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Sunday, 8 May 2016

Getting Prepared...Getting personal

I think it is normal to worry "If I can have children" whatever age a woman is and it doesn't get any easier with every passing comment from your mother, her next door neighbour, your mother in law, auntie, grandparents or well meaning friend, but in Thailand you have a whole new set of busybodies to deal with.

The Random Stranger
As we were checking out of the small hotel we had hired for our Wedding Party the receptionist (who was about to pop with a baby herself, about 4 foot tall and the same wide) rubbed my stomach and told me (with a smile of course) that I must get pregnant soon. Whilst this wasn't a revelation to me, I know my eggs aren't getting any younger and I'd found my Prince just in the nick of time, I wasn't prepared for a random stranger to be so personal...but prepare yourself ladies because it comes at you from all angles....

The well-meaning work Auntie
All offices in Thailand are full of 3 types of women - young girls with desks full of mirrors and cuddly toys, middle aged women breast pumping milk at their desks and well-meaning Aunty's who spend 50% of the time smiling at you but saying something utterly condescending or two-faced. Beware the later generation also speak much better English than they let on and will forever haunt you if you dare to mutter anything under your breath in retaliation or defence, and I do believe they have la direct line into Buddha himself to report Farangs that deserve damnation and a spell in Naraka. Anyway, moving on, these "old bats" will make it their mission to make you think about being pregnant all of the time, worry about getting pregnant all of the time, worry about getting too old to get pregnant, worry that your husband will make someone prettier, and younger, pregnant...you get the picture. My "old bat" actually started up before I got married. She took it upon her self to give me a little motherly lecture about the birds and the bees before I got married. She explained to me the importance of marriage and how Thai people believe it is important to have a family and that I must try for a baby as soon as I am married, I must stop stressing about work, be healthy, look after my husbands needs and give him a baby, as if I can go to Central Chitlom and buy one off the shelf just as soon as I've saved enough money. She didn't stop there, it was the first thing she spoke to me about after the wedding and is still the first thing she asks me every time we meet (1 year later). I have even told her that I've had two miscarriages and she still smiled at me and told me its my duty to have a baby and that it will happen, apparently she knows I am a good person and she knows good fortune will come to my husband and I (I wonder if this is a direct message from Buddha and the only way to keep me out of Naraka!?!

The Expat Wives Club

I don't want to be too bitchy here because someone reading this blog is likely to be an expat wife themselves, but I do hope you aren't one of the worst stereotypical expat wives out there. I have literally had women from the British Club turn their back on me when I asked if there were social events that I could attend outside of work hours. Also the fact that I do not (yet) know the first thing about any International School Programme, the apparent horrors of live in maids, or the exact floor plan of EmQuartier it would appear that I am not fit to join any of the wives clubs at this precise moment. Anyway, moving on again, whether you are in any of the clubs, or not, you cannot avoid all 'stay at home expat wives', you will have dinners with them, attend drunken annual balls with them etc and for all such events, along with your Spanx, you should always wear body armour to protect yourself against ill judged comments about when are you going to get pregnant? are you trying to get pregnant? Are you trying naturally or going straight to IVF? (after all apparently you can through money at any problem here), will you get a live in maid? will you get a driver? when will you give up work? Fundamentally, when will you become one of us? It's not so much the questions that fill me with dread but often the fear of not measuring up when it's my legitimate time to join yummy mummy clubs. Will my child be wearing the correct attire, and more to the point will I be wearing the correct attire, will I have found the miracle eye cream to at least give the illusion that my child sleeps occasionally and will I have kicked and punched at enough Muaythai bags (noting I haven't kicked at any so far in this life time) to lose enough baby weight to earn my badge of honour as a yummy mummy.

The Estate Agent
They say moving home is meant to be one of the most stressful things you do in life...not as an expat. As an expat, moving home becomes as normal, and as easy, as shopping for groceries. You pick what you like and someone else does all of the hard work packing it up and getting it to your chosen location. I've known women orchestrate a house move whilst 8 months pregnant, a toddler in tow, a husband in another country, and all from the relative calm of a coffee shop eating cake with girlfriends. But there are some very crucial decisions you are forced to make that can cause constant reminders of your TTC journey. The big questions...do you move into a condo with that extra room that 'could' be the nursery, do you consider your commute to work when you are heavily preggers and its 40 degrees outside, have you checked to see if there's a playroom or kiddies pool? Well don't worry because your friendly Thai estate agent will make it her business to know everything about your life, your bank balance, your husband, his bank balance, where and when you go on holiday and last but not least, your childless status. My estate agent, and landlord, made it a point to extol the virtues of the local hospital for emergency childbirth, the nearest University for our future child's education, the best room to use as a nursery and the various complications with choosing a live in nanny, apparently varying from murder (if she is Burmese), work permit (if she is Filipino), lazy (if she is Thai) and of course, sleeping with my husband (if she is a Swedish aupair).

The bottom line, don't put any extra pressure on yourself. Tell all busy bodies only what you want, when you want to, they will be happy with any answer. My responses have varied from "its in the hand of the gods", "we have our pet cats, that's enough for us", "its too hot to start a family in Thailand", "I work too much" to bursting into tears. The Thai's are simply nosey and normally only want to know what their future opportunities for repeat custom (to your mutual benefit) will be. 

Smile through gritted teeth and you'll actually start to enjoy the freedom of telling random strangers about your life, its not very British, but sometimes its just nice to tell someone.

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