NS, the Dutch train company, gave me a ticket  to  ride first class for the whole year. So for the past few months, there I sit, on that comfy sits, along with 50+ people in their suits, feeling privileged. Giving each other that ‘first class wink, smile and nod  (no we don’t).

I have been asked plenty of time “how does it feel to be a mom?” And depending on how much rest I got on that day, the answers range from “it’s tiring..” to “it’s great!”. But it has always been a one-word answer, and then we’d move the conversation along. Afterwards I’d toss and turn thinking what I should have said, and then accepted that it’s probably an indescribable feeling.

But low and behold, thanks to NS,  I have  found how to describe it: It is like being first class. Look, when you were at second class you’d think: why bother, I am fine here at second class, it’s too expensive anyways. Well people, being on the first class is beyond worth it.

Parents, well moms at least, also give each other that first class wink, smile and nod. Pregnant women are able to relate to this. Suddenly you see so many other pregnant women on the streets and you smile at her before you realize that she is actually a total stranger.

Being a mom also turns you into a nice pink crab. Hard on the outside, soft on the inside.

I think for mothers, the hard shell mostly comes from that saintly feeling of carrying a life inside you for 10 months, or those superhuman hours when you survived the long labor and that your breasts are now not merely decorations but they are ‘working boobs’.

With these hard shells, suddenly I stop taking shits from others. For me, this means finding  better job conditions and cutting out people who are negative and simply exhausting. I have lost the need to befriend everyone and only be with the people I actually want to spend time with.

And the soft inside of the crab is just love-mushy hormones. I’d get teary eyes for no reason sometimes.

So new parents, hope this has helped you answer the question of  ‘how does it feel..”. Just remember: first class and crabs.

wink, smile and nod,

L.

Wuaow I was HUGE!

P7290868e

(taken 29 July 2012, 6 months pregnant -in Haarlem, NL)


So, my target  is to return to this one here:

13566_226677667221_1478337_n

(taken around November 2009 in Bali, Indonesia)

But do I dare to make it a new year resolution..umm, no, thank you. Besides Fedi keeps saying that our second child should be around the corner. So slimming down now will be a complete waste of time.

Well, my body issue is not the point I meant to write about. I wanted to look back to what happened in 2012.. Now surely we were glad it was not the end of the world, it was barely the beautiful beginning of our baby girl’s life. But when the year ends we tend to count our accomplishment, blessings, wrongdoings, et cetera. Well, looking back I don’t think I had any other accomplishment in other life areas other than the pregnancy department. I think I wrapped up our company’s financial annual account almost entirely by myself, and probably that has saved my job in the midst of layoffs and economic crisis. So that is worth mentioning here. But that was basically it fot the whole year!

But mind you, we (baby girl and I) also survived a train accident. Oh, the damned 21st April 2012. It was just a week after I found out baby girl (by then was still a fetus) has safely passed the 12 week pregnancy mark, and the train accident happened. Crazy how one ‘bang’ can turn your life upside down. Anyways, one person passed away and a friend got bad concussion and in need of physiotherapy months after.  But this baby girl was meant to survive.

I read a wonderful story about a woman who had three miscarriages before finally gave birth to a baby girl. After the delivery in tears she said to the healthy newborn: “thank you for surviving me”.

In many ways 2012 for me was about surviving. Surviving economic crisis, surviving train accident, surviving pregnancy, surviving child delivery, surviving husband and wife relationship, surviving the end of the world,… you see where I am going with this.

but sometimes survival is accomplishment enough.

So, beautiful people, I hope you are having a wonderful start to your new year, whether it is filled with a sense of accomplishment or not, know that you have survived the year, alive and kicking – like my baby girl.

love,

Laurentia.

Below is a quick collage of our survival:

CIMG2468

best friends

2012-10-26 11.09.37

things I crochet for baby girl. the headbands are too small and the shoes are too big :p

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need to sat down while cooking – too heavy!

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wheeled into the hospital. look how shiny my belly was!😀
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the hospital room. smiling in pain :s

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minutes after her birth. I can see how upset she is that she is no longer in the warm tummy.

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We did it!

