Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sad times – miscarriage in Sweden part 1

OK a warning here first – unlike most of my posts this one is extremely personal and rather graphic. But I need to write this, and well, it is a Swedish experience.  It’s long.

So this was a post I didn’t expect to write. I had expected to tell you all about my pregnancy a few weeks ago. But for some reason or other I always found something else to write about. And now here I am.  So here is some insight into medical care in Sweden and, well, my personal sphere.

It started on Thursday. I had a bit of spotting red blood. I had a bit with my last pregnancy due to burst blood vessel. It stopped as soon as it started. I thought nothing of it. On Friday morning, it happened again. This time I called the midwife, because I had a big business trip planned for Sunday-Monday and I wanted to make sure nothing was wrong and I could travel without concerns. The midwife said it was normal. The bleeding stopped at noon.

Saturday morning it started again. And this time it kept going. We spent the day with family and it was nice to have the distraction, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And worrying about my upcoming trip. If something was going to happen with this pregnancy I wanted to be at home.

I started getting nervous as the bleeding increased and I made the Swede leave early so I could call the hospital.

My biggest issue with Swedish medicine since I moved here are the gatekeepers. The people you call at the hospital who tell you whether or not you can go in or not. I mean, yes you can always go to the emergency room, but you are supposed to call and get a special time unless it is an actual serious emergency. This time was no different. They told me it wasn’t an emergency, since it was only mild bleeding, they wanted me to wait until Monday. I mentioned I might be out of town on Monday and that was my concern. In the past I have threatened the gatekeepers (I will just go to the ER, I’ve told them, and that is stupid. Give me a time) or I have played super nice (please could I just maybe have a quick time), but this time I cried. And it was totally authentic. I was scared.

Come in, she finally said. But she also said ‘The doctor hates just doing checks during emergency hours, so you might have a long wait.’

I didn’t care. I needed to know what was going on.

I got to the gynecological emergency room at 5 pm. At 6:20 they told me the doctors would be switching shifts and it might be awhile. At 6:40 the nurses ran out saying there was an emergency surgery and it would be at least 2 hours. I went home and had dinner.

I came back at 8:30. There was a woman there with twins two weeks old. The grandmother mother told me she was raising them on her own. The woman was called ahead of me, and I was glad. She needed it more than me. As they left the waiting room the grandmother turned to me and said ‘Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you hoped.’ I had the feeling that if my life were a TV show, this would be the name of the current episode. I suddenly realized there was a good chance I was going to be getting bad news.

At 10:00 pm they called me into a patient room and said the doctor would see me soon. I waited for 20 minutes in this room before they called and said that the doctor got called away on another emergency. It would be awhile.

Did I mention they only had one doctor on duty?

I sat in the waiting room and watched a terrible but distracting TV show. The Suits. Oh it was everything I hate in a TV show. Too many lawyers. Too many men. Pretty, vapid but supposedly intelligent women. Bleh. But it distracted me.

At 10:45 the nurse came out and said they had another emergency surgery, but the doctor was going to try to run upstairs in-between surgeries and look at me. If she didn’t arrive in 30 minutes it would probably be another two hours.

Thankfully the doctor arrived at 11:00pm and did the ultrasound.

I knew immediately by the look on her face.

‘Unfortunately, I am not looking at a normal 11 week pregnancy,’ she said. ‘This pregnancy ended weeks ago. ‘

But I had known this already. Strangely, I would say I knew this the moment the grandmother of the twins spoke to me.

I asked her about the trip, she said it was within Sweden and I could go to a hospital anywhere.  I might be bleeding lightly for awhile or it could start to get heavier. I could come in on Tuesday and get some pills, Cytotec, to start things along. She didn’t advise against going. We talked a bit about the pills and I said fine. We made plans for me to pick them up.

The whole thing took about 15 minutes. I even cracked a poor joke about being able to at least have a drink.

When I got outside I had just missed the bus (note: the swede was home with little Swede) so I walked home. I needed the air and I was in shock.

