we're doing well on the baby clothes front and have been reading and talking through what we can do to help get us all on a breastfeeding / sleeping schedule sooner rather than later.

But when it comes to handling, feeding, entertaining and comforting an actual baby, we've had a bit of a reckoning over the last few weeks.

At the beginning of August R's cousin, his fiancée and their 9-month baby boy came over for a Turkish breakfast inspired brunch. Upon arrival the baby had fallen asleep, so he was tucked up for a nap while we began to eat. When he woke and was ready to play we passed him around the table (moving sharp and delicate objects out of his reach as he made his way along) and then watched him do his shuffle-crawl near us when he was tired of being held. A bit later when he was hungry, R and I offered to feed him.

Well, I offered, but then had to hand the baby off to R because I quickly learned that (1) long hair, mobile babies and baby food don't mix and (2) neither do the above mix with jewelry, so my feeding of him quickly turned into trying to extricate my hair and jewelry from his hands and his bowl.

But after two seconds in R's arms the baby was eating happily with zero distractions, as he was held and restrained by one of R's arms while the other was used to feed him, whereas I was fending off flailing-arms-flung food and removing my hair from his lunch and his grasp while simultaneously trying to feed him. R's also a quite a bit more mellow than I am, which I'm sure babies feel.

Turkish-breakfast inspired brunch  |  A wee reality check on afeathery*nest  |
(This isn't the first time R has bested me in baby calming, having already proved his bigger-arm / hand capabilities when our nephew was born.)

(Although I will say that I was a much neater feeder, so there's that.)

After our meal we gathered in the living room to play with the baby and watch him explore everything within his reach (including remote controls, socks and pillows) and to do a little cuddling with him when he wasn't busy scooching himself about. By the time our guests left a few hours later I collapsed onto the sofa, completely worn out by a sweet, well-behaved, low-key 9-month old.

Yet I had no idea what was in store for us a few weeks later, when my brother, sister-in-law and our nephew arrived in Stockholm for one night, thanks to an 18-hour layover on their way back to the U.S. after their summer vacation. I wish we'd had more time together so I could show them the city that's now home to me, but a lazy late afternoon and dinner together at home, however brief, was at least better than nothing, especially as I hadn't seen them since last November and R not since last Easter.

Despite frequent video chats with me, my year-and-a-half old nephew didn't seem to recognize me without a screen. He flung himself energetically out of the taxi (that's his M.O., he does everything full force and with aplomb) and then immediately hid himself behind his mama's knees when he saw me.

By the time everyone came inside and got settled he had warmed up a little towards us (helped along by borrowing some of my colored pencils and the fun of rolling our woven circular placemats along the floor) and by dinner he seemed on board with both R and I, and had even graced us both with his adorable, baby-toothed grin a few times.

A Swedish smörgåsbord   |  A wee reality check on afeathery*nest  |
To give my brother and his family a taste of Sweden, we piled the table high with a variety of aquavit made in the Swedish archipelago plus Swedish beer, three kinds of herring, a smörgåstårta (shrimp sandwich "cake"), prinskorv (small Swedish sausages), gravadlax (cured salmon), boiled potatoes smothered with butter, and a cucumber salad.

They all loved everything (the baby especially enjoying the pleasant smushing abilities of the sausages and potatoes), just like my mom did upon her first in-Sweden taste of Swedish food earlier this summer. And they even managed to spare a little room for dessert (which was, perhaps not shockingly, a freshly-baked nectarine cake).

After dinner we sat around our U-shaped sofa as the baby careened around from cushion to cushion, laughing as he played variations of peek-a-boo with us and then tried to feed himself a bit of cake from his dad's plate. We ended up putting on The Lion King to wind the evening down, which was partly for the baby and partly (mostly) for me.

Not long after that we all went to bed and were up the next morning by 6:30AM, as they had to leave for the airport at 8. We gathered in the kitchen with coffee and cake and, once he had been convinced to freshen up and change into his travel clothes, a toddler hopping around the legs off the island and those of his godfather.

All too soon he was buckled into his carseat and they were gone. We came back upstairs, where in a now-familiar routine I once again collapsed on the couch, worn out after just one night and a short morning of trying to help (and not even that much, as had both his parents with him!) make sure a toddler was comfortable, happy and safe.

Winding Gamla Stan streets  |  A wee reality check on afeathery*nest  |

Lessons learned from our two recent sessions with babies?

We're not quite as prepared as we thought.

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One year ago: A reset of sorts
Two years ago: El Martinez & Citrusy tweaks & Slothful sleuthing

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