Archive for the 'Pregnancy' Category

Weight

24 May 2012

My mother’s always been rather dramatically up-and-down with her weight and it’s a great concern of hers. From where I sit now I think that as a kid and during my adolescence I had a perfectly healthy weight and body shape. And then, as now, in fact, my body image has always been decent. Even at my highest weight I have always been able to look in the mirror and think I look somewhere between okay and fantastic (the same is not always true of photographs), and I’ve never been one to talk negatively about my body to myself or others. While to some degree what my weight is doing is a reflection of my self-regard, it’s not at all the main source of it.

There were a few months when I was 13 when I dieted severely in reaction to social pressure (a jerky boy and the naturally slender girls at my lunch table) but for the most part any worrying about my weight when I was growing up came courtesy of my mother, despite my reasonable-for-me then-size-8 shape. I remember lots of forced time on the stair climber and a preponderance of dinners consisting of tofu and cabbage. I’m not naturally and never will be a slim person, that’s true, but I certainly wasn’t overweight, so when my mother’s doctor at my pre-college health exam told me my BMI was too high, I recall feeling like it there was no point in trying to control the quality and quantity of my food if I was going to be “fat” regardless.

That’s why it’s no surprise that, once off at college and in charge of my own diet and exercise habits, they became extravagantly unhealthy. My first year of college I gained weight from grilled cheese sandwiches. My second year of college I gained weight from macaroni and cheese. My third year of college I gained weight from pizza. My fourth year of college I gained weight from cheese enchiladas. (I guess I really like cheese.) By the time I graduated I had gained something like forty-five pounds!

I married and got a miserable job that required me to drive around a lot, leading to my eating a lot of fast food. When I got a desk job, I spent a bunch of time hunched over at the computer, snacking. Then I went through infertility and became depressed and gained even more, and my particular version of infertility was worsened by extra weight. The medication for my fertility-reducing insulin problem (which I’d had symptoms of even back in high school, before I was overweight, just for the record) and the reproductive endocrinologist’s insistence I exercise helped me slim down a bit, and as a result of these various factors and the mysteries of reproduction, I eventually became pregnant.

Morning sickness the first third of the pregnancy helped me shed around twenty pounds; I eventually gained forty back, but by the time I finished lactating I was dozens and dozens of pounds slimmer than when I’d gotten pregnant. It was the first time in my life I’d lost significant amounts of weight and I put no effort into it at all. After I stopped breastfeeding the weight loss slowed, but healthier eating habits (gained from caring about what I fed Little Girl) and a more active lifestyle (especially when we lived by the beach and I was swimming and jogging every day) helped me get to what I think was a perfectly reasonable adult weight for me. It was still twenty pounds over what I weighed in high school, but I think it was a good, healthy size for Adult Me.

But then we moved to Sweden. Chocolate balls, cinnamon buns, ice cream trucks, strong Swedish coffee which I had to put tons of sugar in to tolerate, a long, snowy winter, boredom, loneliness, immigrant stress—they all took their toll and I gained weight. I became pregnant and had no morning sickness and gestated a boy who made me very hungry, and, by the end of that pregnancy, put on forty pounds. I didn’t breastfeed long enough to shed much of the baby weight.

This left me unable to fit into lots of my clothes and feeling rather lumpy. But not exactly unfit. Even at 41 weeks pregnant I was hiking in the forest and climbing flights and flights of stairs without getting winded. It was just extra fat from extra calories from too much sugar that I’ve been carrying around; I kept up my pregnancy eating habits long after the pregnancy was done. After a few months of just sort of hoping I would magically lose weight, I discovered that my summer shorts wouldn’t close.

Since I’m way too cheap to buy new shorts, that was the motivation I needed, evidently. Over the last six weeks or so I’ve cut out most sugar and snacks and eaten smaller portions of healthier food and, hardest of all, gone hungry a fair amount (I’m hungry right now). It’s been really very challenging and extremely slow going and I have had days where I’ve gotten frustrated and eaten chips and salsa for breakfast, but I can finally button those damn shorts. In a few more pounds I’ll even be able to wear them in public. That’s all I ask. I hope I never gain a bunch of weight again and have to try to lose it, because now I finally know what everybody is talking about when they say losing weight is so hard.

