Friday, September 26, 2008

September 26, 2008 - Home Sweet Home

These pictures are also quite belated, but they are of our house in Nairobi. As you can tell, we have really only decorated one room of the house so far, but it is the room we spend the most time in so we are definitely enjoying it. Before the baby arrives, we hope to have the rest of our act together. Anyone with interior design aspirations is welcome to come help us out :)
This is our house from the outside. We are living in a compound of 10 houses (with a pool and sauna that we share) and our house is in a valley so we are located at the bottom of a hill.

The first floor of our house has one bedroom with it's own bathroom. There is also a guest bathroom in the hallway...but I didn't take any pictures of the bathrooms because they are really not that interesting.

This is our kitchen, taken from where the refrigerator even though you can't see the fridge, we have one and you shouldn't fear that we aren't eating well-preserved food :) We do not have a microwave, but that is not because you can't get them is just because we have not bought one!

This is our dining room. The white curtains have a black giraffe print that can also be found in the soon-to-be nursery. The Masai tablecloth is courtesy of Kirsten and Hans :)

The two pictures below are of our downstairs living room, with the furniture we had made at our first apartment here. We actually think the furniture is comfortable, but the furniture (especially the coffee table!) is poorly made. It is a huge room and is very nice both in the sun and when it is cold because of the fireplace...but we absolutely cannot decide what to do with it. You can see in the second picture that we have a little veranda out onto our small garden.

This are the stairs from the front hallway door that go upstairs.

This was an early Christmas gift from Kirsten and Hans that hangs on the large wall (high ceiling!) as you walk up the stairs. It is even more beautiful when you see it in person :)

Upstairs we have 3 bedrooms. The first bedroom is currently our "office" but will be the baby's room. It has its own full bathroom.

This is the second bedroom upstairs, also with its own full bathroom. It has been called "Christine's Room", "Mor and Hans' Room" and "Morten's Room" in the time that we've lived here.

This is the master bedroom on the second floor. You can see our big mosquito-free bed, which we love. The room is quite large but we don't have much furniture, because as you can see below this picture we have a walk in closet with built in shelves and drawers (that's the style here) that leads to our master bathroom.

These two pictures show our upstairs living room, which is in the middle of the three bedrooms (sort of like a loft?). This is the room we have happily decorated (with me at 12 weeks pregnant standing in it).

Outside in our garden...we have beautiful roses!

We hope you have a better idea of where we live now. Our compound has excellent 24-hour security, along with walls and gates and wires for our safety, patrols in the neighborhood and guard dogs in surrounding compounds. Despite what people fear about Africa, we are clearly not living in a hut and you can be sure we couldn't afford to live in a house like this in the US or Denmark at this stage in our lives. We hope even more of you will come visit soon!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

September 25, 2008 - Happy Birthday, Kristoffer!

So Kristoffer should be writing a blog one of these days about his climb up Kilimanjaro, but after taking a week off of work he has certainly been busy this week. Maybe this weekend! Anyway, today is Kristoffer's 31st birthday. It is also the first time we have ever celebrated his birthday together, as we were always in different cities or countries (even last year after getting married, Kristoffer was in Denmark interviewing for his job in Kenya on his birthday!). He doesn't LOOK any older (is it possible that he looks younger?), but of course impending fatherhood is an exciting prospect on his birthday.

In addition to birthday festivities, yesterday marked 16 full weeks of pregnancy for us. As you can see below, I am not the cutest pregnant woman to ever live, but yesterday I looked and felt particularly haggard after becoming extremely, extremely car sick on my way back to work from a meeting at the Ministry of Education. I am hoping that in the coming months future pictures will show me to be a glowing, radiant pregnant woman but for now, I'm working with what I've got :)

A much more amazing and exciting picture, however, is the one below of our baby at 14 weeks in utero. The doctor actually gave us 10 different shots, but this is by far the coolest one, taken when Simba was actively waving to me. S/he might have a future in modeling, I think.

If we had an ultrasound today, Simba might be doing a little birthday dance for his/her Far (Far = Father in Danish). Tillykke med Fødselsdagen, Kristoffer!


Friday, September 19, 2008

September 19, 2008 - Masai Mara Pictures (belated, take 2)

So...shortly after our safari with Kristoffer's Mom and Hans in July I tried to post a slideshow of pictures from our days at the Masai Mara and our brief visit to the Nakuru National Park. Come to find out afterwards that I am pretty much the only person who is able to see the slideshow, for some technological reason that I don't understand. Because they are so pretty, below are some of my favorite pictures (mostly taken by Hans) from our safari. I think they are self-explanatory (Masai people...animals...animals eating other animals ...sunset...the flamingoes and rhinos on the beach are from Lake Nakuru and not the Mara).

