the birth of felix charles (part 1)

i have decided to break felix's birth story up into two posts. the first as an account of the events of his birth day and the second as a more emotional assessment of the process of birthing him and my processing of this experience vs. eleanor's birth.

birth day
"who knows how long i've loved you."

throughout my pregnancy i was given three different due dates; february 23rd, 25th, and 28th. knowing what that looming date can do to ones psyche i tried very hard to not put too much weight on any of the dates i was given. being that eleanor was 8 days late i felt it best to set myself up for the same this time around. so when the 23rd arrived i didn't think much about it. we spent the day in grand rapids, doing some last minute food shopping and admiring the plants and butterflies while walking around the frederik meijer gardens. little did i know that this would be the last day we would spend as a family of three.

i awoke sunday morning with less than 5 hours of sleep under my belt and feeling a different kind of contraction. i had been experiencing braxton hicks for months now but something about the surges my body was now having were different. i laid in bed with my family quietly knowing that this was it and thinking about what lay ahead. i got up and went about our sunday as usual, made a nice big breakfast and settled into cbs sunday morning. as the show went on so did my contractions and so for fun i began timing them. they were pretty irregular but i knew that this was it. this was going to be the day we would meet our son. knowing that movement is good for labor i decided to clean the house. i scrubbed the bathrooms, dusted the whole house, vacuumed, and swiffered and as i did my contractions became regular, 5 minutes apart. i texted my doula and told her where things were at and then called my mom to tell her that they might want to start driving. we continued to go about our day as normally as we could. after eating lunch and putting eleanor down for her nap we decided it would be good for me to relax a bit and let my body do the work. i took a nice long bath, finished packing for the hospital, and then laid over the birth ball listening to my birth affirmations. as i relaxed my contractions slowed down but every time i would stand up and walk they would pick up again. we were faced with a choice: keep moving to keep things moving, or try and rest and let birth pick back up on it's own. since i hadn't slept well the night before my doula and i felt that trying to take a nap could be beneficial. i laid down and tried to sleep but i just couldn't sleep through my contractions. they were growing in intensity and i was finding it hard to relax during them. i was trying to focus on the surge breathing we had learned in hypnobirthing but there was so much pressure that the inhalation was incredibly difficult. (looking back now and knowing what was about to happen i know that that was because my body was already working for him to descend) i called our doula and told her that even though my contractions were irregular we were going to head to the hospital. i sent the babysitter a message and she said she would be over in 5 minutes. stijn packed the car and i put my coat on and then a contraction came that sent me onto all fours in our kitchen. i threw my coat off and asked stijn to help me to the bathroom declaring that i had to go, NOW. as soon as i sat down my water broke. the babysitter arrived and stijn told her to take eleanor upstairs. still thinking i was going to get up, get in the car, and head to the hospital i was shocked when my body started pushing, involuntarily and i felt his head crowning. one contraction later his head emerged. i yelled for stijn (who was still taking care of eleanor and the sitter) and another minute later he caught our son as he was born in our bathroom. we both sat there stunned looking at each other and at our little man who came in such a dramatic fashion. in between our laughter stijn called karlye, our doula, to inform her of a change in plans and then 911. dispatch helped him to take care of me until an ambulance arrived that took us to the hospital. a few hours later my parents brought eleanor to the hospital in her pajamas to meet her new brother. i will never forget those moments of apprehension followed by smiles and "hi" and the most tender of touches. this was the beginning of our new life as a family.

in the end my only regret was that we had to go to the hospital at all. it felt like such a disruption to what had been the most natural of labors and birthing. we had wanted a calm unmedicated birth and in the end that is exactly what we got. i trusted my body and my body did what it was created to do. after a total of 10 hours we birthed a beautiful, healthy, 9.5 lb. 22 inch long baby boy. there are still moments where i laugh thinking that we are those people... and then there are moments where i forget the exceptional way in which he was born. these last two weeks have been wonderful and having had the chance to process not just the details of his story but the emotional aspects as well i can say that his birth was incredibly healing for me and i can't wait to share that bit with you soon.

i looked through my phone to get a real time assessment of his birth and for reference the space between texting our babysitter to come and felix being born was less than 20 minutes!

meet felix


just wanted to pop in for a brief moment while both my babes are sleeping to introduce you to felix charles: born sunday at 5:55pm in quite the dramatic fashion (more later), at 9 lbs. 5 oz. and 22 in. long, we are smitten.

