Home for the Holidays

Hello, let me introduce myself; I’m …HUGE!

So we are back from our Christmas vacation in Sweden. Let’s just say that it was beyond nice to catch a break from reality and just be in the moment for a while. The moment of family, changed priorities and holiday spirit. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always difficult traveling with little kids and the days away weren’t completely free from drama BUT the added grown ups to help and the amazing service of home cooked meals, laundered clothes and set plans were so welcomed and such a huge help I didn’t even want to fly back!

Even the one bedroom (my all pink, “old romance” style girl bedroom) felt like a relief from our house with different bedrooms, beds, bedtimes and major bedtime drama. On this holiday we pretty much went to bed and woke up at the same time- together. There is something said for bed sharing even if you get little feet in your face constantly and have to suffer through major jet lag as well as stuffed noses and lack of nighttime sleep (you see I’d pick that morning sleep over night anytime).

My parents had skillfully crafted fun plans outside the house (per my request not to have my rather wild kiddos destroy my parent’s beautifully and meticulously decorated house, and mine as well as everyone else’s sanity) and let me say they did great (both my parents AND my kids).

At our Glögg (there is that word again…remember the spiced, hot and sweet traditional wine!?) mingle with extended family, uncles and aunts and cousins etc, people actually were surprised how (get this) WELL behaved our kids were (making a lier out of me…boy, shouldn’t I just be satisfied!??)

We enjoyed a Christmas food buffet aka “a real Christmas Table” complete with the traditional glögg (mulled wine), Swedish meatballs (commonly just known as “meatballs”), all kinds of herring, “Jansson’s temptation” (basically potato gratin with anchovies), cheesecake (nothing like the American counter part) with cream and jam and of course ham, cheeses, homemade hard bread, eggs with mayo and shrimp and all kinds of chocolaty desserts!

We also went out in the middle of the pitch black woods (next time we’ll make sure to bring some flashlights) in our search of the real St Nicolas. It was the day before Christmas Eve (which is the day we celebrate Christmas in Sweden) cold, dark and crisp and impossible to even see the person walking in front of you. On our way to find Santa my darling husband thought my dad was joking as he told us he had no idea where we were going. Except it was the truth and all part of the mysterious adventure. There wasn’t any signs anywhere and we were truly in the middle of nowhere. We joked that if this would have been where we live there would have been giant neon signs, stroller ramps, (or why not elevators), huge parking lots, fees for everything, souvenirs for sale as well as restrooms (or toilets, let’s call them what they are shall we!?) around every corner!
But this was truly worth every fumbling and stumbling in the darkness due to the excitement of the collective mission to find Santa. The chilled air held anticipation and our 4 year old’s excitement was palpable when we trekked through the deep woods, slipping on ice patches, roots and rocks only accompanied by the wind and the trees (oh and all the other people on the same mission). Our 20 months old wasn’t as upbeat (being carried as not to fall…and not by mommy) until she discovered the cozy cabins, the elves workshops, Santa’s sleigh and all the pretty candles that is!
we found HIM!!!

The old man “playing” Santa Claus (I mean Santa himself) is after all doing this year after year out of the goodness of his heart, only getting paid in candles!
This is one adventure I wouldn’t mind making a permanent family holiday tradition!

Christmas Eve came and went without a hitch with our very own Santa, baby acting as his very own elf, handing everyone their gifts (after the initial fright…well he did have to loose his beard…and tummy) and little boy extremely joyful about all the gifts and attention. Even the “dreaded” wolf dog (seriously), the one my brother lovingly “tricked” my parents to take care of (gave them a task during retirement after all) …behaved (he did have to go stay in the car for awhile…the wrapping paper and Christmas goodies were way too tempting). Everyone was cheerful and the warmth radiated through the house. I mean with three generations of opinions and wishes, two rowdy kids and two even rowdier dogs it’s not the easiest task. But we succeeded brilliantly!

Christmas Day was spent with extended family out in the true “country” where our son got to dig with a real tractor and operate a real crane- oh the joy. Just hanging with all the other boys (you can see how mama wasn’t part of that equation) while the girls did “girl things” inside was probably enough to keep him happy! Little girl was happily playing Barbies and “my little ponies” with my second cousin’s daughter and the adults got to talk and laugh about old times!

Other well -thought out activities included (to my husband’s excitement) an ice hockey game, shopping (actually for his work clothes), a Bamse (swedish cartoon) exhibit and the traditional family turkey dinner of course!.

Just like he got to go to the hockey game with the boys, sonny got to accompany his mom and grandma to the theatre. Even if the first act of Peter Pan was rather “expressive and theatrical” aka terrifying, the second act more than made up for it (as did the front row seats and all the candy). Overall a great evening as the snow slowly started falling outside!

Talking about snow, the kids were beside themselves as they had been waiting since we had landed. My son even had a presentation about all the snow he would play in in Sweden at preschool the day we left. Global warming didn’t help our case and neither did us begging the weather Gods but finally, finally the white fluffy stuff was here and the heavens were cooperating. There was enough for snowballs and half a snowman and tons of fun for kids and dogs alike!

We ended our perfect holiday in my homeland in our beautiful capital of Stockholm. The deep white snow was the backdrop for more adventures of the downtown “zoo” of Swedish animals, (only complaints from the two American “men” were the freezing degrees, despite borrowed Down jackets and last minutes purchased gloves… and a quick trip to the doctor with baby girl’s ears), museums, restaurants, cafes and movie night in my brother’s apartment. Him and his wife had orchestrated some great plans to round up our trip and as we left in the middle of the night in the cold, we did so with a smile!

