Flying with kids… part of the deal of living abroad

June 25th, 2012 → 7:46 am @

I really struggled with the idea that I was going to have a baby far away from Canada and everything I knew.

I debated flying home to have my baby, then realized that would not work as my husband couldn’t just come and hang out for 6-8 weeks while we waited. So I accepted that I would be having my baby here in Amsterdam, without my family and booked a ticket for 6 weeks after his “official” due date.

Lots of time right? Little did I know that he would be 3 weeks late.

Adam (my son) and I flew to Canada when he was less than 3 weeks old, 20 days to be exact. I packed light, wrapped him up into a tight little ball against my chest and left for the airport.

That was my first flight with a child. I have had many since then with my 2, 3 and then 4 kids. I always travel to Canada alone, and my husband meets us later. I have traveled with newborns, while pregnant, with toddlers, crawlers, restless kids and sick ones. I’ve been spit on, thrown up on, dropped food on, slept on – and yet to this day I never bring a spare shirt for myself…

You can read the rest of this blog post at Amsterdam mamas




Babies 0-6 months &Blog &Daily Life

Mom: The First Weeks

April 16th, 2012 → 9:20 am @

Those first weeks.  I remember receiving a box of “goodies” from our insurance company. Well they weren’t exactly goodies, they actually freaked me out.  Pads the size of pillows, cleaning alcohol, stretch underpants, plastic bed cover (many Dutch women give birth at home so that was for them, i figured) plus a whole lot of other, what I felt, were useless things. Oh and there was also a small teddy bear.  Thanks.  Though I didn’t imagine using anything in the box, I kept it anyway. I mean, one never really knows if something will come in handy. Figured the pads the size of pillows could have some other use (pillow), plastic bed cover handy for changing baby outside, and the underpant things – well i just didn’t understand that one at all.

Then my baby was born. And then I got it. Once again, I hadn’t been exactly prepared for the “after” the birth part of having a baby. Isn’t it enough that we are dealing with a newborn for the first time in our life? Isn’t it enough that we don’t get any sleep? No it’s not. We also get to have an extended “menstruation”. Thanks, whoever came up with that one…  And yes, I made use of mostly everything in that box!


Here is what I wrote about it in my book Babies 0-6 months.

Why do I have so much blood discharge?

Ah the joys of having a newborn. This is not one of them… Lochia is the blood discharge that you will experience after birth and is part of your recovery. Remember that you have gained almost 50% more blood during your pregnancy and it is coming out now plus there are some ot

her leftovers (such as mucus and placenta tissue).   This blood discharge can last up to a month but can also be over much more quickly.  During the first few days you will have to use heavy duty pads and change them regularly.  As the week progresses you should be able to use smaller ones: however, don’t use tampons because they can introduce bacteria into your uterus and vagina causing infection.  It’s important to note that this is not your first “menstruation” but only looks like it. If you are breastfeeding full time you will not likely have a menstruation until you start weaning.


Babies 0-6 months &Blog

No time to eat…

April 5th, 2012 → 12:23 pm @

During those first weeks, I remember feeling completely overwhelmed sitting at home with my newborn.  I couldn’t even manage to make a sandwich, and if I did, I sure didn’t have time to eat it.

I remember so clearly sitting on the couch while breastfeeding my son and looking at my lunch waiting for me at the table. The table that at the moment, was so incredibly far away. Somehow I had found time to make myself a feta salad with some thick slices of fresh bread (It was a hot summer!).  My lunch had made itself to the table but never made it into my stomach.

My son on the other hand -ate all the time (and I do mean all the time) and if he wasn’t eating, I was changing his diaper or his clothes, bathing him or letting him suck on my baby finger while he fell asleep. And when a newborn is sucking on your finger, half asleep, it’s hard to use a fork.  When I tried to transfer him to his crib, he woke up immediately and cried.  Being my first born – I picked him up, gave him my pinky and sat there until he woke up from his nap, ready for more food.

Needless to say, this was a great way to loose weight – but it for sure wasn’t the idea and not in any way a good one either.  Good nutrition is so important for a breast-feeding mom (or any other new mom for that matter).  Luckily my husband did the cooking at night and I slowly got the hang of our new daily routine, including how to eat with a newborn.

By #4, I was cooking for 5 and breastfeeding at the same time (well not exactly but you get the picture). It  became  second nature and it was a lot easier for me to put her down and let her cry (luckily she hardly ever did this) to get other things done than it had been when my first was born.


Here is the “short” answer from my book Babies 0-6 months

Tip# 21 Mom, the first weeks: I’m so tired and busy with my newborn that I don’t even have time to eat..

