Summer of Babel


Our summer was quite the rollercoaster ride, with wonderful and exciting highs and sad and scary lows. But thank the universe for you; you were always there to shine your light and make us smile and feel better. Babel, this summer was very hard for me and if it wasn’t for you, I really don’t know how I would have coped. Thank you for being you, you are everything. I love you so much.

We are now parents of two babies. You, Babel, are our sunshine baby and Berber, your sibling, will forever be our angel baby. Sadly, we never got to meet Berber but you seem to think the baby in my belly was your sister. We really hope to add a third baby to the family someday, a rainbow baby, a sibling for you to grow up with and share life with. I hope you will forever carry Berber in your heart though, like I will.

Your sibling tried to grow in my fallopian tube, which made the tube rupture. The pain was excruciating, it reminded me a lot of when I was in labor with you, and it also made me feel very sick and faint. I didn’t know I was pregnant and I didn’t realize I was in a life-threatening situation. Your papa wanted me to go to the hospital, but I wasn’t convinced until late at night that something was wrong enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.

I had a really hard time leaving you, you and I had never been apart at night before. Until then every night of your life you’ve slept next to me, and you had always boobed through the night. The whole night waiting at the hospital I was worried about you, but you did fine. When you woke up for milk, Papa distracted you with questions about milky and you fell back asleep. The nights I spent in the hospital after that, you fell asleep with Papa or Oma without milk and they both had their own ways of getting you back to sleep during the night.

I was happy to know you could manage without me, but I missed you terribly. I have a hard time sleeping without you. But even when I came back from the hospital I still could not sleep with you. I desperately tried but my body hurt too much to be able to sleep in a soft bed. Also, you move a lot and wildly during sleep and I was afraid you might kick me in my healing surgery wounds.

For a few weeks since my emergency surgery, I was unable to sleep in a bed at all. So for about a month we slept separately. I did boob you to sleep most nights and I was there when you needed milk in the middle of the night. You slept in a bed with Papa or Oma, while I slept on the couch or even sitting up straight in Oma’s armchair in the Netherlands.

The day I had my emergency surgery you and Papa waited all day in the hospital for me to come out of recovery. I wasn’t doing very well, it seemed like I might need another surgery, but thankfully two blood transfusions did the trick. I believe I was in recovery for about 11 hours and the whole time I was fantasizing about drinking water and smelling your sweaty head. I was really sad because of losing your sibling, and I really needed you to heal my heart.

When we finally got to see each other in the evening in my hospital room, you were very scared of me, all the tubes connected to me, the hospital room. You were crying and pulling Papa out of the room with you. It took a long time for you to get used to the scary situation, but I did get a few cuddles from you before you went home with Papa.

The next day Oma arrived from the Netherlands. As soon as she heard what was happening she dropped everything and made arrangements to come to England to help us. Papa went on a business trip to Japan a few days after my operation and thank goodness for Oma, without her I would have never been able to take care of myself and you during that first week. You and Oma had a great week together, while I focused on physical recovery.

A few days after Oma went back home it was time for our preplanned trip to the Netherlands. We went to celebrate my birthday with the Dutchies which we did at the Efteling. I have spent many birthdays there but this was the first time in a wheelchair. You had your buggy with you, so we both got wheeled around the theme park. That was an interesting experience I never hope to repeat.

During our time in the Netherlands, we visited family (Dutch and Japanese), old friends (Dutch and Japanese), and we mostly took it easy while enjoying lots of Dutch foods. Traveling with you, especially short distances, is a lot easier now. I think you even kind of enjoy flying now.

You really got to see a lot of Oma and your uncles this summer. The biggest and best high this summer was our trip to Morocco at the beginning of the summer. We went to celebrate your uncle Djamo and aunt Yasmin’s wedding. We flew to Amsterdam where we met up with the Dutchies and we all flew to Marrakesh together. You and Oma have done loads of flying over the past few years to see each other but you’d never ever flown together before. So that was extra fun.

