So I’m now 27 weeks along and feeling just fine. It’s certainly been an interesting ride so far. Baby’s head is sitting firmly in my pelvis (not a pleasant feeling on the bladder) and feet and hands are moving almost constantly. Which is good, it’s what’s meant to be happening apparently. Despite being overweight, I’m healthy, blood pressure is normal, baby’s heart rate is normal and I feel good. Being pregnant hasn’t been hard yet, but I suspect as I venture into this third trimester I’ll start to feel a bit heavy.
I’m having the baby at home, not in a hospital, which has been my wish from before I even wanted to be pregnant (or had someone to get me pregnant!) and I’m really excited about it all. At first I was a bit apprehensive about giving birth in our loungeroom, as we live in a tiny one bedroom flat under a big mansion, so it’s not like I can dedicate a room as the birthing room, and baby won’t have his or her own room (not that it’s needed anyway early on). We’d talked about moving out to somewhere with two bedrooms before baby arrived, and I thought this was the plan until a couple of months ago my husband mentioned casually how he’d been telling people I was having the baby in our lounge in our current flat. I was surprised to hear this! Turns out he’d worked it all out in his own head but had forgotten to mention it to me. He said he thought it made sense – we live in one of the best suburbs in Sydney, right up on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It’s so beautiful that tourists come here from everywhere just to walk around across the road from our house, and it’s the perfect place – calm, natural, quiet, awe-inspiring – to bring a baby into the world and for him or her to spend the first few months of life. He commented yesterday that the lounge is such a peaceful room, not too bright but not too dark, large enough to fit a big pool in, wooden floors to help deal with any, erm, spills, and just a generally serene place, perfect for the arrival of our first baby. I soon realised that he was right and that we didn’t need to move.
And that brings me to the nesting part of this post. I still can’t get used to Sydney as my home. I don’t want to, the truth be told. I don’t want to be a part of this place. It’s like it bores into my soul, or strips something out of me every time I drive through the city. Just being in Sydney often makes me feel like my life is at an end! I feel hopeless here. We’ve made some lovely friends, good people, whose company I enjoy; but at some level it feels a bit like we’re trying too hard. It’s like Jerry Seinfeld says, you get to a point in your life where you have your friends, and you don’t need or want any more; you’ve only got a certain number of ‘slots’ to fill and those are all filled. I guess I’m also unique in this sense because I don’t ‘need’ friends as such, or at least I don’t have to socialise to feel complete. Socialising for me is an effort. Don’t get me wrong, I usually enjoy it once I’m doing it, but sometimes I just want me time, alone time. My husband is the opposite, and although he loves doing his own thing or just spending time with me, he really needs lots of people around him and lots of stuff happening constantly. He’s an extrovert and I’m an introvert, in the simplest sense.
I’m really over complaining about Sydney; I don’t like it, end of story, and I will never feel at home here. I want to move to Melbourne. At least the city has no negative affiliations for me, I can start fresh there, and I do have some good friends there who I’d like to see more often. More than anything, it’s about starting fresh and settling down properly, instead of this forced ‘plonking’ I’ve done in Sydney. I’m only here because husband wanted to come here, and I figured it wasn’t fair of me to make him move to a city that he, at the time, hated; he’s coming to live on the other side of the world with me, so I should at least give him the choice of city. Oh how I wish I hadn’t relented!
I’ll never forget that moment I chose my Sydney fate. We’d had a few drinks, more than a few really, having come from an annual rugby club dinner at the Houses of Parliament (London), and we were partying the night away at the after party which was on one of those permanently moored boats along the Embankment – Tattersall Castle? Or was it Queen Mary or whatever that other one is called…? I can’t remember. It was somewhere close to midnight, and we happened to coordinate our air (read: cigarette) breaks up on the deck outside. I wore a cheap, black cocktail dress I’d bought off eBay for 30 pounds and I was hot and sweaty from dancing downstairs in the nightclub.
“Okay. Let’s go to Melbourne then.” He looked at me with the most forlorn look on his face. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and asked him to repeat it, which he did. My reaction wasn’t what he or I expected; it was delayed, and not because I was utterly overjoyed at the prospect of moving to a city I’d wanted to live in for a good ten years. I couldn’t handle allowing him to make that sacrifice for me, to move to a city that, four years prior, he’d experienced as cold, unfriendly, and generally boring, when he knew Sydney a little, and had found it so friendly, warm, sunny, full of fun and beaches and pubs and his favourite rugby. I finally hugged him and said “thank you”. But I couldn’t feel happy; I felt deflated, like it was a bit of an anti-climax. And he was clearly miserable.
We went back downstairs and I told a friend from Melbourne that the decision had been made; needless to say she was very happy, as was her Kiwi boyfriend who was going to be moving down around the same time as us and knew no one in the city.
I really wish I’d ignored my man’s misery and ploughed ahead with the plan of Melbourne; but how would we have booked a wedding venue when neither of us really knew the city? How could we have moved there any way? We’d have had to organise every aspect of our wedding in the four months between arriving in January and getting married in April, and that’s ignoring the fact we’d need to find a place to live and get jobs. Could it have been done? I can’t answer that, because we never attempted it. Maybe there’s a parallel universe somewhere with a version of me living in Melbourne, buying a house there, decorating a room for this baby, planting vegies in the garden, working as a freelance editor for some awesome publishing house… Or maybe that other version of me is just as miserable as this one, knowing that Australia is the wrong place to be. Coming home has made me question why we ever did it, why we left London. I know it was because I wanted to bring my children up and settle down somewhere more family-friendly, slower-paced, with better weather and more social freedom. But that idealistic picture I had of Australia is slowly becoming eroded, as I realise more and more just how behind we are here, and how maybe being here doesn’t suit me as I thought. Maybe that realisation I had at 18 that I was actually Australian and not European is being turned on its head, and once again I struggle with my cultural and social identity. Time will tell…