PARENTING 101** ‘Mother-Guilt’, why do we feel it, how can we stop it?

I don’t know about you guys, but I suffer so much from ‘mother-guilt’, constantly questioning if am I spending too much time looking at my phone (probably), playing enough with Albie (there’s always time for more play), if Albie being stimulated enough (I hope so!)… The list goes on.

I can’t help but think in today’s society there is so much ‘mother guilt’ and unrealistic expectations put onto mums to be the best mum they can be. After thinking about this over and over again, I came to the conclusion that your baby loves you for you, not because you’re the best at cooking dairy free, gluten free, fun free (just jokes) food, not because you are the best at reading bed time stories (even though, let’s face it, you are!) and certainly not because you don’t let them have any sugar, they love you simply because you’re their mama/ parent.

Whilst I do believe that we’re all doing the best job we know how to (I know I am whilst juggling being back at work and running two start-up businesses), I do think there are always ways that we can connect more without little ones and help us ease up on the ‘mother-guilt’ a little.

I was actually really surprised recently to find out that child/parent eye contact (attunement) on the decline. The power of eye to eye contact (attunement) on the development of a young child cannot be underestimated. Leading childhood educator Leanne Hallowell has come out to say child/parent attunement is on the decrease – Which is concerning considering that this is a critical engagement that effects the child’s health and wellbeing.

Especially when you look at the stat that Australian adults are racking up over eight hours of screen time daily, and that children as young as one are reported to now be engaged and interactive with smart phones and tablets, with the majority of Australian kids spending more than the recommended two hour daily-limit (reported by the Australian institute of Family Studies). Now Albie is 10 months old and I haven’t got to the stage of him watching TV or iPads yet, as truthfully he’s only just discovered he has feet… So please be assured that I’m not condemning parents that allow their children to watch TV or an iPad, it’s all about balance right? I think so anyway.

So with balance in mind, in more ways than one I was so thrilled to find out that YMCA has launched the YMCA Playnasium. It’s such a cool concept that is essentially three pieces of equipment that combine gym and play for parents and children (what’s not to love). The YMCA Playnasium uses children as counterweights, allowing parents to work-out whilst simultaneously playing and bonding with their kids. Meaning I get to work out, tone up and stimulate Albie, winning!

Full set

The three pieces of YMCA Playnasium equipment, the row-row-row machine, the pec-a-boo and the pull upsy-daisy, have all been designed for families with young children (aged 0-7) to make exercise easy and fun. Check out the vid:

The ‘Playnasium’ is initially a Victorian initiative that travelled around allowing parents to trial the equipment, whilst learning all about the importance of eye contact with your children. So whilst we can’t head out and go and try the Playnasium for ourselves, I believe that it has helped me to think about about adopting the ideology of spending more time and eye contact with your child.

albie

Also, making sure we ease up on the guilt a little, this made me laugh, so hopefully it will make you giggle too:

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PREACH

 

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Feet firmly on Aussie Soil – Emigrating with my family

So here I am, my baby boy is 10 months old (how the hell did that happen?!). I’m now on Australian soil and have an apartment in Waterloo, Sydney with Stephen and Albie. I’ve found myself at the receiving end of many questions asking about my move to the UK 12 months ago and then back down under again 2 months ago. It has been a massive roller coaster 18 months since I found out I was pregnant and to be honest, my feet have never really touched the ground.

swing

I’ve been mulling over where to begin after such a hiatus, so I figured (after many a deliberation) that the best place to start was at the beginning. So much has happened in such a short space of time, the only way I can break this down is into manageable (hopefully enjoyable, and sometimes informative chunks!).

Let’s rewind to November last year, we’d decided that Feb was going to be the ‘deadline’ month that we would leave our life in England, our home, our family and Stephen’s work. We felt that we wanted to have Albie’s first Christmas at home, and ideally we wanted our first (and last Xmas) at our first family home. It didn’t quite work out as we wanted it, but we’re still so glad that we stayed in the UK none the less. We ended up driving round the NW of England to see everyone and covered 75 KM on Christmas day in the car, which was less than ideal with a five month old. At least everyone got to see Albie on the day (thanks to Stephen for driving), and we had our own little Xmas dinner for just us, that I prepared for our lovely new dining room (which we got to use about 10 times, ha!).

alnie xmas

I’d surprised Stephen with a trip to London for his first birthday as a dad, partly because I wanted to see as much of England as we could before we made the ‘big move’. We went for the weekend of the 12th November and stayed in Shepherd’s Bush. We’d already had a few cross words about the trip as Stephen had said we couldn’t afford it, however I explained that we needed the quality time (especially as he had been working ridiculous hours, and that I was going stir crazy in the house all the time on my own.)

