A life-changing decision

So, I never in a million years thought I would say this.

We are moving to Sweden!

I was so sure I was in the right place, that we were gonna stay here. I always said I’m never going back. But somewhere along the way it changed. When Emma was born and my parents were visiting the thought started somewhere, but I still dismissed it. And to be honest, I never thought Odi would be open to the idea. And after they’d left it got stronger and stronger. With a new baby and a whole new life I started realizing how alone we were. I started thinking about my childhood, and having a huge family and so many family friends around and I realized that we don’t have that. And even if we could get out more and make more connections it just won’t be the same. Not to mention the help, that we don’t have here, with the baby and the dogs and everything. They say it takes a village, and we definitely do not have a village here.

The more I started missing my family and friends, the more I saw what we’re missing here and everything we would have there. And it made me really sad. How much they would miss with Emma, and how much I’m gonna miss. For myself this place is amazing to live, for us as a couple too, and we don’t really have a need to a huge social life. But as a family, and for Emma, as parents, for me as a mom, all of sudden this place didn’t feel right anymore.

We went back and forth for some time, and non of us like being in an in between, we’re people who take action. I still felt that the right decision would be clear at one point or another. The more I thought about it the more I realized that all we really have in life is time, and all that’s really important is your loved ones. So we decided that it was time for a new adventure.

I never thought it would be scarier moving back than it was to move away. I guess it’s because I never thought I would, and because I left for a reason. But I am a different person now, and my life is different, and I need different things, we do. So there are a lot of things that are unclear, and there are so many things that need to fall into place, but it feels like the right choice.

As usual with us it all went really fast too, as soon as we decided we started fixing everything and all of a sudden we were moving in a few weeks. Odi decided to stay behind and work a bit more before joining us, which is obviously so hard for all of us. We sold all our stuff, hired a moving company and then we were off.

I cannot believe that we’re doing this. It’s so unreal and I have no idea if this is gonna be the right thing. But one thing is for sure, you need to follow your heart and your gut. And what’s the worst thing that can happen? We end up not liking to live there and we move somewhere else. We really have so many choices, sometimes to many, and making one doesn’t mean it’s forever, maybe it’s just for right now.

It feels so weird and a bit sad to leave this chapter behind. Barcelona has given me so much, so much self development, so many dreams, so many good times, parties and amazing amazing memories, moving here also meant meeting the love of my life, getting engaged, having my baby girl and one extra fluffy baby too. I will always be so extremely happy that we moved here and for all the times we’ve spent here. It’s gonna be sad to leave, but I’m so excited to be closer to our loved ones, and to see what this new adventure has to offer.

Things I will not take for granted again

So pregnancy is beautiful and all that but not a super fun time for me even though I’m kind of spoiled with the lack of awful symptoms. But lately when I have gotten even bigger, and it has gotten even warmer, and everything has gotten more uncomfortable, I have been walking around thinking about things that I will never take for granted again. You know, kind of like you do when you have a really bad cold, sitt around thinking of how you will never take for granted not having a blocked nose, or being able to breathe properly.

So here’s my list.

  • Sneezing, laughing or coughing without having to worry about peeing myself. Now I realize that this might get even worse after giving birth. But I still wish I hadn’t taken it for granted before.
  • Non swollen feet and ankles. I even caught myself the other day zooming in on an old photo of myself where my ankles were showing, looking at how skinny and pretty they were. Ahhh the feeling of being able to walk properly.
  • Being able to wear all my shoes…. because of not having those swollen ankles and feet. My only choice now is flip flips. At least I got a pretty pair of flip flops. But still…
  • A flat stomach. I am so mad at myself for ever thinking that I had anything but a flat stomach. I had no idea, seriously. I can’t wait for the day I don’t have this huge bump in the middle of my body. And can wear normal clothes again.
  • Not having heart burn. I literally don’t know what it feels like anymore, to not have heart burn. And I will be forever grateful the day that I’m without and finally get to feel that sensation of not having a fire in my throat.
  • Being able to turn around without waking up during the night. Okay, ha ha, I’m having a baby, I’ll probably be woken up by a screaming baby instead. But at least I’ll be able to sleep comfortably when I do sleep.
  • Not having a great pain ahead. Yes giving birth is natural and will probably be fine. But seriously, it’s no fun walking around knowing that you will experience what people call the worst pain of their lives any moment now. It’s freckin’ scary.

