My positives during self-isolation

My positives during self-isolation

In this post, I am sharing with you my positives for us during this self-isolation. We are all in this together to flatten the curve we need #StayAtHome.

The Pandemic

The pandemic crisis we are currently experiencing, I really didn’t see it coming (probably like all of you)! It came from behind, sneakily and suddenly! It has shaken up my life, my daily routine, without me even having had time to prepare for it.

At the time, it was almost unreal. It started with parents not being allowed to collect their children inside of the schools, but wait for them outside. Very unusual for our school and I knew then (and also after reading about what was happening in Italy) that the schools would soon be closing. And they did two days later. March 14th, 2020 was the last day.

The self-isolation

At the very beginning of this isolation, my first reflex was to continue my little routine as before. I didn’t immediately cancel the coffee and play dates I had planned for the following days with my friends. In fact, some of my acquaintances were still posting photos on Facebook of the gatherings they were doing with their loved ones during the weekend. I know, it wasn’t the best idea…

Then, I listened to the news and the press briefings of the Belgian government and I understood how my own actions or behaviors had a real and important impact on the spread of the virus. Respecting public health recommendations and social distancing, even with our close entourage, is essential if we want to save lives. So I canceled everything: playdates, lunch dates, and even our church (a great big part of my social life) had to cancel bible studies and Sunday services. Then began my real confinement.

It’s pretty rare that I have so much time to spend continuously inside the house. The members of my household consist of my 26-year-old daughter, my 6-year-old son, myself, our two Dachshunds, cat, hamster, fish, and turtles. 🙂

At home with the “kids”

My daughter still needs to go to work and so I understand that she wants to relax during the weekend, but when she just sits in the coach, gaming or on her phone while I’m trying to make diner, entertain her little brother and do the washing up, it frustrates me and I can get a bit sharp-tongued.

But she does go out and play soccer with her little brother, she drives me to the grocery store, gives me a big hug every evening. So, overall, it’s been great having her home so much instead of just seeing her briefly during the week and then comes the weekend and she’s off to her boyfriend in Ghent. Looking forward to having a “girls night” this weekend. Chips, wine, and a chick flick.

My six-year-old is such a happy easy-going child, but he is a child nonetheless. After about every 30 minutes he will as me “what can I eat?” hopeful that I would say, “Hey why don’t you go get yourself some ice cream or candy” and is ever so disappointed when I say to get some fruit or something healthy instead,

When I’m having fellowship or women’s bible study via ZOOM, he creeps up behind me, poking me in the neck with his tiny little finger “can I play on the Switch mommy, please, can I?” even though I laid out another activity for him. I usually give in and say yes (and then feeling guilty about the excessive screen time)

And he is very stubborn, we are currently in a trust battle.

Me: “If you promise to do something, I expect you to do it then.”

Mister 6: “No, I don’t want to

Me: “Then you are breaking my trust, I respect that you have the right to choose some things, but this is something YOU promised to do, and now you will not

Mister 6: “I just don’t want to! Now I’m tired of your words and your brain”….

He then walks out of the room…

😳 He is also learning about consequences —->no screen time until the end of time.

The fun side

But on the more fun side, I’m super proud of his creativity and imagination in inventing new games for himself. In fact, we take the opportunity to get out board games we haven’t played in a very long time or I had the local radio on and it was playing classics from the ’80s and so I was sharing with my son where I was in life and what was happening in the world when a particular song came out. We even looked up the video of the 80’s song “The land of confusion” by Genesis. Sad to realize that most of the world leaders in the video are deceased and it reminds me again how we are only here for a short time.

Spring cleaning

Another positive element that this confinement brings to my life is the possibility of cleaning up. My Lord, how happy I am to have ENDURING time to regain control of my house. I have so often wished that time would stop for a month so that I could clean my house! I feel so bad to be happy about it in the current context but I really needed to start cleaning, packing and sorting things out as we are to move again mid-May. Lord willing.

Big love for technology

ZOOM, why have I never heard about this application before. As a Canadian across the pond from home I regularly Facetime with my mom and sister, and the quality is never great, not even good. But I have been introduced to ZOOM via church. We do our weekly online women’s bible study and Saturday’s we have a prayer group and on most days there is fellowship tome. Meaning that anybody with the need to just not feel alone can join in and we have some chit chat.

