Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Lucky Kid

Not only did Julian luck out by getting great parents like us, but we just received a phone call that he won half of a smoked salmon in some sort of raffle. We didn't even know he was entered.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Julian Nissen

Julian in his grandfather's arms, Christmas eve, in one of his few outfits small enough to fit.

I started a few entries that never quite made it to publication. I started writing a lengthy account of the night of Julian's birth. I soon realized that words could do it no justice, and that it was simply too personal to share. It was one of those 'you really had to be there' moments-- yet it was only meant for the three of us, with a midwife and nurse. It was truly a private moment-- a beautiful moment-- but there is nothing clever or witty to say. The moment spoke for itself. It needed no narration or caption. Julian entered this world. I watched him take his very first breath as he lay on a mat on the floor, beneath a birthing chair. I watched in amazement as I realized I was meeting my son for the first time, how something in my world had forever changed. Julian was now part of our world, never able to return to his comfort inside his mother. For all the hostility and cruelty in the world, it is still an overwhelmingly beautiful place. Powerful forces were at work in the birthing room that night. I quickly forgot my feelings of guilt at the pain and discomfort that Lise experienced. More than anything, I was immeasurably thankful that Lise and Julian were fine. I still am.

We are a week into our new family, and a few observations come to mind. Newborns mostly sleep and eat. There is little involved with "diaper duty," since newborn poo is mysteriously odor free. Julian is starting to grow eyelashes, and he is already much better at controlling his eye movement. When he makes eye contact, it is very intense. While other infants' crying borders on annoying, our son's tear-free cries are music to our ears. His skin color is much better, and he is starting to fill out. He literally becomes cuter by the minute.

I haven't even begun my paternity leave-- this is Christmas vacation. I don't know when I will return to work. My boss stopped by to give Julian a gift on Saturday, and reassured me not to think of work during this time. It is wonderful to be able to take this much time to bond with Julian. It is incredible how much I can love someone who I just met. It will be difficult to rearrange my priorities to include such frivolous activities as work, or even watching TV. But at some point, I will need to integrate my work life with our family life. We still need to put food on the table. Right now I can do little more than look at him-- even though he doesn't do much. I don't see how I will possibly be able to work from home!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's Almost Christmas

I cannot stand Chevy Chase, but no Christmas is complete without National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, followed by It's a Wonderful Life on Swedish Television.

En tidel velger fødeloftet

Interesting timing in today's paper: an article about the birthing loft that we used. The title translates to "One Tenth Choose the Birthing Loft." Again, we have nothing but excellent feedback about our experience. On the front page of the paper, some adventurous couple had their photo taken with their just-born child. More information about that couple is in another article. I cannot imagine having a photographer present for the moment. Photos appear to be from the same room Julian was born.

En tidel velger fødeloftet

- Alle vet at en fødsel gjør vondt. Men de som velger Fødeloftet, er ofte motivert til å takle smertene, og de stoler på at kroppen er skapt for å føde, sier jordmor Grethe Teigen.

Marie Rein Bore

- Jeg har hatt greie fødsler før, men måtte ha en del hjelp med nummer en og to. Denne gangen var jeg bestemt på å ikke ha bedøvelse. Du blir så mye friskere etterpå uten bedøvelse.

- Jeg har hatt greie fødsler før, men måtte ha en del hjelp med nummer en og to. Denne gangen var jeg bestemt på å ikke ha bedøvelse. Du blir så mye friskere etterpå uten bedøvelse. Foto: Jon Ingemundsen

Gjennsomsnittalderen for førstegangsfødende var i fjor 28,1 år. På slutten av 80-tallet var mødrene i snitt 25,2 år da de fikk barn for første gang. (Kilde: SSB)

Grethe Teigen var jordmor da Lasse kom til verden sist fredag kveld.

Les historien om fødselen

Sissel og Trond Vollevik fra Sola hadde på forhånd valgt fødsel på Fødeloftet, en egen del av fødeavdelingen ved Stavanger Universitetssjukehus, spesielt beregnet for dem som vil ha en såkalt naturlig fødsel.

- Hva mener dere med naturlig fødsel?

- At fødselen går normalt uten for stor inngripen. Vi gir ikke medikamentell smertelindring, men bruker akupunktur, varmt vann/ badekar og tilstedeværelse som vår form for smertelindring, sier Teigen.

