Honouring our beautiful butterflies

Today marks the due date of my first miscarriage. 

Yes, my first. Which, means that since I last wrote I sadly went on to lose another pregnancy.

Unlike my first loss, this one saw me get to 9 weeks and end up in a D&C (that’s a termination for medical reasons, basically).

Several months have passed now since I underwent that procedure and the awful weeks that preceded it where I didn’t know if I was going to be able to proceed in the pregnancy or not.

This past week or so I have finally felt like I’m emerging from the last 7, difficult months. Times when I thought I was coping I still had a way to go and times when I thought things would get better they sometimes got a bit worse. 
But now, with tools from counselling, with support and love from my husband and friends, with time…. I’m feeling peaceful. Not perfect, but on the right trajectory at least.

Along the journey I’ve discovered so much about myself, about the kind of person I want to be, the kind of home I want to exist in, the kind of parents I want Mr OC and I to be for Miss Z. While I wouldn’t want to have gone through what I did to get to this end point, as my best friend pointed out to me, at least if there is some kind of positive that can be drawn from all this heartache then that is a blessing.

And now, we are here. Wherever here is. It’s funny, as both losses were early, I didn’t think the due dates would bother me but these last few days, leading up to the first due date, I have been aware of something within me that needed to be noticed. 

That little life never really got to be a baby, but it was a hope, a dream – it mattered, it existed, and then its loss was felt.

When I went into hospital for the D&C for my 3rd pregnancy (second loss), we were given a small bear and a bag of items donated to us from Bears of Hope. This amazing organisation was founded for parents who lose babies (actual formed babies that had a heartbeat and lived in their uteruses before sadly passing away). Its purpose is to give them some comfort as they grieve – it started from the idea of giving a teddy bear to hold in place of the lost baby. It has grown from there to an entire organisation that helps families grieving the loss of tiny lives.

And, in more recent times it has been offered as a support to those having what is referred to as early pregnancy losses – people like me and my family.

Today when I cried for what could have been, for what we lost, I also cried many tears for all those families who have experienced so much worse. The Bears of Hope group is not for the faint-hearted, on there, is woman after woman… after woman, after woman…. who have lost babies at 12 weeks, 22 weeks, 37 weeks… and so many other unimaginable dates along the gestational period. 
These women and their families are going through something that will never, ever leave them completely. I am in awe of their strength, but I know they’re only strong because they have to be. And I also know, all too well, that actually they’re not feeling particularly strong at all. 

Today as I reflect on what could have been, I also honour all those other heartbreaking losses. Tonight I will light a candle for our bean, and for all those other butterflies who left us far too soon.

 

 

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Telling it how it is – a difficult blog

I’ve been trying to write this blog for a few weeks, but it’s been hard: partly because I just don’t have the time (you might have noticed how few and far between my blogs are these days!) and partly because it’s a tough and crappy subject to write about. I’m about to get pretty personal. But I think there are great benefits in doing so… not just for me, but for others who have been in the same place or might be in my shoes in the future.

I apologise for the length of this blog too – if you stick with me to the end, thank you. If you don’t, that’s ok – we all have busy lives.

Back at the end of October I was super excited to see two little lines on a pregnancy test, for the second separate occasion in my life (the last time resulted in Little Miss Z of course).

It was about 5.30am and I literally ran to find Mr OC who was in the other bathroom… I should also add that he was sat on the loo. Personal space issues don’t really exist in our household, the way we see it we change nappies, clear up cat and dog poop, we all fart, we all go to the bathroom. Mr OC has seen me in the throws of labour (not to mention post labour – equally confronting) and I have seen him in the throws of bad gastro bugs.

So yes, hubby got the news we were expecting baby two while taking a number two.

Lovely.

Roughly two weeks later he was disturbed again, around the same time but this time he was about to get in the shower. And this time I wasn’t joyous, this time I was crying and telling him I was bleeding.

About 4 days later it was confirmed, our baby was gone. I was in that early pregnancy window – the one where I had almost made it to 6 weeks where the probability of loss decreases a little more. Nearly, but not quite…

So, what do I tell you about this? I mean, really what is there to say about it? What’s done is done, what the anatomy decides it does because the pregnancy was no longer viable.

Better earlier than later.

At least we already have a daughter.

It happens to 1 in 5 women.

Many women don’t even realise they’re pregnant and just think they’re period is late.

At least we can try again.

It’s nothing I did – it just happens.

Hmmm.

Yeah, all the above: 100% true.

All the above: about 80% unhelpful.

Over the course of that week where I was bleeding out my uterus and my embryo, I felt everything from sheer loss, despondency, guilt, sadness, ungrateful, anxiety and out of control.

So out of control.

