Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The lil' scribbler arrives

Finley just after birth
Six days late. Less than three hours of labor. A pound lighter than his older brother.

Finally, the new lil' scribbler has arrived! He made his grand entrance ten days ago, on Mother's Day (traditionally called Mothering Sunday here) in the United Kingdom. And, thank goodness, he came without all the medical drama his big brother made us endure.

Frankly, the lil' scribbler's entrance was . . . not to put too fine a point on it . . . boring.

Kate with a cuppa
Recovery from any British birth requires a proper cup of tea.
Wonderfully boring!

The whole labor and delivery thing was a breeze. {Ed.'s note: Easy for you to say. Try giving birth.} Kate's first contractions started around 1:30 in the morning. Her body decided to skip the introductory contractions. Instead, she dove straight into the full-on powerful ones. We waited an hour or so and then headed off to the hospital.

The maternity ward was packed. Who knew 2:45 am on a Sunday was such a popular time to deliver? In truth, the maternity ward was simply so understaffed that they couldn't even operate an entire wing of the ward. Understaffing is one of the National Health Service's not-so-secret methods of cost controls. Anywho, during our drive to the hospital they called and sought to redirect us to another hospital across town. But we missed the call — the phone was tucked away into Kate's bag — and we showed up at the hospital to crash the party.

Finley sleeping
Sleeping while momma takes a shower.
They made room for us, grudgingly.

We didn't take up much of their time. Our new baby boy, Finley, was born roughly an hour and a half later. Nor did we take up much of their resources. Unlike in the U.S., where most births are overseen by obstetricians, most births in the U.K. are overseen by midwives. Our midwife managed everything on her own. If there had been any complications, further medical staff was around. But generally the approach to birth here is less "medical" and more "natural," though circumstances or personal preferences can of course dictate otherwise.
Jackson meets Finley for the first time
Jackson met his new little brother, Finley, for the first time.
Grammar holding Finley
Kate's mom ("Grammar") holding Finley in the hospital.
In general, if it's a mother's second (or third, fourth, etc.) baby, they aim to send momma and baby home from the hospital within six to twelve hours. This has shocked some of our U.S. friends, who spent a day or two in the hospital after giving birth. But so long as both the mother and baby are doing well, and the baby is nursing successfully, they urge you to go home.

Finley in carseat
Ready to go home.
But going home doesn't mean you're suddenly on your own. A midwife comes to your home the next day to check on the baby and mother. If all is well, another midwife visit is scheduled for two days later. After two or three further days, you see a midwife again when the baby gets a poke for routine blood screenings. Several days later, you have another evaluation to make sure all is well and the baby is growing as expected. At that point, your medical supervision is handed over from midwives to a "health visitor," who makes periodic visits to babies and toddlers and follows their development. The usual vaccinations and other routine medical checkups are passed over to a general practitioner (GP), your family doctor.

Jackson holds Finley
Born early in the morning and home in time for dinner. We let Jackson, his devoted big brother, pick the clothes we bought for Finley to come home from the hospital.
I've been asked several times whether Finley, having been born in England, is a British citizen. He is not. Like the vast majority of countries in the world — including all of Europe and nearly all of Asia, Africa, and Oceania — the U.K. grants citizenship on a jus sanguinis basis (i.e., by "right of blood"). That means one parent must be a British citizen, or at least that immigrants like us need to be "settled" and have permanent residence status. However, if or when Kate and I gain U.K. citizenship in a few years, our children can also gain citizenship at the same time. Additionally, if Finley continues to live in the U.K. until he's ten years old, he becomes eligible for citizenship regardless of the citizenship status of his parents.

So, if the lil' scribbler isn't a British citizen, is he an American? Yes. In the U.S., like much of the Americas, citizenship is granted automatically on a jus soli basis (i.e., by "right of soil"), so anyone born within American territory is granted citizenship. Finley doesn't qualify on that basis. But generally speaking, the U.S. also grants citizenship to children born to U.S. citizens living abroad, as long as a few minor conditions are met. Finley (and his parents) check those boxes.

