Baby J

Welcome Baby Hayden!

On October 5, 2015, Rachel and I welcomed our new son, Hayden William to the world! We couldn’t be more excited and in love with the little guy!

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Our first family photo!

Like all parents, we think our baby is absolutely perfect!  We’ve been showering him with love, and giving him as many snuggles and kisses as possible.  Here are a few pictures from the last couple of days:

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Isn’t he perfect!

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He loves snuggling with his mom.

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And watching football with his dad!

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Everyone loves picture of babies yawning!

Obviously we are going to continue blogging, but we might not be able to post as often as we used to.

 

 

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Doctoring in Kuwait

This summer when we were home, we had lots of questions about our life in Kuwait, and Mitch addressed answering quite a few of them back here in this post. One question that came up quite a bit while we were home was, “what is the medical care like in Kuwait?”   I thought I would take a few minutes to dig a bit deeper into that topic and discuss what my doctoring experience has been like through my pregnancy here in Kuwait.

Kuwait has a socialized medical program, meaning that all citizens and residents of Kuwait have health insurance coverage at the government run hospitals.  These hospitals leave quite a bit to be desired in terms of facilities.  The hospitals are a bit older, the waits are long, and the doctors seem completely swamped with patients.  The government hospitals make American hospitals seem like a vacation at a Sandals Resort.

Our school however also provides us with private health insurance, meaning that we can go to the government hospitals, but we are also covered to go to private hospitals.  Thus, we decided to attend the Royale Hayat to complete my pre-natal care and the delivery of our baby. The Royale Hayat  is the complete opposite of any government hospital.  The Royale Hayat is truly a luxury hospital like nothing I have ever seen!

When we walk into the front door of the hospital lobby, there is always a woman who welcomes us with calm music that she is playing on either a harp or a flute.  There is always at least 6 bell boys by the entrance opening the car doors of patients, as the valet drivers whisk away the car to the parking ramp.  There are always a few more standing in the reception area waiting to carry any bags for us, as another woman stands next to the elevator ready to push the elevator button for us.  The Royale Hayat is more luxurious than any hotel I have ever walked into and truly seems nothing like a hospital.  The facilities and customer service are simply spectacular!

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Main Lobby of the hospital.

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Bell Boy carts just waiting for the day when we show up with our luggage.

Not only are the facilities great but our doctor is great as well.  We chose a doctor based on some very glowing recommendations from friends who had given birth at the Royale Hayat.  Our doctor is a Kuwaiti woman who was medically trained in the United States, and is both U.S. and Canadian Board Certified.  She is thorough, efficient, and doesn’t sugar coat anything.  She answers all of my questions and quiets my worried first time Mommy brain.  She has earned my trust and I have full confidence that she is going to do everything in her power to help me have the delivery experience that I am hoping for.

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Even the ambulances are luxurious, a Mercedes!

We did do some doctoring when we were home this summer, and I noticed a few distinct differences in doctoring in Kuwait vs doctoring in Minnesota:

  •  In Kuwait we have an ultrasound at every appointment we walk into.  We became very used to seeing our little guy on a regular basis! The doctor measures the baby’s head, checks in on his organs, monitors his heartbeat, and takes a good, long, hard look at our little one.  When we went to doctor appointments in the U.S. the doctor measured my belly with a tape measure, and listened to his heart beat.  Needless to say, it felt quite a bit less exciting to go to our American appointments without an ultrasound each time!
  • In Kuwait, it is quite uncommon to see Dad’s going to doctor appointments with the Mom’s to be.  Often times Mitch and I are sitting in the waiting room where he is the only father present, with a dozen pregnant women sitting around waiting for the doctor.  I have to make a special request at each appointment for Mitch to be allowed to come back into the exam room with me.  In the U.S.  we saw numerous Dad’s at the appointments.
  • In Kuwait our doctor is a conservative, covered, Muslim woman.  She almost always speaks exclusively to me.  She does not engage in conversation with Mitch unless it is completely necessary.  If he has a question, I am kind of like the translator between him and the doctor.  In our experiences, it is quite rare for a Muslim person to engage in conversation with someone of the opposite sex, unless they are a member of their family or it’s necessary for doing business.  At our doctor’s appointments in the U.S. the doctor got Mitch very involved during the appointment.  She would call him over to the exam table and have him feel the position that the baby was in, and even taught him a few things he can do to help relieve any back pain I would experience.
  • In Kuwait, we pay nothing for our medical coverage or medications.  In the U.S. we had to pay for everything, our international health insurance plan only covers  emergency care when we are back in the United States, however; even if I was still living and working in the U.S.  I would have had a co-pay at each visit, plus be paying 20% out of pocket to have a baby.