That first week was basically a rollercoaster of emotions. I always had utmost respect for anyone who had had to go through it, and prayed I’d never have to. I remember when I was pregnant with Miss Z that I worried my way through that first trimester as most women do. But we made it… and here she is. So, when I got pregnant fairly easily the second time I had the nagging feeling that it might be I wouldn’t get to be so lucky as to keep this little bub. And, if that sounds really negative, I can’t really argue with that, but we cannot help those thoughts that pop up in the back of our mind, can we? And stats tell us it happens to 1 in 5 pregnancies. So, with odds like that you know that the likelihood of being one of those 1 in 5 is high.

During that first week, I missed my pregnancy. More even than I thought I would in the short time I’d been pregnant. And also, bearing in mind that I had also had moments of worrying about having two children, about making ends meet when on parental leave and how I was going to fit into a bridesmaid dress for my best friend’s wedding etc. – even with those concerns, of course, my overwhelming perspective was of happiness not doubt or anxiety.

I realised that I had been enjoying experiencing those early symptoms, swelling boobs, bloated tummy (no first timers, that is not a bump… it’s bloating. You baby is the size of a very tiny poppy seed). And feeling so blessed to remember those things you so easily forget – the inexplicable breathlessness and maybe even a bit of nausea.

And then… bam. Gone. No symptoms, no pregnancy, no baby.

It’s hard. And whilst it’s hard for everyone it’s got to be much harder for those further down the line and it’s almost definitely harder for those still waiting for their first child.

I was grateful at least to be distracted by losing myself in a moment watching Miss Z play. I never stopped being aware of my blessings.

The first day I had to go to the doctors and get blood tests, I couldn’t stop crying anyway so I just took the day off and for the first time since I can’t even remember when, I told everyone at work I was not available. I did no work that day. Unheard of!

I worked from home the following day and then went into the office for the following two days. But it wasn’t without its challenges, and during that first day in the office, I said to my manager that I would need a personal leave day to end the week.

I also made the decision to tell her what was happening. And I am so glad I did. That level of transparency means that your manager gets to understand why you need some time off or time out. I mean, if you have a good level of trust with your boss then it is possible you can just leave it as saying it’s a personal trauma or something (trauma sounds so dramatic though). It’s hard to know what’s best to do in these situations. But I just followed my instincts.

By the end of the week we went away camping  – we had planned to go anyway, but went a bit earlier than planned. When we first arrived at our destination in the beautiful region of Port Stephens we walked along the beach at dusk, and there was a group of dolphins darting around in the shallows. It was a beautiful moment, one I won’t forget.

Sadly, it wasn’t enough to transport me out of the small black hole I was still trying to clamber out of.

Things eventually came to a head when hubby and I had a fight over something silly that he said that I took really personally. We were just driving off from the campsite for a day of exploring and as we had slowed to pull out onto the road I jumped out the car and stormed off. I went and found a quiet bench by the water and just cried. I was desperately trying to get some control back over my emotions – even tried to put my meditating app on… but in doing so I dropped my (brand new) phone and smashed the screen. At this point I think I wailed. Then I called Mr OC. That in itself shows where I was at – we are both so stubborn and I usually hold out way longer in the “not speaking” stakes. He drove back and picked me up and the crying continued for a bit longer until he made me feel better – which, thankfully he aced on this occasion. I just felt useless and a mess of emotions.

From there, it did start to get better. We were about a month or so away from Christmas and there was too much happening to dwell on it any longer, and really, I didn’t want to.

Something I did notice was that by Christmas, with the busy-ness that comes with the end of the year but also, a very full-on year coming to an end, I was feeling so burnt out. I wasn’t sleeping well, my skin was a nightmare – all the typical signs that your body (and mind) is in need of a break. By Christmas Eve, inevitably I was sick and ended up spending Christmas day feeling basically, completely rubbish.

Beach dog walks, a major slow down in the pace of life and lots of rest have been a simple yet effective combination for rejuvenation. I started 2019 feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the year. Most importantly I feel positive, and when I feel like that, I can keep my head screwed on. Bad mornings, evenings… or days… they come and go but keeping my head above water, keeping my outlook one of acceptance and gratitude for the most part is much easier than wading through the knee-high crap. It’s not always that simple but most times I can hit the reset button and get back there.

So, why did I decide to share this story? Well, in truth, I’m still nervous about it. I feel weird that people I work with and others I know will read this. But since my miscarriage, two close friends have also had the same thing happen. Of all the friends I have pregnant or trying to conceive it just goes to show that the statistics are not far wrong. And sadly, because of that, so many of us will personally have this experience. And on the flip side of that – many of us happily won’t!!

And yet, despite the vast numbers of us it happens to, it’s not the “done” thing to talk about it – and I just can’t understand why (except if you don’t want people to know you’re trying for a baby)! Grief, on any level should be dealt with in the way that is going to help that person process the loss. For me, writing it down, sharing my burden, and hoping I help someone else going through the same are my reasons for putting this blog out there.