Two years ago I was pregnant (about the same gestation) with my little girl and home for the Christmas holiday as well (my family joking that I’m always pregnant at Christmas!) and flying back to the chaos that is our reality is now bittersweet. We might move, there might be something wrong going on with this pregnancy and last time it felt like I hadn’t been back long after Christmas before being admitted to the hospital with preterm labor. I worry about the special ultrasound happening Monday, about packing up the house and all our other plans up in the air…

Let’s just say this, I’m happy and grateful about this holiday break from reality and look forward to someday introducing my country and all its traditions to my third baby!

 

A Surprise Blessing

Okay, okay this is happening- it is true… yet it can not be…

I’m in complete shock and in utter denial, not because I didn’t want this (of course that would never be the case- ever) but because it is so impossible. I don’t know why I’m surprised really (I mean I did throw up in a porta potty at a wedding…and an airplane bathroom…rental car place and retirement home…) or wait, I do know why I’m surprised! This wasn’t planned and I’m a world class planner (it’s true ask my husband , note pad and my google calendar).

For Pete’s sake, I had wine at my sister’s and lots of it. I had doctors appointments and dental appointment with x-Rays lined up for my Mom’s visit. I’m enjoying sushi, sandwich meats, exotic cheeses, fancy coffee drinks and tons of tea and of course both salmon and tuna.  I’m eating fenugreek for increased milk supply (super bad), I have a toddler who just learned how to sleep through the night and then suddenly stopped because of something named hell…I mean “toddler sleep regression” and I literally have my hands full with my two!

I always wanted a third. This is true! I even fantasized about names, room themes, analyzing sibling order and gender preferences. We were three growing up after all (seemed the ideal number for us). Before our daughter we (who am I kidding I) had “planned on” trying a third time if we had another boy only. Really thinking that we would have another boy it seemed like the perfect plan. I know I know, there is no such thing as the “perfect plan”. But with a daughter and everything we went through I was just relieved and happy (satisfied…no really) and blessed beyond measures! By the way, I would have been blessed and happy with another boy of course but I can’t deny the joy over my beloved daughter (that mother/daughter bond is after all something really special…and I am by no means discrediting the “specialness” of the mother/son bond- this is just my story, but I also see and recognize my husband’s incredible bond with our son- not to say that I don’t have a bond with my son.) Anyways, I’m rambling!

After the water breaking prematurely eleven weeks before my daughter was due, the long bed rest, the premature delivery, the breathing difficulties, the blood issues, the infections…I’m just glad that we are all okay! She is a happy, healthy toddler today and I couldn’t be more glad and proud of her and how far we all have come! I am really truly happy and satisfied (really!). The mere thought of doing it all over again and even the thought of something going wrong… And worse this time, it’s just not worth it!

We have everything we could ever want and more. We are (were) so lucky and ready to move on as a family of four! Yet (oh yet!) the seed had been planted years ago (decades ago really) that I always wanted three. I didn’t have twins like my mom (which seemed convenient when I was a kid, mostly because well, she had two at the same time, eliminating another pregnancy and one of each- what a bonus!- but now after having to take care of one newborn at the time, realizing the catastrophic effort it most have been taking care of TWO of them at the same time.)

Talking about the “perfect plan”; after all the “drama” with our daughter, once we had finally gotten into the beautiful phase of real baby hood (after NICU and readjustment at home, having gotten a hang of sleep schedules and breastfeeding…nah, not really), I briefly discussed the idea of having another one with my husband. With our judgment cloudy by the sweetness of our baby and how everything had turned out pretty great in the end we both agreed that: maybe YES! My mom has this theory that with your rose colored glasses after having endured the pain of child birth and on no sleep and the added love hormones and endorphins cursing through your mangled new mommy body (newness each and every time) you always think it’s a good idea to have “another one”- preferably right away!! Because if you can do THIS you can do ANYTHING over and over! She might have a point there! Anyways as the year went on (also as my mom predicted) the desire went away slowly with each illness, nursing struggle and stinky diaper! Not really, because of those… because secretly I see myself as a pretty awesome baby momma! A baby momma ninja really! I got this stage down!!! And I love it (the following stages however…not so much…and they do grow you know… and fast). But starting over? All over? Doing it all over again? The sleep deprivation, the sore nipples, the confused zombie stage, the WORRY, the germs, the fragile vulnerability, the emotions? At my age? Hmm.

When my husband announced while we were working out (almost back to my pre-pregnancy body by the way with added muscles- even wore short shorts the other day-MOI!!!) that he would actually want another one, he did surprise me but he also opened up that achy feeling of maybe just maybe, one more. Aren’t babies amazing after all? And what about my childhood want for three kids when I grew up (my Barbie alter ego always had three!) I love, love babies, their dependency on you, their sweet smell, sweetness, baby rolls, their smiles, their trust, their tiny toes and noses, their cuddles and giggles and FIRSTS! But since I had just been through all of that and still have a BABY after all. We decided to wait until our baby was at least two years old to bring the topic up again (we also have our- my- “advanced” age working against us- but nowadays anything seem possible- and not as much of an obstacle).

I worry too… so much (probably too much) about my kiddos on a daily (minute-ly basis) could I get one more in my mommy heart to worry about?

I also can’t have anything happen to me since I’m a mom to two little ones and it would break my heart if something went wrong again (I’m not sure my psyche could handle that) and what about the logistics of not being able to concentrate on taking care of myself and a new life because two lives already depend on me? Maybe these are all mom’s worries? I mean I worried about my son before my daughter was born.

On the other hand I feel like children are the meaning of life and the ultimate blessings. Creating and carrying new life is miraculous. I just couldn’t help feeling like we would be asking for TOO much wanting another one (Hybris and all that), so we (I) decided to wait- hold off on the planning- that was the plan!

Yes I planned and yes we planned…and
Here we are! Amongst nursing a toddler and taking every precaution, we are still here!

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And we seriously couldn’t be happier or more excited!!!

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