I can hardly believe it has been almost a year since we welcomed our second Sprout into our family. From the moment we decided to have a second child the doubts were plenty. Not about the actual WANTING another child, but how it would affect the family dynamics, especially regarding Sprout 1.


Would I be able to love another child as much as I already loved Sprout 1? Would they get along? Would he be jealous? Could we dedicate enough time and resources to a second child? What would I do about breastfeeding (I was still breastfeeding Sprout 1 when I found out I was pregnant)? Is this fair to Sprout 1? And on, and on…

Of course, looking back now these questions seem almost silly. It’s amazing how these little ones fill our hearts so completely, yet there’s always room for more. My two sons are so very different, yet quite similar all at once. My sons’ relationship has grown. I think they both benefit from having each other, and they both love each other… most of the time.

Sprout 2 (10 months) is still at that stage of adoring his big brother, even when he gets knocked over! Sprout 1 (almost 4 years) has moments ranging from adoration to frustration and occasional spurts of jealousy when baby is getting “too much” attention (think milestones, like sitting, crawling, eating).

We’re into a good groove at the moment, but it hasn’t always been this way. I was surprised to find after Sprout 2’s birth that Sprout 1 wasn’t upset at the baby, but rather was upset at us. At me in particular, for a while. he was NOT happy with all the time I was spending with his baby brother.

We found ways to help him with his feelings and things got better as they got to know each other and as baby grew and became more responsive (smiles for big brother! giggles! chasing! yay!).

One thing I found helpful was giving him a doll to take care of. He would change diapers, burp, carry and even breastfeed (too cute!). We were also very open and explained why babies needed so much attention and how he was when he was a baby. We never denied him expressing feelings of wanting the baby to go back in mama’s belly, or insisted he loved his brother when he said he didn’t. Soon enough things fell into a new sort of normal.

I also found books to be a big help with the process, both for him and for me. Here are four books which really helped prepare the way and that he occasionally STILL asks to read.

Books for preparing the arrival of a new sibling

There's going to be a baby, by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury

This book is brilliant. It’s a conversation throughout the seasons between mother and son where they both imagine what baby will be once he’s big. Sprout 1 loves the scenarios and really identified with the little boy. I loved that the little boy expressed his negative feelings toward the baby, yet ends with a “Grandpa, we’re going to love our baby, aren’t we?”;  brought tears to my hormonal eyes.

What's inside your tummy mummy?, by Abby Cocovini

What’s inside your tummy mummy?, by Abby Cocovini

This book was recommended by a friend and it’s perfect for little ones to get a month by month picture of what is going on inside Mom’s belly. It consists of month by month 2-page spreads with tidbits about the growing baby along with real sized pictures of baby inside the “mummy’s tummy”. Sprout 1 loved to have me hold it up to my belly. It’s great for preschoolers who want to know the why’s and how’s, without too much information. It ends with a push and some information about newborns (referencing both breastfeeding and bottle feeding).

My New Baby, Illustrated by Rachel Fuller

My New Baby, Illustrated by Rachel Fuller

This picture book depicts many scenarios of what happens when baby is here. Lots of discreet breastfeeding images and side by sides of what baby does and what big sister or brother can do. Also pictures of going for walks with baby in a carrier. It gives kids an idea of how they can be included in activities with baby (helping with the bath, etc) and how activities like story-time and singing can include baby as well. A great little book for toddlers and preschoolers.

What baby needs, by William Sears MD, Martha Sears RN and Christie Watts Kelly, Illustrated by Renée Andriani

What baby needs, by William Sears MD, Martha Sears RN and Christie Watts Kelly, Illustrated by Renée Andriani

This book is certainly geared towards attachment parenting families. It has images of baby sleeping in a co-sleeper attached to the parent’s bed, being carried in a sling, breastfeeding, etc. It has little tidbits for the older sibling, and includes more than one older sibling, so good for families with more kids. Sprout 1 loved seeing familiar scenes and could relate to the parts addressing the older sibling’s feelings like wishing the baby would go away.

