Limbo – and crazy French birth hand-outs

I used to think that I thrived on living in the unknown. That uncertainty was exciting. Life is an adventure! Close your eyes and jump!

I’m about ready to review that line of thought.

We still don’t know where we’ll be living in the near future. I don’t know for sure where I’ll be giving birth in August – Morocco or France. We’re in France now, but H is heading back to work in Morocco tomorrow and I might follow shortly if things don’t work out here, admin-wise. My aim over the next few weeks is to ensure that I get health cover here, so I can safely have my baby. My “case” is a tricky one, in that I don’t fit into any of the slots. I work for a British company, I live in Morocco, I want to give birth in France. C’est compliqué.

Why do I want to give birth in France? I actually don’t mind where I give birth; it has more to do with H being fed up of working in Morocco, and me shuddering at spending a 9-month-pregnant, boiling-hot, cockroach-infested*, month of August in Morocco – alone,  all my friends there having temporarily emigrated “back home” for the summer.

So here we are in limbo land, unsure of anything and everything, incapable of making plans beyond next week, trying not to think too hard about anything (not very difficult when you have a case of double baby brain).

The thing is, France wants you to have babies here. France loves babies so much, they will pay you to have them. Not only do they make sure you don’t have to dish out one centime in medical care (ALL HEALTH CARE 100% FREE AFTER THE 6TH MONTH! GUARANTEED!), they then GIVE you money, on top of all the reimbursing, to make sure you can buy burp cloths and a cot. That’s something like 923€, handed over when you hit the 7-month mark of pregnancy. Then, once baby arrives (for free), they give you 150-180€ per month, for 3 years, towards nappies and formula (so, if you’re a breastfeeding, cloth-diapering mama comme moi, it’s pretty much pocket money). And THEN, on top of all that, from bub #2 onwards, you get child benefit. This, if I’ve understood correctly, is regardless of whether you work or not**. I definitely wasn’t expecting all that. I wasn’t sure about giving birth in France, but if they’re going to pay me to do it, I’ll definitely take that into consideration***.

This turned into a long post, so here are 2 photos of cake to reward you for all the reading:

Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl

Carrot Cake Deliciousness

Carrot Cake Deliciousness Eaten on the Terrace

 

* I’m not squeamish, specially not about bugs, but cockroaches have a way of squicking me out. Definitely not keen on the idea of my toddler crawling around where they crawl around.

** I’m approximately 80% sure of this information. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m suffering from a bit of the baby brain so some of this might be slightly off, or completely erroneous. Check all info for yourself and do not believe everything I say.

*** As a point of comparison, in Morocco I got 3000dh reimbursed, of the total cost of 8000dh for a delivery + 2 nights in the clinic. I was really happy with that! Cheap birthing! Until I found out that France pays you to have babies. Vive la France.

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Missing Morocco

I’m slowly starting to accept the fact that we’ll be leaving Morocco shortly to go back to France. I might even be managing to get excited about it from time to time – family close by? yes please! – but in my head I’m constantly listing all the things I’m going to miss.

The fruit n veg – the fresh, in-season, dirt cheap produce has become such a staple in our lives here that it is going to be very tough going back to European markets. Even though it’s better in the south of France than further north in Europe, the difference will still hit us hard. A few weeks ago we were getting deliciously tasty strawberries for 8 dirhams a kilo. That’s 0,71€ or £0.58 or 98 cents of a US dollar. Dirt cheap, I tell you.

Souk

  Souk

Fridge

Fridge

The love Moroccans have for babies. Seriously, wherever I go, everybody coos and smiles at Zaz. Male, female, old, young, makes no difference. When you’re walking along with the push chair and a bunch of tough dudes go all melty-eyed at your 10-month-old, that’s kind of cool. When you’re packing your groceries at the store and the woman behind the till picks up your fussing baby to kiss and cuddle her, that’s awesome.

The gorgeous weather. That doesn’t need much explaining.

The great friends I have here. Not only have I met some amazing and inspiring women here, I’ve felt for the first time a widespread and mutual understanding of what life is when it’s made up of cross-culture marriages, living far from family, and never feeling quite like you belong anywhere – so you belong everywhere. I love it!

