It doesn't seem fair that I have been reading some of your (English) blogs for, like, forever, and commented on some of them as well. Not while the only things I throw on the Internet myself are written in Dutch and thus nothing more than complete and utter Gibberish to most of you. Okay, there's the pictures. And since my kids are obviously the most wonderful and special kids in the whole wide world, that should be enough. But I'm pretty sure you all think the same about your own kids, so I guess it's time for me to reveal a little bit about myself in my second language, English. You're welcome to read, comment, gaze at all the pretty pictures I might post here in the future, or just avoid the whole thing altogether...
For my opening post, here's the answers to 5 questions Cathy asked me:
1) How did you come to be bilingual? You obviously read and write English fluently, but you also speak Dutch. What's the story?
I was born and raised in the Netherlands where all television shows and movies, unlike in a lot of other European countries, are broad casted in their original language (with Dutch subtitles). And since Hollywood spits out a lot more
Okay, that was the boring part. Now for the fun part:
When I was 17, fresh out of High School, I left my family, friends and country behind and went on my biggest adventure so far. I hopped on a plane and flew to Australia to live on a huge big cattle-farm with a family of complete strangers, sharing their home, their traditions, their language and their school (well, basically their whole lives). After a few weeks of "OMG, I thought I was going to a country where they speak English, not Gibberish" and "Wow, 2 hours of English a week in High School didn't in ANY way prepare me for this!" I started living, breathing and even dreaming in English. When I flew back home 12 months later I was another person in more ways than one. And
More fun? Here goes:
Will/are you teaching the kids English too?
Not right now. They will grow up hearing a lot of English around them though. And if we have our way, in about 3 years (before they have to start school) my husband will take a sabbatical from work and we will go travel the world (or at least parts of it) with them for 6-12 months. They will pick up a lot of valuable things along the way, one of which might just be English.
Or, maybe, he will find a new dream job in (or his current one will send him to) some other beautiful part of the world and we will just pack up our kids and leave. Or hey, maybe I will find a dream job and HE will follow ME this time. You'll never know what adventures life will throw at you...
2) Do you think you'll try to have more kids, or are you done?
Er... Well... Hmm...
It took a lot of hard work (understatement of the year) to get to the point where we are now. We've hoped and dreamed and yelled and screamed and cried our way through 4 years of infertility, 6 IUI's and 2 IVF/ICSI's in two different continents before we got pregnant with Ivo and Robin. And when they arrived after "just" 32 weeks gestation (and believe me if I tell you I feel we are the luckiest people in the world to have even gotten that far) we practically lived in the NICU for 5 weeks before we finally got to take them home. Right now I feel so very lucky to have them around me every day, growing and playing and thriving. Somehow trying for a 3rd feels like tempting fate. How could we presume to be this lucky TWICE?
And this time it's not just us two we have to worry about. There's the kids, too. Will they suffer the consequences if we start treatments again? If my hormone-riddled self is crying over another failed cycle, will they feel my pain? And if my ob/gyn puts me on bed rest to prevent another premature birth, who will take care of them? Who will love them and cuddle them and play with them? And if the next pregnancy ends as soon or god forbid even sooner than the last, and we are stuck with weeks or maybe even months of NICU visits again, who will do all of the above with Ivo and Robin when we sit next to the isolette willing this new child to hold on, to breathe, to LIVE? Or will we choose to spend most of our time with the children already here? Because they are older and more aware? But if we do, will we damage our new child? Will it feel lonely without us sitting next to it's little glass home? Will it miss being touched and held by us? Will it not know who it's parents are?
But... Well... Yes... Another child would be welcome. We have enough cuddles, enough kisses, enough love to give to help another child grow and learn and find it's way. We would love for Ivo and Robin to experience being a big brother/sister as well as a twin. And, more selfishly, I myself would love to experience another pregnancy, another birth. Would love to feel those first kicks again, to know there is this new life inside of me, living, growing, waiting to come out. Would love to again meet my child for the very first time, get to know him/her, watch him/her grow and learn and live...
So when Ivo and Robin celebrated their first birthday, we chucked our condoms and our caution out the window. We opted to let nature take it's course. HAHAbigfuckingHa! As if that simple action would ever do the trick for us! But there's just too many fears, too many "what if's" (and too little sleep) to do more than that right now.
From our last IVF we have 3 leftover popsicles. 3 potential children waiting patiently for us to make up our minds. Waiting for us to decide whether we'll say "What the heck, people think we're crazy already anyway, we might as well give it a shot!" or "Who are we kidding? We should count our blessings! Let's give them to some science nerd who might just be able to cure cancer or Alzheimer's or some other horrible thing using those tiny clumps of yet undifferentiated cells..."
So... Um... So far... Undecided on that one...
3) Do you like to travel? Where have you been? Where would you like to go?
Yes, I do! I love to close the front door from the outside, knowing it will be a while until I see the other side again. To go places I've never gone before, see things I've never seen before, meet people I wouldn't otherwise meet. I love to be outdoors, be somewhere where it takes some searching to find the nearest person, the nearest road, the nearest house. People in the Netherlands live very close to one another: there's always someone else in view, some house nearby, some road you can hear in the distance. It's great to leave all that behind for a while and pretend you're the only people in the whole wide world. You and all the other people around you pretending the same thing, that is...
I've lived and traveled in Australia and in the USA. We also traveled through western Canada together for two months, working on farms along the way. I've seen most (okay, I'll rephrase: some bits of most countries) of Europe and parts of Africa, some with my husband and some with my (grand)parents. Even some on my own.
I would love to travel to Australia again, or to Africa. Actually, most of the places I've been are wonderful enough to warrant another visit. I would love to show most of those places to our kids, to tell them about what it was like for me the first time, and to let them experience their own "first time". To see those places through their eyes as well as my own.
I would also love to discover new countries, new worlds with them (Iceland is high on my list, as is South Africa). To let them take me by the hand and show me all the wonders they see. Right now we don't even need to travel far for that: around the corner are just as many wonders to discover if you are one year old and just learning to crawl or walk...
4) If you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Oh boy. And I thought the first 3 questions were hard to answer... Let's see... Yes! The little legs and cheeks of my children! They are so cute I could eat them all day long... But wait, they are tiny. Really tiny. Even them being twins and all and therefor having twice as many, they still probably won't last that long! Hmm, back to the drawing board...
Steak! Outback Steakhouse's Rib eye Steak, Medium-well, seared to perfection on a red hot grill, to be precise. Man, do I miss Outback Steakhouse... Any chance they'll be opening one up in the Netherlands soon?
5) If you were to be granted 3 wishes (and no wishing for more wishes!) what would they be?
- For Ivo en Robin to stay healthy and grow up into happy and confident people.
Wait, did that count as one wish? Or two? Or even three? Doesn't matter, right now it's the only thing that's really important to me anyway. But just in case it only counts as one, here's the other two:
- Another healthy and this time much LONGER pregnancy: to be able to experience it all once more, the way it SHOULD be. (wow, guess there's your final answer to question NR 2)
- Since I'm all healthy and happy already, and so are my family and close friends, my last wish is for Daniel. And since he is still too young to wish for anything but toys and cuddles and to be left in peace, I appoint you, Cathy, as its guardian. Use it as you see fit, or give it to Daniel when you think he's old enough to make his own wishes!