This week I talk to Jennifer who is English and has 3 children, 1 of which, was born in France as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. Here is her story:
Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?
Bonjour! I am Jennifer and from the UK. In 2012 my husband and I decided to move to sunny Provence with our family. Since my husband’s business was in London he would commute to Provence every 1 to 2 weeks whilst I stayed in our town of Saint Remy de Provence to look after the children. The plan was to establish a business in Provence but what with his work picking up in London this did not happen in the end. My daughter now 6 and first son now 5 were born in London and my second son, aged 2, was born in Avignon, France.
The whole experience was inspiration for my new business, Lullabébé, our first product being large muslin squares, which as a mother of 3 children under the age of 4 in Provence I simply could not be without.
Why did you have your children abroad?
What with having no family around and my husband away a lot it might not have seemed the easiest of choices to some to have another child abroad when I already had a 3 and 2 year old to look after. However, we had always dreamed of a large family and I was determined not to let that dream go. I had also heard such wonderful things about the French healthcare system and this was encouraging and comforting. It didn’t disappoint!
As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
Overwhelmed at times. Our living arrangements weren’t ideal whilst I was pregnant. Since we had no tax status in France when we first arrived we were very limited as to what we could rent and although our first house in France was spacious with stunning views over the Provencal countryside, the rain would seep through the windows when it rained, there were no shutters to block out the biting winter Mistral wind or hot summer sunshine. The tiny electric heaters were literally hanging off the walls and so what with no insulation we were blowing ‘smoke’ during the winter months. However, one of my favourite memories of that home was bringing my two children into bed with me during those winter nights so we could all stay cuddled and warm together.
In terms of my care whilst pregnant I could not have felt in better hands. With a dedicated midwife who was so warm, caring and friendly and with such attentive and thorough care despite it being my 3rd baby it was a dream to be pregnant in Provence.
And then there was the spotless cleanliness of the hospital, being allowed to rest for 4 days in my own private room and the yummy hospital food – truly I was a happy mummy!
Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
The midwives seemed to find my natural approach to childbirth quite enlightening. With epidurals being commonplace when I simply requested gas and air at the end of my labour I believe it may not have been used for some time on that ward!
What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?
Stay strong and reassure yourself with the fact that no two days are the same when you have children. Trust your own instincts and don’t be afraid to voice them. Be comforted by the fact that however hard things get sometimes, there are wonderful people out there who can support and guide you.
Jennifer is the founder of Lullabébé, company which creates beautiful and versatile muslins, which are inspired by life in Provence.
You can connect with Jennifer via her online store, Facebook and Instagram.
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