Having a baby is hard. Having a baby abroad can be even harder. I know this only too well from my own experience of having my own baby abroad. So it’s with an open heart I bring you our second guest post by Zoe MM on just that subject…
There are a few reasons we may not be around our families when having a baby – my reason is: I live abroad. In Annapolis, Maryland, U.S.A.
E was born in July 2013 and I was determined that my husband and I would be able to go through the first 2 weeks completely alone, so we could find our feet and get to know her. How arrogant were we?!!!
We didn’t have a CLUE! I didn’t count on a traumatic birth that ended in a ‘don’t-worry-it’s-not-an-emergency-but-we-need-to-get-her-out-now’ caesarean. I shook so hard from the effect of the drugs from my epidural and the morphine from the operation, that I couldn’t move my neck or shoulders. I had fluid on my ears so I couldn’t hear a damn thing and I also didn’t ‘go’ to the bathroom for 2 painful weeks. Yikes. (I don’t know what it is about having a baby that makes you lose ALL dignity. I do know that I’d never have divulged that pre-baby!)
I should’ve known better that I’d need my mum, dad and sister around. I was a grown woman of 33 yet I cried, feeling lonely and helpless. Did I really need to stick a thermometer up E’s bum? Was her poo supposed to be that colour and that plentiful?! WHEN COULD I HAVE A GLASS OF WINE?!!!!! Muuuuuuum!!!!!!!! Hellllllllp!
Whilst the care I received in hospital was second to none, the follow-up was non-existent. There was no medical check-up on me, despite me having had a major operation.
I have a wonderful, supportive husband who was there round the clock. But I still needed The Olds. I didn’t want them to come until September because the flights were £200 more each. Mum said she and Dad would’ve chartered their own plane or grown their own wings and she wouldn’t’ have cared about the cost. But they respected my wishes and I later discovered that they both felt as helpless as I did, all the way back in England.
Luckily, we had some amazing friends who thankfully kept us fed and watered through the blurry haze that was the first fortnight. I can’t emphasise how important an immediate support network was to us. Friends, family and colleagues bent over backwards to make sure we were taken care of and, as a result, two of them are now E’s godparents.
I cannot make up for the distance that is between my family, friends and I (3624.1 miles, to be exact), but we have Skype and FaceTime and that just about sets the balance. The Olds and I talk twice a week and I message them and my sister daily via Viber. I send pictures and videos of E to them, which they love.
I feel that Social Media has helped bridge gaps in relationships. For example, whilst texting is often seen as impersonal, it has lead to a stronger relationship between my sister and I and we now also talk far more frequently than before.
Whilst I’ve been incredibly lonely at times, I’m getting on with it just as anyone does because I have a fantastic support network here.
I know The Olds, my sister and my friends are always there for me, something that distance has never diminished – rather, it has intensified. I also know how much it pains them being away from us and not being able to have a cuddle. I know this because it pains me too.
But I look at how we all have our problems, how tired we ALL always are, yet how wonderful life is! And I think to myself that I’m still pretty bloody lucky, after all.
By Zoe MM