11 Things Only Someone Who Has Had A Baby In A Foreign Country Will Understand
People have babies everywhere in the world, so one would think having a baby abroad would be a total nonevent. But having a baby in a foreign country can actually be pretty weird. The traditions are different–where I am, baby showers are apparently considered bad luck–and the medical facilities and recommendations can vary a lot from what you would expect. Here are some of the things that will happen when you have a baby in a foreign country.
1. Your parents are suddenly convinced you live in a hobbit hole 10,000 miles from other human beings.
I live in a city in Germany, but somehow my parents are frantic that I would lack basic necessities. “Do you need me to send diapers? Do they have maternity clothes where you are? Will you be able to get a crib?”
2. Registries are for local ladies.
My mother insisted I register all over the place, but registries don’t really make sense if you live abroad. Nobody back home was going to be able to figure out how to send bottles, or diapers, or carseats, or whatever else people register for. Instead all gifts will be cute baby outfits, and they will probably arrive with the grandparents.
3. Your foreign language vocabulary lists just got really weird.
Cervix in German is “muttermund,” literally “mother mouth.” I never learned not to make a gross face when I heard it.
4. You will be blissfully free of familial body-snarking.
When your family is an ocean away, nobody can harp on how much weight you have or haven’t put on.
5. The Facebook pregnancy announcement becomes hugely significant.Â
If you do not announce your impending infant, nobody will ever know she’s coming. Really, you could have a whole other person and nobody would ever know.
6. You learn some new words and phrases really quickly.
I still don’t reliably remember the difference between “left” and “right” in German, but I can say “pitocin” and “NICU” and “Give me a fucking epidural right now” like a native speaker.
7. You will not be able to talk to your hospital roommate, but you will still be able to communicate.
My roommate did not speak a word of English, but I assume that little nod as she was leaving with her cigarettes meant, “Please watch my newborn for a few
minutes hours, I’m going to go have a smoke.” At least, I hope that’s what she meant.
8. The English-speakers around you will get things wrong at the weirdest times.Â
All the nurses in my delivery room thought the English word for “butt” was “poo.” I quickly figured out what they meant, but it still made it a little weird to hear grown women saying, “Move your poo.” or “Shift your poo to the left.”
9. Depending on where you are, you might feel like you won the lottery.
Thanks to my sweet public health insurance, I did not have a single medical expense besides prenatal vitamins, which meant I could blow all my money on fancy stretch mark cream. When my pregnant friends online would talk about the thousands of dollars their pregnancies and deliveries cost, it basically felt like I was giving birth in a pile of money.
10. You have to follow twice as many dumb food rules.
Different countries have different recommendations for what pregnant women can and can’t eat. You will find yourself needing to follow the rules for both the country you’re in and the country you’re from. No wine or salad for you. Â Boo.
11. Everyone will think your baby is super fancy.
All those moms back home who teach their babies to count in Mandarin will be green with envy when they hear your baby was born in Europe, or Asia, or wherever your baby is born. They will automatically envy your chic, cosmopolitan infant.