2011 in review

14 weeks
january: we announced some exciting news.

february: we discovered that the little peanut growing inside of me was a girl.

Trail (Wadi Rum)
march: we traveled to jordan where we rode camels, camped in the dessert, and floated in the dead sea.

april: we celebrated easter in zurich and found out that our little one was going to have a cousin!

la sagrada familia
husband and wife
may: we traveled to spain, celebrated my 31st birthday, and were married in switzerland

june: we celebrated stijn's 33rd birthday and took one last, very pregnant trip home to see dear friends marry.

july: we not so patiently waited for the arrival of our baby girl.

eleanor faye
august: we welcomed our beautiful eleanor faye (after 32 hours of labor) and began to see how much joy and love a little person can bring into our lives!

september: eleanor received belgian and u.s. passports and stijn was granted a green card.

eleanor and moemoe
october: my best friend came to visit, eleanor took her first trip to paris, and we traveled to belgium to introduce her to her family.

november: we flew to the u.s. for thanksgiving and to introduce e to her american family.

december: we took the train to zermatt where eleanor saw snow for the first time and we traveled to belgium to celebrate her first christmas.

2011 was another amazing year of love. a 365 day lesson in being open and adaptable, the year taught us what it means to be a family. it brought weddings and babies, and adventures to places only dreamt of. it brought new friends and tested friendships with old ones. it brought motherhood, and with it many more dreams for the future. when i look at the summary of what each month brought i am amazed by the themes of family and travel. i believe that these will always be the focus for our little family of three. my wish for this next year and all the ones that follow is that they be filled with more of the same!

holy crap it's almost november!

bumGenius and those legs

on our walk today i did a little mental math and realized that we are moving three weeks from friday. let me repeat for emphasis; three weeks! to say that we are overwhelmed would be a vast understatement. moving is difficult enough without it being international. add to that the complexities of leaving an apartment in switzerland (a topic for another time). lest we not forget that i have a two month old to care for, oh and then there's that husband that i would like to stay connected to. part of me is nervous and just wants to hide in a closet. another part is turned on by the list-making possibilities and the purging. then there's the part that will miss swiss trains, the view of the lake, and all the sinfully delicious dairy products. but truly most of me can't wait. i am so excited to be home, to be with friends and family, and to introduce eleanor to her new world. i must say the potential babysitters lined up to give the husband and i a date night has me pretty excited as well. which brings me to a question. how old was your baby when you first left them with someone? is it normal for me to be terrified? i'm afraid she'll be having a bad day and will cry the whole time traumatizing her and the babysitter (thus shortening that list of people willing to watch her).

eleanor's birth story, part 2

i began preparing for my labor as soon as i knew i was pregnant. i read dr. sears' pregnancy and baby book, sheila kitzinger's complete book of pregnancy and childbirth, ina may gaskin's guide to natural childbirth and breastfeeding, and active birth. we chose a hospital known for being natural childbirth friendly and for having "breastfeeding friendly" status. i watched the business of being born and we hired a doula. we had a plan: i was going to labor at home for as long as possible, labor in the birthing tub, have an active birth without medication, no episiotomy, delayed cord cutting, and uninterrupted tummy to tummy time with eleanor for as long as i could. from time to time people would ask me if i was nervous about labor and i always said no. i wasn't. i trusted my body and my ability to give birth. in fact, the only thing i was scared of was my birth not going the way i planned. if only i could have gone over my plan with eleanor before the big day so we could have done a play by play practice run through...