If you’re still here and read to the end – thank you!! And, if you’re reading this because you’re going through (or maybe have been through) pregnancy loss, baby loss, any loss – I send my love and prayers and encourage you to reach out to your support network (or to me!) if you need a chat. It’s ok not to be ok… and one day you will feel better.

An open letter to my daughter’s childcare educators

Dear early childhood educator

I wanted to pen you a note to say what you mean to me. I wanted to write a blog to say thank you for all that you do for my child. I wanted to convey your importance in the life of my daughter, the lives of all the children you care for, in the future of our world.

But I don’t know where to start. How to say it. What words would work to say so much?

I wanted to show you that without you we’d be lost. I wanted to tell you that if you didn’t hug my child when I leave her in the morning my day would be so much harder to get through. That if I didn’t see how much my child loves to hang out with you, to learn from you and play with you, then would I even be able to go and do my job at all?

But are words enough?

Let’s start by saying thank you.

For wiping her tears, her snot and her bum – thank you

For holding her tight and telling her it’ll be alright – thank you

For having the patience when she’s got none – thank you

When she throws herself face down on the floor, banging her head on ground, pulling her hair out and screaming at the top of her lungs….

When she is running around instead of sitting down and eating her lunch…

When she won’t sleep and wakes up all the other kids with her singing…

Thank you for accepting her.

May she keep providing you with fun: her sassy attitude, her loud chatting, her singing and her giggles.

She’s not your flesh and blood, she’s not made of your genes but you care for her, you are proud of her, you celebrate her achievements, and share in her disappointments.

And even though you don’t get paid enough… I don’t know how much money would be enough to measure the value of your worth.

I don’t know what words are enough to express the difference you make in our life, her life… and the future of this generation.

You are amazing.

Thank you.

Dedicated in particular to Lara, Elle, Deb, Elissa, and Bree, but not forgetting the OGs…  Miss Hannah, Miss Aya, and Miss Lyvia.

thank you

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Review: A Quiet Genocide by Glenn Bryant

A Quiet Genocide will quietly grab you, make you sit up and probably make you quietly have a weep. This book, gently unfolds some harsh but necessary truths about the holocaust. Some of which we may already be very familiar with and some of which may horrify us yet further.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a review copy of A Quiet Genocide – I like reading wartime novels and was more than happy to get stuck in. Bryant’s written style puts us right into the plot with no fussing around. One of the things I appreciated most about this book was actually that it had an unfussy narrative – with enough depth and visibility of the author’s natural aptitude for creating characters (with whom we immediately sympathise or despise depending on the desired outcome) to pull the reader along with the storyline with a sense of urgency.

I loved the opening sequences of the book, letting us get to know a young boy, Jozef, and his friend as they get into trouble as only boys can do. This segways into an opportunity to show us how nasty the character of Michael is and to set up the essence of the plotline – who is Michael and what terrible things is he capable of? More importantly, what is his relation to Jozef and his family? By the end of the novel, all these important questions are answered, but the biggest question of all perhaps – why were so many thousands of lives so carelessly torn aside? – remains a poignant and unresolved query in all our minds.

While I felt the characters were well developed, I did feel there was an element of character portrayal that sometimes became a little pantomime like. Michael is not conveyed as a complex character – he seemed to just be naturally evil and I almost expected to hear an audience boo and hiss every time he came ‘on stage’.

Contradictory to that, the characters of Professor Zielinski and Jozef himself were favourites for me and I loved their interactions and the development of their relationship. This of course made for an exemplification of Jozef’s lack of prejudices and kind-hearted nature, so unlike Michael, and even unlike his parents who, out of grief, were struggling to do the right thing in their own lives. On Gerhard’s part we see he is a lost soul – misled and influenced by negative associations, unable to move on from grief and stuck in gratuitous routine.

Overall, the purpose of the novel – to bring to light the terrible plight of thousands of innocent disabled children at the hands of the Nazi regime – is well conceived. Though, at times I did feel as though, in an effort to present the facts objectively – mostly via the character of a ex-Auschwitz resident, and esteemed academic (Professor Zielinski) – the flow of narrative sometimes felt a little jarred, as though facts were being shoehorned in. I would have like to have felt the organic discovery of these statistics, or perhaps not have seen the statistics conveyed within the story but maybe in the endnotes.

This didn’t spoil the overall enjoyment for me – and perhaps my gripes comes from a love of fiction over non-fiction writing. At times this book bordered on non-fiction style writing, purely because it was, very bravely and with senstivity, dealing with some cold hard truths. Read this novel if you enjoy books about the holocaust or want to find out more about it. 3.5 stars.