 

So, after 36 hours of labor and 3 days being hospitalized, we survived triumphantly and brought home our baby girl, Sofia. Tadaaaa…

2012-12-16 17.28.08

Just like any new parents we are overjoyed, exhausted, grateful, confused, you name it – we feel it all. A wise person told me that the best gift you can give your child is ” time”.

Very true *nod nod*.

But in order to have that “time”,  there are material things we, new parents, should have to make life with a newborn a little easier,

and I’d like to share those tips here:

“Please note that these products are based on what is available and applicable in the Netherlands. Use your discretion and consult a doctor when it involves your baby’s health.

1. 10 seconds thermometer.

In the first days, we were asked to monitor the temperature of baby girl daily. A safe temperature is anywhere between 36.5 until 37.5.

So when it is between 36  – 36.5, put on more layers of clothes on your baby. When it is 37.5 to 38, reduce the layers of clothes. When it is below 36 or above 38, call your doctor. We are advised not to give any medicine if baby girl is under 3 months old and has fever. Any feverish newborn has to be seen by the doctor.

We checked her temperature everyday for 2 weeks, and you might need to do more if your baby has a low weight. There is no need to buy the fancy thermometers or an ear thermometer; the plain one gives the most reliable measurement.  You will measure the temperature via your baby’s anus, so make sure you have the fast thermometer (under 10 seconds) and a petroleum jelly as a lubricant.

2012-12-17 09.18.57

2. Vaseline (petroleum jelly)

Other than as a lubricant for your thermometer, we apply it at baby’s buttcheek at every diaper changing to avoid diaper rash.

3. Baby nose spray (Otrivin zoutoplossing).

Baby girl got stuffy nose the other day. The poor thing had heavy breathing like miss piggy and it came to the point where she could not breastfeed well and cried like a maniac. One spray of this magical thing, she sneezed and a big snot came out from her tiny flat nose, and hallelujah she stopped crying !

4. Bepanthen cream.

This  is actually for baby’s skin but apparently works very well for sore nipples too. The first weeks of breastfeeding is quite painful and imagine having to recover from the labor and dealing with sore breast and scarred or even bleeding nipples. Ay yoh. Well this cream works like wonder for me and the best thing is that it is safe for the baby. You don’t have to wipe it clean before nursing your baby. I was also advised to rub some breastmilk on the nipples and let it dry by itself. Indeed, sore nipples were gone in a couple of days.

5. Here we are at the breastfeeding topic. The most important advice you might already hear everywhere is to do it right from the beginning. Ask the nurse at the hospital to help you with breastfeeding for the first time. Do hug and breastfeed your baby within the first hour of his/her birth – this seems to be crucial.

If your baby does not drink correctly, stop nursing immediately and repeat. If you let your baby drinks in a wrong way from the beginning it would be very complicated and stressful to correct it later on. You can even get a breast infection.

If you are planning to breastfeed, read as much you can from here: http://www.lalecheleague.org/ and I’d watch some videos on youtube to see how a baby should latches on and drinks.

6. Nursing night bra.

You might already have the  nursing bra that looks like a normal bra and has a “window”. But please also get a comfortable bra, the ones without wires and uncomfortable button, as you will need to wear a bra while sleeping. Why?well apparently your breast can leak and can even sprays milk!who knew, he ? -_-.

2012-12-17 09.19.31

The ones I have are made from organic cotton and feels like a comfortable cloud wrapping my body. hhmmm.

For those in NL, you can get one here http://www.ba-by.nl/zwangerschapslingerie/slaapbh-comfort-wit-2605001094982051/

7. Big grandma undies.

Your husbands might hate me for this, but go get some big comfortable underwears that you can pull up to your stomach. They have the ones for 5 euros for three pieces in Hema :p.

Trust me, after all the  stitches, whether stitches after natural birth or c-section, you’ll be glad you have some comfortable big underwear to walk around in.

8. Soft sanitary pads.

You can use the huge maternity pads for the first few weeks to hold all the heavy bleeding, but on lighter days you will want to switch to the normal size ones. Remember to not get the brands like ‘Always’  and alike as they have this plasticky surface that can hurt your stitches and causes infection. Get a soft surfaced one, like the one from Kotex.

