Covid? What’s Covid? Oh that awful thing that plagued us for two years and is now… gone? Except it’s not gone… and though we’ve enjoyed a deliciously warm early start to summer here in Austria, it’s not even really trying to hide. Luckily, it has wound itself down so it’s not causing the kind of mayhem it did previously. But it’s still causing plenty of disruptions.
I know that if it hits me everything will be fine. But still, being pregnant I’m being extra careful. Because the numbers, despite the good weather, are a lot higher than they were this time last year. And I just need to get through two or so more weeks. So yeah, I’m still wearing my mask. I’m still social distancing.
The question on everyone’s lips right now is… what are you having… boy or girl? Actually, we don’t know. Apparently we’re among the very few these days who don’t find out. For me, I just don’t really care. I can wait. I don’t mind what colour it wears or even what it wears – I figure that’s onesies for the first little while anyway.
I didn’t need other people to know and I also didn’t want to be one of those people that did the we know but we’re not telling anyone. Possibly because I’d inadvertently say he or she and let the cat out of the bag. In Austria the article for baby is ‘das’ – it. So that’s just easier. Though I do move between the three and confuse people no end.
I tend to rebel against tradition just a little. Maybe I like things easier, or maybe I just like to rebel. I didn’t want a traditional wedding. And I’m not expecting that I’ll live up to the traditional expectations of parenthood – after all – there’s more than one way to skin a… baby?
I’m so glad I live in a country that doesn’t know what a baby shower is. It’s not me. It’s ok for those who want one, but I’m glad there’s no expectation here. There will be no maternity photo-shoot, or baby-shoot for that matter – where it angelically sits in a terracotta pot with a garland of flowers on its grumpy head.
Being pregnant… well to be honest it actually kind of sux.
We think we shouldn’t complain. Because everyone does it, right? Plenty of women go through this. When we’re asked how we are, we’re doing ok – it could be worse. When someone tries to help us we say “Leave me alone, I’m pregnant, not dying.” I think part of the reason for this is that we want to maintain our independence. We want to be ok. We want to be able to do all the things we can normally do. We don’t want to appear weak.
But the thing is, although we are certainly not dying, we are busy. Our bodies are working much harder than they usually do. Everyday tasks can be more difficult, can take longer than normal, and there’s this low level of discomfort all the time, I think no matter how easy your pregnancy is. There’s also this low level fear… what if I do something that compromises the baby, even unknowingly or unwillingly.
Maternity leave is a hotly debated topic the world over. I’m lucky that in Austria this translates to a pretty good deal. In fact, I was told when I first considered moving here that if I wanted to have kids one day, I should definitely stay in Austria.
I can’t go into all the details because to be honest, I don’t know them. Hubby thankfully took on all the research of the myriad of options, taking into account financial considerations, and then set it out for me in an easy to digest format.
Schnaps is one of those things that many people associated with Austria. And Austrians love it. Whether they’re taking it for medicinal purposes, using it as a digestive at the end of the meal or just celebrating, you can expect it to have it offered to you if you’re in the country. Now keep in mind that we are talking Austrian schnaps, the alcohol content of which must be above 40%, so this is not the sweet, sticky butterscotch variety you might know of (they call that liqueur).
When to reveal to the outside world that you’re pregnant is always a hot topic. Before it happened to me, I’d always considered myself pretty pro about telling people I was pregnant early on… my close family and friends, at least. While I understand the reasons not to, in the event a miscarriage, which happens far more than most realise, I don’t think it’s something I could deal with without my besties.
But strangely, when I did finally get pregnant, for a long time I didn’t want to tell anyone.
It’s one of those things we only dream about… flying first class. I’ve flown business before, with a free miles upgrade, but first was something that was probably never going to transpire. Yet when I flew to Australia recently, that’s exactly what happened.
We’d initially planned for business class. My back would not have survived 24 hours of economy, so booking something that allowed a fully reclinable seat was an imperative for me to even consider the journey.
The jump in price from economy to business is monstrous… the jump to first is still hard to swallow but comparatively not as hard. So we figured, with the extra benefits of first, why not take the leap. And if you’re going to do it, why not do it properly? So with some trepidation about my back, but a little spring in my step, I boarded an Emirates A380 for my 24 hours of luxury. Was it worth it, you ask? Well read on!
Before I got pregnant, I’d run through a multitude of scenarios in my mind about how it would make me feel. While I was hoping it would happen, I wasn’t sure what the prominent emotion would be. Would I be suddenly overcome with joy? Would I simply feel relief that it had finally happened? Would I burst into uncontrollable tears lasting days as I grieved the loss of my childfree life?
In the end, I think it was mostly shock. When the two lines came up I just thought to myself, right, that’s done then. It was a Friday so I wasn’t working, but it was a busy one, so I just got on with my day. But I didn’t feel any different. And it didn’t really sink in.
Two years had passed since seeing my friends and family back in Oz… two years since I’d had the searing Aussie sun on my back, since experiencing the feeling of crispy summer-sun-dried grass on the soles of my feet… It’s not an eternity. It’s not impossible to endure. Not when I chose to live so far away.
But it had been a hard two years of lockdowns and back pain and then the joyful but also emotional news of pregnancy. And I yearned with every part of me to get home.
And so eventually, after changing my mind, and changing it back, I did just that.