Thursday, April 17, 2014

Home Birth: Check

Ah, newborns! I am writing one handed with SD (we are still working on a nickname so it is second daughter for now) in the other arm. She has been restless with gas in the evenings so I'm trying to keep her upright for a bit to see if it helps.

So! Here we are. First off, oh man is it nice not to be pregnant! My labor was longish on paper, 12 hrs, but in practice only the last 4 were really what I'd call "active" active labor, aka s*** getting real. We accomplished our modest goal of having a 100% home birth. Without trying to get too sappy or spiritual on people, I will leave it at: it really was an incredible experience. We were infinitely fortunate to have a great midwife (luck of the draw since the practice is a team of 6) a great kraamzorg (maternity nurse) and the incredible assistance of our friend M, who became a doula between the births of Munchkin and SD.

I admit I was not a believer when it came to doulas. I felt like my husband and I did a good job last time and for the medical bits, that's what the midwife was for. I didn't want OH to feel left out of the experience. The thing is, birth is such a big thing, there is room for everyone. And what I didn't realize is that it takes an enormous pressure off OH to be some kind of expert. That's not possible, I know he has just as much experience in birthing as I do, lol. The doula is there for the mother. She gives the midwife time to focus on the baby. She gives the partner the freedom to be just that: your partner. Which was awesome. And she helped so much with the pain. Not that it wasn't the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced in my life (aside from the first birth!), but she had tricks to somehow make it more bearable.

Anyways, everyone should do what they like in these matters. I feel I achieved what I wanted in doing the birth at home. You must also take the decision in context: in Amsterdam we are within 5 minutes of several hospitals. The midwives who attend your birth at home are part of the medical system. If you need to go to the hospital (which we did at the very very end of Munchkin's birth) they are trained in how and when to make that call. I feel very lucky to live in a country where I had the choice. I respect whatever decision make in this regard, and yes, there is definitely something to be said for pain reduction! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weekend Roundup: Not Pregnant Anymore

Most of you probably got the news already but OH pointed out the blog still reports me as being pregnant. I am happy to report: this is no longer the case. Second Daughter was born Sunday 13 April evening at home, weighing 3.78 kg after 12 hours of labor. We are all doing well, and I will write up much more in the coming days. For now I am trying very hard to relax and recuperate as we enjoy kraamzorg (maternity nurse care) for a week and adjusting to our new family unit.

One note I should add: the birth you could say was fueled by my father's (and now my) tomato sauce. I had a bunch out to use in homemade pizza which we had Saturday night and then on pasta to fuel the birth on the Sunday day of.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Documenting Free Time

Had a midwife appointment yesterday. Zero status change from last week. Sigh! On the subject of multiple due dates, which I mentioned not so long ago, I asked them about this, seeing as due date based on scan came and went with no action whatsoever. They said, well your first was a week late, so it's normal that your second is also late. Which just so happens to be the original date that you get from normal-ass calculating from your last period. Sneaky midwives! They are right either way with this explanation.

Last week they thought the birth would be over the weekend. This week they are also convinced that the baby will come over the weekend. Let's see! In the interim, I am watching a butt ton of documentaries, thanks to netflix opening operations in the Netherlands. I love documentaries. I love that I can sample many different ones now at will, which were very difficult to get a hold of before. I have been enjoying peaking into other worlds as I organize baby clothes and wrap up small last things for work:

  • American long haul truckers
  • The Mr. America pageant, for men who dress as women
  • Two hours of edited footage of a real Parisian criminal courtroom - fascinating! 
  • Folks who take steroids and why they do it.
  • Russian ballet
  • Ballet competitions
  • Aging Dutch twin prostitutes

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

March Munchkin Madness

A last hurrah of solo Munchkin childhood parenthood. Well, hopefully soon. Any day now. Whenever Womb Raver would like to make an appearance.

Munchkin munching

Munchkin & baby doll with matching stripy trousers. She is very into her baby doll since she's realized there is a "baby in mommy's tummy". 

A Plethora of Playgrounds

Hittin'  the playgrounds. This is the mega playground within the Zoo we've not really explored. There is a super giant slide (not pictured here), that is the little one.

Much smaller slide at the playground near us.

A new playground with a fun slide shaped like a caterpillar.

Munchkin likes showing her tummy as well. I think it was so warm she wanted to take off her shirt completely, but as she'd been sliding down the slide on said tummy only moments before, we thought that might not be a good time.
You could say this is the first photo of both my daughters, one still not out here with us.

Ascending the slide

What I do on most of our most recent playground outings: sit.