I have gotten to know people that I have never spoken to before. I have had deep conversations with friends. It’s just pretty surprising how this damned virus is bringing people together.

Time to reflect

Finally, the thing I appreciate most about this period of isolation is the time I have to think. To reflect on my life, on faith… on my spiritual journey that I have been on for a few years now. I take the opportunity to take stock of my past choices in order to make the best possible decisions for my post-pandemic life. With the help of my family, therapist and close friends, I am learning to think about myself and my well-being instead of all the negative stuff that has been going through my mind due to what happened. Instead of investing my time in those who don’t appreciate it.

I realize as I get older that my time is precious, so I try to choose carefully who I want to spend it with and in what context I want to spend it. It is not always easy to think about myself because I have always wanted to please others, sometimes even at the expense of my own feelings.

Today, I give myself the right to express myself and to protect myself from things that could hurt me or take away my energy unnecessarily. It’s a long process, sometimes easier said than done, but I work on it every day and this episode of confinement gives me the opportunity to congratulate myself for the progress I’ve made and to set new goals to reach in order to be in perfect harmony with who I am, as I am in God!

So let’s all #StayAtHome

I do realize the COVID-19 sets off a financial contagion in the global economy with stock markets in free-fall and the OECD predicting a global recession, but this is needed. Our government (and most worldwide governments) publicly funded health care doesn’t have the capacity to handle even a relatively small surge in acute patients.

So #StayInside, let’s not spread this virus around and try to see the positive. That’s all we can do for now.

How about you? What does this time off bring to your life? What are your positives and most importantly, how can I pray for you?

Life by Mim
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Homeschool Kindergarten- The corona semester

Homeschool Kindergarten-The Corona Semester

If you found your way to my post “Homeschool Kindergarten- The corona semester”, you are probably like me, having to keep your children home from school due to the COVID-19.

Life in Belgium

Here in Belgium, all school lessons will be suspended starting today, March 16. However, the government called on citizens not to rely on grandparents to look after children meaning schools will still be responsible for providing care when parents have no choice but to work and for those who work in health care. The suspension of classes is until at least after Easter break. So many of you like me have to keep your children home. Yay?

My ‘dream’ of homeschooling (something very uncommon in Belgium) is coming true. But I know that my “dream” is considered a nightmare for others. I sympathize with those parents who still have to go out to work or are working from home with children already bored since this weekend.

I truly know that staying at home with kids can be a challenge, but it is what it is for now and we all need to try and make the best of it I suppose. But parents, do what you need to do to keep your sanity.

For me it, it’s having a schedule, for others, it’s switching on the TV for the kids while you go take a bath…it’s ok (yes, I’m thinking of you friend). These are unexpected times.

Schools have asked the parents to not treat this time as an extra school vacation but to try and keep our children academically motivated and busy. Some schools even providing homework and objectives.

Homeschool time

So here I’m sharing with you what our homeschool kindergarten- The corona semester (3de kindergarten class, Belgium) looks like for now.

We won’t be very strict in following it, it’s more of a guideline. Right now it’s 10:30 am and my six-year-old is sitting on the table drawing Yoshi character from his new Nintendo Switch game. It’s all good momma!

Pinterest is full of great ideas! Here is my board with ideas I love and tried out. Pin some.

And I made my schedule from this free Office Template.

I would really like to hear about how you guys will all be trying to survive this Corona house arrest. Give me some ideas please!

Homeschool Kindergarten- The corona semester

You got this!

Life by Mim

“Sparks of Joy” #2

Sparks of Joy #2

I’m going to share monthly with you what has sparked joy in the past month for me. It will not always be things, but it can be an outing, it can be a craft I did with my son, a new recipe I tried out. It can just be anything.

Here you can read my list of the month of January 2020

Here is my list of things that have sparked some Joy and given me a thrill this past month.