Congratulatory cards

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

(Nearly) favorite photos of places we visited our second year

In February I shared our favorite family photos, and our nearly favorite family photos, from our second year in Scotland. They're not from the calendar year of 2015 but rather from our second year, running from mid-June 2014 to mid-June 2015. Many apologies for my lack of efficiency.

The photos below I thought were striking in one way or another. They're not necessarily, however, our favorite places we visited. Rather, they're some of my favorite photos of places: landscapes, ruins, cityscapes, and so on.

Stay tuned for the upcoming post of my true favorites in the next week or two.

Wildflowers outside St. Andrews Castle, Scotland
Peeking over the wildflowers outside St. Andrews Castle, Scotland.
Hampton Court Palace, London, England
Piercingly bright day at Hampton Court Palace, in Greater London.
Lantern outside the Old Presbytery B&B in Kinsale, Ireland
Lantern outside the Old Presbytery bed and breakfast in Kinsale, Ireland, one of our very favorite B&Bs in Europe.
Winter festivities in St. George's Square in Glasgow, Scotland
Winter festivities in St. George's Square in Glasgow, Scotland.
Dolmen portal tomb in the Burren, Ireland
The dolmen portal tomb in The Burren, Ireland, is a Neolithic masterpiece.
View from the Isle of Skye toward mainland Scotland
A view of mainland Scotland from the Isle of Skye.
Entry gate to Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
The entry gate to Edinburgh Castle in the evening, just before a performance at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Springtime at the St. Andrews Suspension Bridge in Glasgow, Scotland
Springtime at the St. Andrews Suspension Bridge, a pedestrian walkway in Glasgow, Scotland.
A view of Athens from Anafiotika at the base of the Acropolis
You get expansive views of Athens from the neighborhood of Anafiotika, at the base of the Acropolis.
Highland hairy cow in Kilmartin Glen, Scotland
A fantastic specimen of a Highland hairy cow (a "hairy coo") in Kilmartin Glen, Scotland.
View from the Grand Battery at Stirling Castle toward the William Wallace Monument
View from the Grand Battery of cannons at Stirling Castle toward the William Wallace Monument.
Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary, Ireland
The Rock of Cashel sits on a limestone plug in County Tipperary, Ireland.
Cloisters on the University of Glasgow campus
Cloisters on the campus of the University of Glasgow.
Bridge on the grounds of Inverary Castle in Argyll, Scotland
A bridge on the grounds of Inverary Castle in Argyll, Scotland.
View of Loch Lomond from the island of Inchcailloch
A gorgeous afternoon on the island of Inchcailloch in Loch Lomond, Scotland.
Pollock House in Glasgow, Scotland
We enjoyed an Easter egg hunt at Pollock House in Glasgow, Scotland.
Sheep graze on the golf course on the Isle of Iona
Sheep graze on the windswept golf course on the Isle of Iona.
Urquhart Castle ruins on Loch Ness in Scotland
A glimpse of the ruins of Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness.
Dugald Stewart Monument and the Old Town of Edinburgh
The Dugald Stewart Monument, derived from the famed Lysicrates Monument in Athens, sits on Calton Hill in Edinburgh.
Drombeg Stone Circle in County Cork, Ireland
The magnificently sited Drombeg Stone Circle in County Cork, Ireland.

Did you enjoy those? Here are my favorite family pics of our second year in Scotland:

On the beach on Inchcailloch in Loch Lomond

Favorite family photos of our second year in Scotland 
(Nearly) favorite family photos of our second year in Scotland

Want to see more? Here are the favorites from our first year in Scotland:

Favorite photos of places we visited our first year

(Nearly) favorite photos of places we visited our first year

Favorite family photos of our first year in Scotland

(Nearly) favorite family photos of our first year in Scotland