Living a 5-minute walk from the beach, being able to hire a cleaning lady for a fraction of European prices, cheap cheap rent, our tiny duplex house, having neighbour kids who all run up to kiss and play with Zaz as soon as we step outside, the friendly sisterhood feeling that exists between women here, hammams, haloua, food in general, afternoons spent chilling with the gangsta mammas and their babes, the medina, getting furniture made, the parking gardiens, driving in Casa (Rabat’s too tame to be fun), the wonderful colourful flowers all year round, having friends and family come to visit, and so much more.

One month to go before my flight back, and I’ll be packing in as much of all this as I possibly can, every day until departure day.

Zaz and the neighbours

Zaz and the neighbours

Sh*t expats in Morocco say

You know the Youtube videos called “Sh*t uni students say”, “Sh*t girlfriends say”, “Sh*t Italian moms say”? We didn’t make a video but here’s the list we compiled of random stuff you might hear from the lips of expats in Morocco. Originally posted in our Facebook group, English Speaking Gangsta Hot Mammas of Rabat and its Environs, I thought it was too good to be left lost and unread in cyberspace. My thanks goes out to contributors Sara, Feriba, Jessica, Becky and Asal.

Disclaimer #1: these are all very much tongue in cheek, a self-parody to be read with humour. Maybe it’s a “had to be there” kind of story, but if you’ve ever lived abroad you can probably relate to some of these! And if not, these give a (cynical) insight on the funnier sides of life as an expat in Morocco.
Disclaimer #2: sorry about the bad language. It’s the Gangsta Mammas’ fault.

Shit expats in Morocco say:
“Where can I get brownie mix?”
“Where can I get tampons?”
“Where can I get cranberry juice for my UTI?”
“Ever since we got the Morocco Mall, living in Casa is just like living in Dubai.”
“I still haven’t seen any camels.”
“After trying many different kinds of margarine, I’m still wondering: is there any butter in Morocco that tastes a bit like ‘our European’ butter?”
“I am SHOCKED by the cows on the roadside. Someone should report it.”
“Costa is coming to Morocco!!!!!!”
“Ikea is coming to Morocco!!!!!!”
“M&S is coming to Morocco!!!!!!”
“I can’t believe how people drive here.”
“How can I use a fake IP to stream NBC?”
“Do the kids have school next week?”
“Sorry I can’t make it to lunch today. The kids’ school is closed apparently.”
“Is tomorrow a bank holiday or is it Tuesday? When do we find out?”
“Oh have you tried the salad at Piccolos? It’s amazing…”
“Don’t try the salad at Piccolos. It’s horrible now.”
“You should go, it’s great. They serve wine there.”
“I heard there’s a clinic where the nurses don’t take bakshish.”
“When your friend comes to visit you, can they bring me some chocolate chips and coconut oil?”
“Could ask your cousin to bring me a pregnancy’s worth of folic acid and a large tub of Sudocrem please?”
“is this organic? Orrrrganicccc?! Whats organic in Arabic?”
“And then that asshole tried to cut me in line.”
“Do you know where I could find kale?”
“Is there ANY bacon in this country?”
“I got in a fight today in Marjane.”
“I got in a fight today at the gas station.”
“I got in a fight today at Labelvie.”
“I got in a fight last week at the mall.”
“Oh, you don’t know about the ‘pork lady’? You have to go to her, she makes living here more bearable.”
“I have to make a wine run to Spain before Ramadan!!! I only have three days before? ***MUST NOT PANIC***!!!!”
“I’ll just boil the kettle for some tea.” “WAIT! I have to unplug all the radiators first.”
“I’ll just make some toast.” “WAIT! I have to turn the washing machine off first.”
“Shit! There’s no toilet paper… Shit shit! I don’t have any in my purse either. What do I have to use… Receipt? No, too rough… Oh well, what article of clothing can I get away with losing?… Sock it is!”
“You can make it yourself!! If you can’t you’re obviously not up for this lifestyle and should move back to the States.” (trail mix, good pizza, dunkin’ donuts, brownies, maple syrup, corn syrup, golden syrup, moby wraps, tampons, canned pumpkin pie mix, puff pastry, pie crusts)
“Oh, wait, you don’t have access to the Embassy store? I’ll get you whatever you want, just let me know!” (*never see this person again, ever*)