It takes a village to raise a child, but what if you don’t have a village?
Well, that’s what we’re always told right? But how about if you’re an Expat Mom? Wait… What about if you’re an Expat Mom with a Covid baby?
Damn. You really are on your own.
I think the same goes for most women that there’s this natural instinct which makes you want your closest, maternal figure around you for pregnancy, during birth and the fourth trimester. (Actually probably the whole way through motherhood!)
Being an expat mom
So making the decision to have my baby thousands of miles away from home was a hard decision to make. Even having the most caring and supportive husband, there’s still that part of you that just wants your Mom/Sister/Best friend or whoever that maternal figure might be to you.
But my Mom was flying out to me with my Dad, my big sister was coming over. And my in-laws a few weeks after that. So I was going to be fine, I had them to lean on. There would be people there to look after me at a point in my life where I wasn’t going to have the time or energy to look after myself.
Having my first born during the pandemic
But then boom. I find myself heading towards my due date fast and a pandemic hits. Airports closed. Flights cancelled. The people I needed couldn’t be there for me at such a crucial time in my life.
Figuring out motherhood without the support of my family was tough. No matter how much you read, you can be given all the advice in the world but no one can ever be prepared for the way your life is turned upside down. Not only was I getting use to this new, beautiful baby in my arms but I was changing so rapidly myself. We spent so much time on Zoom calls which was lovely, but so painful. All I wanted was to see my baby girl be cuddled by her Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles and all the people that so desperately longed for her back home.
And I needed a moment, I was absolutely exhausted. I was battling a rough journey of breastfeeding with the longest cluster feeding sessions you could imagine, also with mastitis thrown into the mix a few times. I had this constant worry that if me and/or my husband got ill with Coronavirus then who would be there to take care of my baby? I had insane cabin fever and I could feel my mental health declining. So as much as my family wanted to be able to cuddle my baby, I needed them to cuddle her so I could just take that moment.
Having a baby during Covid has stolen so much from so many of us. We haven’t received the Postpartum care we so desperately need. The Mom guilt has been sky high because we’ve felt our babies have spent so much time stuck indoors, away from the world. Some of us haven’t even had our partners with us for hospital appointments or during labour.
Having to do it without “A village”
We have done it alone. And how have we managed? Because that whole village is inside everyone of us. Because everything your Mother taught you as you grew, you have reflected in your own actions in nurturing your baby. All that love your Sister has shown you has shone out onto your baby, through you. And even during all those exhausted, late night tears, you still have it in you to rock your baby so lovingly just like your Grandmother once did to you.
The positive side of having a baby during pandemic lockdown
Having a lockdown baby has had so many wonderful perks too. Those precious newborn weeks were spent bonding just as a family of 3, treasuring time that we’ll never get back. We fully established breastfeeding which otherwise may have been interrupted too much with visitors or schedules. And I actually got to sleep when the baby slept! Which wasn’t very often mind you! But I didn’t have to worry about the house looking it’s best or making myself presentable. Because who cared?! We didn’t have hundreds of visitors to please.
My little one is 13 months now and life is much easier to manage. She’s more independent, she’s sleeping through the night, Covid restrictions are far less strict and I feel human again! But still with family being so far away, there’s no one to help with baby sitting when you could so do with date night or a couple of hours to just lounge in front of the TV. But as my husband once said to me… the harder the battles, the sweeter the rewards. And he’s totally right.
A message to all expat mothers
We have been lucky enough to introduce our little girl to our family and I’m so thankful for that. I know there’s Expat/Covid Momma’s still waiting on that day. I see you and my love is with you. When that day comes, I promise it will be incredible.
But until then, I am so proud of you Momma’s. We have made history xxx
Read more stories from real moms and know you’re not alone in whatever you went or going through