In Marrakesh we all got to stay in the gorgeous Berber Lodge. Djamo and Yasmin had rented out the entire lodge for their celebration, so it felt like a large luxurious and private family home. We kind of felt like spoilt celebrities during the whole vacation. They served the most delicious foods and drinks all day long, lots of new and exciting Moroccan dishes and we all loved it, including you.

Your favorite place in the Berber Lodge was the pool. It was unbelievably hot in Morocco, but that was totally fine because we mostly played in the pool. Armed with your superman floats you felt invincible in the water. You jumped into the pool without hesitation and swam all around with little effort. You even joined in on all the adult cannonball fun. You had so much fun in the water, it was my favorite part of the vacation.

On the night we officially celebrated Djamo and Yasmin’s union you did really well. Everyone dressed up nicely and we celebrated in a beautifully decorated berber tent. You sat on the large pillows, observed everyone calmly, ate appetizers, you rode a donkey with Papa, and you seemed to be really taking it all in. It was a beautiful event.

This trip to Morocco will forever be a cherished family memory, and we came back with your little sibling in my belly, so he will forever be a part of that memory as well, we’ve even named him after it.

You’ve always been very scared of doctors, hairdressers, nurses, the hospital and of course the dentist. The dentist had never been able to even have a look at your teeth. She has peeked in when you were hysterically crying in my arms in the past, but that was it.

This summer, I discovered decay on your front teeth. And it worried me so much. I was imagining you being pinned down on the dentist chair, screaming, crying, while the dentist tried to drill in your teeth, forever traumatizing you and possibly drilling a hole in your tongue when you’re fighting your way out of the dentist chair.

We watched “Peppa Pig goes to the Dentist” and similar Youtube videos to prepare you and amazingly it worked! We went to the dentist and you sat down in the chair with Papa and opened your mouth willingly. You looked really suspiciously at the dentist, but you let her poke around with her hook nonetheless and inspect your teeth with her little mirror. She even applied fluoride with a scary looking tool to your teeth.

The dentist does not want to drill your teeth. In a few years, your front teeth will be the first to fall out, and until then we’re trying to fight further decay of your teeth. Food seems to have gotten stuck in between your teeth causing the delay, so now we floss your teeth daily. Also, you mostly drink water now and when you do drink fruit juices or something sugary, you drink from a straw so it goes straight to your throat avoiding your teeth. Let’s hope we don’t need to extract your teeth before they fall out naturally.

You eat so much now, and you try all sorts of new things, and you love a lot of it. You love Japanese food and tastes the most. At home, I try to cook oil-free whole food plant based, but it’s always at least vegan or vegetarian. And you have no problem with any of it, you love your carbs, vegetables and fruit. You still drink breastmilk, but not really for nourishment anymore, mostly for comfort and for sleeping.

Almost every week, we go out to eat and we film an episode of Sweet Statistics. You and Papa eat food and pretend to be food critics. Papa used to do most of the talking, you provided the comic relief, but now you’re starting to want to do the talking yourself. You start telling the camera what kind of food or drink you have and start throwing out unsolicited O-value scores. Soon, you won’t need Papa anymore.

Sleeping is so different now. You don’t nap anymore. In the last few weeks I gradually moved your sleeping schedule to prepare for you going to preschool in the mornings. Now, we start to get ready for bed at 19:30 and around 20:00 you usually boob to sleep. Then I leave the bedroom for a few hours and I join you around 23:00. You wake up around 07:30 with me and then we get ready for the day, have breakfast and leave for preschool at 08:50. The days feel so long now that we get up early everyday, it’s really nice.

One time, you told me about your dream after you woke up. Apparently, we were swimming outside and playing with a ball. Marshall from Paw Patrol was there as well. Fascinating.

Our first two summers in Derby we spent a lot of time at the park pool that’s only open in the summer. We didn’t get the chance much this year. At first, the weather wasn’t cooperating, after a heatwave in late spring the start of summer was pretty cold and wet. Then the emergency surgery made me housebound when it got really hot again. And of course we spent a lot of summer traveling to Morocco and the Netherlands. We also live a lot further from the pool now so it’s not as easy to quickly pop to the park for a quick swim as it was before.