39 weeks and a new perspective

39 weeks

the end is near! and the end is hard. i will spare you all any complaints i may have about the waiting game and instead a change in perspective. i was laying in bed last night wondering if it may be the night that i awaken with the "real thing" contractions and it suddenly struck me for the first time that this may be the last time that i am pregnant. this may be the last time that i get to feel the movements and kicks of my child inside of me. this may be the last time that i have this figure. this may be the last time that i experience birth.

in the midst of pregnancy, when you can't remember not being pregnant or what you normally look like in clothes, or when you are counting the weeks and days until you meet the new member of your family, it's easy to forget just how amazing the pregnant body is and just how lucky you are to be experiencing it. it's easy to focus on the negative; how tired you are, how tired of being pregnant you may be. it's a lot harder to remain positive. but that is my new goal; to try to see these next few weeks in a positive light.

stijn and i aren't sure whether we will have any more children. what we do know for sure is that it will be many years before we think about it again. so this very well could be my last. and that thought and it's possible finality makes the waiting a bit easier. it makes the discomfort i feel a bit less consuming. it makes the thought of labor and birth so exciting. soon a little boy and i are going to work together with my body to bring him into the world, to join our family, to be our son. i don't need to rush it, i just need to savor these last weeks i have with him alone, in my pregnant body because it may be the last time.

a baby hat for baby brother

a baby hat for baby brother

with just a couple of weeks to go i decided it was time to make something for baby brother. poor thing as the second born, he's already getting the shaft. when i was pregnant with eleanor i had nothing but time to take weekly belly photos and write her weekly letters, i knit her a blanket and loads of hats and booties. this go around i've taken only a handful of belly shots and written to him never. finally, taking advantage of nap time, i managed to knit a little hat from the softest and most beautiful yarn i've ever worked with. when i finished i thought maybe i'd try to eek out a pair of booties to match or maybe even a blanket but then i got realistic and figured i better not push it. who am i kidding that blanket would sit unfinished next to eleanor's sweater (started over a year ago). hopefully he wont be scarred for life or hold it against me.

a baby hat for baby brother

a baby hat for baby brother

in other news, i'm 38 weeks pregnant! we're spending our days trying to keep busy and just enjoying our time as a family of three before the little guy arrives. stijn and i are going on a date this weekend and next week i have little day dates planned for eleanor and i every day. after baby comes and we get settled i hope to continue weekly or biweekly dates with e.

happy weekend friends!

full term

37 weeks. full term

37 weeks

saturday marked 37 weeks for me and the little man which makes me officially full term! as much as i would like to believe that there is even a remote chance that he may come early i am trying to keep my expectations at being a few days late. things are still going well for us. he is in position and we are both healthy and strong. braxton hicks are a regular part of my day and i am trying to use them to help practice breathing and just relax knowing that my body is preparing. my pelvic, hip, and lower back pain is still present, though with weekly visits to the chiropractor, it has been manageable. we toured the hospital last week and it was so beautifully calm and serene that it helped to set some of my anxiety aside. i've washed all his little clothes, packed his portion of my hospital bag, washed the parts to our bloom chair and baby bjorn balance seat, washed our baby carriers, and bought newborn diapers. it's safe to say we're about ready! three? weeks to go and we couldn't be more excited. i cannot wait to smell him, see eleanor with him, kiss him, and begin to figure out how we do this life as a family of four thing.

natural labor starters


so now that we only have 4 weeks to go (maybe) it is time to get some natural labor starters going in my daily routine. there are all sorts of old wives tales about what starts labor and truthfully none of them are going to start it unless your body is ready which is why what some women swear by doesn't work for others. when i was pregnant with eleanor and my due date had come and gone we were trying everything: spicy food, tons of walking, eggplant (?), ahem...stimulation ("what got the baby in gets the baby out"). nothing worked. she came when she and my body were good and ready. knowing that that is that case, will it stop me from repeating all of those aforementioned tricks to get the little guy out? of course not! but in addition there are a few things that seem to have a bit more basis in medicine that i have started to do daily.

