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Pregnant & Abroad

Sep09

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Hi Amy,

I could really use some advice from an unbiased third party.

My husband is Dutch, I am American, and we live in the Netherlands.

I’ve recently found out I’m pregnant, and we couldn’t be happier. It’s my first, but not his (he is just as happy though).

Well, I’ve been living here for three years, I have a healthy relationship with his parents, I have some contact with two out of his 15 cousins, and we occasionally see his brother…my point is that coming from a large tight knit family, the lack of family closeness is unfamiliar to me. Not to mention, I haven’t really made any real friends here….so yea, even before the hormones had anything to do with it, I felt pretty darned lonely here.

Which brings me to my situation: I want to have this baby back home in NY with the support and love from my family and friends.

I don’t want to exclude my Sweety and his family from being a part of pregnancy….but it’s not like they are around all the time either…not how my friends and family would be. This is my mom’s first grandchild and I know I’ll get the kind of attention and care that I want.

In a perfect world, (health permitting) I would want to travel back right before my third trimester and come back with the baby two weeks after labor, again, health permitting. I wouldn’t even be opposed to hubby coming to NY for the birth…I just don’t want to do it here so alone.

I haven’t brought this up to my hubby, for fear that he will think I am pushing him away and being selfish. Does that make sense? But I feel pretty strongly about it.

How can I approach the subject sensitively? Should I even approach the subject at all?

Any kind of advice would be highly appreciated.

First-time Mom Abroad

I admit I’m particularly interested in the feedback this question will get in the comments — historically these sorts of birth plan dilemmas rustle up some very strong emotions — but I’m also curious to see if we have any other expats who went through something similar and can share their stories.

These kinds of marital discussions are the hardest, I think: the kind where you’ve basically been simmering all alone in your thoughts and ideas for awhile and have already made up your mind, but you’re still hoping there’s a way you can make it SOUND like you’re open to compromise and further collaboration…even though you’re totally…uh, not.

That said, this is a discussion you need to have with him. Like today. Yesterday. You guys need to sit down and get this plan out there and hashed through from every possible angle if you really intend to do it. Who will be your OB in New York? What’s the contingency plan if you encounter complications after you fly home, or your baby needs to spend time in the NICU? What happens if he books a flight and the baby comes early, or you go past your due date and he needs to return? Would you feel pressured by a travel schedule to induce? Is making an international flight alone with a two-week-old newborn something you really feel comfortable with? (Note that I’m not suggesting that any of these questions is some insurmountable dealbreaker; they’re just the sort of logistical/practical discussions you AND your husband need to have TOGETHER.)

I really (really really really) do sympathize with and understand your desire to be with your mom and other friends/family for some of your pregnancy and the birth. I really do! But I can’t quite wrap my mind around basically shutting your husband out of it, or that you don’t seem to care about his presence or involvement all that much. (You mention you wouldn’t even be “opposed” to him flying to New York for the birth. Okay? That’s generous of you?) If you were talking about you and him both spiriting away to New York TOGETHER for the whole thing and were worried about potential hurt feelings from his extended family, I’d make fart noises with my mouth and tell you to not even worry about it. They’ll get plenty of time with the baby and missing the final trimester and birth experience is not something they are entitled to. But your husband merits a bit more consideration. He is, after all, also your “home” and “family.” If you’re feeling alone and unsupported by him, or doubt his ability to be there emotionally (or otherwise) for you during pregnancy and childbirth, that hints at a much deeper problem than birth plan logistics. But I don’t want to read into problems that might not actually exist, so let’s stick with the birth plan logistics and his possible reaction to this proposal.

You mention he has a child(ren?) already, so maybe you’re thinking that since he already got to see a birth, he won’t care about missing this one? If you’ve seen one of your children being born, you’ve seen ‘em all, no big deal? I don’t know your husband, obviously, but I’m trying to picture me telling my husband that yeah, I’ve worked out my birth plan for our second (or third) born child and sorry, it just doesn’t really involve you. His presence at each and every one of my deliveries and the immediate days afterwards was a huge, huge thing for us as a couple and as a growing family. That is just my experience, of course, and I am by no means any kind of One True Example Of How Everyone Must Think. Women give birth while away from their partners every day — military deployments, babies coming early while Dad is on a business trip, babies deciding to come RIGHT THIS MINUTE while Dad is stuck in traffic on the way to the hospital. It’s obviously not the end of the world or harbinger of fatherly bonding doom.

But you’ve gotta get a read on how he feels about this, about potentially missing the birth AND the first two weeks of his baby’s life, and I think you have to give his feelings some weight. Even if they mess with the plan you mapped out ahead of time. Maybe he really, really wants to be the one to cut the cord. Maybe he can’t deal with the possibility of you having a c-section while he’s not there. Maybe he’ll resent the implication that he’s unable to give you the “attention and care” that you want during the final weeks of pregnancy. Maybe he’ll suggest a compromise, like having your mom come for an extended visit that would overlap the final weeks of pregnancy, the birth and some time with her first grandchild. Or hell, maybe he secretly longs for the good ol’ days where fathers stayed out in the waiting room during the gory bits and will be totally relieved that you’re giving him a pass. Maybe he’ll just plain understand your desire to be with your whole family and be completely on board with this plan, even though it (best case) significantly ups the odds that he won’t be there for the birth. I don’t know. We’re all missing the same crucial bit of information here: How he feels about this. 

I don’t have a good script to give you that perfectly states your position in such a moving, eloquent way that any husband who hears it will break down in tears and shove plane tickets in your hand because GO, YOU MUST GO, I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND AND WOULD NEVER STAND IN YOUR WAY. *throws roses at stage* I would suggest sort of…floating the idea out there first, in a vague unformed way, instead of basically revealing that you’ve made up your mind and have the whole thing planned out, but hey, you’re not “opposed” to him flying in for the birth, if he wants, whatevs. (In other words: Don’t phrase that part that way, like his presence is just some afterthought or inconvenience.) Say you’ve been looking at the calendar and trying to figure out how to share both the pregnancy and the baby with your family at home, and wonder what he thinks about you going to NY for a third trimester baby shower and staying there for the birth, so you can be with your mom and friends since that’s just how your family does things and yada yada.

Consider any and all compromises he offers. Consider the possibility that the trimester-long parade of pregnancy-fueled love and attention you’re picturing back at home might be a tad idealized, as your friends’ and family’s lives will go on and they won’t necessarily be around all the time either. (Or that you and your mom might start wearing on each other’s nerves after a week or two, because omg there’s something about pregnancy and birth and mothers and daughters that just complicates it all). Consider looking around for some prenatal fitness classes (yoga, swimming, etc.) that you could join, thus potentially making some friends and giving your “I’m so lonely and alone” mindset that nice mental boost that comes from being active.

Good luck with it all, by the way. I really do hope you get the birth you want with no drama or hurt feelings. I imagine your husband does understand the sacrifices/culture shock/adjustment issues that come from living overseas and should be willing to have a reasoned discussion with you about this. As long as the discussion goes both ways and steers clear of ultimatums/”I DON’T CARE I’M DOING WHAT I WANT”s, I think you should be able to work something out.

 

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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62 Responses to “Pregnant & Abroad”

  1. Me Sep 09 at 4:01 pm Reply Reply

    Another thing to think about…have you thought about or looked into the financial cost of giving birth in the US vs the Netherlands?  Do you have health insurance in the US?  I haven’t done the research myself and do not know your situation, but as a resident of the Netherlands you might have access to MUCH more affordable care than you would in the US.  Something to think about.  

    Also, Amalah is right on target with having this be a decision for both you and your husband!

  2. Hanne Sep 09 at 4:30 pm Reply Reply

    I live in the netherlands. Coming from belgium. Not that far away but miles apart in culture.

    I gave birth here. In a completely different system than I was used to. I understand your doubts.

    I can’t offer you advice, as i have no idea what i would do in your situation, but I can offer you someone to get to know. Someone who has done it.
    Amy, you can pass my mail address along…

    Good luck!