A Quiet Genocide [Amsterdam Publishers] by Glenn Bryant PORTRAIT
Author: Glenn Bryant

Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Oh, Judy. Oh Willem. Oh this book. When one of my best friends handed it to me she apologised but I knew her apology meant I was going to experience a book I would never forget and would likely fall in love with. That’s what I hoped. And that’s what I got. I love a book that gives me all the feels – there were moments when my heart lifted and soared and other times when I felt like it was destroying me and leaving me a sobbing wreck of a woman. It’s relentless, it’s shocking and it’s heartbreaking but it was worth every tear.

The writing is amazing, subtle and brilliant. The changes in narrative are so understated you almost don’t notice them and it takes you a couple of switches between narratives to get what’s going on. What this does is allow you to read unperturbed, just to lose yourself in the story instead.

And yes, some of the things in this book are shockingly awful to read. I do NOT recommend this book to people who find it too hard to read about child abuse or if you’re very squeamish as there are some descriptions of injuries that made me stomach turn. But the author is still so respectful – things never get over the top. I felt everything I read was worthy and necessary to appreciate the depths of what was happening in the characters’ lives.

At one point, reading the book on my way to work on the train I was holding back a flow of tears and onto my music came Aretha Franklin’s Drown in my own tears. Apt much??

I didn’t know anything else about the book when I started reading it but my friend who passed it me and I share a commonality of our favourite book being the same, so I knew it would be a game changer for me. And it was.

I am not going to write anything else except that for me it is the kind of book where you continue to pass it one for someone else to read it when you finish. Someone else you know will enjoy it and who it’ll effect in a similar way.

3 days after I’ve finished it this book is still very much with me. The characters are still prominent in my mind…and I love that.

If you feel like you want some further insights into the book after reading it (the article contains spoilers) then check out 15 Things You Didn’t Know About A Little Life.

IWD 2018: no negativity, celebrate strong women

OK, so I’m nearly 2 days late. Story of my life.

International Women’s Day was a couple of days ago and I am just getting around to finishing the blog that I started writing on the day. But hey… working mum life!

This time last year I wrote about my fears about being left behind in the workplace and in my career because I was now working part time. I spoke about my desire to prove my capability to be mum and hold down a job without weakening my efforts in either position.

My, how things change in a year.

I spent most of last year bending over backwards to complete a 5 day a week job in 4 days. AND spend enough time with my daughter. Not to mention looking for, buying and moving to a house outside of Sydney. Whew!

I found myself working outside of my standard working hours over, and over again. I found that in particularly busy periods I was just absolutely swamped and quite stressed.

It did make me wonder how I was ever so busy when I wasn’t a mum! As we started the new year, I decided I wanted to go back to work full time. A lot of people may think (and many say to me!) “Why? Why would you do that? Won’t you have to put Little Miss into daycare? Won’t that cost more? Won’t you have even less time with her?”

Yes, its controversial but here’s how I look at it:

Get paid for the work you put in!
For the past 12 months I’ve struggled to work in just 4 days. Why not be paid to work the 5 days I’m virtually working anyway.
Cost isn’t a massive issue.
Working an extra day outweighs cost of daycare
Time with my daughter!
If I work from home I can work before Z gets up, then spend some time with her – instead of rushing us out the house at 7am every morning and throwing her at the daycare educators, as I run out the door to the sound of crying. I can pick her up. We can feed the ducks as we stroll home. We can play in the garden. Then I can do some more work once she’s in bed. Instead of arriving home 15 minutes before she is due to get into bed. Ok, I lose my day off with her, but when I am home, I’m not rushing off to do work or having to remove myself from family time while I go and put some slides together for Monday.
The future.
Now is the time to work full time, to achieve the things I want to achieve in my career – we would like baby number two some time and when that happens, even if I work I’ll still need to take a step back. And I won’t be able to jump back in until school starts.

And, although I only just started back full time, I can already see a difference in my little girl. Instead of clinging to my arm when I drop her at daycare, she asks to “get down” and runs in to see her friends. This has a lot to do with the fact she is now growing comfortable with her new daycare after our move too. But, she can’t grow comfortable and confident if she is constantly anxious because I’m always leaving her too quickly or I’m noticeable more by my absence than my presence.

Yet, even as I write those words I think about all the people who will think “If you really wanted to nurture her you’d be there all day with her instead of leaving her with someone else”. The nagging voice in my head constantly tells me I’m a terrible mum. A selfish mum.

I’m trying to be the best version of me. I’m trying to pay bills. I’m trying to show my daughter what it is to have ambition and goals. I’m showing her what it is to be empowered. I’m making myself as available as possible while paving the way for her future and giving her the tools for her to make the best of it.

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Mum life – training on the deck with one of the inspirational ladies in my life (and our kids!)