1. drink 2 cups of red raspberry leaf tea per day. not used for starting labor but thought to reduce pain during labor and after birth, allow the uterus to work more efficiently making for a shorter labor, and reduces incidence of artificial rupture of membranes, forceps delivery or cesarean.
2. 500mg of evening primrose oil daily
3. dates, the ones you eat. studies have shown that eating 6 dates per day in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy significantly reduced the need for induction
4. gravity, movement. luckily i have a toddler to keep me busy and moving all day
5. daily exercises to get the little guy in a good position for labor. part of the reason why my labor with eleanor was as long and as difficult as it was was due to her positioning in my uterus (posterior). determined to prevent a repeat i practice daily inversions, sit on a birth ball, practice rebozo sifting, and lots of cat cow pose (pelvic tilts).

birth can't be planned or controlled but i am confident that we are doing all that we can to ensure that he and i have a wonderful birthing experience. in the meantime the best i can do is relax and trust my body and my little boy. eek, i'm going to have a son soon!

33 weeks

33 weeks

ok i'm not actually 33 weeks, i'm 32 weeks and 6 days. close enough, right? here we are in single digits in our weekly countdown and overall i am feeling great. people keep asking how i'm doing, if i'm ready to be done... and honestly i'm not in any rush. i'm crazy excited to meet our little man and i am looking forward to my labor but i don't have those same feelings of impatience that i did with e. (ask me again in 7 weeks when my due date has just passed and i may tell a different story) i suppose that having e keeping me busy everyday is helping those feelings of anxiety. but this pregnancy has, for the most part, been a breeze despite my pelvic pain being almost unbearable at night and having to hear strangers say things like, "any day now!" or my personal favorite, "you're about to drop that thing aren't you?" i've learned to just smile and nod rather than giving them the full rundown on just how many weeks i have left before i "drop this thing".

i had an appointment with my midwives this week and it seems that the little guy is already in place and shall we say his head is locked and loaded pretty far down. as she measured me she asked, "how big was eleanor?" after i answered she said, "well it looks like this one's headed for over 9 lbs. as well. shocker. bets in this house are he's aiming for 10.

29 weeks

29 weeks

well here we are already. one week into my third trimester. in some ways it has flown by and in others i find myself wishing it were over. all in all this pregnancy has been easy and thankfully very healthy but as you may remember from the last time we did this, i don't particularly love being pregnant. i am so lucky that my body handles it well and i haven't had any major complications but this go around has been a bit more painful than the last. comfortable sleep escaped me long ago and my pelvic pain makes it hard for me to walk by the end of the day but i'm coping well (no time to wallow when your chasing a toddler).

speaking of my toddler, we are trying to prepare eleanor as best we can for the big changes that are about to take place. we talk to her daily about her baby brother, we bought her this book, and her own baby to take care of. when you ask her where her baby brother is she smiles and points to my belly and she even gives her baby brother kisses. she's at an age where she loves to help mama and papa do things and i can't wait to see my big helper taking care of her brother.

