What with Kate and Keira sporting baby bumps, 2015 seems to be the year to have a little one. But what about being pregnant on foreign shores? Travel writer, kodomo.com contributor, and ex-pat Gabriel O’Rorke discovers what it’s like having a baby aboard abroad…
“Oye,” a man is waving at me from further down the queue. “You’re pregnant?”
“What, and the guard didn’t notice? Come in here, you shouldn’t be standing in line!”
I move forward into the space in front of him. I’m 24 weeks and my bump is finally beginning to show, bringing to the surface a whole new side of Chileans. From the 18 year-old lad at the Sunday fruit market to this 30-something guy in the queue now behind me, Chileans simply love a baby bump.
I have lived in Chile for two years. My husband and I moved here after several years working in London, looking for somewhere new, somewhere different, somewhere Spanish-speaking. Chile fit the bill.
When we announced the incoming member of our family, the reaction from most was: “So when are you coming home?” Having a baby abroad was never something we proactively planned to do, but nor is it something we want to avoid. Especially when we are doing it somewhere as safe and stable as Chile.
As a first-timer at all this, I’ve never experienced baby-bearing under the NHS (although I do sign up for their very good weekly emails). However, one ex-pat friend who had her first baby in London and the second in Santiago, described the Chilean version as “like having your baby at the Ritz,” so I suspect I may be able to handle it. I must add here that we are lucky enough to have private healthcare – needless to say there’s no NHS in Chile – so the comparison may be an unfair one.
Speaking of the Ritz, however, as a passenger aboard a travel writer this little bump is already rather well travelled. In the first four months alone we ticked off the U.S.A, England, Scotland, Morocco, Argentina and Chile, including a gnarly Che Guevara-worthy road trip on Patagonia’s Carretera Austral.
But the truth is, I’ve been incredibly lucky health-wise and able to continue life at, pretty much, a normal pace. I still ride around Santiago on my bike – causing many a Chilean to stop and stare in disbelief – and we are planning a cruise to Cape Horn for week 30 of my pregnancy.
My experience with morning sickness is limited to being sick three times on a plane to the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile, a one-off incident that I suspect was the work of a dodgy airport breakfast rather than anything maternity-related. Our main stumbling block has been pregnancy vocabulary and, so far, we’re learning the hard way. When we turned up for our 8-week scan, we waited patiently like well-trained Brits for three hours before realising we were in the wrong queue. On the upside, the word for scan (“ecografia”) is now etched in my mind for all eternity.
And now, as I trot towards week 25, we have just signed for a new flat so the next few weeks involve moving, investigating baby furniture and working out how to survive 34 degree heat without ten ice creams a day. Oh, and signing up for maternity yoga is on my to do list (most likely another stretch for my vocab, as well as my limbs), while investigating the rumour that Chile has a very high number of Caesarian births, and how to avoid one myself, if at all possible. I’ll keep you posted….