In honour of little one’s day….

Giving birth is something you don’t forget, but details get lost like on your wedding day. I am glad I wrote it all down for memories sake and for cultural reasons. Giving birth in the West is totally different from the East.

Here is an account of the birth and hospital stay.

The is exactly what it sounds like. You may not want to read this. You have been warned.

This was the dress I wore home from the hospital.

Friday, February 24th, I was sore and really tired. Tired of being pregnant and sore from the huge belly I was sporting. That evening I made Baba Goca’s Filo heaven dessert and headed over to my friend Kristen’s house to see her twins.

I didn’t stay long. I was so uncomfortable and the heartburn that was my companion for much of the pregnancy was kicking it with me hardcore. far to soon I went home to rest and realized I needed to finish making the rest of the Filo into something… it turned out to be gibanica.  Then I went to bed.

I woke up in pain at 12:26 AM. I wasn’t sure what kind of pain it was and waited kind of patiently to see if the pain was timely. It was. After calling the Dr. and getting to the 5 minute time frame, Muz and I headed to the Hospital.

My water broke about 10 minutes after we arrived

A nurse was taking my blood pressure and all of a sudden I felt really warm liquid exiting my body involuntarily. The was the beginning of things seeming completely surreal.  That feeling hasn’t stopped since bringing Munchkin home. :))

Soon, I was on my way to a labor room. At this point I was at 6 cm. dilated and we were all thinking it shouldn’t take long being this far along with dilation. BUT she wouldn’t drop.

When my water broke the pain became so intense and I got a migraine  from the pressure. Then I threw up. I was ready for an epidural at this point.. I mean Labor and a Migraine is a bit too much!!  further dilation did not bring the baby any closer to being ready to come out.

More than 5 hours later I was fully dilated and Munchkin wouldn’t budge. I was so happy I had gotten the epidural, time would have dragged otherwise, and I would have had much less energy at this point. With the epidural I was feeling only  slight twinges.  Muz and I both napped for much of this time while we waited. I was virtually pain free till it was time to push.

I should mention the weather had been really crazy and the barometric pressure was causing a lot of women to go into labor. The nurses said it was like a bus had pulled up and unloaded a bunch of women ready to pop. Needless to say, the nurses were scrambling and the Dr.s were stretched thin.

I pushed for 3 hours with the help of my husband and the nurse. The Dr. came and checked me a couple of times and then came just as Munchkin was about to crown. Muz and the nurse could see her for a little while and let me know she had a lot of hair. No wonder my heartburn had been so bad!

At some point during my labor Muz almost fainted, but  not so much from the view, but from low sugar. He hadn’t gone to bed before we left for the hospital at 3:30AM and he hadn’t eaten. A quick drink of OJ remedied his levels and he was back on track.  Thank GOD for him. I don’t know what I would have done without him. I am such a lucky wife.

At 1:06 PM our sweet little one wiggled out and cried. AAAHHHH no more pushing. Munchkin was whisked away for testing. Her two Apgars were 8 and 9. And I had been worried the epidural would affect her. no need. Those are high scores. :)

I thought I would have to push out the afterbirth, but the Dr. said it wasn’t necessary. She was going to pull it out with the umbilical cord. But that didn’t work. My cord was not attached to the placenta! she was shocked. This is not normal. It was attached to some other stuff that was attached to the cord. I was told this could have been a really bad thing. But since she was super healthy an alert, obviously she had evaded harm.

Our Baby weighed 8 lbs and 15 oz, but the nurse told me she was 9lb even. I think that was because all the scales were in metric measurements. One ounce was gained in translation.

Her hair isn’t so curly now.

Breastfeeding was on my list of things to do A.S.A. P. ! Munchkin’s hair was still wet with blood and fluids but I could see it was blonde and curly. She was just beautiful. All my fears of not wanting to be a mother melted away. She was perfect and she was mine. Words cannot describe how a heart can fill with love so fast.

Muz and I are still overwhelmed with the love we feel for her. We stare at her like all new parents, laugh at her little sounds and stirrings. And we are happy to report Kyger, our cat, is only vaguely interested. In fact the kitty is more interested in the baby accessories:the bassinet, the swing, and the boppy. Kyger keeps trying to sleep on the boppy. Muz had to shew her from it and the bassinet. The swing is just a visual interest so far.