  1. Visiting the train museum “TrainWorld” in Brussels on Wednesday afternoon and simulating an actual train ride at the end.
  2. My new translucent with a touch of glitter, Jimmy Choo glasses. I love them more in their box than on my face though.
  3. YNAB!!! I have been using this budgeting website for a couple of months, but it was only since this month that I can actually see where my money is going to and where I need to make changes. I love this website and so it’s so easy to use. I actually like doing my finances now.
  4. The Museum of Natural Sciences. Must do the museum, again in Brussels. Tip: For children 5 and up there is the PaleoLab experience during the school holidays. My 6-year-old especially liked rebuilding a stegosaurus.
  5. Ash Wednesday. The beginning of the Lent season. I actually love this more than Christmas. Easter is about the completion of God’s plan that begun with Christmas. I have been following Sarah Bessey’s “Simple Practices for Lent”
  6. Last one and another museum. Yes, I love museums, don’t you? Well this one, The Gallo-Roman museum was not in Brussels but in a town called Tongeren where the Gaul Ambiorix is from. Probably my favorite museum up to now. Each level in the building was dedicated to an era, from the Neanderthal to the Gallo-Roman era. Very child-friendly. With a quick touch with of your audioguide on the item of your interest, you can choose between the children or the adult explanation. Tip: The “Super Guide” who is there during the School Holidays from 1:30 pm until 5:30 pm who knows about almost everything in the museum and lets your child, hear, experience and taste the past.
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February was really the month of museums for us.

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So that was it for the month of February. Many museums, not so many actual things.

Have you tried/done any of the things on my list above? Any comments you would like to share? Would love to hear. Any more museum recommendations?

Life by Mim

Letting go of the abuser

Several times in my life, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that someone I dearly love is abusive. They are not always criminals like my ex-husband, but abusive none the less.

Discerning abuse

Their words are cruel. Their smiles were disingenuous. They lie. They insinuate. They gossip. 

Psychological or emotional abuse may seem like no big deal, but it’s absolutely insidious. Someone you love and trust mounts an intentional strategy campaign to make you feel stupid, crazy, or worthless. Understand: they can destroy your friendships or even drive you suicidal. And don’t even get me started on the threat they pose your children. You want your kids to be healthy and happy with firm faith in God? Psychological abusers will try to destroy that.

My in-laws…I have previously written a post about saying goodbye. This was weeks after discovering what my husband had done. I had hoped for their help and support, but I knew that would not happen because I knew how they were during our marriage. What happened, happened over a period of years. This was planned. This was a strategy to sew discord. 

After I don’t know how many ridiculous situations where I have been avoided, where I heard mean gossip from them, getting angry looks, I finally acknowledged that my loved ones were abusive.

Is it in my mind?

I was wondering what could possibly be their motivation? Maybe It’s all in my head. But the pattern of abuse became undeniable. Upon confronting these people (only one responded by the way), wanting to be able to talk about how the situation felt for me, them ignoring me, cutting me and my children out of their lives, telling lies to others. They refused to talk about the situation. I somehow was an evil genius who somehow instigated my husband (and physical abuser) actions to frame him. They gossiped and lied. The mask fell off. The smiles turned to spitting rage. It was ugly.

Letting go

Before I confronted them though, the emotional influence they had over me was terrible. Just seeing their name pop up in my emails caused a wave of nauseous. I had nightmares about them calling me on the phone, seeing them in school or at the supermarket, insulting my kids, or spreading lies about me. I realized that for the sake of my mental health – and for the sake of my children, and my emotional stability – I needed these people out of my life. But they hadn’t committed any crimes!

Letting go of the abuser

There was no one event I could point to and say, “They’re dangerous.” But like I said, the patterns of abuse were undeniable. They stretched back for decades and demonstrated a clear malevolence and conscious intent to harm and destroy. And now, these behaviors were affecting my kids, my sleep and my ability to heal from the spousal abuse and divorce. That’s when Psalm 1 came to my rescue:

Blessed is the one

who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

or sit in the company of mockers,

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

and who meditates on His law day and night. 

I am not called to enable wicked, abusive people. I am not called to tolerate the damaging sins of the unrepentant. I am not called to socialize with people who mock, lie, and mess with my head or my kid’s heads or even other people’s heads. I am called to cling to God and meditate on Him day and night. 