Raising Happy Brothers and Sisters: Helping Our Children Enjoy Life Together, from Birth Onwards , by Jan Parker and Jan Stimpson

Raising Happy Brothers and Sisters: Helping Our Children Enjoy Life Together, from Birth Onwards , by Jan Parker and Jan Stimpson

Finally, a book for the parents. I must admit I’m still reading through this as it covers before birth to adolescence, so I dip in as I feel the need. I researched many books on sibling relationships and from the reviews, this one seemed to be what I was looking for. It addresses the many stages of sibling relationships and family dynamics. The book is peppered with anecdotes from real parents, children and health visitors. It’s easy to read in short spurts (is it too much information if I tell you this book sits in our bathroom?) and is packed with sound advice and reminders of simple things we sometimes forget or overlook.

Do you have more than one child? Are you thinking about it? How have you handled it and do you have any tips or stories you’d like to share?

Littlest Sprout’s birth story

Wow, it’s been over 3 months already!!! Is it really possible it’s been so long? Seems like just the other day I was dragging my enormous belly around Brussels!

Well, I have been busy, that’s for sure. Two kids are a whole other dynamic, especially when one is always keeping the other up (and no, I’m not referring to the baby not letting Sprout 1 sleep – it’s actually been the other way around, but that’s a whole other story).

I figure it’s high time I write down Sprout 2’s birth story, before the details get completely blurred in my mind…

If you’ve been reading awhile, or reading through the archives you may remember Sprout 1’s birth was actually quite easy (you can find the story here). It was actually pretty similar this time round. The night before I was having what I thought were Braxton Hick contractions since it wasn’t another 2 weeks until my due date. Just in case, I decided to pick out the baby outfits and such I wanted to take to hospital. I woke pretty normally the next morning, went to take Sprout 1 to school, and came back home to pack my bag. I kept having contractions all morning and it was really beginning to sink in that this was it. My Mom was staying with us, and she wasn’t quite sure if I was in labour either because she said it didn’t really look like I was in pain, but started to agree I might be when my contractions were about 10 min. apart. I was still a bit doubtful, however, because I didn’t have a “show” like I did with Sprout 1. Otherwise, it felt like the first phase of labour was well on the way. R was at work, so I called to let him know he might have to come home at some point during the day. I still felt ok, and contractions were short and spaced enough that I felt ok to pick Sprout up from his half-day at maternelle. I did have to slow down a few times on the way due to mild contractions. Once I was at maternelle, contractions were closer together and I had to stop a few times on the way to the gate, which attracted some attention from passers-by, some of who stopped to ask if I was ok. Sprout was finally out and his teacher was explaining how he had a good morning that day and I had to hurry her along saying, sorry but I think I’m in labour so really must go! Her face was priceless, slightly panicky. But all was well and off we headed to the car. A couple of friends checked up on me to make sure I was ok to drive, and I really still was. On the way home I called R to say he better come home so I could go to the clinic and he asked if I could stop by his office on my way to pick him up! Ha! he wasn’t fully aware of how far along I was. Of course I said no. He caught a taxi and met me at home. After getting my bags and explaining to Sprout he was going to stay with his grandma while we went to the clinic for his brother to come out of the belly, off we went in midday traffic. When we got to the maternity at St. Michel, I saw my doctor was there (yay! at least he wouldn’t be late). We explained how we thought I was in labour, but no one really took us seriously. They sent us into one of the rooms with an intern midwife to determine if I really was in labour and if I would be admitted. The intern clearly still had a lot of training to do, especially bedside manners! Luckily I’m not one to freak out or anything. Mostly I just wanted her to shut up because she was consistently talking and asking questions. She hooked me up to the monitors, finally getting it sort of right after a few attempts and proceeded to tell me she was going to monitor me for a while and then, in her words (well, her words were French, but you get it) “we’ll decide if you are in labour”, said in a most skeptical voice. Well, um, no YOU won’t decide… but I kept my mouth shut. After finally deciding I indeed was in labour, I was admitted and asked tons of info for filling out some forms (through contractions – really? I had to keep interrupting her) and get hooked up to the IV drip thingy (without the actual drip – don’t know the technical terms!). Anyway, while trying to insert the thing, she totally went through my vein and I was bleeding.  Oh, and did I mention I have a slight fear of needles… fun indeed! She had to ask a colleague to get my other arm. No problems there, thankfully. At this point she wanted to give me an enema!!!! Which I didn’t want and so I proceeded to lock myself in the bathroom until I didn’t need one! Ha! Finally my little birthing room was cleared of all people (R went to register me and get a bite to eat) so I turned on my Natal Hypnotherapy Labour Companion tracks on my iPhone and began to relax. I used this book and cd for preparation this time since I had lent my Mongan Method Hypnobirthing book to a friend and hadn’t gotten it back yet. I liked the Mongan method, but didn’t want to get the same book I already had so I tried Natal Hypnotherapy this time. It was a tremendous help! I won’t say I actually went into self-hypnosis as I’m not quite sure I did, but it really did help through contractions without any medication and I’m pretty sure I could attribute being so calm and nobody believing I was in labour to having used this. Totally recommend it!
I did use the birthing ball this time, since Sprout 2 was in an awkward position and it was soothing. Things progressed fairly quick. I went in at about 13h30 and Sprout 2 was out by 16h30 🙂 I breathed through the contractions like the cd recommends and was fine talking in between. The room was very hot though and I was feeling quite tired near the end and thought I wouldn’t have the energy for pushing. This is normal though, it’s the transition period when you don’t really think you can keep up anymore and then… you muster up some superhuman strength and out came little Sprout in the most beautiful moment ever. Thankfully no episiotimy this time, only some small tears which were stitched up. Healing was sooo much better! Oh, and at the end, the doc told me he never thought he would be helping to deliver my baby that day, he really was expecting to send me back on my merry way for false labour. Another interesting tidbit, I spoke French to everyone the whole time, and everyone spoke it back to me (except R of course, we do Portuguese between us). As soon as Sprout 2 was born and I said something along the lines of “hello there beautiful!”, everyone switched to speaking to me in English, despite my answering in French. This happens all the time soon as people hear me speak English. Why, oh why? It’s nice people want to be helpful, but it makes speaking better French that much harder.