After all, I was brought up by a working mother and my mum is one of the most inspiring women in my life. How she used to work full time and get dinner on the table for 6pm in the years she was a single mum I will never know. My mum always had a social life, always had ambitions, always had an adult life outside of the family home. When I was in primary school she even went back to tertiary education, and while some of what she did was necessity, a lot of it was just because she is that kind of person. And whether by nurture or nature (most likely a mix of the two) I have inherited that mindset.

But, the guilt of not being around more never really subsides. The wondering whether she will have a better life if I am around more doesn’t stop. And while I pacify my overthinking mind by telling myself I am ‘enough’ for her, I don’t think those voices telling me I’m not will ever completely go away.

The truth is we always compare ourselves to other women. And sometimes other women can be very judgemental. Yet ever since I’ve been a mum I find myself admiring so many other women, and feeling inspired by them.

I have a friend who deals with an almost- 2 year old who still won’t sleep through the night.
I have a friend who travels for work – sleeping on overnight flights (in economy) and doing back to back meetings all week.
I have a friend who is trying to study, renovate a house, plan a wedding and look after an old lady with dementia.
I have another friend who is separating from her husband and moving out of her family home with her kids.
I have friends who (individually) have lost both parents in the space of a year, had an abortion, been divorced, and many, many more things that I couldn’t begin to imagine coping with.

These are the same women that lift me up. The same women that are real life, day-to-day, messing it up then picking up the pieces and getting on with it, getting no-sleep, frazzled, beautiful women that I know won’t judge me, that think I’m a good mum without question and that inspire me to strive for the best kind of life, and the best kind of world for my daughter to grow up in.

And so I celebrate International Women’s Day: I celebrate strong women, I try to be the strongest woman I can be, and hope that by the time my daughter is my age she is living in world of equality and peace.

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For an extra bit of fun – check out my “IWD: 8 for the 8th” WOD my friend (who’s over at The Miner’s Girl) and I did:

One of the only ways I keep time…


I like to wear a watch. I always have. And even now in the age where our phones are constantly on our person and are good source of finding out the time, I would still choose to have a watch on than not.

Don’t get me wrong – this watch does not mean that I am punctual, or that I am a good keeper of my own time. I am distinctly neither… usually you can see me dashing for door a good 10 minutes after I intended to leave. Most of the time that’s because I try to squeeze in one more job before I go, but sometimes it’s because my 19 month old daughter won’t put her shoes on or wants to feed the cat sultanas.

And whilst I like the practicalities of a fitness watch  – Polar or Fitbit etc.  – I prefer a traditional watch both for style and for being able to check the time quickly, without fuss. Having said that, the amount  of times I’ve cursed having a non-plastic watch on my wrist are too many to count – being a mum to a toddler and wearing a nice leather watch do not mix!! This watch has survived water, poop, porridge and vegemite in varying quantities.

But I was quite pleased to get the opportunity to try out a new piece of wrist wear recently. The watch is made by Feriwola and they are cost-friendly, stylish pieces that will add a bit of glam to your outfit.

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The first thing that struck me about the watch was that it had an unusual glass face – the glass is not a flat surface but instead has a central point and from there the glass fans out from the centre, into even pieces to create a kind of glimmery effect when the watch moves in the light. It’s certainly unusual and eye catching.

The strap is black, imitation leather and it feels quite soft and malleable – meaning it’s going to be comfortable to wear.

The face of the watch is also black but for each number there is a gem of some kind (guessing for the price, it’s a diamante or similar)  – so 12 diamante dotted around the face.

The metal is silver in colour and seems robust enough.

My usual watch is tan and rose gold so it was nice to have a watch to wear in opposing colours of black and silver for outfits that better suit that colouring.

My main objection to the watch was actually the thing that makes it so unique. The angled face of the watch means at all times there is light reflecting off it – which can often make it a little harder to read. Not impossible but not easy either. And for a time poor, working mum, convenience is everything.

The other main thing that didn’t appeal to me was that because it is a low-cost watch it feels a bit that way too – it feels a bit too light, the strap is synthetic and feels like it’ll wear very quickly, or even snap. I’m not shy of budget watches but I do like to feel like it’ll survive the crazy, hectic days on my arm.

All in all I would recommend this watch if you’re look for a budget option to help accessorise your wardobe and you won’t be wearing it day in, day out – occasion wear might mean you get more longevity out of it.

So what… it’s New Year?

So here we are in 2018. How does it feel?

For me it feels fine. Nothing out of the ordinary. But I’ve never been a massive fan of new year and all the traditions that seem to come with it – resolutions, parties, $1.6 million spent on fireworks in one city. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

When I was in my 20s – New Year was one disappointment after another. Always the biggest set up for what was usually the worst night on the calendar. Whether that was because the guy I had a crush on ended up with another chick or because I fell out with my friend. Or my hair went frizzy in the rain on the way to the party and it all went down hill from there.

