A different kind of adventure
Linda and Renwe discuss a change of direction from traveling the world together to overcoming challenges while starting their family
"We saw a lot of the world and we met a lot of amazing people, but at some point, we were like, okay, now it's time for us," says Linda, as she describes wanting to start a family with her partner Renwe. In a refreshingly frank conversation, the couple shares their pregnancy journey, and how they went from traveling the world together to overcoming challenges as a team.
Trigger warning: this article contains themes around pregnancy loss.
We meet Linda, Renwe, and their son Louie on a misty morning in Haarlem, so we escape the weather in the couple's coffee bar, Jules Coffee & Concept. It's a cozy space, "like a living room", as Renwe describes it, where they can chat to their customers like friends and give them somewhere to park their strollers.
Jules was a dream Renwe and Linda manifested while seeing the world together. Previously, they'd often travel to two locations a week, but it was a busy lifestyle they were happy to trade for a different adventure as parents. Unfortunately, their journey to parenthood proved to be a difficult one, but they were very open to share their story with us.
“We are a great team. We are best friends, we are parents, we are lovers.” - Linda
Linda and Renwe met, they think, around 2002; "Maybe you could say it's like 19 years," says Linda. They struggle to pin down exactly how they met, but when two people have been so close for so long, it's easy to see why it's difficult to picture their lives apart.
Since their first date, they have been partners in every sense of the word. "We work together. We are a great team. We are best friends, we are parents, we are lovers," says Linda, who puts the success of their relationship down to the balance of their personalities – her self-confessed "hectic" nature tempered by Renwe's calm and quiet character.
After years of traveling together, wanting a family encouraged the couple to create a base in the Netherlands. This was where their pregnancy challenges first began.
“It's important to share the story and it's important for you too.” - Linda
Linda went through heavy fertility treatments, which saw her taking hormones every couple of hours. Eventually, she discovered she was pregnant. But at eight weeks, Linda sadly experienced a miscarriage.
As digital content creators, they immersed themselves in work immediately after. Initially, Linda was reluctant to talk to anybody about her experience and found working at a busy fashion week to be a distraction. However, Renwe encouraged her to share how she was feeling.
She recalls Renwe rallying around her: "I remember in the beginning I was like, I don't want to tell anyone. And you were like, you have to because it's important to share the story and it's important for you too.” The moment Linda began to open up, the easier it became.
During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Linda discovered she was pregnant again. This is where baby Louie's story starts.
Naturally cautious, and unable to visit the hospital as often as they'd hoped during lockdown, they hired an ultrasound machine to check themselves at home. "It was really bad," says Linda reflecting on the quality of the scan, but then they saw baby Louie moving around in mom's belly. "Can you please check again? Can you please check again?" Linda recalls asking Renwe, until her mind was at ease.
The day after Louie was born, the midwife sensed that he would be full of energy. She was right. When we visit the family home, it's not long before he's out of his Bugaboo Giraffe and curiously exploring the kitchen. He's now gearing up to be a big brother, and he's taking his role very seriously – he's already adamant that he's too grown up for his buggy and insists it's for the new baby.
Linda and Renwe are very excited about the arrival of Louie's younger sibling, but, unfortunately, this has been a challenging journey too.
“Can I disappear somewhere?”
All seemed to be going to plan this time around. At 12 weeks into the pregnancy, Linda went along for a scan to be sure. "I sat down, and she checked and she's like, I'm sorry, but there's no more heartbeat. And then I was like, oh my God. Okay. Can I disappear somewhere?"
Giving themselves time before trying to get pregnant again armed Linda with a new perspective. "I think it's important to share because you have the feeling you're kind of alone in it. And it's not true, because miscarriages are really common."… "We as women have got to support each other".
“We have to be strong together.” - Renwe
Linda describes falling pregnant again as like her body shouting that she was expecting a baby, but her head didn't let her believe it. Even at the 20-week scan, Linda could hardly look at the screen, until the nurse reassured her that everything was fine – they had a healthy baby, growing in her belly.
Renwe describes this pregnancy journey as very exciting, but initially, he had an "ok, let's see" mentality, until they spotted the little heartbeat. He also attributes their bond as a team to keeping them going throughout the process: "We have to be strong together."
With their new baby on the way, Linda and Renwe are looking to the future. "Your perspective on life will change immediately as soon as there's a baby," Linda says. "There were things that were very important that are not important anymore." And for Renwe it's a new perspective on sustainability and the planet: "You're thinking about the future, like the way it's going now because you have a son and you have kids, what will it be like after 20 years?"
Their vision for the future is also full of adventure – they haven't lost their love of traveling and hope to include it as much as possible in their social life as a family. Renwe describes the value of seeing and respecting different cultures, and they both see travel as a way of energizing their children's creativity.
Linda elaborates on their aspirations as a family: "We want to show them the world ... and to show them what we have learned. And of course, the coffee bar success!" By following their coffee bar dream they hope it inspires Louie and his sibling with a spirit and a drive. And if Linda could pass on one piece of advice to instill that essence in their kids, it would be "if you want something, you should go for it".
Linda and Renwe's story is part of our Bugaboo Fox 5 series celebrating different paths to parenthood.