Of course there is also a huge list of things that I will never take for granted like being able to get pregnant this easy. Having a great pregnancy health wise and not having to constantly worry about complications (even if that worry of course can be there anyway). And there will probably be a list of things again after the baby is here, that will make this one sound really ridiculous. But there you go. So if your not pregnant, take a moment and appreciate being skinny (cause yes you are), flexible, not having to worry about peeing yourself, living without heart burn and not having god knows how many hours of excruciating pain ahead. I’m happy for you guys!

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What did you not love about being pregnant?
And what do you miss about being pregnant?

The big move to Barcelona – how and why we ended up here

So as you might know. I am living in Barcelona. And you might be wondering how and why I ended up here, well except for the obvious reasons of why one would want to live in this fabulous city. I grew up in a small town in Sweden, Trelleborg. I never really wanted to stay there but it’s easy to get stuck. And so we did. Me and my best friend were living together, in an apartment I owned, with our dogs, with jobs, and school and we were just going about our lives as usual. We were sitting on the balcony one day talking and I turned to Anna and asked her what the fuck we were doing there, why we were living there, and if that was gonna be the rest of our lives. And how surprised was I when Anna thought leaving was a good idea.

So we made a decision, then and there, to leave, at least give it a try. We discussed how we could make it possible. What we would do with the dogs, the apartment and everything. About 3 months later we had booked a Spanish course, gotten the dogs passports and rented out the apartment, we said goodbye and left.

Always hanging on the beach when living 2 minutes away

We had an apartment already booked, we didn’t really have a choice with the dogs. And we had already paid a deposit, which was kind of nerv wracking since we had read a lot about people being scammed. But we were lucky, we got there in the middle of the night, with suitcases and dogs and we saw the tiny little apartment on the ground floor in Barceloneta. It was like living in a bunker. We lived there for about 4 months before the owner let us know the apartment on the top floor was gonna be available, with a private rooftop terrace, so we obviously said yaaaaas.

My first birthday in Barcelona, celebrated on our rooftop

We spent about a year in the building, just around the corner from the beach, in about 25 km2, first studying Spanish and then working a bit. We had a blast. We went out all the time, we had rooftop parties, we had so much fun. And then we went home that summer, sold my apartment, traveled the whole summer and came back to a new, much bigger, rental. And the rest is history, I met my fiance, he moved in with us, we calmed down a lot with the partying, we changed jobs and started businesses and continued studying. And we lived there, until we moved to this place in december and a whole new chapter of our lives started.

I will always remember that day on the balcony when we made this huge, life-changing decision. It took some time, even if Barcelona is an amazing city, it still took time to find our way and feel like home. It’s very different vacationing in a place and actually creating a life in a place. What made the final decision was actually going home again, coming home to visit that first Christmas was amazing, but coming back to Barcelona afterwards, it really felt like coming home, and then we knew it was right. But I guess that’s why a lot of people go here for a few months and then go back home, they don’t stick it out, they just party and doesn’t really find their day to day life, or maybe they just don’t wanna live here, that is also a possibility. But I am so happy that we decided to stay, it turned out to be the best decision we ever made.

Celebrating midsummer with out little family

How and why we chose to work with a doula

So we have decided to work with a doula. A doula is a non-medical person who helps, supports and cares for your during pregnancy, birth and sometimes after. To be honest, I didn’t even know what a doula was before I got pregnant. But like you might have red in previous posts like Tips for having a baby in another country our situation was a bit messy in the beginning.

We were completely lost and scared and I also made the choice to not tell my family (as you can read more about in Telling the family) before I saw them face to face. Not that they could have helped us navigate our way in Spain anyway.

Working with networking I do have a Facebook filled with different people. And one day when I was scrolling I saw a woman who was pregnant and I immediately messaged her and asked for help. She recommended me a doula, that was working specifically with expats in Barcelona. So I contacted them and we went for a meeting.

They explained how they worked and what they did. And it was like a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders. Cause all of a sudden we felt like if there was something we couldn’t figure out we would get help, if we had problems with the language, we could get help, and what scared me the most, if we would end up in an emergency situation or just in the situation of giving birth surrounded with people who didn’t speak any English and just not knowing what was happening, well we wouldn’t, cause we would have our doula there, helping us through.

