Wednesday, May 9, 2018

something just like this

I realize we're coming up on a year since the last time I put together some thoughts, or even a summary wishing it were a play-by-play, on anything we're doing. It's been an incredibly crazy year. Grab some popcorn.

Our main goal in going to Oxford (beside the immediate and more obvious acquirement of an MBA) was to stay in Europe. Before Jeremy even applied to any MBA program, we were planning on searching for a European job and doing everything we could to stay overseas for a few more years. We don't actually have a timeframe, we think we'll probably move back when the excitement of a new continent doesn't outweigh missing family, but that hasn't happened yet. Especially because we keep getting family to come and visit us :)

The Oslo adventure pushed our timeline back by several months - originally we thought we'd be into a new job and home before Oslo was born. But that didn't happen like we thought. And jobs and interviews didn't happen like we thought. So, with the deadline of needing to be out of our apartment and the UK looming, we just started planning Germany. We started looking at long-term AirBnBs, and Jeremy started applying for a few jobs in Berlin (a major tech-startup hub). Oslo had surgery at the end of February, and then March was spent packing and cleaning and getting rid of things. And then very suddenly we were on our way to the bus station, and then the airport, and then our first AirBNB.

At the Gatwick (UK) airport

We technically moved to Germany on March 30th, but we found a storage unit, stayed for a week, packed only a small-ish suitcase, and then didn't return to Berlin for another month. We went to the Czech Republic for a couple of days, Frankfurt for a week of Ostercamp,  Denmark for a week, and then Belgium and France for alternating days for various activities until we flew back to Berlin. We moved into a new Airbnb, a little more roomy than our first and with the checkout date for the same day that our tourist visas expired. Apparently, we run on deadlines.

Hiking in Czechia

Park in Russelsheim, pre-Ostercamp

Oslo with Kimbee, Ostercamp


Beach in Denmark

Beach in Denmark

I don't even remember where this is. But man, we loved on this double stroller.

Grocery shopping in Denmark

Sightseeing in Gent, Belgium, before DDCB

Paris, France Temple Open House

Walking to the train station from Church with Trace and Meg Teerlink, back in Berlin

Kiersten and Kalie came to Berlin! June 2017

Topography des Terrors, Berlin

Hosting all of the jumpers who came for Turnfest 2017!

Freiburg, Germany temple

Visiting the Baganz family and seeing the progress of their koi pond, up close and personal 
(read: Berlin threw a rock in and had to get it out. Not sad about this punishment) 
Zepernick, Germany

Jeremy found a job and started working about a month after we came back to Berlin. It was a crazy month, but it was relieving. It meant we could get visas, which we didn't actually get until the end of August (Jeremy started work in June), but we did all of it legally- there's a weird not-loophole-but-feels-like-a-loophole that the German government created which allows for people without visas to stay until they can get a visa. Appointments at the Ausländerbehörde (immigration, literally foreigners Authority) are booked at least three months out, but if you have a confirmation paper, proving that you have an appointment, it's not an issue that you don't have a visa yet... As long as you don't try and leave the country.

Jeremy started at his job only a couple of weeks before our tourist visas expired, so we hadn't gone looking for apartments yet. It felt a bit like putting the cart before the horse, so as soon as we had the means to get a visa, with two and a half weeks before we had to move out, we scrambled. Jeremy found us a furnished short-term apartment (3 month contract with allowance to extend for a month at a time) and we spent our visa expiration day moving a mile and a half closer to Jeremy's office. Jeremy had to be at work, so Kiersten (Jeremy's sister who had come to spend the summer with us) and I moved everything from point A to point B. It was a good place for that summer. We traveled with Kiersten, visited Poland and the Czech Republic and Austria and lots of different places in between, and slowly adjusted to some of the pieces of living in Germany. But just a few.

Hanno Kramer's lakehouse in Seddin, June 2017

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Oranienberg, Germany

We stopped somewhere outside of Grunewald on the way home from Peacock Island, the picnic during which a peacock ate bread off of Wes' head, and Kiersten came home with a tick. Good times.

