Friday, November 30, 2012

Old Dutch Traditions

While the rest of the expat blogs are going on about whether or not Zwarte Piet is racist, I'd like to take a moment to explain another, far less controversial Dutch tradition:  the geboortekaart, which Karel is so industriously addressing in this picture.

These are birth announcements, and tradition dictates that they be sent immediately after the baby is born--the time elapsed between the birth anouncement arriving in the mail and the date-stamp of the infant (most of them also include the time of birth, as well) has led me to conclude that the prospective fathers (because no woman is going to be fiddling with geboortekaarten right after she's given birth) must be fiddling with websites such as Poobies and seeing entirely too much pink or light blue (and, for the lucky few, both) in the first few hours after their baby is born.  Which is just as well--it gives the man something to do while Mom and Child are both recovering from the process of being born.

There are several websites available; we used Poobies because it was the only one I could remember of a number of websites advertised in one of those maternity magazines you pick up while you're waiting for the next midwife's appointment.  But Hallmark also has a Dutch site (.nl rather than .com), and there must be a few others as well.  You can customize the text, to a certain extent--names are important, as is the date and time (so that he can be added to the appropriate birthday calenders, of course)--and there is usually a bit of text somewhere floating around about when visitors are welcome.

But because Karel sucks at being Dutch, we've only gotten around to sending them out today, a full week after the Little It became Rijntje.  And, as you might be able to tell, he also failed to conform to the pink/blue scheme--well, actually, that was more my doing, as I loved the idea of the broken egg.  We also did not give him a last name, owing to an international snafu with the gemeente Nijmegen that involves Belgium and the US Consulate (again!).  Suffice it to say that we'll be expecting more than a few telephone calls concerning this horrible breach of tradition and etiquette.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Nothing more to say

Nope.  I guess there really isn't much more to say.

Welcome to the world, Rijntje!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Getting close

Please bear with me for the next few weeks.  Right now, about the only thing on my mind is "OMG I'M HAVING A BABY" and while I'm glad you dear readers find my internal monologues interesting, I'm going to guess that seven days' worth of posts about OMG I'M HAVING A BABY is probably going to get old really fast.  Yes, I'm now in the "any day now" zone.  It's a bit...well, boring, frankly, since I can't quite do as much as I'd like, but I'm not in throes of agony.  Mostly, it's just waiting. And making cookies.  And waiting.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Shoot 'em up!

I have a lot of plans and ideas for how to raise a Little It.  Piano lessons (par for the course when at least one parent is Asian).  Homemade baby food.  Mushroom hunting.  Bilingual.  

I'm quite aware that in a few weeks, after our Little It becomes a real person, that all of my plans and ideas might very well go out the window.  We might never afford a keyboard.  I might never cook another meal for three years, much less puree it into baby food.  But there is one thing that I know for sure that I will do:  get him stuck according to the Dutch schedule for childhood vaccines.  Every single one of them, and all of their alphabet soup-y glory.

Now, I realize that vaccination does not confer 100% protection against nasties like measles and whooping cough.  But some protection against the bugs is better than none, and it's infinitely more preferable than having a child end up handicapped (physically, mentally, or both) because of some perfectly preventable disease.  And, if you do come down with the illness, having some protection usually means a milder course of illness.  You'd have to be one hell of a cold-hearted bastard to confer on your own kid a full-blown case of measles and all its wonderful complications, when a mild one would suffice.  

Vaccinations are good things*.  Innoculations against smallpox have been performed for almost 500 years, and the fact that people risked dying in order not to die of smallpox just goes to show how terrifying the disease could be.  Measles may be a simple rash--until it becomes an encephalitis and you stand a 15% chance of death.  And, having suffered from my own case of whooping cough last year, I can assure you that what made me "merely" miserable for the better part of a month and put me on an inhaler for the better part of five months afterwards would kill an infant, whose breathing apparatus isn't nearly as strong as an adult's. 

I guess I'm just annoyed at all of the au naturel parents out there who still swear that vaccines are dangerous and that enough vitamin C will cure everything.  I totally understand the impulse to eliminate food coloring, preservatives, and sugar from your kids' diets.  I totally understand "purifying" your environment so that they're as healthy as possible.  I totally understand that you want to be the best parents ever.  What I do not understand at all is why any parent would be willing to risk their own child's death in pursuit of a "healthy and pure" life.  It's pathologically, narcisstically, selfish.  It's dumb.  It puts other kids in danger. 

As for the autism question:  more and more evidence is emerging to suggest that it's a hereditary condition, perhaps one that could be exaggerated by certain environmental factors. The fact that some kids are being diagnosed who would've otherwise been dismissed as "weird" surely accounts for some of the increase.  Suffice it to say that, while 1% of the population may be autistic, 1% of the population is also schizophrenic, but nobody worries about the poor homeless shamblers.  

*Yes, I know there are immunocompromised children who cannot receive some kinds of vaccines, as well as some people who have adverse reactions to everything. They are the ones for whom herd immunity is really important, because their lives depend on it, but sadly, they're also outnumbered by crazy-crunchy types.  To which I say, get your own damn case of whooping cough.