But we did manage to make it out there a few times and every time it felt like a little mini vacation. We had picnics on the grass and we all had fun playing in the water. You’ve loved pretending to swim by doing a kind of crocodile walk through the shallow water. You also loved swimming in Morocco. I wish Derby had a decent indoor swimming paradise, like they had in Eindhoven when I was a child. I loved going there. I would love to take you to such a place every week all throughout the year.

We moved 4 months ago, but you still refer to our current home as “Babel’s nieuwe huis [🇳🇱 new house]”. We love living here. The living area is huge and there is so much space for you to play and spread out your numerous train tracks. You love building your own designs with your wooden tracks and plarail.

You continue to love legos. You have lots of advanced lego sets, many gifted to you by your lego-loving uncle Djamo, which you can do easily. You are very good at following the lego instructions which is impressive, but I enjoy seeing you create your own things even more. I want you to be able to follow rules but I also want you to think outside the box and get creative.

You and Papa are both good at that, especially with your rails. When I build train tracks, I like to do it the right way, but Papa and you don’t restrict yourselves. You use regular straight tracks to build slopes, higher than what they’re designed to do. You guys use everyday items to rest the tracks on, or the tracks go all the way around the couch, or on it, and over the kitchen table. The sky is the limit in your brains and I love seeing the crazy contraptions you two come up with every time. When Papa is working you copy this style of play, you’re not afraid to fail, you just try anything.

You have two new toys, a skateboard and a scooter. You wanted a skateboard after watching people skating on Youtube. You tried to copy them, they make it look so easy, but yeah it’s really difficult and you haven’t been able to figure it out yet.

You have tried scootering a lot at different play areas and at friend’s houses and now you finally have your own. And you love it and you’re really good at it! I often bring it instead of a buggy now. It makes walking longer distances with you easier, because you’re quick on the scooter, and when you’re tired you just stand on it and I pull you forward.

You’ve had your tricycle since your birthday, but pedaling forward has been a challenge. It could be the carpet here that’s keeping you from doing it properly or perhaps it’s the low quality of the tricycle. They have sturdier tricycles at your nursery and this week you’ve been riding those all over the schoolyard.

You love animals, especially cats, or kittens as you call them. You love finding them outside, or watching Youtube videos of cute kittens. You will specifically ask to watch these videos.

You also like dogs, and whenever we see someone with a dog you ask “can I touch?” Usually, you are usually allowed to pet the dogs and you will even if it’s a large dog that kind of scares you.

One day, you started asking for your own dog, out of the blue. “Where’s Babel’s hond [🇳🇱 dog]? Woof woof.” I told you, “sorry, but that’s not going to happen.” You replied, “but I love dogs.” Then you yourself came up with the perfect solution: you imagined yourself a dog. You told me your new imaginary dog was small and brown and its name was “Toby-hond”.

These days you practice a lot of imaginary play like that. It often starts when you want something that we don’t have. Then you just pretend it is there. Very convenient. But you also like to just pretend play different scenarios. A favorite is pretending to give someone their birthday cake and having them blow out candles while you sing “happy birthday” and then eating the cake.

You love singing and dancing. You like to sing existing songs. Currently, the song “USA” by the Japanese group “Da Pump” is a favorite. You constantly sing “Come on baby, Amorica!” You picked up the incorrect pronunciation from the Japanese singer and you insist we sing it incorrectly as well. Like a strict teacher, you will correct us when we sing “America” and make us sing “Amorica” instead. This song also comes with a funny jumping dance, which you and Papa love doing. And you do it everywhere, even when we’re crossing a busy street.

You also love making up your own songs. You’ll just start singing some kind of existing or made up melody and make up some lyrics on the go. These lyrics can get quite extensive, often they are descriptive of whatever you’re playing with or about where we are going.

You love to joke, act silly and generally make us laugh. We believe you are blood type O just like your papa. You are so outgoing and funny and crazy, just like your father. Although you are also very precise and detail oriented which is typical for blood type A people like me. Hmm, I wish they has tested your blood type back when you were a baby and kept taking blood from you for one reason or another. I don’t want to poke a needle in you just for the purpose of finding out your type. Which is what I had to do as an adult many years ago when I started dating your father and learned about this blood type personality thing that’s so popular in Japan. Someday, we will find out.