  3. sydney Sep 09 at 4:34 pm Reply Reply

    It sounds like you’re in a between a rock and a hard place.  There are a few things you might want to consider.  Flying with a baby isn’t fun.  Flying with a two-week-old baby across the Atlantic, potentially alone, when you haven’t fully recovered yet will be exhausting.  Also, it’s really nice to have your husband with you for labor.

    Have you considered inviting your mother to visit you around the time you have the baby?  That might be a lot less stressful for you and I can’t see your hubby having a problem with it either. 

  4. Myriam Sep 09 at 4:40 pm Reply Reply

    Well …… hum….. Ok, let’s tackle to practical first.
    I agree with Amy that you might idealize your family’s practical involvement and support during your pregnancy, and the perceived lack of involvement from your in-laws. What do you want exactly : someone to go with you to doctor’s exams, someone to marvel at your growing tummy, someone planning an “american” baby-shower ? Examining your precise motivations and desires might help you consider them in a more realistic manner, and express them more rationally.
    Did you consider having your mom coming to visit you, rather than the other way around? That seems so much easier for me… If she’s too busy to come in for a month, she might be too busy at home too?
    Also, what kind of health coverage do you have in the Netherlands vs in the US? Are finances part of the equation?
    My big concern with your question is one Amy noticed too : is you perceived lack of interest in your husband’s presence indicative of a larger issue that would benefit from being dealt with before the birth of your child?
    All that said, I make no judgement on your desire to be supported during your pregnancy. If you decide to stay in the Netherlands for the birth, maybe try to join a mommy-group, in person or even online. Have friends back in the US Skype with you more often, with regular appointments. Join a prenatal class. Anyway, good luck!

    • SKM Sep 09 at 5:19 pm Reply Reply

      Right on … that was my thought – have your mom come over if it’s feasible.

  5. sassygill Sep 09 at 4:43 pm Reply Reply

    I was thinking exactly what Amy said! Definitely find out what hubby is feeling and joining a group to make friends is great advice.

  6. LMo Sep 09 at 4:53 pm Reply Reply

    I have to say that I agree that your husband seems like an afterthought in this process. Are you feeling like an afterthought to him, and one good turn deserves another? I may also be coming from the perspective of my relationship with my husband here, so maybe I’m wrong. Either way, I think that fulfilling both of your needs in this process should be the top priority–sharing with family members who want to be involved should be a distant second to your husband’s needs.
    One other thought–I frequently wish for a break from my husband, and am shocked by how quickly I miss him. Will you feel desperately lonely being away from him fro 3-4 months, while you suffer the uncomfortable end of pregnancy and the crucial first days/weeks of bonding with a newborn without him?

  7. Chris Sep 09 at 4:55 pm Reply Reply

    I can only second the comment above. The health care system in the Netherlands is very good from what I was told. Would your insurance (assuming you have Dutch healthcare) cover the costs of giving birth in the US at all? In particular if you go intentionally? My insurance (European but not Dutch) would explicitly forbid this.

    Another thing to consider: the Dutch have a good midwifery system, so you could probably have the continuity of a professional midwife accompanying you during pregnancy, birth and  after the birth with the baby. From my own experience:this can be very reassuring.

  8. SarahB Sep 09 at 4:56 pm Reply Reply

    It would seem far simpler to have your mom come to you.

    I don’t think you fully understand how incapacitated you will be during that last month and those first few weeks after the birth…you don’t want to do that alone, and, frankly, the only person in the world who fully bears the responsibility of caring for that baby with you is your husband.  

    For three weeks after my emergency c-section, I nursed and rested, and DH did about everything else.  We had my parents in for a week, and they were great, but they helped with cleaning and food.  The baby care was DH and me together, figuring out our child, smiling at each other through our exhaustion, ordering more burp rags at 2 am when we saw how many we really needed…when those three weeks were over and DH went back to work, he was an expert at diaper changes, at shushing the baby to sleep, all of it.  We were bonded as a parenting team.  Don’t deny your husband that chance to bond with you in preparation for your child and in those first few weeks.

    And, for many practical reasons, travel late in pregnancy and with a very new newborn is just a bad idea unless there is absolutely no other option.

    Some emotion is driving this response, whether homesickness or fear that your DH won’t be enough…get to the root of what’s driving this wish, what problem it really is that you’re trying to solve with this plan…see if you can find a different way to deal with that underlying emotion.

    • Mona Sep 10 at 12:18 pm Reply Reply

      Many already addressed most things that came to my mind very well (husband left out, insurance issues, .

      I was in a similar situation to you, just the continents being switched, and that only my husband and me live in the US, and both of our families are in Europe. Add to that moving from Boston to suburban CT in the third trimester. I gave birth in the US, my husband stayed home for two weeks after, and my family came and visited when our child was 6 weeks old. We were so busy in between bonding just as a small family that time flew by. Admittedly, I have a pretty reserved, small family, so it was less emotionally difficult. My husband initially wanted his parents there immediately after bith, but in retrospect he wsa happy to have a bit of time on our own.

      Your emotions, homesickness and seeking familiarity and security are natural and valid, but consider your priorities might change. What seemed feasible for me in the first trimester turned to ‘hell no’ in the third.

      Another thing that has not been addressed yet (unless I missed a new reply) is your child. He/she will be part Dutch, part American, and that it will likely mean that the rest of your and his life will include two countries, and two families far apart. So I am not sure if going ‘home’ for the birth will solve the larger emotional issues with living abroad. There is another conversation to have with your husband since you are in for the long haul. Maybe start talking to him that you feel different now that you are pregnant, share your anxieties and how to address them in a less ‘perfect’ but more sustainable way. Good luck with everything!

  9. Tracey Sep 09 at 4:56 pm Reply Reply

    I’d also suggest taking steps to build on your support group in the Netherlands, because you are going to need it! I’m an ex-pat New Zealander living in the USA, with no family members living close by, and believe me, what saved my sanity when my first daughter was a baby, was our neighbourhood playgroup! I’ve had all three of my children over here, and I’ll ever be grateful for the support of my friends here. Congratulations by the way, and all the best!

  10. Dawn Sep 09 at 4:58 pm Reply Reply

    Yes, you have your family in NY, but you should find out more about the postpartum assistance available in the Netherlands. Read the postpartum section here:

    http://www.expatica.com/nl/family/kids/Maternity-matters-_-What-to-expect-in-the-Netherlands.html

    Being able to spend the first few days of your child’s life at home AND have someone come to you to assist in breastfeeding and baby care is huge and not necessarily something your family can do.

  11. Stephanie Sep 09 at 5:09 pm Reply Reply

    My first thought (being a health policy analyst) is that your Dutch health insurance might not pay for a birth in the U.S., or it might cap the costs at what a birth in the Netherlands would cost. You might be on the hook for thousands of dollars.

    Also, if you have a c-section, you might not be able to travel for at least a month. I was in severe pain two weeks postpartum – there was no way I could have flown on a plane – by myself – with a newborn. I could barely walk 2 weeks pp. You need to consider that. 

    I also was struck at that phrase “I wouldn’t be opposed to having him travel to NY for the birth.” What’s going on here? First of all, I CRIED because my husband wasn’t able to make the birth of our second daughter (I was wheeled away so fast, he didn’t have time to get his scrubs on), but he was there five minutes later. He helped me so much. He stayed in the hospital with me the entire four days I was there. He changed our daughter’s diaper because I couldn’t get out of bed. He was absolutely critical. I think you need to figure out why your husband is not a must for the birth of your baby.

  12. Erin Sep 09 at 5:49 pm Reply Reply

    For logistical reasons, I moved to Hawaii with a 9 day old baby and I cannot UN-recommend that enough. I know it seems like you could go over, be fawned over (which I wanted too!) and then return two weeks after the birth but the stress and strain of travel, not being in your own place, etc., combined with the hormones is a huge punch. It catapulted me into PPD. I concur with everyone suggesting your mom visit you and also suggest finding some pregnancy yoga classes or something as a way to help find friends- being pregnant tiger can be a real bonding experience!

