Max’s journey

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Max's journey

I saw a picture like this before I fell pregnant and thought it was pretty cool, so decided to recreate it when my time came! It’s surprising how many times I needed to remind myself to take these pictures – I’d have been useless doing one of those where you take a picture of your growing bump every day!!

A visit from home…

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Being this far away from home was always going to be tough when we had a child. We both knew it, but had made the decision to move to Australia for many reasons – one of them being the fantastic, outdoorsy upbringing children could enjoy here. We never imagined how it would actually feel to bring a child into the world and have no family here to enjoy it with us. So knowing that my Mum, sister, nephew and niece were visiting just a couple of weeks after Max was born was a really exciting prospect!

We enjoyed six weeks of memory-making, and I cannot begin to explain the joy I felt being able to see the little ones doting on their newborn cousin, and witnessing my Mum and sister holding him and sharing their baby advice – it was exactly what I needed. I’ll always treasure the memory of finding crabs with George, my two year old nephew, in the rock pools on Maroubra Beach, and receiving kisses from Daisy after a good few weeks of her being too unsure to kiss me!

It’s easy to believe, as adults, that the distance between us will have a huge effect on the children. However, I think it is a lot harder for the adults. Kids are pretty straightforward. So George and Daisy know that their Aunty Amy and Uncle Grant live in Australia? Ok, cool. They accept it, and get on with their day. We’re the ones who dwell on the special occasions we’re not there for, or the minute details about their lives that we have no idea about. And it’s hard. But I honestly believe that it won’t have an adverse effect on them – we’ll always be their family, and we’ll always make the most of the time we spend with them, however short and sweet. I prefer to think of how this set-up will enhance the children’s lives – the exotic holidays, the fantastic experiences that other children may never get, the stories they will be able to tell about their Aussie/Brit adventures. We all have so much to look forward to!

And who knows how long we’ll be here? It could be five years, ten years, or a lifetime. We’ll never say never. You’ve just got to make the most of the life you have and take each day as it comes!

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life…

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“It’s a boy!” My shattered husband declared as Max entered the world. Then he looked at me, smiling, expectant. I think I managed a half-smile whilst desperately trying to snatch a glimpse of the baby. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t anything. I didn’t care if it was a boy, girl, monkey, goose! I was completely broken, and felt as though I was in another stratosphere. I just wanted to know that he was actually here, and safe.

Max wasn’t breathing when he was born, so he spent the first few hours of his life being closely monitored in the special care nursery. Three long hours later, at 3:30am, he was wheeled into my room, carefully wrapped in a starchy hospital blanket. A midwife placed him in my arms. And that’s where he stayed.

“Are you still not asleep?” asked the same midwife as she did her rounds. She reminded me of the woman from Murder She Wrote.

“I just can’t stop looking at him.” I answered, bewildered.

She gave a knowing smile. “Enjoy” she said, before drawing the curtain and leaving us in our little bubble.

The truth was, as exhausted as I was after being awake for three days running, I couldn’t contemplate sleep. I just held Max, and looked at him, all night. I couldn’t quite believe he was real. That the past few hours had actually happened. That I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I was a Mummy. I had a son. Small, pink, creased and squeaky – this human was mine.

I don’t think anyone can ever prepare you for how you feel after having a baby. I’d read about sudden gushes of love; of instant attachment; of skin-on-skin contact to ensure that immediate bond. I had none of that. I don’t know what I felt, but it was bigger than anything I can coherently describe. I had a little person in my arms – a person who was already himself. I had spent night after night imagining what his face would look like. Once he was here, of course that was what he looked like – how could I have ever imagined anything else?

I’ll never forget that first night. My whole life had changed in a matter of hours, and things would never be the same again. As I lay there in my hospital gown, looking into my baby’s eyes, minutes dissolved into hours and before we knew it, the sun had risen and it was the dawn of a new day.

The Bombshell Baby!

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Let me introduce myself: I’m Amy. I’m from West Yorkshire in England, and living in Sydney, Australia. My husband, Grant, and I emigrated last June after months of tests, evidence, skills assessments and fees, and are fully-fledged Permanent Residents. We had planned the move for a while, had quit our jobs, packed up our house and sent eleven boxes of prized possessions ahead of us, and couldn’t wait to start our new life. However, two weeks before take-off, we were hit by an incredible and terrifying bombshell – we were pregnant!

This was not supposed to happen so quickly! We needed at least six months – okay, a year, to get settled in our new country….but no, Mother Nature had different plans. So, there we were, 35,000ft high, clinging onto a copy of ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’, desperately scanning the contents for ‘How to cope when you move to the other side of the world’ (surprisingly, nothing!) and contemplating the quickest route to the toilets (yes, your bladder goes into overdrive during pregnancy). Luckily, I had no sickness during those first twelve weeks, otherwise that flight could’ve been a whole lot worse! And so we landed in Sydney, our new home, with a couple of suitcases and a belly full of nerves.

The first few weeks of being here are a bit of a blur (kind of like the first few weeks of parenthood – but we’ll come to that later…). We were staying with friends who had kids, which, as it turned out, was a great way to learn many parenting techniques (‘Oh, yes, we’ll do that with ours’) as well as preparing us for the onslaught of sleeplessness (‘She’s three, she can’t be STILL waking up in the night???!!!’). The kindness and generosity of people here overwhelmed us, and soon we were set up in our own house (complete with spare room for visitors and garden for child), filled with donated/acquired furniture and close to the railway station for Grant’s daily commute. After a few interviews and job offers, I decided against permanent employment – I felt too deceptive not telling them about the pregnancy, plus I had my dissertation to write (Oh, did I not mention I was three-quarters through a Masters in Early Years at the time?……Yeah, I don’t do things by halves), so I took casual work, which suited me fine.

As pregnancies go, mine was easy. (Don’t worry pregnancy-sufferers, the hellish birth more than made up for it!) I pined for familiar things, but all in all, I was pretty happy and not too homesick – I’m sure the surge of hormones contributed! A Christmas-New Year visit from our best friends lifted the already-pretty-high spirits (whoever said a hug from your best friend is the best therapy is spot on!), then just a few weeks later, 62 hours from pang to pop, little Max was born!

And this is where the fun really begins…