The hospital stay went like this….
While in Serbia I was always inquiring how the hospital stay was for mothers giving birth and I was not to keen on going through the process there. Mostly, because I wanted my Doctor to speak English. And who knows when a baby will be born, so there is no guarantee who will be delivering. The same is true all over the world.

As I previously wrote, two of my good friends in Serbia were due one month before and one month after I was. As we talked and I questioned what the hospital stay was like there and what the customs where. I also asked if they were interested in what it is like here.  Of course, the last time I was staying in a hospital here, I was 3, getting my tonsils out. I had nothing to offer til I had Munchkin. Now, I finally have time and energy to post about the experience. This post is for them, and anyone else who is interested.

My hospital is rather typical for the U. S. I am guessing with amenities that make your stay rather like staying at hotel if you are giving birth. New moms get a room to themselves with their own bathrooms. In other wards usually the rooms are two person rooms with  or with out a toilet.

It is like a hotel in many ways, there is free wireless internet, Cable television,  and room service was included! The food was quite good, I couldn’t complain. Everyday a cafeteria lady would come and tell me what the kitchen was offering. A friend of mine, who had had an extended stay for premature twins told me that you could actually order anything  you want. So I got french toast for breakfast one morning even though that wasn’t on the list. :)

I was really surprised to find out you could also get a guest  tray (an additional dinner for a guest who would be joining you). How sweet is that?! So the Husband and I had dinner there together one night. Not romantic, but really nice!

Maid service is also one of the perks. Everyday a lady would come in to tidy up, and ask if I needed more towels. The only exception  was she came in while I was there, not while I was out like in a hotel.

The nursing staff was super friendly, and everyday I was assigned a nurse. That was so nice. It was better than having a bunch of different nurses popping in and out.

It wasn’t like a hotel because a nurse would come in about once an hour to take my blood pressure and temperature. At night it was every two hours or more. So sleep was interrupted a little bit. But with a new baby, I was awake most of the time anyway. The nurses would also ask me how my pain was and give me whatever I needed to help me feel better. That was really nice.

Guest were welcome during visiting hours, I had a few the first day just hours after Munchkin was born. They asked if it was O.K. and I was feeling surprisingly well for just pushing out a 9 pounder, so I told them I would love a visit. I had visitors the next day as well, and honestly I welcomed them. It gets boring in a hospital by yourself even with TV and internet.

The room and bathroom were stocked with things I may need in case I had forgotten anything. There was a plastic bin with a new tooth brush, a small tube of tooth paste, deodorant,  and other assorted necessities.

In my room there was a box of treats that I would dip into in the middle of the night and share with visitors.

The bed was adjustable and had a remote that included a nurse call button and the remote control for the television as well. Very convenient!

There are some rather extreme, yet comforting security measures in place to keep babies safe. Along with the typical identification bracelets the babies wear there is a bracelet that is like a baby low jack bracelet. If the baby is carried beyond a certain point an alarm will go off. Or if the bracelet comes off of the baby the alarm will go off. This ensures no one will steal the baby.

Baby, Mother and Father were given wrist bands that were kept on for the length of our stay. There were numbers that matched on each bracelet so that they knew who the baby belonged to and they check the number every time the baby was given back to us after checkups in the nursery. There was no mistaking the baby was given to the wrong couple. They were very efficient.

Sorry the pictures aren’t so clear. I was tired and couldn’t be bothered to get out the good camera. I used my cell phone, took a few shot for this post and went back to bed. The baby was in the nursery this night. She had been super fussy, as is common the second night and the nurse took her so I could rest. The pics were taken about 5 AM. I am just glad I remembered to take them.

Expat Relationships

lafemmet:

For Expat friends, This is some helpful stuff! Always be prepared. Research, plan, and know what you are in for!

Originally posted on :

The other day I asked for some last-minute help with information about relationships to go into the Survival Guide. I thought I had actually finished the book, I’d read it and re-read it, had it edited and even sent it to the proof-reader for a final going over. I’m still hoping to meet my self-set deadline of April for publication. But out of the blue, whilst out running (which is when most of my revelations come to me) I realised it wasn’t done. I needed more on how couples cope when they move abroad together.

I hadn’t totally ignored this important aspect of expat life. Or at least of expat life for those of you going as a couple or a family. When I talk about relationships in this context, I am really talking about the relationship with your partner – although I do touch on the family dynamic…

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The more things change….

