I’ve had the pleasure to meet this week’s World Mama, when I was pregnant and we were on vacation on Bonaire. My wife and I immediately felt a connection with Naomi and her mother, Elsmarie. Now, almost two years later I’m being reminded why I felt drawn to Naomi. She is funny, smart en compassionate. When you read her story, you will feel the same about this mama from Bonaire, with her beautiful baby boy. And let’s mention grandma again, because she’s in this story too!
I live in paradise, Bonaire, a small island in the Dutch Caribbean with a population of approximately 19.800 people.
Let me start my story by mentioning that my mom, like most mom’s when they reach “that” age, has been nagging for years that she wanted to become a grandmother. And I always told her “when you retire and you have time” it will happen.
January 26th I found out I was pregnant. January 30th 2016 my mom’s retirement started. That day I handed her a jewelry box with the pregnancy test in side. My mom openend her gift all excited thinking it’s jewelry. When she saw the stick she had no idea what she had in front of her and started investigating her it. She started touching some parts and I told her “I don’t think you want to be touching that”. She looked at me and asked “what is it? “. I told her “you’re going to become a grandma”. Off course we were both in tears. Later she told me that she thought I had given her a memory stick. She had never seen a pregnancy stick in her life. That was so funny.
When I told my mom she was going to become a grandmother, I was 1 month pregnant and not ready yet to inform the world. I soon realized my mom on the other hand could not keep her mouth shut. So I had to specifically inform her to keep a lit on it till I was ready to share the news with the world. A few weeks later I gave her the green light to spread the word. A bomb exploded! In a few day’s time it felt like the whole world knew I was pregnant. People I didn’t even know were congratulating me on the streets.
When my son was born it was even worse. I felt like I was being ignored completely. When people saw me with my baby everyone commented “O my God, that’s Elsmarie’s grandson!”. Like HALLOOOO it’s MY SON! The weirdest encounter was when a complete stranger (I mean I have never seen this person in my life) was staring at my son and me and told me “that baby is the spitting image of his grandmother”. My son looks more like my mother and his father and looks nothing like me. I carried him for 9 months; I’m the one waking up in the middle of the night to feed him. Why am I doing all the work but not seeing any fruit of my labor?
Let me go back to the beginning again.
So like I mentioned before I live on a small island. I have the luxury to benefit from free health care which is amazing. But living on a small island means things are limited. For instance the OBGYN here changes as often as you change underwear. You don’t have a say in who your OBGYN will be. The midwives are here for a longer period of time but we have 4 and I could choose whom my appointments were with but when I’m in labor I didn’t have a choice. It’s whoever is on duty. So I made sure I knew them all so I would not have a stranger shoving there hand up me when the time came. We even had a male midwife (guess he’s a midhusband?) All the midwives were wonderful and I felt comfortable with all of them. The new OBGYN on the other hand didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t really feel comfortable with him. But I didn’t have a choice.
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As I entered my 3 trimester and we started preparing for labor I received the “fun” news that I could not give birth on Bonaire. I had to go to Curacao or Aruba (to make a long story short, I’m on blood thinners and on Bonaire they didn’t have the specialists or equipment in case something went wrong ). So I could choose where I wanted to deliver. I chose Aruba because I have a lot of family and friends there.
I had to spend a month there before I gave birth, so I needed people around me for entertainment. So I had a wonderful pre birth vacation fully covered by my health care! It was pure torture I tell you; my due date was in September, October and September are the hottest time of the year on the islands. I was in a very cold air conditioned hotel room, I had a pool right out side my hotel room and the beach 10ft beyond that. So you can imagine how much I suffered, not 😉 I had the time of my life. Everyone was complaining about the heat except for me.
The OBGYN in Aruba was the same OBGYN that delivered my cousin and the same OBGYN that tied my mom’s tubes, Small Island. I got a C-section because I didn’t dialate and my son wasn’t in the right position. The C-section went without any complications.
On September 21st at 2:28 pm my healthy baby boy Adrianus Jay de Gruijl was born. The love I felt for this guy was unimaginable. The moment I heard his first cries I was consumed with emotions. I was so pissed that I did not get to touch my son until hours later. Everyone els was touching my son and I just got to see him for a second. But I’m making up for it; I can’t stop touching him now. Every chance I get I’m touching, kissing and hugging him. We stayed in Aruba for two weeks before flying back home.
When my son was 1 month old I found out he had inguinal hernia. My lil’ guy needed an operation, but it could not be done on Bonaire. We had to fly to Medellin Colombia for this to be done. Medellin is not the warmest climate and I did not have much warm clothes for him. I had to borrow most of the clothes I took with me. The person I received the clothes from only had pink floral clothes, and mind you she only has a son. My whole trip in Colombia I had to explain why my son looks like Pink Panther. We spent 9 days in Colombia, everything paid by the health care. The operation went fantastic and I retuned home with a healthy baby boy.
So the challenges of having children on a small island are: everyone knows your business. My mom is a very popular person on island. She puts basically everything my son does on Facebook. People I haven’t spoken to in years know my son got an operation. People ask me “how is your son?” I always answer, he’s wonderful and then they ask “how did the operation go? My first thought always is: “how the “bleep” do you know about that?” Then I remember who my mom is.
Life with a newborn on a small island comes with it’s challenges, but I wouldn’t change anything we’ve experienced. He’s only 3 months old and we already have so many memories together; it almost feels like this kid is a year old already.
I love being a mom. I’m a working mom, living on limited sleep with a pretty demanding job. I leave the office exhausted, but the moment I see my son I get a shock of energy and joy. It makes me forget all my exhaustion.
I wouldn’t change anything!