wow this is so much work


Photo: Cotton Photography

Nine months pregnant? You mean twelve. Willemijn van Lochem and Martine Heemskerk, also known as Wil and Tien, believe that the first three months of motherhood should be talked about more often. “There’s a train coming at you that just won’t stop.”

They bring the book 12 months pregnant, which was released in 2018. A revised edition, with a new look. It is a personal book about the first, second, third and fourth trimester. Pregnancy ailments, embarrassing moments, sex after childbirth, but also intense topics such as stillbirths and miscarriages: everything is covered.

12 months pregnant appeared four years ago. Why a refreshed version?

Willemijn: “Well, some children have arrived, haha.”

Martine: “Willemijn then had Jelle (6) and Gijs (5) and I only had Maik (4). Willemijn has now given birth to Krijn* and Siep (1), I have had Zoey (2) and I am pregnant again. Those stories just had to go in.”

Willemijn: “When we wrote this book, we thought: at some point that interest will fade, but we continued to sell books. The subject is never out of date† We started with a small update, but it got bigger and bigger. Completely Wil and Tiens. A new look, different illustrations, well then we’ll just re-release it from scratch.”

Have you underestimated the fourth trimester?

*both nod*

Martine: “Most pregnancy books go up to nine months. But when you become a mother for the first time, the period after that is raw. Your life is turned upside down.”

Willemijn: “You should regard the first three months as an extension of your pregnancy. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll be back in a month up and running are. Pregnancy and childbirth are very grandiose and after that *poof* you are a mother. Good luck!”

Martine: “What I really underestimated is that you are a mother 24/7. You are constantly on.”

Willemijn: “A train is approaching you that just doesn’t seem to stop. You are busy all day with diapers, bottles, feeding, poo and vomit. After the birth of my oldest son I thought: wow, this is so much work. I can never rest. The last maternity week was very different. Feeding, nappy in between, playing with my sons.”

‘What I really underestimated is that you are a mother 24/7. You are constantly on’

What makes a second pregnancy different?

Martine: “You are more relaxed, because you know what is coming. The first time I wanted everything to run smoothly, but the second I knew motherhood just doesn’t work that way.”

Willemijn: “It’s like baking a cake. The first time you think: holy moly, what an action. With a third it is still a lot of work, but you know what the steps are.”

What would you have liked to know before becoming a mother?

Martine: “I would have liked a book like 12 Months Pregnant, because you read different experiences of mothers in it. That’s another way to do it. I thought that after childbirth you would immediately feel motherly love, that you naturally roll into it, but that was not the case with me at all. And then I saw all mothers on Instagram who already walked behind the pram after two days. I would have liked to know then that my feeling was okay too.”

Willemijn: “Yes, a bit of guidance. That after three months things really change. I found those first months hopeless. What a mess, I often thought.”

‘It’s still a lot of work for a third, but do you know what the steps are’

What kind of mothers are you?

Willemijn: “Can we also talk about each other? That’s easier, haha. Tien is a mother with humor, it is always laughing, howling, howling. She’s not super strict, but her limits are clear. And you shouldn’t go over that.”

Martine: “I find Wil very admirable. She has a lot of structure and clear rules. She is a very sweet mother, nothing is too crazy. And she is always positive. Of course there are days when she grumbles, but in general she is the happy note.”

You are in favor of relaxed motherhood. What does that look like?

Willemijn: “That depends on being mild to yourself. If you’re very hard on yourself, you get all cramped and cranky. Then you are already 1-0 behind. Don’t look too much at the perfect picture on Instagram. I don’t put my children’s bad moods and full baskets of laundry online, but they are there.”

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Martine (left) and Willemijn with their children. Photo: Cotton Photography

Willemijn, your son Krijn was born silently in 2020. Why did you want to share that story in the book?

Willemijn: “Still birth is quite common, so it didn’t feel complete not to pay attention to it in our book. I kept putting off writing that piece. The topic touches on so many themes. A baby can be born prematurely, die in the womb or during birth and the pregnancy can be terminated. I didn’t want to shut out parents. The writing process was not necessarily healing for me, but I sometimes felt: ah, there is still some pain here. I have told the complete story on YouTube, so that I can always refer to it if I have questions. For me it was the end of a period in which I shared a lot about Krijn online. I still think the subject of stillbirth is important, but I don’t want to become an ambassador for it.”

You write in the book ‘mourning doesn’t wear off, it wears down’. Can you explain that?

Willemijn: “I read that statement somewhere and at first I couldn’t understand it. I thought the mourning should stop. In the meantime I have learned that the feeling of loss and missing does not diminish, but that a life builds around it. Grief fades more into the background, but when I go back to that feeling of loss, I can still be sad for a while. Sometimes I resist that feeling. Until at some point it starts whining and I become irritable or grumpy. Then I have to cry or write. After that it is lighter. Krijn is and will remain part of our family. Over the years, he comes up less in conversations, but we still mention his name.”

‘The feeling of loss and missing does not diminish, but a life builds around it’

How was that time for you, Martine?

Martine: “It was very intense to experience from the outside. Willemijn is the light in my life, but when she was pregnant with Krijn I couldn’t be happy for her. In retrospect I understand why: she also felt that things were not quite right. At that time I did what I could. I brought food and picked up mail from the mailbox, which was overflowing with sweet cards. Wil handled it so forcefully. Krijn was asked at an event. She didn’t cry, but I cried my eyes out.”

You are now pregnant. How are you?

Martine: “I didn’t feel good mentally and physically with Maik, with Zoey top. Now things are going well physically, but mentally with ups and downs. I feel peace and restlessness at the same time. Sometimes you don’t know what emotion it is and why you feel this way. I don’t like that, then I’m not my bright, positive self. I went to a maternity retreat a while ago and I felt a lot better after that. Do not you feel well? Then do something with it. Don’t keep walking around with it. We always face setbacks.”

Willemijn: “The will to live life to the fullest is simply part of us. If you don’t look at the dark sides, life won’t be nearly as beautiful. We prefer to pull out the stinger and find out where it pinches, so that it becomes lighter again afterwards.”

You can download the revised edition of 12 months pregnant order now at www.wilentien.nl. Then it will fall on your doorstep at the end of August, beginning of September.

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