  13. Kat Sep 09 at 5:57 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with several folks – that “I wouldn’t be opposed” part sticks out to me quite a bit. And also this sense of being so alone. I understand that living in a new place can be tough, but you have been there for three years. Perhaps this is the perfect chance for you to step out of your comfort zone and make some friends? Being pregnant honestly made it a lot easier for me to make friends in an unfamiliar neighborhood (not the same, I know, BUT to have something pretty big and important in common with everyone in your birthing class/yoga/whatever you choose to do is pretty awesome, especially if you are a bit shy). Another thought – I’m sure it sounds awesome to go back to your comfort zone during this important time, but there is something to be said for going through this experience with your husband by your side. The time I spent with my husband while pregnant was not always super glam, but it was really important. Our relationship changed and grew a lot during that time and immediately after our son was born. Like others have mentioned, that time of bonding was really crucial, we truly became a little family unit. My parents and friends were still important, but nothing was as amazing as seeing my husband hold our son for the first time. I still get choked up thinking about it!!

  14. B Sep 09 at 6:13 pm Reply Reply

    What is your long-term plan for where to live? Will you ever be going back to the US? Because that strikes me as the much bigger issue than where to have the baby: where to raise him or her. It sounds like you aren’t very happy living abroad (I don’t think I would be either), and maybe you should be talking to your husband about both of you moving to the US.

  15. Jeannie Sep 09 at 6:49 pm Reply Reply

    I have to agree with the other commenters — I’m not sure this is a good idea. Continuity of care is really, really great to have — and that’s not taking into account the insurance costs that you might face moving from one place to another.

    I understand that at this very important time you want things how you want them — I have moved countries before, and even small differences can be hard to cope with. But my husband’s presence at the births of our kids, as well as the closeness we had in the days and weeks afterwards caring for our child, was really important to our bonding with the baby and with each other. I think you may want to reconsider, and have your mom come to you instead of the other way around.

    And FWIW, I didn’t have a c-section, just a complex birth, and I couldn’t have done a long plane ride with a newborn two weeks afterwards either.

  16. Jane Sep 09 at 6:55 pm Reply Reply

    Just adding in an “I agree” on the previous comments. If mom can’t fly over to you, she’s probably too busy to be around as much as you’ve built up. And while having this baby will be amazing and beautiful and meaningful for you, and your friends and family love you very much… they are not having this baby. They may not even like babies very much. While they might be able to get together as often is reasonable for busy working people with their own lives, it could, depending on your situation, be unreasonable to expect them to be SUPER involved in your pregnancy. I just found out that my mother volunteered me, because she just KNEW that if she brought it up, I’d come right over to clean my just gave birth sister-in-law’s house. You may be able to imagine that no, I’m not chomping at the bit to do so. Your family as you’ve described them is probably the type who would bring over a casserole, too, but try not to be inconsiderate of the fact that your new baby, while the center of yours, will not be the center of their universe.

    I hmmed just as hard as everyone else at the, “I wouldn’t even be opposed”. I’m the type of person that will never. ever. ever. EVER want my SO to see my vag in that state, but I still think it’s important that he be around before for encouragement and afterward for bonding and taking care of the baby, unless you expect your around-all-the-time friends and family to take care of it for you until you can comfortably move around again.

    And I definitely agree that this conversation should have happened already. Doesn’t he know how lonely you feel with no friends and few family visits? I imagine he knows you well enough to know that you’re the sort of person who doesn’t want to have an independent pregnancy. And if he doesn’t know you want a pregnancy where your nest is built along with you by the other feminine energies in your life, tell. him.

  17. Nicole Sep 09 at 8:23 pm Reply Reply

    I am American and my husband is French – and we have had two children in France. I can completely understand the anxiety from having no close family nearby, and also doing something so important as having a baby in a culture that is not natively familiar to you and without your natural support system.  Although I found working through the French system was foreign, the medical care was excellent (and I believe you would also have good care in the Netherlands).  In the end, that is what you need to prioritize, too.  Traveling internationally with a 2-week (or even 4 or 6-week old) baby seems…really hard, and I’d be worried about the germs, air pressure, breastfeeding, etc. I didn’t know many people when my first child was born, either, but I found that my husband and I seemed very occupied just taking care of the new baby (and husband taking care of me) and it turned out to be less of an issue than I had feared.  My husband was great and very helpful, which was a wonderful surprise.  If I had not had only him at the beginning, it is a side of him I may never have seen.  In the end, there is no one outside of you and your husband who as are involved and invested in this child – he will be the support you need!

    My parents came over two weeks after we left the hospital, which gave us time to get our feet under us a little and start to establish a routine.  Then they arrived in time to help me dig out from all the household tasks that had been neglected. :-) The new baby also gave me a reason to join the “new mother” group and these people became many of my long-term friends, so it was the start of “not being so alone.”

    I would also think that you will feel comforted being in your own house, not living in temporary accomodations or in someone else’s house.  Even if it’s family, it’s still no longer your own space. You’re probably setting up a space for your new baby now, preparing clothes, bathtub, and bedding…and it won’t be the same wherever else you are staying.

    I understand feeling alone and far away from support, but your husband will be all you really need (and maybe even want) when it all happens.  It seems like the international traveling at that time with such a small baby has the potential to be a major inconvenience at best, and very possibly a major obstacle.

  18. Brigid Keely Sep 09 at 8:33 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t have personal experience with this, but my SIL (lives in the USA, both parents emigrated here from Europe) married a man from Europe. All of his family is over seas, AND his dad has cancer. When they traveled to visit his family and ensure his dad got to meet his first grandchild, they did so when the baby was 2 months old. At 2 weeks post partum, my SIL, who had an uneventful vaginal birth, was absolutely not up to a many hour trans-atlantic flight and further, had problems getting their son’s passport in time. And again, this was with 2 months to prepare. The wheels of bureaucracy grind slowly and I honestly doubt you could get a passport for your baby in only two weeks… and do you really want to take an infant that young on an airplane? I personally had a C-Section and there is NO WAY I could have handled a long plane ride (let alone navigating an airport) 2 weeks after birth. I could barely handle standing up and doing dishes, or walking down to the laundry room and back.

    It sounds like you’re super homesick and feeling lonely and cut off, and that’s exacerbated by being pregnant. But taking a bunch of risks and spending a bunch of money to fly “home” for your kid’s birth isn’t really going to solve the underlying issues. Maybe it would be easier and better for some of your family and/or friends to fly out to YOU?

  19. Hi, I'm Natalie. Sep 09 at 9:20 pm Reply Reply

    Yeah… I think it would be Very Bad to travel to give birth and even worse to travel with a newborn. (Not to mention the fact that you could alienate your husband – like Amy said, the inlaws would get over it, but I would be extremely hesitant about not considering his feelings.) For my first (uneventful, healthy delivery), I was NOT READY to travel with my baby until she was about two months old and that was just a car trip to the mountains – I didn’t even breastfeed in public for about 4 weeks, so I can’t imagine trying to do that on an airplane at two weeks.

  20. Hi, I'm Natalie. Sep 09 at 9:22 pm Reply Reply

    ETA: I lived overseas for two years (I’m Canadian, lived in New Zealand for two years) so I understand the isolation. But it can be amazing to learn to rely on a spouse – that’s what they’re there for.

  21. Jenelle Sep 09 at 10:01 pm Reply Reply

    I am a pediatrician specializing in newborns. I take care of a lot of moms who came to the US to have their babies and plan to return home within a couple of weeks. From a purely practical point of view, this is next to impossible. You need a birth certificate and social security card to obtain a passport. You may also need a visa for the baby (not sure if this is the case with the Netherlands). The likelihood of having all of those things in 2 weeks is pretty much zero. Not to mention, most pediatricians recommend waiting until after the first round of vaccinations before taking a newborn on a germ-filled flight. Speaking of pediatricians, you will need to establish care with a pediatrician for your baby since most babies are seen within a few days of discharge and then again at 2 weeks, 1 month, and 2 months. Are you prepared to find a US on/gyn who is willing to take on a third-trimester pregnant woman as well as a pediatrician for you baby, all from overseas?