These days, you often tell us “I like you” and “I love you” and even “I like/love your face”, which is both cute and funny. You like giving compliments too. Apparently, you told Clara you liked her skirt and Viviana that you loved her kitchen when they were taking care of you while I was in hospital. You often give people random compliments like that.

We recently noticed that you now understand the difference between “I” and “you” and “my” and “your”. You said, “I like your face” to me. I answered, “I like your face”, to which you replied, “yeah, you like my face”. You also say, “I love you, and you love me.” You are no longer confused by pronouns. Well done, you figured it all out by yourself.

In English, you say “yeah” instead of “yes”. In Japanese, you just make a nasal “un” sound to say “yes”. To say “no” in Japanese you say “chigau” [🇯🇵 wrong/different], which is a shortened version of your old favorite “chotto chigau na” [🇯🇵 a bit different]. In Dutch, you usually use the proper “ja” [🇳🇱 yes] and “nee” [🇳🇱 no]. I use a lot of “yep” and “nope” in daily life and of course you’ve been doing that too. And sometimes you even apply that to Dutch. “Nee” [🇳🇱 no] becomes “neep”.

Sometimes, I try to explain something to you and I use the word “nobody” or the Dutch “niemand”. For example, “nobody likes getting hurt”. When you don’t agree with me, your counter argument will be: “yesbody likes getting hurt” or in Dutch you’ll use “jamand”. You’re very creative with language, little man!

You still call us “Mama” and “Papa” but most of the time you call us “Louana” and “Yasu”. I know many kids go through a phase like this, but I always thought when they were much older. I don’t know, perhaps it feels like something a teenager might do? Well, you’re doing it now. A lot!

You’re very polite. You say, “you’re welcome” after we thank you. You say, “thank you” after we tell you did a good job. You say, “that’s ok” after we apologize. You do this correctly in all three of your languages.

When you realize something is different from what you just said or thought, you will exclaim (in a really high voice): “oh sorry!” And then in an equally high voice say what you have just realized. For example, “Mama, it’s yours” or “I do have the item”.

You’re starting to explain things by using the word “because”. Your reasoning isn’t very clear yet and I’m not really sure how good you are at it yet. But you’ve surprised us this week by using that word a lot and kind of correctly too.

You mostly understand the difference between a boy and a girl. You used to tell us that boys have a “chin chin [🇯🇵 penis]” and girls have “melkies [🇳🇱 milkies/boobs]”. I’ve taught you the Dutch word for vagina, which is the same as in English just pronounced differently. So one day I asked you again about the difference. “Jongens hebben een penis en meisjes hebben een ….?” You’re face scrunched up and you were thinking hard. You knew this, you learned this recently. You answered: “cavia [🇳🇱 guinea pig].” Which is obviously the wrong word, but the syllables sound almost the same. It was hilarious.

Other things you’ve said a lot this summer and we don’t want to forget:

  • “Ok, I’ll try your best then.” – Before you understood how to use pronouns correctly.
  • “I thought!” – Used like “awesome”.
  • “Come back, Papa.” – Pronounced more like “come bick”.
  • “Don’t see it, play with Babel.” – “It” being an iPhone or the TV.
  • “Kom jij, Mama.” – Telling me in incorrect Dutch to come with you or stay with you.
  • “Thankjewel” – Mixture of the English “thank you” and the Dutch “dankjewel”.
  • “Don’t eat my toes. Dies voor lopen [🇳🇱 they’re for walking].”
  • “Wait a second!”
  • “Ok, then.” – After listening to our explanation and agreeing with us.
  • “It’s so really very cool!” – You say this very quickly and it’s adorable.
  • “Das zo cool, man.” [🇳🇱 That’s so cool, dude.]
  • “Das goed, hè?” [🇳🇱 That’s good, right?]
  • “Yummy, or not?” And it’s Dutch equivalent: “Lekker, of niet?” – Not only do you expect and answer, you want us to ask you the same question as well.

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