We are moving back. back to the U.S. Things have been a bit crazy of late. A little upheaval for a while. Lots to do and see and do! and so little time to do it.

Everything is ok, but we have had to make some changes.  Going home was one of them. It will be interesting sorting things out and starting over. Repatriation is always a huge challenge. Wish us luck! The next week will be insane! We will need it.

I will be taking a blogging break for a while.

Cheers from our quaint little town. :) Looking forward to going back to our other one.

Music to my Ears

This picture could have some many captions. These are the ones that come to mind and seem relevant to me right now.

A perfect mix of sounds, water lapping on the beach and piano music.

It ain’t over til the fat lady sings.

Fluid music

watery sounds

Beauty in ruins

Keep making music, even if the tide is coming in.

A lonely piano rests under the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC.

This little American chick will be singing in a  full on Serbian choir tomorrow. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and intimidated.

The whole reason I joined the choir was to help me learn Serbian. It is kind of fitting my first performance will be for the celebration of Saint Sava. The patron saint of schools and education. Wish me luck! Hymna Sv. Sava, here I come!

And feel free to ad your own captions for the pic in the comments!

Flat Stanley a.k.a. Marcello does Serbia

One of my fellow expats in rural Serbia has created a musical mixture of the East meets  West. Paul Shapera created this excellent little video and the music. He is quite a talented fellow! Enjoy a glimpse into Marcello’s visit to Serbia.

Flat Stanley paper cut-outs have made their way around the world from classrooms in the U.S. to teach kids about geography.

Here is a little blip about Stanley…. Flat Stanley is a 1964 children’s book written by Jeff Brown (January 1, 1926 – December 3, 2003).

Stanley Lambchop and his younger brother Arthur are given a big bulletin board by their father to display pictures and posters. He hangs it on the wall over Stanley’s bed. During the night the board falls from the wall, flattening Stanley in his sleep. He survives and makes the best of his altered state, and soon he is entering locked rooms by sliding under the door, and playing with his younger brother by being used as a kite. One special advantage is that Flat Stanley can now visit his friends by being mailed in an envelope. Stanley even helps catch some art museum thieves by posing as a painting on the wall. Eventually, Stanley is tired of being flat and Arthur changes him back to his proper shape with a bicycle pump. Thank you Wikipedia for all the above info!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Stanley

The Urban Dictionary has another meaning for a Flat Stanley. I will let you check a bit of naughtiness out here>> http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Flat+Stanley

New Year Crafting for my Princesses

I have lots of new crafting ideas. I have more ideas than I have time for, but I am making headway! Munchkin has been talking more and so have her toys. It gave me inspiration for more Barbie dress making.

They only posed a moment for the pic, then continued fighting over the handmade satin rose between them.

 

Then, I have been having some inspiration for creating some little girl joy. I found a large formal skirt at the thrift shop for 100 RSD…  (Republic of Serbia Dinars) about a dollar depending on the exchange rate. I created three dresses from that and one more from scraps. I have one a little more work to do on that one. Excuse the poor quality, but I had to share!

I can’t wait to give them to the little Munchkins I love. It will definitely call for a Princess tea party!!

Blessed with GREAT neighbors

I cannot believe how lucky I am. I was just reading another blog about finding good neighbors. I realized. I have hit the jackpot. I have an English teacher neighbor that has become so important to me. She is steps from my front door. My two best friends also live very close. And, I really love the people in my building. They are Wonderful.

It took too long to find that out. But now that I know them, life is so much Better.
Serbian People are amazing!

Ziveli! (Cheers)

 

Sveti Nikola~ Saints on Sunday

Taken directly from Wikipedia….He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, a practice celebrated on his feast day―St Nicholas Day (6 December, Gregorian calendar, in Western Christianity and 19 December, Julian calendar, in Eastern Christianity) ;[7] and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of “Saint Nikolaos”. (End copy paste from Wiki.

It is celebrated twice a year. All of them maybe. I am unsure.In December this is a fasting slava. It is also celebrated in May. This is not a fasting slava. Much better food is served in my opinion. :)

This is our patron saint. Every family has one in Serbia. When it is your Saints day, it is the custom in Serbia and only Serbia, that you have a dinner and invite your friends.  They come at an appointed time. Most likely that you will be serving loads of people over two or three days.

I love this Saint and how he became one. Everyone should strive to be a secret giver.  Random or non-random acts of kindness are a great way to make life better. Giving is so much better than receiving.

