For some reason I have a permanent body clock of 5:00/5:30 I woke up squished between the two of you, I didn't have the best sleep. My body aches. Daddy slept in the room next to us. I woke up still feeling tired from yesterday. Today's my birthday, 43 trips around the sun and our second day in Sweden. I woke up a couple of hours before you all and took advantage of the stillness to read my book, Supporting Queer Birth. Eventually you both woke up and we all had the best bday snuggle. Forrest you absolutely love being able to see the trains and all of the cranes from the window, the view here couldn't be more perfect!!! I am constantly hearing you say very excitedly, “Look! The train!!! The train!!”

We are staying at my sister’s place, your auntie and already it feels like a home away from home. She has a chair hammock in the lounge which either of you can’t get enough of! You both absolutely love it here. Forrest, you are currently really into doing interpretive dance and always discovering new moves. While we were eating our breakfast you said to me,  “Oh it's your bday? Today?? Oh I'm sooo excited! I love birthdays!” and then you gave me the biggest hug . Nixie, you were having a bit of an issue with not wanting to use the bathroom at first and asked if you could use a public restroom instead! Luckily your aversion didn’t last long, I'm not even sure what it was that made you feel weird about them, they are no different from the ones at home! It made me wonder how you are  going to cope in Morocco with a lot of the toilets just a hole in the ground! 

The last time you, Nixie, were here was when you were only two years old and for you, Forrest, it's your very first time! After breakfast we all had a slow morning enjoying the views and puttering around before getting dressed and heading out into stockholm for a bit of a wander. But before heading out you gave me my bday present which I couldn’t love more!! My very own shoes designed by you two!! This trip to Sweden was my and daddys birthday present to ourselves (his birthday is sept 7)  so I wasn’t expecting anything else! Shortly after we headed to the train station and made our way to Slussen where we got off and went on a little scenic walk of the city along Monteliusvägen, I can’t believe I had never walked along here before! The views were amazing! It felt really amazing seeing the two of you running around the streets of Stockholm and Nixie, you, had brought your camera and loved taking all sorts of photos. You were both a bit over tired from the day before and acting a bit giddy and getting easily frustrated with each other. Forrest, you just weren't in the mood to walk at all and kept getting upset but you still managed really well!! Although neither of you really wanted to do anything that we asked you to do, it was just one of those days where we were all jarring a bit with one another! As we ended our little scenic loop we walked down some stairs which had cobblestones next to them which the two of you decided made the perfect slide! You, Nixie ended up with the biggest holes in the bum of your leggings which I found incredibly amusing! Eventually we crossed the bridge and headed into Gamla Stan, it’s always been one of my favourite little spots, I just adore all the little alleyways and cobblestones. It was here the two of you had some ice cream and you, Nixie, declared it was the best ice cream you’ve ever had and that Swedish ice cream is so much better than English ice cream. From here we continued our little exploration of the city, and you both loved all the lion statues that are scattered everywhere and had to sit on each one we passed. We had meant to do a bit of shopping but realised we had run out of time before needing to make our way to my mums. Another thing you both love about being here is all of the escalators!! It just shows how we have become such country folk!! 

I had been so excited about spending my birthday with my mum, it’s something I haven’t done since I was little! I was even more excited for her to spend time with two of you, it would be the first time she ever met you, Forrest! We had paid her a very quick visit yesterday when we first arrived and you, Nixie, acted really strange and was super nervous and wouldn't really get close to her but I had hoped that today would be a bit different since you knew what to expect. Before heading to where she lives we popped into ICA in kallhäll and bought us all a piece of my favourite swedish cake; princess tårta. 

When we arrived at her room (she lives in an assisted living home) she wasn't there and we found her in the kitchen doing the dishes, she loves to help with things! As soon as she saw me (you, Nixie had run away and hid yourself) she gave me the biggest smile. I said "Hej Mamma!" Do you know who I am? And she looked at me and said no. Then I told her I was her daughter and she replied, oh you're my daughter!! And she became so incredibly happy and stroked my face and told me how happy she was to see me. She asked me where I lived and I told her England and she asked if that was far away and I said yes it was. Then I told her I had two children, you, Nixie who's 7 and you, Forrest who's 3. I told her it was my bday and that today was the day that she brought me into this world via c section 43 years ago and that I wanted to eat cake with her. Daddy and Forrest were waiting outside in the garden area and I grabbed some plates and spoons for all of us before taking her downstairs. Nixie, you were really struggling and wouldn't go near her and it broke my heart.But I get it, you have never really been around anyone that’s not fully abled, and it’s a weird place with a lot of strange smells, there’s always a bit of a wee smell and my mom is in a wheelchair and has a lot of bruises and can’t speak english so I could understand why you found it hard but I wasn’t really prepared for your reaction and it really upset me. I was already feeling quite emotional and the way you were avoiding her like the plague made me even more so. 