So we decided then and there to go for the program they were offering and we have not regretted it so far. She came with us to the doctors appointment when we were feeling uncomfortable. We have gotten a prenatal course to prepare us for birth and what’s to come. We have someone to message as soon as we need help or advice on something. And we’re gonna have someone we feel comfortable with coming with us when it’s time for this baby girl to be born.

We have chosen one of the doulas in the group we’re working with, but they are three doulas just in case the one that is our main one wouldn’t be available for the birth or something like that.

I feel so much more comfortable and prepared for this with knowing I have a support system. I don’t know if I would have hired one if I still lived in Sweden, or if I spoke fluent Spanish, but in the situation we’re in, especially being far from our families and loved ones, we are so happy we made this decision.

Did/would you want to work with a doula?
If so, what are you looking for in a doula?
If you did work with a doula, are you happy you did?

Tips for having a baby in another country

As you might now I’m Swedish and my fiance is French and we’re living in Barcelona. So I wanted to tell you all a little about my experience and thoughts so far. It’s of course a challenge to be living in a different country when this huge life-changing thing happens. Especially when you don’t know the language very well. And let me tell you, the beginning of this pregnancy was not easy for us. You can read more about the emotional process in this post The shock and struggles of the first weeks of pregnancy.

So when we found out I was pregnant we
1. Didn’t really have any experience with the Spanish health care system
2. Didn’t speak Spanish very well
3. Were living in an apartment that had mold in it, and the contract was until the end of July, around the due date.

So the first few weeks were very stressful, and even though we knew that it would be okay, it felt so stressful to get everything in order. We started with making an appointment with a midwife. We were registered in a specific place, in the area we lived, and we went. I was still in shock about being pregnant and I just needed to know what to do. However, the midwife did not speak a word of English, and didn’t slow down the Spanish for us to understand either. She was rude and just kept in talking, to Odi, not to me, and the panic grew. Eventually I couldn’t help it, I started crying, and what does she do? She turns to Odi and asks HIM if I even wanted the baby…

We also contacted the agency we were renting the apartment from, about needing to end the contract because of the mold. Since I’m also super allergic and was very very sick most days, so that was not a very good situation and at first it seemed like they were gonna fight us too.

But eventually everything turned out okay. We got recommended a doula and went for a meeting with the two women we got recommended. And let me tell you, I didn’t even know what doula was. They explained that they worked a lot with expat mums and they were a support system for us, they could also help with the language people if needed, and they would be with us all through this pregnancy and for the birth. After that meeting both me and Odi felt that we could breathe again. That we would have someone to turn to and someone to help us through this whole thing. We managed to get off the contract and we were super lucky to find an amazing apartment super fast. So in just a few weeks, we moved. When we moved we also got signed to another CAP (medical center), and got a different midwife. We went for the first appointment, and we got one that spoke English. And after that all the midwife visits and ultrasounds, we got people who spoke English.

We feel comfortable in the CAP that we’re in now, with the midwives we have had, with our doulas and we love love love our new apartment.

So here are my tips for having a baby in another country, more specifically in Barcelona, but maybe it can be helpful for people living in other places too. Also, I don’t have a baby yet, so this is more so for the pregnancy. I’ll write a similar one after actually having a baby here.

  • You have a choice, you can change medical centers, hospitals and doctors. Make sure you’re comfortable. You have rights!
  • Hire a doula, now this is of course personal, but if you feel uncomfortable or insecure it’s really nice to have support from someone who knows what they’re doing.
  • Get all your papers in order. We were all over the place with the documents we needed and where we kept them, and as a organized person this one gave me so much comfort.
  • Contact your consulate and ask all your questions. I sent an email and got a long respons with information about documents for registering a baby and what we need to do. Once again, feeling prepared usually gives some comfort.
  • Join communities for mums on social media. Ask all the questions you have and start connecting with people who are or have been in your situation.
  • Use the last point to also find groups and meet ups to join and attend.
  • Relax. Everything is gonna be fine. For me, the problems seemed bigger than the turned out to be, and I stressed out a lot for no reason.

Have you had a child in another country?
What was your experience?
What are your own tips for others in the same situation?