2023 is only a few days away, but it couldn’t have started better for “Madam Bakster” Laura Verhulst. The news everyone following her track has been waiting for has come true, because Laura is now 13 weeks pregnant with her late husband, Kobe.
A while ago we launched the hashtag #babywithoutdeadline. With success, because in part thanks to Laura, the very tight deadline will probably be increased from two years to ten years. But there’s more good news in the pipeline and Laura is ready to send it out into the world. I’m going to be a mother at 13 weeks. If all goes well, I’ll welcome a miracle in mid-July.
Congratulations is an understatement. What went through your mind when you found out you were pregnant?
About two weeks after my last conversion, my pregnancy test came back positive. You can’t predict in advance how you’ll react when that line is suddenly recited, but I feel a new dimension of happiness and an incredible embrace of all that will follow. Inner peace is the predominant feeling ever since. The pressure was lifted off my shoulders. Before, I felt like I had one foot in a childless existence. I was preparing myself psychologically for how to deal with life if my childhood wish didn’t come true. With the other foot, I was fully fertile, making a very conscious decision each month to undergo another try. So I am very relieved that I experienced this. I don’t feel the need to fight. I’m going to be a mother and that’s the priority right now. The fact that I am a widow has been partially pushed into the background.
Do you feel Kobe is involved in this?
I’m quite rational, though I can’t deny that things happen that I don’t think might be coincidental. For example, at Kobe’s funeral I sang a song as a tribute. Since his death, my environment and I have been hearing that song in the craziest of places. I’m not actively trying to look for signs, but I also think Kobe hasn’t gone away. Our love transcends death. My love for him will always be there, but he has also evolved in the past year from an active relationship to a token one. I found this very important in my treatment. First of all, I’m going to be a single mom. I thought for a long time if I wanted to, because it wouldn’t be easy and Kobe wouldn’t be there to make it easier for me. Furthermore, I don’t want Kobe’s death to control everything in my life and our child’s life. Kobe didn’t want that either. Let our child be just a child in the first place, though I am so proud that I will be able to tell beautiful stories of the biological father when these questions are asked.
“Shortly after learning I was pregnant, I read a message in Kobe’s cemetery, along with a pregnancy test. I’m sure if he were watching something, he’d be very proud of the trip I’ve taken. He was pampering me even more, which is something I miss, but I proved I could.” Also taking care of myself. It’s not the same, of course, but I hope someone will reappear in my life in time. Of course, Kobe will also feel bittersweet. We’d like it differently, but I’m convinced that joy and happiness prevail. That’s how I feel, too.
I am really looking forward to the future again. Pregnancy without a Kobe sometimes takes a toll, but most of the time it makes things easier.
How is your pregnancy going so far?
with typical pregnancy pathologies. I was already sick and had very little energy, a combination that coincided with the death of 1-year-old Cobby on December 3, though I noticed that my child’s desire to fulfill her often made me more able to cope with the deficiency. I’m working on coping with my pregnancy and the fact that my baby Kobe and I are growing in my stomach. I am so proud to be a mother to the partner I have loved so much for ten years.
“I am really looking forward to the future again and it feels so amazing. Pregnancy without Kobe sometimes takes a toll, but most of the time it makes things easier. I feel like I’m going to write a new chapter. I notice that I am very careful. Over the past few years, I’ve had several setbacks and the worst-case scenario come true, so sometimes it’s hard not to focus on the possibility of things going wrong, whether in a pregnancy loss or the risk of the baby not being healthy. I still believe in the best possible outcome, though I also find peace to prepare for the worst.
At the first ultrasound, Kobe’s father accompanied me. It was a very touching and intimate moment.
Does this mean, for example, that you’re afraid of latching on to your child?
Luckily no. I am now awaiting the results of the NIPT (Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing, ed.) turning off. They will follow in a few days, but nevertheless I decided to announce my pregnancy now. This uncertainty and ethical dilemma – what if the outcome is unfavorable? – is something every parent has to go through and I’m no different. The moment you become a mother is the moment you are pregnant, and then that carefree side stops. I feel responsible for the baby in my womb and I don’t think the care will ever stop. I also think this is part of parenting. Something can always happen, but you can’t protect your child and the people you love from everything. Letting go of things over which you have no control, I already experienced this in my first steps as a young mother.
How does it feel to experience visits to the gynecologist without Kobe, to see her heartbeat for the first time?
“On the first ultrasound, Kobe’s father accompanied me. It was a very touching and intimate moment. The past year has been very pivotal for us. So it was good to be able to experience a continuation together. My father was present at the next ultrasound. I don’t miss Kobe there any more than I usually do, because I’ve basically accepted that he plays a symbolic role in my life. I can handle loss pretty well 80 percent of the time, but when I’m hurt or have a setback, all the grief just resurfaces. During transfusions, the doctor always said “fetus from Verholst Laura and Jacksons Kobe” and that’s intense. Sometimes reality hits really hard at such moments and then I think it should have been there. Of course, this grief would have happened if I had not been pregnant. Losing Kobe is part of my life.
Many people think of a child as a blank slate, but I see it differently. I believe that a child is born with a complete personality, so I am curious to know what our child will be like.
I’m still trying to enjoy it to the fullest. The idea is to get more and more of the shape in my head and in my mind I’m actually decorating the nursery. I am really looking forward to the next physical changes, the moment I see my belly grow and feel the baby kicking for the first time. Those will be moments to cherish. I am lucky. I am so proud to have had the opportunity to become a mother and then another mother to a child with the person I have always loved. This feels very valid. Puzzle pieces fall together. The picture is correct.
What kind of mother do you wish to be?
A mother who gives unconditional love and preferably also one who isn’t overprotective. I hated that my parents were always so worried about me, but only now do I realize that they raised me from a child who literally couldn’t do anything and who is defenseless to the independent adult I am today . I now understand how hard it is to let go. I’m curious as to how I’d go about with this myself, but I think it’s mainly my job to evolve with our baby on and off every now and then when you think: This isn’t going in the right direction from. Although I think you can go a long way with love and commitment.
I am very curious to meet and get to know our baby. Many people think of a child as a blank slate, but I see it differently. I believe that a child is born with a whole personality, so I am curious to know what our child will be like, how he will develop, what the first words will be, how our daughter or son will be in life as a person. I noticed that it is also important to take care of myself, because our child deserves a happy mother. The only thing I’m not looking forward to is a house full of Pumbaa and Paw Patrol merchandise, even though I know that’s inevitable.”
Now that we’re still on the heels of sweet wishes: what could that be for you?
A healthy, happy baby, more lightness in my life and, if possible: a flawless birth lasting a maximum of two hours. (Laughs) That’s what we’re going for.
We wish you a carefree pregnancy and a cloud baby.