So by the time I reached my 30s I was over it and quite happy to just have a few relaxed beverages on the beach with mates and watch the local fireworks.

I lived in Sydney for 8 years and never once bothered to head to the city for the celebrations. I couldn’t bear the thought of the huge crowds – making getting taxis or just being able to see any decent view a big hassle. Camping out for 24 hours for the best spot of some fireworks…? Really? I can’t even tell the difference between this year’s and last when I watch them. It would be wasted on me. I’m a New Year’s Eve Scrooge.

And as for resolutions or moving on or changing lives. Has anyone ever changed their life because of new year… honestly?! Or do we do it because of our own sense of self, of responsibility to others – those we love or to show love to ourselves? If anyone wants to make a change in their life then my first bit of advice would be to make the change when they’re ready. Not because it’s new year.

That isn’t to say it isn’t a great vice for setting some goals. For realigning your vision with your partner. For reminding yourself why you get up in the morning. But it certainly shouldn’t be the why. “Why are you going to make that change?” “Because I made a New Year’s resolution.” Uhhh uhhh. Wrong answer. “Because I want my daughter to be inspired”. Better.

What the new year boils down to for me is this… I saw a post the other day on Instagram and it said “Remember when you wanted what you currently have”. And it really struck a chord in me.

I suddenly realised that I have achieved most of what I wanted. 7 years ago I wanted to have a family, I wanted to buy a house, I wanted to get fit and healthy. And I wanted to run my own business. I wanted to get married, spend less time in the pub doing nothing and do more for charity. I wanted to be outdoors more.

I realised that now we are in our family house – I have completed that list.

So now, now I get to make a new list… make a new vision board. What’s next? What do I want for my business, what do I want for my job… how can I get involved in my new community, how will I keep fit now that I haven’t got my old training group (since we moved)? Will I help train others? Where will I go walking? How will I make new, local friends… and how will I keep in touch with my old lovely friends in Sydney? How will I save more? What will I show Little Miss and how will I make the best of my time with her every day?

Wow! All of a sudden there are a whole list of new possibilities, ideas, challenges to overcome. And I’m excited.

On top of that how lucky am I to be thinking not just about my own life but someone else’s… I’m excited to watch my daughter grow more, to plan her 2nd birthday and to see new things with her. Can’t wait to watch her reach milestones and try to help her get to them.

All in all there is plenty to be excited about for the new year. And I’m so grateful for all I have and all that I get to strive for. So yes, it’s new year. Just the same as it was 365 days ago. And yes it’s a lot of fuss over nothing.

But.

On the other hand.

I’m alive, my family are here too and life is good. Moreover life is giving me the opportunity to set more goals. To achieve more new things.

Bring it on, 2018. Let’s do this!!

Making a big move

So guys, we moved house. 90km north of Sydney and just before we moved I started penning my feelings. Typically I didn’t finish it til now (almost 2 weeks since we moved). But here it is:

Last time I did something like this was the biggest decision I’ve ever made in my life. There is my life BA and AA – Before Australia and After Australia… although really it should be IA  – in Australia.

And yet here we are. I recognise the feelings. One minute so excited. The next minute thinking I must be mad. And in this last week the more I think of all the elements of it that make me anxious the more that I remember how all the stuff I pushed down deep inside of me when I moved to Australia has never really gone away. I pushed down my concerns of leaving my amazing group of friends. I pushed down my anxiety about being far from my family. I pushed down my sadness about leaving my flat – my own space, that I created and loved so much. My own friendship group that I had created with them… and loved so much. My family, who helped create me and whom I loved so much.

So, it is with trepidation that we move 90km up the coast.

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Saying goodbye to our old home

But here are three things I need to keep reminding myself –

  1. You did it before you can do it again
  2. It’s not the other side of the world like last time.
  3. There are many wonderful reasons for choosing to do this.

With regards point 3 – I realise I should probably back up and explain what the heck is going on here. So currently (or for the next 24 hours or so) we own and live in an apartment that we bought in a suburb we love, on the beautiful Northern Beaches of Sydney. Both Mr OC and I have lived in this area since we moved from our respective motherlands. We have lived in this apartment since just before we married. When family came to stay it was difficult as they all had to stay in nearby accommodation – the houses we found for them were really awesome. But it niggled that we couldn’t accommodate more people. After all, most of our family lives overseas and so whenever they visit they’ll need a place to stay.

And when Little Miss Z arrived we quickly realised that our lovely little apartment was not going to cut it long term. But when we looked at what it cost to buy a house in Sydney we knew it would be just impossible for us to afford.

Which of course left us with only one option – to move out of Sydney. The only question was where. Should we move away completely and find new jobs or move far enough to allow us a rather long commute?

