I personally believe the Foreign Service has one of the most amazing Maternity programs EVER. Depending on where you are posted once you become pregnant you have lots and lots of choices a head of you. BIG choices. Do you want to stay in country and have the baby? Do you want to travel to one of the regional medical offices (London and Singapore) and have the baby? Do you want to go home to the states and have the baby? Not only will the State Department to a large part let you choose where you will have your new cutie they will also pay for flights there, and per diem for you and half per diem for young children so that you can all stay together. Don’t get me wrong, if you chose to leave post you will have to do so 8 weeks before your due date and can remain 8 weeks after which means a long time away from your hubby, BUT he is also authorized to use any sick leave he has saved up as paternity leave. In some cases this can mean the entire 16 week time period! That is what our darling friends the Wilson’s decided to do. They are currently posted to Bulgaria and Dasha decided to travel with her three other girls to the regional medical office in London to have her fourth little girl. The embassy was able to secure a temporary duty officer (TDYer) so that her husband Matt could be with her the entire time. When I had Chloe I decided to head home to the US and Chris was able to arrive a few days before Chloe was born and the embassy allowed him to cut his tour a few weeks short to stay for the following month! It was heaven. Not to mention staying in a two bedroom hotel with a pool and breakfast served. Talk about pampered momma! I was thrilled when Dash decided to come to London because it is only a five hour drive from Paris (you read that right, hence our having been three times this year alone). Then even better news arrived when my other fabulous friend Emily announced she would come up for two weeks from Shri Lanka to help with doctors appointments and be with the girls so Matt and Dasha didn’t have to worry about them when she did eventually go into labor (thats how awesome my friends are!). Of course I wanted to go see both these girlfriends but we had just been there for Halloween and had JUST returned from Ireland and was going to Germany the next week…. thats ALOT of travel for anyone let alone with four cuties in toe. But if you know me I am crazy and don’t believe in a down moment so I sent the boys off to school on Friday loaded the girls up in the car and drove to London for a big ‘ole big girls and little girls weekend. I am so glad I did. My friendship cup was feeling a little shallow.
We mainly ate, talked, and walked around oxford street. We did go to the winter wonderland fair, out to lunch with another great foreign service friend Zoe and Emily and I took the girls to see Frozen (even though it very literally cost a small fortune, word to the wise don’t go see movies in London).
On the last day and the day before Dasha’s projected due date we went a little crazy and drove out to Stonehenge.
With out a car it is kind of a pain to get to and neither Dash nor Emily had been. We had a vomiting incident on the way out (poor poor matt got it right in the face, aren’t daddies such heros? He was so calm, I would have been screaming like a banshee) but aside from that we made it safe and sound both there and back with no labor ha!
The girls were fabulous not a single tantrum out of them and even with a 40 minute side track they behaved so well in the car and at Stonehenge.
Do your kids ever take toys out of the house only to promptly decide that YOU should take care of it? Yeah Chloe found the hair brush in the car and had a death grip on it, until they handed her the audio tour, then I “got” to hold it ha!
The girls and I headed back SUPER early Monday morning (partially due to a phone clock that never updated) so that we could be back to be the Mystery reader in Finn’s class. It was a short trip but it was a great one. Sure I didn’t get to hold baby Wilson who was born two days later :( but I got lots of girl talk, laughs and silliness that only comes from a weekend with great friends.