I swore I wouldn’t turn this into a ‘mommy blog’ but I am currently trapped under a sleeping baby, so our Danish adventures are somewhat curtailed right now. I figure I might as well use this time to write a bit about our experience having a Danish viking baby, starting with the pregnancy…
I have to say I got very lucky and had a pretty easy time of it while pregnant. There were a few miserable weeks of morning sickness, but even then it was the kind that could be kept largely at bay by constant eating – I think I maxed out my lifetime allowance of Danbo cheese in the space of a month. You know you’re doing ok when the biggest hardship is having to order the juice pairing at Geranium (which, if you’re anything like me, apparently serves as a de facto pregnancy announcement).
Fortunately, I feel like the Danes’ hands-off attitude towards pregnancy really suited me – it’s very much along the lines of ‘you’re not ill, you’re just pregnant’.
Providing everything is going smoothly, all health care during both pregnancy and birth is handled by midwives. In fact, I’m yet to see an obstetrician and (spoiler alert) I have a month old baby.
The two scans (at 12 and 20 weeks) were done at the hospital, while the rest of my prenatal check ups were split between two midwives; Sarah at my doctors and Pernille at the hospital. Pernille was especially cool because she humoured my bad Danish and carried out our appointments på dansk.
I’m now a big fan of this kind of continual care, as the only really stressful point in the whole nine months came about through seeing a different midwife for a one-off Rh- injection at around 28 weeks. At that time I was still carrying fairly small, which spooked the new midwife into sending me for an extra emergency scan to check on the baby’s growth and threatening bed rest.
The diagnosis thankfully ended up being ‘tallness’ – the baby just had lots of room to hide – and I avoided seeing that midwife ever again! To make the whole thing extra special, Ant managed to miss all this by virtue of being on the other side of the world and out of phone contact at a multi-day music festival in Australia – excellent timing for a crisis.
The Danes’ relaxed approach extends to recreational activities. When I told the midwife that my preferred forms of exercise were rock climbing and cycling she didn’t bat an eyelid – I attribute this to the Danes’ love of personal responsibility? As a result I could keep climbing until around week 36, and cycling until after my due date. It even seemed reasonable to cycle to my 40 week check up, although I did have some (thankfully unfounded) concerns in the last few weeks that my waters would break while out on the bike!
Climbing was made possible through renting a harness that I was told was for ‘pregnant women and very fat men’. I’m so pleased the climbing gym actually had one of these for hire, and I was also psyched to see at least two other preggos climbing at the same time. Clearly there is going to be a new generation of climbers who got hooked in utero. Annoyingly the harness eventually got uncomfortable before the actual climbing did.
Being able to cycle was great because it facilitated my two nesting obsessions: babypakkes and Reshopper.
First up: babypakkes. Unfortunately it is Finland, not Denmark, that has the hallowed government issue ‘baby box’ full of everything you need for a newborn. Denmark kind of has its own version though thanks to all the different supermarket chains seeking your loyalty to their brand of nappies etc. The ‘babypakkes’ are basically free showbags filled with sample nappies, wipes, dummies and other random toiletries. It’s crazy how much stuff we amassed through the babypakkes – I reckon we’ll still be using the wipes and shampoos etc months down the track. It was definitely worth the hassle of signing up for and collecting them.
My other crippling addiction was Reshopper, which is a great Danish app that’s basically Gumtree but specifically for children’s things. It started innocently enough, with us trying to get good second hand deals on big items like the crib, and ended in me amassing a crazy gender neutral wardrobe for the baby made almost entirely of retro animal print onesies… I blame Ant for leaving me unsupervised for two weeks at the peak of my nesting period.
Despite it reaching serial killer levels of intensity I stand by my new hobby – it’s environmentally friendly and economical to go second hand, plus I got to practice my Danish and chat to lots of other mums. It was also a good motivator to get out and about on my bike to get my 30 minutes daily exercise, and I now know Copenhagen and all its suburbs a lot better than I did before… at least these are all the justifications I used whenever Ant questioned my sanity, and I’m sticking with them!
While it was very easy to collect clothing, some of the bigger items proved more challenging. Our first experience of stocking the nursery without a car was comical. I’d found a good deal on a crib out in the suburbs and thought we should grab a car share to go collect it. Not wanting to blame anyone (cough… Ant), we ended up sans car and making our way out there via public transport. I had a vague plan to take a taxi home, though Ant was surprisingly confident we’d be able to get it home the same way we got out there. Turns out this confidence stemmed from the fact he thought we were picking up a high chair and not a crib. As luck would have it, it was pretty light and transportable, so after some lugging on foot followed by a train and metro ride we arrived home triumphantly carrying our first baby item.
Emboldened by that experience, I ended up in a few other ridiculous situations, notably carrying a high chair on my back using a makeshift scarf harness through the airport to get to the metro, and riding my bike in the snow with a bouncer in a makeshift IKEA bag backpack…
As the pregnancy drew to an end I was lucky enough to have a baby shower thrown for me by my lovely language school friends. Highlights included predicting what our child will look like based on composite images of our features, and guessing the circumference of my at that point quite giant stomach.
Around the same time we attended some prenatal information sessions at the hospital, and it dawned on me just how much of the labour you end up doing at home. I had kind of assumed you went to the hospital at the first sign of a contraction and a professional would tell you what to do but apparently not! As a result I booked us in to a large minute birthing class which turned out to be quite useful. It at the very least made us think properly about our preferences and what the whole experience might be like. It was led by a nice Polish lady who was obsessed with ‘oxytocina’ and inversions.
During one of the sessions a photographer came to shoot some images for a project, so as a result we have these intense photos of us dutifully doing the exercises.
That last inversion is meant to help give the baby room to readjust and move into the right place… I don’t know if it did anything, but we dutifully did this and all the other spurious daily exercises along with eating six dates a day and smashing through a lot of raspberry leaf tea. I like to think some of it helped, because otherwise it was a lot of pointless effort.
Anyway I think that’s about all the noteworthy aspects of the pregnancy that I can think of right now. It is however 3am and I’ve been awake for hours so i have almost certainly forgotten something of interest…