Transfer Market for Mamas: 8 Months Pregnant and Moving to a New Country
In the world of professional athletes, the transfer market can bring many emotions. For some it can be frightening, for others it can be very exciting. For partners, it can be a bit of both.
I believe it was February when I got a call from Matt. I remember it was a chilly, blue sky afternoon. I was leaving my work, walking down the brick streets of Boston. Matt was away on International Duty (which means playing for the USMNT). He had been in and out of conversations with his agent about a team over in England interested in purchasing him. He currently played for The New England Revolution as their starting goalkeeper. Whether the Revs were going to let him go was another story.
Matt was about to play a USA game that same day so when I got his call I knew it was important. He has a game day ritual and a phone call within a certain time before kickoff was not custom. So whatever this call was, I knew it was important.
"Baby, the deal is almost done." I heard his words. He was excited and I was beyond proud and so happy for him. But this was no longer a deal that included him. This deal now meant my life was about to change entirely.
We were 5 months pregnant and the transfer to England meant we were moving by the end
of the MLS season...the exact time I was due.
In minutes, everything you had built, had established within your personal and professional life can change. If the Revs hadn't asked for Matt to be loaned back for the remainder of the season, we would have had days, maybe weeks to get everything situated and moved over. But the countdown till we left had officially begun.
Of course I was over the moon that Matt had been purchased by Arsenal. It had been a dream of his to play in the premier league. His dream, contingent on passing his medical, was coming true. Not only that, but Arsenal had been his favorite team growing up. It was certainly a story that had cinderella vibes. But so much more goes on on a personal level to prepare for such a life change.
With all dreams, comes sacrifices. To say goodbye to our friends and family was going to be difficult. For me to say goodbye to my work too was going to be difficult for me. But beyond that, it was also figuring out logistically how it was all going to work out.
When you're so many weeks pregnant you can't fly. So since my due date was when we would be making the transfer, I was going to have to make a decision to either stay in the US to have our baby or to go over to the UK early to have him there. Each decision had its pros and cons. If I stayed in the US, I'd be around family and I'd be in the comfort of my home and in an area I knew with the doctors I knew. I understood how the healthcare system worked and I could ensure I'd have everything I needed already set up in our Boston home. That is everything I needed, except for Matt. Matt would be in the UK by that time and would miss the birth. And it wasn't like it would be just an easy flight to catch to come back. This was our first baby - I needed him there.
But on the other hand, if I had our baby in the UK - I had a whole different set of issues. I'd have to make the journey to the UK before Matt could. The latest I could fly would mean I'd have to be there a month earlier than when Matt could come out. Matt had to finish out his contract with the Revs. So I'd have to move to a new country, 8 months pregnant, find a place to live, set up a nursery and meet a new doctor who would deliver our baby, solo. But the likelihood of Matt being at the birth was significantly higher. I wouldn't have family and I had no idea how I would get around, but I'd figure it out. Arsenal also said that they would help with the transition and understood our circumstances were unique with the baby's arrival.
There were so many moving parts, but having the support of the club was beyond reassuring. We decided that I would go over a month early. My mom would come with me in case I went into labor early. She also would help me with building a nursery (I'm terrible at putting furniture together - thank goodness for her) and just be there with me so I wasn't doing this all alone.
It was set then. I would leave my job in May and head over to a new country to get our family situated before Matt made his way across the pond. As the months continued to pass by, my departure from Boston was getting closer and closer and things were starting to set in. Also schedules for the next season in the premier league were starting to become established. We learned that Arsenal's preseason lined up perfectly with my due date... so just when you think you have it all figured out... everything changes.
Matt would arrive to the UK, have his physical and contingent on that, he'd sign officially with Arsenal. From there he'd have a week of pre-season in London, but then he'd have a 3 week pre-season tour - first week in Germany and then the next two weeks back in the US! You can't make this stuff up. So unless I went into labor early, Matt was going to be gone for the birth of our first child.
The thing with transfer markets for mamas married to professional footballers is that everything can change in a day, hours, or even minutes. For us it happened to be when our first baby was due and we had a couple months to prepare. For others, it's moving multiple children in a week, perhaps even days. Some mamas even have to move their kids, while pregnant to a country that may not even speak the same language and some choose to stay exactly where they are for the sake of their kids - living apart from their partners.
It is certainly an exciting life, don't get me wrong. One full of many blessings. But it isn't easy to pick up and go and leave everything you built behind. I was scared to be a first time mother, never mind in a new country.
But I'll save that transition and how it all went for another day.