The first year of 3 boys

So how did we survive? Well you know – I have no clue! What i do know is that I sadly can’t remember who said a word first, lost a tooth first or started crawling first. Thank goodness for digital cameras is all I can say. At least I have records of things that did happen and although the actual details are hazy there is still a story for the boys to see. When you are trying to survive 3 little ones under the age of 2 you quite simply just do what needs to be done. Many a night Björn came home form work (poor bastard!) to find me & 3 boys on the floor in tears – but he still came home each night and we smiled when he did!

I loved having people over for “playdates” (which meant I frantically cleaned AND baked prior to their arrival – much to my firmed Jen’s amazement each time she visited)! but at least I had control and company. There was also a wonderful community play group arrangement in our area that I would try and go to a few times a week. I would get to chat (well as much as I could in Swedish) with other moms, the boys could “play” and I would get help from all the moms enthralled with twins! It really was my lifesaver in the early days and we became firm regulars at Öppna Förskola in Täby.

Max handled the arrival of the twins relatively well ……. until Björn returned to work. Luckily we were able to negotiate a part time nursery place for Max which meant he went to nursery 4 x a week until just before 2pm – which sounds wonderful but logistically was a nightmare. Feeding twins every 2-3 hours made planning to a time almost impossible. They HATED the pram and would cry the 30 minute walk to drop off Max. The number of times I arrived to drop Max at 9am in tears was more than I arrived smiling – the stress of 2 LO’s crying solidly while you trundled a rather bulky, heavy pram was more than I could bare.  Thank goodness for amazing, understanding teachers who would grab Max and the pram for a few minutes while I composed myself for the walk home. And of course one of them was sleeping or needing feeding at about exactly the time I need to collect Max…. But we managed. Max, however, rebelled – and once collected and fed – would sit at the front door all afternoon waiting for his “pappa” to come home and no amount of coercion from me would move him. It broke my heart and heightened my guilt to new heights.  Thank goodness this eventually passed although my maternal guilt feelings did not abate completely.

I had battled to breast feed Max and after almost 3 months and buckets of tears and tuts from my mom who had come over for a few weeks, I gave up. Oliver & Alexander were different though – I confidently strolled around hospital corridors nursing a baby from day 2…. but time and life got in the way – and 4 months later I admitted defeat and moved to formula and found ingenious ways to bottle feed 2 babies without actually using my hands! In those early months while I breastfed my closest friends, Kylie & Jonas, would pop in often and I would usually be sitting in the kitchen or lounge feeding one (or two – I did double feed when I could) a baby – and become know as the “cow”.

It was a whirl wind first year with 3 boys. Björn & I took shifts for a few weeks at night after he returned to work, but this felt wrong as he had to actually work each day. So I spent many a night on the sofa downstairs with the twins in a camp cot – rotating feeding. I saw a lot of Magnum PI, Mc Guvyer, The A-Team and Charlie’s Angels reruns on TV! during those nights and early mornings.

In desperation 3 months in to our 3 child family we made frantic calls home to my mom to come over for a few months to help out – sadly to no avail. But my sister (all 18 years of her – with boyfriend in tow) was available and relatively willing. I was desperate and agreed the boyfriend could tag along (although had not imagined for a moment he would stay as long as she did) – I agreed and off she set to come to Sweden. It was wonderful having her but I really needed a mom. She helped take care of the boys and got to see some of what Stockholm, at least, had to offer, but I needed the emotional and practical support which she wasn’t able to offer.  In the end I think it was a plus/minus nothing arrangement for us both – but it was special to see my young sister take care of her very small nephews and memories we will both cherish for many years.

I enlisted the help of a very organised Gina Ford mom – darling Vanessa – to help schedule the 3 boys – but despite all our efforts (and many spreadsheets later) it didn’t really work. We ran our house on demand and need. Vanessa & her son – bless them – came round a few mornings a week to look after the twins for a few weeks so that I could in relative peace take Max to nursery school.  But the guilt for needing help slowly increased as I felt I was putting my friend out with my need for help.

Feeding and bathing 3 little ones is no mean feat. I had 2 bumbo chairs which were worth their weight in gold for feeding time for the twins – and oddly enough – for bath time. We had a great shower room where I could put the twins in the bambo’s and Max could help “shower” them. All 3 boys in the shower at once 🙂 . It was a novel way of doing things but it worked for me. The twins loved the interaction with Max and he loved being the big brother and showering them. so many gorgeous pics from those evenings.

Bottle feeding became a family affair and early morning feeds (when the boys were a little bigger) became a family affair and all 5 of us (along with our beloved cat Tinkerbell) would climb into our rather large bed and settle in for a while. It is a tradition we still do on week-end mornings, although now with 2 rather large dogs rather than a gentile cat!

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