The First Baby

The FirstThe first baby. The first airport. The very first time I considered flight times with feed times, making sure that ears weren’t blocked, and begging ground staff for bulk heads with basinets. The first time I made my parents stand in an airport and wave goodbye to a grandchild. My father gripped the handles of the soft material basket with an eleven day old baby inside, his arm moving slowly, back and forth, back and forth. Gently gently, he looked down at his first Grandchild and swayed amongst the chaos of the airport around him.

G and I stood at the counter surrounded by our excess baggage. I’d been home for six weeks with the sole purpose of waiting, I shopped for baby necessities to fill the time. My nest was made in a corner, each day I’d return with new trinkets to add: muslin cloths, baby wraps, pram toys and rash creams. “What do you need?” the sales assistant would ask. I’d stare back blankly. What do I need? A manual?  I had no idea how to answer that question.

“I live in Indonesia, I’m not sure what sort of stuff they have there, but if you could point me towards whatever you think I really couldn’t do without.”

Years later I would remember that particular store as I gave away the still in its box bath thermometer.

I’d return to the obstetricians office.

“When does your husband get here?”

“When do you think he should get here?” I was clueless.

As the due date became closer I began to research “How will I know if I’m in labour”.


Too much time to think. And then came the whirlwind. G arrived in town just before the 1st little traveller made her entrance. We all stayed awake for the next 11 days while people came in and out of the hospital, in and out of the house, on and off the phone. They asked questions, so many questions, while we fumbled over mystery hooks and levers trying to fold strollers, feed, and dress the baby. The hands on the clock on the wall seemed to spin by during the day but slow to a standstill at night. And then it was time to go.

We stood amongst the chaos of the airport, I turned to see my father looking down into the basket, gently gently, back and forth. I panicked about when I’d need feed her, memorising the instructions from the obstetrician. “Feed her on ascent and descent, it will protect her ears.” I was sure I’d break her, right off the bat, before we’d even started. What if I broke her?

We said our goodbyes at the gate. Tears, hugs, a stoic shake of hands from a father to his son in law. We wandered into the abyss of International departures, still there but not there, in limbo. I put the basket on my lap, gently gently, looked down at my first with the residue of tears on my cheeks. My first baby, my first girl, our first flight together. The beginning of our story as travellers together.

We were alone for the very first time. Alone, together.

The first baby.

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  • KayaV

    Can I just say she is the most ridiculously cute baby!! My overies just did a back flip.
    That aside, reading your post gave me goosebumps, it could have been written by me. Love the line “The beginning of our story as travellers together”. Just perfect.

    • Kirsty Rice 4kids20suitcases

      She was just like a little cupie doll when she was born, can you remember them? She was so so cute (but I may be a little biased).

      • Ali

        Never having seen a kewpie doll before, I just did a quick google image search. The likeness to your gorgeous baby photo above is uncanny – you’re right about that!

        A very sensitive post Kirsty – could feel the remnant of the tears on your cheeks all those years ago from over here in the alps.

  • Malinda

    This is beautifuuly written. Im lost for words.

    • Kirsty Rice 4kids20suitcases

      Thanks Malinda xxx

  • mary_j_j

    You’ve done it again – a gorgeous piece of writing, and a gorgeous baby.

  • Bronwyn Joy

    Beautiful thoughts, beautifully put.

  • Corinne Rochette

    I never traveled by plane with a new born. But I remember traveling by myself with a 4 weeks old by train and then back by plane 2 days later with his dad. And our first car drive across France from Bordeaux to Besançon (a 10h journey). We would be driving and he would wake up and we’d wonder why, and then looking at the clock, I’d realise it was time to feed him again! He was just 7 month old for my first long haul flight, so I can somewhat relate.
    Our 3rd little traveler was just 2 weeks old on her passport pic, as we needed it to travel from North Germany to France for our Christmas vacation. She was just 4 weeks old when we took the, yet again, 10h trip. Ah, memories!!
    Beautiful post Kristy!