It was after a couple of trips up to see one of my best friend’s that we realised we really liked the Central Coast. It was near enough that even day trips back and forth to Sydney were do-able. Commuting was done by many and we could join them. It just allowed us to get a house – plenty of space and back yard.

But more than that we were over the traffic and hustle and bustle of life in Sydney. Like driving 20km up the road and it taking nearly an hour. We were ready to give up the conveniences (lots of choice of breakfast locations, a large range of UberEats and finding your way back from work socials in a taxi ride) and were instead excited by the small community feel, the quiet (apart from the cicada mating season) and the ease of getting from a to b.

And so we started planning. We got the usual warnings about how it’s not the same up there, how we’d be sooo far from everyone and so on. But we paid little attention. First up, the fact it’s not the same kind of people and same kind of environment that makes us want to live there. We have loved the lifestyle on the Beaches but it’s competitive, occasionally pretentious and materialistic and fast-paced. It is a lovely community in many ways and the way of life is infectious but it’s not the only beautiful place to live. People will always say bad things about the place they don’t live. And that’s ok. Most of those people have never tried living there and are judging it from a distance. And what suits one person or family is not going to suit another.

As for the being so far from everyone – this was basically a moot point too. We had both moved very far from our family (and friends) in the past. I couldn’t get much further from mine. And I already knew that I was good at going up and down the coast to visit the people who matter in my life. I could do it the other way round too. And besides, I’d still be commuting.

So, over the course of this year we have weighed up our options, made a decision, put our flat on the market, sold it, found our beloved house… and then at the start of December came the time to move.

I had been so excited until the week before we left. And then all of a sudden it became too reminiscent of the underlying sadness I felt in leaving the UK. It was in the saying farewells to friends and little Miss Z finishing her daycare which we had all loved so much. In the last swimming lesson with her beloved teacher Jade. In the ‘see ya’ drinks with our mates who lived around the corner. And finally, in walking out the flat and closing the door for the very last time.

Which even now brings a lump to my throat. Mr OC shed a tear too.

Leaving… moving on… is never straightforward. You can be very excited about what’s ahead but still feel anxiety, trepidation and sadness as well.

And yet…

And yet.

When we finally got the keys for our house, our home – during the middle of a huge hail storm – it was 4.30pm and Little Miss was getting tired and hungry and we had an entire truck to move into the house, let alone find everything we needed.

And yet.

I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. I literally couldn’t stop smiling as I ran back and forth to the truck in the pouring rain. Every time I entered our house I was happy again.

But I don’t want to move again for another 100 years.

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The importance of goals even when you’re “mumming”

So, a couple of months back my beautiful baby girl turned one. It was a momentous occasion as it is for most parents – even she to an extent, knew that something exciting was happening and she seemed to have a lovely time with visiting family, lots of friends around and new toys galore! This moment was milestone and when we looked back at her first year on this earth it was wonderful to remember all the ways she has developed.

It was a reminder of what we have been through in her first year. From looking after a newborn and dealing with a body that had completely changed; from being a full time mum to going back to work; from dealing with hot summer nights and teething to cold winter and a jet lagged, sleep-regressed 4 month old; from not being able to put her down for one second to not being able to stop her crawling into all kinds of mischief. It’s a roller coaster ride. And the only reason parents don’t need an award is because we have one – our gorgeous children. And I couldn’t be more proud of Miss Z.

The funny thing is, as My Little Miss approaches 15 months old I am so proud of who I am too. I don’t say that boastfully. I say it humbly. The things that matter are different and the challenges to overcome are different. And they’re not just about Miss Z. Although undoubtedly she is the changing factor in most of them.

When I went back to work I felt bad that in some ways I was actually excited. I have made no bones about the fact that my mum style is not the mum who wants to be with my child 24/7. And I certainly don’t believe it did me any harm that I went to childcare from a young age because my mum also HAD to work. Don’t get me wrong if I could alter that balance I would. If work less than I do and have Z with me more than I do. But she’s happy, we are happy and I honestly don’t know how I could do my job in any less hours.

And this is one of the other major things I’ve come to terms with and had to adjust to in this last 7 or 8 months.

Since coming back to work, my targets have increased, my KPIs are tighter and the need to achieve higher productivity is unavoidable. So it comes as no surprise I’m doing more work in less hours. And if my workload is heavier I don’t have the option to come in earlier. Unless I want to miss kissing my daughter goodnight or never help my hubby out with her dinner and bath, then I can’t stay past 5.30pm. It would solve a lot of problems if I could. Work problems.

But where would it leave me feeling as a mum and part of my family?

