Six weeks after giving birth to my now 15 month-old daughter Eliza, I’m at the doctor’s for a routine check-up and find myself speechless.
I’d just been offered a prescription for birth control pills. I wondered if the doctor could really see (and smell) me – greasy haired, eau de baby puke, sleep starved, and most memorably, with a leaking boob. Maybe she hadn’t noticed me walking into the practice like I’d just dismounted a horse as one of my twelve child birth stitches hadn’t yet healed.
Shaking head wearily, I told her birth control wasn’t necessary. I didn’t mention I thought it highly unlikely I’d be getting jiggy again. Ever.
But what a difference a year makes! Not only do I find that getting back in the saddle isn’t that bad after all but that I’m 15 weeks pregnant and Living In America.
So hello! I’m Sally, a freelance journalist, and together with husband N and wee Eliza, we’ve decamped to Long Island, NY – a few thousand miles from home in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh.
We left the UK for N’s job in February this year and after months of navigating my way through a new language – highlights including ‘kitty corner’, ‘weiner dogs’ and ‘collared greens’ - I’m now getting my head round ‘ob-gyn’s’ and ‘transvag ultrasounds’.
And about those transvag ultrasounds (would that be pronounced ‘vage’ or ‘vag’ anyway?), that was quite a probing introduction to the prenatal system in the US. As Brits, we mothers-to-be keep our knickers firmly on when it comes to early pregnancy check-ups. In fact, unless you’ve pregnancy complications or go overdue later on and need a cervical sweep for induction purposes, the undies only really come off when you’re in labour and by then, let’s face it, you don’t really give a monkey’s who sees your all and sundry.
So from expecting a congratulatory handshake at the ob-gyn’s and a quick chat on avoiding hotdogs and hair permanents, I went to legs akimbo with a paper towel dress hiding my modesty. I’d like to say it was all forgotten with that first glimpse of our growing baby but I’d be lying. It’s a little hard to concentrate when it seems a doctor’s conducting an orchestra with an overly large baton in your nether regions.
Thankfully, the transvag days are behind us now, the only memories of them being a clutch of sweet little ultrasound pictures - which brings me to how different things are being pregnant with number two.
Eliza’s ultrasound pictures were scanned, emailed, posted, faxed, Facebooked and courier-pigeoned to friends and family across the world. Number two’s pictures are still sandwiched between bills, receipts and coupons on the kitchen table.
Of course, that’s not to say we’re not excited about our ‘peanut’ – we’re thrilled. It’s just that with a busy and exceptionally curious 15 month old in tow, there just isn’t the time to bask in the warm glow cast by those special hallmarks of first time pregnancy.
And as for Eliza, well she’s turned our lives upside down in the best way possible – she is as they say in UK-speak, the ‘bee’s knees’. Without her, the move to the US would’ve been so much harder, both with saying farewell to loved ones and settling into our new life. Being her mummy forced me to be strong and soldier on when I would’ve preferred sobbing. Having her has helped open doors to exciting new friendships with other mums and babies. And she’s proved the must-have accessory for unlimited access to all the best Mother Goose library gigs in town.
Having a second baby was important to me for so many reasons, not least of all giving Eliza a little brother or sister. I’m the middle of three kids and we were lucky to be raised overseas and to visit a fair few corners of the world – Africa, Asia, the USA and Australia. But travelling is nothing without the people you share it with – what are memories without the folk who give them colour. That’s what family has been all about for me and if I can give that opportunity to Eliza – and her brother or sister to be – I’ll be a happy mum.
So welcome to my blog – and to my Adventures in Growing an American Baby. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you and hope you’ll be able to offer a helping hand when I stagger into uncharted US vocabulary territory.