Why I am not planning on trying for any more children

19 May 2012

—Want to pay very close attention to the children I already have.
—Really, really enjoy sleeping.
—Not all that sure I would do a decent job with more children.
—Don’t desire the all-consuming, maniacal worry of pregnancy.
—Husband doesn’t want any more.
—Enjoy occasional kid-free time, don’t want it to diminish further.
—Don’t want to go through any more miscarriages.
—Like not giving two shits about my fertility anymore.
—Feels risky, asking fate for another perfect and healthy child.
—Travel gets harder the more children involved.
—Not psyched about the idea of a third c-section.
—I only have two arms.
—Feel very fulfilled with my two special little people.

Planned

1 September 2011

I had insisted on another check today on the pregnancy now that I’m 41 + 3 days pregnant, so today I had some testing in the hospital (there was no indication of any problem, but my midwife indulged my concern). And it was good I did.

There was a non-stress test (results normal) and an ultrasound, which showed that there is too little amniotic fluid and the baby needs to come out. However, my c-section scar (five years old though it might be) was determined to be too thin in some places for a regular induction (e.g. Cervadil, Pitocin) to be safe. So instead this evening I go in for a balloon catheter to be inserted to try mechanically to open up the cervix (which an exam showed is entirely unripe) and when/if that doesn’t work to induce a gentle, natural labor within 12 hours (which the head doctor said there was a 75% chance of its not, in fact, doing, but she thought it was best for the baby to try) I will have a c-section Friday morning.

If Swedish doctors think you need a c-section, you actually truly need that c-section, so I am fine with it. (They keep their c-section rate at around 13%.) I guess there will be no natural childbirth for me after all, and I’m disappointed my body once again can’t seem to get it all together on reproductive issues, and these interventions increase the risk of breastfeeding problems again, sigh, but my major goal is a live baby, and this seems to be the way to do it.

I told Little Girl the doctor said I would be having the baby tomorrow, and she chirped, “Good, that’s just the right time for a baby!” I’m going to go ahead and agree!

Inducements

26 August 2011

Due to the continued presence of the baby on the inside of my uterus I’ve been trying some non-traditional home induction techniques. Stuff I did right before Little Girl was born because I’m suddenly superstitious. Like obsessively clean out the vacuum cleaner and get a truly hideous and distressing haircut. (Seriously, how did she make it look unflattering and messy both worn up or down? It looks like I am halfway through growing out unfortunate bangs, and is too short to pull back all the way without fooling with clips and bobby pins. I am very upset about this. Maybe disproportionately so, but let’s see how rational you are about a disappointing haircut when you are past your due date and just wanted a nice, no-fuss hairdo for your hospital photos and got the opposite instead.) I also took the baby swimming in a very cold lake hoping he would decide my womb was inhospitable. So far no dice. SIGH.

At least, as my grandmother liked to say, babies are easier to take care of inside than out.

Due

23 August 2011

A few days ago we passed the due date I thought was right (based on charting) and tomorrow is the due date Sweden thinks is right (based on the mid-pregnancy ultrasound), but either way I have yet to have any babies. Which wouldn’t be so bothersome (I guess) if I haven’t been having intense pre-labor happenings since Friday that can be pretty painful and keep me from sleeping but never shape up into anything organized and then just…vanish. How long can this go on???

At my midwife appointment yesterday my blood pressure was even higher and I had protein in my pee, and still she thinks I am fine to continue being pregnant for another two weeks at least. She had some sort of theory about why those symptoms were reasonable. What do you have to do to alarm these people? These exact issues were what sent me to the hospital at 37 weeks to have Little Girl removed post-haste. Now, Sweden’s got great statistics on maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality, I know, but I’m still very nervous about the lack of further testing. And America typically makes such a big deal about the conditions under which you can have a vaginal birth after a c-section, but Sweden certainly doesn’t. I feel like I have to keep reminding them this is a VBAC, and they’re all…so?

Some positive news: at my check-up the baby’s head was engaged (they don’t check dilation/effacement unless you are in active labor so I don’t know about that). And when I’m not in the midst of pre-labor goings-on I feel basically pretty good and can still hike for miles in the forest gobbling the last of the raspberries. However, I am totally bored. My mom won’t let me do any housework, no TV show or movie can hold my interest, I have read everything on the internet already, I’m nearly at the end of the big stack of novels I got at the library a few weeks ago, and I have nothing to talk about with anybody besides being pregnant, and that is a topic I am kind of over. So bored.

Well, hopefully these menstrual-type cramps and back pain and contractions will keep up this time and get more intense (I’m hoping for pain now?) and this whole thing will be over soon. I guess that mindset is helpful in a way: to be so done with being pregnant that even childbirth and caring for a newborn, normally activities I avoid, sound attractive.

