Sprout’s first visit to the hospital

Baby’s First Hospital Visit in Brussels

Sprout 1 on the day he turned 4 months, before surgery

Today I’m over at CheeseWeb talking about Sprout 1’s first visit to the Emergency Room and first (and only so far) hospital stay. Here’s an excerpt:

The first time this happened to us was almost 4 years ago, but I can still remember it clearly. 3am, my little almost 4 month old Sprout couldn’t settle himself to sleep, his tired eyes looking up at me, unable to nurse, constantly vomiting. We weren’t sure what was going on, but knew he had a hernia that could become blocked and require urgent surgery. After debating for a short while if we really should take him out into the cold August night (this is Belgium – August nights can be cold) to the emergency room, or wait until morning and call his paediatrician, we bundled him up and headed to Cliniques Universitaires St-Luc.

Click through to read the rest.



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 (http://www.zwangerinbrussel.be/) 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.

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 !

Continue reading

My Birth Story


A bit late , I know but better late than never!!! Things have been hectic since the birth, but I’ll leave that for another post!

I had gone out to dinner on Sunday 12 April feeling huge, but appearing to still be carrying quite high. Everyone was absolutely convinced I was going to go over my due date. Later that night, I woke up at around 4.30am Continue reading

My bags are packed

Last week I finally “finished” packing my hospital bags. I suppose it was about time, considering I’m past 37 weeks now and considered full term. It still doesn’t feel like it will happen that soon though. I have a gut feeling I’ll go over term, but you never know.

Here are my bags


This is what the Clinique St. Michel said we should pack:

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31 wks Scan


On wednesday we went for our 31st week scan. Little sprout was sound asleep and with no intention of waking up! It was nice to see him again and for the first time he was nice and still, so quite easy for the doc to measure. In the first picture you can see his head and arm, with his hand on his forehead. So sweet:) The second picture is just in case we had any doubts he’s actually a boy… lol. No doubts!!!

Of course by now he’s so big it becomes harder and harder to make out what we’re looking at in the scans. But Dr. Palgen is quite sweet and guides us along, explaining what we’re looking at.  His head is already down and he weighs around 1kg700 and his measurements are all normal, perfectly within average. Which made me let out a sigh of relief! Everybody seems to be astonished when looking at the size of my bump, thinking he’s going to be a HUGE boy or that my dates HAVE to be wrong. Luckily, not the case! Doc says I’m perfectly normal in size for my stature, nothing to worry about. Yay!!!!

This was most likely the last scan (unless he goes past the due date, or anything else that may need further investigation) so we will most likely only see him by the end of April now! Can’t wait!

Maternity tour @ Clinique St-Michel


Last Wednesday, we went on a tour of the maternity ward at the hospital where I’ll be giving birth, Clinique St-Michel in Etterbeek, part of the Cliniques d’Europe group. It took about an hour and a half and I really feel it was very useful. We came out with peace of mind regarding procedures and plenty of useful information. I strongly recommend going on one of these tours at your hospital if you have the opportunity.

We were showed around and given explanations by the head nurse. We didn’t actually see the rooms in the maternity ward because they were fully booked (yikes), but got to see the labour room, delivery room, a big bath they have available for pain relief, the room where baby will first be cared for and the neonatal section. I am quite relieved to see that, although it’s a hospital setting with all the necessary technology and tools, it is a relatively small unit, the staff seems friendly and they have a good balance between medicalised and natural birthing.

Other information that was given to us was when to go to hospital, which entrance to use, where to park, what to take, pain relief available, alternative methods for pain relief, mobility, necessary documents, procedures, etc. We were quite happy with all information given and all my questions were answered (and they were quite a few). They are also quite supportive of breastfeeding and during the stay (usually 5 days!!!) they teach you little by little how to take care of your baby so you’re better prepared once you leave. Baby stays by your side 24hrs a day, which some people feel may be a bit distressing, but I am very happy to hear. They warn you it will be hard at first, but are very supportive and there to help you.

You can remain relatively mobile during labour (given there are no complications and you haven’t had an epidural) and monitoring is done on and off more or less every 40min, so no wires constantly attached to you. IV is only given if you need it and not systematically. It’s also nice to know baby and mom have skin to skin contact before being taken away for routine examinations, cleaning and dressing (unless baby is distressed). I really feel family time is very important during those first moments after the birth.

I hope I’m this satisfied when it’s time for the birth itself!

We’re having a baby boy!!!!

And boy, he wasn’t shy to show it! Actually, it was hard to get him to show us anything else 🙂

Can you make out the boy bits below?


So, that means R was right all along, and very smug about it as well 🙂 And I’m sooo happy!!! I didn’t really mind if it’s a boy or girl, but was dying to find out so I can officially refer to “it” as “he”.

Everything is going beautifully and our doc at Clinique St. Michel has been very nice. R was late for the appointment because of a meeting, but the doc kept going outside to check if he had arrived and let him in, so he ended up not missing a thing. It was much harder to figure what’s what at this sonogram, but doc talked us through it and it was wonderful. Everything is perfectly normal and mr. sprout seems to be very healthy and active.

Now we have to start thinking of names…. and maybe start buying things as well?