One of the things I struggled with in the UK was how little we saw of people, from going to Australia where you could do something every night and you friends become your family, to the UK and 25 miles up the road was that little step too far. I get it’s a culture thing absolutely and I was more isolated than most as my mum and grannie live in Spain and my dad works away in the middle east a lot. My friends also had their own lives (very busy ones) too with families, jobs and social lives of their own.

We arranged parties at our house so we could make the most of the large space that we had, and to show off our hard work. Knowing that we were leaving, we wanted to make as much effort as possible.

I also shot myself in the foot, as I knew I was moving back to Australia, I didn’t join any mum’s groups or reach out to other new mums in the area. I did take Albie to baby sensory and baby massage at the local Thornton Children’s Centre, which was amazing, but didn’t make lasting friendships with the mums as again, I knew I was leaving.

Another group we went to was ‘Water Babies’ in Wigan Total Fitness (my old stomping ground), which we did two courses of (Albie completed his Chapter 2) from the age of three months. I’ll chat more about this in another post but will say that it was absolutely amazing and now that we’re living in Australia, Albie’s confidence in the water really shines through.

Albie swim

Back to our London trip, it was s special to me that we were able to spend the time together as a family and that the cost was irrelevant to me for the quality time that came as a result. I don’t know about other mums, but I really struggled with having inconsistency when it came to post baby income. I didn’t claim maternity in the UK and my two businesses in Australia were either running themselves at breakeven whilst I took the time with my new family, or went on hiatus for the same reason.

The fact that Stephen supported us for a year whilst I was in the UK was an absolute godsend and I’ll be eternally grateful, luckily I was able to secure some freelance PR work throughout the year to stop me losing my marbles completely, I was working until the night before I had my C section and started work from a freelance capacity nine weeks after Albie was born on a casual basis. I also started this blog and kept Sydney Social 101 afloat financially throughout this time, which again, helped to keep me sane.

An argument that kept (and continues) to come up is about money, which is hard to take when you’re so used to being independent and not relying on anybody. It’s hard enough not working anymore and feeling like you’re ‘just a mum’, without being reminded that you also aren’t earning a regular wage. It’s interesting now as Stephen is now the one who is at home with Albie for three days whilst I go to work, and he also now can’t work until his tourist visa expires and his de-facto visa kicks in. (I’ll do another post about the visa situation and my tips to make it as easy as possible).

I guess I am I a kind of lucky position that my partner now has some understanding that, although having the time with Albie is amazing as you watch your little person develop their personality, make you smile and when he giggles it melts your heat, it can also leave you feeling lonely (he doesn’t talk back) and intellectually (and financially!) suppressed. I would imagine that this is x 100 when you’re also in a new country, with not many friends of your own, no job and having just given up a job that you did for 12 years and sold a house that you put your heart, soul and savings into.

We have both been through so much in the nearly two years we have been together (seriously where did that time go!), as a result Stephen is my rock, but we are both guilty of taking our frustrations out on each other and we’re learning every day how to best communicate with each other, without resulting in a complete breakdown.

I’ll do a separate post about the big move (and all that comes with it, financially emotionally and personally) on here very soon. I get asked a lot about what it involved and how the hell we managed the flight with an eight month old! (Surprisingly the latter was much easier than we anticipated). It’s the ‘starting again’ which is the hardest, when you’re literally back to the drawing board when it comes to belongings, furniture and your home.

So here I am, back online with a breadth of stories and features to share with you, from flying with a little one, emigrating, struggling with motherhood, going back to work and constant communication breakdowns with your partner. There’s also some massive positives I’d love to chat to you guys about – living in this amazing city, activities for parents and children and the odd review and feature along the way!

We’ve been in Sydney for six weeks now and we’re finally finding our feet. I’ve started to work for an amazing new company in a senior role, we have moved into our new place in Waterloo (which is stunning and has an outdoor pool – living the dream), I’ve introduced Stephen to my friends and he has made new friends and we have our first trip to Brisbane this weekend as a family. A side of that, we only have a sofa, a fridge a bed and a cot furniture wise and we have to do a visa run for Albie next week – but it’s all about baby steps and holding on tight right?!