    • Kirsty Rice 4kids20suitcases

      Ahhh yes, the 10hr trip!!! 🙂

  • expatkiwi


    I also did the same with our first baby – we were living in Jakarta and I flew home to NZ to have her. I joined an antenatal group in the nearest town and to this day I think the women in the group all thought my husband was a figment of my imagination – I did antenatal classes alone and then 9 days after she was born I went to my first coffee morning on my own. How to explain to all the other mothers and fathers clucking over their precious first born’s that my husband had already flown back to some foreign country. The looks of disbelief! I flew back to Jakarta with her on my own when she was 6 weeks old – 3 planes, 23 hours in total. I remember the intense feeling of fear as I waved goodbye to my parents and boarded the first plane. I then promptly banged her head on the overhead locker as I took her out of the baby bjorn to get in my seat – helped me get over myself and focus on the task at hand! We arrived exhausted in Jakarta to a night of terrible flooding. The entire city was gridlocked, which is saying something for Jakarta! My husband picked me up from the airport minus the car seat which he’d forgotten to bring. It took over 4 hours to get home and as I sat in the back of the car nursing my wee girl in the this awful traffic – tears pouring down my face – I wondered what on earth I was doing in this crazy country. 3 kids and 3 countries later we are about to move home and I wouldn’t change any of it. Thanks for your writing, it is incredibly perceptive. x

    • Kirsty Rice 4kids20suitcases

      I actually giggled out loud throughout this comment. This is me! This is my life! My parents live in a small town in Sth Australia and I am sure that people believe I’ve made G up. He’s lucky to get there one or two weekends a year whereas the children and I are there for weeks at a time. I recognised everything you wrote, the ante-natal, the traffic, the tears, the fears. Thank you so much for taking the time to write, I read it out loud to G, giggling the whole way through.

      • expatkiwi

        Thanks, I either laugh or cry at all your posts 🙂 Definitely some shared expat experiences, you just capture them so beautifully! xxx

  • Corinne

    We weren’t expats when my first arrived, but this line resonated with me: “I was sure I’d break her, right off the bat, before we’d even started. What if I broke her?”

    I remember, one night, being convinced that I had broken her. I distinctly remembering thinking – I can’t believe it’s only taken two weeks to stuff her up, it must be a world record!

    Beautiful post. xx

  • Sharon Loper

    What a complete angel doll of a baby!! I’m sure the cabin crew wanted to eat her up. Beautiful!

  • Jennifer Ray

    Our first child was born in BAH. Hubby was there for every appt. A little over a month after his birth I flew to the States alone to let all the family meet our boy. I was terrified flying alone! I worried about every thing from bathroom breaks, eating, ears, crying fits because my sweet boy cried a lot at night… sweet angel slept pretty much all the time and four years later is still fantastic on planes. Qatar flight crews were s eager to hold him and help out any war they could. Our daughter was born States side while Hubby was working KSA so he didn’t get to any dr. check-ups with me. I swear all the dr.’s and nurses thought I was a crazy single mom because no one saw Hubby until the c-section morning. We delayed c-section until last possible day 39w6d, just so hubby could make it. The doc came in before delivery and said, nice of you to join us today with a wink and a handshake.

  • Tracie

    Great post! Beautiful baby! I love how you call your kids “1st Traveler” and so on because my four have been travelers since birth too. It’s not how I imagined married life with children, but it’s been such a rich experience that I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My heart broke as you said goodbye to your parents, that’s so real to me.

  • Bronnie – Maid In Australia

    Aww, how beautiful. And isn’t she gorgeous! On my first flight with my first baby, he did a massive poo just as we boarded. One of those ones that leaks up out the back so he had to be changed before we even took off. Luckily I took spare clothes (and nappies) for him, but I forgot to pack spare ones for me!

  • Kohana

    I love your stories. Sometimes it’s like you’re telling my own.

  • Janey . . . in Mersin

    Pregnant and living in Mersin, Turkey I packed up and went home to Sydney (have you seen a Turkish hospital? *shudder*). Six weeks to the day after Daughter was born I packed up and moved back to Turkey until The Turk could get his visa sorted.

    Kids are so adaptable (shame we are not as adaptable lol)