I longed for their love and support, but they denied me this and instead were part of my torment. They made me feel like the criminal instead of the victim. I finally realized that I am so much better off without them. I finally realized what they did too, was abuse.

Healing

Now, if someone else were to go and minister to my abuser(s), I’d say, “Thank you! God bless you!” But my abuser is not my mission field. They do not love me. They do not respect me. Nothing I say or do can help them, except to deny them the opportunity to sin against me. 

Within weeks – even days – of cutting those people out of my life, everything improved. My depression lifted partially, my anxiety eased up, my prayer life blossomed, my Bible reading was more fruitful, and I really feel I became a better mom, friend, and worshipper of God. 

The moral of the story being, if someone in your life is spiritually poisoning you – if being around them damages your faith, causes friction in your marriage, exacerbates your depression/anxiety, or makes you feel stupid, crazy, or worthless – break free. Cling to God. 

“Blessed is the one

who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

or sit in the company of mockers,

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

and who meditates on his law day and night. 

My top 5 Antwerp Instagram moms

MY TOP 5 ANTWERP INSTAGRAM MOMS

I love Instagram and I love following other moms in particular. One of the tags I follow is actually is #momlife. I love seeing artsy pictures of cute children in cute outfits, I love seeing toys and crafts that I haven’t seen before and I love getting local tips or travel tips to try out with my 6-year-old.

I’m currently inspired & captivated with these 5 Instagram mom bloggers from Antwerp that you must go follow now. Seriously, do it. Now!

My top 5 Antwerp Instagram moms

Name Jessica // Blog: Exploring Life // Instagram: @jessicanobels– Teacher, blogger and an environmentalist with the cutest girls ever. Something about kids and glasses makes my heart melt. Maybe because my son wears them too. 

Name: Nathalie // Blog: Unicorns and Fairytales //Instagram:@unicorns_and_fairytales – Amazing trip photos & adorable family. Also a mom blogger with a few blogging awards. Love her ideas on almost everything!.

Name: Lynn // Blog: Averechtse // Instagram: @LynnFormesyn – She is not the typical Instagram mom. She mainly uses Instagram to advocate for people with chronic pain (people like me). She is a gifted writer with an honest pen and recently wrote a book. Truly inspiring woman.

Name: Lies // Blog: Liesellove // Instagram:@Liesellove –  She is a #momentrepreneur in the digital world and has a wonderful taste in taking colorful pictures of her super cute family. Also very inspiring when it comes to family travels.

So these were my My top 5 Antwerp Instagram moms!

Who would you like to add to this post? I cannot get enough of these strong power mama’s! Leave them for me in the comments and I’ll be sure to check them out!

Life by Mim

“Sparks of Joy” #1

Sparks of Joy

I’ve decided to share with you guys a mini list of things that have sparked joy for me in the past month. I know when you hear “Sparks Joy” you are probably thinking of the Netflix series with Marie Kondo, about organizing and minimizing your belongings.

I watched that show just before moving last October and I must say, I found it very helpful when sorting through my stuff. The phrase now always pops in my head when organizing or when even shopping for things. Does it spark joy? Does it give me a thrill?

So I’m going to share monthly with you what has sparked joy in the past month for me. It won’t always be things, but it can be an outing, it can be a craft I did with my son, a new recipe I tried out. It can just be anything.

To refresh my memory while writing this post, I first check my Instagram where I share e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g ….I’m an oversharer I’ve been told. 🙊

So here is a list of things that have sparked some Joy and given me a thrill this past month.

  1. This amazing from Teaja that my sister gave me Christmas. I love it so much that I finished it today. *insert sobbing*
  2. My friends spark a lot of joy, especially for helping me out with my crazy cargo bike situation.
  3. This year we’ve started learning bible verses with the ABC’s bible verses printable found on Pinterest. So with Bible verses and Pinterest spark some joy.
  4. This Otterbox. After having gone through several iPhone cases that have either started to flake (the silicon ones) or just would break I gave into buying the Otterbox. I mean, the cases I bought cost just as much. And it has already passed the test, I drop my phone regularly and it’s been saved up until now by the Otterbox.
  5. RMS Signature Set MOD collection is my favorite item! It’s so compact and natural and vegan (the base is coconut oil). It gives me a bit of natural color without irritating my skin. I did have to look up this tutorial to figure out how to use it best.
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❤️

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So that was it for this month. I could have gone on, so many things to be grateful for, but I wanted to keep this post short and clear.