9. Fingerfeeding syringe2012-12-17 09.34.06

Still on breastfeeding topic, when your baby has trouble nursing or you are not producing enough milk yet in the first days, use this fingerfeeding syringe. Again, ask the nurse or your lactation consultant to guide you with this as it is not supposed to be used as a main feeding equipment – just additional.

If you wish, this will help you delay using a bottle as long as possible until your baby can breastfeed perfectly. I got mine from the hospital, so I don’t know where you can buy one in NL, actually. Probably in normal drugstore or some online shops, just google “vingervoeding spuitje”.

10. Breastpump

Still on the everlasting breastfeeding topic. I was advised not to buy any breastpump machine until the baby was born, as the machine is quite costly (around eur 200) or in case breastfeeding did  not go well.

The solution is to rent one from your hospital/lactation consultant. (The one you rent is only the machine, you will need to buy the new bottles and tubes for sanitary reason)

My carer (kraamzorgster) advised this one,  http://www.ardo-borstkolven.nl/, as they are cheaper that the Medela/Avent brands but works just as well. I finally bought it after trying out the rental one for a week.

11. The right formula

Although breastfeeding baby girl is going quite well, we prepare a formula at home too, just in case. We give this to her from time to time when I am not around or when we are going out. Although breastfeed has so many advantages, mothers please don’t be stressed out when it does not work. I believe a relaxed and happy mother is far more important. Besides, formulas nowadays are so advanced, it will not hurt your newborn at all! Husband chose this brand below as it has a formula that reduces stomach cramps.

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12. Now, stomach cramps.

Fiuh, our baby girl cried and cried even after feeding and changing and hugging. Legs stretched out, arms flailing in the air. I suspect it was because I ate too much cabbages and drank too much black tea… Either way, it hurts to see your baby in such a pain.

Thankfully that was the only episode so far, afterwards she is a happy calm baby that only cries when she is hungry. But we have found that using Avent bottle has not resulted into colics/ stomach cramps and the belly warmer from KipKep has helped her fell asleep during her stomach cramp.

You can also try to warm up a piece of cloth in the microwave and apply it to your baby’s stomach when he/she is in pain. But we got the wonderful bellywarmer here: http://www.kipkep.com/product.php?id_product=16.

13. Your diet.

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Breastfeeding mothers do have to watch what we eat, Indonesians believe that green beans help milk production, banana soothes baby’s digestion and the Dutch believe that rooibos tea is safe for pregnant/breastfeeding mom as it has no theine content.

And drink lots of water.

I always have a tall glass of water during nursing as I am always directly parched afterwards.

14. Easy baby clothes

When buying baby clothes, find the ones that are easy to put on – like this basic  one with lots of buttons. In dutch they are called ‘overslag rompertje’. A onesie that covers your baby’s feet is also a great favorite.I always find layering two thin layers to be better than one thick clothing.  Put on another vest on top of the basic so that when your sweet baby spits on it, you only need to change the vest.

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Also, buy lots of those hydrofiel cloths (hydrofiel luiers), super useful for anything I could think of. They are 7 euro for 6 pieces in Hema, I think. I have more than two dozens of them. Use it to wipe some spilled milk, to clean bottles, to cloth the changing area, to wrap your baby, et cetera…

15. Vitamins D & K

From day eighth, your baby needs to consume :

– 5 drops of vitamin K until he/she is 3 months old.*

– and 10 drops of vitamin D until he/she is 4 years old.2012-12-17 13.25.23

* Vitamin K is already included in formula milk, so if your baby is drinking more than 500 ml of formula milk, extra vitamin K drops are NOT necessary.

Get these in advance from any drugstore, it will safe you a trip later on. Having those soft plastic spoons are also handy🙂

16. Diaper budget

Only for those in NL, the cheapest diapers change every week depends on that week’s offer. If you want to hunt the current best offers on diapers, check this website first before shopping in bulk : http://www.luierinfo.nl/aanbiedingen

17. Containers, yep containers.

and finally, oh how easy it is to throw all your cleaned feeding equipment in one plastic container that has a lid or a tupperware to keep it somewhat sterile.

We also have this heat/cold bag that can keep your bottled milk warm when you are on the go. It can keep a bottle warm for around two hours.