29 weeks

we're trying to prepare for the little man's arrival but truthfully we aren't at all ready. i've gone through bins of clothing, washing what was gender neutral, storing what has sentimental value, and getting rid of what doesn't. we pulled out baby things, washed the insert for the ergo carrier, and set up a play area. i scrubbed eleanor's bloom fresco chair, washed the padding and straps, and set it up for a baby again. (eleanor will use a different high chair) so in some ways the cleaning, purging, and organizing has me feeling very accomplished but we have yet to get some pretty major things, like a crib.

with our travels to europe and cincinnati for the holidays i know that this next month is going to fly by and then before you know it we will be a family of four!

the ethics of baby naming


do you have names picked out for your children before even being aware of their existence? do you keep them written somewhere? do you keep these names secret for fear that a friend will steal your name? i used to do all of these things. funny though that neither eleanor's name nor the one we have picked for baby brother are on those lists.

we struggled for a while with a name for this little man but finally settled on one a couple of months ago. we talk to him, refer to him, and tell eleanor about him using his name. so to us it's who he is. and here, friends, is our dilemma...

friends had their baby a few weeks ago and named him the name we have chosen. so what do we do? do we keep the name that we know him as or do we start over? help!


how we arrived at hypnobirthing

Lac Leman (Vevey)
when i was pregnant with eleanor my doula asked if we were interested in hypnobirthing. after a brief description, and as my eyes were rolling into the back of my head, stijn gently said, "i don't think that's for you." he knows me so well. to be honest, i was turned off/tuned out by the name. hypnobirthing? what kind of hippie bullshit is that? i've always considered myself a pragmatist and have taken pride in being analytical. the idea of meditation or visualization seemed hokey to me and so i wrote it off.

my birth with e didn't go as i had hoped. and after a lot of reflection i have come to realize that it is due in large part to my own mind. let's face it, i'm a control freak and if there's one thing i could not control it was my labor. i spent the majority of those 36 hours trying to tough it out and in turn fighting my own body. i knew this time needed to be different. i needed to learn to let go, to relax, and to let my body work the way it was created to work. enter hypnobirthing. again my immediate reaction was, "not so sure about that." but i went to an informational meeting and after hearing the doula/rn/hypnobirthing practitioner explain the science behind it my rational mind was sold.

we are now two weeks into our six week course and i love it. i love the learning, i love the practice, i love the confidence i feel in my ability to have the natural birthing experience i have desired. we have quite a ways to go as i'm just a couple of weeks past the halfway mark of my pregnancy and i still have a ways to go in my practice. i still struggle with letting my mind fully go and i fall asleep nearly every time i listen to the relaxation cd but i know my subconscious is awake taking it all in.

e's birth may not have gone as i had hoped but had it been different i don't think i would have been open to this method and for that i am grateful. i'll keep you posted on how it goes throughout the rest of my pregnancy and beyond.

some things for baby boy


one/ warm knit blankets
two/ cute boy sweaters
three/ baby moccasins
four/ a non diaper bag diaper bag for mama
five/ a double stroller
six/ a mini version of eleanor's crib
seven/ a beautiful mobile for little eyes to gaze at
eight/ the best swaddling blankets
nine/ cozy rompers to keep a michigan winter baby warm

it's a...


we are beyond excited! we are having a little boy and eleanor is going to have a baby brother. now onto the incredibly difficult task of choosing a name. boy names are so hard for me.

19 weeks

i guess it's about time we show off this bump!

we just returned from a week long trip to cincinnati a week that was filled with baby, family, and ethnic food. while we were there my dear friend emily gave birth to her first son, we took advantage of grandparents and went out for dinner and even to hear music (I almost felt young again), and we ate and ate and ate. living in switzerland for almost two years followed by moving to holland, michigan has meant that there has been a serious lack of ethnic food in my life. trips to bigger cities are always marked by which countries our bellies tour. and since this go around, this pregnant mama wants spice I packed as much into one week as I could: indian, vietnamese x2, mexican, sichuan, and korean. I won't say I overdid it but I was definitely satisfied! it was a great start to the last week of the first half of my pregnancy (did you get that?). almost halfway folks and holding that newborn bub this week not only made it more real but 10x more exciting!

