I was an American expat who got knocked up in Dubai. Having a good sense of humor helped me get through the more challenging moments of living in a foreign country when expecting. I talked to other expat moms around the globe and asked them to share their funniest stories about being knocked up abroad.
Sarah Jeanne, Hela Yoga
“As an American married to a Swede living in India for our first pregnancy, we were at a loss for what to expect from the hospitals and birthing culture in India. Taking the prenatal course at Dwi Maternity in Chennai was probably one of the best pregnancy decisions I made. My husband and I were the only non-Indians, and we got to meet local parents to be. In the beginning of the course, we all expressed similar concerns. We were advised to make a birth plan and to be prepared if we had an emergency or needed a Caesarian. But then one of the fathers shared his fears about childbirth: ‘I don’t know why, but I’m afraid my baby will look like a monkey.’ We all fell silent. Not even the instructor had a response to this. Another father asked how soon after child birth his wife would be ready for sex. The instructor answered, ‘Two weeks.’”
Lisa Ferland, Knocked Up Abroad
“I was an American knocked up abroad in Sweden. An Egyptian colleague hadn’t seen me in a long time. When we met up again on a business trip in Côte d’Ivoire, he said, ‘I could tell you were pregnant when I saw you.’ ‘Oh?’ I replied, thinking my belly made it clear that I was pregnant. ‘Yeah, I can see it in your face,’ he said, putting his hands around his face to make it look fatter. I thought, Gee, thanks!”
Melissa Uchiyama, Melibelle in Tokyo
“After two pregnancies in Japan, I was used to women assuming I was pregnant when I wasn’t. They weren’t shy about congratulating me, even when I wasn’t expecting. Japanese women stay quite skim during their pregnancies, or at least get back to their slim selves quite quickly. They don’t have the ‘eating for two’ mentality, and sometimes even diet through pregnancy. All that to say, I got pretty used to replying, ‘Thank you, but no, there is no baby, just dinner.’ or ‘akachan imasen’ (‘I just like food.’). My kids got a kick out of everyone thinking their Caucasian mom with the pooch stomach was knocked up, again. The comments were relentless. By the time a fellow preschool mom congratulated me on the new pregnancy, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was indignant. How very rude, I thought, while venting to all of my American friends on Skype. What a social faux pas, I complained to my Japanese husband (raised in the US and accustomed to diverse people and their bodies) and our kids. I ended up taking a pregnancy test the next week because I wondered if the preschool mom could be right. I went back to her and in terrible, broken Japanese, apologized for any rude tone I had used. She was right after all. More recently, a girl patted my stomach and looked so pleased to feel a baby moving. I respectfully showed her to our baby in my husband’s arms…three months postpartum. It never ends.”
Kristy Smith, The Midwestern Repatriate
“I worked at Dubai American Academy when I was pregnant with my first born. I’m American and my husband is English, but the school’s population was a melting pot of different people who mostly sounded American regardless of what their passports said. I was only about eighteen weeks along by the time school ended that year, so I was showing, but not very much — or so I thought. One day, I was walking through the halls while the children were at specials, and one of the Arabic teachers stopped to chat with me. She noticed I was pregnant, and we were making small talk about pregnancy and motherhood. She asked me if I knew if I was having a boy or a girl. I told her I didn’t know and that we weren’t going to find out early. She looked me over and insisted I was having a girl because I ‘was carrying her in my behind.’ I ended up having a boy. I guess I just had a lot of behind!”
Sarah Scanlon Murdock
“After waiting five years, I was so excited to finally be pregnant with my first child. My family and I were living in Tanguiéta, Benin as American expats. I was eager to share the news with our local friends there once the first trimester had passed. I couldn’t figure out why I got evasive or embarrassed looks in response. I noticed that this also happened when I commented on someone else’s pregnancy. Later, I found out that you are not supposed to notice a pregnancy that way so you don’t draw the unwanted attention of evil spirits. I left Benin at six months pregnant to have my first baby in the US. I had my second baby in Togo after being on bed rest from month seven onward. So it wasn’t until my third baby that people in Tanguiéta saw me walking around through the ninth month of pregnancy. I was so much larger than the local women that they were convinced I was having twins. The women in the market greeted me by calling me Titan, which is the word they use for semi truck.”
Jennifer Malia, Munchkin Treks
“When we were living as American expats in Dubai, my husband and I spent a weekend on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. In our hotel room at Yas Island Rotuna, we found a binder with a full-page advertisement listing ethnic restaurants at Yas Mall. We drove around the island for an hour desperately looking for the mall. I was nine months pregnant, so my baby and I were very hungry at that point. We eventually ended up at Ferrari World because it was the only place that even resembled a mall. A Filipino woman working for the amusement park told us the mall hadn’t been built yet. I thought our request was lost in translation. A hotel wouldn’t advertise restaurants, let alone an entire mall, that wasn’t built yet, would it? But her English was perfectly understandable with only a slight accent. She laughed. I still don’t know if it was because she thought it was ridiculous to advertise a place that was nonexistent or because she found it amusing that we were riding around in circles looking for it.”
Some of the expat moms featured here also share their memories of parenting abroad in 8 Expat Moms Share Their Funniest Stories of Raising Kids in a Foreign Country.