Beschuit met Muisjes

Today I met my friend’s adorable little daughter. As is tradition here in the Netherlands, I was served pink muisjes on a beschuit (rusk biscuit) to celebrate the birth of a girl. Blue muisjes are served to guests when a baby boy is born.


Muisjes are made of aniseeds with a sugared and colored outer layer. Muisjes, meaning “little mice” in Dutch, are named because the anise seed sprinkles are shaped like little mice, with the stem of the anise seed resembling a tail.


As early as the 17th century, the parents of a newborn baby gave away beschuit with a layer of butter and muisjes to the baby’s visitors. Up until the 20th century, only white muisjes were available. It wasn’t until later that the pink and blue colours were introduced. Muisjes became a tradition and were initially given to new mothers as the anise in the muisjes was thought to stimulate lactation, and they symbolized fertility.


Beschuit with muisjes are now so popular, that not only are they given to the baby’s family and visitors at home, but they are also commonly taken to school by older siblings to share, or are presented to colleagues at work. Every supermarket in the Netherlands sells boxes of muisjes. “De Ruijter” have been making them since 1860 and is currently the only brand that produces muisjes. It is so lovely to see this tradition continuing on today.

Do you like the taste?




Pregnancy and Childbirth: My Story(s)

Don’t worry, I will leave out the gory details. It is safe to continue reading.. 🙂  Giving birth is a natural process that woman have been doing since the beginning of time. Still, they are my two greatest accomplishments. It amazes me as to what the human body is capable of. The stretching of your skin and uterus as your stomach expands and then inevitably the process of giving birth.

My First Pregnancy

In May 2008, I stood there in the bathroom staring at the pregnancy test shocked by what I was seeing. Slowly it was sinking in.. I was pregnant! We had been trying for a couple of months but still, that morning I had prepared myself for another negative outcome. It was the best news ever and I ran to tell my husband!

I enjoyed every day of my pregnancy. As my stomach grew, we admired the miracle that it was, a tiny human was growing inside me! Once I began to feel the movements, it felt even more miraculous. We decided not to find out the sex of our baby and looked forward to a wonderful surprise. I read loads of books, counted down the weeks, and kept a journal, writing down how I felt every week along the way. The entire pregnancy went smoothly without a problem until one night in November whilst sleeping, my waters broke. I was just 34 weeks pregnant. I had not packed my bags and I was expected at work the next day. I called the hospital and was asked to come in straight away. The doctor gave me a shot of steroids to help strengthen the baby’s lungs and informed me that we would be meeting our baby in the next day or two!

Early labour began a few hours after I arrived at hospital; I began feeling slight cramps and these slowly became noticeable contractions every 5-10 minutes, but still mild and manageable. After several hours of these contractions I was thinking to myself, “This is not too bad at all! I can totally do this. I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I must just have a high pain threshold”.

Then Active Labour set in. Well that was a whole other ball game. The pain was unbearable. I somehow managed to get into a warm bath to try and help ease the pain, but the contractions just kept coming one after the other with no recovery time in between. They offered me pain relief and I opted for the Nitrous Oxide gas. I sucked on that gas like my life depended on it! I had quickly also moved into Transitional Labour, as I was soon to be told that during that one hour in the bath, I had dilated from 1 to 10cm! Needless to say, it was an incredibly intense hour of excruciating pain.

Suddenly, everything seemed to calm down and I actually almost fell asleep in the bath. I was almost ready to begin pushing. Due to the fact that our baby was at a gestational age of just 34.6 weeks, the midwife helped me out of the bath and onto the bed. I would have loved to have stayed in that bath. After twenty minutes of pushing, our beautiful baby was born. It was a girl!!! At 2.6kg, she was tiny, but a great weight considering. She was perfect and so alert, eyes wide open and looking around. We fell instantly in love with our baby daughter. As her lungs were functioning well and the breastfeeding was going to plan, we were able to go home after just four days in the hospital.

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My Second Pregnancy

I took six months maternity leave after having our first child to be a full time mum and then went back to work part time. My employer was extremely flexible and understanding, allowing me to work from home. In December 2009, one month after our daughter had her first birthday, we fell pregnant again! We were super excited to add another little addition to our family.

Being pregnant and having a child who was not yet walking was a little challenging. Particularly towards the end of the pregnancy when I could no longer carry her, and our daughter was still learning how to walk independently. So needless to say, we went everywhere slowly. I remember once trying to simply cross the road. We held hands and began to cross. Then my daughter fell half way across the road and refused to get up. She was very much aware that I was unable to lift her and she flat out refused to stand up on her own, finally doing so after a lengthy tantrum, when she noticed a car coming towards her. Even though this pregnancy posed new challenges that I had not dealt with the first time around, overall the pregnancy once again went smoothly. I was still able to enjoy being pregnant and just like the first time, I kept a regular weekly journal. I enjoyed tracking our baby’s development and was feeling really well. Once again I continued to work right up until the day before I went into labour. This time I made it to 38 weeks.

Once again, the early labour lasted several hours, but my waters had not yet broken. We headed into the hospital once my contractions were an average of three minutes apart. After a few more hours of breathing through the mild contractions, the midwives checked and informed me that I was only 1-2cms dilated and not progressing. They decided to move me out of the labour ward and down to the recovery ward, assuming that it would be a long night. As soon as I reached the recovery room, during an intense contraction, my waters broke. This then set me immediately into active labour. I could no longer walk through those intense contractions, so they sat me in a wheelchair, quickly brought me back to the labour ward, got me into the bath (as previously discussed) and finally gave me the precious gas to suck on which took the edge off.

This time I was determined to have a water birth. The bath is the place where I feel the most relaxed, so it was the perfect place for me to give birth. The midwife dimmed the lights and put some relaxing music on. My husband was kneeling on one side of the bath massaging my back and mum was on the other side, holding my head above the water while I battled the unexplainable, relentless pain and sucked on my gas. I had decided to invite mum into the birthing suite at the last minute to join us. I felt more comfortable the second time around and I knew that sharing this experience would be just as special to her as it was for me. Once again, I had dilated to 10cms within one hour. I was so relaxed in that bath that once again, I almost fell asleep during the transitional phase before pushing began. This time I didn’t have to get out and I had a midwife who was comfortable and experienced with water births. After 15 minutes of pushing, our son was born into the world and placed on my stomach in the bath. He weighed 3.1kgs and was perfect.

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Being pregnant and becoming a mum was overall the most enjoyable and wondrous experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I was able to breastfeed them both for 12 months, and they were both such happy, smiley babies. It has been a pure joy to nurture them and witness each and every step along the way as they grew and developed into the children that they are today.

Time has flown and suddenly we have two school aged children.. but you can read more about that in my post, I Can See the Light!