Have you tried/done any of the things on my list above? Any comments you would like to share? Would love to hear.

Life by Mim

4 favorite recipes for my child’s detox bath

4 favorite recipes for my child's detox bath

After a full day of school, playing in the mud and sand, then kneading (almost) 100% natural slime at home plus baking and eating a carrot cake, my child deserves to end the day with a nice hot bath! All parents know that moment of calm and serenity that follows the bath: a clean little cutie who smells like soap, warm in his pajamas and ready for stories. And what if bath time could also be an opportunity to take care of our children’s health by offering them a gentle detox? Zoom on into my 4 favorite recipes for my child’s detox bath.

These 4 recipes I have come up with myself or found ideas on Pinterest and played with them.

They make falling asleep easier, provide quality sleep and gently cleanse the body of toxins accumulated during the day. What’s more, these recipes cost almost nothing. Why deprive yourself of them?

4 favorite recipes for my child’s detox bath

1 – Detoxifying bath salt with lemon


This detoxifying bath salt recipe is excellent for children with skin problems, irritations, eczema, dryness, etc… It helps to regain well-being when children are very tired from their day. Lemon essential oil is excellent for regaining a good mood and feeling soothed, it promotes a positive atmosphere and an optimistic attitude.

Mix a cup of Epsom salt and a cup of baking soda then add a drop of lemon essential oil. Then place under the faucet. I buy the Epsom salt at Holland & Barret.

Let your children soak for 30 minutes under supervision of course!

2 – Purifying Bentonite clay bath


The bentonite clay boosts general circulation and has been shown to act as a detoxifying agent.

Dissolve one cup of Epsom salt in hot water and add the tea tree essential oil.

Mix the clay with a small amount of water until all the pieces are removed (use a plastic spoon and a glass jar, no metal in contact with the clay!). Add the clay mixture to the saltwater and place it under the water jet.

It is also possible to make a clay paste that you can massage on your child’s body before bathing. Leave to dry for 5 minutes and let your child sit in the water and rinse.

3 – Detox bath with ginger


This bath is especially recommended for sick children! Small blocked noses, congested bronchial tubes, etc. can benefit from these two simple ingredients.

One cup of magnesium flakes and 1 tablespoon of organic ginger powder. Place the mixture under warm running bath water and let your child soak for 20 minutes.

I will be given my little Baba this bath tonight as he has been coughing profusely lately.

4 – Revitalizing bath with apple vinegar


This recipe is particularly suitable for children with skin problems. Apple vinegar helps to rebalance the pH of the skin and treat minor skin problems such as eczema, sunburn, itching, etc. It is a must to have at home but be careful, it is important that it always contains the mother of vinegar. I use the Bragg cider vinegar, but you can use any kind you like as long as it is raw and “with mother”.

Vinegar is also great as a conditioner for shiny and soft hair! If you don’t like the smell, add a drop of EO of real lavender to the mixture. The use of essential oils for children must be well thought out, and especially the oil must be of high quality!

Mix 500 ml of unpasteurized apple vinegar with the bathwater. Soak your child (or yourself!) for 30 minutes and dry thoroughly.

What’s the difference between Magnesium flakes and Epsom salts?

Magnesium flakes contain magnesium chloride and Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate. Magnesium flakes are purer and actually safer to use on children. They also absorb into your skin much faster than Epsom salts and the effects last longer.

Keep in mind:

  • When I mention essential oils, I am referring to quality, therapeutic-grade oils. I’m not talking about using diluted and watered down oils.
  • Try to keep them in the bath for 20 minutes to get all the benefits of the bath.
  • Lather them up, if you wish, with a natural moisturizer like coconut oil. I add in a few drops of lavender and give my son a light massage as I’m putting on his clothes.
  • Give your child some water or leave some beside their bed. Detox baths can make you thirsty. We always have a full reusable water bottle next to the bed.
  • Cuddle on the couch or in bed and read a good book before kissing them goodnight! Magnesium promotes sleep so they should sleep very well! Good for you! 🖤

I hope you’ll enjoy these few recipes and that you little angels will have fun playing splash and help them to sleep well.