2012-12-17 09.29.392012-12-17 09.46.44

Well those are some of our favorite things…Good luck new parents and parents-to-be…please share your own tips and tricks for us too. May all these tips make your life easier and give you more of that precious time with your precious one🙂

kisses from the three of us!

It is not exactly Norway yet where women get 1 year maternity leave…. but being pregnant in the Netherlands is pretty darn awesome, for these following 10 reasons:

1. I did not have to know anything about pregnancy beforehand.

I have heard first time mothers complaining about how much research they have to do by themselves and their tiresome quests to search for information around pregnancy and the regulations in their country. I never had to do any of those. Every useful information is already thrown at me from day one.

So, as soon as you find out you are pregnant, you call your family doctor (huisart) and make an appointment. The doctor will then ask you a few questions, recommend you to take your vitamins and folic acid and then he/she will refer you to a midwife in your area. From there on, goodbye doctor – you will never see him again until you have a medical condition -and hello midwife!

On your first appointment with the midwife, she will give you a checklist of what to do by every stage/week of your pregnancy. In NL, the first checklist goes as simple as this:

  • Go for blood test (the midwife attached a form to fill and directions to the lab for the test), before week 10
  • Consider whether you would like to do the combination test (for downsyndrome and physical abnormality), contact us before week 12 for the answer.
  • Inform your insurance and choose a postnatal care (kraamzorg) before week 14
  • If unmarried, do child recognition before week 24 (you have to go with the father of your baby to the town hall, and the father needs to formally recognize that the baby is his)
  • Sign up for pregnancy class before week 20

These are some brochures and books given by the midwife, containing all you need to know. They also give you these in stages, not to overwhelm us with information.

Just follow this simple checklist and it already covers all your basics and everything else will fall into place.

2. Everything falls into place.

The system, oh how we likey the system. It might scare some paranoids out there, but personally I love how interconnected (at least almost always) the whole system is.

For instance,

  • The family doctor already have your medical records which he just exchanges with the midwife.
  • After the blood test, the lab just sent the results directly to the midwife.
  • The midwife database is also connected to the Ultrasound technician center in your area and they will exchange information and arrange for your appointments with them.
  • When you contact your insurance to inform your pregnancy,  they will provide you a list of postnatal carers that are covered by them and what you can select in your area. In the end they arrange to send you the care-package (kraampakket – see point 9).
  • When you inform your insurance code to the midwife, ultrasound technician, and the laboratory, all bills will go directly to your  insurance company.
  • When you inform your employer that you are pregnant and had to arrange for the pregnancy benefit from the Social Affairs and Employment Agency (www.uwv.nl), all you had to do is to give them your social-fiscal number and they can calculate exactly  how much benefit you can receive.
  • This has not occurred yet in my case, but after the baby is born and the postnatal care arrive, they will meet up with the midwife to exchange medical information and any special needs the mother might have.

3. We have not paid for ANYTHING.

Well, other than my pregnancy vitamins and magazines, we literally have not spent any cent for any check up appointment, consultations or ultrasounds. It is not because we have a special insurance, ours is just the basic as well, so this should be the case for any insurance you have here too.

4. Hail the midwives!

I do not want to jinx it too much as I am not 100% through with the pregnancy process. After all, my midwife still needs to proof herself during the delivery. But I really want to hug her sometimes.

The midwives are godsend creatures.

Perhaps I just got lucky with mine, but they are friendly, attentive and professional. I am glad the Netherlands keeps the tradition that the midwives play the main role in women/pregnancy care. They are always ready for your crazy phone calls and questions, such as: “I ate two unwashed grapes, will the fetus be okay?”. They will give you the proper reassurance and advice every time.

5. I am away from pregnancy misconception, old wives tales, people who think they are doctors and other crazies alike.

This has to be on the top list on advantages of being in the Netherlands during pregnancy.

Not once have I heard one Dutch person say something in the line of: “you are not supposed to eat that, your baby will have floppy ears later”.

Sad but true, I have heard many of those insane remarks from Indonesians (and some Asians in general actually). The midwives and friends here only share the facts, they are honest of what are not conclusive yet, they acknowledge that every person and every pregnancy is different. Nobody ask medical advice from each other and nobody generalizes.

