Knocked Up Abroad

25 Apr

Get it? Hehe… Yes, I had entirely too much fun thinking of that title. Enjoy. 😉

Many people have asked me what it was like being pregnant and having a little munchkin while living overseas. I have been debating for months now whether or not to write a post about this topic, partly because I didn’t want to overshare, and partly because I’m not sure how to answer the question. Since I’ve never had a child while not living abroad, I have nothing to compare the experience to. That being said, I’ve had quite some time during my maternity leave to reflect on the past year. Without further ado, here is a brief overview of my experience being pregnant in Thailand. This is by no means representative of what having a child here would be like for anyone else, so please forgive any generalizations (blame it on my semi-tired new mama brain).

The Thais love babies. LOVE babies. The moment my belly started showing in a way that was clearly maternal and not overweight farang, I became very popular. Everyone, and I mean everyone, felt the need to touch my stomach. My preggo belly was fair game for all, from the gentleman who works at my favorite massage place, to the students’ grandmothers. For the most part, this did not distress me since my stomach felt like it belonged to someone else entirely and was no longer part of my own body. The only times this became alarming were the surprise attacks; I would be walking down the hall at school and a student’s mom would pop up and reach for my belly, nearly tripping me. I didn’t mind the belly rubs, but I really didn’t want to fall on my stomach and squash the little one.

Along with the belly rubs came a wide variety of comments and questions. The combination of cultural differences and the language barrier resulted in some fascinating conversations about my preggo state of being. “One or two?” was a popular question, especially as I reached 30+ weeks and became decidedly large. Nothing makes a woman in her third trimester feel more awesome than being reminded of her size. The size remarks extended to my swollen feet from the ladies at the massage spa: “Feet so big!!”, and, awkwardly, my growing breasts. Our maid commented, “Oh, big you! Milk a lot, a lot!” Suddenly, conversation topics that were previously off-limits in polite society became fair game, and not just with the Thais. I found myself earnestly discussing nipple cream with a male coworker, being asked by a parent if I was peeing often, and casually chatting about placentas with near-strangers. Does this happen in the US?

My favorite pregnancy-related comments came from my students. Being preggo while teaching small people is awesome. They were endlessly fascinated and curious about my increasing state, and the variety of background knowledge each kid had about pregnancy ran the gamut from fully informed to adorably clueless. Questions included: When will it hatch? Is your belly big because there’s an egg in there? Is your belly getting bigger every time the baby gets bigger? Is he sleeping now? Can he watch TV? One of my little munchkins took to measuring how far her arms could go around my growing belly, and kissing it hello every morning. Another slyly suggested his own name for the baby. Several third grade girls, former students, brainstormed male names for me. Among their suggestions were Andrew, Robby, Michael (off the table for obvious reasons), and Liam. Their top choice was Leonardo, and they had thoroughly thought through their suggestion: “Leonardo after the painter and Leonardo DiCaprio, and you can call him Leo for short.” The picture on the left is the kindergarteners trying to listen to the baby and find out if he’s talking.

Finally, there was the hospital experience abroad. Bangkok has some world-class hospitals, and people come from all over to have surgery here for a fraction of the cost. I don’t know what my experience would have been in the US, but here in Thailand the prices of the birth were reasonable, and the care was excellent. I loved our doctor. She was tiny and Thai, flawlessly dressed, and perfectly coiffed with a random butterfly tattoo on her neck. I suspect she is over fifty, but some subtle tweaks have made her appear rather ageless. I kept calling her the Thai Dr.Ruth; she was both very proper and completely frank about everything. Even in the midst of my super painful, drug-induced contractions, a part of my mind was observing the classy, black lace dress she was sporting under her lab coat, and thinking how wildly unsuited for a baby delivery her ensemble was. Her complete calm and reassuring vibe made the whole process as fuss-free as possible.

And now… we have a munchkin! Mr.Oliver is officially eight weeks as I hit publish on this post. Tales of parenting in Thailand will be sure to follow. 🙂




2 Responses to “Knocked Up Abroad”

  1. You already know I’m a fan! Oh how the blogs change!!

  2. Maira April 25, 2017 at 4:22 pm #

    Oliver had the best mom everrrr

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