Mae is from the Philippines, Ariana from the U.S. As a Mom Abroad, Mae has faced pregnancy, child birth and raising her gorgeous daughter 13,200 kilometers (or 8,200 miles) from home. Mae is currently based in Florida, which she confesses has been a way to commemorate the island life of the Philippines.
Tell me a little bit about where you are from, where you currently live, and why…
I was born in Cebu City, the oldest and second largest city in the Philippines. I moved to the U.S. in 2009 and my husband and I first settled in Lexington, Kentucky. I gave birth to my daughter in 2011. In 2015, we decided to move to Tampa, Florida for two reasons. Firstly, we fell in love with the beautiful beaches of Florida during a family vacation to Clearwater—plus I was really missing the island life back home! Secondly, we wanted to create more precious family moments together while our daughter is still young—and we believe we could do more fun things as a family in the Sunshine State.
Briefly tell me about your child .What’s his/her name name? Where was he/she born? What is he/she like?
My daughter, Ariana, is all sugar and spice. She’s adorably sweet, confident and unafraid to speak her truth, highly curious and loves all things pink.
She’s no doubt a girly-girl at heart who shares mommy’s love for fashion, singing and the creative arts. Yet, she also has her daddy’s charm, quite sociable and easy to make new friends. She was born in Kentucky and will be turning six in March this year.
What was the monitoring process of pregnancy and labor like in the place where your child was born?
Being pregnant in the U.S. where healthcare is top quality, I had the best possible pregnancy care.
For a first baby, it was a very easy pregnancy. Other than the expected constant
hunger pangs, I was a few of the lucky ones who didn’t go through morning sickness at all. Because I am a petite Filipina and my husband is American, the only worry my doctor had was that the baby would be too big for me to deliver naturally. Although I was scared of the idea of going through labor since I have very low tolerance for pain, thankfully the pain was mostly manageable as I opted to have an epidural. For a first delivery, the labor went fast and easy. I honestly think my husband was more traumatized than I was by the entire experience as he was with me every step of the labor process! LOL!
What was the most challenging thing about being pregnant abroad? And what was the best thing about it?
The most challenging part of being pregnant abroad was being away from family. When you are going through the different phases of the pregnancy, changes in your hormones and emotions of not knowing what to expect, it’s always better to have a support system nearby.
Plus, because I came from a very tightly knit family back in the Philippines where cousins grow up together and family get-togethers are a weekend affair, I was missing the family support a lot.
As far as the best thing about being pregnant in the U.S., I would say it’s the quality of women’s healthcare. I felt confident I have access to top maternity hospitals, qualified doctors and best medicines to ensure me and my baby were always safe and healthy.
Thinking of labor and delivery, what was the worst and best thing about having to do this far from your own country?
Although healthcare in the Philippines has since improved, I have heard horror stories back then of the lack of qualified maternal care doctors, facilities and access to medicines and pain management options.
On the flipside, I think the Filipinos’ strong family bond makes the experience of pregnancy and giving birth an easy experience, especially for new moms and dads as they can always rely on family members for help and support.
How about motherhood and parenting. What challenges have you faced due to the fact that you are away from your home, family and friends?
The most difficult part of being a new parent and being away from family is not having access to a babysitter you can trust.
It was difficult to drop off Ariana in the arms of a total stranger in a day care center when you know you can have a grandparent or family member back home to do this, had they been nearby.
In terms of parenting, I would have to say my mom has prepared me well of this role through her example as a mother. While I would prefer Ariana to bond well with family back home in the same way as I did when I was little, technology has thankfully helped us bridge this gap as we are able to call via Skype and video chat with my brother and family back home.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give others who are going to have a baby or will be raising young children, away from their country?
My best piece of advice is to celebrate your culture and traditions back home so your child may understand and embrace his or her unique identity as a child of multi-cultural and mixed-race parents.
With Ariana for instance, I try to teach her Cebuano words, teach her Filipino values that we hold strongly dear to our hearts like respect for elders, let her immerse in Filipino traditions when we go back home to the Philippines as well as allow her to develop a taste for Filipino food by cooking most of it at home.
Raising a child in another country is a wonderful way to expand his or her perspective on different cultures as well as teach diversity, but it’s very important to remind them to celebrate their unique identity so they don’t lose sight of their roots.
Check out Mae’s blog, The Gospel of Beauty, a place where she shares about beauty, wellness, style, home decor, but most importantly, where she writes as a way to teach her daughter, Ariana, about the important things in life.
Are you also a Mom Abroad? Would you like to share your story here at A Baby Abroad? I would love to hear your experiences with pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood away from home! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org