Pregnancy is already a confusing and emotional time and not only are these insane remarks annoying, in some cases they are dangerous.

In Indonesia, many pregnant women are encouraged by their doctors to do the C-section instead of natural birth. Here, it is well known that C-section is a major surgical process that has serious risks and should be avoided as much as possible.

There is also more pressure in Asian women society to keep a good figure during pregnancy and many of them are dieting during pregnancy. While here dieting is not recommended as it has been known to trigger baby’s diabetic and obesity later on.

I hope everyone keeps themselves educated with the useful information only and try not to listen to those fake doctors around you.

6. When the going gets tough, ….

all those five points above are your savior.

My pregnancy before this was not a success and I had miscarriage at around week 11. What I am trying to say is, when your pregnancy is well (like mine now, thank God) your environment may not matter so much. But when situations are tough, the kindness and professionalism of your caretaker, the well arranged system and the sanity of the people around you, will matter oh-so-very much.

Here was my experience with miscarriage in NL:

I went for a normal ultrasound check (week 12) and found out that the heartbeat has gone. While I cried on the way home, the technician already called my midwife to inform what has happened. My midwife then called me and patiently comforted me and offered to visit at home, which I declined because Fedi and I preferred to be alone at that time. When we have calmed down, she called us again and explained clearly the next procedure, which is to choose between:

  • Waiting. With most miscarriages, the embryo will detach itself from the uterus and the natural bleeding will start. Although this can take a while, sometimes a few weeks. The advantages of waiting: you are having a spontaneous and natural process. The mourning period can be experienced at home in the pace that you need. The disadvantages: you need to know how long you would like to wait. Waiting does not have medical disadvantage but it can be difficult emotionally. Also, when the natural process is incomplete you might need to do the D&C procedure.
  • Misoprostol. This is a medicine that can arouse detachment and inserted vaginally. For 90% of patients, this medicine works, the rest 10% still needs to have the D&C procedure
  • D&C (curette procedure). This is a surgical procedure using a vacuum and scraper. You can choose whether to have a full or a local anesthesia during this procedure.

As there are several complications and problems on conceiving again that could appear after D&C procedure, I chose to do the Misoprostol procedure first. I would then take the D&C procedure if the Misoprostol did not work completely, which thankfully was not the case. But note that misoprostol procedure is quite painful, almost like a real labor and contractions process (minus the pushing) and the pain builds up for around 12 – 18 hours before finally reaches its climax and bleeding is heaviest. But other than being exhausted the next day, I had no other complications and side effects afterwards.

For this process, we had to go to the hospital and consult with an ob/gyn. Again, the doctors and hospital staffs were friendly as angels, explained everything slowly and their professionalism assured us we were in good hands.

For those of you who are in this position, reach out to people who have experienced it. It really helped me to know that I was not alone.

Please please avoid people who have theories on why this happens, only ask the “why” question to your doctor/midwife and no one else.

Fedi and I have learned the hard way that life can be turned upside down in a matter of second.  No matter how sad it might be,  it was a precious experience in its own way and we have not taken any day of this pregnancy for granted ever since.

7. Pregnancy classes

There is something for everyone. If you have an enthusiastic partner who wants to get involved in every process, then sign up for partner-classes (such as http://www.samenbevallen.nl). There are also people who wants the holistic approach, or outdoor classes and enough options for classes in English. The midwife will also keep you informed about other extra classes like information evenings (usually for a small fee or for free) on breastfeeding, pain during labor, baby massages, etc.

I chose the more traditional one, a pregnancy gym class, which has a little bit of everything. It has 10 lessons and one other lesson after delivery. The lessons cover: pelvic stability training, some light movements exercises, stretching and relaxation exercise, breathing techniques, pushing techniques, and one partner lesson where Fedi learned how to breathe with me and how to massage during contractions.

Here you can download a list of  things that hopefully useful for your partner to know. Print it out and put it up on your fridge, it also has some tips on what we should do on emergency delivery.

*The original list was in Dutch so this is my quick rough translation into English.