    Now, I’m not saying this all can’t be done, since obviously people move while pregnant, even overseas, all the time. I just want you to consider the practical aspects as well as the emotional ones of such a huge decision.

    • Ana Sep 10 at 5:07 am Reply Reply

      I kept scrolling, hoping to see a comment that addressed this. Thank you!!

      I gave birth to my son in 2011 in the States. When he was 2 months old, my husband moved to Europe for work. We joined him a month later (our son was just over 3 months old), AFTER all the paperwork and immunizations were in order. There was absolutely no chance we could have legally traveled 2 weeks after the birth, even if I was physically up to it (which I was NOT, I assure you).

      I am now pregnant again and will be giving birth in Germany. My husband and I (together…) discussed the pros and cons of delivering here vs returning to the States to care providers we were familiar with, proximity to family, etc. In the end, nothing was more important to us than being together for labor and delivery. My husband was my rock during my last labor and there’s no way I could do it without him. It will absolutely be more complicated to give birth in a foreign country, but it’s worth it to me/us.

      There is also the citizenship question, which you do not address and should seriously research.

      FWIW, My mother will be flying here to help after the baby is born.

  22. Alli Sep 09 at 10:44 pm Reply Reply

    My husband and I had lived in Asia about three years when my daughter was born with no family from either side. I understand the potential for problems and the fears about giving birth that wouldn’t be an issue at home–I had this irrational fear about people speaking other languages while I was in labor. It wasn’t irrational to consider that it might happen, but I was sort of unreasonably afraid of it. 

    Lots of people asked if I was coming home to the US to have the baby and looking back I can’t imagine if I’d done that. It was an incredible experience for my husband and me and I think I would have missed out immeasurably if we hadn’t done that together, and–like Amy–I think our relationship is richer for it. 

    I was also absolutely stunned–no better word–for the response of the people around us. People who I didn’t think even noticed us stepped up to help and offer support and friendship in amazing ways. And not just other expats, locals too. 

    Now we are back in the US and when #2 comes along, I honestly think I’ll miss some of the privacy and camaraderie and intimacy of depending solely on each other for the process. 

    We flew back to the US to visit when the baby was 8 weeks old. It was fine. My Asian pediatrician really cautioned against circulated air before 6 weeks for that long (20 hour flight) if I could help it, to give the little lungs and immune system plenty of time to gain strength. 

    Best of luck to you. 

  23. Autumn Sep 09 at 11:19 pm Reply Reply

    Have you been screened for pre-partum depression?  It’s not as common as post partum, but still more common than people think.  And based on how you described things, I’m wondering if you were depressed prior to conception, and now Hello Hormones! to exacerbate things.

     The Netherlands is supposed to have one of the best support systems for families during the whole pregnancy/childbirth/post partum time.  From a financial aspect alone, I would stay in Europe.  My relatively straight foreword natural birth still would have cost us over $15K if we had to pay cash.  That doesn’t include the $10K for 37 hours in the NICU for my daughter.  

    If you are missing family, could you go back the the USA for a week or 2 around 6-7 months for some cooing and baby bonding stuff.  Then have your mom come to you for the delivery time zone, if she’s able.  I had a fairly easy delivery (the thing that hurt like heck was when they dislocated my hip while checking me at 9 cm, almost ran off the table the the OB’s hand still in there) and I was moving around great at 2 weeks, but it was just nice to be HOME.  My bed, bathroom to get gross (do you really want your water to break at someone else’s home?) my turf.  Mine.  We went into seclusion for the week after her birth with only home health nurses visiting twice, and I just fell in love with my awesome husband again.  He and my daughter are my family.  I love my parents, tolerate my in laws, but we became our team of 3.  Which we are considering up sizing to a team of 4, but things are (usually) so awesome now that we are willing to wait (at least till potty training is over).

    Talk to your husband.  And your care giver.  And search for some mom groups, I’m sure there are a bunch of ex-pat mom’s who can better talk you through this, even though Amalah gave great advice 

    • Brooke Sep 10 at 12:17 pm Reply Reply

      Yes, please check in with your care provider regarding depression during pregnancy. I didn’t know that it was something that could be an issue and mine went undetected. I very much relate to your description of feeling so alone. 

  24. Amanda Sep 09 at 11:37 pm Reply Reply

    I moved to another state just before finding out I was pregnant. My husband’s family is here but not my own, and I didn’t have any friends. Throughout my pregnancy I dreamed of going home to have my baby, surrounded by people I knew and loved and who would be interested and supportive and would bring us meals after the birth.

    But for all the reasons people talked about above (another state isn’t another country, but insurance and many travel concerns apply just the same) that couldn’t happen. In the end my mother came to stay with us for the birth, which was really good. Most importantly though, I can’t imagine doing it all without my husband. And I am somewhat embarrassed that I was so selfish to even consider taking those moments away from him. 

    Since physically, having a baby is so much the woman’s experience, I think it is really easy to kind of ignore the dad. He usually isn’t invited to baby showers. The build up is maybe a lot more – removed? – which can be hard, I think. I really feel like being an active part of having our baby was huge for my husband, in terms of feeling like this was his child as well and he was necessary to all of our wellbeing.

    In hindsight, I wish I had taken the time to join some classes or mothering groups before baby was born (I thought I could wait, but working up the energy to get out and make friends with a newborn? yeah. No.) Being pregnant in a strange place is one thing, being an isolated new mom in a strange place is taking it to a whole new level. I feel for you and I really wish you the best!

  25. Jennifer Sep 10 at 12:24 am Reply Reply

    What I don’t understand is why you would want to give birth in a country where you won’t have health insurance & where the costs of childbirth are INSANELY overblown & where the maternal/child complication/death rate is one of the highest for a first world country…instead of staying in the Netherlands, which is internationally recognized as one of the best places to give birth financially and physically.

  26. Meera Sep 10 at 12:42 am Reply Reply

    Hi. I’ve had two babies, both with straightforward pregnancies and deliveries. There is no way I’d fly two weeks after. Even with my second, when I bounced back way faster, I was still tired out by going along for a coffee run. And that was when I was pretty confident breastfeeding and managing baby behavior and weirdness and knew what to expect in terms of sleep deprivation. My first was much more of a shock and stress about all those things because I didn’t have any experience. I echo all the comments above – get your support crew to come to you; tee up a network in advance; go for a second trimester holiday to see everyone else; and check in with your partner. Pregnancy and delivery is stressful and weird and can be anxious; but I wouldn’t imagine adding travel and financial burdens would improve things. It can be amazing but much better if you tee up some support options now, and my husband was one of the most important. Good luck!

  27. Kelly Sep 10 at 4:22 am Reply Reply

    I live in Thailand. I understand the isolation as well. I had many emotional skype calls with my mom leading up to the birth of my son. Ideally, I wanted to give birth at a birthing center in the U.S., but the costs disparity was so huge, that I could only afford to give birth here  The quality of care was great and an intervention-free birth cost us $1500, including a 2 night hospital stay. That is before my insurance picked up 80% of the tab. 
    In retrospect, my vagina would have been very angry if I had to travel on a long haul flight 2 weeks postpartum. I had a tear that took at least 6 weeks to fully heal. Plus breast feeding at that time can be tenuous for many women (me inclusive!). 
    The social security card, certificate of foreign birth abroad and passport were easily obtained at the U.S. Embassy. 

  28. pange Sep 10 at 5:17 am Reply Reply

    i had my first baby in finland (where my husband is from) and i’m expecting to give birth to #2 in a few weeks. here’s my 2 cents:
    1. join an expat group as soon as you can and start making friends (which you should do anyway, regardless of babies), and look into a play group — this was invaluable!
    2. a lot of other people pointed this out — but seriously, think hard about going to a place where birth is significantly *more* risky for both mother and baby and much more expensive, and you’re away from the father of the kid? it doesn’t make sense.

    i loved that my birth was guided by a midwife instead of a rushed doctor, and it was relaxed, and (bonus) the midwife brought me a tiny shot of cognac at breakfast afterward!

