over the moon


i suppose it's time we let you in on a little something going on over here...baby 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.

promote love


confession: i am not the nicest person. truthfully, i am highly critical and sometimes judgmental. that criticism does not come from a place of malice but rather always trying to see things for what they could be. i am highly opinionated and find great pleasure in discussing those opinions/defending them. as a kid, my teachers referred to me as the public defender. whether in the classroom or on the playground i often stood up for thoughts and others. as an adult i've remained pretty much the same. i'm often analyzing situations or places, forming opinions, and thinking of what could be different or how it could be better. while this has it's benefits it also comes with it's drawbacks. i fear that my mind skips to the negative first. pointing out what i see that is wrong first (even with myself). now that i am a mother and feel a huge sense of responsibility for how my daughter sees the world, interacts with it, and changes it, i am hyper aware of how my negativity could affect her. i wish for her to be free to have a critical and analytical mind, for her to always feel safe to ask questions, explore, form opinions, and challenge others. but i also wish for her to look for the good before finding the bad and to always speak love and not hate. i will always be critical, i know that will not change, but my hope is that these words can serve to remind me that criticism without action is futile and that my actions will set an example for my child.

the deepest blue

last night as i was rocking eleanor to sleep she looked up at me with those big blue eyes and i was immediately transported back to the first time i looked into them. in these moments i feel as though my heart is going to explode with all the love in the universe and am so grateful that i was chosen to care for this beautiful little soul.

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!

mommy wars


this is a topic that increasingly frustrates me and i have finally decided to address it.

from a young age girls are taught to judge one another. constantly comparing and competing for who is thinner or has the best clothes, what school you went to, who has a more glamourous job or the perfect family. now we have transferred it onto our children and the kind of parent you are. are you an attachment parenting follower, are you a "green" mommy, do you breastfeed or formula feed, do you vaccinate, are you a stay at home or working mother, do you co-sleep. and i know that soon it will be the type of schooling you choose for your child: do your children attend private or public school, montessori or waldorf, homeschool or unschool.

let me for the record say that eleanor is breastfed, she sleeps in our bed, we "wear" her, she is being vaccinated, we do not let her "cry it out", i currently stay at home, she wears cloth diapers and i have no idea where or how she will be schooled. while we do seem to be in line with the 7 b's of attachment parenting i do not believe in following a set of guidelines to be able to identify with a certain parent type. and i absolutely do not believe in using those guidelines to judge others. i believe in educating myself and using that information as a tool in figuring out what works best for my family. and this is where i take issue. i am tired of hearing women talk about other women. i am just as guilty of this and it needs to stop. shouldn't we be supporting and encouraging rather than tearing one another down. this motherhood thing is tough enough.

in choosing to list what we are currently doing with e, as with any future posts regarding the same, i am merely sharing my own experiences and what works for us and am in no way saying that what we have chosen is the right way. it is our way. i have found the words and stories of other mothers incredibly helpful in navigating this path and i hope that i can be the same for some. but like our mothers said, "if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all."

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

mama style

before having eleanor i always swore that i wouldn't become one of those mothers that stops taking care of themselves. you know the women that oprah would have on her makeover shows who hadn't cut or colored their hair and had been wearing sweatpants everyday since the birth of their child (five years ago). i was not going to be one of those women. enter eleanor. it's not that i'm a mess but i was not prepared for the amount of effort it would take to take a shower let alone put actual clothes on. here we are five weeks after the birth of my wonderful daughter and i am in desperate need of a haircut and color, i wear the same milk stained clothing daily, and i no longer take the time to put on makeup. sure i have my moments, our big "saturday night out", i.e.: dinner, i managed to put nice clothes on and i even wore lipstick but most days comfort and ease win. to be frank as a nursing mother i think it would be best if i just walked around without a shirt on all day so eleanor can have easier access to her milk bar. but, a miracle occurred today. e slept until 10am giving me enough time to enjoy a cup of coffee, take a bath, and put clothes and makeup on. however; if i've learned anything in the last five weeks, just because it was easy today doesn't mean she'll be making this a regular occurrence and so i've devised a plan. first i have a hair appointment scheduled for tomorrow and secondly i am forcing myself to get dressed and put makeup on four days a week. the other three days i am allowing myself to wear pj's all day and possibly walk around with my shirt off. phase two of my plan will include going through my wardrobe and doing a massive purge as simplicity is now the key to successful dressing. phase three may come at some point and could include a 30 for 30 challenge; choosing 30 articles of clothing and having to create 30 outfits. any other moms out there have tricks to feeling good about yourself while caring for a newborn?

mothering a daughter


recently an article titled how to talk to little girls began circling blogs. the article reports, "15 to 18 percent of girls under 12 now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and 25 percent of young american women would rather win america's next top model than the nobel peace prize." the author states that instead of complimenting little girls on their appearance, by not relying on what she calls our cultural standard icebreakers, and instead focusing on more intellectual topics such as what they are currently reading, we may be able to teach them that their value is not in their looks as much as in their thoughts and ideas.
i know that i am guilty of speaking to little girls about their appearance, it's hard not to when they are just so damn cute. as i am about to become a mother to a little girl this topic is a bit touchy for me. i would be devastated if my daughter grew up believing that being beautiful was more important than anything. however; i don't think this means that we can't compliment her on her adorable dress or her cute new haircut. perhaps the best way to mother her is to ensure that she has a healthy balance of both physical compliments and conversation that respects her brain. the next time i am around a little girl i will be sure to ask her about books or her favorite food or color before i compliment her looks and hopefully as the author writes, "model for her what a thinking woman says and does."

photo: anna war hier