Two weeks ago I realised just how far away from home I really am. Of course I realise this every time I board the plane to return to the UK, a journey lasting sixteen hours, but after the birth of my son it really hit me. I am pleased to say I have a happy, healthy little boy, now a month old, but the first two weeks were difficult following a complicated delivery and an infection which led to me being readmitted to hospital. My husband and I were sleep deprived and worrying about our baby, as well as both being ill, and for the first time since I moved here I really wished we weren’t so far away from home.
In the end everything was fine, I made a good recovery and baby Matthew seemed mostly unaffected by the whole thing. Even better, my mum flew in to the rescue: looking after the three of us following my discharge from hospital and staying long enough for me to recover. It goes to show that you are never too old to need your mum, and I was lucky that she was able and willing to come all this way to help us. Our friends have also been fantastic, bringing us food, support and company when we need it. But the experience made me think about how far away we really are and how, were anything to go wrong – here or at home – we can’t just drive down the road to be with our loved ones. The fact that we had to send off our passports in order to apply for a UK passport for our son – a process that can take months – further highlighted this issue for me. We will all be staying in Brunei for a while, and although this doesn’t bother me too much I do feel more vulnerable for being in a country which isn’t my own without the means to leave. Especially since there are currently huge delays in passport applications, an issue which has recently been highlighted in the media.
Several other things have also made me nostalgic for the UK: the wish for less extreme heat so that Matthew and I can leave the house for a walk or sit outside whenever we feel like it; the constant need for vigilance against mosquitoes; the lack of support and check-ups for babies here (only one check-up following his discharge from hospital). There are of course many upsides – no pressure for me to have to decide whether to go back to work; lots of baby groups and friends who have also recently delivered; my husband’s office being only minutes away should I need him, and the fact he is able to come home for an hour every day for lunch. But I am still surprised how, having hardly been homesick at all up to this point, it has suddenly struck me. I am sure that I would be feeling a bit unsettled wherever in the world I was – having a baby is a life-changing experience and certainly takes some adjusting to. But being far away from home has, for the first time, seemed not to be such a good thing.