Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Congratulations, Emily!

I just wanted to post to congratulate my good Bloggy (is that a word?!) friend Emily and her husband Frank on their two forthcoming bundles of joy!

I have followed their battle to become parents closely and I know how much pain it's caused them, and how much they have desperately prayed for the blessing they've now been given - double trouble! :)

Enjoy every moment of the pregnancy you two, you deserve it.

Wishing you a healthy and happy nine months,

Flying High x

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The challenge of being an expat new mum

Following on from my last post about my diagnosis of PND, I thought I'd put a little more flesh on the bones about what I've been facing.

I truly thought we'd met most challenges face on and were pretty settled out here by now - it's been over a year and half, after all. However, I really didn't count on the hard reality of becoming a mother half-way across the world from my family and close friends.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I've struggled with breastfeeding. To be honest, struggled is an understatement. For the first few weeks my son refused to feed from me, so I had to pump and supplement with formula around the clock. I had an in-built guilt about using formula (think it's a middle-class British thing!) so was absolutely determined to soldier on regardless. This meant buckets of tears, and I had no support at all from the nurses in the hospital where he was born (because culturally, more Arab mums bottle feed than opt for the breast.) Luckily I found a British midwife who helped me, my husband was a trooper and stood by my decision absolutely, and my Mum came out after a couple of weeks to cheer me on, but quite frankly I feel like I've been to hell and back with it. To this day I worry constantly about whether he's getting enough milk from me, and struggle to find a comfortable position to feed him in. So, breast feeding with no proper support from health visitors, doctors, etc - challenge number one.

Summer in the Gulf is universally felt to be the hardest time of year out here. It's 50c some days and you're basically confined to being indoors until dusk, particularly with a new baby. Add to that the month of Ramadan, which was most of August this year. Ramadan means shops are shut for a large part of the day, and restaurants and cafes closed all day, only opening in the evening (when the baby is in bed, of course..) and you can get cabin fever very easily indeed. Imagine then being a new mum, stuck inside with a baby, with a husband who's away for about 4 days a week on average. Hmmm..... So, that's another challenge to add to the list.

I've also been feeling the distance from my old friends very keenly. Although there are, as I predicted when I pregnant, masses of mums around to be friends with, they're all NEW friends, and as such I don't feel I can open up to them and ask for help when I really need it. I'm still in that "getting to know you" stage with all of them. It's tricky. Hopefully I'll begin to feel more confident over the coming months, and as my son's need for daytime naps reduces (at the moment he's sleeping for at least 3 naps a day, and won't sleep in his pram) I'll be able to get out and about to baby classes and coffee mornings to meet more people and get a regular rhythm to life, because that's something I really feel I've been missing.

The last challenge is, quite simply, being a new mum when your husband is a pilot. I could be living back in the UK and still have this to deal with. I miss him dreadfully when he's away now, much more so than before I became a mum. I miss his help with our son, as he's a brilliant Dad and regularly looks after him while I catch up on sleep. He's the third vital member of our family, and when he's away, things just don't feel right.

Still, I'm beginning to feel a lot more confident when I'm by myself now, so that's a good sign I think. My son and I have a good routine and I'm managing to get chores done and even get some time to myself, something I've really been missing.

It seems ridiculous, doesn't it, that I wanted and ached for my baby so much, and then feel foul of depression once he'd arrived. Trust me, I feel the irony of that more than anyone. I wish wholeheartedly that his first few months of life had been so much easier than they were, but hey, you can't change what's in the past, you can only look forward and make changes in the future, and that's what I intend to do. I love my son and my husband more than anything, and together, we'll get through this.

Friday, 17 September 2010

The one where I admit I have post-natal depression

So, there we are. Five months after the birth, I have finally admitted that my low feelings just haven't gone away. After a conversation with a friend of mine out here who's a GP, I finally decided I needed to get some help.

I came home the other night and looked up the symptoms of post-natal depression.

They are:

•Low mood. Tends to be worse first thing in the morning, but not always.
•Not really enjoying anything. Lack of interest in yourself and your baby.
•Lack of motivation to do anything.
•Often feeling tearful.
•Feeling irritable a lot of the time.
•Feelings of guilt, rejection, or inadequacy.
•Poor concentration (like forgetting or losing things) or being unable to make a decision about things.
•Feeling unable to cope with anything.

I have almost all of them, at least some of the time.

Despite adoring my son, and loving looking after him, it's been a real struggle becoming a Mum, particularly so far from home, away from friends and family. And, of course, being a new mum with a husband who flies long-haul for a living, and is therefore away for three or more days at a time.

I've also missed my career much more than I'd anticipated. The shock of going from career woman to stay-at-home Mum of a new baby has been vastly more than I'd expected.

So, here I am, with a diagnosis. It does feel a relief to have a label for it. I've been started on a course of anti-depressants, and fingers crossed they will start to work soon.

For now, I have some very supportive friends out here, and my husband's being brilliant. As ever, he's my best friend and soulmate, and I couldn't be doing any of this without him.

I thank God for him, and for our beautiful boy. I know that this is only a passing phase, and soon it will be a distant memory. I just need all the strength I can muster to get through this. I'm going to give it my very best shot.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

A tale of two airlines

We've just returned from a wonderful holiday in France. We flew there via the UK as the flight loads to Paris were looking pretty heavy. Doing this meant we got to stay with some friends either side of our trip, which was fantastic, although of course it meant a couple of extra flights, no mean feat with a baby in tow.

We decided to fly with EasyJet from London to France, as they were the cheapest on the day we wanted to fly (not CHEAP, by the way, just the cheapest... It was a popular day to fly!) Our experience with them was so bad, I must say we've made a resolution never to fly with them again if we don't actually *have* to. It was bad from the start - we did online check in but when we got the airport the line for "Fast" bag drop was longer than the normal check-in line - about 40 minutes of waiting! Then when we got to the desk we were told we were 2 kilos over the limit (we only had 20kilos each, and zero allowance for our baby, which is rare amongst airlines). So, we had to pay excess baggage. Fair enough if we were miles over, but come on guys, 2 kilos? (And incidentally, on the way back from France our bags weighed less than 20 kilos, with the same amount of stuff in them. I suspect some miscalibration on those scales. Is it deliberate? Hmmmmmm).

On board, we had the usual mad scrum for seats (I will never understand why not allocating seats saves money.) The seats were uncomfortable, and don't recline at all... Urgh. Then, when we got to France, we discovered that the airport had built a new "low-cost" terminal, which was basically a shed. There were no seats at baggage reclaim, and no toilets either, and we waited 45 minutes for our bags. Brilliant.

Contrast this to our return, which was BA - Club! We had managed to get an industry deal that cost as much as the Easyjet flights, yet this time we had 20 kilos allowance for all three of us (BA gives a full allowance, even to infants), lounge access at the airport, and a lovely comfy seat and champagne and dinner on the flight home. Granted, of course, this was club, but even people travelling BA economy get the same baggage allowance, a snack and drink for free (unlike EasyJet) and get to fly from a proper airport terminal that has things like oh, seats, toilets, that sort of thing...

So, EasyJet, the verdict is - NEVER AGAIN. The sad thing is we've flown EasyJet many times, and had a much better experience, but I just feel that the penny pinching - paying to check in bags, being very tight on baggage allowance, etc , has gone too far. Our days of flying low cost are over.

In my opinion at least, the discomfort and stress is simply not worth it. Particularly with a baby in tow!



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