The blog has taken a backseat for a few weeks. As a 32-week pregnant expat, I’ve been busy doing a few ‘lasts’ before the baby comes. It’s all becoming very real …
Image: Flickr / Pawel Loj
“I’ll be away this weekend, we’re making our last trip back to the UK before the baby comes.”
I knew I’d utter this sentence at some point. I just didn’t realise how quickly it would come around. As expats in Amsterdam, divided from our home nation by the sea, the time for last visits to family and friends was always going to come a lot sooner for us than for those within a short drive of their nearest and dearest.
Technically, at 32-ish weeks pregnant, I don’t need to stop travelling yet. Most airlines will take you up to 36 weeks. But, frankly, we fly a lot. As I have now reached a belly mass that requires me to widen my airplane seat belt, instead of the usual pulling in, it’s not that comfortable. So, it’s a consciously-made decision to start the great relax early. Or at least, stay within the country.
“Probably see you at Christmas when we’ll do a big road trip.”
It’s mid July and we’re already putting plans in place for a long festive tour with our new girl. Who obviously hasn’t been born yet.
There’s something hateful about saying goodbye to people when you have no indication of when you might see them again. This usually means we’re making plans massively in advance. Sometimes I feel like everything from early September (due date) onwards is a big foggy cloud. Gone are the clear, regular time markers in our diary – we have visitors this weekend, we’re on holiday / back to the UK that weekend – and for once our agendas are completely empty.
The future ‘plan’ is:
√ Have baby.
√ See how we’re coping.
√ Resume normal (?) life at unspecified point when we realise we’re coping ok.
Visitor planning has a new tricky dimension when you live in a different country.
If we were driving distance from family and friends I guess post-baby visitations would work in the regular way. Family first, possibly even popping in to see you in hospital, then friends when you’re ready to have them round for a nice cup of tea and cake.
When people have to fly to see you, it’s neither reasonable or kind to ask them to come over for an hour then go away again. Usually, we put up our guests in our spare room for a whole weekend. Family often for longer. But who would want to sleep adjacent to a newborn baby? And what sort of hosts will we realistically be for a while? Naturally, we want our parents to come over as soon as possible to meet their new grand-daughter. But how do we balance learning how to be parents and a little family unit with bonding as part of the bigger family – which is so important to both of us?
Hence: the big foggy cloud.
The ‘lasts’ make things real
When people repeatedly include “next time we see you will be with the baby” as part of their farewell, you come to realise that you are, in fact, having a baby. Not just a pregnancy.
Thankfully, this hasn’t sent us into a tailspain of fear and panic. A bit nervous? Certainly. Incredibly excited? Definitely.
Having spent every single day of 2014 baking this baby, there’s nothing we want more now than to meet her – safe, healthy and ours.
Any other expat parents out there – how did you manage / are planning to manage visitors? Or for that matter, those of you with family and friends just around the corner? And what was your lightbulb moment that you were actually having a baby?