OH has been a hero stepping up as I have felt more tired and run down towards the end of this pregnancy.

Seems our timing is off a little.

Terrible, we've taken hardly any photos of the pregnancy belly this time round. At least a nice one here at the end!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

the Magic of Science

So, I had two due dates. There is the date you calculate in the manner in which I have always known and understood, which is to count weeks from your last monthly visitor. That date was about 11 April.

Then at the first scan they evidently came up with a new number, based on the size of the fetus, which said the baby would be due 4 April. For many weeks I completely forgot about this second date, until I was told by my midwives that was the date they considered as the official date. I never understood this. I still don't understand it. It certainly does not seem to be any less arbitrary than the original method. I don't imagine babies grow at a steady clip, otherwise people would know exactly how large the kiddos would be at birth and they never do (not in this country in any case).

I stuck to the original date for my official work and leave stuff. I am feeling vindicated about that decision as time marches slowly on and Womb Raver shows no inclination to join us out here.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Weekend Roundup

Weekend Summarized: still pregnant.

It was a bit of a bummer to still be waddling around with no indication at all that this kiddo has any plans of budging from her current womb abode. We are trying to enjoy our last days as parents of one kiddo.

Friday we had a lovely meet up with the New Americans. Munchkin enjoyed playing in a different playground and then having lunch at Cafe Kale. She had a mega nap, bu we still managed to Double Park it, aka, we went to a playground in the morning and afternoon. OH joined us on the walk home which was very nice. Friday was my official due date (sort of - more on that later) so we were keen to encourage activity by eating some spicy food. Alas our favorite burrito joint was too busy, so we had to think creatively. We opted for Thai - not spicy enough.

Saturday - we had no plans. As happens when you are sitting around waiting for a baby. I was really keen to go out for brunch (possibly last time for a while). We have an issue that despite there being more brunch places available, they all open a bit later then we can wait when we are getting up at Munchkin hours. We decided to try a Hipster Place near us called Little Collins. The place is always insanely busy... if you go at a normal brunch hour. If you go at Munchkin hour at 9 am when they open, you are the only ones in there. Surprisingly good! We then did a bit of shopping and then stopped in the playground again. I don't think I ever imagined a time of my life spending so much time in playgrounds. It was a gorgeous day luckily, and we ran into our new friends K and B. They are amazing people, and have said they can watch Munchkin if necessary when #2 comes. Munchkin had another mega nap, then we had a quiet evening in.

Sunday the weather turned yuck. I slept crap as well. We had a slow start, but still managed to have pancakes for breakfast. We took a long time to get out of the house, but OH managed to get us out despite my lethargy. We have been wanting to go to the sea ship museum for ages, but it's a bit of a haul to get out there. Especially since it was raining so we didn't want to take the bikes. After a few false starts with trams, we managed to get there. The museum was closed for a while for renovations and boy does it look good. OH got a museum card this year, which means we get in free, although it just so happened to be free museum weekend anyways. It's great to have the cards. Like the zoo pass, it pays for itself after just a few visits, and it takes all the pressure off of "having to see everything" when you visit. I highly recommend seeing this museum, it highlights an important part of Dutch history and its very well done. Munchkin enjoyed a lot of it, and found some of the rooms very scary.  We had an incredible lunch at a place called Bloem and Munchkin fell asleep on the the walk home. Chats with family rounded the weekend off.

Waiting game continues...

Friday, April 04, 2014

T minus...

and waiting. Playing the waiting game is my least favorite thing. A silver lining: last night we got to talk to our very good friends O and W. They've had amazing challenges in their lives and they are just generally amazing people. I feel amazingly blessed every time I talk to them - and it has been a while. We talked for hours and if we were all old fogies we would have talked longer.

I'm really hoping this kiddo comes sooner rather than later. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Educative posts

Now this doesn't surprise me - legalizing marijuana (at least for medical purposes) does not lead to increases in crime. In fact quite the opposite in some cases.

If you are having weird dreams, it must be a full moon.

Now this is encouraging news!

Another no brainer study: guess what, people don't want to work all the frickin' time.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Cooking for Myself - Feeding Others

I had a vision for dinner. After a weekend of excessive eating and subsequent stomach ache afterwards (pregnancy does not buy a digestive system carte blanche for eating crap food), I was craving a few days of clean eating. For dinner I had a vision: a warm, chopped salad. Roasted veggies. Sweet potato. Toasted sunflower seeds. A bunch of other veggies. Probably too much in retrospect but I do love to cram me some stuff into a salad. It's the abundance that makes me giddy. Plus we're all doomed so better enjoy the bounty while we can.