This was very early in my pregnancy (like 4 weeks?), which is not obvious except I think I look a bit puffy. It was an amazing trip for all of us; I was a bit uncomfortable in the car and was learning to deal with both a changing appetite and regular fatigue but still managed to appreciate how amazing Kenya's wildlife really is. And believe you me when I tell you that I have gone to the bathroom in the wild with the wildebeasts (gnu) and zebra more than any other visitor to the Mara ever! Enjoy! LMW

Monday, September 15, 2008

September 15, 2008 - 15 weeks pregnant

According to my ultrasound last week, I am 15 weeks pregnant today. My body started changing A LOT last week so that now I have a noticeable, although not huge, baby bump. I also want to clarify that "Simba" is just a nickname that we call the baby now in order to avoid saying "he or she" all the time. When the baby is actually born, that will not be his or her name (I think my last blog was unclear).

Kristoffer began climbing up Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with his friends Morten and Karen a few moments ago (10:00 am our time) and will finish the climb on Friday afternoon. I can't remember the last time I didn't talk to him for 5 days, but I suppose he has only been gone for one day now so I shouldn't start complaining just yet.

He promised me that he would write a blog about his climb when he gets back!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008 - Simba Waving

I woke up this morning thinking about 9/11 as I do every year on its anniversary. I think about and miss New York City and generally say a prayer for those people whose daily lives are still very much present in the consequences of that day. But, as a pregnant woman, I was also filled with hope this morning that, despite the atrocities happening in our world everyday, one of these days we will get it right and there will be peace. At least that is certainly what I hope our baby experiences in his or her lifetime.

So Baby Welsien, increasingly called Simba (which means "lion" in Swahili and is not gender specific even though Simba in the movie "The Lion King" was a boy), is doing really well these days. Yesterday I had an ultrasound at 14 weeks and 2 days along in my pregnancy. It was amazing and so different from the first ultrasound I had at 6 weeks. First of all, when you are 6 weeks pregnant and have an ultrasound, the doctor says, "Do you see that dot on the screen? That dot is your baby!" because the baby is so small at that stage. At 14 weeks, however, our baby is a real person! As soon as ultrasound started, I could see that the baby was almost jumping around. Simba was moving its arms, legs, and shaking its head! I could even see where its eyes are (although they are still sewn shut) and the outline of a little nose. It looked like Simba was waving directly at me, saying, "Hi, Mom!" at 4 different times during the scan. As I waved back to my baby, I thought, "This is probably the most amazing moment of my life so far."

Sadly, Kristoffer was not with me because he had to go to Mombasa (the city on the Coast of Kenya) for work and my doctor wanted the scan done before the end of the week. I was lying there teary-eyed with the doctor who asked simply, "This is your first baby?" How could he tell?!

The scan did not indicate any signs of Down Syndrome, Simba's spine was fully and perfectly developed, and the doctor said that everything looked normal and healthy. I will have another one in 6 more weeks when I am 20 weeks along (halfway there!) and Kristoffer will definitely not miss that one. The doctor who does the ultrasound is different than my OB/GYN but he will give her all of the pictures of the scan and at my next appointment in two weeks we will get to keep them. If I can scan them and post them here I certainly will!

We have learned that pregnant woman are treated very differently in Kenya than they are in the US or Europe. In our countries, when you tell people you are pregnant they go crazy and get excited and congratulate you and constantly ask you questions about your pregnancy! In Kenya, however, it is really taboo to talk about a pregnancy or to even acknowledge one. We have speculated as to why this is...perhaps it is because Kenyans are superstitious and don't want to "jinx" the pregnancy? Or maybe it is because infant mortality is higher in African countries than in developed countries and many babies die? It could even be that for people who are very poor, as many Kenyans are, a pregnancy is not considered to be a blessing, but rather another mouth that they can't afford to feed. For these reasons, or others we have not thought of, Kristoffer's and my colleagues are not really acknowledging that I am pregnant. At first we felt awkward about it, but now we understand and respect that it is a cultural difference. In fact, Kristoffer's colleague told him that when she was a little girl she pointed out a pregnant woman and her father beat her severely for it. Yikes! But not to worry, we are surrounded by many expatriates who are eagerly following our pregnancy and so we don't feel totally neglected!

So Kristoffer has been in Mombasa for the last two days and our Danish friends have been visiting the Masai Mara for the last three days. Everybody comes home this evening so I am eager to hear about their adventures. Over the weekend we visited Nakuru National Park (about 2 hours north of Nairobi) and had a beautiful game drive. We also visited a very touristy restaurant in Nairobi called "Carnivore" which serves a lot of MEAT! They used to be known for serving plains game (like zebra!) but now the most exotic meats they serve are ostrich and crocodile. I will admit that I tried both - the ostrich was quite good but the croc was AWFUL! As one of friends said, it tasted like SWAMP (sort of like fish actually, but with the texture of chicken)! While I had previously not been eating meat here in Kenya, in my pregnancy I have really craved chicken and turkey so I am back to eating those a few times a week. Kristoffer, the truest vegetarian, has been a very good sport and is not protesting...although our plan is to raise the baby as a vegetarian. Talk about an identity crisis...Simba will be a Kenyan-Danish-American, Catholic vegetarian. S/he will have a hard time checking off boxes on official paperwork...but maybe can get a lot of scholarships because of it!

