Moving to Sydney at 34 weeks pregnant with our little Cassie must have seemed to everyone else as completely crazy. It wasn’t without its comments from people confirming so. I wondered what it would be like to have a baby in a ‘foreign’ country. I was used to amazing prenatal care from the NHS and wondered if I would feel deflated from the medical support I would receive, or if it would make me feel as reassured as the care I received in Northern Ireland.
Being from the UK and living in Australia, we have reciprocal health care. Most things are covered by the NHS and we are well looked after.
In Sydney I attended maternity clinics, VBAC clinics, I saw two consultants and every midwife made me feel so relaxed and ‘at home’ here. I was encouraged that all my wants and needs for my birth plan with Cassie would be facilitated. But of course, it wouldn’t be like me to make a plan and for it not to work out, eh?
After a laborious (no pun intended) induction, Cassie arrived by emergency section, she screamed her lungs up and we were so thankful to have a healthy little redhead (yes, another!!).
Breastfeeding is heavily encouraged in Australia, the pressure is intense here, but unlike home (which I found in my own experience) there is a great amount of support in place if you decide to breastfeed. I saw a lactation consultant at the hospital, the morning after I got home a lactation consultant came to visit, along with a midwife, I attended breastfeeding clinics where I got a one to one with a lactation consultant/midwife for a whole hour (free of charge). I was made to feel happy, confident and empowered- and not under pressure. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, I’ve had my hang ups on breastfeeding, so I was happy that this journey (however long it may be) with breastfeeding Cassie looked very optimistic.
The healthcare and support I received when having Cassie in Australia was flawless (for me), but the one thing that stood out more than anything, was how quiet my front door was when I got home. How little my blue hospital curtain twitched, behind it revealing exciting family and loved ones. Unlike at home, when I had Bonnie and Isla, I had a large welcoming of visitors daily for the first few months, I enjoyed it, they were able to handle my babies and let me sit arms free. But when the curtain twitched in the hospital, it tended to be a midwife, doctor, Paddy or my sister (whose visits were both limited as they had the twins to look after too).
Our good friends Mike and Tori came for a visit (clutching champagne might I add), and for me that meant the world as I sat in a hospital bed alone on the other side of the world, as I watched other mums’ family members leisurely come and go. They were so busy with entertaining their guests, and their baby, that there wasn’t much time to befriend the sad looking Irish girl at visiting hours. I needed a few familiar faces and a giggle, and they arrived just in time, and continue to be a great support system for me and a doting surrogate auntie and uncle for my girls.
I only let the lack of visitors and family bother me one evening out of all three that I spent there, I took this as an opportunity to have completely unspoiled and uninterrupted time with my beautiful little Cassie. Ok, so my family and friends may not get to meet her until her 12th birthday (let’s hope not), but she is here, she is mine, and she will be shared when it’s possible.
Returning home with Cassie was chaos, the twins turned two a few weeks after, and with that, came tantrums and a whole level of ‘sassiness’ that I didn’t know existed. Finally, I think we have all got on top of things, adjusted to the crazy changes, and Cassie has just slotted into our lives.
Having three under three away from home is the toughest gig I have done yet, having a new baby in a new country is overwhelming no matter how great the healthcare. But I remind myself that these are the choices we have made, and thankfully, through all the chaos we have found our own feet. We function as our own little family without influences from anyone or anything else. We are the only physically present role models our girls have, and each day they become so much more funny and intelligent, thus confirming that we made a good decision, and we must be doing something right.
Or at least I hope so…