Munchkin took one look at her plate and and announced "I get bread?" (note: all sentences now start with "I get"). She then proceeded to have a full-out melt down, complete with dramatic sinking from her chair onto the floor and crying for about five/ten minutes. OH looked at me with a raised eyebrow and asked me if I really thought Munchkin was going to eat this. This is the moment when I realized, I hadn't even considered that factor at all. In fact, I hadn't thought of anyone else except this vision I had in my head. As I stopped to consider it, of course this is exactly the kind of meal that toddlers detest: many different foods and textures all mixed together in one bowl. As it turns out, OH wasn't crazy about it either (he refrained from falling to the floor in tears). I'd managed to make a meal for myself that my family was also forced to eat.

In self defense, this is an anomaly. I do the cooking in the family, with exception of breakfast, which OH runs during the week when Munchy goes to creche. I usually think a lot about what the family eats. I try to vary things up as much as possible and ensure good protein and veggies are present during all evening meals. It becomes increasingly difficult to factor in the Munchkin factor. What she will eat varies from hour to hour. You can serve her something one day, a tried and true, and the next day she will not touch it. Especially vegetables. OH is easier, I know more or less what he likes/doesn't like - though this refines with time.

Some days, however, I just forget. Or I just decide I want to cook something I want to cook. I feel as the primary source of food, I think I am allowed to just self indulge every once in a while. I should try to be more aware of what the rest of my family eats/will eat. This time I just totally spaced.

I did really enjoy it. :D
And Munchkin actually dried her tears, climbed back into her chair, and even tried a few bites (so proud! Can't imagine what is more terrifying to a toddler than Weird Foods). 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekend Roundup

We had mostly lovely weather all weekend and it promises to be gorgeous the next couple days as well!

Friday Munchkin and I had a playdate in Vondelpark with friend C and her kids T and T. It was beautiful weather, the kids had a great time, and we enjoyed catching up as it's been ages since we saw them last. Munchkin had a mega nap then we walked around the block. Munchkin's new thing is to walk one of her stuffed animals around in her toy buggy while I push her big one. This works out because we can go as far as we like and if she gets tired we always have the buggy to fall back on. We had pizza and watched a film called Kill Your Darlings - meh.

Saturday I had an insane urge to make pancakes, then we did our usual shop + stop in Saphartipark. Truly the city is transformed in good weather. Not just everything being brighter for being in direct sunlight, but people are friendlier and the playgrounds are always packed. We are die hards - no fair weather playground visitors. Unless its pissing rain, we are out there. So it's nice to see more folks out.

Munchkin seemed very tired but decided not to nap anyways that afternoon - something I only found out after I got back from my baby sprinkle! It was so nice to see friends again for a last time before we enter Newbornlandia for a time and disappear off the map. We had a funky high tea that included some basic sushi rolls and lots of little pastries. I did not hold back and as a result I had a bit of a stomach ache later that evening. We went back to the park again in the afternoon because it was just to nice out to stay home, where Munchkin fed ducks and we all marveled at the crowds of people. Parks just jump to life in good weather!

Sunday we had big plans, which we scaled back, and then scaled back again! At first we were going to go to Keukenhof. But I had a long week wrapping things up for work (still not done, grrr...) and combined with poor sleep was very grumpy and exhausted. We thought instead to go to a food market, then found out it was a bit further than we originally thought. So we ended up going to.... another playground! And even then - we thought we'd go to this one quite elaborate one, but we forgot it was further than we thought. So we didn't even make it there! We fortunately ran into another playground with a fun slide shaped like a caterpillar, which Munchy loved. It was the first direct, continuous sunlight in which we sat and felt warm all year. Glorious! Afterwards we met some new friends for burgers at Cafe Loetje out east. I did the maths - the last time I distinctly remember eating a hamburger was in grad school. That means I have now eaten more hamburgers during this pregnancy (two) than I have in the past decade +. This kid craves iron!

We had a good long chat with the folks, but Munchkin awoke from her nap with a slight fever and acting very much like Sick Kiddo. Hopefully it is nothing serious. Maybe too much sunlight after so little for so long?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Last hurrahs - workin'

This week has been all about wrapping up loose ends at work. I am nearly there! Just a few more things and I can rest easy and await Womb Raver's arrival. There is plenty to do to prepare for her as well: go through the mountains of clothes we have saved for her, get them organized, pack overnight bags for me and Munchkin should we need to get her out of the house, etc...

I have already filled up our freezer with easy meals. I think I can get maybe one or two more things in there.