8. Maternity Leave

Paid maternity leave for 16 weeks minimum. You can not be fired or demoted during the leave. After delivery, you have the right to ask for parental leave and reduction of work hours that can not be rejected by your employer. Need I say more?

9. Care-package (Kraampakket):

On week 25, your insurance (who should be well aware of your pregnancy by now) will send you a care-package  The content is useful mainly for labor at home but you will need several items (bold font) even though you are delivering at a hospital.

You should receive:

  • Umbilical cord clip
  • 3 boxes of gauzes
  • A bottle of alcohol 70%
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Rubber gloves
  • Cottonwool
  • 2 strectch underwears
  • 2 packs maternity pads
  • 1 thin delivery mattress
  • 2 mattress protector sheets
  • an information sheet on how to babyproof your house
  • and a cute doll just for fun


Content of Kraampakket

Man, these Dutch people have thought of everything!

10. Free things!

I am probably registered at every baby shops and drugstores. This is how we can get good deals and discounts on baby stuffs and even boxes of free stuffs to try. Do this if you do not mind all the spam emails and brochures that come with it..

Sure there are also negative things about being pregnant and having a family in the Netherlands (check out the taxes and creche prices)…

But ladies, whatever your pregnancy environment is, I hope you are not taking any special moment for granted.

love,

Laurentia

37w3d

What’s this? another pregnancy blog, you say?

Well yes it is actually.

Now that I finally have all the time in the world (three times “yay” for maternity leave), I just can’t help it!

Although, after phases of ups and downs, constant worrying and organizing, mixed with happiness and hopefulness, plus big chunk of tiredness, I would like to open this with a happy blog of Fun Things ONLY:

Toys!

After months of preparing all the must-do and must-have things, our baby will not care if mummy has spent hours reading about babycare, that daddy has fixed the heater in her room. She will demand some toys! So, (online) shopping we gooo..

1. Teddy Bear. Inspired by the below, Fedi already bought a teddy bear which will officialy be our baby’s first teddy bear. It is a fluffy sweet looking thing he got at Baby Park (photo still coming, just too heavy to get up and take a picture of it right now..)

2. Music Mobile.

After watching dozens of youtube videos of baby lullabies, I chose this one from Tiny Love.

Kind of pricey  but hopefully it will be worth it: 6 types of music (classical, nature, etc) with 18 different melodies, soothing night light, happy lights for during the day, volume controller (apparently very important), the mobile part can be taken out and it will be safe for her to play with it as she grows.

3. Rattle dazzle

Apparently when you are pregnant, a whole new world is opened and you learn tons of new vocabularies. Just like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz.

Now I know quite a significant number of baby stuff and brand names I have never heard before. For the category of newborn baby toys, the winner has to be…(drumroll ?) Lamaze toys. These are several favorites that I have ordered:

  •  A big Like for this wrist rattler because she should be able to ‘play’ with it herself even when she can not grab to things yet
  •  This one should be approved by the baby too because it has all the parts recommended for a zero year old: a black and white contrast on the back side, mirror, a squeaky toy, and rattling and dangling things.

Well that is more or less it for now (self control, self control…) but I still have several awesome things on my wishlist but they are either too soon to buy now or I still need some research.

Which reminds me of the other fun thing: the research itself – uuu how fun! Consult forums before buying or even doing anything, preferably in your local language/area –  like this one here for NL which I love because it has all the topics I can think of.

To end this Fun Things edition, I just have to put this sweet hilarious picture..! (I hope the magazine and the parents of the baby do not mind)

I will definitely use this as my visualization point to soothe myself during the labor.

Ay no.., the labor.

Love,

L.

35 weeks and 4 days

In difficult times, her words and this song have always made my legs stronger, my head straighter and my heart humbler.

Dedicated to my husband, and to anyone who needs strength.

To the world you might be just one; but to me, you are the world.

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all

I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
When I find myself
Standing in the sun

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever, forever worship you

I can only imagine



No need to wonder whether it is going to rain or not,

whether to take a bus or ride a bike.

Just sit on the balcony, stare at the orange rooftops and be in love.

Invitations are not ready, gown and suits are not chosen, flowers..? what flowers?

Nothing else is important,

when waking up means being  this much in love,

and that I am readier than ever.

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