When we all gathered at the table outside to eat our birthday cake, my mom got really excited once she saw all the cake and said this feels like a real party!! She used to not have much of an appetite but she devoured her slice in a couple of minutes, I couldn’t quite believe it!!! Me and my mum sat on one side and the three of you sat on the other side although you, Nixie, kept running away from the table and staging far away. 

Once we finished our cake we took my mom for a walk down by the lake. Again you, Nixie wouldn’t even walk next to her or even look at her and it just made me even sadder. My mom was really happy to get to see you and she even wanted you both to sit on her lap while I pushed her in the wheelchair but that was definitely not going to happen. Once we reached the waterfront I wanted to get some photos of all of us. This was super important to me and one of the main reasons why I wanted us all to come on this trip because I know it could very well be the last time you two ever see her.  At first, you, Nixie, refused and just kept running off and away from my mum. But after a while you agreed to a photo but you wouldn’t stand next to her only next to me. I am so grateful that my mum wasn’t aware of the way you were acting. At the moment she’s in a happy loop completely oblivious to a lot of things. I was getting increasingly frustrated and more emotional with the way you were acting, everything just felt really hard so daddy decided to leave with the two of you so that I could have some time with my mum on my own. My mum was so happy to get snuggles from daddy, I just loved how her entire face lit up. Once you all were gone we just sat in each others company where she continued to ask me the same question as always; where do you live? Is it far away? Why do you live so far away? Why don’t you live here? I always give her the same answers and when I answer her why by telling her i met a man, Kevin who’s right over there and fell in love she gets so happy and says oh that’s so nice every time. She also asked me if I had any children and I get to talk about the two of you as if it was the first time. I also get to tell her I’m her daughter over and over again with her reaction being the same every time; full of joy, excitement and happiness that I’m here. Me and my mum didn’t stay too long before heading back to her place where we had a really emotional time. Even though I'm now used to how my mum is and the intensity of the grief I used to feel isn’t really there anymore, I still get sad seeing how far down the Alzheimer's path she has become. I burst out into tears at one point because I always find it hard after not seeing her for a while and then her asking me why I don’t live in Sweden and why I live so far away. She asked if I had any children and how lovely it would be to meet them. When she saw my tears I just told her I always miss her and that I wish I could come more often. She grabbed my face in her hands and said oh don’t cry. I asked her if she knew who I was and she was unsure but then remembered I was her daughter and just held my face in her hands. It was a really beautiful moment for me. I was feeling more emotional than usual due to the way our whole reunion played out but in my mum's eyes it had never even happened, she had already forgotten. 

I guess while i was with my mum you and daddy had a long conversation about my mum and you really wanted to try again and demanded to come back to us but by the time you did me and my mum had already left. I got a text from daddy saying the you were all downstairs so me and my mum went back down to see you. But I think since it took a little while for you to see us again your bravery had already disappeared and you were back to hiding from us. We all said our goodbyes and then it was time to go for a little walk in the woods to meet your cousin Jimmy.

You were very excited to meet him and the nervousness you felt with my mum was completely gone. We walked through the woods where you found blueberries and you did some climbing. The forests here are much different than at home because there are big rocks and boulders covered in moss everywhere for you to climb on. I’ve always loved the feeling they give me, it’s like entering a magical troll forest! It didn’t take very long for you both to warm up to Jimmy which just warmed my heart. It was getting a bit later in the day so we didn’t want to stay out too long since you were both already tired but I was determined to take you to one of my favourite spots where I always go to sit and just be whenever I’m here. It’s just so beautiful around here. I was so happy to see Jimmy, who's my nephew but I've always treated him like my little brother. Even though it had been years since we last saw each other it felt like no time had passed and it just felt so incredible to reconnect and to see him bonding with the two of you. After not very long the two of you and him were playing chasing games and he would catch you picking you both up and spinning you around in the air. Forrest, you were being so cute asking him ,”are you going to get me?” with the sweetest little grin on your face which would then burst into squeals as soon as he got you. We passed a little playground which the two of you had fun at until it was time to catch our train back to my sister’s where she was making us dinner. 

Once at the train station the two of you gave jimmy the biggest hugs goodbye and Forrest, you even gave him a kiss!! It was so incredibly sweet! We arrived at the station in perfect time because our train was due to leave in 5 minutes. Once on the train you were both showing extreme signs of tiredness and didn’t really want to sit still but going on the trains is still quite an adventure for you both in itself. 

We arrived at my sister’s after it got dark and she had dinner waiting for us. I felt so incredibly loved! And after we ate all of you sang me happy birthday before it was time to get you both into bed where I pretty much just crashed out with you two.