Monday, July 18, 2011

mishaps, midwives, and kraamzorgs, oh my . . .

There are a lot of great things about living in the NL, and some not-so-great. As I mentioned before, stores keep odd hours, which makes it difficult to accomplish errands at convenient times. You probably remember that we have a dead car battery -- thank goodness we bought Keith's bike this weekend! -- so Keith spent the better part of the morning trying to figure out where to buy one. In the states there would be a half dozen places within a stone's throw where we could buy a battery at any time, day or night. Not so much here . . .

Stores were closed on Sunday, so no luck yesterday. One auto shop opened at 11 am today, but they only had 4 batteries and didn't think they had the right one for him; the Honda dealership wasn't sure if they had the right battery but could probably order it (mind you, we have an Acura, which is a European Honda); and then there's a place about 20 minutes away (driving, longer to bike there) that may can help out. REALLY?! I realize that there are a lot of bikes in this country, but I promise people drive cars here too! Poor Keith was so frustrated, and finally was able to find a place that could have a battery he needed after 3:00 pm today. He already went to get it and brought it home strapped to his bike! Unfortunately, that one didn't work, so he is going to jump his car in the morning and take it the dealership to have them look at it and (hopefully!) fix it!

ON TOP OF THAT, we had a midwife appointment at 1:40 this afternoon, so no car meant public transportation for the Coffeys. Didn't seem like a huge deal because I've ridden the bus here before, and there's this great website that will help you figure out the quickest route from one point to another and tell you times, buses, etc. to get you there on time. So we ate lunch and headed to the bus stop which was about a 10 minute walk from the house to catch Bus #1 . . . which would have been fine had we grabbed the bus on the right side of the street. BUT we were across the street from the right stop so ended up going the opposite direction we needed to. Fast forward to a bus switch, missing the right stop (on the right bus at this point), and we are back at Central Station awaiting yet another bus to take us to our destination. We ended up missing our appointment by 20 minutes and had to reschedule for tomorrow. : (

Oh yes, and we had yet ANOTHER appointment this afternoon for a "kraamzorg" to come visit our home. Let me stop here and explain a few things about how the birthing process works here in the NL :

  • 30% of births are done at home, with only 70% in hospitals (the highest at-home birth rate in the world . . . in the US it's about 1%)
  • When you begin to go into labor, you call your midwife who comes to your home to check your progression
  • If you opted for a hospital birth, she will call the local hospitals to find which one has an available bed for you (lucky for us, the closest hospital should have plenty of space, unless there are dozens of women in the Woensel area who happen to go into labor at the same time as me).
  • You stay at your home until you are far enough along to go to a hospital
  • At the hospital, you give birth with your midwife, and doctors are only called in if there's something wrong
  • Pain medication is available, but most women don't use it
  • As long as everything is ok with you and the baby (and you did not require surgery), you go home hours after giving birth (if you have the baby at night, you stay until the next morning)
This is where the "kraamzorg" comes in . . . a kraamzorg is a nurse who visits your home in the days after the birth. She will come over for 3-6 hours a day for the first 8 days to help with nursing, napping, medical care of you and the baby, and (I'm not kidding here) housework. So for the first 8 days, a certified kraamzorg will come every morning and spend her shift with us, showing me things like bathing, lactation, etc. and can also do laundry, cleaning, cooking, or whatever chores I need done. I'm sure I have some very envious friends at the moment! 

So a kraamzorg came today to give us information, tell us some things we will need for after-care of the baby, and answer any questions we had. She was very nice, but her English wasn't the best, which left me feeling a little overwhelmed. That's why I have Keith -- as soon as she left he said he would scan in the resources and documents she left with us so that we could translate them. Best. Husband. Ever.

Whew! Busy day! Since Keith has to do some work tonight I will spend my evening working on that project for Liam's room -- wish me luck!



  1. Kraamzorg sounds like a mother to me! Glad you will have someone there to help you.

  2. Good luck Jessi! Despite what the Dutch think, pain medication during childbirth is not evil. I've delivered ladies with and without, and believe me it makes for a much happier mommy! I'm so excited for you, can't wait to see little Liam's face!

  3. Hi Jessica!! I just spent the past half hour reading your blogs. It has been a busy summer so I have just had the chance to catch up.. Just know that everything you are feeling is totally normal! This is the most amazing experience even though at times it's rough! You look amazing! I can't wait to see pictures of Liam! I am still amazed at Keith and his biking skills carrying all that stuff. I'd be in a body cast trying to ride a bike with all that stuff hanging on. I'm sending love, hugs and prayer your way. Miss you... Jackie