as you know from part 1 of e's birth story things did not go according to my perfect plan. in the end i was given pitocin and had an epidural, spending the majority of my labor confined to bed. but that was only the beginning. during the long labor eleanor inhaled meconium (a baby's sticky and tar-like early feces) and was having trouble breathing. this meant that after her birth we had very abbreviated tummy to tummy time with a nurse holding oxygen near eleanor the whole time. and then heartache: they took her away in an incubator. what followed was four and a half days of running between my room and the pediatric unit playing the role of annoying american mom, only leaving to eat and sleep. eleanor was treated with an antibiotic to prevent a possible lung infection and i cried and cried and cried. i mourned the loss of not only my perfect birth but also what i had wanted for the moments and days afterwards. we were separated shortly after eleanor was born, i hadn't roomed in with her, and i wasn't allowed to nurse. i was so afraid that we had lost crucial bonding time and that my chances of successfully breastfeeding were over. thankfully this was not the case. i just have to say here that i am so thankful for the nurses and their patience with me. they were so lovely and even took my cell number to call me anytime e started crying so that i could be there to comfort her.

i am someone who likes to be in control and my labor and the days after brought me to my knees. even with all of my perfect planning i was not in control. i didn't want to be bitter about my birth story and so i chose immediately to accept e's birth the way it happened but in the weeks that followed i struggled with feelings of failure. i had to question where that came from and i realize now that in not having any room in my mind for a different labor experience than the one i wanted i set myself up a bit for disappointment. and those feelings of failure? that was my pride. in the end my little girl was healthy and happy so what had i lost really? a natural birth bragging right. natural childbirth has many benefits for the child but the ugly truth is that i was so caught up in myself, in what it said about me to be the kind of bad ass woman that didn't need medication that i forgot that the most important thing was a healthy baby. nothing will remind you quicker than the sight of your new daughter in an incubator with wires connecting her to all sorts of machines. i'm not saying that i would change my birth plan and when pregnant again i am confident that i will want the same things for that birth, but i will allow for the possibility of it not working the way i want. this has been the most humbling experience and in a way i am grateful for it not working the way i planned as it required a new kind of emotional strength. i'm sure this won't be the last lesson my daughter teaches me about my lack of control.

 mama and eleanor bath time

if you're interested here is the full set of photos from e's birth

maternity book

on our last trip to cincinnati we spent an evening in my parents living room looking through old family photos. most of my old photos sit in boxes inside boxes in a storage unit and haven't seen light for years. this is what makes digital cameras, iPhoto, and photo hosting websites so amazing as they make these memories easily organized and accessible. however; i can't help but feel sad over the loss of the photo album. similar to the comforting smell of old books there is something so lovely about flipping through the yellowed pages of a photo album. and as the archives of images on my computer grows and grows i want my daughter to have something tangible to tell her the story of our life together.

we made a picture book from our wedding using blurb's booksmart application and i was so happy with how it turned out that i compiled all the bump pictures and letters to eleanor to make a book chronicling my pregnancy. i plan to make another book for her marking the major milestones of her first year with photos and more little notes to her.

Screen Shot 2011-09-13 at 6.14.02 PM

Screen Shot 2011-09-13 at 6.14.35 PM

a little preview of eleanor's finished book here

eleanor's birth story, part 1

it's hard to begin trying to put into words the events of the most intense and important day of your life. i began writing down the facts as i remembered them almost as soon as eleanor was here but it has taken me the better part of three weeks to process it all and to really begin to understand my feelings. it wasn't until i typed it all out with tears streaming down my face that i really saw clearly. this story is long but then again so was my labor.

a week late and facing induction in a mere 4 days i woke up at 4:30am wednesday morning with mild contractions. i had been having braxton hicks for about three weeks and these were definitely different, more intense and resonating in my back. i was hesitant to believe that this was the "real" thing as i had been having "false" labor for days so we began timing and to my disappointment they were irregular. unable to go back to sleep i laid in bed thinking about the excitement that lay ahead of us. she was making her way to us, i just knew it. i called our doula sometime in the morning and chatted with her about my symptoms. she suggested i either try to get some sleep or walk to get things to progress. my contractions had slowed at this point so we opted for walking to kickstart them back up again. and it served that exact purpose, until i stopped walking. discouraged i laid down when we got home and slept for about an hour waking up to the same intense yet irregular contractions. i didn't get it... a bit of relief came when i chatted again with monica, our doula. she informed me that braxton hicks don't radiate in your back, braxton hicks often get better when you change positions and when you walk. my contractions were felt mostly in my back, they were painful no matter my position, and they were 10x more intense if i was walking. phew, this was the real thing and shorly after our call they normalized. five minutes apart and one minute long. so i baked some cookies, took a bath, and we headed to the hospital.

