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.

1 comment:

  1. hey!! you have a wonderful blog. thanks for sharing your life and experience here. keep it up and never give up. you can do it.




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