And at times this year I’ve doubted myself at work because of it. When I’m not hitting my targets I start freaking out. When I’m not seeing the numbers I need to see I start berating myself – “I need to work harder, do more, sacrifice some mum time “. It was with totally mixed feelings I agreed to a regional meeting in Singapore later this month. I don’t want to miss it but at the same time I feel gutted that my husband has never spent a night away from our daughter…. and yet I have. And will do yet more.

And it is not just the concerns about showing willing and capable, there is the usual office politics to deal with to. Gaining support when you need it, often comes about just by showing willing and being present. Going the extra mile and achieving good results will win praise but support is won by trust and certainty – and that means showing up. Literally. Even when it means hiring a nanny.

Work wise this year I have been proud to see some return on the investment I feel I’ve made in my work (and therefore in the business I work for), both in the efforts I made prior to having a baby and since, by being given budget to grow my team and attain an award for hitting my KPIs.

And in my own personal development I’ve managed to watch my own business grow. The only down side to that being that my time is even more stretched – but I’m lucky to do what I enjoy and by having my own clients that I can extend my skills to, it means I get to lay good foundations for whatever the future might bring.

It also keeps my brain really active and me on my toes.

Speaking of bodily parts, something else I’m proud of this year is the body and fitness journey I’ve been on. Let me level with you here – when I was pregnant I put on 20 kilos.

I’ll let you just take that on board.

And for someone with an extremely healthy BMI that is quite substantial, people.

When I started back at training in April I had lost more than half of that just by not eating anything I felt like at any time and not being pregnant. I was walking a lot with Miss Z even before I went back to training and work. And in the first weeks back at training I lost 5kg and a lot of body fat. I think that was over 12 weeks.

And during that time I felt so much better about myself. But I had struggles – I struggled with going from being at the front of the pack to the back, with my body not being able to do what it could before, with the long road ahead. Some days I thought about quitting – and everyone says that, but I really did. Yet the desire to get to my goals was so much stronger than the doubts I had.

And doubts weren’t the only struggle. Life wasn’t what it was when I was training before. I couldn’t just roll out of bed and go to training as many days as I felt like it. I couldn’t just stick my finger in the air and pick a class. I have to plan to the detail when I could get there around Mr OC’s availability and my schedule. And sometimes, because… well… kids… that schedule is constantly subject to last minute changes! I remember when I started back I was so envious of all these fit young girls with no babies relying on them – they were doing ‘unlimited’ training packages allowing them to go to as many sessions as they had energy for in a week. And there was me planning my two sessions down to the finest detail. And more often than I’d like, missing it due to Miss Z being sick or hubby needing to work.

Facing that made me wonder how long the journey was going to be to get my body and fitness where I wanted. And it made me feel scared that if it was going to be too hard I’d end up giving up.

Not to mention the doubts and anxieties that come with turning up to class and having to retrain your brain, not just your body. It’s hard getting used to your old friends no longer being around – as they’ve moved away or had babies themselves. New people, new training, new kind of body. I constantly felt like I was too uncoordinated – I felt like I would be the last person anyone would want to partner with in boxing. And I’m sure sometimes I was.

And now, now I find my technique is suddenly coming together. My kicks are actually not too bad at all. My fitness is good. And all of a sudden the next set of clothes that I had to buy or the ones I finally dragged back out of storage from pre-pregnancy… well, even some of those are feeling a bit baggy. I feel good about myself. I feel like my body can do more, and my mind is capable of coming along for the ride too.

This is not about image, although what I see in the mirror does have a part to play. What I see in the mirror is just a part of the much larger picture. I have overcome doubts, fears, and challenges – when I’ve honestly considering giving up I’ve gone twice or three times as hard. When I’ve felt like the journey was too long I’ve just decided to keep trying.

And this is not just about my fitness journey. The pictures below are a visual representation of the journey I’ve been on this year. They show not just how my body has changed because my mindset did, but how if I can start smashing my goals in the physical world, I can do it in my working world too. And I surround myself with people who inspire me – friends who are motivated and encouraging, but also friends who are real and let me express my doubts and fears, and help me overcome them. And then there is my trainer and the girls I train with – ZC Fitness is an amazing place to be. Full of strong, inspiring women – all trying to work to their goals. And at the helm is Zanna – she has been my friend for many years now and she inspires me with her work and training ethic. Nothing holds her back or down! Without her yelling at me to keep going I simply wouldn’t! And I simply wouldn’t have these results.

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The point is… Miss Z marks milestones for me. She creates happiness and contentment in my life and she grows in front of me. But, I’m growing too. I’m reaching my own milestones. And I am proud of where I’ve got to – I’ve surprised myself and I’m going to keep aiming to surprise myself by reaching more goals and dreams even when it feels like I can’t.

I feel good that I’m not only able to be mum to this gorgeous little girl but that I’m also achieving other things for myself that make me an even better person for her.