But though it’s mathematically illogical, having a baby on any given day (or, like, EVER, at any point in the future) is starting to feel less and less likely as time passes. Will this pregnancy never end? And God, just think: I’m not even technically overdue yet!

Changing out worries

15 August 2011

Well, I’m 39 weeks pregnant, which means I am more pregnant than I have ever been before by two weeks! And also obviously that I still have not had any babies! I am actually feeling pretty good and I still do not seem to have preeclampsia this time around, which totally surprises me.

So now instead of worrying the baby would have to come early, I’m worried the baby will take its time coming, and my mom will have to go back to the US before he debuts. And I worry about something happening to him in there. I’d like him to come out so I can keep an obsessive eye on him. And give him love. But since he’s so much easier to take care of inside than out, staying pregnant for a while is fine, too. I’d like him to be totally ready. Little Girl, though, would like him to hurry it on up. She sings to him, “Come out! Come out! I want to see what you look like!” Actually, I’d like to find out myself. And just get this whole obsessing-over-Swedish-hospital-birth thing over and know already how it all goes down and then move on to worrying about SIDS and breastfeeding and sleep habits and etc. Doesn’t that sound fun?

But there’s nothing I can do about the timing. In the meantime, my mom is not letting me do any cleaning or laundry or dishes or recycling or cooking. I’m just taking regular walks and hanging out with Little Girl and visiting the midwife and reading a lot and taking baths and being fed. Not too shabby, actually!

Plans

10 August 2011

Prenatal care in Sweden has differed from my experiences in the US mostly by being more laid-back and testing-free. It has still felt very competent, but every prenatal visit was a surprise. Oh, you’re not going to swab me for Group B strep? You think it’s more important if I feel a symptom is serious than what the symptom might possibly mean if you Google it in a panic in the middle of the night? Oh, you don’t need to check my pee since my blood pressure is fine? Oh, you aren’t going to check for the heartbeat before 20 weeks? You want to check the baby’s position with your hands and not an ultrasound? And I’ve had no pelvic exams at all. For all they know I don’t even have a vagina.

Now that I am having some complications they’re keeping a closer eye on me, but still there’s been no battery of testing like I’d expect in the US. (I have another midwife appointment today so we’ll see what happens). Just as with Little Girl, my blood pressure started going totally haywire last week at 37 weeks and a couple of times I was seeing weird flashing lights, but since I’m not spilling any protein (so far) I guess I don’t have preeclampsia again (yet). I’d really like some blood testing to check my liver, maybe a non-stress test to check on the baby, that kind of thing, but so far they haven’t thought I needed it. I’ll ask today, though.

They just want me to rest and take it easy. But since I kind of don’t feel like I do that much to begin with I’m not sure how that will help. So far as I can tell, the one thing that has helped me feel better is that my mother bought a plane ticket and will be here tomorrow and stay for almost two weeks! What an immense relief, not having to depend on my in-laws (who are on the first of their poorly-timed, unnecessary vacations) for childcare for Little Girl.

My big fear was that I’d have to be in the hospital surrounded by Swedish people saying confusing things all alone while Husband had to stay with Little Girl, and now I don’t have to worry about that. My mom has to leave a few days after my due date, however, but if the baby still hasn’t decided to arrive (or been forced to come out due to sickness on my part) by the time my in-laws take their other vacation that’s after my due date (more grumbling about my in-laws), she is actually planning to come back! Awesome!

What good fortune I have in my mom. I mean, she drives me totally nuts, but she is also totally dependable and devoted. And Little Girl is very excited she’ll be here. And my floors will be so clean!

I am hoping for the baby to be born next week, or very early the week after, right around or just before 40 weeks. Except not on the 19th, since that is Little Girl’s birth date. And in as non-interventiony a way as possible. That works best for me. But if there’s one thing I know about baby-having, it’s that it’s not something you can predict. Wish me luck!

Interacting with the natives

7 August 2011

Husband has suddenly decided it’s high time I meet all his co-workers and their sambos (this means cohabitants; lots of couples in Sweden “just” live together and don’t get married). Friday we had lunch with one pair and their cute and happy five-month-old baby (which I asked to play with and was declined!) and I experienced my first Swedish mommy drive-by!

