Life update with three girls

I always like to post something on the 4th February as it’s the date we moved to Denmark in 2017. Two and a half years back in the U.K. now!

(*EDIT: I have just realised we actually moved on the 5th February but looking back at past blog posts, it appears I changed it to the 4th February from 2020 onwards.) 

I have finally managed to sort out my website glitches, so here is the post I wrote back in October 2022. It seemed odd to edit it, so it’s written as it was four months ago, but with an update at the end.

 October 2022

Well…it’s been a while.

It turns out that having three small children is amazing but extremely busy. I don’t think I have ever had so little “free” time in my life as I have in the last 18 months, hence I’ve had to let a lot of things slide, like this blog and a tidy house. 

Our third baby was born in the spring of 2021 and we feel so incredibly lucky to have three healthy, strong and fun-loving girls. We were still very much in the pandemic so all antenatal appointments and labour, until I was checked to be 4cm dilated, were on my own. Thankfully, as it was my third birth, I felt pretty relaxed –  even when getting a Covid test shoved up my nose mid contraction. It was my third time using hypnobirthing techniques, without the need for pain relief and I feel beyond lucky to have had such positive birth experiences. I did later find out that the Sheffield maternity services were inspected the month I gave birth and rated inadequate – not helped by years of underfunding. Hashtag wouldn’thappeninDenmark was my mantra for anything like this, for at least the first year back in the U.K. I do it less frequently now, which I think is helpful for everyone.

Our baby of the family is now a smiley, chatty, adorable 19 month-old who has never slept through a night in her life.* But we roll with it and our standards of what evening down-time constitutes, or restful sleep, have dramatically dropped.  Our 4 year-old has started school this year (and yes it feels so early compared to Denmark’s 6-year-old school-starters) and our oldest is in her third year of school. It feels like life has taken on a new dimension of children’s parties and activities but it feels oh so good that life is busy and vibrant again after the pandemic.

(*She is now almost 2 and has finally slept through – about three times.)

I am freelancing for The Local, Denmark and it is lovely to continue to work across Danish news. You can find some of the articles I write under the ‘Media’ section of my blog, or just look up The Local, Denmark, or even better, you can subscribe. A general election is being held in Denmark on the 1st November and it’s definitely a welcome relief from British politics. 

(*Update on Denmark’s new government here.) 

The girls have weekly Danish lessons over Zoom. I read and translate Danish news as part of my job but speaking it is much harder as I don’t have the outlet to practice. But I continue to try and read Danish stories to the girls and our eldest is now starting to learn to read them with me. I will never sound Danish and there’s still so much I don’t know but I keep plodding along, trying to keep the language alive at home.

                                                                    Lydia reading HalfDans ABC

We have also managed to visit Denmark again since Covid restrictions ended. In January, my Dad celebrated his 70th on Rømø – the place we have spent many childhood summer holidays.

Dad’s Danish pastry birthday cake

We hired a holiday home for 17 of us and spent the weekend eating, walking along Lakolk beach and spending time together. The definition of hygge.

                     

Then in July we returned to Copenhagen for a two-week summer holiday. It was magical to finally be back, two years after leaving our home there. We stayed in our old courtyard in our neighbour’s apartment and it really felt like we had slotted back into our old life. Our eldest even said, “I’m in my natural habitat,” which made my heart melt. We spent evenings eating and drinking with neighbours in the courtyard, as the girls played in Danish with old friends. We also travelled to Jutland and Fyn to visit family, including my Bedstefar who turned 90.  Many people asked me afterwards if it made me feel unsettled to revisit, two years after we left. We were given such an incredible welcome back, it felt exactly how I wanted it to feel; like we belonged. But returning to Sheffield also felt like we belonged; something that has taken those two years to feel. 

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The Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde                                              Our old local playground, Nørrebroparken

                                 

Playing in my aunt and uncle’s garden                                           Family party at a farm with epic swings


                                                                    Bellevue Stand, Copenhagen

There have been three other visits back to Denmark this year (2022) which have been for sad reasons.

Jes, my Dad’s cousin’s husband died in June, aged 82 years old. He was a huge support to Rich and I when we lived in Copenhagen. We stayed at his and Anne’s apartment in Christianshavn when we were in between rentals and he’d make us incredible frikadeller served with the best red wine. Rich and I managed to fly over for his funeral, with our youngest in tow in June. It was held at the famous Church of Our Saviour in Christianshavn and was such a beautiful service with a huge turnout from the community. Flowers were laid down the middle of aisle, which is a Danish funeral tradition and some of the hymns we sang were ones I learnt when I went to babysalmesang (church baby groups) in Copenhagen. After the service, everyone threw a flower into the canal. We were honoured to be part of Jes’ farewell.

I end this blog update about my Bedstemor and Bedstefar.

My Bedstemor sadly died, aged 89 in February 2022. When news came last December that her health was quickly declining, we hadn’t been back to Denmark for 16 months. I couldn’t wait any longer so I booked the next possible flight to see her with her new great-grandchild. Cost, limited flights, Covid tests and isolation meant the rest of the family couldn’t come. But this trip, even though it was for just 36 hours and took 24 hours to get there and back, was so very worth it and I felt I got to say goodbye. 

My bedstemor meeting her newest great-grandchild.

Her devoted husband, my Bedstefar, died ten months later, in December 2022 aged 90. We had all managed to see him during our summer visit. He was frail and missed my Bedstemor terribly. I knew, as I hugged him, I was saying goodbye for the final time. I think he knew too.

I managed to fly out for Bedstefar’s funeral just after Christmas. It was a beautiful service, made even more special when I started singing the final hymn and realised it was one of my favourite songs I had learnt during my time in Denmark and had been on my birth playlist.

Du, som har tændt millioner af stjerner

Bedstemor is my Dad’s biological mother, who he found when I was eight years old. Her husband, my Bedstefar treated Dad like a son and the four of us as his own grandchildren. It feels like the end of an era now they are no longer with us but they live on, in so many ways.

If you read my first ever blog post about embarking on our Danish adventure, I talk about Bedstemor and Bedstefar and how I wanted to have a conversation with them in Danish before it was too late. How lucky I am that I got to do that. 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Karli Nutile
    February 6, 2023 / 5:47 pm

    Such an emotional and heartfelt post, lovely to read. Inspiring to hear your stories of life between Sheffield and Denmark, and raising three strong girls.

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