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Goodbye New Zealand

KIRIN
Kevin Stent
BIG CHANGES: Kiran and her family have moved to the UK.

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My baby was born here, and our little family made this country home. New Zealand, it's been great.

When I came here nearly eight years ago, I planned to stay a year. I didn't even really like Wellington. The wind got me down, the hills made cycling around really hard work. But working in Nelson showed me a different side of the country, and I slowly found myself settling into a more relaxed way of living and of thinking. Evenings and weekends were spent on empty beaches, life was lived outdoors and the people around me were happy.

For the last four years, I have lived and worked in Wellington again. Tony and I bought our villa in Newtown, we got married, we did up the house, and we had baby Milin nearly 13 months ago.

Of course Milin changed everything, but he also changed how I saw New Zealand all over again.

For the best part of a decade, I saw the country from the viewpoint of a young professional. But over this last year, I saw New Zealand through the eyes of a parent. My verdict? I couldn't have asked for a better place to bring up my baby.

From the start, I felt like I was in safe hands. Yes, Wellington does have a shortage of midwives. However, with my pregnancy confirmed around the six week mark, I was able to get in with a midwife who had been recommended to me by friends.

Seeing her same small team throughout my pregnancy was reassuring. New Zealand's system is one that I think works, but it worked for me because I had researched a little about the different midwifes in my area, and knew that the group I was booking in with would fit with my philosophies.

As it turned out, my pregnancy wasn't without its complications, and I ended up under the care of the team at the hospital. Regular scans from 26 weeks and then developing pre-eclampsia later on saw me in and out of Wellington Hospital, but the care I received was exceptional.

Milin's birth also didn't go to plan - we'll leave that for another day - and when we were discharged from hospital a week after he was born, I felt fortunate to have spent a week under the care of doctors, nurses and midwives who always put us first.

Being home, I discovered that in the scary world of parenthood, there were amazing resources on my doorstep to help me along the way. My Plunket nurse was fantastic, and I was soon enjoying weekly Monday morning meet-ups with my PIN group. 

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My antenatal group met regularly, we all lived fairly close to each other and quickly formed friendships because that's what antenatal groups are for, right? Sitting in a room after work, talking about this surreal thing that was about to happen to us all was just the warm up.

When Milin was five weeks old,  I signed up to the Space programme which is designed for new parents and runs over three terms. The course ran at Newtown Playcentre, which was just a short buggy walk from home for me. Milin slept through most of the first term, but I made lots of mummy friends over the tea and biscuits as we shared tips on expressing, soothing colicky babies, and introducing solids.

Wednesday mornings saw Milin and I become regulars at the library for storytime where the best sessions always involved Stu getting out his ukelele. We also dabbled in other activities so Milin got his fair share of music, art, swimming and the like, and I got my fair share of getting out of the house and enjoying some adult company.

We walked lots, finding baby-friendly cafes around our neighbourhood and the CBD, and as Milin got older, we spent plenty of time at Te Papa and checking out the parks, playgrounds and beaches nearby. He found his favourites, and I found where all the good parents' rooms were. We even mastered the art of buggy travel on Wellington's buses - just.

I know our little family's destination, London, will have plenty on offer for the little ones. Of course it will. But I can't help but feel that I've been a little spoilt this year, and Wellington, you made it easy for us. Yet in two more sleeps we move back to London, the city where I was born and still call home.

Wellington, I will miss you. As a resident and as a mother, I will look back on living here (while I fight my way through London's rush hour with the buggy), and I will know I was lucky.

Do you agree? Do you think New Zealand is a great place to bring up a baby, or am I getting nostalgic and forgetting about the reality of life here already?

Follow Kiran Chug and her family's journey on twitter @kiranchug

- Essential Mums

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