So, we were off to a good start and he most definitely did not look like 2 weeks early (Sprout 1 also came 2 weeks before the first estimated due date, so just goes to show…). He was a plump 3kg250 and a short 49cm. This one most definitely takes after me… HA! For those of you wondering how long you have to stay in hospital for a second child here, they generally tell you 3 to 4 days (5 to 7 for first). However, with Sprout 1 at home, and not having particularly enjoyed staying in hospital the first time around, I wanted to be home as soon as possible, where I would have more loving help, a familiar environment and my oldest son. A sweet friend of mine told was only in for 24h because she got a midwife to go home to take care of her and baby and perform all the necessary tests (the reason they really don’t want you out before). I used the same service she did ( and both of us have only good things to say.  They speak EN, FR and NL and are super sweet and helpful. Plus, it’s covered by the mutuelle! All you have to pay is their dislocation fee (about €5)! I was so happy for this and really believe it was an incredible aid to our good start to breastfeeding and to him not having developed jaundice. But I’ll leave the breastfeeding story for another day.

Will this be the beginning of the end of breastfeeding?

Ok, I’m going to get really personal here and vulnerable here, but I believe there are others out there who may feel similarly. Plus, maybe if I get it off my chest and on the screen I could better decide what to do and how to do it. And hey, maybe someone out there will hear me and maybe have some advice. But please, do be kind! I’ve read nasty discussions on this topic on other places and I’d really like to avoid that here.

I still breastfeed the Sprout at almost age 2. The majority of people around me think this is absolutely ridiculous, and he should be over it by now. Less than a handful of people I know genuinely think it’s good to continue and it’s the best for him. Add to this all his issues with food – meaning he really isn’t keen on food in general and absolutely won’t have even a taste of some things – and people always blame the breastfeeding.

