Living in the UK has been a very liberating experience that I can’t turn back on

When I was in Ireland I didn’t know where my life was going. I am truly happy in Edinburgh

Mary Turner with Eve, her daughter, in Scotland

Mary Turner with Eve, her daughter, in Scotland

 

Mary Turner is a 34 year-old nurse. From Waterford, she has lived in Edinburgh for six years. She lives there with her Scottish husband, daughter, Eve, and dog, Romeo

Living here in Edinburgh, I feel very privileged to have received both of my doses of the coronavirus vaccine despite being young and on maternity leave. As a nurse I am technically still a frontline worker, even if I am not actively fighting Covid-19 in the health service right now.

Scotland has offered NHS workers a 4 per cent pay rise, and when you are going through a global pandemic that affects every one of us, a fair pay increase feels like quite a treat. I will be going back to work as a nurse in August having had a full year of maternity leave, with three extra months given to me by the NHS for shielding purposes from 28 weeks’ gestation. I have been treated very well throughout all this, and I like to give credit when it is due, so I give sincere thanks to the amazing NHS.

Having the vaccine gives you a confidence that motivates you. Knowing there are endless lists of people waiting to have tests done makes it more important than ever to get stuck in

I am an endoscopy nurse and feel as good as I can about going back to work. Having the vaccine gives you a level of confidence that motivates you. Knowing that there are endless lists of people waiting to have tests done makes it more important than ever to just get stuck in.

When I’m not doing the obvious tasks of mothering or nursing patients, I’m out running with my club, walking miles with the dog, following a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, cooking and baking for pleasure and enjoying takeaway coffees out in the fresh air and at a social distance with pals and new mum friends.

Scotland is a country where people speak the truth whether you’d want to hear it or not, but most of them would give you the shirt off their backs if they could see you needed it. I am truly happy in Edinburgh and have found living in the UK a very liberating experience, one that I don’t think I could turn back on. What was initially supposed to be a temporary move for training purposes has become my whole life, literally. When I was in Ireland I didn’t know where my life was going, I was plagued by confusion and I wasn’t sure that everything would be okay for me.

Luckily, my best years are happening now.

Eve, our bonnie daughter, was born on August 14th last year, during the pandemic, and she is our sun and stars. Eve Marie will be a Scottish lassie with some Irish heritage, but how much she will experience of Ireland will be down to me and her father. She is more than seven months old and knows her mummy, daddy and Granny Turner, my husband’s mother, very well, but she has no idea of the existence of her Irish family.

I feel I have missed out on a huge amount of family support during my pregnancy and the early days of having a tiny, vulnerable baby. But you just have to put your big-girl pants on and get on with things

This has created a very hollow feeling for me. Personally, I feel I have missed out on a huge amount of family support during my pregnancy and the early days of having a tiny, vulnerable baby. I have also missed the day-to-day pick-me-ups of someone coming to visit or drop something in – or dare I be indulgent and say I have missed being able to have a baby shower with my family and friends. There is no compensation for these losses, there is no comeback: you just have to put your big-girl pants on and get on with things. For Eve, I am sad that she has had very limited experiences, no visits or cuddles from her Nana Boyle, no memories.

The pandemic feels like it is gradually drawing to a natural close here, with vaccines being rolled out at a great pace and lockdown slowly easing up, creating more optimism and hope. All of this is good, of course, but what damage has been done already to people’s relationships? If you don’t see someone for a couple of years – even for one year – how close can you be? Far too many people put off meet-ups, reasons to celebrate, visits, whether there is a pandemic or not. The pandemic has made things worse. As a good friend taught me, find the time, find the money, take the trip, make the effort and be a yes person.

If you live overseas and would like to share your experience with Irish Times Abroad, email abroad@irishtimes.com with a little information about you and what you do

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