Life by Mim

2020: year of the driver’s license?

2020: year of the driver's license?

Will 2020 finally by the year that I get my driver’s license?

I’m a pretty independent person. I have always been able to get from A to B by bike or public transport. I have visited cities, all by myself or with one of my children simply by relying on anything else but driving a car myself.

Independent person. But yet at 41 years of age, I still haven’t gotten my driver’s license. My daughter who is 25 years old will have hers before I have mine.

Why?

Well, it started out with me being a single mom at 18. I lived in the city at that time and had other expenses and worries that took priority.

When I moved to the suburbs I got myself a bike. It became a bit more difficult for me to get around, but still not enough for me to want to get a driver’s license just because I couldn’t really afford the driver’s lessons, let alone a car. Even a used one.

First and last try

Then when I got married, my husband encouraged me to get my driver’s license. one summer we 9he) drove to the South of France and that took us 12 hours and my husband had to pull over an hour away from our destination so he could have a nap. How much easier would it be if I too could drive? I started to feel some guilt about him having to drive all of the time.

So in 2013 when I was pregnant I went to take my theoretical exam and I passed the first time. I could already see myself driving our little one to school and being able to get the groceries myself.

But the plan was for my husband to teach me to drive… That did not work out. My husband was impatient, I was pregnant and hormonal…it was just not a good mix and before you knew it, my learners permit expired. *felt like such a failure*

2020?

Fast forward to 2020. I am now, unfortunately, a divorcee, chronically ill and a single mom who lives pretty far from school and the hospital were my doctors are, and after having biked 25 km a day to school and back, (plus having had multiple flat tires for no apparent reason), I am admitting defeat.

I’m studying again. Not so much has changed since 2013 luckily and I remember most things. I will hopefully be able to do the theoretical exam this week.

The next step will then be the driver’s lessons. I will have to take 20 hours of lessons AND THAT’S NOT CHEAP! *praying for the winning lottery ticket*

After the lessons pray some more and try to find an affordable second-hand vehicle and drive on a learner’s permit for 9 months. Then I have to take the practical exam and by the end of 2020 have my driver’s license, if God willing.

Sounds simple enough, eh? But I’m still skeptical. The will is very much there, I long for independence. But nothing seems to come easy to me. I’m sure it won’t be without any (mainly financial) hurdles.

So please tell me I’m not the only 40+ year old without her driver’s license. Can you share with me some positive stories? Prayers are also most welcome, we sure need them. 😅

EDIT

I just came across this post from the Bored Panda shared on Facebook, 30 minutes after writing this post! We got this!

40 Wholesome Middle-Age Success Stories

Life by Mim

To my child’s teacher

to my child's teacher

To you, my child’s teacher, to whom I entrusted my little one a little too early for my taste. You, who every morning when I arrive at the school, have a smile on your face. You confirm to me that I made the right choice. That even though my mother’s heart is heavy to carry when I walk through the door, the most precious thing in my eyes is in good hands.

To you, my child’s teacher, who marks every birthday with sensitivity and celebrates every celebration to the delight of the little ones. Who even goes so far as to push our participation in order to make each experience unforgettable for our babies.

To you, my child’s teacher who simply takes the time. The time to listen to him and me, to prepare with attention the activities of the next day in order to amaze the children, to cook recipes with love and by knowing the preferences of each one. To take the time to comfort one while you must also entertain the other. Taking the time to go outside to play, even if it means dressing them layer after layer or creaming them every ten minutes. At pick-up, take the time to tell each parent about the day in a hurry.

To my child’s teacher, to the one who raises my son, who binds up his scratches when he hurts himself on the playground. I am grateful for all your small attentions and for all your work. To the one who treats my son as if he were her own; thank you for everything.

You are in a profession that demands the best of yourself in order to pass it on to others. A profession that, unfortunately does not get the credit that it deserves. I have spent many hours in your classroom and just keep on being amazed by your abilities and calmness.

