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Shrugging off news of my shrinking baby

Joel Sherwood · 3 Jul 2009, 16:02

Published: 03 Jul 2009 16:02 GMT+02:00

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I found out this week my child is shrinking.

A few weeks ago, at seven weeks old, she was a surging 62 centimetres tall. This week, only 60.

The nurse who took the measurements assured us these things can happen. My wife and I hoped she was referring to the up-down measuring results instead of the prospect that kids sometimes contract instead of expand.

We could see her logic. To gauge the length, the nurse attempts to lay the crying and flailing infant down flatly on a table, tries to get one of the baby's air-cycling legs to straighten, and then goes in that brief instant when the baby may or may not be in full extension for the tape measure to guesstimate how long the kid is.

The technique seemed effective enough during our first visit with the neighborhood baby nurse after the arrival of our first child a few months ago. She handled the visit, and our new baby girl, with trained professionalism and upbeat enthusiasm for the adventure we were all embarking on. We felt in good hands.

In fact, we've felt taken care of for almost every bit of care and attending since the kid-having began about a year ago.

It's been extensive. Increasingly regular visits with midwives as the stomach grew. A long day of labour at the baby ward, and a two-day stay at the hospital's service-at-the-push-of-a-button baby hotel.

The care continues after you leave the hospital. Routine check ups of the newborn. There are hotlines to call, not just for baby emergencies but for the parents if (when) they realize they have no idea what they're doing. The government sees to new parents' social needs - our baby nurse, in addition to her medical duties, is also tasked with forming the local new parents group and with chairing its get-to-know-you meetings.

Story continues below…

As a healthy, American first-time father, all this is new ground for me. I've been here in Sweden for eight years now. Until a year ago, my run-ins with the vast health care system amounted to a few painful dentist visits.

The experiences of the past year have me feeling much better than when I was getting a root canal. Attentive, informative, first class, above-and-beyond - these are the ways I describe how I've found the army of baby doctors, nurses and midwives we've encountered as we waded into parenthood in this welfare state.

It's been so nice that when it turns out our child happens to be shrinking, I shrug it off.

Joel Sherwood (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:37 July 5, 2009 by fxrider
My wife is now in her 30th week. It has been a smooth ride with the medical care so far. Midwife and the rest of the staff is very caring and helpful here. We were a bit worried in the beginning as it is our first baby but the medical staff made it so easy. Welfare state definitely makes a lot of sense.
19:48 July 5, 2009 by The Opinionator
Its great to hear positive stories regarding the healthcare within the maternity ward. To be honest, I've always been skeptic of the whole thing but after hearing wonderful stories from 2 of my friends and now reading up on this, I feel a bit at ease. :)
19:56 July 6, 2009 by DMatni
I have to say congratulations to the people who have managed to be cared for by genuinely caring and helpful medical staff. I am in my 32nd week now and I have to say my experience so far have been by and large depressing and off puting. It could be due to the fact that I live in a small town (Askersund) but the midwives I've met at the BVC and even in the university hospital in Örebro have been cold, unwelcoming and seem to care only about the baby's well-being, ignoring the fact that the mother may be suffering. It's really a suck it up attitude here. Even my Swedish husband is mortified by the lack of genuine concern for my well-being and cold attitude we have received so far from the medical staff. I have unfortunately lost faith in the healthcare system here due to my experiences so far and only hope (in vain, i know) that I never have to see another Swedish doctor or nurse again after the birth of my child.
22:03 July 6, 2009 by potato man
Week 27 and so far the support for myself and my partner has been first class. We have every confidence that on the big day we will be in the best possible hands.

And you should too DMatni - just check the W.H.O. stats.
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