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Advice and learnings from a first time NYC Mum

By: Salina Gatto | Published: February, 2023

There is never the “right time” to have a baby. Your life changes no matter what and I was one of those women who didn’t want to change their life. I, without a doubt, wanted a family but I wanted to still do things for myself and not really worry about taking care of a small human. But my husband wanted kids and told me, “Salina you said “in 5 years”, 10 years ago!” That being said, since I had been diagnosed with a lot of period struggles, the ovulation strips came out  and I thought this is great, it will take ages! We didn’t have a typical waiting time like most people with potential infertility struggles because my husband was adopted so we always had it in our head, with my potential fertility struggles and his background, that adoption could be something we looked at and were really relaxed about the whole thing. However, it worked on the first try… I called my husband in from mowing the lawn to tell him I was pregnant. I was shocked that it was a positive result but also in utter disbelief that it was happening as I was diagnosed with PCOS, Endometriosis and Fibroids and had struggled with my periods from the age of 15.

Having a baby in America vs. having a bay on the NHS is wildly different and there are pros and cons to each but with myself being American, I longed for the care to be a bit better here in the UK. It’s not just your own health you’re speaking about but your baby’s too. I had missed blood test results, put under consultant care not knowing why and was told I needed to have a C-section, over the phone, without it being explained properly. I had wonderful midwives at Frimley hospital and doctors that asked me how I was doing postpartum, which I felt a rarity when your baby is born, everything is about them and you’re a bit forgotten about. I have anxiety but weirdly it calmed down in my pregnancy. After having Hugo, I was so worried that if something happened to myself or my husband, what would happen to Hugo? My family lives in America and Dave’s parents are older – what would happen?! Not something a new mum should even be thinking about so I spoke to my GP and he told me it was normal and that If I wanted to be referred for help that I could be. Except there wasn’t a system in the UK in which the GP’s could refer you unless you went private and that wasn’t an option for me at the time so I took up doing more yoga and meditation which definitely helped. As well as talking to your friends who are already unintentionally your therapists whether they like it or not 🙂

When you live in a different country to your family and friends, it is hard but multiply that by at least 1000 when you have a baby. I went home for the first time in April 2021 when Hugo was 4 months old and spent a lovely few weeks introducing him to my family and closest friends but when it was time to come home, it hit me like a tone of bricks. I could not stop sobbing in the airport and the levels of guilt of me taking my parents grandson away from them, I couldn’t shake it off. I was in a rut for a few months which is usually just a week or two and I could not get rid of it. Combine this with starting work where all my friends still had months off ( I’m a freelance designer and art director so didn’t get a maternity pay), a nanny starting and doing things completely different to you which is okay but hard and weaning! Trifecta of a mental breakdown!

It of course passed but then came the scrutiny about going back to work “too early” even though I had to as I was a freelancer (don’t work don’t get the moola)! But one thing that helped me through this all is MOVEMENT. Moving my body and getting outside was a true gift. It helped me through the scrutiny, hard days at work, hard nights with Hugo and beyond. All the things that are hard that happen are only temporary and they go away especially when I see Hugo playing with our two dogs, playing contently at his play kitchen or cuddling Dave when reading a book before bed. All the little things are worth motherhood, I promise.

Advice for new mums & mums who live abroad

  1. Leave the guilt where it is! Don’t let it play games with you. Remember what you are doing it best for you and your family and child. The distance makes the heart grow fonder, firm believer! Plan trips, focus your mind on those exciting things, it makes the time pass gently.
  2. Listen to YOURSELF and the needs of your child. Not your family that had kids 30 years ago, friends who don’t have kids and your NCT friends. Whatever you do for your baby will be enough. Of course people will generate good advice but if it’s not you, that’s completely ok 🙂
  3. It’s okay whenever you want to go back to work. Your timeline and what you need to do for you and your family is no one’s business.
  4. Still date/ make time for your partner and you to have alone baby free time. You both have to do a lot of hard things together (waking up and having sleepless nights, changing a lot of poop, entertaining a teething baby, giving up some of your social time and or hobbies) so make sure you can both still love each other, it makes it all easier.
  5. Treasure the time you have with them and know all the hard things will pass 🙂


Best Wishes,

Salina Gatto



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