Men hun understreker at hvis fødselen skulle stanse opp og ikke komme videre, kan den fødende flyttes over til fødeavdelingen der de har tekniske hjelpemidler til å få fødselen i mål.

Dessuten kan ikke fødende som har hatt kompliserte svangerskap, eller har annen risiko knyttet til fødselen, få føde på Fødeloftet.

Ønsker flere:
Fødeloftet er et relativt nytt tilbud ved SUS. I år vil det bli noe over 400 fødsler der, rundt en tidel av alle fødsler ved SUS. Jordmødrene på Fødeloftet ønsker at flere skal bruke dette alternativet. Tilbudet er for lite kjent, sier Grethe Teigen.

- Hva skiller Fødeloftet fra en vanlig fødeavdeling?

- Dette er en mindre avdeling, personalet har det ikke så travelt, vi slipper å springe fra den ene fødende til den andre, men kan være hos hele tiden hvis det er ønsket. Dessuten har føderommene vanlige senger, det er mer som et soverom og ikke et teknisk sykehusrom, sier Grethe Teigen.

Mange førstegangsfødende velger Fødeloftet:

Mye psykologi
- Vi håper de får en god opplevelse som de tar med seg videre. Mange er motivert for en slik naturlig fødsel, motivert til å stole på at egen kropp kan greie dette. En fødsel er mye psykologi. Selv om rier kan være intense, er det tross alt flere pauser enn rier, det er mulighet til å slappe av. De aller fleste fødsler går greit.

Det er svært sjelden vi må flytte den fødende for å få mer teknisk hjelp. Den aller viktigste overflyttingsgrunnen er at fødselen stopper opp. Da flytter vi den fødende over på fødeavdelingen, og fortsetter der. Vi prøver også å bli med videre på fødeavdelingen, slik at de fødende skal slippe å skifte jordmor. Etter at de har født, tar vi dem med opp på Fødeloftet igjen, så får de barseltiden der likevel, sier Grethe Teigen.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Baby Filtersweep

OK, not the greatest photo, but certainly the greatest Christmas gift we have ever received. Julian arrived 5:15am Monday morning in perfect condition- all 3010 grams and 48 cms of him. Lise is in great shape, and we are finally home from the hospital. Lise bravely chose a natural birth, which meant we could share a family room. The midwives and staff there were top-notch. Julian is already an amazing little guy! Fortunately, he takes after his mother. His birth caught us a little off guard-- he arrived 10 days early. I won't return to work until sometime next year-- and even then, will probably work part time or from home as much as possible. This might turn into a parenting blog-- so be warned.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Interesting Commute

What you are seeing is the inside of a mountain bike tire with a 2cm stone sticking through it. I had a relatively dry ride into work this morning, and heard a strange noise as I was crossing the E39 overpass. It was the sound of air hissing out the rear tire. I had a predawn tube change-- of course predawn means anything before 9 or 9:30 these days. I was worried that I would not be able to find the source of the flat in the darkness, but there was no mistaking it. I cursed my Crank Brothers mini-pump--- the one that only takes 400 strokes to get a tire up to 40psi. I may be exaggerating slightly.

After work I saw a very rare sight: dry pavement. I think it has been about two months since I have seen anything so beautiful. Just to clarify, they were only patches of dryness. It is still mostly wet outside.

Tomorrow I am taking the day off. I have been working too much lately. We still have much preparation to do before Christmas and the baby arrives.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


We caught a few minutes of sunshine today between bursts of rain and sleet. I went to the gym to do some cardio while watching people doing real cardio-- a biathlon was on TV. Usually I go after work and end up watching Scrubs, That 70s Show, or the Sami news-- all of which are texted. The first two are in English, of course, and the Sami news is in some strange Sami language that looks like Finnish, so it is texted as well. Watching their news, I always feel like I am living on the edge of the planet. They live on a region in the far north that consists of parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. On the surface they resemble the Inuit in many ways. If ever I feel life is foreign here, I only need to watch the Sami news. Going back to the gym, since the biathlon was in Norwegian, it wasn't texted, so I used the headphone jack on the trainer to listen. I was surprised how much I was able to understand. Usually TV commentators are so excitable and speak so fast that they are impossible to understand. In this case, the Norwegian was so far ahead that the race was over well before the finish line. Next was curling between Norway and Sweden. Curling is about as exciting as golf to watch, but it makes for good language practice. Besides, the commentators are not particularly excitable in curling.

