Reika and Jack have arrived!

ONE month ago, on the small tropical island of Okinawa, Japan, Reika Layne Hendrick was born.


Baby Reika


THEN…less than three weeks later….6,1923 miles away in the beautiful Tuscan city of Lucca, Italy,

Jack Alexander Nocera was born.


Baby Jack



Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 11.07.01 AM

However, to explain the significance of these two births, beyond the perspective of the physical distance that separates the occurrences, we need to back up a bit…..

Chime Llakhang

Rijen & Megan


Dani & Sara

Ok these relationships are obviously very important to the story too but it’s a different relationship I want to address…… maybe a little bit further back….

Here we are.


In the beginning (in other words- the ’80s) there was me and Sara.

Scan 20

(and Osh Kosh B’gosh)



Scan 21

When I was about this age, Sara was born to my oldest sister Cara, and I became an aunt at 3 years old.


Baby Sara


 Being an aunt from such an early age made for a very special relationship, and despite all the many miles that have separated us over the years, we have remained very close…

10398467_1124433870993_8378477_n (1)

…through birthdays


…through the addition of an another niece to dress up


..and then the other one


…through 90’s hair




…through living overseas (and switching hair colors). We like to say that we are each other’s first best friend.

I remember when Sara told me she was pregnant with her first son, Samuele. Rijen and I had just gotten married and were traveling through Europe. We were visiting Sara in Italy and had decided to sleep in a little bit longer and catch the NEXT train to Rome. SO we were lying around being a little bit lazy, enjoying the morning light coming in through the shades and figuring out EXACTLY when we would HAVE to get up in order to catch the next train. Rijen was still sleeping because he had a bit of a cold..and Sara and I were talking about getting married, her plans about living in Italy….and then…. she told me she was pregnant!


baby Sam

  I couldn’t believe that she was going to be the one to have a baby first! That I would be a great-aunt before being a mom.


 But it WAS great. And a few years later I was a mom too.

And then luckily, since we were living in Germany, Sara was able to be a part of my kids’ lives.


Talking to Cara while holding Leif

Talking to Cara while holding Leif

So again, it was very exciting when Sara called me earlier this year and told me that she was pregnant! I had been trying to get pregnant too and was so unbelievably happy for her. Then, a few months later I thought I might be pregnant. I decided to wait until my birthday to take a test because I figured it would either be the perfect birthday gift if it was positive, and then if it was negative I would at least have a fun day to distract me from the disappointment.

I had gotten up very early because I was planning on doing a long run, partly in order to see if I would be ready for an upcoming marathon and to decide whether I wanted to register for it (also dependent on the result of the test).  Here’s a little side story about what happened with the pregnancy test.  I had forgotten to bring the test stick into the bathroom, but had a cup ready…so in the morning I filled the cup and then had to walk out with it to the kitchen to put the test in it.  Unfortunately, when I came out of the room, Fiona had woken up and caught me gingerly holding my pee cup.

“Mom, what are you drinking?”

“I’m not drinking anything.”

“What’s in that cup?”

Now unfortunately instead of saying something smart like, “Oh, just old water I’m going to throw out, why don’t I start a cartoon for you….” I blurted out the honest response and said, “Um….Mommy had to pee in this cup.” (Because talking in the third person makes carrying around a cup of pee more understandable to your toddler).

I don’t remember what she asked after that stellar explanation, but of course she was very confused, and I had to explain that the special “baby test stick” would be put in the pee and that would tell us that maybe we would be having a baby! She already knew about the pregnancy tests because they had been around a while and Leif kept thinking they were toys and trying to play with them, and the party line was that they were “NOT TOYS” but  “for the baby.”

THEN I had the grand idea that SHE should be the one to find out whether I was pregnant or not! So I coached her on what the lines would mean- one line, no baby, TWO lines….baby. I put the test stick in the urine, put the cap on the stick, disposed of the cup, handed the stick to Fiona without looking at it and then asked her what she saw.  She told me. TWO LINES!! We rejoiced!! Then (because I tend to like to do exciting things more than once) we recreated the scenario in front of the Christmas tree. If you’d like to see our dramatization of the original moment, here it is:

Rijen was still sleeping so I decided not to wake him up yet and I was still going to go on a run, but I thought that perhaps Sara would still be up in Italy since it was her night time there. So I called her and she was so excited for me too! But she didn’t mention anything to me about her pregnancy or our babies being born close together.  I asked her if she was still pregnant. The answer was no.  She hadn’t wanted to tell me and bring the mood down, but of course it was important for me to know what was going on with her. Naturally it was emotional with us both being so happy for my pregnancy while mourning her loss as well.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait that long to revisit this topic because probably the next time I talked to Sara was her calling me to surprise me with the news that she was pregnant AGAIN! And this time everything went very well.  So well in fact, that we had a little too much fun taking pictures of it all.  And for those of you who have already seen these on Instagram (which is probably 90% of you) you can just roll your eyes and scroll on through our craziness….



Sara in the Ionian Sea


Megan in the East China Sea


Gifts of flowers


Shadow Selfies



This last one-I don’t have a companion to it, but I just think it is a really cool shot. Plus there’s big brother Sam!



We even had matching nails. My manicure, her pedicure.

And when I went into labor, Sara and I were able to communicate via voxer and text messages. When Sara went into labor, I checked my phone every hour. We knew that we would be supporting each other as well as we could from so far away.  And now look what we have! Beautiful babies who are going to be the best of friends. If they ever get to meet each other, that is.




Reika nursing



Jack nursing


Sara and I also enjoyed talking about the difference between giving birth in Italy/Japan and the US.  She’s sent me some more photos and detail about her experience, but I thought I’d do that in a separate post, so check back for a mini blog series about childbirth around the world!


And just for fun, I will end with some more newborn comparisons since everyone has been asking me “who does she look like?”

Scan 23





















3 responses to “Reika and Jack have arrived!

  1. Never in a million years would I have guessed that the first baby picture is you, I’d have thought it was Rijen! Interesting photo of your Bhutan trip you have there… of course, I’m talking about the one on the left. The other two on the right are pretty much unspectacular.


    • Denise, you will have to wait until I finally get around to posting about our trip to Bhutan to understand the meaning behind that picture (besides the obvious of course)!!


  2. Fiona looks exactly the same as when she was a baby!! Except bigger. Longer hair. Prob talks more. This was a fun post to read! I love your matching pics. NOT being on Instagram, I only saw the ones that trickled to FB… Bhutan. Ohhhh, Bhutan. You definitely need to expound on that… 😉 Oh, the nursing pics are so sweet. I love nursing pics. Reika and Jack are both adorable, and I’m sure will grow up close, even if they are physically far away from each other!

    Liked by 1 person

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