Ste Lisa

Thought so! Next post to follow real soon.

 

Lisa x

A Change of Pace

So what had initially started as a six-week trip had turned into a potential six-month trip to ensure that our family had the best start in life. In addition to reliving pressure, it also gave us a chance to actually start enjoying the pregnancy as a couple and not worry about more time apart.

The only thing was that it meant that I’d be apart from my lovely Sprite down under, who was due a week before me. This was the single biggest downside to our decision, but made it all the more exciting for when we were heading back down under.

It was all a big change for me, I’d gone from a party girl running Sydney Social 101 and being a senior consulting publicist, living on my own in Bondi and living by my rules. I’d never lived with a boy before, so this was a new experience for me too.

Let me be clear, there hasn’t been one single moment that I’ve thought I’ve taken the wrong path or have found myself doubting that this was the absolute right thing to do. I find myself counting my blessings that I’ve met someone like Stephen, that I’ve been able to get pregnant despite all my previous surgeries and that we’re in such a fortunate position. What I do find funny and hard to get my head around is what an absolute difference a year can make. The baby is due literally a year (almost to the day) that fate brought us together on the plane.

If you had said to me a year ago that I’d be living back in the UK (albeit temporarily), that I’d be living with my partner who I was completely in love with and that I’ve have a baby on the way, to put it simply I would’ve called you a liar (in the nicest possible way of course).

I guess that part of what I’ve found the most difficult in my transition from my Sydney life as a ‘socialite’ and running a start up – the time that I now have on my hands.

Here’s a typical day for my in Sydney:

8am – Wake up, check e-mails, make coffee, have a shower. Head out for first meeting of the day, log onto WIFI at a nice café, check emails again, respond t event invites, editorial opportunities and manage my team. Head to a lunch meeting, go to FIshburners and do some new business for the VIP 101 Cards, attend any meetings with client leads, final check of emails before heading to that evening’s event (whether it be a film premiere, launch of a new bar/ restaurant/ birthday party or fashion/ beauty launch). Head home about 10:30 – sleep, repeat

bondi abode
My Bondi abode
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Watching VIP exclusive Mark Ronson gig on The Island in the middle of Sydney Harbour
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Attending Belvedere winter ball at The Star as a VIP
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Attending the polo in the city event

I absolutely love my Sydney life, but perhaps didn’t realise how much I had on my plate. The above doesn’t take into consideration if I was consulting to an agency, or if I had my own PR clients to factor in also. Upon some reflection, I maybe was taking too much on and drowning in my own to-do list, but also feel like I operate at my best when I’m under pressure. When you compare to my new routine, you might understand why I was struggling with, dare I say it… boredom…

 

 

 

7am – Wake up, Ste has a shower, I check e-mails that have come through over night from Aus, I make us coffee and breakfast before Ste has to leave at 8am. I have a shower, get dressed. If it’s a day that I’m consulting to a PR agency here in UK I check my emails and do two hours selling in and email follow up/ PR proposal drafting. It’s now 1pm and I do the washing (if there is any, if not I find some), clean the kitchen. Go to the shops to get food in, take Louie for a walk. It’s now 3pm if I’m lucky, so I check my work emails again and action anything. Watch some trash TV and wait for Ste to come home. Cook dinner, have a few hours with Ste (which is the highlight of my day), have a bath if my adhesions are playing up to reduce the pain and then bed.

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Walking my gorgeous Lou Dog on Crosby Beach

 

Sure you can see quite the difference here. I fear though that I might have tried to much to fill my days as I now consult 10 days a month to PR agencies here in the UK and still do 4 days a month for the PR agency in Aus, whilst also still running SS101 (however my amazing team do much of this for me ‘on the ground’), so I’ve now also tried to build up Manchester and London Social 101 too – All whilst being 6/7 months pregnant, attending new business meetings in London and also being in a new relationship. Stephen worries that I’m taking too much on, which I totally get, however I fear it’s just in my blood to have the need to feel busy.

Oh I almost forgot too… we’re also doing up Ste’s house in preparation for the impending arrival of our little one, whilst also trying to make time for our relationship and families.

