In Linköping, if you go outside at any point after the sun breaks the horizon, and before it sets completely, you will see people with babies. All hours of the day, mammas and pappas and grandparents pushing big ol’ baby buggies everywhere in town. Cobblestone streets, crowded sidewalks, small cafes, clothing stores, the System Bolaget (alcohol store) – doesn’t matter, there will be a family with a baby there. Everyone has babies!
That whole idea that’s spread in America about how the Scandinavian population is dwindling so fast the government is paying people to have babies…yeah, false. Well, the part about a dwindling population, not that the government pays parents (they do!); there is no shortage of Swedish babies, and thank god for that because they are CUTE.
That being said, one has incredibly limited options for baby shopping. More than that, though, one (me) has ONE place to shop for maternity clothes (H&M). And, get this…there are two options for maternity pants: skinny jeans (sigh) and crazy prints (which, of course, the worst ones are not online).
So, yeah. Baby, we’re not in the States anymore! You’ve got one option for a breast-feeding pillow, one option for breast pumps (that is: manual), and one price option for a simple onesie (over $10 each). There are maybe 2 stores to buy baby stuff like strollers and high chairs, about a handful of places to buy baby clothes, and one place to buy furniture (IKEA). That last one might be a lie, but I’ve chosen not to look anywhere else (see nursery plan here).
Disclaimer: these are observations of a sheltered American in Linköping. I’ll straight up admit that. We haven’t really talked to locals about where to get stuff. Also, there are multiple places to shop online – in regards to most of the above – but I hesitate ordering from sites that look somewhat archaic, and I refuse to order pants without being able to try them on first. It’s seriously shocking how few options there are for new parents when there are new parents everywhere, and the price tag on nearly everything is equally, if not more, shocking. That being said, I managed to squeeze myself into 2 pairs of maternity
sausage-casings skinny jeans, and I’m trying desperately to not have to go up a size by then end of this 9 months. (P.S. What pregnant woman wants to wear only tight pants her entire pregnancy? Beuller, Beuller? Yeah, that’s what I thought.)
Clothing rant aside, we’ve managed to find ways around getting some of the bigger, expensive stuff, and I’ll detail that in an upcoming post. Hint: “Sven’s List”, description: “life saver”.
A lot of baby stuff we actually got while we were in the States over New Year’s, and that would include some very nice cloth diapers. YES, we’re going with cloth diapers, just get over it now. We’ll either rock it and feel totally awesome, or you can tell us “I told ya so!” when we fail miserably at keeping up with them. Either way, it is impossible to find cloth-diaper-appropriate detergent; however, I can now translate every ingredient in laundry detergents between Swedish and English, and tell you what they do…if you want.
Slowly, we are stocking up on everything we need. Being that Matt is working in a foreign land, we are set up with a furniture service that his company generously provides. In trying to swap out some furniture, we’ve hit a crossfire with the furniture company, and they have us locked in a months-long email chain about whether or not they will take away some of the furniture we no longer need. Seeing as how they are being paid more money per month than all the furniture we have is worth…you’d think we could swap out a guest bed and nightstand…but no. Until we can get that bed out of the small guest room, we can’t put more in…so, nursery has been at a complete standstill. NO FUN.
This is not only testing my natural, raging, nesting instinct, but also my love and desire to decorate a room because I finally can!
OK, wait, I lied. There was one aspect of the nursery we could conquer, and that was the overhead lighting. Remember when I mentioned Matt’s Mom got us an awesome, customizable light for nursery as a Christmas gift? I decided late one afternoon to put it together. It came in 30 plastic puzzle pieces with about 3 lines of vague instructions. After a frustrating hour where I couldn’t accomplish getting even a small part of it together, but instead somehow attracted all the dog hair in the house to static-cling to the plastic pieces, I handed it over to Matt when he got home from work.
Of course the first thing my husband wants to do after a long day at work is figure out a plastic light puzzle. But he can drink beer while attempting to put it together, so I felt no pity. Also, he’s smarter than me and has infinite amounts of patience for piecing things together. I questioned if this was a Mother-in-law joke – wherein I sit and look like a monkey struggling with a simple task – but he assured me it wasn’t and that he needed that beer 😉
The light came with a color-changing bulb that would be totally awesome if it wasn’t so dim. You can pick between a ton of different colors, or you can have them rotate.
It’s pretty cool, but a little psychedelic, so we’re going to go with a standard bulb for now.
In this last stretch before the young lad’s arrival, it seems so much longer to that due date than in the previous few months. Since I can’t focus my efforts of building and tweaking the nursery to perfection, I needed to find other tasks to occupy my mind. Enter: sock monkey.
While in the States, at an outdoors store I found some Rockford Red Heel socks for sale. The socks of the original sock monkey, and that are sold with instructions to craft up your very own monkey or elephant. Perrrrrrfect.
Well, the first part of the instructions say to sew two straight lines up the leg of one sock. Since we didn’t have a sewing machine, I attempted this by hand-sewing, and 5 crooked stitches in, 5 different attempts, I gave up. This was either another task I would hand over to my super-husband, or we’d need to pony up the money for a sewing machine. Well…super-husband totally delivered and surprised me with a glorious blue and yellow sewing machine from….(wait for iiiiiiiit) IKEA!
I convinced him we could buy a machine and I could sew up a breast-feeding pillow, to include multiple covers, for the price of just purchasing a new breast-feeding pillow in the store. That’s how I secured the machine. When he gave it to me, he said, “It’s good. You could really use to brush up on your domestic skills.”
Going back to the sock monkey, I decided to practice on some spare socks before ruining a perfectly good pair of Rockford Red Heels. Matt generously donated up a few of his lost-pair wool socks for my practice efforts, and BAM! Sock monkey nummer ett:
Matt said it looks creepy. Piper said it was her’s.
I’m just in love with the new sewing machine and can’t wait to get some projects going, including the real sock monkey. Sewing is good because I don’t think about food for a few hours (this is a first), but bad because I sit in the same position for a few hours (no good for mamma and baby).
All in all, though, things are going pretty well. Navigating a first pregnancy in a foreign land with no family around or anything familiar can definitely be a challenge, but I have no room to complain about much. In fact, I wouldn’t want things any other way than they’ve been! Just as long as we can play in the sunshine and grass with our baby this summer (which will come, right?!), all will be right with the world.