Rakotzbrücke (Devil's Bridge) in Gablenz, Germany

On the Polish border

Oslo's first birthday!

Trip to Munich, visiting Viki and Martina 😂

Kiersten left just before we got our visas, and then we started searching for a not short-term apartment.  We kept extending our lease until we found something significantly cheaper, but the housing market is insane in Berlin, and I had a lot things to learn about apartment hunting, so we weren't successful until December. And we only found something furnished and short-term (4 months maximum kind of short term), but we moved in a week before we headed to the US, paid to keep our suitcases warm, and headed off for a whirlwind of a Christmas/wedding holiday.  We visited Jeremy's parents for Christmas, and the day after, drove to Lubbock for Jace's wedding, then turned around the day after the wedding and went to cram in as much visiting as we could while almost all of us were recovering from the flu. That post will hopefully be sponsored by Nyquil, since that trip definitely was.

Quick trip to Munich in October - Berlin and Viki


Lane had about 48 hours in Munich, which was the reason for our Munich trip.
So great to see him.

This is just a small representation of Berlin's life in the last... 3 years.

You're only a bad parent if you DON'T take a picture, right?

Jeremy had to work one Saturday, but Berlin got to go with him.

City decorations for Christmas

Lauren Bell got called to Germany AND ended up in our stake! 
We should've worn Just Jumpin shirts.

I sang in the stake Christmas choir, so the boys... entertained themselves.

We'd been back in Berlin for a week when my step-dad called to tell us they were getting sealed, so a week later I hopped on a plane with the boys again, and Jeremy joined us the day before the sealing. I wasn't kidding about paying to keep those suitcases warm. We got back to Berlin, searched down to the wire for a new apartment, and signed a new 12-month contract seven days before our old one expired. We've been here for just over a month (but with traveling, we've only actually slept here maybe three of those weeks), and almost every suitcase is finally unpacked.

In all of the craziness of this year, we've learned a lot. We've made a lot of mistakes, some of them expensive, but many have been averted by smart and kind people we've met. I think it would be fair to say that there have been more frustrating days than fun ones. But the fun ones have been really great. And you know, we are making progress. There are some major things we need to figure out, less-Germany-more-life things, but it's coming.

And the language? Well. Jeremy has navigated our train being canceled, and the new travel plan options, in German. And I said the opening prayer in sacrament meeting on Sunday. So basically... we still have a long ways to go :)

Brita came to visit. And we're still killing it with group selfies.

Berlin on a bus stop post. He's like 6 feet off the ground.

Trip to Gent, pre-DDCB

Berlin with the Spargel (Spargelcup in Beelitz)

I'm still taking pictures of these bears, and Berlin wants to be in every picture.

[title from something just like this by coldplay and the chainsmokers]

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

you can take a breath but don't wait too long

I would like to just provide a disclaimer that I mostly blog for myself. Not as an excuse, but as an explanation. I like the exercise in writing for the idea of an audience (when I write in my journal, the images of my future descendants doesn't work. They're going to hate me, and what is usually chicken scratch and disjointed ideas and large gaps in between entries is going to make them crazy. I'm a little sorry, but also I'm over it. #sorrynotsorry kids.). So putting info up on a blog is a much better mental exercise for me. Even if no one were ever to read it, I'm still usually pleased with myself when I'm finished and have managed to remember so much because I've taken the time to pull out ALL of the memories and put them together in a logical, sensible, follow-able manner.  

Now, when you live thousands of miles from family and friends that want to know what's going on in your life, and there actually is an audience, there's not any more pressure on quality of writing, just on quantity of details. The longer I wait to write a long story, the more details I have perhaps forgotten, but also the more details accrue in the passing of time. So I've been in a catch-22 of writing about Oxford, Oslo, and now Berlin, and everything in between because there's so much that has happened since I last wrote that it's overwhelming, but as I wait longer there's ever more to cover... Yes, my self-induced stress is making my life rough. Don't mock. 

So in attempt to get caught up, there are going to be some readers' digested versions that are then readers-digested again before they end up here. I'm a little sorry about that, not to any readers, but for myself, because so far this organized chaos is way better than the chaos in my journal. 