Woah…if you have made it this far in this lengthly post pat yourself on the back.  If you still have questions about our doctoring experience, we also received these questions last summer:

Are you scared to have a baby in Kuwait? 

Ummm, yes!  But not for the reason you are thinking.  I am completely confident in having our child in Kuwait.  I trust our doctor and all of the other medical personnel, but having a baby when I have never done this before is scary, and I would be scared if I was giving birth in the United States, Bangledesh, Noway, Kenya, Japan or Kuwait.

Was your pregnancy planned?

This was quite a personal question that we received more times than I felt comfortable with, but I will answer it.  Mitch and I have always known we wanted to be parents.  We did however feel like we had to arrive in Kuwait and see what the medical care was like prior to making the decision that we were going to try and have a baby.  Once we got to Kuwait, we realized that I would have significantly better maternity leave here in Kuwait, than I would in the U.S. When we realized that the medical care is fantastic, we knew it was the perfect time to start our family. So yes, it was a planned pregnancy.

You are so brave! Aren’t you scared your baby is going to die because you are having him in the Middle East?

Seriously, who asks this question of a pregnant lady???  I sure hope not!   Also, I would like to point out that Jesus was born in the Middle East and he turned out to be a pretty decent guy!  😉

Only a couple of weeks left until we get to lay our hands on our little guy for the first time.  We are beyond excited and happy that our medical experience during this pregnancy has been so wonderful!

FAQ’s of the Summer

When we were back in the United States this summer, we had a great time hanging out with friends and family!  We were able to reconnect with a lot of people and do a lot of catching up.  People were excited to hear about our experiences in Kuwait and to learn more about our lifestyle overseas.  Interestingly, most people asked many of the same questions.  Thus, I decided to compile a list of what I’m calling, “FAQ’s of  the Summer!”

Is Kuwait safe?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes!  Kuwait is a very safe country, and I can honestly say that I have never felt unsafe at any time since we have been here.  The people here are fabulous, kind, genuine, and sincere.  We’ve met some incredible people who have been so welcoming to us.  Before we moved to Kuwait last year, I made a promise to Rachel.  I told her that if either of us ever felt unsafe, we would immediately board a plane, and leave the country.  I reassured her that we are always only one flight away from leaving.

Are you going to have Baby J in Kuwait?

Yes, we are having the baby in Kuwait!  Believe it or not, nearly 350,000 babies are born every day, all over the world, and only a small fraction of them are born in the United States.  Babies are born in the jungles of South America, in the deserts of Africa, and the 5 star luxury hospital we go to in Kuwait.  Our doctor is fabulous, the hospital is excellent, and the care we receive there is top notch. Neither of us have any reservations about having our baby here.

Is Baby J going to be an American even though he is going to be born in Kuwait?

Yes, he will be an American and will have an American passport.  The United States is the ONLY country in the world, that gives birthright citizenship. (Meaning that if you are born in the U.S. you automatically become a citizen).  Baby J is just going to have a cool birth certificate in life that is called a “Birth Abroad Certificate” indicating that he was born abroad, but still has citizenship in the United States.

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When are you going to move back to the United States?

Right now we have no plans on returning to the United States.  We are currently in the second year of our two year contract in Kuwait.  At the end of the year we can decide to resign another contract here, move to another country, or return to America.

What is your favorite country that you guys have traveled to last year?