It can be overwhelming to care for a newborn and the learning curve is steep. However eating properly is key to feeling less tired so it can be a vicious circle. If you are really unable to prepare meals then think about investing a little money in some of the “prepared” nutritious meals from the grocery stores or ask family and friends to help you through those first weeks. Most people are only too happy to help if you ask.

Babies 0-6 months &Blog

I had no idea I would be so tired…

March 29th, 2012 → 10:47 am @

I remember the first days thinking “I’m not that tired, in fact I’m not really tired at all”.  Everyone had told me I would be tired and I wasn’t. I was pretty excited that I would be an exception… Then it hit me. Ka-bang! One can only sustain so many night time wake ups and restless sleeping. I was also breast-feeding, what felt like, all the time. And boy, was I tired. I did try and sleep in the afternoons, tried to get to bed ‘early’ but the nights – well it’s just not a good thing to be woken up 3-4 times a night. It’s one of the few things that just doesn’t make sense in the development of a baby.

Fast forward to #4 and I can tell you that the tired I thought I felt was nothing compared to the tiredness after my 4th was born. I was used to living in a constant flow of exhaustion so figured I’d already hit the bottom. Wrong.  I made it through the days in large part, due to my body’s adrenaline and second, because we all slept every single afternoon. All 5 of us (me and the 4 kids), from 1-3pm (4pm) if I was lucky.

Today, while all of the kids sleep through the night, I still haven’t caught up on my sleep. I still feel tired all the time but it’s all relative now. I’m much less tired than I was a couple of years ago…

Here is the “short” answer from my book Babies 0-6 months

Tip# 20 Mom, the first weeks:

Funny that despite the fact that everyone and their dogs tell us that we will be exhausted, we can’t actually imagine how we will feel until we are in it. If this is your first child, then sleep (or rest) when the baby sleeps.. If you are breastfeeding, increase your food intake because you are now really eating for two, so good nutrition is very important. The production of breast milk and feeding can be exhausting on its own. Getting your baby into a night rhythm will also help.

Babies 0-6 months &Blog &Daily Life

How do I teach my newborn to breastfeed?

March 25th, 2012 → 9:16 pm @

I breastfed my kids. I didn’t know if it would work, if I would like it, how long I would try etc. Then there I was, minutes after birth, with a newborn that seemed to know a lot more about it than I did.  It was a strange feeling that over time became almost unnoticeable (except for the copious amounts of water I had to drink) but it sure took some time before I really got the hang of it.

Here is the answers found in my book Babies 0-6 months.

This is pure animal instinct but it does take some time and energy for both you and your baby to find a rhythm… Babies are born with the instinct to latch on and suckle. In fact the only natural reflexes they are born with is crying and sucking. When placed close to your nipple, she will know exactly what to do. You will have to guide your baby’s mouth a bit and make sure that she is latched on properly and abracadabra, out comes a drink.  The first days something called colostrum (for some thick and yellow, for others thin and watery) comes out of your nipples which is followed by actual breast milk. The sucking kicks in your hormones and sends a message to produce breast milk. But also know that most images you see in books and on TV make it look like a magical and easy experience but it’s not for many mom’s at first… Magical yes, easy, not always…

Babies 0-6 months &Blog &My kids

Tip #18 I’ve just had a C-Section, what should I expect now that I’m at home?

March 5th, 2012 → 4:59 am @

I consider myself lucky to not have needed a C-Section. I can honestly not imagine what it must be like to not only be overwhelmed by your birthing experience and newborn but to all of sudden not be able to do regular things. So in this case, my answer is from research and not from experience…

Here is the answer from my book Babies 0-6 months:

Once you’ve left the hospital you should arrange to have as much help around the house as possible. Move slowly and take it very easy. Have a pillow around to put against your stomach when sneezing or coughing to help with the pain, use one behind your back when sitting. Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby. (Your doctor/midwife will let you know if that is even ok during the first week). You will experience all of the other things that women do with a vaginal birth (such as Lochia, cramping etc.). Some women recover within a few weeks, most take 6-8 weeks for full recovery. Some tips: When you stand up, stretch your arms above your head to un-cramp your stomach muscles. Check your stitches every day to rule out infections. Drink lots of water to help flush out potential infections.

Babies 0-6 months &Blog

Jaundice and Newborns

February 22nd, 2012 → 5:01 am @

Two of my kids had jaundice. My firstborn was diagnosed while we were in the hospital and he wasn’t “too” yellow. The doctors put a light blanket under his sleeper and a couple of days later he was “pink” again. I wasn’t worried, as no one else seemed to be.

