Monday, May 27, 2013


This little video made the rounds during Eurovision about what it means to be Swedish. It captures a lot of the little stereotypes quite well.

(Also, I can admit that I just skipped Eurovision altogether this year. Sure, I could have blogged about it and upped my hits, but that would have meant watching it. And, well, when there was only ONE Eurovision it was watchable and made a fun drinking game, but now that there are three? Not so much)

You can catch the video here –

Spoiler alert – My one objection contains the highlight of the video – where Prime Minister Reinfeldt makes an appearance. This scene is WAY too confrontational for Sweden. Instead someone would have left a note by the dishes saying something like “The Prime Minister’s Mother does not work here!” or “How can you run a country and not be able to wash dishes?” 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Giving birth in Sweden: Pain management Part II

In my first post on Pain management during birth in Sweden I posted about my experiences with the pain management I decided to go with. But there are several interventions I decided to forgo and here is a little about them and why I opted out.

Acupuncture – At our hospital all of the midwives are trained in acupuncture and they offer it as a regular pain management technique for birth. You are invited to meet with them ahead of time and try the treatment out. I have had this technique recommended to me by several friends who declare the ‘Whiskey stick’ as it is often mistranslated into English or ‘the Whiskey needle’ which, thanks to this mistranslation, I often picture as the size of a small branch, is indeed wonderful. This needle is inserted somewhere into the back of your head and is supposed to release tons of endorphins and feel good vibes.

I have done acupuncture before and surprisingly found it incredibly relaxing. The first time I ever did it I felt like I was high. But I decided when going into labor I did not want anyone coming at me with a needle unless it was going to be full of drugs. Acupuncture for running injuries is fine. But if you are going to be sticking a giant needle into me to alleviate pain it is going to be an epidural – I am not as crunchy as I once believed.

The paddles – Actually I have no idea what this torture device is called in English, but I will call it a torture device since it sounds appalling. This is when they insert pockets of hot water under your skin (yes UNDER your skin) to, again, release endorphins in your body. Or cause you extreme pain elsewhere. Or I don’t know what. I know I thought TENS sounded ridiculous before I tried it, and I am pretty sure TENS worked solely as a concentration method, but keep your body modification techniques away from my body while I am trying to give birth without medication. Seriously, I think the other alternative should be ‘The vice grip’ tightening your hand in a vice until you release endorphins and all of your focus is on your damn hand rather than your painful contractions.

Hypnosis – The biggest bonus about hypnosis? No needles! My hospital has a trained hypnotist on staff and access to listen to hypnosis CDs in the birthing room. I have actually done a lot of hypnosis over the years and regularly use hypnosis as a relaxation technique to handle stress. But labor is not stress. It is labor. There was this time I got the chicken pox at an age where it was pretty damn devastating, and a trained hypnotist could not keep me from itching. I just could not concentrate. I was too nervous to rely on hypnotism as my main form of pain control although I did use some relaxation techniques at the beginning. And way too many of the birth hypnosis CDs stress the idea of labor not being painful and only thinking positive thoughts --- and that just does not mesh with my ‘oh crap this hurts – but I am tough enough to get thru this’ mentality.

Overall I can see why 2/3 of these techniques are appealing, but really don’t get the paddles at all. Those are the main options my hospital offers. If I am missing something (or if you LOVED the paddles) let me know!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Everyone says ‘I love you’ no one says ‘Jag älskar dig’

Pretty much every time I speak with my parents the phone conversation ends with us all saying ‘I love you.’ Except for these days when they usually end with one child in tears and me running off saying ‘got my hands full talk later’ or something like that before Little Swede has a chance to click on ‘the red telephone.’

But even with all that, there is a lot of ‘I love you.’

I don’t think I have ever heard the Swede’s parents say ‘Jag älskar dig’ to him. Not once. Not that I have ever doubted they love their kid. They certainly show it in many other ways. But through all the weddings and funerals and family ups and downs I have not heard an audible ‘I love you’.

This surprises me in many ways. I know Swedes are not as gregarious with their feelings as we Americans. I get that. But as a parent, I cannot for the life of me imagine not telling my child I love them several times a day. And just in case I forget, I always tell them one more time before they go to bed.

Little Swede is learning about this at the moment. He openly declares his love for me, The Swede, the newest Swede (still working on a blog name for the little guy) and everyone else in the family. But he also declares his love for the guy who delivers the advertising foldouts on the weekend (‘He looks so happy! I love him and his stripey jacket – were the exact words), a new brand of diapers, and Dora & Diego. (See? He is American, too!)

I am very happy to hear The Swede has gotten into the habit of saying ‘Jag älskar dig’ during bedtime routine, and Little Swede and his sidekick will grow up hearing they are well loved in two languages.

I know that actions speak louder than words, and far outweigh them. But I also am a firm believer that these little words say so much – especially to little ears. I cannot stop telling my boys how much I both love them and älska dem.