So we were at an all-you-can-eat buffet, which are like five million dollars in Sweden, and plus it was, as I said, all-you-can-eat, and I am nine months pregnant, so I was taking that seriously. I sent Husband off to fetch me a whole plate full of mashed potatoes (which I was, in fact, sharing with Little Girl). When I started digging in, the lady gave me a horrified look, and stuttered, “Did they not tell you not to gain too much weight?”

Um, wow! Um. So I told her they had told me how much weight they recommended I gain, and I had already gained all that, so now it didn’t make much difference, did it?

I think she was just jealous I was eating mashed potatoes to begin with. She was low-carbing it to lose the baby weight.

We had another couple over last night. Okay, one thing: when Swedish people come over to socialize, unless it’s just fika (coffee/pastry at 3 PM), they stay FOREVER. Way longer than Americans. They were there well after I had had to go up to put Little Girl to bed. Or maybe it’s because they didn’t have kids? Husband is the one who noted this about Swedish people, by the way, not me. I’m not the only person making rash generalizations about Swedes. Anyway, this was kind of hilarious: they were telling me they are hoping their next vacation will be two weeks of road tripping around Florida. God, can you imagine anything more nightmarish? Yes, I’m sure it would be delightful to experience, non-stop, Florida’s highways and dirty rest stops in July. I’m sure you will get lots of interesting photos of meth addicts wearing very little clothing as you run back to your air conditioned rental.

Swedish people always seem to want to go to these American locales: Florida, New York City, and Los Angeles. Sometimes they also want to see the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, and then are surprised that these places are not actually close to each other. I can’t totally figure out what they think is so enticing about going the US. You have to pay a fortune to fly there, and then you have to drive around a bunch when you arrive. But they say it’s easier than traveling in Europe since you are guaranteed everyone will speak English (little do they know) and plus they think the US is, if not exotic and certainly not sophisticated, interesting. They watch all our very worst TV programs and I guess they want to see what it’s like for themselves. Hm, maybe that‘s why they pick Florida.

I’m a total downer whenever they talk about these plans since I don’t really enjoy any of those places. I’ve had the good fortune to see a huge amount of the US, thanks to road trips with my dad (maybe an overdose of road trips is another reason I can’t fathom their excitement about them). Instead I try to convince them to see Alaska, which is just so amazing, or North Carolina, or New England. But I guess there haven’t been as many TV shows about these places so they’re not really on their radar.

It was fun hanging out with the Swedish people, I have to say. I’m an extrovert and I appreciate Husband’s efforts to cater to my need to interact with other human beings. Mostly I talked English and they talked Swedish, which worked fine. Maybe someday I’ll be able to evince personality and smarts in Swedish, but in the meantime this workaround is fine. If we’ll ever see these people again I don’t know. In the fall and winter, Swedes hibernate, and the weather is already turning.

Rambles about baby names, completely unable to edit down.

4 August 2011

We still do not have a baby name!

You guys had a lot of great suggestions for boy names that work in Swedish/English, but there was some fatal flaw with all of them. And with every other name we’ve considered. Well, I don’t know why I say “we.” Excepting names for the many dead cats of his childhood and various slothful co-workers, he’s okay with a lot more names than I am and, besides the vetoes, as with Little Girl, baby naming is mostly my gig in the relationship, which is totally fine with me.

There’s an underlying psychological block keeping me from settling on a name. One is that I had always assumed, if I had a boy, I would name him after my grandfather, the one I grew up living with and to whom I was always close and who supported me in so many ways and who was a genuinely good man. But I’m not comfortable doing that anymore because of some the circumstances surrounding his and my grandmother’s deaths last year. The name bring up too much now and I’m just not able to use it. Maybe after some more time to process things, but he’s been buried less than a year. Yet I’m also not having an easy time committing to any other names.

Shortly after I found out I was pregnant I started researching boy names the same way I had done so for Little Girl: cross-referencing Swedish baby name lists with US ones, looking for names that were spelled the same in both languages, pronounced not that differently, and were quite a bit more common in Sweden than the US, and would not especially indicate the child to be a foreigner in either country. There are, in fact, a lot of names like this, but I just didn’t feel drawn to any of them.

Except one (M-I-L-O). It follows all the above rules, and very early on in my pregnancy it was a front-runner. But! I discovered from Swedish mommy message boards that it breaks another rule that I hadn’t thought originally to specify: social connotations in Sweden. Apparently, the name is trendy, foreign/American-sounding (even though it’s about #50 in Sweden for 2010 so it’s not like it’s uncommon for straight-up Swedish people), and worst of all, and they say use this precise English term, “white trash.” Apparently American names sound trashy. I have no idea why and that idea is kind of off-putting. What about if you are actually American? I believe the name just sounds kind of hipstery, Brooklyn-y in the US, but I still like it. However, given the comments on those websites, I decided I had to take it off the list.