I didn’t know what to do. Should I go on my business trip? Should I risk canceling and losing one of my most exciting clients for my new company?      To be continued…..

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Is Feminism Actually Good For Men, Too? Learning from Swedish feminism

I think it is fair to say that Feminism in English is a word with many different connotations, most of them not very positive. Many younger women have had a hard time taking on this word to describe themselves because it has been connected with radicalism, an idea that women’s rights supercede everything, and that feminists are ugly women who don’t shave and hate men.

I know, I know, this is a silly picture and an untrue one. But even Madonna, when asked in an interview if she was a feminist, responded that she was a humanist.

The opposite is true in Sweden. Everyone and their mother seems to self identify as a feminist. OK, maybe not everyone, but a majority of the political parties on the right and left consider themselves inline with feminist ideals. And despite these feminist friendly overtones, a Feminist party was started a few years back whose main focus was feminism.

In Sweden, Feminism doesn’t seem to have the same negative baggage as it does in the US. Maybe it is because, according to many studies, Sweden is the most gender equal country in the world, or the most ‘feminized’ country in the world, depending on the study.

It’s hard to say why, but the truth is, Sweden’s feminist policies have been pretty good for the menfolk as well. Here are a few things I believe men have gained from the feminist movement in Sweden.

1) Paternity leave – Swedish fathers are eligible for over 400 days of paid paternity leave (a majority of those days at 80% salary). Many Americans I know complain that maternity leave is sexist so there shouldn’t be any. Here in Sweden they took that away by making it available for every parent. Great solution I think! Fathers have the same rights to parental leave as mothers.

2) Joint custody – In divorces joint custody is always awarded unless there is proof of serious problems – abuse, drugs, etc. from the other parent. And single custody is a rare bird indeed. While I sometimes question the common practice of children switching homes every week to live with both parents, many families seem to make this work well.

3) No alimony – In Swedish divorce you don’t have to pay alimony unless in specific cases where there is extreme discrepencies and an agreement where one party wouldn’t work for the sake of the other party. Stay at home Moms or Full time wives are rare here, so in most cases there is no alimony.

4) Men can be capable of taking care of children too – Unlike the US where many people believe a man playing with a child is a predator, in Sweden you often see men taking care of their children early in the afternoon. I know many men at work who leave at 4:30 saying ‘Sorry I can’t stay, I have daycare pick up’ and everyone nods.  No one makes a comment about you leaving your children with your husband (I swear I got this in the US once when I ran into someone while out ‘Where is little Swede?’ ‘Oh, home with Pappa’ ‘What? And you are OK with that?’ ‘Um yeah, I’m actually happy to have some time on my own.’)

So there are many plusses for both men and women in a gender equal society. It isn’t all bad if you let the ladies have a few things they need, it could end up there is something in it for you, too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why no cruise control Sweden? (Or is it just our crappy cars?)

OK, I am only speaking from my personal experience of buying a series of second, third and fourth hand cars (new cars depreciate so quickly and that is totally why I have never owned one) but it seems to me that Sweden lacks the whole ‘cruise control’ function.

My question is WHY? Cruise control is awesome. You just hit the button and you don’t have to constantly stare at your speedometer. What more do you need?

I know a whole lot of other crappy cars don’t have cruise control because, well, you get the single file slow down/speed up phenomenon. It drives me crazy. I pointed this out to the Swede and he was in total agreement – so it must be true.

This is what happens – You are driving down a single lane highway with a speedlimit of 55 MPH or 90 KPH if you are European. The car in front of you starts slowing down. They start going to 52, 50, 48, 45. This is because they are engaged in a fascinating conversation with the person sitting next to them and they are not looking at how fast they are going. Or maybe they are dancing to the music. Or maybe they are talking on their cell phones (why do Swedish laws still allow this craziness?).  What is certain is that they are going slower.

So then the highway opens up with a passing lane – this is a typical Swedish thing where there are two lanes for a short stretch, so you can pass other vehicles. Smart right?

