When we decided to start a family we knew we wanted to stay in Amsterdam. So we bought a 3 bedroom house/apartment and we no longer live 3 blocks from the red light district. I don’t miss the hustle of tourists 24/7 but I do miss being a 2 minute walk from the best breakfast bakery in Amsterdam.
A couple of people have asked me if we would return to the US to have the baby. Not only would that be incredibly expensive (with Dutch insurance we will likely pay less than 1,000Euros) but it’s also unnecessary as the health care system is great and I would most likely have the baby by myself since Sam wouldn’t be able to take off work for months at a time. However, there are some differences with having a baby in The Netherlands. Let’s call it foreign.
Many women have home births. In fact, after people clap and give you three congratulatory kisses, they ask if you will give birth in the hospital or at home. Now, I’ve heard varied statistics from 30% to “A LOT of women choose to give birth at home.” Some women might feel pressure to emulate the Dutch women who tend to forgo pain killers and enjoy the serenity of their own home. But I have no illusions of the type of person I will be during child birth. I don’t want to be worried about cleaning up after that event. Although, the dutch government does send all pregnant women a package in the mail which includes gloves and some sort of lift for your low rise ikea bed. The conclusion is that the medical community places the decision with the mother (unless she is high risk) and there is ample support from midwives at your home and hospital. If there are signs of distress during labor they will whisk you away to the hospital as well. Although, responses have been vague on how women are ‘whisked’ away from a 4th floor old Amsterdam house with impossible stairs.
I decisively picked my hospital and made my first appointment. I was given lots of information about what to expect and then the doctor asked my age. She chuckled, said that 30 was very, very young and while they would monitor me every step I would be a low risk situation. Wouldn’t my mother be surprised! I was young for having my first baby and now in the minority. The midwife explained that after delivery I would have 4 hours to recover and would then check out. Ummmmm….what?! “But how am I supposed to get home?” Her blank stare told me this was the first time she heard this question. And in retrospect she probably thought “the same way you got her silly woman.” She suggested public transport or a taxi. That poor, poor taxi driver. I would not be surprised if dutch women strap their babies to their chest and cycle from their beds. Maybe this is why people choose a home birth.