Mitch: For me, it was definitely the Maldives! It was such a beautiful and magical place with the best beaches I’ve ever seen!  The white sand beaches and the crystal clear water were awesome, and it was such a relaxing place. I highly recommend it!

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Rachel: Sri Lanka, I loved the option of being at the beach or in the jungle in such close proximity, and learning more about the people who survived the Tsunami 10 years ago was completely humbling.

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Where are you guys going to travel to this year?

So far, we only have two trips planned.  For our Holiday Break over Christmas & New Year’s, we are heading to Thailand!  We have a nice long winter break so we are looking forward to spending some time at the beaches.  My family is also planning on going to Thailand, so it will be fun to meet up with them and spend time together over the holidays.

The other trip that we have planned this year is to Oman.  We have a friend who has been living there for about 7 years, so we are excited to go visit him and his family, as well as see the beautiful countryside that Oman has to offer.  From what we hear, outdoor enthusiast’s dream location with all of the beautiful mountains and beaches.

We also have a week off for Spring Break, however we haven’t decided yet where we want to go.

 

This is a brief recap of some of the common questions we received over the summer.  Perhaps some of our readers also had similar questions, and if so, hopefully this provides a bit of insight for you.

 

We’re Baaaaaaaack!

Greetings Everyone!

After a nice long and relaxing summer, Rachel and I have made it back to Kuwait for another school year!  We arrived in Kuwait about a week ago, and have been busy trying to get all settled in.  We’ve been working every day to prep for the upcoming school year, getting settled into our new apartment, fighting jet lag, and anxiously awaiting the arrival for our new baby!

Rachel has been feeling great, and is currently 35 weeks pregnant.  Our due date is on October 10th (my birthday!!!) but we know that the baby could realistically come at any moment.  We’ve had a couple of doctor visits since we have been back, and both Baby J and mom are doing awesome. We can’t wait to meet the little fella and to share the news with everyone soon!

Neither of us have blogged in nearly 3 months!  So we apologize to everyone who kept checking our blog for updates, and were disappointed to see the “dumb turtle post” again!  We spent our summer back in the United States visiting with friends and family.  We had intentions to post once in awhile about what were up to over the summer, however things got busy and it slowly slipped our mind.

It was great seeing people over the summer and hearing all of the comments like, “we love your blog!”  It truly makes it all worth it when we receive such kind compliments.  Without a doubt, “Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour” posts were the overwhelming favorites! So I’m excited to announce that our first Happy Hour together will be next Monday, September 14th.  Stay tuned for some good ones!

Coming to Kuwait was so much easier this time than last year, for a couple of reasons:

1. We were so excited to see all of our friends we’ve met in Kuwait, who we missed dearly over the summer.

2. We knew that coming back to Kuwait meant it was getting much closer to baby time (just about 5 weeks to go before our little guy arrives).

3. We knew what to expect and what we were getting ourselves into.  The fear of the unknown was completely gone and we were trilled to return to our home away from home.

Our jet lag has pretty much settled down and we are ready to get back to our regularly scheduled blogging.  Not only has blogging being a great way to keep our families and friends in the loop about what is going on in our lives but it has also turned into a journal for us and a way for us to look back and remember things that we would have already forgotten about.  Last year we were able to churn out about 3 posts a week, but with a new person entering our family, we are not sure how that will affect our blogging schedule. So we hope you have low expectations for us as we get used to our new roles in life as Mom and Dad!

Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – May 25

Happy Monday Tuesday Everyone!

