Living in foreign countries with preemies: a military mom’s guide

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Caring for your premature twins can be hard, and the difficulties can be exacerbated when living in a foreign country. Yet with a few important considerations, it is not only possible, but can also be a positively memorable experience for you and for your little ones.

Research, Research, Research

It is of the utmost importance for you to know before you travel about your new destination. Whether you choose to utilize the resources available to you as a military wife, talk to friends who have been to the country or are already living there or spend time reading information on the Internet, be sure to look up some of this vital information:

  • Vaccinations you and your twins need before you travel
  • Weather conditions so you can know how to pack for you and your little ones. For example, if you are heading to an area with extreme weather, like snow year round, you will not need the new cute sleeveless dresses your mother bought the kids or your silk pajamas.
  • Availability of formula, diapers and baby clothes (especially clothes that are suitable in size for your preemies).
  • Availability of support for you as you care for your children in the absence of your husband.
  • What home-made products you will have access to as a military wife. For example, a store on the base, potential of receiving packages from your country of origin, and so on.

Adjusting to your New Environment

It is easy to feel overwhelmed in your new environment. There are a number of suggestions to get you started right and help you adjust quickly and positively to your new place.

Make friends. It might seem hard at first with other military moms and with the locals. They will not only provide you with much needed support, but they can also be a tremendous resource for information, advice, and tips in your new destination.

Don’t be afraid to explore your new environment. It might seem difficult at first, especially with the children, but it is one of the surest way to expose you to the country and help you adjust. Every foreign county has its unique appeal and advantages. For example, if you are living in a warm coastal country, take advantage of the good weather, put the kids in a stroller and take a relaxing and scenic walk along the beach alone or with a friend.

Security Considerations

Although it might be tempting to follow your natural routine in your new foreign nation, it is of the utmost importance to take you and your children’s safety into consideration. Many countries have a strongly suggested evening curfew, while others have neighborhoods that are not recommended for foreigners, have clothing restrictions, and so on. Be sure to check with a knowledgeable friend or professional or spend time getting to know your environment better before venturing too far out.

Health Care

Another important consideration for your little ones is choosing a pediatrician abroad who you feel comfortable with and who is experienced with preemies. Talk to friends who have babies, especially those who also have preemies, about their pediatricians and choose one as soon as possible. This will prevent you from having to frantically find one in-case of any health issues later. It is also important to be aware of emergency services and locations of places like the nearest hospital, police station, embassy and so on. Having their numbers pre-saved on your phone is also helpful.

Living in a foreign country can be difficult, and doubly so when you have multiple children with you. However, it can also be an amazing experience if you are willing to put some time and thought into it, and if you give yourself the opportunity to learn about the culture surrounding you.

Author Kenny Alvarez is an advisor to military veterans and also writes for militaryeducation.org, a site which explores higher education for military personnel and all the secondary education benefits to veterans and their dependents; for instance check out this information on air force scholarships.

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