But I kept liking it and not really liking anything else. All the many other suggestions people gave sounded too Biblical, or harsh (I like vowels), or Swedish, just not like my kid. And I realized I like this name so much because it has a) no ties to my family b) a Greek origin, like Little Girl’s name (so non-Christian) c) literary ties to books with personal significance to our family. (Nothing fancy. But it’s the name of the little boy character in the Berkeley Breathed children’s book Mars Needs Moms that Little Girl loves and which Husband gave me for my first mother’s day and which talks about space which is an interest Husband and Little Girl share. And the name of the smart and moral, if gruff, detective in the Kellerman series that Husband and I used always to listen to on CD when we took long car trips together to the beach, where we had our honeymoon and lived for a while.) and d) is, if you put it with our last name, the name of a nice guy who is credited with major developments early on of the internet, and Husband and I met online lo those many years ago and plus he’s a big computer guy.

I think as a result of these connections, the boy name is just friendly and smart to me. Plus it sounds good with Little Girl’s name (N-O-R-A) and our last name.

But its social connotations! Not everything thinks those are worth considering, but they certainly are to me. Naming isn’t just about aesthetics, but positively placing a child into its cultural milieu, if you ask me. For one thing, it’s hard enough being the kid of an immigrant without a name that tips people off to your differences. But if it’s a trendy name, how different can it sound? Of course I’m not thrilled it’s going up in popularity, either, but at least maybe that would make it sound more usual? I want a classic name, recognizable, not made-up sounding, that says: “My parents are not idiots so you can assume I am not either.” Also: “I fit in.” (This is especially important in Sweden, which has a lot of job-related name discrimination.) I’m not totally sure that name says that, though it might. I really can’t tell how it comes off in Swedish (my in-laws have not been very helpful in this area and Husband is not a real Swede when it comes to this kind of situation. He lived in the US too long.)

Part of the issue is that while our last name is genuinely Swedish, it’s not, you know, Svensson, so it doesn’t totally counteract any potential foreign-soundingness of the name. We could maybe rectify this a bit with a super-Swedish middle name, but then we don’t have any firm decisions in that area, either. I was thinking either the Swedish version of my grandfather’s name (H-E-N-R-I-K) or a name we liked for a first name but was informed by sisters-in-law was way too old-sounding (R-O-L-A-N-D) and is related to King Rollo of Denmark, from whom my mother claims I am descended (so I could still pretend it was a family name. I like family names for middle names. Of course my mom also says I am descended from Pocahontas, and my paternal grandmother says I am a Sicilian baronessa, so this could be made-up.) I’m trying to determine, through clumsy internet searches, which combo sounds more Swedish. Husband has expressed a preference in this area for the latter, so maybe we will just go with that.

So…yeah. So we kind of do have a baby name, I guess, and while I personally love it, I have reservations based on my difficulties reading Swedish social situations. If I can’t even determine which bathroom is appropriate to use, how am I supposed to name a baby right? At least Sweden gives you three months after the birth to register a name so we could take a good look at the baby and think about it. (Actually, you sort of have to apply and they have to approve the name!) Ah, the unexpected trials of being an immigrant.

Second thoughts

31 July 2011

I know it’s only a few more days until this pregnancy is full-term, but, um…I’m not so sure this whole “having a baby” thing was such a good idea. Little Girl is regressing in pretty much all possible arenas, for one thing, and for another, my sisters-in-law recently recounted their birth experiences here in Sweden, and they featured alarming elements like people sitting on other people’s stomachs and episiotomies. I had sort of gotten the impression from my midwife that Sweden had somehow magically figured out how to make birth very relaxing and easy. She didn’t say anything about vacuuming babies out; she talked about bathtubs and birth balls. Now I am freaked!

The hospital info session for expectant parents was likewise non-alarmist. It was a forty-minute PowerPoint presentation that did not at any point mention c-sections or Pitocin. I’m not even sure I remember hearing anything about epidurals but there were ten minutes talking about how the newborn will be left to crawl to the breast on its own, and that they recommend you carry the baby in a shawl. They made it sound like those were the major issues to consider but now I am cognizant again of the possibility of extreme pain and drama and not looking forward to that at all. Or trying to breastfeed–God, that was so horrific last time. And newborns–they cry! They wake up all the time! You have to try to keep them alive and clean and they are so confusing and angry! This is all I’m remembering. Judging from the letters I wrote to Little Girl and the pictures I took of her I was very much in love with her as a baby, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Newborns are not that great.