we arrived around 9:30pm, met monica, and i was set up for thirty minutes of monitoring. i was aware that change of scenery can slow labor but i was not prepared for what came next. the midwife informed us that i was in labor but that my cervix had not begun dilating. i was devastated. she proposed giving me a sleeping pill to allow me some rest as the previous night had not been restful, i had been laboring at home all day, and was going to have a lot of work ahead of me. i agreed, she left to get my pill, and we told the doula to go home to get some rest. about fifteen minutes later the midwife returned sans pill. remember my irregular heart beat a few months back? apparently even though my twenty four hour heart monitoring had revealed that i do not have arrhythmia she couldn't give me a sleeping pill. she had a second proposal. she could give me a pain killer that would allow my contractions to continue but would lessen the feeling of intensity so that i may sleep through them. not five minutes after administering the medication i was vomiting. i felt terrible but was able to fall asleep and get about three hours of intermittent rest.

i woke up around 2:30am with strong contractions. the midwife checked my cervix and i had managed to dilate 3cm. in my sleep. the midwife filled the birth tub for me to try and bring some relief to my back. stijn sent monica a message at 3:30am letting her know that i was now 4cm. dilated and in the tub and she could make her way over whenever she was ready. once monica arrived i was at 6cm. and the tub was no longer helping to relieve the pain that i was feeling in my back. she and stijn began using counter pressure to try and help but eleanor was posterior, sunny side up, and she was not moving. not only did this account for the back labor but the length of my labor as well. the midwife checked me again around 6am and i was back to a 5. i remember thinking is that even possible? i got out of the tub and she broke my water to try and speed things up.


this is where things took a turn for me mentally as the midwife said the words i hoped to never hear. she said she believed that at this point an epidural was medically necessary as it would allow my pelvic muscles to relax, eleanor to descend, and my cervix to dilate. she was concerned that after such a long labor, when the time came for me to push that i wouldn't have the energy (boy did she underestimate me). i was crushed. i felt defeated. i wanted to trust my body but i was also trusting this midwife and for the first time in my labor i doubted myself. i felt that i had failed. i was not going to have the natural birth experience i had planned for. the anesthesiologist came to place the epidural and i checked out. i just couldn't accept that this was happening. i was able to get a little relief and managed to sleep for about a half hour before the pain was right back to where it was before. i labored through to 8cm. before i was delivered with yet another blow. i had been stuck at 8 for two hours. my labor, according to medical standards, was not progressing and i knew what that meant. i knew all about the cascade of intervention and was already catastrophizing and planning for the VBAC i would have with my next birth. the midwife called the doctor in and proposed that they allow me to labor for another hour before intervening. eleanor's heartbeat and my own were both strong and stable and so the doctor agreed. they turned a pitocin drip to it's max and i spent the next hour practically willing myself to 9cm. those that know me well would not be surprised that i responded well to ultimatums.


a couple hours later and the midwife had "good news", i was at 10cm. eleanor was still quite high though so i spent the next hour bearing down during each contraction and then at 12:30pm it was time to push. so much for me not having the energy to push. instead of just getting through my labor as i had been feeling for the last twelve hours i was now doing something. i felt strong and in control. e was still facing up, making it harder for her to get under my pelvic bone but she was working as hard as i was and at 1:18pm on august 18th my little bird, eleanor faye, made her entrance into the world.


it may not have been the birth i had planned for but none of that mattered the minute she was in my arms. this was our story. this is what we had spent the previous 32 hours working for. to finally after 41 weeks look into each others eyes and know a new kind of love.


stijn was an amazing partner; holding my hand, applying cold compresses to my face, whispering encouragements and i love you's into my ear. i am so grateful for his love and support. simply put, he is the best! we are also so grateful to have had monica there as our coach for her support, her knowledge, and for being my advocate.

