This week we go to Turkey as part of the series on The Global Differences of Baby-Making. Rose Deniz, an American artist and writer moved to Turkey with her Turkish husband and had her children there. 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?
My name is Rose Deniz and I’m an artist and a writer living in Turkey. I was born and raised in the Midwest, USA, studied art, and earned an MFA in Painting before moving to Turkey in 2005. My husband is Turkish and our children are bilingual in Turkish and English. They are three and five years old, and both of them were born here in Izmit, Turkey. Izmit is about an hour outside of Istanbul.
Why did you have your children abroad?
I considered having my children at home in the US because I wanted natural deliveries, ideally in water, but we found the costs prohibitive to fly home and to be there an extended time. In the end, we decided to make the best of the situation and were happy with the care we received. I didn’t want to “flee” because of the challenges, but there were many – talking to doctors in a second language, negotiating (and sometimes rejecting) routine procedures, and the stress of dealing with it all in a culture that’s not my own. I felt really empowered by the fact that I was able to deliver naturally in Turkey considering the high cesarean rate here.
What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?
The benefits were low-cost prenatal care and delivery, plus the feeling of being more connected to the place where my children were born – since their births, I’ve felt much more grounded and acclimated in my life here. We had planned to raise our children here, so birthing abroad was a natural solution.
As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
I’m sure I felt like any expectant mother would – excited, hormonal, and nervous. I felt maybe more nervous than I would have been at home,, and at times very confused by a system I didn’t understand fully. I felt more at odds with the doctors than I maybe would have been at home in the US. I would come prepared with questions and concerns and many times feel dismissed or my concerns downplayed.
Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
Many. Many people were shocked I wanted a natural birth and that I at times fought so hard to make it happen. And then when I got pregnant with my second child, more people were shocked I was having a second, and so close to the birth of my first. It seemed like I got a lot more unsolicited advice and even disapproval than I expected. On the other hand, breast-feeding is encouraged and supported here, and there’s not problem breast feeding in public. I felt very supported in that respect.
What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?
Be patient, ask questions, make decisions slowly, trust your instinct, and be proud of yourself!
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