And to you, my child’s teacher, my son finds himself in you. I trust your passion, your interest, your skills and your love; thank you for everything.

Life by Mim

Happy 6th Birthday!-Born too soon.

Born too soon

My last child was born too soon. Things never could go easy it seems.

When your new baby is delivered, you anticipate it being the best day of your life. For me, that event on a cold, December day and was one of the worst days of my life.

My youngest son was born after I went into early labor. I had already been in hospital since week 24 with a placenta previa and inexplicable early contractions. To say I was scared is an understatement. He was going to be born way too soon.


Recently an acquaintance and now friend of mine had her baby delivered six weeks early and was terrified of what she was going through. I told her my story and she found such comfort in hearing the emotional similarities. Though everyone’s singular situation is different, I believe we all take solace in knowing the commonality of the emotional pain, trauma, and uncertainty that we’ve endured.

Way to soon

I was filled with emotions finding that my son was about to be delivered almost three months early.
When I first arrived at the hospital at 24 weeks with heaving bleeding I was being prepared for the birth right there, right then. I’d never heard of such a thing. I couldn’t imagine a newborn baby could survive outside the womb four months before he was scheduled to be born, but I soon learned today’s neonatal medicine is amazing. An army of specially skilled doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists and surgeons, saved my son’s life. But not on that day yet.

I did not give birth at the 24th week when first arriving. No, I was kept in hospital, on bed rest for 7 weeks, given a dose of magnesium and a steroid shot to help the baby’s brain and lungs develop. Eventually, the contractions stopped as did the bleeding and I was sent home for further bed rest…
However, 6 days later I was sitting in the front seat of my in-law’s car with the window down in mid-December because my mother-in-law was chain-smoking. I couldn’t blame her.
I left the hospital almost a week before with the warning to come back in ASAP if I began bleeding, or we both could die. And yes, I started to bleed again.
My worried (ex)husband was still at work across the border in the Netherlands, wondering if he should come to the hospital. The hospital was eerily quiet as I waited nervously for the diagnosis. I was told I would get another a dose of magnesium and a steroid shot to help the baby’s brain and lungs develop and that they needed to do an emergency c-section.
Overwhelmed, I was terrified of what was about to happen.

My husband arrived, worried something was wrong with so much commotion. I was brought to the operation room and my husband needed to wait in the waiting room while they would prep me as they promised to get him once I was ready.

The birth

Born too soon

I remember sitting at the edge of the operating table, waiting for the doctor to give me an epidural. The whole time I was praying and feeling incredibly guilty that my body was not able to care for my baby anymore.

That it could not keep the baby safe and that my baby now had to be brought into this world…way too early. I could not protect him anymore. I had failed.


The first epidural did not work for some reason, at least not as quickly as was needed. They gave me a second one, trying to convince me that the pain I was feeling was not real. When the first incision went into my belly, the pain was indescribable. I screamed and my heart and blood pressure went off the chart and so they had to put me fully under. The anesthesiologist grabbed my throat, told me that they needed to do this and that everything will be ok, she put the oxygen mask on and out I went.

The next thing I remember was waking up from a dark fog, just realizing what had happened and I started asking, no yelling, begging for my baby.
Again, I feel this dark fog coming back upon me.

I hear the nurse or was it a doctor, calling for help because there was blood everywhere, I pass out again.
I come by once more, again calling for my child and I hear them asking for my husband.

That he might be able to calm me down.

He came. I don’t remember what he said first, but when I asked if our son was alright, he answered that he didn’t know. That he was still waiting for the nurse to come and get him when they wheeled out a baby in an incubator and that he knew that it was our son.

They rushed our son off to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), he wasn’t breathing.

I faintly recall a conversation with one of many doctors during the weeks leading up to my son’s birth, about the survival rates and complications likely with a baby being born this early.

To prepare us they even showed us books on how babies looked like at each week. They even gave us a tour of the NICU. We were well prepared, but you never truly can be.

As I lay in a hospital bed in the recovery unit, praying for my son. I negotiated with God. Don’t we all do that in dire circumstances?

“God, if you do this for me, I PROMISE I won’t let you down, I will dedicate my life and his to You Lord”

I just wanted this baby to be OK.