40 weeks

40 weeks
so here we are. yesterday marked 40 weeks and my "due date," that day that hangs over your head for 9+ months and then more often than not goes by leaving you waiting still. so as i wait patiently i just keep thinking about how lucky i am.
i have always dreamt of becoming a mother. from a young age i knew that no matter what i did career wise with my life what i wanted most was the opportunity to have a family. and so i've waited, waited for the day when i would finally be able to feel a life growing inside of me and waited for the day when someone could call me mother. as i sit here typing this watching my little girl swimming around i can't help but feel overwhelmed by the immense joy of knowing that soon i will meet her. soon i will be able to look into her eyes. soon i will be able to hold her in my arms and kiss her little head. soon i will be a mother. soon all that i ever wanted will be a reality.
40 weeks

39 weeks

1 week to go! with time winding down and my patience wearing thin as my belly seems to grow by the minute i am choosing to focus on the positive. this has led me to a followup post from my 10 things i won't miss about being pregnant.

so here in no particular order are 10 things i will miss about being pregnant:

1. my skin. i'm not sure if this a result of the hormones racing through my body or a side effect of my prenatal vitamin or just the purity of swiss water but i haven't had a blemish in 9.5 months. not one!

2. not having my period. no elaboration needed.

3. the special treatment. i have very much enjoyed taking my seat on crowded buses and trains and allowing my neighbor to carry my groceries up the stairs for me.

4. feeling my little girls wiggles and kicks and knowing that i am the only one who will get to experience her in this way.

5. the neck, back, and foot rubs.

6. the kindness of strangers. while i am not one to love too much attention the knowing looks from mothers on the street and the gentle smiles of strangers have been very welcome.

7. the excitement of having a new identity to grow into.

8. resting my hands on my belly and realizing that i am never alone.

9. my hair. thank you pregnancy hormones for giving me the fullest, strongest, and healthiest hair i have ever had.

10. having an excuse to indulge in whatever i want whenever i want.

38+ weeks

38 weeks
remember being a kid waiting for christmas morning to come? do you remember how hard it was to sleep as the pure excitement and anticipation kept your mind racing all night long? this comparison hardly does what i am feeling justice but you get the idea. except now just imagine that the day finally arrived and after putting your gifts in front of you someone told you you weren't allowed to open them yet. oh, and just for fun they aren't going to tell you when you'll finally get to open them you just have to wait and see.
i now spend most of my time analyzing every movement, contraction, and odd little feeling wondering if it could be the start of the real thing. and then yesterday i not only felt but watched her "drop." while i have no idea when she'll be making her entrance into the outside world i do know that she is preparing. so in an effort to relax i have been knitting away making little projects for our daughter. a hat and two pairs of booties later and christmas is still a week and a half away.

for pictures of some of the things i've made check out my flickr page

baby sized crafting

wrapping up a few last minute craft projects before the little bird arrives...

saartje's bootees
a pair of saarjte's booties

embellished onesies
and a few embellished onesies
i can't wait to see them on her!

37 weeks

final countdown: 3 weeks until our baby girl!
according to most books i am now full term. meaning that if i were to go into labor everything is fully developed enough for our little one to be healthy. some babies still need those 3 extra weeks to grow but according to my doctor this little girl "is NOT SMALL!" if only i had counted the number of times i heard her say this to me. not that it was ever any secret that i would most likely produce a large child. we grow 'em big in my family; i came out a whopping 10lbs. and 3.5oz.(4.6kg) and my brothers, twins, were 8lbs.(3.6kg) and 8.5lbs(3.9kg). not to mention, stijn and i are both quite tall so i have been preparing myself for a "not small" baby for a while. i'm just not sure i need to be reminded of it as i am planning for a vaginal birth without medication. if she continues to grow according the chart our doctor is estimating she will be at least 9lbs.(4kg).
with only 3 weeks left we have spent this week preparing for the day when she will decide she is ready to join us. we visited the hospital and toured the rooms, i made a playlist for the delivery, and we have begun packing the hospital bag. here is what we are planning to bring with us: camera, body pillow, toiletries for me and stijn, pj's, robe, slippers, nursing bra, going home clothes for me (something i wore when 6 months pregnant), i-pod and i-pod dock, snacks, gatorade, massage oil, clothes for the baby in a few sizes (since she's "not small"), car seat...
can you think of anything i may have forgotten?