  29. Isabel Kallman
    Isabel Kallman Sep 10 at 7:21 am Reply Reply

    I just want to pop in for a sec and say THANK YOU for all the thoughtful personal stories and advice that you all are sharing with our OP.

    You are really wonderful and generous.

     

  30. Daisy Sep 10 at 10:42 am Reply Reply

    I just had my first baby and I keep thinking back to the final weeks of pregnancy, the labor, and the weeks after…and I imagine doing it without my husband and I want to cry. We took a 3 hour drive when our daughter was 6 weeks old and it was a HUGE undertaking. Obviously people do these things because they HAVE to (for many reasons mentioned above) but most of them would have never signed up for it.The thought of your husband potentially missing the birth of your child because you’d rather be with your Mom/extended family just makes me sad for you, for him, for your baby. I’d think long and hard about the message that it sends to everyone about where they fit into your life and your baby’s life, because I fear it isn’t the message you are trying to send.

  31. J.A. from Amsterdam Sep 10 at 10:44 am Reply Reply

    Hi, since I live in the NL I couldnt NOT comment.

    1.  The birthing system in the NL is really lovely, with midwives, at-home care, and a huge range of options in terms of where you give birth, when, how, and who can be there with you.   All at pretty much no cost.  Highly recommend!  

    2.  It sounds like you really need a support network!   We are all on a facebook group called “Amsterdam Mamas”… search for us on facebook and request admission to the group.  Not all the mama live in Amsterdam proper (not sure where in the NL you live) but we all support each other here – not everyone is an expat either but it is educational for everyone.  Do join us.   

  32. Kim Sep 10 at 12:44 pm Reply Reply

    I’m going to pop in and say that I wonder how far along the OP actually is.  She says she just recently found out – and that first trimester can really mess with your head. Morning sickness and fatigue and ohmigodwhathaveIdone can lead to some serious Iwantmymommy! Particularly if it’s her first.
    So I kinda want to say, relax a little.  You’ve got lots of time, you don’t have to solve the problem all at once.  Do talk to your husband and let him know what your feeling.  As the pregnancy progresses, the urgency that you feel right now might go away.  If your mom can’t get away for a month, maybe a sister or a close friend could tag team her.  Maybe someone could fly out in those last two weeks before your due date,and then your mom.
    Lots of ways to solve the problem, and any one will be ok.

  33. C Sep 10 at 2:23 pm Reply Reply

    My husband and I are ex-pats living in the US (we’re Canadian, so not such a dramatic cultural difference), and we did not have family around either. For us, it wasn’t an issue because we wanted (and had) a birth that involved just the two of us and time to ourselves after to get acquainted with our baby. However, we did travel home (6 hour flight…about the same flight time from NY to Europe) when our daughter was 3.5 weeks old and it was fine. I felt fine, and traveling with an infant is cake (compared to older babies or toddlers….we travel a lot for my job). Perhaps it was just luck, but I was treated like a queen and had more assistance from airline and security than I’ve ever had since (and my husband was with me). I had a vaginal delivery (albeit, after 47 hours of labour) so I might not have been able to travel so soon or easily had I needed a c-section. Also, you don’t need a SSN to apply for a passport for an infant, just a birth certificate (which we were able to pick up 5 days after our daughter was born). We expedited the passport application and received it 10 days later. I can’t speak to the visa question as Canada doesn’t require visas from Americans. Finally, to the comment about citizenship: your baby is eligible for American citizenship because you are American (although if born abroad they won’t be able to be a US president unless they change the rules).

    In the end, I agree with everyone else who supports consulting with your husband, developing a friend base in the Netherlands (perhaps through prenatal classes, etc), and encouraging your mom and friends to come to you. However, if you do decide to have your baby in the US, returning to the Netherlands will not necessarily be a complete nightmare.

    • Kate Sep 12 at 5:53 pm Reply Reply

      Just an fyi for anyone reading who is a con law nerd like me, you don’t have to be born in the US to be president. The “natural born citizen” provision is most often interpreted to include a person born anywhere in the world so long as one of the parents is a US citizen at the time.

  34. Sarah C. Sep 10 at 2:39 pm Reply Reply

    I’m also an American expat in The Netherlands living with a Dutch husband. I’m not pregnant and have no children (and due to infertility issues, we never will have any) but every single other point in your question was something I’ve dealt with. It’s HARD to make friends here – Dutch culture is much less open than American and it’s hard to make friends and build a support group of your own, without relying on your husband and his family for every single interaction. I’d really really suggest an expat group (and should take my own advice, as we moved to Den Haag a couple of years ago and I can’t quite let go of my life in Eindhoven) so you can actually meet people you may have something in common with. Honestly, you sound lonely and depressed, and scared because this is a HUGE deal.

    As far as going back to the US – the Dutch system is really impressive. It’s less expensive, less intrusive (no c-sections unless they’re medically necessary), and is more supportive of both mother and baby. I haven’t had my own, and while the system here seemed alien to me at first, several of my friends have had children since I’ve been here and their experiences compared with the experiences of friends and family back “home” are worlds apart. The infant mortality rate here is a lot lower, too. Even though home birth is the norm and hospital birth the exception (which is also very scary).

    Wait a few months and see if some of your fears lessen. Also, ask the consulate to help you with the process of declaring your child a US citizen. They have everything in place to make it as simple as possible.

  35. Amelia Sep 10 at 3:33 pm Reply Reply

    I think one of the most difficult aspects for me about my first pregnancy is that I would FOCUS on something and it became the be-all/end-all of issues.  Some women do this with “natural” childbirth.  Others with breastfeeding.  I did it with weight gain and whoa!  I gained 50 lbs.  So not my plan.  My point is, try not to focus too much on this “ideal” situation of yours.  You will not be able to fly at 2 weeks post-delivery.  Birth is a bloody, gruesome process (also beautiful!) and you will be tired, sore, potentially stitched back together in a couple of places, with sore breasts and milk-stained clothing.  And, as has been pointed out, you will not have any documentation or vaccines for the baby, so you will be stuck.  I think a great solution would be to fly back to the US when baby is six months old or older and have a delayed shower, see all your friends and family, and get loved big time then.  Fly your mom over for the birth, extend the invitation to come visit during your pregnancy, and think of how great and unique your birth story will be among your US friends.  Find a group of expectant mothers to be new friends by taking a yoga class or a birthing class.  You can do this in the Netherlands and you will be awesome!

  36. Olivia Sep 10 at 4:07 pm Reply Reply

    I think all the comments above are thoughtful and right on. No way you can travel alone with a 2 week old! I am an American living in London and had my son here. here in England they have pre-natal birth classes run by a charity that pairs you with others with a due date in the same month and who live in the same area as you. This was an absolute life saver for me for the first few shocking months of life with a newborn. I don’t know what I would have done without these other first time mums support. I’m sure that there is something similar in your area!! Also, in terms of travel, we flew home when DS was 4 months old, 7 months and 11 months old. Totally do-able. My last advice would be to try to follow the US immunization schedule if you plan on living in the US in the future. It can make the transition back into the US school system difficult if your child hasn’t been vaccinated on “schedule”.

  37. Louise Sep 10 at 6:44 pm Reply Reply

    I am currently 39 weeks pregnant with my first baby (please make this end soon!) and I’m having my baby in the US. However, both mine and my husbands family are all in Ireland. We moved to the US just a few years ago. So yes, I understand your concerns regarding being so far away from family and friends.
    However, part of me is also excited that it is just the two of us. That we get the chance to figure out being parents together without other people, even people who love use dearly. My parents would probably strongly disagree with this sentiment and will be coming to visit a few weeks after the baby gets here but for now, I’ve managed to get to a mental state  where I’m happy that the decision is ‘just the three of us’. 
    I understand that for you might find my thoughts on this to be totally alien right now. But have a think about it. And have a good talk with your husband so you can both make a decision on what’s right for you all as a family.

