In thinking about starting a family, I always had an image in my head of my husband and me, married for a few years, settled into our lives, living in a cozy house somewhere, preferably with parents or in-laws close by to babysit.
In reality, our idea of family planning turned out to be "let's try not to have a baby during playoffs," which is how it happened that our first baby is due in February, eight weeks before playoffs begin.
Ryan and I always knew we wanted children, but we didn't always agree on when and where. Several years ago, I would have refused to have a baby abroad. I wanted to be settled, and not the kind of settled that I'm used to now, which means living in a new apartment for about six weeks and then being able to call it home. No — I wanted a house in the United States of America, with a room for the baby that we could fill with a crib and a rocking chair and a million stuffed animals.
Slowly though, that image faded, after living abroad for a few years had shaped and changed my own life. Living abroad grows on you and becomes a lifestyle, one I wouldn't change for anything, not even the newest little member of our family.
As it turns out, people have babies all over the world, not just in the great U.S. of A. It's hard to pinpoint the exact turning point, and maybe there wasn't one, but sometime over the past four years, I decided having a baby abroad would not be the worst thing in the world.
When you live abroad, you get used to different ways of life, different cultures and different ideas. And you see there isn't any one right way to do something.
Which is how I ended up in Scotland at the end of August, just entering my second trimester. In Scotland, expectant women aren't seen by an OB/GYN, but by a midwife. I went into this thinking a midwife was a 60-year-old woman with gray hair pulled back in a bun who wore a long skirt and preached the benefits of natural birth.
Silly me, because in Scotland, the midwives wear scrubs and their hair is however they feel like wearing it that day and they explain to you all of your birthing options, from a natural birth to having an epidural to what they typically do in Scotland, which is called "gas and air." That sounds to me like something you get at the dentist, not something strong enough for birthing a human, but I guess I'll find out in February.
Somewhere along the way, I realized it didn't matter if my baby didn't have the perfect crib. It didn't matter that we couldn't paint the nursery yellow or that my girlfriends couldn't throw me a baby shower to give me things like Diaper Genies.
This baby will come into a whole lot of love and a world of adventure, and that's the most important thing, not whether we have the softest and cutest crib sheets.
We've learned so many things from living abroad, but some of my favorites are that you can live with less, that the most important things in life can't be bought and that we have to slow down and take time to appreciate everything around us.
And if that's a lesson we can pass on to our children, I don't mind one bit what their nursery looks like.
Sophie Dingle is a freelance writer, currently making the switch from living in Italy to living in Scotland. While she’ll miss the pasta and wine, she’s looking forward to exploring a new country and trying haggis. Sophie’s husband, Ryan, is a Steamboat Springs native and professional hockey player; you can follow their adventures online at sophiedingle.blogspot.com.