le bébé room

here is a little sneak peak at our baby girls digs. since we don't plan on being here long we didn't want to make any large investments or make any huge changes but that didn't stop us from making a simple cosy little space for her.


dresser, crib, and makeshift closet: ikea, knobs on dresser: anthropologie heart print: arian armstrong, sophie the giraffe: park and vine, hedgehog: purchased in spain, abc print: rifle paper co., giraffe print: mica12V, mobile: petit collage, not pictured: vintage eames rar rocker, and ikea expedit shelving

more pictures on flickr

the question of godparents

do you have godparents? do your children? the question of godparents has sparked a bit of a friendly debate between stijn and i. i grew up without them, he grew up with them. it's customary in his family and from what i can gather in belgium (maybe even europe) to name godparents for your children. i'm not sure if anyone in my family has them.
traditionally, godparents were named for religious purposes. they would be informally responsible for ensuring the child's religious education was carried out, and for caring for the child should he/she be orphaned. other sources show that godparents were named to be the sponsors of a child's baptism. being that neither stijn nor i are religious and that if our child were to be baptized it would be by choice, naming godparents for these traditional purposes seems extraneous. i realize that modern families naming people for this role in their child's life have other reasons for doing so and i am just curious what they are. so if you yourself have godparents or have named them for your children or plan to in the future, could you let me know why and what their role is?

36 weeks

final countdown: 4 weeks until my guess date. 28 days. six hundred seventy two hours. do i sound anxious? that's because i am. not that i'm not enjoying walking around in 90 degree weather with an extra 30 lbs of weight, it's just that being this close to the end and waiting is hard. patience has never been one of my strongest attributes and with every ache and pain or sleepless night the small amount i do have is dwindling. we're ready to meet this little one already!

i'm quite certain that almost as quickly as i've adjusted from being pregnant to having our baby girl here i will begin to miss certain things about these last 9 months but there are a few things that i am also sure i will not miss. here, in no particular order, are 10 things i won't miss about being pregnant:

1. the absence of coffee in my life. i know some doctors say a cup a day is fine but whenever i try i feel like my heart is jumping out of my chest. i'm already short of breath and caffeine only makes it worse. i know what you're thinking, a simple solution would be decaf. i'm sorry have you tasted decaf coffee? not enjoyable.

2. restricted sleeping positions. i am a stomach sleeper and sadly as you can imagine this is no longer possible for me. before you ask, yes i have a body pillow (thank you rita) and while this can be helpful as i try to find a comfortable position (operative word being try) it does not satisfy my need to be on my belly.

3. the intense concentration that's required to get out of bed. with my uterus the size of a prize pumpkin one false move and i may end up flat on my back, turtle-style. this means that i have taken to crawling backwards out of bed on all fours. (which by the way i do 4-5 times per night, see #4.)

4. having to pee every 5 minutes.

5. the general freedom people feel to comment on my body. for example: "you're huge!" or my personal favorite "you're not even that fat yet." let me just say that no matter what your native language it is never ok to refer to a woman as huge or to talk about whether she is or isn't fat.

6. feeling like i've run a marathon after walking up a flight of stairs or the panting that sets in as i walk home carrying groceries.

7. diet restrictions. i want sushi and beer and wine and bourbon and unpasteurized cheese damn it. (ok i've had some wine)

8. wearing the same thing everyday. i have a whole wardrobe of cute skirts and dresses and i cannot wait to be able to wear them again. did i mention how much i miss anything high waisted? while there's nothing quite as wonderful as having an excuse to wear elastic banded clothing, allowing for as much ice cream eating as i might like, i'm ready to have options again. plus, elastic bands are not very helpful in accountability.

