"It is amazing, that you can suddenly love somebody so much, it almost breaks your heart just to look at him!" (Antje, June'02)

When we moved to the Netherlands in September 2001, we were lucky to find a temporary rental house along the beautiful river Vecht. However, we must have accidentally left a window open where one of the neighborhood storks sneaked in, because to our great surprise and amazement we learned that Antje had become pregnant within days of moving in. We hadn't actually planned on having any children (yet?), but it seems somebody else made the decision for us.

The first pregnancy test was negative, but the second test turned out positive, so we scheduled an appointment with the midwife practice. On November 1 '01 we saw the first ultrasound pictures of our little 'Edwantje' and heard his heart beat for the first time. Suddenly, all the hassle seemed to be worth while.

At first we had some mixed feelings considering the great responsibility and changes thrust in our lives and Antje was rather worried about giving birth in the Netherlands; Rather than in hospital, with full medical support and anesthetics, most births in Netherlands take place at home, as natural as possible, with the help of a midwife, a specially trained nurse ("kramzorgster"), and the loving husband. However, under the skilled and friendly supervision of midwives Lucia, Marie-Louise, Mirjam and Loes from "Verloskundige Praktijk" in Maarsen, the support of Gerla from our "Zamen Bevallen" course in Breukelen and many positive stories from friends and relatives, Antje was eventually won over to the idea of giving birth at home.

One of the first persons we wanted to tell the happy news was our friend Janet, a very special and brave person, who had been fighting cancer since January 2001. Unfortunately, before we managed to reach her, we had the very sad news that she had died suddenly on November 15, 2001. Antje was very upset and started bleeding, but didn't loose the baby. Due to the pregnancy, we unfortunately couldn't join our friends in Montana for the funeral & to celebrate Janet's live.

After Christmas, Antje felt the baby's movements for the first time, though it was still a while until Edwin could feel them, too. Somehow the baby always seemed to calm down instantly when Edwin put his hand on Antje's growing belly.

In the new year, Antje started to attend "Zwemmen voor Zwangere" at the swimming pool in Maarssenbroek, which she enjoyed a lot. The water and exercises helped to soothe the baby and the sore muscles in Antje's increasing body. It was also a nice opportunity to meet some other pregnant women and chat about babies. In February '02 we also started to attend the course "Zamen Bevallen" (= "giving birth together"), where we enjoyed to exchange our thoughts and experiences with other couples and learned a lot about giving birth, breathing techniques, and relaxation exercises.

Throughout her pregnancy, Antje enjoyed the advice, experience and sympathetic ears of her friends Birgitta, Nancy, and Edwin's sister Helma. Luckily Antje did not have too much problems in the beginning of the pregnancy, her morning sickness wasn't too bad, though she was very tired and did develop some strange likes & dislikes of food & odors. However, in the last trimester, the deadlines at work became a bit strenuous for Antje and she was forced to adjust her usual workaholic lifestyle to a healthier pace.

Even though Antje's belly was huge, the baby was in no hurry to make an appearance and went a week beyond his due date (with two computer scientists as parents, he couldn't be expected to keep to deadline ;->).

The first sign of contractions started at 23.30h on June 11th. By 2.30h they had been 3 minutes apart for about an hour, so we called the midwife. As the waters hadn't broken, and it was the first child, the midwife thought it would still be another 8-10 hours for IT to happen. But by 4.00h the contractions were 1 minute apart, and Antje didn't think she could keep it up for so many hours more. When the midwife arrived at 4.20h, Antje was indeed fully dilated, and was having nonstop contractions (10 seconds in between). As she still didn't have the urge to press, the waters had to be broken. Unfortunately there was meconium in the waters, which indicates potential problems with the child, but the midwife decided to try at home anyway, as Antje was in no state to be driven to hospital. As the urge to press still didn't come as it should have, the midwife helped nature a little bit (which was rather painful for Antje), so that the child was born at 6.34h on June 12th, 2002. At first Antje was a little confused when the child was placed in her arms, but she quickly fell madly in love with Robin.