  38. Helen Sep 10 at 6:44 pm Reply Reply

    I can’t speak for the Netherlands, but I’m also an expat mom, and I can say that pregnancy and childbirth is actually a wonderful gateway making friends in a foreign culture. There are lots of groups out there (birthing groups, playgroups) filled with women with whom you immediately have something in common! Ok, so most of them won’t become lifelong bosom buddies, but they will provide support and company as you go through this. You are naturally feeling lonely and vulnerable right now, and it sounds like you still feel like an outsider in the community in which you are living: this will change. Also, get in touch with the expat groups that have been recommended by other posters. There’s nothing quite like spending time with other expats, who know what you’re going through because they’ve been through it too, for a bit of support and encouragement.

  39. Kelli Oliver George Sep 10 at 8:16 pm Reply Reply

    My husband is from India and I have loads of friends who have also married Indians and Pakistanis.  We are all over the board with this — some ladies living in India/Pakistan chose to go back to their home countries for the births of their children (despite having access to perfectly good health services there) and some chose to have their babies there.  (Sidenote: In Indian culture, it is perfectly normal for new mamas to go home to their families to have their babies. )

    I say, talk it over your husband and decide what really, truly works for the both of you.

    (Sidenote: There is an expat piece to this that needs to be addressed, baby or not!  Have you looked into Facebook groups?  That’s where I found other ladies who have married guys from the Asian subcontinent.  Not only do I now have a HUGE support group, but I have several close “in-real-life” friends because of it. Actual friends who come to my HOUSE.  ;-)

  40. z Sep 10 at 11:12 pm Reply Reply

    I agree that traveling with a newborn sounds really, really stressful and unpleasant.  Seriously, even with a great delivery, at two weeks it still hurt to just walk around the house, and I was in no condition to sit on my aching bum for an entire international flight.  Also, think of what would happen if you weren’t able to travel for a while for health reasons.  If you have a complex delivery or need the NICU, your husband might miss not just the delivery but the whole first month or more.  Would that be ok with him?  How would he feel being so far apart from you or the baby if there is a serious medical problem?

    If you do stay in the Netherlands, have you considered a doula?  I don’t know if they have them there, but anyway, it  would give you and your husband some support in those stressful first weeks.  I know it’s not the same as family, but it might still feel good to have an experienced female person around, and you’d definitely get care and attention.  A doula could also help you find some mom groups and kid group activities, and keep an eye out for PPD.  I had a doula and it made a huge difference in my physical and mental well-being! 

  41. BeeBelle Sep 11 at 11:44 am Reply Reply

    I am one of the people who was in a different state rather than country when I had my first. I was also cranky because when I got pregnant, the plan was for my husband to get a job “back home” by family before I delivered, and it never happened. Here’s my encouraging message if you choose to stay – having a baby is the absolutely best way I’ve found to find, make, and keep friends who have been the best part of my adult life. So, that big awful issue you have of no friends where you live – that could be resolved by the time you have the baby. Then, have your mom visit after baby. My “back home” friends even had a virtual shower for me, where they got together and wrote me lovely messages, had cake, and took pictures to send me along with gift cards to get what I needed where I lived. With Skype you could even attend that shower, and share photos of your growing belly with those who knew you back when! My oldest is now 25, youngest is 12 – my social life is now almost entirely composed of people that I have met on this journey. Good luck!

  42. Julia Sep 11 at 4:44 pm Reply Reply

    as a mother who has given birth in a foreign country (Belgium, I’m German), what I take away from your message is not so much where you want to give birth but that you are lonely and homesick, but of course, I might be wrong. The single most important thing for you to do is: built your own network! even if you end up giving birth in the US, you need to get to know people where you live. And not only your husbands family, or your colleagues. And here are the good news: I found the majority of my belgian friends during and shortly after my first pregnancy: Yoga for pregnant women, birth preparation classes, BCT Coffee mornings (Brussels Child Trust, a british organization, maybe something like that exist close to you as well?), stitch ‘n bitch meetings, baby massage, if you have a long maternity leave or don’t work, you can sign up for individual classes at most universities,… Also, if somebody offers help, say yes, write down phone numbers, even if you hardly know the person. I remember writing a list of things to do/people to call when I panic/get too lonely, stuff like turning up the music and dancing, going out for coffee or a walk, whatever you like to do. You will not stop missing your family, but you might find it easier to accept that they are not physically with you.

  43. j Sep 11 at 5:39 pm Reply Reply

    Ok… Maybe I’m being horrible, but as ambivalent as the OP is about her husband I wondered if she planned on going back to NL after the birth! Maybe I’m crazy, but I have seen it happen.
    If not, I think all of the advice given has been right on, but OP needs to have a serious talk with her hubby asap.

  44. Carey Sep 12 at 1:12 am Reply Reply

    I have to echo many of the other commenters that I cannot imagine going through the birth of my son without my husband.  It would have been very, very lonely without him.  Also, if there are things you need to work out with your husband, it would be a good idea to do it now.  Having children is an awesome experience that can provide opportunities to bond and also strain your marriage at the same time.

     One thing to consider, though, is the philosophy on epidurals in the Netherlands.  A friend of mine was pregnant in the Netherlands and had a very hard time getting an epidural.  Apparently some institutions only have anesthesiologists around to administer epidurals during business hours.  For women who want to have a natural birth, it’s probably not much of a concern. I knew I would have an epidural and it’s a good option to have available in case you change your mind during delivery.  

    On your baby’s citizenship, since your husband is Dutch, s/he is not automatically a citizen just because you are, if you give birth outside the United States.  There are residency requirements.  However, if you grew up in the United States you don’t have anything to worry about.  Check the State Dept. website to confirm legal requirements for passing on U.S. citizenship to your child.

  45. Navan Sep 12 at 12:43 pm Reply Reply

    Oh my. I can definitely relate to the whole “I want my Mommy” thing. I’m 30 weeks and I live on the other side of the country from my parents and friends because of my husband’s work. It’d actually be cheaper for my Mom to make an international flight than to fly here- and the distance is just about as far. But at no point did it occur to me that we ought to go THERE for the birth. Logistically it’s a nightmare- and I’m staying in the country. Have you considered health insurance? The fact that the cost of having the baby in the US is probably something he hasn’t even thought about? That once you’re in your third trimester you have multiple doctors appointments every two weeks? That you likely won’t have the documents necessary (birth registration and passport- either US or EU) to fly TWO WEEKS after the baby’s born (cause yes, your baby needs his/her own passport.) Are you planning on getting the nursery all set up before you go? Do you understand how much stuff a baby needs? How expensive it could be to ship it all back? Having a newborn is stressful enough- but I can’t imagine not being in my own home with my own things for four months all told right now. And my parents house is very much still my home- I’m comfortable there and feel safer and more relaxed there than anywhere. But nope, I need to be in my space for this.

    And then there’s Dad. Now, my husband and I are about as independent as you can get. We’ve been accused of being like roommates sometimes just cause we can easily get on without the other always being around. But I NEED HIM for this. And he’s this baby’s father! He has a role! This isn’t just my show! I need him to support me and encourage me and help me give birth. No way I’m flying solo on this.

    My Mom is coming here for the entire last two months of my pregnancy AND staying till baby is two weeks old, at which point her, I, and my husband are all flying back home together for Christmas holidays. But she’s coming into MY space, not the other way around.

    I really wouldn’t do this- I’d ask my Mom to come to me please. She can care for you just as well in your house, and you can care for your baby much better in your own space.

  46. Alison Sep 12 at 5:03 pm Reply Reply

    I can certainly relate to the OP. I had my first baby at home (the US) near lots of family. For my second baby, we moved to a remote area of Canada near the end of the first trimester, and I’m currently 8 months pregnant.

    While Canada is not terribly different from the US culturally, the healthcare system is quite a change – particularly in our area where there is a serious doctor shortage and care can be hard to come by or require a couple hours travel. I don’t even get to meet my ob-gyn here until 34 weeks – which is insane to me. It’s been a big adjustment.