First, Oslo. I started writing about Oslo getting here well before he was even here. And almost a year later, I'm trying to finish it up. It was the crazy start to a lot of adventures. So I might as well start there. Maybe, someday, when the details don't matter or aren't interesting anymore, other stories will follow. Don't hold your breath.

His birth actually started in June of last year, when my water broke sometime toward the end of 20 weeks. I wasn't aware that was what had happened til 22 weeks (because I didn't realize anything was wrong in the meantime). Jeremy was still at school in England, finishing up his term, while Berlin and I were in Texas for Jace's homecoming (read: family reunion), and the Friday that everybody in my extended family arrived was the same day I snuck out of the pool party with Rick to go to the emergency room when I saw blood. I was hospitalized that night, we learned my water had broken sometime the week before, my amniotic fluid level was about 3cm (of the normal 15-20), and even though I hadn't gone into labor the first week, there was still a pretty good chance I would go into labor any day within the next week. Jeremy flew out the next day, and we met with neonatologists to learn what to expect when the baby came, whenever that would be, while I was pumped full of antibiotics and listened to the baby's heartbeat every few hours. On Monday I was discharged because, even if I went into labor, there wasn't anything they'd be able to do for our then 22-week baby.

It was absolutely terrifying. The first doctor who suggested the broken amniotic sac looked at an ultrasound, pointed to the lack of fluid, and said, "I hope that I'm wrong. This ultrasound image isn't very detailed, and I really hope that it's the lack of detail that I'm seeing. But I'm afraid you'd better prepare yourself for the worst." While I waited through the more detailed ultrasound, I was waiting for the doctor to say, "Oh, everything is fine, you just need some antibiotics. No worries!" To this doctor's credit, he was just as kind as he said exactly the opposite. Every doctor had to give me the very difficult truth of what would happen if I went into labor anytime in the next three weeks, and at the same time, tell me there was nothing to do but wait and see what happened.

Being without Jeremy for the first 36 hours was also a lot harder than I thought it would be. I certainly had visitors (I had 40-something members of my extended family in town, so... duh.), and of course my attitude is always, "I've got this, no big deal," but this was different. The night before Jeremy landed, another doctor came in to talk to me to tell me that even though the situation wasn't promising, there was always hope, and he'd seen a lot of miracles. As soon as he left I started bawling. Miracles or no, I was scared, and I didn't want to do it by myself.

When Jeremy did arrive, I found myself finally embracing the good signs, of which there were quite a few. The fact that I'd made it a week without really noticing anything was wrong was great because it meant there weren't any signs of labor. Then I made it through the weekend at the hospital sans contractions. The baby still appeared to be growing normally, and was actually measuring (weight-wise) a week or two ahead of schedule. This was all promising because, really, there's nothing anyone can do about it but wait. There's no surgery that can be performed or medication that can cause it to heal. Basically, I just needed to wait for signs of infection or labor, and hope for the best.

Jeremy and I debated for the next few days whether we were going to stay in Texas or fly back to Oxford, and with a million different factors weighing in, finally decided to fly back to the UK. One doctor suggested that if we were going to do it, making the pond jump before we hit our unborn's brink of viability was really the only time. We went to the doctor when we got back to Oxford. She told us what to watch for and when to come back to the hospital, and I was admitted at the end of the week for blood loss. I stayed for a few days until I was stable again, went home, and was back a week later. After a few days of still not being stable, my doctor said, "I think you're here for the long haul," which was really, really hard to hear. It had only been the start of my second full week living in the hospital and I was going a little crazy. Every time I had a major gush of blood they brought me across the hall from the delivery rooms for monitoring. I'd spend a day or so there and then be brought back to the maternity ward. A few times a day I waddled down to the monitoring room to listen for contractions and monitor the baby's heartbeat. I was hot, I was exhausted, and the normal discomfort of pregnancy was amplified because I'd lost my cushion around the baby. I really would've just slept through my time at the hospital except that a nurse or midwife came in every few hours to check my vitals, give me antibiotics, or just make sure I wasn't losing blood.