9. not being able to do things because i am pregnant. i miss riding a bike, i miss running, i miss drinking beer and bourbon (wait i already said that), i miss thinking about something other than being pregnant, and i really miss riding a bike!

10. uncontrollable belching. i'm looking forward to being able to eat a meal without being reminded of it for the next 2 hours. i think if we're being honest stijn won't miss this one either as it may mean the return of seeing his wife in a romantic light.

obviously none of these are serious problems and compared with some of the possible complications of pregnancy like preeclampsia or mandatory bedrest i've had it pretty easy. in truth these last 9 months have been some of the best of my life and soon (yes please come soon) we get to meet the little one whose little kicks and uppercuts to my ribs i have come to love so much.

and soon in case you forgot would be within the next 4 weeks. that's 28 days or six hundred seventy two hours.

34 weeks

and for my next act i will make my toes disappear! i have grown past the point of being able to see beyond the belly. this is creating quite the amusing scene as i try to shave my legs or paint my toenails. at least there is some comfort in knowing that if my other plans don't work out i may have a successful career as a contortionist.

33 weeks

33 weeks
sorry for the lack of posting these past few weeks but it was nice to take a break from the computer while we were in the u.s. we returned tuesday afternoon from what was a wonderful 2 weeks of visiting with friends and family, enjoying cincinnati, baby showers, bachelorette parties, and a wedding. being home made me long for the day when we may return to start a life and create a home there. with so many new and exciting things happening around cincinnati i came back to switzerland inspired and ready for what lies ahead of us. (i also came back with a wicked case of jet lag) now i just have to figure out a way to enjoy the place we are in now and focus on what is immediately ahead, the arrival of our daughter. only 7 more weeks until my guess date!

31 weeks

after being declared "parfait" by the doctor this morning i now have the green light to hop on a plane tomorrow and make the long journey back to the u.s. one last time before our little lady joins the family. as excited as i am to see everyone, to be there for a good friends wedding, and to soak in a little america i must admit i am dreading the flight. we've called ahead and thankfully i have the luxury of sitting in an aisle seat with no one next to me. the extra leg room, my fancy and always fashionable support hose, a dose of magnesium, lots of water, and frequent walks about the plane should make it a bit more bearable. but i am asking you now little girl to please cooperate with me. rest assured, at least for the 9 hours that we are on the plane, that the way out of my uterus is not via the right side of my ribcage. now lets hope for some good in flight entertainment.

a prayer for my daughter by tina fey

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half and stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes and not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers and the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.


from her new book bossypants
photo by heather gemmer via wedding chicks

30 weeks


little girl,

your parents got married this week and it was such a wonderful day. i'm pretty sure you enjoyed yourself as you were giving enthusiastic little kicks at all the right moments. your mama and papa have a truly beautiful love story that you will no doubt hear all about throughout your life. we come from very different worlds and we have fought to be here in this place together as a family. the day when you will join us is fast approaching and i thought maybe some introductions were in order. so baby bird here's who we are; now husband and wife, and your parents.

your papa:
comes from belgium: the land of beer and fritjes
stays up at night playing with binary code
collects vintage cameras
decides what he wants to eat before looking at a menu
is a goofball
and has a huge heart

your mama:
comes from the usa
spends most of her time in the kitchen or at the market
collects vintage clothing
reads cookbooks like they're novels
can be a bit too serious but deep down is also a goofball
and loves her family and friends more than anything

we were both swimmers, though i was probably faster because of a webbed toe advantage. (your papa hopes you don't inherit that from me) your papa is a math and science nerd. (always go to him with your homework questions) we met in a coffee shop in cincinnati and fell in love in paris. we would be lost without each other. he is my best friend and my favorite person in the world. we look forward to meeting you, being able to see parts of us reflected in you, and learning all about the parts that are unique just to you.

