a nursing mom at work

Having a baby is a life changer, and thankfully our life outside the US has been good for us. The social culture in SE Asia and my profession are both supportive of young families. Staff and diners here don't cringe when we walk into a restaurant or food shop; instead they fight over who gets to hold the baby while we eat, and he's returned to us with the bill. Second, we're lucky that my employer is so supportive of new mothers. There's a nursery at the office so nursing moms to bring our babies to work. My colleagues help make sure that I can pump on the days I don't bring the baby by scheduling me into the meeting rooms. I have an unofficial flex time. And on travels I can bring the baby (and his nanny) with me. My current work has to … [Read more...]

Brat bans

Kid-free zones seem to be increasingly popular over the past few years back in the US. Honestly, before I had a baby I'd have probably been in favor of the policy or at the very least indifferent to it. And now? We had our baby in SE Asia, where they take a completely opposite view towards kids and babies. When we walk into restaurants the waitstaff aren't cringing at the thought of a screaming child and bussing a messy table. Once they get over the shyness of approaching a foreigner they fight over who gets to take the baby. They pass him around. Even the cooks and dishwashers back in the kitchen get in on the fun. Keith and I eat in peace, and the baby gets returned to us with the bill at the end of the meal. … [Read more...]

Living in Phnom Penh, Having a baby in Bangkok

Photo by Keith A Kelly CHOOSING THE HOSPITAL We work and live in Phnom Penh, and wouldn't feel comfortable with the specialists / facilities here in case of complications during delivery. The nearest city with internationally accredited care is Bangkok, so there we went at 35 weeks 6 days gestation, the latest we’re allowed to board a Thai Airways flight (with a fit-to-fly certificate from the doc). Most of Bangkok's well-known private facilities have high quality patient-oriented care and great customer service. They have translators, can take care of extending  visas, take the baby's passport photo (this isn't easy so do get this done at the hospital!), get the birth certificate officially translated and documented at the Ministry of … [Read more...]

Tales from the bump

Google is not your friend if you’re pregnant and your hair dryer fries in your hand, briefly electrocuting you. Not to worry, he’s fine (says the doc, and yep he’s looking like a boy) – I can feel those momentous first movements. It’s like tiny little gas bubble rumblings :-\ He’s not packing much of a punch yet. We spent a week in Jom Tien, Thailand, to check out a hospital and the ob-gyn there. Loved the doc. Loved the seafood - here we're at a fisherman's village gorging ourselves on the fresh catch. About four weeks ago I started looking sufficiently femme fertile where people feel my tummy is public property and they can just reach out and touch the bump. Go away. This trimester's more interesting than the first. The little … [Read more...]

Anti-natal update

Well, Keith already has a good list of names picked out, for a boy naturally. But for me the pregnancy has so far been very draining. I just want to curl up and be unconscious until after the delivery, but I can’t so instead I whine at Keith. One of the public health dilemmas here involve getting antenatal services to rural women who are hard at work planting and harvesting their crops right to the day they deliver. Not that it’s their choice to continue hard field duties under the harsh sun and intense heat - but it just makes me feel like such an unfit woman crying about 24/7 achiness. At least I quit full time work, and the consultancy with WHO keeps me in the air-conditioned central offices and not traipsing about the boonies looking … [Read more...]

The gestational journey ends

Thank you, everyone, for sharing advice, for the visits, calls and gifts, and all the well wishes! We're still catching up with baby and sleep so for now, just a quick update :-)  Above is his first passport photo, taken by the hospital's photographer at about a day old. We flew to Bangkok at 35 weeks, since the airlines don't let you travel any later into the pregnancy than that as a precaution against having to deal with a woman in labor on board. Other mothers in Phnom Penh have driven either down to the border at Koh Kong (via a road that goes off the grid for a solid hour, as of 2010), or else up north through Poipet into Aranyaprathet, Thailand, and then bus/train it to Bangkok. But I just didn't think I could handle … [Read more...]