Our baby


They told us that he weighed 2140kg and that he was 47 cm long, he was big for a 31-week-old baby.

I had no idea what this meant. Would he survive then? Could he even breathe? Could I see him? Hold him?

That evening they brought us to the NICU to meet our little man. My Lord was he ever so gorgeous. He didn’t look like the pictures we had seen of preemies. Yes, his tiny, fragile body was poked and prodded with tubes, he could not breathe and was wearing a c-pap so we could not fully see his face.

But gosh, he was beautiful. His body had a rosy red color to it, plump and he still had fuzz all over. We couldn’t see his hair color yet, as he was wearing a bonnet to keep all the cords in place.

Life in the hospital

I stayed in the hospital for 8 days, and even though I was not supposed to walk around yet, I was walking up to the NICU a few times per day, staying for hours.

Starring at this wonderful child. But he was struggling. He still could not breathe on his own, could not eat of course and he had a condition that we didn’t know about until after he left the hospital. Baby apnea, making him suddenly for no reason stop breathing. Something common amongst preemies.

Even though he looked stable, the first 48 hours were crucial and it’s horrible, that feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen. His alarms went off, a lot. They had to nudge him and poke him, a lot.

I spent hours, days crying. I thought I’d run out of tears, but I didn’t.
After my youngest son’s birth, we spent 65 days living in the hospital fighting for life.

I say WE because I (we) was with my son every step of the way as were our family and friends, caring for our other children at home, bringing diners, praying for us and for loving us even though I did not feel lovable at that point.

born too soon
Baby Wearing really helped us to bond once he was able to leave the hospital. As I could not hold him as much as was needed from the start, we made up by carriers/wraps, skin on skin and breastfeeding.


And today — as he’s on the verge of turning 6 years old when I am writing this.


Even today when I talk about how life started for my 6-year-old son, many times I cry. It’s real trauma that I didn’t recognize as post-traumatic stress. I discovered this recently after having started therapy this past year…
The trauma didn’t end when our son left the hospital.

We still had spent many days in and out of the hospital due to his being a preemie. Hospitals almost felt like a second home for the first few years. I was terrified each time that I would lose him. Even if we were there for a simple check-up.

It must have been a week after he arrived home that my eldest son noticed that his baby brother wasn’t breathing in his cot.

We rushed him to the ER and he stayed again with an infection, but we also had to do a sleep test and we found out that he had baby apnea (meaning that he would just stop breathing) and we got to take home a monitor that our son needed to wear all of the time.

It gave a false sense of security and every time that it went off my heart raced and I would rub his little tummy asking him to breathe.

And now?

born too soon

But today he is 6 years old and the last time we spent a night in the hospital has been 3 years ago.

When you see him now, you would never even think that he had such a hard time starting life. He was born big, and he still is a very tall boy, towering over other children his age.

He does very well in school even though he needed to redo this past year of kindergarten due to some delays in his developmental milestones.

But now he is eager to read and write, and his favorite things are the arts (crafting and performing) and building towers and houses for his action figures and stuffed animals. His lego building skills continue to impress me.

He loves playing with our two Dachshunds and cat and just loves all animals. It’s a love that he and his big sister share and he even recently got to sit on her horse for the first time.

When picking him up from school he runs into my arms and covers me with kisses, wherever we are he will cuddle up to me and give me kisses and I hope that he agrees with me that when he is older that you can still be cool and love your parents. 😁

Sometimes he sleeps in his bed, but he still mostly snuggles up to me in mine. Then I think of the first days of his life when we couldn’t snuggle. So, I will take all the snuggling that I can get.

He is kind, creative, loving and mischievous as all children are.

I look forward to this coming year, the year of six, and I can’t wait to see the things that he will learn to do.

And I am looking forward to watching him grow up and one day seeing the man that he will become. My heart is so full.

My son, my miracle. Our blessing. Happy 6th Birthday dear Baba.

Life by Mim

BTW, I highly recommend this book, “Hold your prem” written by Jill Bergman that was given to me by a friend.

It helped me to prepare for the early birth and gave me tools on how to bond with my child despite the traumatic first moments of an early birth.

I always recommend it and gift it to parents who could benefit from it.