This weekend some of our Danish friends will leave, another one will come, and then Kristoffer and two friends will leave on Sunday to spend next week climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania - the highest mountain in Africa. While this was one of my goals in moving to Kenya, I think I have made peace with the fact that I'll just have to do it at another time in my life. Simba's health and safety are much more important than some little mountain :)


Thursday, September 4, 2008

September 4, 2008 - A New Life in Nairobi!

We are very pleased to publicly post for the first time that Lisa is pregnant! It has been very hard for her to write a lot of blogs without talking about the pregnancy, because from the minute we found out (the day before our first wedding anniversary!) it has been the most dominant force in our lives. Now Lisa is relieved that the secret is out and she can happily turn this into a "Pregnant in Nairobi" blog.

Baby Welsien is due on March 11th and as of yesterday we are safely into the second trimester of the pregnancy. Lisa has been feeling really well for the most part. July was a month of nausea and exhaustion and August was a bit better in the nausea department, but she was equally tired! Her worst symptom so far has been terrible pregnancy acne (skin problems!) on her face and chest, but we are hoping that the second trimester will show an improvement.

We found a recommended OB/GYN here in Nairobi at the Aga Khan Hospital, which is the premier hospital in East Africa and has a brand new state-of-the-art maternity wing that we are very happy about. They have the best care around for babies born prematurely, and we are happy to know that fathers are allowed to stay in the hospital room with moms and babies (they have family "hotel rooms") and that moms and babies are not kicked out after 48 hours! So far we have been very pleased with the doctor: she is very encouraging, positive, and calm. We have friends who had a baby here last March and were very happy with the care they received.

Because this pregnancy came to us as a bit of a surprise, especially so close to Lisa's heart surgeries in May, we saw the doctor when Lisa was 6 weeks along. An ultrasound at that time showed that the baby already had a strong heartbeat (it sounded like white noise but you could see the rhythm very clearly) and, at only .5 cm big, we were instantly in love. All of our fears about the surgeries and the pregnancies were assuaged by the OB/GYN, the ultrasound, Lisa's cardiologist here and her cardiologist in NYC (via email). As much as she can, Lisa has been eating well and exercising...although both should get easier with renewed energy and decreased hormones in the second trimester.

Now...we know some of the questions you might be wondering:

What will Baby W's citizenship be? Baby W will be born with Kenyan citizenship, but will automatically get American citizenship because Lisa is American and Danish citizenship because Kristoffer is Danish. Therefore, our baby will officially be a citizen of the world, and master of three different continents.

Can your baby be President of the United States if s/he is born in Kenya? The jury is still out on this. Baby W's "Nene" (aka Lisa's mom) found evidence online that if you are born to an American citizen residing outside of the US that you can still be eligible to run for President. But the US State Department's website is not as clear. We will investigate further (because of course this is an urgent matter!) and get back to you, but if anyone reading this has expertise on the subject - please share!

What language will your baby speak? Baby W will hopefully be bilingual. Kristoffer will speak to the baby only in Danish and Lisa will speak to the baby on English. We might try to integrate some Kiswahili too...but let's not get too ahead of ourselves.

Will you find out what kind of baby you are having? No we will not! We are both equally excited about the moment of true surprise in March when the doctor says..."It's a boy!" or "It's a girl!" We do have a few names picked out in either case, but Kristoffer is definitely rooting for a boy and Lisa is thinking that it just might be a girl! Maybe somebody wants to take bets?

Will you come to the US and/or Denmark before the baby is born in March? Yes, as a matter of fact we will! We arrive in the US for 3 weeks on December 6th and then head to Denmark on December 26th for 2 weeks. After that I will be cut off from air-travel so we will really make the most of our holiday vacation. We look forward to seeing all of our family and friends (or as many of you as possible!) and showing off Lisa's baby belly.

And when will Americans and Danes get to meet Baby Welsien? Next summer we plan to take a holiday to Denmark for a few weeks in June to celebrate "Far Mor's" 60th birthday (aka Kristoffer's mom) and then we will head to the US for a few weeks as well. But of course, guests are welcome to come to Kenya before then if they just can't wait to meet Baby Welsien. In fact, Lisa's mom (and hopefully her dad too!) will be coming for about 6 weeks when Baby W is born and we already have some potential August visitors lined up. Leave it to our baby to keep a pressing social calendar.

Thank you, in advance, for sharing in our joy. Having a baby in Kenya was not exactly part of our plan when we moved here, but we are so excited and feel very blessed to be expectant parents. We have had great role models in our parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and friends with children and we really look forward to the challenges and rewards of parenting.

Kristoffer & Lisa