It has been a terribly long time since I last logged into this site. In fact, it’s over a year since I last posted on here, which is not ideal for a professional writer.
While I love writing, and I have had my own website of some kind or other for well over ten years now, I must admit I’ve been so consumed with paid work that writing for/about myself has felt like a luxury I can’t afford. Add to that a busy home life, it’s been something I’ve wanted to find time for, but has always slipped down my list of priorities.
As I look down the barrel of a significant life event, I feel like writing more frequently about my home life is a worthwhile endeavour, for my own sanity and posterity, even if nobody ever reads a word of it. I figure as good a place to start as any is a round-up of what’s happened over the last year or so.
In May 2022 my partner and I bought our first home as a couple. We’d been living in my little maisonette for a few years, but with two kids between us and both of us working from home, it was getting a touch cramped. It felt very strange saying goodbye to my first home, which I’d bought in 2017 and had been the first place I’d ever lived totally alone. It was a dinky little place, on top of an Indian restaurant, and was our son’s first-ever home, where so many of his first experiences happened. It was bittersweet, but the new house has been a vast improvement. Not only do the kids have their own rooms, we have a lovely little garden and everyone has a little more breathing space.
Injuries, injuries and more injuries
About two weeks before we were due to move, Alex took his eldest kid (V) to an indoor skate park so they could both practice skateboarding. They’d been gone for a few hours when I got a call to say Alex was “quite badly” hurt and that I should get there ASAP. To cut a long story short, Alex had lost his balance, fallen hard onto the ramp, and broken right through his femur, at the hip joint. We got him to hospital (with a great deal of screaming and swearing) and the next day he had his broken hip surgically repaired. He was incredibly brave considering how much pain he was in, and the gruelling recovery. He still has a bit of a limp some days, and a cracking scar. It also meant he wasn’t particularly mobile on the moving day, which would have been fine if it hadn’t been for what happened next.
Following Alex’s injury, two days before moving day I slipped and fell while holding our toddler, Niko. Trying to avoid hurting my son, I landed quite awkwardly with out combined weight onto my left elbow. Not only did I manage to dislocate my shoulder, but it turned out I’d also broken three bones in the process. Getting the extent of the damage correctly diagnosed took several months, and it’s been decided that it will need surgical correction. The main problem is that I’ve knocked a chunk of cartilage off my shoulder blade, where ligaments in the shoulder joint are supposed to be attached. It’s left the shoulder quite unstable and weak, and will ultimately require a fairly intense surgery with a lengthy rehab process. I might do another post with more detail about my rubbish joints but, for now, this surgery is on the back burner.
Apparently, we decided our lives weren’t quite busy enough, so in the summer we brought Solo home. She’s a Labrador x German Shepherd and she has been a huge part of making our house feel like a home. She is a bit bonkers, impossibly huge, and the best company while I’m working from home. She’s now nine months old and absolutely massive, and the kids adore her as much as Alex and I do. The cats tolerate her.
Quitting my job
In 2019 I landed something of a dream job, as a content manager for a boutique publisher. I really enjoyed my job, and had some fantastic experiences. However, covid came along and I was furloughed in March 2020 (which just so happened to coincide with me falling pregnant with Niko) and the company made some fairly radical internal changes. When I returned from furlough/maternity leave, it just wasn’t a great fit anymore, for me or for them, and in July 2022 I finally decided it was time to start freelancing.
It’s something I’d been thinking about for years, but I had always been anxious about the financial instability of freelancing as opposed to a salaried role. It was a bit of a scary leap to take, especially as we had just moved into our new house, but ultimately it has been the best thing for my mental health, work/life balance, and personal fulfillment. I have ended up with some slightly unusual working patterns which have made a social life slightly tricky to orchestrate at times, but my family and friends have got used to me having my laptop in tow. Plus, my work is flexible enough to allow me to work around my toddler, which has been a real godsend. I’ve been lucky enough to work on some really cool projects and find some really lovely clients. While I’d never say never, I can’t imagine going back to a 9-5 office job again any time soon. I have some really exciting ideas for developing my work to include some more creative projects alongside the more analytical/marketing-oriented stuff, but that might have to go on hold in the short term because of a more time-sensitive incoming life change…
A new baby
“Oh my god, not another one?!”
In September, Alex and I decided to start trying for our second, and last, baby. We’d had significant trouble conceiving the first time, and assumed this time would be equally difficult. Not only that, but we had a miscarriage in September 2021 (and I’d had three miscarriages before having Niko), so we thought that it would be a while before we’d actually see two pink lines on a pregnancy test. Little did we know that when we agreed to start trying we were already pregnant.
The pregnancy hasn’t been 100% straightforward. Early on I had some bleeding, and we had multiple very early scans to ascertain whether the baby was viable. Initially, they couldn’t find anything in my womb but could find a large cyst on one ovary. Then they could find a sac in my womb but no sign of life. Finally, at the third scan, we could see evidence of a developing embryo. It was a rough ride, but as of yesterday we are officially 30 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby girl!
I’m really excited to see my son become a big brother, and to meet this tiny little girl who has been making me throw up since October. She’s due in late May, and I’m planning to post a bit about my birth experience with her. It’s been a bit all over the place so far, as initially there were some concerns that my placenta wasn’t working and that the baby was worryingly small, but she’s now measuring perfectly normally and it looks like my dream of a water birth might be back on the cards. I’m trying not to set my heart on any particular birth experience, just in case some other complication pops up and changes our possible options, but we’ll see.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
One of the more off-the-wall entries in my 2022 event schedule was my appearance on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire! Contractually there are limits to what I can say about it, but it was a really cool experience and I walked away with a prize of £32,000. It was a completely bananas stroke of luck, and has been colossally helpful in helping us get our ducks in a row for this new baby. In fact, as there is no maternity pay for the self-employed, my maternity leave is essentially being sponsored by ITV.
I would whole-heartedly recommend going on a quiz show if you have even the slightest confidence in your general knowledge skills (and the emotional fortitude to deal with a bit of Twitter trolling… people are mean) and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.
So… what’s next?
The next ten weeks or so are going to be all about getting the family, and the house, ready for this baby to arrive. We’ve got a few practical considerations to account for, like bulk cooking to fill the freezer with snacks and microwaveable meals for the early days of new-babyhood. Plus there are still some bits of furniture to rearrange. Niko does seem to have a base-level understanding of the fact that there is a baby in my belly, but if I’m being brutally honest I don’t think he really understands that an actual baby will be coming to live with us sometime in the next two and a half months. I’m sure he’ll take to big-brothering like a champ, but it’s going to be an adjustment for all of us.
I’m planning to take three months of maternity leave and work with Baby Girl at home while I get back into the swing of things. I’ve got some ideas for managing my workload with a baby at home, as well as trying to make time for some baby classes and personal projects. I know some of it might be wishful thinking, and if Niko as a newborn was anything to go by maybe I should just plan to survive and leave it at that.
Anyway, those were the main headlines for the past year. Writing it all down has made me wonder how we got through it all in one piece, but this year is only going to get busier! There’s a lot to plan for, but a lot to look forward to. I can’t wait.