In case you thought I have abandoned this blog for good, I am here to reassure you that’s not the case at all. It’s just that a few life changes kept me from writing. Not really the literal act of writing, but I just didn’t have the time or energy to do it. But hopefully I will slowly go back to more frequent blogging from now on.
So here are the non-hip hippies news in a nutshell:
We now live in Hillegom, since the 7th of January. We had to leave our previous house because the owner decided to sell the house. We knew it was on the market when we moved in but had a one-year contract and were desperate at the time so we just moved in and hoped that the owner would not decide to sell it soon. Technically we could stay till May, as we had signed a second year contract as well but I hate being in limbo and we had other reasons we wanted to move as well.
At first we looked into staying in Haarlem. But we wanted a house with a garden or big balcony and at least 2 bedrooms and we soon found out that in Hillegom we could get so much more for the same price and still be close to our friends. I am really proud of us as we actually acted like adults, did financial calculations, researched schools, looked for green spaces and all the other stuff that is important for us and didn’t just spontaneously choose the first available house in Haarlem. So now we rent a proper family house with a garden for Loulou Maya to run around in Spring and an attic big enough to become a studio space for both of us.
Hillegom is significantly smaller than Haarlem and definitely not as “hipster-friendly”. It also seems to have a pretty unified Dutch population without a big expat community. Which, for us, at this stage is a plus, as we have both been working hard to improve our Dutch and integrate more.
As for the move itself, it went surprisingly smoothly, considering we had a toddler that was very willing to “help”. Thanks to our friends in Haarlem and N.’s colleagues, loading and unloading our stuff happened super-fast. Now, unpacking all the boxes and finding a new place for everything is another story…
The BUD project
I stole the phrase from Graeme Simsion’s “The Rosie Effect”, which I read in Dutch, right after “The Rosie Project”, which I also read in Dutch. Yay me! BUD stands for “Baby Under Development” and yes, it means I am pregnant. I am 19 weeks today and just a week shy of the big, 20-week scan. I thought I could delay the post till that’s done, but you can never be sure all will go well after a specific milestone in pregnancy anyway, so I decided to share the news with you all now.
If all goes according to plan, this baby will be born mid-June, three years after Loulou Maya was born (she is a June 1st baby). We had announced my pregnancy with Loulou when I was just 8 weeks and I wrote a post back then explaining how even if things didn’t go well, I would like to have the support network to fall back on, so why not share the news early on?
Well, now I know why. I got pregnant in June, right after my own birthday, but that pregnancy was what they call a chemical one, that ended just at 5 weeks. Physically it was not traumatic at all. And I thought that mentally it wouldn’t have much impact either, but I was wrong. Though I know (sadly) more mothers that have gone through a chemical or early miscarriage than not, it still had an impact on me. I eat healthily, don’t drink or smoke and there isn’t a history of genetic abnormalities in our families. So why would it happen to me? Well, for the same reason it happens to thousands of women. It’s a matter of chance. Bad luck. Call it what you want.
My midwife told me that the fact that it happened so early on is actually a good sign that my body recognizes abnormalities fast. And somehow, this observation made me feel better. What didn’t make me feel better though was the fact that so many (well-meaning) people are treating chemical pregnancies as if they are in your imagination or it never happened. I can’t count how many times I heard the question “but maybe you weren’t pregnant” or “maybe the test was a false positive”. Sure, that would be convenient but it’s not the case and it’s still a loss, no matter how small. I am sure you realize it’s not particularly easy for me to share this personal story here, but if it makes just one woman out there who has gone through a chemical feel less lonely, then it’s totally worth it.
The thing is, this chemical stole the joy of the new pregnancy. It really robbed me of it. I kept checking for blood till the early scan at 6 weeks, when we saw a heartbeat, and didn’t really start relaxing a bit till the 12 week scan and control. Though the symptoms of this pregnancy the first trimester were much more severe than the previous one (exhaustion, nausea, food aversions), I would worry about every little thing that was different. And many things were different. This pregnancy is nothing like my previous one. Which makes people bet “it’s a boy”, but we have no clue yet 😀 Now I have a visible, round pregnancy belly, which is reassuring, plus I feel little kicks, which I have been really looking forward to.
The end of 2016 found me stressed as always, when it comes to the quarterly VAT declaration. With a toddler and a pregnancy I barely made enough income writing to cover my accountant’s expenses. And with a new baby on the way I couldn’t see how things could possibly work out. So I decided to focus on being a mother for the next years and let my writing and design projects aside for the moment. Of course I will continue to write and draw but will try to keep it as a personal development and expression project and not invest time in sharing or promoting my makings. There will be the occasional facebook post, but that’s that. I also did my own VAT declaration for the last quarter of 2016, without my accountant’s help. We are waiting for a fine, obviously (God, I hope not…).
I am also planing to focus even more on my Dutch. Thanks to N. I found an awesome teacher, with whom I ‘ve been working the last three months. He has given me lots of confidence and helped me improve my syntax and grammar as well. I keep saying I want to finally take those language exams that are required to apply for a Dutch passport, but let’s see how that goes. In any case, as long as I keep studying, things should keep getting better, right?
The “Thank You”s
I want to close this super-long update post with a bit of gratitude. I owe a big “thank you” to our community here as well as to my friends and family in Greece and online for supporting us throughout all these changes and challenges. You all know who you are and you know in what ways you helped. Some of you have gone through -and are still going through- big challenges yourselves (moving to different continents, getting new babies, things burning down literally and figuratively, more pregnancy losses, elderly parents depending on you more and more, work and study pressure), but you were still here for us and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that.