19 weeks

happy weekend!


after a trip to the gym this morning e and i stopped by the health food store. sitting on the bread rack as we walked in were fresh, still warm, loaves of salt of the earth bread. i grabbed two and went home, brewed a cup of raspberry leaf tea, and sat in the quiet listening to nothing but the rain and enjoyed. moments like this are rare and so i drank the stillness up.

have a lovely weekend friends.

*speaking of salt of the earth, that little west michigan gem was featured on kinfolk the other day.

long weekend bits

rosy mound

originally we had planned to spend the long weekend up north in traverse city but as the weekend drew nearer it became clear that neither one of us was up for a trip. instead, we decided to explore this area a bit more and so we headed to rosy mound where a one mile hike with lots of stairs leads you to sand dunes and then a small, not so crowded beach. it was lovely and eleanor had a blast. she has moved beyond her sand eating days which makes beach visiting much more enjoyable for me. we swam in the water and built a sand castle and e just roamed. west michigan is beautiful and i am glad we finally had the opportunity to explore it together as a family.

rosy mound

rosy mound

over the moon


i suppose it's time we let you in on a little something going on over no.2 is on the way!

saturday marks 15 weeks and we couldn't be happier! those first few months were a bit rough, feeling drained and nauseous while working through my fear and anxiety about another miscarriage but we made it and i am feeling great!

being pregnant again while caring for a one year old has been, well let's just say, different. when i was pregnant with eleanor and feeling low or sick i would just lay down, it's not quite so easy when a little person wants your attention. it's possible that she helped me get through the sickness simply by not letting me sit still long enough to think about it.

baby is doing great so far. we've heard a heartbeat a couple of times and seen he/she's little form on the screen once. i surprisingly am not anemic this time around, yay for me and not having to take those nasty iron supplements! i've been craving a lot of veggies, salads, and ethnic food unlike with eleanor where i couldn't get enough citrus and sugar.

we are thrilled to be adding another little person to our family and we can't wait to see eleanor as a big sister! we've tried to point to the belly (it's still fairly small though definitely more visible than the first time around) and tell her that her little brother or sister is in there but she only seems to be interested in pulling on my belly button. our babies will be just 18 months apart as this little is due to join us on february 22nd. we wanted our children to be close in age and i hope that they grow up as friends!

thanks for being on this journey with us. we are super excited to share this new life with you all.

8th street market

8th street market

last wednesday was the opening of holland's farmers market which is only a five minute walk from our house. i knew when i woke up this morning that this is where we needed to be today. as you know from previous posts, i haven't been feeling myself lately and nothing snaps me back quite a quickly as the sounds of a market, or gazing at the freshest fruits, veggies, and flowers you can find. holland's market did not disappoint. i came home with bunches of peonies, rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries that tasted just as good as they looked,  lettuces, and hydroponic tomatoes.

8th street market 8th street market

even in a house in disarray surrounded by boxes the sight of beautiful flowers and knowing that my fridge is stocked with some of the best produce i've seen makes me happy. it's going to be a great summer!

8th street market

the peanut store

with our recent influx of visitors and my growing appreciation for this small town i am starting a new series of posts featuring local holland businesses.



to kick off the new series i want to start with the holland peanut store. the holland peanut store was opened in 1902 by the fabiano family, who immigrated to west michigan from italy. at the time the store was a soda fountain, selling milkshakes, produce, and tobacco. they later opened a second location selling peanuts and chocolate covered nuts. today the shop sells every kind of candy, nut, and chocolate you can imagine as well as their famous nutty paddle pops. walking through the store you feel transported back to a time when you (or your grandfather) could go down to the local candy shop and buy a bag of candy for a nickel. walking through the shop i couldn't help but begin singing, "the candy man" while envisioning the candy store owner in willy wonka on his library ladder. i didn't try their famous paddle pops but i did fill a bag with all sorts of candy that made me nostalgic for my childhood and stopped to drool over the saltwater taffy selection. i'm pacing myself!




fabiano's is on 8th street in downtown holland and is definitely worth a visit.