I’m proud to announce the birth of our third child. In true Dutch fashion, she has more than one name. Four to be precise. Introducing our newest addition to Finding Dutchland – Eleanor Marie Julia Amor.
Our transition from being a family of four to a party of five was a smooth one. I was initially nervous because the internet warned that moms of three are most stressed than those with any number of kids. Eleven weeks into this role as a mom of three and I’m loving it. There are even moments when I suffer from a spark of madness and entertain the idea of having just one more. Even my husband is crazy enough to consider it.
I suspect it’s because we’ve decided to go Dutch when it comes to parenting our kids. Apparently, at least according to my own non-scientific opinion and biased experience, going Dutch is the ultimate game-changer. The moment we brought our dearest Ella home from the hospital, there were two words that came to our mind: “Rest and regularity”.
Rest means to create a calm, nurturing environment with plenty of opportunities to sleep, relax and take it easy. We created a supportive, hands-on village to provide support in the early days. For us, it meant having my retired father stay for a couple of weeks. There was also Rhada, my insurance-subsidized kraamverzorgster (maternity nurse) and lactation consultant who was there to take care of not only our baby and assist me in establishing a breastfeeding relationship with Ella but also to be a surrogate mother to me. It makes a tremendous difference to have an extra pair of hands, or two to help with daily household chores, give extra attention to the older two children, and provide emotional support and encouragement.
Regularity shouldn’t be confused with creating a rigid schedule. Anyone knows that having a newborn means to expect the unexpected. The first few weeks are all about nursing, burping, diaper changes, sleep, rinse and repeat. Within the irregularity of newborn life, we created a loose routine that involved a daily walk, trip to the grocery store, and simply cuddling and nursing in bed. Eventually, baby and mother will get into a rhythm. As baby gets older, it gets easier to create a general routine for the day, with time for self-care.
My husband Bram and I are determined to make our lives as boring, predictable and as simple as possible, keeping in mind the mantra “rest and regularity”. It really does help with our baby’s sleep and having happy, well-adjusted children. If you’re curious to learn more, my co-author Michele Hutchison and I wrote an entire book about it. If you’re into a bit of harmless internet stalking, check us out on Instagram.
Photos courtesy of Elma Coetzee