After the gym I made the mistake of going to Kvadrat-- a large mall near home. I had planned to do some Christmas shopping, but it was insanely crowded. I just purchased groceries, which was enough of an ordeal, and stopped by Bike Brothers to price a new set of mountain bike wheels. I need a new set of wheels for the studded tires for when the weather turns nasty. I want exceptionally cheap wheels, since I anticipate that I will destroy them riding in salty snow and ice. The cheapest they had were about 3000nok--- and I could easily build a set for less money. I will keep shopping around.

When I returned home, Lise was in the middle of her diabolical scheme of making candies to give as gifts. I would have preferred to eat all of them immediately. If it were me, I would continuously make mistakes that I would have to eat myself.

Friday, December 08, 2006

6h 26m 11s

The days are getting shorter. The shortest day is only 15 minutes shorter than today. The real issue is that it has rained daily for as long as I can remember, and I don't think that I have seen the sun since I was in California. It really isn't that bad- certainly not as bad as last year when I was unemployed at this time. So what that it has rained. It hasn't stopped me from biking-- although laziness has. Short days makes the evenings seem to last forever.

My wife's octogenarian grandfather brought over a cradle that he made. It is a very cool gift for our impending newborn. We still need to sort out some water damage to the downstairs bedroom caused by a leaky window. We are going after our buyers insurance on that one-- that is another story. We are as ready as we will ever be, after we pack a bag for the hospital.

Sanity in Policy

OK, the head of the learning center called me back today. I have him my visa number (work and residency-- not my bank card) and he looked me up. Actually, he had to call me back to get my ID# and to confirm my visa number. It turned out he could find me nowhere in the system to indicate that I was required to take language classes. I am also not required to take civics classes either. He said it was because I was married to a Norwegian. All of this is very perplexing, since I know two other Americans who reported taking classes. I am not complaining, but I will confirm this next time I renew my visa.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

On a Different Note

I can't wait for our baby to arrive. We registered at the birthing room at the hospital the other day. They have a wall hanging that is a giant calendar for the year with pink and blue pins for all the babies that were born, with a large sign that says "Welcome to the World." I don't know why that is such a cool visual, but it is. It really is about the arrival in this world. He is pretty much ready to go. I can usually hear his heartbeat by placing my ear at the right spot on Lise's belly. He is getting quite crowded in there. All we can do now is wait. Officially his due date is the 29th, but he could easily arrive next year. If he arrives after the first, it changes when he starts school. In a way, I hope he is a little late. Lise and I were both some of the youngest in our respective classes. Then again, we seemed to turn out just fine.

Norwegian Rednecks

OK, maybe that is not a fair characterization, but I am annoyed by how the conservative party's anti-immigration policies are affecting me personally. I am legally required by law to take 120 hours of Norwegian language classes. I dutifully applied to take classes a year ago. I have a three year window to complete this requirement. At the time I was told there were no advanced evening classes, and that beginner classes would be a waste of time for me. In other words, there are no classes available, and already a year is burned up.

During the past year, I left messages at the school, but received no reply. The other day I finally sent a letter, including documentation of 126 hours of classes I had taken in Minneapolis. I finally received a call from the man in charge of the school. He apologized for not getting back to me earlier, and said that nothing had changed. They had no qualified teachers to teach advanced classes, and no evening courses available.

This situation is absurd. I believe that I am rather well integrated. I do not live in an English-speaking cloister. I have no friends from the UK or US that I hang out with. I am very gainfully employed. I travel much for work, making classes somewhat inconvenient. With a baby due any day, it will be downright difficult to spend four extra hours per week outside the home. I gave the man my bottom line: I was only interested in meeting my legal obligation. He offered that I could take an oral and written test to meet this requirement. I will have to give it a try. It still doesn't change the principle at hand. Even the US draconian immigration policies are not this strict. I am not even part of the target demographic group-- I am married to a Norwegian. If you ask me, I am doing just fine. But that doesn't mean my Norwegian spelling and grammar are any good.