I am 8 months pregnant today.
I was recently reminded that in just 5 weeks, this baby will be considered full-term. I feel like there’s still so much to prepare before his arrival, and that ideally, I’d have it all done by the end of August because the baby can really, healthily, come anytime in September. I think being physically prepared for him to arrive will help a lot with being more emotionally ready for him.
At least I hope so. It could be that once I have everything in place and finding the perfect doilies to line the baby shelves or getting the right bottle sanitizer no longer consumes monumental proportions in my head, I’ll have nothing left to do but focus on trying not to freak out about the birth.
We’ve started taking childbirth preparation classes. There’s a really fantastic community of midwives and trained nurses here who routinely welcome pregnant families into their home, ply them with fresh home-cooked goodies, and hold classes on labor & birth, postpartum care, and breast-feeding–all from the goodness of their hearts. They won’t even accept donations, except of the kind they can pass on to future new mothers. They make themselves available should you need help when the big day comes, and they’ll even come to your house and help out with any issues you might have with breastfeeding afterward. I kind of expected to feel more lost, alienated, or alone out here as an expat…but I don’t feel anything of the sort when there’s such a wonderful community and resources available. And I’ve heard so many times that, in the experience of mothers who gave birth in the U.S. and then gave birth here, they vastly preferred giving birth here because the doctors here aren’t so concerned about litigation as in the U.S.–which means they are more hands off, letting you do your thing as you feel best suits you, until you need them. Then, when you’re actively pushing, the doctor will be there to help you much more than is usual in the U.S.
Not that there aren’t drawbacks and things you have to watch out for here, as practices on various things differ. It’s just good to know that the birthing experience here has been so positive for so many women.
I’m trying not to be too freaked out by everything involved–our first class was quite graphic about what all the body has to go through and do. But it is comforting to know that, for the most part, the female body was made to do it, and mostly, my job (and Toby’s job) is to just help it along, and do things to help make sure I’m not getting in my own way. Our second class focused on showing us that there are a variety of techniques, all geared towards making the process as efficient as possible and to help deal with whatever situational cards we’re dealt. So that makes me feel like this thing might be somewhat manageable.
In the meantime, there are things I have to think about here, as an expat, that I wouldn’t be so concerned about if we were living in the States. Beyond passports and citizenship documents (which should be pretty straightforward, actually), I think about the implications of our plans to travel back home in the next year or so, or to Europe to visit the grandparental units there. We have plans to spend a full month in the U.S. next year, and then a full month again in Europe the following year. With so much time spent abroad, we’ll not only need to get our kid vaccines for diseases prevalent here, we’ll need to research and request vaccinations required in the U.S. and Europe, and figure out what’s a good schedule to give them to our kid and not overwhelm his little body.
But even that’s not such a big deal.
However, there is one thing that keeps tripping me up. It drives me nuts, to no end. It actually makes me angry–probably disproportionately so.
And that’s the car seat. For someone who habitually travels light (physically and emotionally), who was carried home from the hospital in her mother’s arms, and who distinctly remembers playing freely as a child in the back of her dad’s VW when we drove anywhere, the car seat represents more than just an inconvenience. It’s a burden, an infringement, governments poking themselves in where they don’t belong.
It’d be one thing if the car seat was small, light, or easily packed. I could also be more inclined to shrug it off if car seats were anywhere near cheap, so we could just buy one when we arrived. No. The car seat is a veritable exorbitantly-priced beast, and there’s no guarantee it will fit well in whatever cars we use when we arrive in the U.S. or Germany. And when we travel to the U.S., it’s not like we just go to L.A. and that’s it. We have people to visit in L.A., central California, northern California, South Carolina, and if we can afford the time & extra flights, Florida and Atlanta. So we’d have to keep lugging the damn thing across the continental U.S. The irony is if we were traveling to Thailand instead of from Thailand, it wouldn’t even be a concern since, with moms riding on motorbikes with their babes tucked in slings here, the whole car seat concept is kind of optional.
I’m not saying I don’t care about our kid’s safety. I just buck against being forced to do something when there are no convenient alternatives. (Why aren’t car seats more travel friendly??) But, as my husband points out whenever I complain about this, we knew our days of easy, light travel are over for the foreseeable future. We did sign up for this, after all.
I’m sure that, by the time the situation actually arises, I’ll have gotten over it and accepted it as just the way things are. Since Toby & I usually pack light enough we could share a suitcase between the two of us (even with gifts for friends & relatives), we do have room to spare to bring stuff for the little one.
Anyway, I’d better get over it, or give up on travel for the next 5 years.
So…this coffee session turned out to be one huge venting spree…sorry about that! Your turn now. How are things going for you? If we were meeting for coffee, would there be something you’d want to vent about too?