Happy Anniversary, Denmark!

This month marks my fifth anniversary of my move to Denmark!  The last five years have been filled with unimaginable change, growth, and setbacks.  I have been at the end of my rope, my wit’s end, and on cloud nine.

Adapting to life in a new country is hard, no matter how committed or prepared one is.  And I have had my challenges.  I survived a lonely first couple of years, being pregnant and then having baby Theo, while finishing up Danish classes, and becoming fluent.  I drudged through unemployment, and every single frustration and insecurity that goes with it.  I started some classes for an associate’s degree, and totally crushed it–I was more proud of my perfect scores, and praise from my professors on my oral exams (taken in Danish) than I was when I graduated with my bachelor’s degree.  I landed an internship, and struggled through the first six months of it (while being pregnant with TWINS) before my maternity leave, and where I am now.

When I think about those first few months, compared to my life now, I have to admit I am really, really proud of myself.  When we first arrived, I could not leave my apartment without Andreas.  I couldn’t go to the store by myself.  After a couple of months, I managed to use public transport alone, to get to my Danish class (whilst sweating profusely).  I clearly remember calling my doctor to make that first appointment for my pregnancy with Theo–sitting on the edge of the bed, shaking, speaking Danish on the phone for the first time.

cozy bed

Right there, facing the window, was where I made the call

Every day that I have been here, I have pushed my limits.  I have been on a roller coaster of highs (“I am so awesome for doing these things that are hard!”) and lows (“Oh my God, I can’t do these things that are hard anymore…not even one more time.”).

On Friday, I had a busy day.  I had a doctor’s appointment in the morning, so I packed up the girls, drove to the doctor, and had my appointment.  Afterwards, I got a call from the police station saying that my temporary visa was ready to be picked up, so I buckled the girls into the car, and drove 20 minutes (on the highway for the first time) in our van (with manual gearshift), parked, picked up my visa, and drove home, picked up Theo, and went home.  Feeling lazy on a Friday evening, we decided we’d pick up frozen pizza for dinner, so once Andreas came home, I took Theo to the store to grab some, and back home for dinner, bedtime with the kids, and cozy time with Andreas.

For some, this does not sound like a big deal.  For me, it was a huge deal.  My anxiety is ever-present, but the fact that I can overcome it, to do things that are really hard to me is amazing.  I am a nervous driver, but there was an errand that needed to be done, and I did it.  I spoke on the phone in Danish, like it was no big deal.  I have learned, in the last few months (while having infant twins) how to drive a stick shift.  I go to the store on my own, the doctor on my own, the police station–on my own.  I’ve even made some friends, and after 3 years living in the same apartment, am feeling more settled than ever.

These five years have been a series of challenges, and I expect nothing less of the next five–but I hope I continue to grow, I hope I can be as proud of myself in 2022 as I am today.  And despite the uphill climb, I am always grateful to have had the opportunity to live here, and have never second-guessed our decision to settle in Denmark (despite the weather).

We may have work to do on our relationship, but…I love you, Denmark!

5-month Update–Oona and Beatrix

I knew I would fall behind with these at some point, but I am not giving up!  I want to do these as much for myself as for all of you–so I have something to look back on when I get all teary and nostalgic in a few years.

I am also nostalgic right now.  Nostalgic for those first few weeks when the babies would fall asleep in our arms, and sleep for hours.  Nostalgic for when they used to wake up once a night to eat and go back to sleep.  Nostalgic for when I felt like I was doing it right.

I thought month four was a doozy, but month five showed it up.

Sleep is just going downhill.  First it was naps.  The naps were 30 minutes, on the dot, and they would fight them, crying, as I sat between them with one hand on each baby, rocking them to sleep as I stared out into nothing and tried not to go crazy.  It didn’t work.  So we began sleep training, like we did for Theo–some kind of adapted-Ferber-controlled crying method.  It has worked, although not quite as well as I had hoped.  And then the night sleeping has worsened.  They go down alright around 6, then are up a few times in the evening, around 10-11 to eat, then around 2 to eat again, and then soooooometimes they sleep until six-thirty with no more fuss.  While this doesn’t look so bad when I type it out, it is really tough.  I need all the sleep and energy I can get to get through the day, and I am struggling.

I had also hoped that having them fall asleep on their own would lead to longer naps, but so far, it hasn’t, really.  This is also quite draining, as Bea usually falls asleep first, Oona will take another 15-20 minutes to fall asleep, and then Bea is up 10 minutes after Oona falls asleep.  10 minutes is not many minutes when you just. need. a. break.

They are still nursing, although we have started solids, and I think they are finally actually eating rather than just tasting, so I think we’ll move up to twice daily. I am really, really thankful that I have been able to nurse them for so long!  I am hoping now that I can keep it going until at least around the one-year mark.

They are still not moving much more than they were last month–no real rolling, although Oona especially has been getting super interested in toys, especially the ones her sister is holding.  Oona has gotten one bottom tooth, and Beatrix is definitely working on some.  The teething is, I think, a major contributor to the sleep troubles…hoping they get some releif soon!

They both are absolutely infatuated with Theo.  The moment they can see his face, they actually giggle with joy, if he’s playing with them or not.  He is their favorite person in the world.

I think they are still on track, size-wise.  Oona is moving up to 6-9 month clothes, and Trixie is not far behind.  I still have to bring them, in their carseats, down to the car at least once a day, and it is getting heavy.  I actually weighed it all yesterday, and I am hauling 50+ pounds up and down two flights of stairs.  That is many pounds.  Some days, I feel super strong, and others, I am pretty sure I might not make those last few steps to our door.

The girls’ favorite things are definitely being sung to, and being read to.  They light up, even if they are quite grumpy.

I know I have painted quite a grim picture, and things are realistically very, very hard right now, but it is still such a delight sometimes, when they both smile up at you, and you just can’t handle the love.  The girls really are so, so sweet, and no matter how hard it is, I am so grateful to have them both!