One week before Neram Niminde’s second baby’s due date, her husband, Julien, came home from work with news about a potential job transfer to Panama City, Panama. Niminde, who grew up in the lowlands of Northern Germany, studied in Paris, met said husband in Brussels and was at the time living with her family of soon-to-be four in Amsterdam, responded in a way that only someone with her brave and adventurous spirit could: “Go for it!”
“Three weeks later, the deal was done, and it was official: We would be moving to the other side of the world,” she reminisces.
Fortunately, before they moved Niminde got to give birth in the Netherlands one more
time. (Her son, Thiago, was born there three years prior.) “It’s a wonderful maternity
system that focuses not only on pregnancy and birth but also takes care of women during one of their most vulnerable stages the postpartum phase,” she explains. “Once the baby is born, every woman and baby are entitled to eight days of care by a maternity nurse who will come visit them at their home. The maternity nurse will look after the mother and the baby, as well as help with cooking and small household chores.”
With an impressive list of past residences, not to mention their own diverse heritages (her husband is French-Italian, she is German-Chadian), the family draws from a variety of influences when it comes to raising their children. But their diversity has also encouraged them to not be too confined to any one tradition and instead find their own way. “We manage to detach a little from our backgrounds and make space for creating our own parenting style. Raising children while speaking different languages at home is already complex enough,” she says with a wink.
Shortly after her daughter, Mizue, was born, Niminde and her crew bid farewell to Amsterdam and began settling into life nestled between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Although she misses the seasons (Panama has just two: one with rain and one without), she’s already keen on several attributes of the new-to-her culture. “Panama City is filled with playgrounds, and a lot of restaurants have dedicated children spaces that allow kids to play and have a fun time,” notes Niminde. “A sense for family, respect toward the parents and especially the mother—Mother’s Day is a public holiday here—seem to be deeply anchored in the culture.”
In addition to acclimating to life in a new country, Niminde has also been adjusting to life with two little ones. “All of our friends told us that it would be a big change with lots of work, which made sense to us,” she says. “But moments in which I nursed my newborn baby while my toddler was jumping on me to get his attention? That’s when I realized how challenging the whole thing is.”
About three months in, Niminde eased both transitions a bit by hiring someone to support her around the house. Initially Niminde was surprised by how many Panamanians had nannies or maids (a luxury that wasn’t often affordable in the Netherlands), but she’s grown to love the extra help. “I call her our pearl, as she is very important to us. Her work is so valuable.”
Plus, the spare hands have freed up some time for the mom to work from home for a local foundation while also studying to become a doula. “During my two pregnancies I got really hooked on the whole pregnancy and birth thing, and my passion for this field didn’t stop once my babies were born,” shares Niminde. “I am super excited.”
Meet Neram Niminde.
Communications specialist and blogger
Home: Panama City
Guilty pleasures: Wine, gum and champagne
Languages spoken: German, French, English, Dutch, Spanish
Lesson learned: When it comes to small children, everything is just a phase.