    I did consider going home for the birth. I’m fortunate to have an ob-gyn back home who would be willing to take me on at 35 weeks (this might be hard to find if you don’t already have someone lined up – mine told me she would not be comfortable doing it if she had not already gone through a pregnancy with me) and we still have health insurance in the US. Despite these advantages, I chose not to do so for several reasons – many of which have already been mentioned:

    *Uncertainty. My first child was born full term following a perfectly healthy pregnancy. He required an emergency C-section and a 2 week NICU stay. After we were able to take him home, he still required weekly visits to the pediatrician to monitor his health. We never could have foreseen this and it would have been impossible to travel with him for quite a while after his birth.

    *Time. My ob-gyn in the US would want me back there by 35 weeks. Adding on at least 6 weeks following the birth (assuming the baby is healthy and we can get the required passports/visas in time) that still requires me to spend ~3 months back in the US.

    *My husband. Having my husband there for a difficult birth/recovery/NICU stay with my first child was invaluable. I cannot imagine doing this without him. While he would be able to travel to the US for the birth itself, I know he couldn’t take 3 months off for the entire ordeal. And I know he would miss all of us terribly – and would not be ok with missing out on the early weeks of baby #2’s life. While having friends and family nearby was certainly comforting with #1, I don’t think it compares to having another person equally as devoted and invested in the baby as you are.

    That said – I do understand the isolation of living in a new place that isn’t “yours.” I’m shy and terrible at meeting new people. The good news is that having a baby is a stellar way to make friends. I joined and expat group here – specifically for moms with little kids – and it has been a great experience. I really recommend looking for something similar in your area.

  47. Diana Sep 13 at 2:27 am Reply Reply

    I gave birth to my son here in the US, while my family and friends were all in Germany – I was lucky enough to have worked with very nice people for a few months and to have a great neighborhood, so I had a tiny network, but not what I had at home. I had moments of loneliness, many actually, but I forced myself on people (its a gift I have).

    From my own experience: I was almost relieved to have the whole family far away – we had time to concentrate on us three being a new family, and it helped to bond with my husband in a completely new way! I think this could be a great chance for your relationship!

    I am also sure that you will find that people, scratch that, WOMEN bond and come together for a pregnant woman in need. Go to birth preparation classes, anything you can find where women in the same situation are coming together. Print a “business card” with your info, or have your contact info ready in your phone so you can just send them a Vcard. And check out facebook groups like the one mentioned above.

    Revel in your pregnancy, let people know, they might surprise you! And yes, enjoy the really wonderful Dutch maternity support that your new home offers! And Your mama could come before birth and help break the ice, if this is possible. Or maybe you have sisters and cousins who want to take turns visiting and helping you out? Since you have a close family, I am sure they are just waiting for you to ask.

    Do not despair, you are much much stronger than you think!

  48. Anna Sep 13 at 4:50 am Reply Reply

    I had this decision to make two year ago. I’m Canadian but live in Tokyo. Husband is Japanese. I decided to give birth in Tokyo instead of flying home.

    I can’t speak to your personal decision, but I’ll make two points that influenced mine. First, the logistics of flights and passports mean you’ll have to stay at least two months in the US. You usually can’t fly if you’re within one month of your due date, so you’d have to fly to the US at eight months. It can also be the case that airlines won’t take infants of less than one month, and as others have pointed out, getting a passport for your little one can take at least three weeks. So it’d likely be an 8-week stay, minimum.

    Second, after our baby was born I was amazed by how much support I didn’t know I had here. Neighbors I’d barely spoken to bringing me food, friends coming by almost daily just to hang out (this it Tokyo; everyone is insanely busy all the time), the local public health center sending over a nurse and English materials on childcare and family support services, other mothers on the train starting conversations. It was way beyond my expectations.

    I’m not saying this will happen for you, but be aware that it may. Women with kids know what the first few months are like, and if you even ask for the smallest amount of support, it is likely to come pouring in. Well, it did in Japan. I dunno, maybe the Dutch are a crueler race ;) (JOKE!)

    You are stronger than you think; your community is warmer than it might feel right now; and good luck!!

  49. Kate Sep 13 at 9:14 am Reply Reply

    My husband and I are Australian. We live in Sweden. My Mum came to stay with us prior to the birth and then for three months afterwards. We get on exceptionally well and it was a great help as we had a difficult time, both with our daughter’s birth and also postpartum. I could barely function for 2 months after she arrived. I can understand wanting the familiar around you, but I think that getting your Mum to the Netherlands is going to be way more feasible than flying in your third trimester and with a newborn. You may have a really great pregnancy and recovery, it might be super smooth sailing. Or it could be a horrible time. It’s really hard to know. I’d also be concerned, as others have been on the costs inherent in a plan to be in the US for birth vs the Netherlands. My daughter’s birth here in Sweden, an emergency c-section after induction, cost me all of 180SEK, which is $27.55. And that was because my husband stayed with me in hospital for two nights after she was born. If he’d gone home it would have been free. 

    Good luck in making your decision together with your husband. I know it won’t be easy. 

  50. Sab Sep 17 at 2:58 pm Reply Reply

    I lived in Amsterdam for two years – get in touch with the American Woman’s Club. They have groups in most of the big cities in theNetherlands and are a great resource for support, friends & local resources. The Amsterdam group has a class you can attend to learn about giving birth in the Netherlands – it’s very detailed, covers the Dutch system from an American/British perspective & is a great way to connect with other expat moms to be. Three of my friends I met whe living in Amsterdam had their first children there, had great experiences with the midwife program & delivered in a hospital, not at home. The postpartum care in the Netherlands is AMAZING – you get a home care nurse for two weeks after the birth who specializes in newborn/postpartum care (with US insurance or if you’re using the Dutch healthcare system). I can’t recommend getting to an American Women’s Club meeting – it’s really a great resource, since being an expat can be really hard. The experience was so much better for me after connecting with other expats (the Dutch are great, but it’s so helpful to connect with others that share your perspective as an expat). Good luck!

  51. Erica Sep 18 at 1:11 pm Reply Reply

    I’m a former expat who just delivered my son back home in the US. (I’ve been home several years.)

    I grew up overseas as a child, so I knew about the expat community when I went abroad as an adult, but if you haven’t experienced it … Go. Run. Join the womens club, the Facebook group, find the churches even.  I love my life in the States, but I miss MISS the expat community.  Because so many are moving in or just had friends move home, everyone has space and compassion for the new person.  I am naturally shy and nervous around new people, but overseas? With my expats? No problem, connections and friends in record time.  Also, expats more often ave things to talk about, because everyone is doing this crazy “living and traveling overseas” thing, which provides more fodder for conversation than and social group I have ever been with.  If the op, or anyone, s thinking “there’s no way I can join that group” I get that, because I often feel that way among my peers in the States, but not once ever with expat groups.  

    Also, I gotta tell you, I had great care in the US three weeks ago, but honestly? I’d leave my extended family (with whom I am very close) in a heart beat f it meant I could ave delivered in the NL or Japan or Belgium, or, heck, any number of places overseas.  They kicked me outta that hospital after two days and my milk didn’t come in for another three days, I was exhausted and in pain nada hormonal mess.  Sure, family and friends have been amazing, but I am envious of the care provided in more progressive countries.  And, boy, ave we paid through the nose fr the care we received, even with insurance. It’s quite possible that you will have a better experience by staying in the NL, and you’ll have enough money to get home at 6 months for a shower and with your three month old for a hefty visit. 
    Hang in there.  Things can get better.  Things can be good right where you are.

  52. Megan in Munich Sep 19 at 3:15 pm Reply Reply

    Hi. I was you once. Sort of. I’m married to a German, living in Munich. I’ve been over here for a while. When I first came over, kids were a very abstract idea but I also carried this idea around in my head for a long time that if/when/ever I should get on the road to baby land, that journey would include a detour home to give birth in ‘normal’ and ‘familiar’ surroundings. 