I did have a number of visitors (despite the somewhat insane restrictions on visiting hours - 3-4PM and 6-8PM. The only exception to that rule was Jeremy, not Berlin). While I was in the hospital Jeremy's sisters came to visit the UK, so when I had energy I would go to the park across the street from the hospital and sit and chat with them. And outside of my desire for contact with the outside world, it was pretty life-saving that they came because Jeremy was trying to finish his MBA program and run around after Berlin in addition to making sure I was feeling loved every day. So as crazy as everything was, it went as smoothly as we could've ever hoped for.

But one of his sisters came and went while I was still in the hospital. I couldn't believe I'd been in the hospital so long. On the day I reached 29 weeks, August 4th (the DAY my sister-in-law left, of all days),  my doctor came into my room and said, "We're going to send you home today!" They decided I was stable enough to be away from the hospital (since we lived only a couple of miles from the hospital) and they were aware that I was probably going crazy. I was so excited. So excited that I slept for the first 12 hours I could in my own bed. The next day I slept again, had a few hours of being awake and coherent, but was ready to go to bed with everybody else because I was, once again, exhausted.

Don't worry, I was only home for 36 hours.

I woke up at 4AM, and I was so exhaustedly out of it that it took me several minutes to be conscious enough to realize I was having crazy contractions. (I had had zero up to this point. Zero. Not even Braxton Hicks contractions.) We called an ambulance, an experience which turned out to be thoroughly foreign and confusing. The operator asked Jeremy if she could talk to me, and then she ran me through 20-questions before the paramedics arrived (including "Is the baby crowning? No? Are you sure? Can you have your husband check?"), and then once the ambulance arrived, three paramedics were sitting in our living room asking me further questions for what felt like forever while I was sure I was going to deliver the baby on the couch. Then their supervisor showed up, only stayed for a few minutes before deciding everything was some sort of satisfactory, and then several more minutes after that we eventually went downstairs and got in the ambulance, a ride which was about the most uncomfortable I'd ever taken in my life (not even including the contractions part). Next time we have a baby and don't own a car, we're calling a taxi.

Everything after that went pretty quickly. I was all for an epidural the second I got there, but since I was only at a 3 it seemed we had plenty of time to wait for the anesthesiologist, who had been notified I was ready for her but she was working with other patients, so I was somewhere at the bottom of the list. But there wasn't really time to wait for the anesthesiologist anyway. Oslo made his appearance less than an hour and half later at 8:25AM, weighing a whopping 3 lbs 9 oz.

The first week was probably the craziest. They were the most concerned about his lungs (my water broke right in the middle of the most important weeks for lung development), and he had a torn alveolar sac that meant that air was leaking into his chest cavity and making his blood pressure go crazy. But with the help of a chest drain and faith and blessings, it healed. He had taken his own first gasping breaths and x-rays showed that his lungs seemed fine, just little and needing more time to grow. He was on oxygen and air pressure to keep his lungs open for almost two months, had a jaundice lamp to help his bilirubin levels, but almost everything else appeared to be normal for his age. Before he could come home from the NICU he had to reach a few benchmarks, like being able to breathe on his own, and he had to prove he would consistently gain weight eating out of a bottle instead of a tube (his cleft lip and palate meant that he couldn't nurse, and the doctors wanted to make sure it wouldn't make the fact that he was born so little any harder). He came home in October, a week before his due date, and he was already 8.5 pounds.

Oslo Larry Lindström, 10 weeks old, the day before his due date.

Since then, we've mostly just been watching him grow. He's doing well. He's weighing in a normal range for his age group, and he's enormous for his corrected age group. The regular follow-up doctors appointments finished in December. He's developing normally. He did have his first cleft surgery, and everything went really well (minus him pulling out some stitches in the recovery room, but. What can you do). He's a little champ. Sometimes it's a little crazy that we've had him here so long, and other times it's fun that in some ways we got this baby phased slowed down by a few months. I've been shortening this story to, "he was just really excited to be here!" Most days, that still seems true. Occasionally, though, he reminds us that he is, in fact, tolerating us.

[title from little bit better by sherwood]