After conquering my fear of driving I showed childbirth who’s boss. In my head I did. In reality, I took all the drugs and don’t remember much about the process, just the doctor reprimanding my husband for teasing me with the gas. Our hospital file reads; Father – memorable.
When you have a baby at Castlemaine Health, you graze on organic food prepared by a real chef in your own room with a spectacular view of the town. It’s like staying at a 5 star resort but relatives bring you elaborately wrapped nappy cakes. I wasn’t allowed to give birth in Castlemaine because according to my file I was a ‘geriatric mother’. I went to Bendigo Health, which is better equipped for Things That Can Go Wrong when you are over thirty-five. The staff were amazing but I had a view of concrete and I had to share a room with a woman who named her baby after a brand of sunglasses.
If you are thinking of moving here to start a family and you’d like a room with a view during labour, you might have to lie about your age. This involves doctoring a lot of paperwork which is a little bit illegal but apparently worth it. When I first ventured out with my baby and my oversized pram, other women would approach me and ask, “Did you have her in Castlemaine?” When I said no they would look at me with such pity that I started to lie; “Yes. I had her in Castlemaine. What a view. I took photos.”
Naturally, I joined a mothers group so I could terrorise café staff as part of a gang. I ordered babycinos as soon as I found out I was pregnant because I’m an arsehole. The other mothers in my group organised through Maternal Health were all lovely but I only connected with one, and that’s because I already knew her. We fell pregnant within a week of each other and even though we had only spoken once before, I decided we would be best friends. Forever. Martini Gumboots down the road had also moved here from Brunswick and had recently given birth so I made friends with her too. She introduced me to the only woman she clicked with in her group and a young mother she met at the markets and we formed a little posse. We clung to each other like the uncool kids at school, desperate that no one else would want to hang out with us.
Without this group of women I would be very sad and very alone. I bought a house 1000kms away from my mother and over 3000kms away from my mother-in-law, so I have no support network here. I rely on these women to get me out of the house and out of my head. I am very lucky to have found other mums who can hold a conversation about something other than motherhood, and who have similar interests to me, like passing judgement on other mothers. Although, since begging to be let into sleep school I am no longer qualified to pass judgement.
I have learnt that when you move to a new town, especially a small one, it’s important to find your people and make the biggest effort ever to socialise on a regular basis. I bump into some of the other women from Maternal Health occasionally and they have formed their own little groups. A few of them have organised to plant trees for their babies on Mount Alexander. They asked me if I’d like to help but I can’t because I’m lazy. I prefer Rhyme Time and the pub.