Thursday, November 27, 2014

Mum Abroad 1 - Baby Daze

So we’re having a baby! A major life-changing event. We have so much preparation to do, so much to think about, organize and purchase even before the baby arrives. To top it off, we live in Spain, so lots of where and who questions to answer, too! As soon as we found out our plus-one was on the way, my mind started running a marathon at a sprinter’s pace. Which room will be the nursery? Who will be my doctor? What if the baby speaks English with an accent, or pulls all the plates out of the cupboard? What if the baby somehow gets out onto the balcony? What if I eat the wrong thing and the baby gets sick? What if my vitamins aren't good enough or I'm overdoing it on some mineral? This wheel could not stop turning.

thanks for the onesie, granny!
Despite there being so much to think about and do, I am trying to keep things wonderful as opposed to overwhelming, and I thought I’d track our journey to parenthood here on the blog. For any of you in Spain, hopefully some of the resources I’ve found will be helpful. For friends and family at home, a window into what we’re up to.

First things first, I’ve be using lots of lists to keep myself sane. Who needs a breakdown over a missed testing period or appointment when there are already so many hormonal crying fests to begin with? (Seriously, Tall Guy gets a prize for not drowning in my tears. I cry wail a lot.)

It’s just as easy to get caught up in the excitement of the baby without really considering all areas of life we should be. Wills? Kind of morbid and not strictly necessary in Spain since the government stipulates how much you leave to whom, but defo a must for our Canadian assets, and just a good, practical thing to have in order. Cleaning cupboard organization? I’ve got time now, so I might as well get those green, natural, but still potentially dangerous products up and out of the way. Baby bedding? Current recommendations are for a flat sheet and infant sleeping bag to be the only items in the crib, of which the slats should be no more than 6.5 cm apart. Feeling lost? Zoning out? Enter, lists.

I downloaded about a dozen check lists from, and modified them to our situation, adding and eliminating as needed (for example, I don’t go for certain testing or vaccinations, medical insurance and HR are different here so  I changed those sections, we decided to “go public” later than the usual three months...). I also put them into a clear font I like. I’ve got them in a binder divided into trimesters, food, nutrition and financials, as well as a section for the baby’s first three months and my test results. It’s easy to take the whole health section with me to doctor appointments, so I don’t forget my questions and I have all my results on hand, just in case. The binder is in a file holder where I keep all baby-related papers, including fun magazines and articles. 

Finding printable lists online saved ordering a book from overseas (sorry, as much as I love Spanish, I’m having this baby in my native language!), not to mention being more applicable since it’s totally customized, and more budget-friendly, since shipping and customs are not involved.

I’ve got an app called Pregnancy Companion, which I like because it’s pretty basic – it’s got a date tracker for my due-date window, a good week-by-week baby and mother health/growth feature, and that’s about all I use it for! I don't want to be bombarded with more information than I could possibly read through, and when I do need to know something, I'd rather just know it's from a reputable source.

I also get a lot of help from family and friends. Especially my tall American friend here in Madrid. She's got three lovely children, and she always has time to listen to me talk about baby things and to share resources (thanks to her, I found an amazing English-speaking doctor). It's also motivating to see her and the children - having children abroad, out of the comfort zone of familiarity, can be done without losing one's mind!

In a nutshell – I’m avoiding pregnancy daze by staying organized: using lists and keeping everything together in a cute magazine holder (which, strangely, was in our house when we moved here) for easy referencing, and downloading an app instead of signing up for website alerts (personal preference – I like my email inbox to be filled with email from people I know as opposed to computer-generated mailing list articles I “may be interested in”), and, most importantly, talking to friends and family who have been there and done that, especially those who have been there and done that in Madrid. Oh, I still cry (thank you, hormones), and there are things I'm sure I'm still missing, but I feel much calmer with my mentors and lists on hand, helping to guide me through the next few months.


  1. Hooray for the baby! (but I'm not so sure about "granny!"