I find it a bit crazy that I have my Brown Mom Abroad blog and have failed to post a single word about my pregnancy. To be fair, my blogging is very scarce but today I had the energy, time and mindset to share a little bit about my pregnancy while living abroad thus far.
First, let me say I don’t have a comparison of being pregnant or having a baby abroad vs. in America. My son was born almost 6 years ago in Abu Dhabi, UAE and that was…well, a lot! To be fair, I think for most moms the first pregnancy is a lot to take in no matter if you’re away from home or not. I also experienced a few complications during my first pregnancy. Without going into full detail, I went into pre-term labor at around 22 weeks (five and a half months) pregnant, and again around 26 weeks (six months). The second experience with pre-term labor was more severe and caused me to be moved from one hospital, to another, and finally to another in one night. It was one of the scariest nights of my life, praying and asking God to keep my baby IN MY BELLY full term! I was admitted for about 3 days and the remainder of my pregnancy was very closely monitored. It’s hard enough when your doctor looks you eye-to-eye and says, “you need to prepare yourself for this baby not making it” add that to trying to comprehend medical information through various accents all in a culture very different than your own; it can be overwhelming. When I went into labor in the wee morning hours on August 4, 2011 I had my birth plan, my bag packed and was ready. After 13 hours of labor and because of my previous complications the doctor decided to induce me, maybe 45 minutes later he told me I needed an emergency Cesarean. It was a lot to take it and a long story to share. In the end, thankfully, Levi only came 5 days early and was a beautiful and healthy baby boy!
With everything I went through in my first pregnancy, living in Hong Kong has been a lot harder for me. I’ve tried to put my finger on why it’s been so hard for me, the only guess I’ve been able to grasp is the public system is just overly saturated with patients, more than I’m used to. Considering I don’t speak or understand Cantonese (Hong Kong’s national language) it’s very difficult to communicate and to comprehend directions, requests and instructions when you’re brain is already muddled from pregnancy. Many expats decide to go with a private doctor which is quite expensive. For our family, being on one income paying for a private doctor isn’t a realistic or wise move. So, I’m sticking with the public system instead. I will say I did 0, yes ZERO research into having a baby in Hong Kong or Abu Dhabi before we moved. I knew there was a very high chance that we would have a baby while in both countries, but I didn’t look into anything prior to being pregnant. And let me digress a minute…honestly, our families only wanted to know will our baby be American? The answer is yes guys! I was born and raised in America as were my parents, grandparents etc. all the way back to slavery. My husband was born in America, as were his parents and grandparents dating back to immigrating from Europe. So our children have American parents and are full citizens, if they wish they will be able to run for President as well without any hassle! You’d be surprised how many times citizenship comes into question.
Sharing all of that to say, I’ve been having such a hard time emotionally with being pregnant abroad as well as the physical sickness that comes with my pregnancies I’ve slightly ignored talking or sharing much about my pregnancy experience as a mom abroad. And let’s be honest, the only information most people want to know anyways is the due date and gender!
So, I’ll oblige! The due date is quite easy to know, even before my first doctors appointment, I finally dragged myself around 4 months pregnant. I know the exact day we conceived with this baby as well as my first baby. I haven’t been on any form of birth control since 2008, instead we practice Natural Family Planning so it’s pretty easy to track! Our little reward from God is due October 20th.
As for finding out the gender, we tried to find this out in Hong Kong – we were denied. An interesting fact to know about Hong Kong (which was news to me) sharing the gender is considered unethical and illegal. The unofficial answer we received from one Doctor was aborting a baby based on gender is/was very popular in Hong Kong and China. I don’t know how much of a problem it is presently and I refused to research anything about it – just certain things you don’t want to do when pregnant. But, we’ve been itching and waiting to find out the gender! I really felt that once I knew I can mentally prepare and plan – when really, knowing not much changes – it’s just really nice to know!
When we arrived to the U.S for our Summer vacation, getting an ultrasound was a must do the first week. My husband found a place that was actually pretty cool, it offered the ultrasound in 2, 3 and 4D as well as a nice big room for family members. It was just the 3 of us but another family was in another room and there were at least 15 people with them, it was really sweet to see everyone so excited and supportive to find out the gender! The highlight for me was warm gel for my belly – I swear the little things go a long way with pregnant ladies! They also offered the heartbeat recorded and put in a build-a-bear stuffed animal, we opted for the tiger. We requested she not tell us the gender, but write it down so we could surprise Levi with a fun game later that day. Just to make it a little more special – he really, really, really wanted a little sister and was just waiting for the news that Mommy has a baby girl in her belly. He asked at least 20 times during my appointment “where’s the private?!” Overall, it was a great experience we received four 4D print outs, a few black and whites, a dvd and the tiger with heartbeat for $180. I’m happy to finally know that we are having another beautiful baby boy!
Ideally, as I approach my delivery I hope to share more about my experience because I know it’s usually a major concern for woman who are curious what it’s like to have a baby abroad. As well as moms who are slightly anxious traveling abroad while pregnant. I get it, 15+ hours from Hong Kong to New Jersey, 1.5 hours from Jersey to Cleveland – flying internationally is already rough, adding being pregnant with a kid plus constant pee breaks – you can already imagine it’s a lot! I’m happy to answer questions if I can, especially if they are connected to my experience. Three months to go, guys, 3 months to go!