The issue I’m struggling with here is really how do I feel about it in the middle of all this? I’m not quite sure. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed, despite all the struggles in the beginning, and all the advice for me to just give up and give formula, I was brave enough to say screw it and go with my gut. It was really hard to this the first 5 weeks, but then it was oh so perfect. However I never really thought for how long I’d want to breastfeed. While I was pregnant, and with all the information I read, I figured around 6 months. I figured that’s what they say you’re supposed to do, right? Then he was born, we struggled, I gathered information and then thought, well, at least a year. Then I read some more and figured he would breastfeed for as long as we were both happy (with the emphasis on his happiness though). Fast forward to now. Until very recently, he would have a feed before nap, before sleeping at night, during the night inconsistently and in the morning. But now Sprout is constantly asking to breastfeed, especially since he learned the word mek (milk). At any random time, sometimes right after he had a feed. On good days, I usually say yes whenever he wants to, at least I do if we’re home. On bad days, I really resent it and we both end up unhappy because he wants to feed and I try to put him off. I especially resent it when we’re out and he wants to feed anywhere in public. Now, I’m trying to figure out if I’m truly not happy with him breastfeeding, or if I feel this way because of what I think others are thinking. This really bothers me. I really shouldn’t care what others think – it should not be a factor. But at the same time, I kind of feel like I want my body back, like I’m ready for this phase to reach an end. Would it actually be better for Sprout? Would he eat/sleep better? Could I then have some more time to myself? There’s just no way of knowing the answer to that. What if I do wean him, and he has a hard time and I feel like I should have continued? Why is it so strange to breastfeed a toddler in our society. It used to be normal. What if the weaning process is traumatic for him? But then again, what if he never really wants to stop breastfeeding on his own (ok, maybe never is unrealistic… I doubt he’d be a breastfeeding teenager…)? There are just so many questions, but I keep thinking, if I’m not happy with him wanting to breastfeed ALL THE TIME, is it maybe really time to stop? Is it more harmful to him if he feels my resentfulness when I feed him? What would be the best way to start weaning.

Then I think, the attachment parenting etc movements, which are very much in line with how I parent, would think I’m just awful for not following the child on this. Are they right? Is this just another form of peer pressure as well? Or would I be an awful parent if I imposed weaning, even partial weaning, on him?

Well, no answers I guess, only questions. Let’s see. I may start weaning him, just keeping a couple of feeds. Maybe try to dissociate breastfeeding with sleeping – although it’s so much easier to breastfeed before putting him to sleep. He’s much calmer that way, but then he expects me to breastfeed every time he wakes up – which is A LOT – and I’m oh so tired from lack of sleep. I don’t know… At the same time it feels like it’s such a natural thing and make him oh so happy.

3 months today


Our little man woke up in a good mood today 🙂 I’m amazed at how time flies… 3mos! he is oficially not considered a newborn any more!

So much has happened in these 3 months and our lives have greatly changed. It’s amazing to see Alex grow day by day and all the new things he can do. And how much the three of us learn!


I’m still breastfeeding exclusively and Alex still eats just about every 2hours, except the 4 hour stint at night. He hates napping during the day and gets himself really tired before he goes down, but at least we’ve managed to establish his bedtime at around 8:30pm!!! Goes out like a light and although he (sort of) wakes for his night feeds, they’re really easy because he’s so fast now and he easily resettles either in his crib or our bed (if I let myself fall asleep while breastfeeding mostly). He still has issues with his digestive system, so still colicky, but so much better. he graces us with smiles more often, seems like he wants to giggle, coos and is a pro at balancing his head on his neck 🙂

Adventures in breastfeeding


Breastfeeding is best and it’s definitely natural but it’s not entirely instinctive and it’s not always easy! I didn’t count on that… I’d like to share my story in hopes of encouraging others with problems and to help those who intend to breastfeed avoid the problem I had! Just so you know, the story has a happy ending !

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BCT Antenatal classes

Illustration courtesy of Tine Graf. BCT

Illustration courtesy of Tine Graf for BCT

I’m on a roll here… Trying to make up for the lack of posts this month. It’s just all been so hectic with work and all!

We started going to the Brussels Childbirth antenatal classes a couple of weeks ago and have had 3 classes since. I must admit (and I guess it’s not too hard to guess) that it was my idea and Rodrigo is kindly humouring me without much complaint. He didn’t think they’d be useful and sometimes doesn’t like the activities, but admits that he has learned a few things and that the classes are useful. I agree with him regarding some activities, but overall I’ve found these classes to be brilliant. It’s a great way to meet other English-speaking parents expecting around the same time and to receive helpful information and hints in a very friendly, relaxed environment.

The classes are given by a Nurse/midwife from the UK and so far we’ve covered topics such as what happens during labour, when to go to hospital, pain relief methods (drugs and more natural approaches), breathing, packing for the maternity, how to change diapers (mostly for the dads!), etc. Today we also had a special class on breastfeeding given by a BF counsellor, which we both thought was fabulous! Techniques and very useful info was given, and it’s good to know that after the birth we can call our breastfeeding counsellor and ask for help/hints for breastfeeding. I think this will be great support. Later on we’ll also have a special class on Infant Resuscitation, along with the regular classes.

I highly recommend these classes to anyone able to attend. You can find more info here.