For the second week in a row, we are meeting for our Monday Happy Hour on a Tuesday . . . . . my apologies!  I’m sure all of you are anxiously waiting to see what kind of blah blah blah Mitch is going to come up with this week (*end of sarcasm)

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  • The weather is definitely warming up here in Kuwait!  The highs each day have been 110+ degrees with the lows overnight in the upper 80s.  Next week they are forecasting a high of 118 degrees!!!  It is kind of crazy though how quickly you can adapt to it.  When we arrived in Kuwait last August we instantly experienced a 40 degree change in temperature overnight, from when we left Minnesota to arriving here.  It was miserable!  At least now, we can ease into the heat from spring into summer.  The other day I realized that I have officially become acclimated to the weather here in Kuwait.  I was standing outside waiting for a ride about 5pm, and was thinking to myself, “wow, it’s really nice out right now.”  I was standing outside for about 10 minutes or so, just playing on my phone, when I stumbled across the weather and realized that it was 104 degrees out!!  We keep joking with friends that we are going to have to buy a winter parka when we get back to Minnesota for the summer, because the weather is going to be around 70-80 degrees.
  • A buddy and I have officially started a new Saturday morning tradition . . . . watching the Minnesota Twins game!  We wake up early, get the game fired up online, and enjoy our morning coffee while watching some baseball.  He is from Minnesota too, so he’s just as big of a fan as I am.  I love watching sporting events here online.  Even though a majority of the games we watch aren’t live, it’s easy to avoid the scores to see who wins.  Then you can just watch it online whenever you want!
  • Last week Rachel and I crossed a BIG item off our ‘To Do List’ . . . . . we ordered a car seat and stroller for Baby J!  We have been researching the different brands a lot over the last couple of months and finally decided on which ones we wanted.  Unfortunately though, they don’t sell either of the brands we wanted here!  We got super lucky though, and were able to get them shipped here to Kuwait!  We ordered a total of 4 pieces (stroller, car seat, adapter, and an accessory) but had to order each item from a different website.  Certain websites wouldn’t ship certain items overseas to us.  So we had to kind of manipulate the internet a bit to get all of the stuff shipped.  Now we just have to keep our fingers crossed that it all arrives!
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  • Last weekend I crossed another item of my ‘To Do List’ by backing up all over our photos onto an external hard drive.  A lot of the photos were candid shots that we had taken on our iPhones from the last year or so.  I stumbled across the pic from above and my mouth started watering!  It was a photo I took last summer, the night before we left for Kuwait, for a little “going away party” we had with some friends and family.  Only a couple more weeks, until I can enjoy an ice cold beer on the lakes of Minnesota!

The Countdown:

  • 9 more days of school with the kids
  • 16 days until we arrive in Portugal
  • 22 days until we arrive in Minnesota

Cheers everyone!

Baby J a Boy or Girl?

Disclaimer:  This post contains inappropriate words like penis, vagina, sex, crotch, and genitalia.  It also has a few funny pictures that some people might think are offensive!  If you are my grandma, someone who is easily offended, or someone who doesn’t enjoy humor, please don’t read this post.  You will hate it and it will probably ruin your day!

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As soon as we found out that Rachel was pregnant, and that we were having a baby, we knew that we wanted to find out the sex.  Neither of us are big fans of surprises, and we are both planful people.  We anxiously waited for the baby to develop it’s genitalia so we could find out!

At our doctor’s appointment last weekend, we knew we had a good chance to see if there was anything growing between the legs, depending if the baby would cooperate.  About a minute into the ultrasound the doctor said, “whoop, there it is!”  We were so excited that the wait was over!

We decided to have a little Gender Reveal Party to find out the sex.  We invited a few friends over to share the excitement with us and to have some ice cream sundaes.  To reveal the gender, we ordered this huge balloon and had it stuffed with the appropriate colored confetti (blue for boy or pink for girl).

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Before we popped the balloon though, we decided to have a vote to see what our friends thought it was going to be.  Rather than doing something lame like writing it on a piece of paper, we decided to have some fun with it.  We decided that in order to cast your vote you had to make a headband, and draw the genitalia of the sex that you thought it was going to be.  It was a ton of fun (even though it was a bit inappropriate) to see what people came up with.  Here are a couple of pics of some of the artwork that people were proudly displaying:

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Allison wanted to draw a vagina but got scared, so she drew a penis because it was a lot simpler to do.  Jooles also voted for a girl, but opted against the crotch region and went top shelf.

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Our buddy Ethan went all out on his drawings. A for effort bud!