    Luckily I didn’t get pregnant for years and I had time to really get comfortable over here, AND I figured out how great the health care system is compared to the US. And from what I understand the Netherlands is even better than Germany. In addition to the option to have an ultrasound at every visit, and all the tests that are covered by insurance, there’s two months of midwife house visits where a nice midwife stops by, checks on you, weighs your baby and doles out whatever info you may be lacking or advice you were looking for, even if that’s just ‘what the heck kind of butt cream do I need for this rash?’. THere are also likely a ton of prenatal and newborn classes covered by insurance that you can take that will put you in touch with women going the same thing you are. 

    If your concern is quality of care, I would do a little research before just assuming the US is best. You might be surprised. I’m still over here, my daughter is now two and my second daughter is due next week. One of my best German friends is living abroad in Princeton NJ and is pregnant and due at the same time. She’s been flying over here to see her doctor for as long as possible because the level of care is so different, and she’s had three kids already. 

    If your concern is something else, I would consider a solution other than flying home to have the baby without your husband.

    I don’t know about you, but I am a bit of a control freak. Key was finding a doctor I could trust so that I could feel as much in control of what was happening as possible. My husband and his support was also key in making this all work. Considering that you’re in this boat together, and will be raising this child as a team, it seems like a good idea to start as a team. Can you fly your mother over for a month or two? Make some pre-baby trips and let them shower you with attention and of course a shower or two?

    Also, I remember after my daughter was born it was hard to leave the house, let alone get on a plane. Yikes, I would want to avoid that.

    Getting pregnant is mind blowing. Maybe let the sparks settle and examine all your options and have a heart to heart with your husband. Had I gone ‘home’ to the US and had my baby there without my husband, with hindsight I can now say that I would have felt more alone than ever without him. 

  53. Lisa Sep 19 at 10:27 pm Reply Reply

    I’m an American living in Australia. I didn’t have many friends until I had my baby Down Under….babies are a great Segway to form friendships! Mothers groups, mommy and me classes, etc. 
    Birth in Australia is very different than the US…actually way better, safer, less intrusive, and I never would’ve known that had I not given it a try. You might feel the same way afterwards too.
    I might say too that although you feel like its important to have family around for your pregnancy, it’s actually WAY more helpful to have them around AFTER. Newborn babies are hard work, and sleep deprivation is a hard pill to swallow. My mom came to visit a month after the birth and it was a life saver! I had no one, not even my spouse around for my pregnancy….but it didn’t matter. I was lonely, but if I could pick, I’d MUCH more recommend family support or travel to the US after the birth. Best is when mum and sisters come to you though :)
    I had a post Partom hemmoraged, and nearly died. Likewise my son had the cord wrapped tight and had to be resuscitated. We both nearly died. That is nothing you can predict but something you should consider….you need your partner there in those situations (and imagine your bill in the US if you require surgery like I did and your bub is in the NICU).
    I flew home with my baby at 12 weeks of age, on his aussie passport. I got his US citizenship around 18 mo (there is no rush). If your husband isn’t present when applying for the US passport (should you decide to birth in the US), there is a special form he will have to fill out and have it notarized by an approved witness. This is because Both parents have to give permission for a passport to be issued. 
    My son is 2 now and we just made the 30 hr journey ‘home’ again- alone. 
    Pick up boot straps girl, it’s not as bad as it feels. Good luck. 

  54. Sheila Sep 24 at 11:49 pm Reply Reply

    I am in a similar situation. I am pregnant with my first baby and live on a U.S. Army base in the Pacific; however, I am required to travel to the mainland to have my baby. I must leave island by 36 weeks.
    First, I will tell you that I am NOT the first woman here to do this, and there are plenty of women who live here that have done this up to 3 times, which shows you that the process is not all that bad. I will be leaving at 35 weeks, going to Texas to be with my mom and sisters (let me say that I COMPLETELY understand your need/desire to be near them during this time – I literally ache to be around them), and my husband will join me a few weeks later. He has the luxury of being able to take 6 weeks off from work to be in the States while we have the baby. One piece of advice – while they say you can fly with an infant after 2 weeks, all the moms here recommend waiting until at least after the 1 month checkup. Our plan includes my husband leaving when the baby is 2 weeks old. Since it will take me 2 days and crossing of the International Date Line to get home, we are opting to have my mom fly back with me. This allows my husband to return to work on time, and gives me support for the flight home. My mom will stay with us on base for 3 weeks to help us get settled. That also gives her extra time with her grandchild.
    Good luck with everything – and for goodness sake, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for wanting to be around your family during such an exciting and momentous occasion. You’re in a tough situation that not many understand.

  55. Tessa Oct 30 at 6:36 pm Reply Reply

    I’m sure you have gotten a ton of great advice here already but I just wanted to say my piece. Do it. In he moment of giving birth, or even the month before and the month after, you need to be in your element. Your most comfortable place, with systems you understand and people who understand your choices. It’s simple. It’s not about insurance or in laws or anyone else. 

    I live in France with my French husband. When I had our son last year, we went back to the states for my last trimester and the ten weeks after his birth. I knew from the moment I found out we were pregnant that that was what we would do. I wanted to be with my family during a scary, exciting, crazy time and I was right. It was the best choice and because he is a smart, understanding and compassionate man, my husband agreed and supported this choice. His family here also didn’t question it because they understood that for a woman, there is no other time in her life that she wants her family, her own mom, her friends, more than the birth of a child, especially the first. 

    Don’t worry about what everyone else wants, needs, thinks. He moment of delivery is intense and being where you feel most comfortable is the best idea. 

    Good luck! 

  56. Ashley Mar 12 at 3:07 am Reply Reply

    My heart goes out to you 100%. I haven’t read all the comments above, and I am probably just repeating, but having your husband miss out on the last trimester is not the best idea. Not just for him, but for you as well!

    I am in the same boat – I’m in South Korea with my husband, with my first pregnancy, and feel lonely and robbed of my full pregnancy experience. I feel like I battled with that anger for a long time. Here I am, two weeks before my third trimester, and after many days to sort my thoughts, these are some revelations I’ve come across:

    This is my first child and my family’s first grandchild. It’s killing them to not be a part of this experience. However, they support me from home the most that they can and are coming to visit a few weeks after my baby’s due date. At first, I didn’t think this was good enough. They missed my wedding, two years of my life, and now my baby? But life happens and we’re in these situations – work with it the best you can.
    I miss my friends and feel so lonely here as well. I get so envious seeing people have baby showers and even people who can paint their nurseries! Since most live in apartments in Korea, and this is government housing, I don’t have the luxury of painting my own nursery! I can’t even get a crib shipped here! It’s so frustrating…but I digress. Even though I miss my friends and all the comforts they would bring me, there is no way I could do this without my husband. I played with that idea for a long time too – I wanted to go home and give birth and come back later on in the year. However, as I watched my husband agree to it because he loved me so much, and I was crying almost every day, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I was being so selfish and just a brat. This is my husband’s baby too and he should be here with me. He should feel my sweet baby girl kick every day if he wants and go out at 8pm to buy me oranges or help me off the couch: this is his pregnancy as well. My husband was so heartbroken that I wanted to go home, but he loved me so much he was willing to do anything to make me happy and keep our baby healthy. I knew that I was in the wrong and decided that I would put all those stupid “sacrifices” away in my mind and instead be happy that I was blessed with such a wonderful husband and healthy baby. Living overseas is never easy when you have life events like this. However, like everything else in life – attitude is everything. Find alternatives! Think about your family coming or occupy yourself on other things to keep your mind off feeling blue. I send you all my love because I understand more than I can express. I hope it all works out for you :)

  57. Cathi S Oct 15 at 10:12 am Reply Reply

    I’m not sure you’ll get to read this, but I’ll keep it short.
    I found out I was pregnant when I was living overseas, and I went back to the USA to have the baby. It was difficult, because my now-husband couldn’t be with me for most of the pregnancy, but I loved having my family and friends around.
    Now, I am pregnant a second time and we are living with my husband. I did not realize how much I would miss the love and support of my family and friends during the pregnancy, but it’s not the same. I don’t really have the financial option to go back to the USA to have the baby, but if it were economically feasible I would be with my family!

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