While I may not be ready, the nursery is. It used to be a closet filled with crap my in-laws left behind. I cleaned it out, then Husband renovated it (new ceiling, new window, wood paneling for the walls, new outlets, new lighting), and we furnished it with Little Girl’s gigantic American crib, the world’s tiniest recliner (brought from the US), and an IKEA dresser to use as a changing table. (Swedish people put their changing tables in the bathroom, which is actually totally sensible, what with the running water and all, but when we renovated the bathroom we didn’t have that in mind, so there’s not a good space for a table, so we’re just doing it the American way.) The room is off our bedroom and we’re removing the door and I can see the crib from where I sleep so it’s basically like one big room. I slept in Little Girl’s nursery for, like, years, so I imagine I’ll want to be similarly close to this baby, ready or not though I may be for him. (We may also co-sleep but we’ll see what the baby likes.)

Euphoria

21 July 2011

Something happened. Exactly a month from my due date, some switch has flipped and I’ve never been so calm and content and relaxed in my life. Walking the dogs I kept bursting with cheerful commentary like, “The air smells wonderful. Oh, what a lovely view. Such pretty pine needles!” Upon being given any type of food I’m as grateful and delighted as a high person with the munchies. The feeling is like if you just had a fabulous sex, a bubble bath, made a baby smile, found fifty bucks in your coat pocket, got a spontaneous hug from a little kid, and ate amazing cheesecake all at the same time. No longer do I give any amount of shit about how overgrown the front hedge is, or who hasn’t RSVPd to Little Girl’s birthday party, or where my nipple shields have gotten off to so I can pack them in my hospital bag, or the flooring company that incorrectly installed our carpet two whole times. It’ll all be totally fine! I just want to stare at our birch-tree wallpaper (so relaxing!), then embrace the Swedish tradition of sitting on a lawn chair in my front yard and do nothing else whatsoever, and later go do my pregnancy lady yoga DVD with Little Girl, during which I won’t even feel like giggling when the white lady instructor with the turban talks about communing in harmony with my baby as we rotate our hips to open ourselves to the positive energy of birth. That lady suddenly sounds very sensible. And oh, what a lovely breeze is coming through the kitchen window!

Circumcision and the aperture of my mind

19 July 2011

Circumcision is not straight-up illegal in Sweden but it is extremely uncommon. There’s never been a tradition of it, and a decade ago, I understand largely in response to the influx of Muslim immigrants, Sweden changed the laws so that only medical professionals (not religious officials) could perform circumcisions. And apparently it’s hard to find somebody to perform them (legally) as they are, of course, not considered medically necessary, so the effect is a very, very low circumcision rate.

This is totally fine with me since I think circumcision (for either sex) is horrifying, barbaric, inhumane, and so forth in this vein, and should be wholly illegal. Why people continue to see the reason in mutilating the genitals of days-old infants and older children is truly beyond me. Sure, maybe HIV transmission is lessened with circumcision, but that’s hardly an issue in most parts of the world and there are effective non-disfiguring methods of reaching the same goal. We don’t prophylactically remove other both parts just to keep them from potential harm. As for the religious arguments, they hold no sway for me as an atheist who thinks religion is irrational, often harmful, and absolutely unnecessary to begin with. The aesthetic and hygienic opinions aren’t meaningful to me, either. What, everyone should butcher parts of their bodies to fit in with a historically-fleeting, geographically-limited, creepily-sterilized concept of how the human body should look and function? Do newborns really need plastic surgery on their genitals? Just gross.

Of course I can’t say this kind of thing to my American friends who ask me if I will be circumcising this baby. Nearly all of them are at least a bit religious and most of them have circumcised husbands and sons. I may be secretly icked out and/or disappointed about those things, but in polite society we keep those opinions to ourselves (apparently I do not consider the internet to be polite society). So I just tell them it’s not done here, and they make sympathetic commentary, and I tell them that is okay with me, and they come away with the impression that I am starting to become terribly well-adjusted to Swedish society. While the fact is that I am quite close-minded on this issue. For once I come off seeming very open-minded indeed. Ironic.