My third was a different story…

Read the rest of this post

Babies 0-6 months &Blog &My kids

Tip#17 Babies 0-6 months. My stomach hurts… What are these after pains?

February 13th, 2012 → 5:02 am @

Despite the amount of reading I did about being pregnant and what to expect – I neglected to spend time reading about how I would feel those first few weeks.

The after-pains were one of those things…

Here is the answer from my book. It’s part of the chapter called Mom: The First Weeks.

You thought you were done with contractions once they baby was delivered. Well…. These after-pains, which to me, felt like contractions, are in fact very important. It’s your womb that is contracting, shrinking back to its normal size. Breastfeeding can stimulate this process due to the oxytocin that is produced when breastfeeding. They also say that the faster the delivery and the more kids you have, the stronger these after pains will be.  This was true for me… They usually go away within a week and are not constant.

Babies 0-6 months &Blog

Tip #16 Mom-the first weeks: How long does it take to recover from the birth?

February 8th, 2012 → 5:03 am @

I am one of the lucky ones that recovered from the birth of my kids pretty quickly. I didn’t tear, didn’t need C-sections and the births were all pretty straight forward. So I literally (for 2 of my kids) walked away from the hospital hours after giving birth.

Welcome to Holland… If there are no complications you are generally sent home – often only hours after the birth of your newborn. Obviously, there are many exceptions to this rule but for my 3rd child, I went into the hospital at 10:30, baby was born at 12.00 and I left at 15.30.  Seriously.  And I must say that I really liked the idea of being back in my own house, on my own couch with my new baby. The hospital rooms weren’t my favorite – it was bad enough that all of the babies in the room kept us awake, but if we’d actually fallen asleep we were inevitably woken up for temperatur taking, change of shifts, breakfast etc.  So it worked for me.  But it doesn’t end there in Holland. We have an “after-birth” care system here. Trained women come in every day for 7 days to take care of you, make lunch, check on your baby etc. You are also visited by your midwife and a nurse comes in to test the hearing etc. So you are not on your own.

Having said all this – I did spend a week in the hospital for my first & second born. I lost a lot of blood as my placenta didn’t come out naturally. It meant a trip to the OR and a very weak mother. In the end I received a blood transfusion that sped up my recovery. After that my body (luckily) bounced back into shape pretty quickly.  But I took it easy, slow walks, some fresh air, good food and no real exercise for months.

Here is the “short” answer in my book Babies 0-6 months. It’s part of the second chapter called Mom – The First weeks.  I added this chapter because it was the area I was least prepared for. The Me part.

Some women walk away from giving birth some don’t.  You may feel energetic for the first few days, then very tired. If you’ve had a caesarian, the recovery is longer since you’ve just had invasive surgery and your stomach muscles etc. need to repair themselves. As much bed rest as possible is recommended for the first week and about 4 to 6 weeks before returning to normal activity (6 weeks to be on the safe side). It’s important to allow the recovery process, otherwise you’re putting yourself at risk of injury or chronic problems down the road. Take the time to relax a little, take your baby for easy walks in a pram/stroller. There are a few light exercises that are appropriate after giving birth- talk to your post-natal/women’s health physio for advice.

Babies 0-6 months &Blog

Tip #15 Is it possible to spoil my newborn by holding her too much?

January 26th, 2012 → 11:36 am @

In light of my 4 year old starting school and me not being ready to let go of our now useless buggy – I thought it was appropriate to continue with this next tip/question.

Is it possible to spoil my newborn by holding her too much?

Someone described the first 3 months after birth as being like the 4th trimester.  It’s a great way to look at it.  Your baby is learning to live outside of your tummy – she needs time, comfort, you.

These first months were my favorite – I loved holding my newborns, loved carrying them close to me in my wrap, loved having them fall asleep on my chest while I was laying on the couch. I don’t believe that you can spoil a newborn. We still have very huggable kids. Even our 8 year old boy loves to cuddle And the kids love to hug each other.  Maybe due to all of that cuddling they got as newborns?  Or maybe we are just really really lucky.

Here’s the answer that I wrote in my book:

No. Remember that your baby has just spent 9 months in a very comfortable, warm and safe place. It’s natural to hold your baby a lot and keep her close to you. I do not believe that it’s a good thing to let your baby cry for long periods so that she can get used to being away from you.  Your baby is used to hearing your heartbeat and to smelling you. Enjoy these first months – before you know it you’ll be begging your child for a hug…

Babies 0-6 months &Blog &My kids