But no. Because something strange and psychological happens as soon as the second lane pops up. That car that slowed down to 43 MPH, that driver suddenly looks down at his speedometer and notices. Just as you go to pass, they hit the gas and start speeding up. They speed up to excess because they are embarrassed for slowing down so much. All of a sudden they are going 65 MPH and you end up sliding back behind them because they cut you off when the passing lane ends.

And then, they start talking to their friend again. And the whole stupid thing happens again until you gun it fast enough to just shoot past them and be done with the whole stupid thing.

This scenario would be cured with a little cruise control. The other driver, who obviously wants to go the speedlimit, but just cannot be bothered to drive, could hit the button and always go 55 MPH. No more speeding tickets. No more annoyed other drivers.

What is the downside? 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

And the Winner of Eurovision 2012 is? A flashback to 90’s Eurodisco meets Madonna!

Fingers crossed this will be the headline in May, because Sweden has chosen their representative song for Eurovision 2012, the fabulous Loreen and her song Euphoria.

Last year for this blog I made an attempt at watching the endless Swedish quest for picking the Eurovision entry song. This process is a series of finals and semifinals and superspecial guests and songwriters and endless endless musical torture.

This year I pretended it wasn’t happening. I just wasn’t prepared to be so masochistic as to watch the whole thing.

So today, I took a peek at the winner on youtube. Sadly, I couldn’t make it through the entire video, but here is my rather unprofessional review of the selection.

Plusses –

Wind machine – Loreen makes good use of a wind machine. This has proved to be essential to many a past Eurovision winner, including the queen herself, Carola.

Female – I know it is a stereotype, but I stand by the belief that the rest of Europe really likes Swedish ladies, and they would be more prone to vote for a Swedish lady then a Swedish male (remember, the rest of Europe is far behind Sweden when it comes to being feminist friendly) (See examples: The Ark and that Las Vegas song)

Nostalgia vibe  - What is up with that beat? It is a terrible reminder of 1990’s Eurodisco and her dancing reminds me of an old Madonna video on the beach in a similar outfit. Terrible to some of us, but nostalgia vibe is a great way of capturing votes across Europe since it doesn’t just focus on a Scandinavian sound.

Negatives –

Costume – I don’t mean to be catty about clothing, but since Eurovision is about costume, what is up with Loreen’s outfit? It is very unflattering for her figure. Why is it cut down to show the fact that she has no cleavage to show?

Not blonde – Europe would probably be all over this if Loreen were blonde, remember, playing to Swedish stereotypes can be a positive in Eurovision, since Europe likes the Swedish ladies.

No dance troupe? The act is pretty simple, and the dancing seems a little awkward. There is no huge production number, which might be a negative for Loreen.

I think this will be a good representative for Sweden in Eurovision this May. I look forward to reading all of the trash talk in the months to come! (Eastern European Conspiracy Unite!)
You can see the Eurovision entry here:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Flu

Still here - just camped out at home with the flu slowly making the rounds through the family. Will be back when I can string a thought together. Tried to come up with a witty post about the lack of flu shots given to us 'youngins' in Sweden, but have no wit at the moment. Hope everyone else is feeling healthy!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Perhaps the best thing about Sweden?

OK, you know what one of the most awesome things about living in Sweden is? Seriously?


Why does that matter? - you might be wondering.

Because today I baked cookies with Little Swede and we could totally enjoy liking the bowl. And let me tell you, we went to town.

Butter, sugar, a little vanilla and two eggs. Yum.

Yes, there is practically no Salmonella in Sweden. If there is a Salmonella outbreak, the animals are usually ‘taken care of’ quickly and the outbreak is reported in the national papers.

This might be thanks to Astrid Lindgren and her early quests to support chickens and set up strict rules for caring for chickens in Sweden. Or it may just be to very careful conditions. I don’t know.

But I do know I enjoy it. And I think it really should be an eye opener to the rest of the world - it is possible to mass produce eggs from healthy chickens.