le mariage


the original plan was simple; we would marry on my family's farm memorial day weekend. all we needed to do was to apply for a fiancé visa which would allow stijn to enter the u.s. with the purpose of marrying me. and so we began the painstaking process of compiling our dossier, filling out numerous forms, ordering original copies of birth certificates and various other official documents. we were all set. the plan was to post everything when we returned to cincinnati for christmas and cross our fingers that immigration approved our case before our may wedding.

then a surprise; a positive pregnancy test. a big game changer but we're adaptable and so we quickly decided that it would be best for me to apply for a permit to stay in switzerland and have our baby here. sounds easy enough right? hardly! more documents (lots more), many trips to different offices being told something different each time, and 3 months later a decision. i officially had residency here and subsequently health insurance, but no permit. apparently unless stijn and i got married, switzerland would not let me stay here. so we completed the paperwork to get married here and they ruled that we couldn't get married unless i had a permit. you see the ridiculousness don't you? we realized it was time to pull out the big guns so donning my tightest dress and armed with our encyclopedia sized file we went to the office de la population for once last plea. we figured if nothing else worked my pregnancy might appeal to their humanity. surely they wouldn't deport a woman who was 6 months pregnant. it turns out we were right. the canton of vaud ruled that i was illegally here but that they would tolerate it. excellent! now the civil court just had to approve our request to be married and it would be over. sadly, it was not that simple. the court here (because they don't know how to read english apparently) wasn't recognizing one of my documents as official. they kept asking for an official decree and we would respond saying the document they had was the official decree. (sidebar: all of this took place through mail correspondence as there is no office you can go to to have a reasonable discussion with a human being) we were exhausted and at our wits end. i felt defeated and deflated. marriage; beautiful and usually filled with joy had become 100% administrative. the joy had been sucked right out of it. with so much love between us we were having to fight for the right to marry and it seemed there was no way out. in one last desperate attempt i headed to the american consulate in geneva. they were as confused as i was regarding what switzerland wanted from me. we decided that attaching the form we had already sent them numerous times to official u.s. letterhead with a fancy seal was worth a shot. it worked! a few weeks later we were called in for the preparation of our marriage and in another 2 weeks we would be married, on memorial day weekend as it turns out.

it wasn't what i had envisioned my wedding day would look like. i never thought i would be 5000 miles away from family and friends making the most important commitment of my life. i never thought my parents would give me away over skype. i certainly never would have guessed that i would be 7 and a half months pregnant on my wedding day. but a year ago i also never would have thought that i would be this happy, married to the man i love, and ready to welcome our first child into our family. i couldn't have asked for a better day. the weather was perfect, the ceremony intimate, the celebration relaxed, and my daughter was there for all of it. i guess it turned out the way it was supposed to; we learned through the process how we handle difficulty as partners and with all the hair pulling frustration we continued to walk united.

we still plan to have that celebration on my family's farm only when we do we will be celebrating one year of marriage, our daughter will be in our arms instead of my belly, and i'll be able to drink all the champagne i'd like.

many thanks to all our friends and family for your love and support through everything. at times you were a shoulder, at times just an ear, at times you commiserated with us about the frustrations of swiss bureaucracy, at times you were a voice of reason, and we are so lucky that you were there to have been all of these and more. we love you.

many more pictures from our happy day will be posted tomorrow!

29 weeks

29 weeks
after an irregular heartbeat sent me to a cardiologist for an ecg and subsequent heart monitoring for 24 hours and my glucose screening test this week, baby girl and i would like some alone time. no doctors, no needles, no uncomfortable sticky things all over my chest and abdomen, no disgusting sugary drinks, and absolutely no fasting. despite all the poking and prodding of not so gentle swiss doctors i feel great. i am loving this time in my pregnancy; my size is still quite manageable and even enjoyable and the moments of discomfort are far outweighed by the moments of pure joy. every time i walk past the mirror in our hallway i pause to stare in awe at my profile. i can't believe that in just 11 short weeks our little girl could be here. it amazes me how much love we are capable of having for someone we haven't even met and how overwhelming that love can sometimes feel.

oh and in case you were worried it turns out my heart is perfectly fine, no irregularities at all in the 24 hour period i was monitored.