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Adam should win an award for his artwork, and perhaps another award for the amount of confidence he is displaying while wearing a penis on his forehead!

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Once the votes were cast and the ice cream was gone, it was time for the big reveal!  We each grabbed a steak knife from the kitchen and began the countdown:

3 . . . . .

2 . . . . .

1 . . . . .

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POP!!!!!!!!!

 

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Yes, ladies and gentleman . . . . . . . . . Baby J is a BOY!!!!!!!

Now we can comfortably refer to our child with the proper pronouns like: him, his, he, and himself.  It really didn’t matter to us if we were having a boy or girl, as long as they are healthy.  We feel a sense of relief since finding out the sex, because now we can eliminate half of the names in the world, as we begin to narrow our search for the ‘perfect’ name.

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A couple of weeks ago I heard a funny quote from a friend of ours:  “If you have a baby boy, you only have to worry about one penis.  However, if you have a baby girl you have to worry about all of the penises in the whole wide world.”

Now we are just continuing to keep our fingers crossed for a healthy baby and a smooth pregnancy for Rachel!

Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – April 27

Happy Monday Everyone!

Lately, Mondays mean two things: blogging the weekly Happy Hour post and LAUNDRY!  For the third Monday in a row, I’ve been unpacking a suitcase and doing laundry from a vacation.  I was just looking at a calendar . . . . . and realized a few fun facts regarding my April 2015 calendar:

  • As of April 25th, I’ve only worked 7 days this month!
  • Of the 18 days I’ve had off in April, I’ve only been here in Kuwait for 2 of them!
  • There are 4 weekends in April, and I haven’t been home for any of them!
  • During the month of April, I’ve slept at 6 different hotels!

I’ve been pretty fortunate to do so much traveling this month!  One of the main reasons we decided to move overseas was to enjoy the ease of visiting and exploring so many new places.

  • This weekend I took a trip with some friends to Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.  If you recall, Rachel and I spent a few days there last October for my birthday. (you can refresh your memory by reading HERE)  I went this weekend to umpire at a high school baseball/softball tournament.  Rachel was going to accompany me again this weekend, however she was super, super, I mean SUPER busy growing a human!  We figured it was best for her to just chill out, relax, and take care of Baby J.  At the tournament this weekend, there were schools from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Oman, and India.  I called a total of 15 games in 3 days!  It was super hot outside, but a great tournament and a fun experience to do some more umpiring at another international tournament!
  • I’m sure most of you saw the picture that Rachel posted last week regarding our exciting news . . . . we’re having a baby!  We couldn’t possibly be more excited!  It has been hard to keep it a secret for so long, however we now feel comfortable enough to share the news with all of our family, friends, and the people who read our blog.  It is difficult to keep your excitement tucked inside for so long!  When the doctor confirmed the pregnancy a couple of months ago, I just wanted to run to the highest point around and scream at the top of my lungs “I’M GOING TO BE A DAD!”  However with pregnancies, we know there comes risks.  So we just wanted to wait a while to make sure that we had a healthy lil’ person growing inside.
  • I’m a huge sports fan, and thankfully because of the internet, I’m able to keep up with all of my favorite teams from back home.  I’m super pumped that the Minnesota Wild have advanced to the next round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs!  Their next opponent is the Chicago Blackhawks, who just happen to be the favorite team of a few of my close friends here in Kuwait.  I have a feeling that that there is going to be a lot of trash talking, bantering, and sleepless nights as we stay awake throughout the night to watch the games live online!  Go Wild!
  • We have officially started our countdown until summer . . . . . . we only have 46 more days until we fly back home for the summer!  It is still incredibly weird how fast this year has gone by.  It is crazy to think that May 1st is this weekend, when it seems like we just moved here.  We are getting super excited to see all of our friends and family this summer, and can’t wait to spend some time at the lake!

That about wraps it up for this week folks.  Luckily I don’t have the shakes this week, because I’ve been able to drink for 16 of the last 25 days!! (hahaha)  Until next time . . . . . . .