Today was my REAL last day of work, as this week I had a couple things I just didn't want to miss. Firstly the CEO of the company I work for was passing through - that rarely happens so I didn't want to miss that! Second was a meeting I had literally been trying to set up for months and months with a key account. Damned if I was going to miss that either. Lastly was a big conference the company hosted, which was today. We were called on to invest a lot of time in getting folks to come to the event, and I actually like finance/investing conferences for the most part. I always learn something and I got to see a lot of key clients one last time as well as a lot of big wigs within the company.

I have a last few bits of admin to do, which I will desperately try to do tomorrow and over the weekend so I can start Monday on a clean slate. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Can't believe.

We will soon have another little person

Really, any time she'd like to come!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Day of Making Connections

AKA sharing links. Because if I write one more blog post whining about pregnancy complaints even I am going to get ill!

This link I share especially for my sister and all my other government-employed relatives. All I can say is: Holy. Crap. Better have some cash stocked away for when you think you may want to retire!

This is some amazing trajectory wizardry. And oh yes, the author of the piece? My niece-in-law. Does such a thing exist? She is OH's niece.

My wonderful sister sent me a preggo care package: a little something for Womb Raver once she arrives and something for me to push her out in in style. I especially like the attention to modern details such as "Low-cut back to allow for epidural access". True we are hoping for a home birth, but that is also what we tried for last time and learned you don't ultimately get to choose where baby is born in the case of an emergency. So at least now I will have something classy to wear should we need another sudden medvac to the hospital.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Birthday Party: the food

Being Really Pregnant, I didn't try to make everything myself as I have done in the past, but as it was a big milestone birthday I wanted to at least get lots of special things, and ensure the one thing I did make counted: the cake

The Cake

Birthday boy or girl get to choose the type of cake in my family, and OH had requested a chocolate cake. I don't know if both of my sisters do this, but I always want to make the birthday cakes - despite my skill levels. I found a recipe in my giant Gourmet cookbook I got ages ago from my sister. I actually baked the cake the week before and froze it, to save stress and time on the weekend of the birthday party. It defrosted beautifully. The cake was specifically a chocolate orange cake, involving a ganache and a butter cream frosting. 

The butter cream I'd also made the weekend before and froze. The butter cream did not survive the great freeze. I think this is due to cooking the sugar water to the hard ball phase (sorry if this makes your eyes roll into the back of your head with details) as my cousin RM diagnosed. Instead the frosting spittled into tiny, yellow globs with an ugly pool of sweet liquid at the bottom. The only thing I frosted with my first batch of butter cream was the dry run the week before and the bottom of my waste bin.

Fortunately the highly complicated Gourmet cake recipe also called for a layer of ganache and since we'd effective eaten a third of the cake already, I had more than enough ganache to ice the whole cake. People: ganache is a revelation. Sounds like a fancy word but it's basically chocolate melted in cream. It's amazing! Covered all the sins of the cake and it was flavored with orange, making the whole cake very grown up tasting. The cake was a huge hit, and I thought the ice creams paired really well with it: an "Aztec hot chocolate" ice cream (chocolate with cinnamon and red chile pepper) and orange icicle (a sort of creamy orange).

The Spreads

As the party started after dinner I just wanted to provide snacks. We somehow picked all the right things at the market, getting some amazing olives, tapanades, and this feta with peri peri that we'd had before and was still the bomb. Additionally I'd found some great stalls selling French cheeses and further down than we usually wander, folks selling cured sausages from all over Europe. I was worried about having lots of leftovers, but I really needn't have. Very little remained! It feels especially nice to splurge on a big occasion as we don't usually have these kinds of things in the house. I suppose it could be nice, but I think they wouldn't taste the same if they weren't special. 

The Bevvies 

Totally last minute I realized not every one is me, and some people prefer to drink beer over wine. I'd already prepared with many bottles of red and white wine. I also got bubbly water and some soda thinking of our pregnant friend, though the former ended up being very well received by all our detoxing friends who couldn't drink anything else. 

I had a revelation with the beer, thanks wholly to my local booze shop stocking a huge variety of beers made by the closest brewery to our house. There are I think just a few breweries in Amsterdam proper, Het BrouwerIj is one of the more well known, in east Amsterdam with it's iconic wind mill brewpub locale. Normally our local booze shop has a couple types but for some reason they had six different kinds, so I got a massive assortment of all of them. It turned out to be a huge hit, with even friends who are die-hard wine drinkers getting into trying the different beers. Sadly I will have to wait a few more weeks before I can try any of them, but I am very excited to do so!