Kelsey (30), an American working at Heineken, living a chaotic and beautiful life in Amsterdam with her Dutch boyfriend Rolf (38), stepdaughter Lily (5) and daughter Charlize (born Oct 2017)
To prepare for giving birth I read books, took a hypnobirthing course, and practiced affirmations. A fellow pregnant American expat living in the Netherlands (who was due one day after me – what are the odds?!) sent me the book ‘The Wonder Weeks and told me to sign up for the app
So, I signed up for the app, but I did not really explore the book that much since I was so concentrated on the upcoming birth and how I would manage that experience. If only someone had warned me that giving birth is a breeze compared to taking care of a baby! I spent 9 months reading books and preparing for an event that lasted all of 3 hours. I still remember when they handed me our beautiful daughter, Charlize, and it suddenly hit me: ok, you gave birth. Now you need to take care of this little baby for the rest of your life. What?! I wanted to sleep!
As time went on, my boyfriend and I took care of Charlize and watched her grow. I’ll never forget Leap 1. One day, while we were visiting family in Florida, Charlize was inconsolable. We had never seen her like this. We guessed: Was it jetlag? Was she ill? Am I not producing enough milk? A million guesses went through our heads and our frustration levels were at a peak. I felt like I did not even have time to go to shower because she wanted to be attached to my breast every minute of the day. I was on the verge of tears because I could not understand why my baby was suddenly ‘broken’.
Suddenly, my phone let out a ping to say I had a new email. It was The Wonder Weeks app informing me that Leap 1 was starting! I will never forget the sense of relief when I read that message because everything quickly made sense. The clinginess, the crying, the crankiness. It all fit the bill of what The Wonder Weeks had warned me would happen.
At that point, my mind-set completely changed: Charlize was no longer a frustrating whiner; she was a helpless baby going through a huge mental transition and it was my job to comfort her and guide her throughout those changes. I cuddled her, nursed her, and held her as long as she wanted and felt our bond grow even closer.
I knew that the leap could not last forever and within a few days, Charlize was a happy baby again and able to do more skills than the days before. It was such a rewarding experience to see her new abilities and know that I contributed to her progress.
It gets more difficult
We are currently in Leap 6 with Charlize and, with every leap, it gets more difficult.
However, I always keep in mind that this leap is temporary and Charlize is looking to me for comfort and safety. Keeping that mind-set makes the sleepless nights bearable, it makes the pain in my back from carrying her a bit less intense, and it makes me appreciate the extra breastfeeding sessions she demands.
We love Charlize with all of our hearts, on her sunny days but also during her stormy weeks, and we are so grateful to have a book like The Wonder Weeks to always remind us how lucky we are to have this developing little girl.