Happy Sunday!

Dobar Dan Y’all!

Ktown Choir an open Letter to my Mom

Mom, I joined the choir.

You know that all the years I was in school and beyond I was in the choir. I really love to sing. I remember singing along to the radio as early as 3 or 4. And of course I was dancing too. I just couldn’t help myself. Really, I am not kidding.

I began singing in church and doing solos when I was really young, now I think about it. I was probably seven or eight when I sang “Away in a Manger” my first solo at church.

Joining the choir here in Ktown was initially an attempt to improve my Serbian. But, I found I am just filled with joy that I can sing again. The people are so helpful, and I am thrilled to meet new people. The whole choir thing has made me feel so much more normal. I do fear my stupidity with the Serbian language will get old and they will soon tire of helping me. Crossing my fingers I am not overly needy.

Here in Serbia, often I feel like only half of me. Slowly, all of me is beginning to show up.

Nerves strike me often, and I make stupid mistakes while I am singing. I think I will feel at home soon. I practice at home with you tube videos when possible. Some of the songs move so fast that it is a bit of a challenge to read the text in Cyrillic and sing along. All this, while reading the music. But it is good for me. It stretches my brain.

Below is one of my favorite songs in Cyrillic… Just so you can see what I am working with. Here is the photo credit: http://vaspitaci.blogspot.com/2014/01/blog-post_8605.html

 

When I first walked into the choir room, they were already singing a song. I must tell you, I was stunned, it was in English. Immediately, I was a bit bummed! I came to the class for Serbian!! But it was only the first page and then it was onto Latin.  :)   Soon enough we were off to a another song and it was in Serbian.

I am really enjoying the singing as well as learning traditional songs that speak to the soul with their beauty and culture. I can’t help but smile when I hear the music for the first time. It is just gorgeous! Again, I feel like a tourist in an exotic land with so much beauty, and I get to take part in the action!! Freaking cool!!

Me with mascara running! Photo credit: http://bajo-el-mar.tumblr.com/post/17137369879/about-to-spam-you-all-big-time-with-dogs-available

Foreigner Follie Choir edition….I am pretty sure last week, I went to class with mascara all over my eye. The Munchkin (who is almost three now, is obsessed with snow and the idea of snow ball fights!) had thrown some snow at me when we were walking home from helping out at an English class. I though nothing of it and dropped her . Then, I went to choir. No one said anything. So maybe I am wrong…? But when I got home after choir practice and looked in the mirror, I looked like I had a black eye. LOL Munchkin- 1 Mom- 0

Learning songs it is a challenge. I still don’t know what the words mean. That makes memorization a bit more challenging! But I do love a challenge!

I am a little fearful I won’t be good enough. That my mistakes will be too much. Our choir is very good and the director is amazing! I was a bit shocked as this is a small town. But, I hope they keep me. Even if I am not good enough to sing in the upcoming events that would be ok.  This choir is feeding my soul. I really love it.

We are learning old Serbian classics, and they are really really beautiful. Just like the people.  Serbian people are just amazing. Check out the link below to hear one of these great classics. Hymna Sveti Sava

I love you Mom, miss you lots. XOXO

Serbian Christmas Past

January seventh was Orthodox Christmas. I was surprised when I took a walk that so many businesses were open. The cafes were doing a good business. But I guess it makes sense. Lots of people are in town catching up with each other.

Our little town was filled with cars from out of town. You can tell by the license plates. Our town has the letters NI. If you are from Belgrade (actually, Beograd) the tags start with BG, and so on. That way you know where a car is from and it is easier to cops to spot an “out of towner” to ticket.  What an internationally common characteristic.

Back to the subject of Christmas. The town was a bustle of people shopping and greeting on another. The feeling of Christmas is truly in the air. People are smiling easily and ready to help you. The lines in the stores are unlike any I have seen before.

Baba out did herself as usual with all her baking. She is an extraordinary cook! Here are a few pics I took out and about on Christmas eve and Christmas day.

 

The table is set for Christmas eve dinner.

Dusk in Ktown

traditional music being played outside the Church while the Christmas eve service is taking place inside.

Lighting a candle for the living.

Christmas decor and good luck charms for the Christmas and the new year.

Snow and ice does not deter avid bikers.

We still have Serbian New Year to celebrate next week!! The holiday season continues!!