We did come to blows a couple of times as I got frustrated with feeling the house was top of list of priorities, when I just wanted to spend time with my partner after spending so much apart. I had to ask myself a lot whether I was acting rationally, or if it might be my pregnancy hormones making me be unreasonable. Luckily Ste is amazing and listens to me, but also tells me if he feels I’m not being fair. Its a good balance and it means that we can chat through any potential issues or frustrations before they become anything more.

It was a welcome break when we decided to head to Spain at the end of April to spend time with my mum and grannie, as the house, my work and everything else seemed to take president over Stephen and I spending quality time together.

Reunited at Last -Big Decisions

So here I was back in the UK, a nice full tummy after a lovely curry lunch at my dad’s local pub. I’d been back to my grannie’s house for a shower, freshened up before heading to see Stephen. I am very fortunate that my mum had insured me on the family car so that I had a set of wheels for the six weeks I was back in the UK.

 

Driving to see Stephen was just so exciting! When I got to his house and he opened the door I literally threw myself around him, it was so nice to see him in the flesh and not on Facetime! Don’t get me wrong, Facetime has a time and a place, but after 10 weeks, sometimes you just want to be with them in person.

 

We had take away and put the world to right, it was like we’d never been apart. He couldn’t get over how much my belly had grown and was just in awe, which was so special. The thing I love so much about being with Ste is that I can be 100% myself and that we’re so comfortable with each other- whilst still having the spark of course. I’ve often been told that with relationships, when it’s right it’s easy – it just works and feels right. I can honestly say that is the case with Ste and I. Don’t get me wrong, this includes being 100% yourself when you’re frustrated as well as when you’re on you’re A-Game. You need to be able to say how you feel and voice what you’re thinking without fear that it’s going to be taken the wrong way.

me n ste

Ste was keen to show me all he’d done with the house. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before but one of the reasons I’d decided to come back to the UK was to help Stephen finish his house before the big move down under. Stephen had the house for three years, but had unfortunately been left to his own devices so hadn’t got very far with the renovations – best laid plans and all. His bathroom was absolutely outstanding. We’re talking freestanding bath, walk in shower and his and hers sinks… but this was as far as he had got before we met.

 

It’s amazing how much having a baby can put a rocket up your ass (pardon my tone), Ste had been in a haze of painting, renovations and brickwork prior to my arrival. It was clear to see how much he’d done to the house, but also clear to see how much still needed to be done, and that’s before we’d even thought about renting/ selling before the big move… Six weeks seemed massively unrealistic and I could tell that we were both apprehensive about the looming due date deadline and the fact that I couldn’t really fly long haul after 32 weeks. I didn’t want to begin our time together chatting about timings of renovations, house stuff and the other pressures we were facing, so I kind of put it to the back of my mind and jut focused on how happy I was to be back with him.

 

When I arrived back in the UK I had some sad news about my dad’s cousin, my uncle Michael. He’d sadly passed away following a short fight with cancer. It had come as a massive shock to our family and we all of course wanted to show our support and to pay our respects. The funeral had been planned for the following Wednesday (a week after my arrival) in London. I’d arranged to go with my dad and family to stay for two nights, that way we could pay our respects, attend the funeral and I’d also get to spend some time with my dad, step mum Helen and brother Jack.

 

Over my first week Stephen and I spent all our time together when he wasn’t working, I caught up with my family and of course his. I also got to meet his mum for the first time, which was just lovely. Luckily Stephen had taken me to meet her back in October, but she hasn’t been in, so I felt better in the knowledge that he has wanted to introduce me to his mum before we’d found out we were going to have a family! I think it probably meant a lot to his mum too.

 

It was an interesting time for me as I’d never lived with a boy before, EVER! So I’d found myself going from single, Sydney socialite living in a Bondi studio on my own to being in love, in the UK, 22 weeks pregnant and living with my partner. Some might say this was a huge change, and they’d be 100% right. Whilst a huge change, it was absolutely for the better and I’d never felt more like this was where I was meant to be.

 

Stephen took my to the station for the funeral on the Wednesday morning, which was lovely. I’d decided to take the train there and to come back on the train on Friday night so that I could come back to Liverpool for the weekend.

 

The funeral was a lovely service and the wake was just so touching, it was clear to see how loved Michael was and how much he meant to those that knew him.

 

The day after the funeral was St Patrick’s Day, so my Dad, Step Mum and brother all decided to take a tour of London and to hole up in an Irish pub for the afternoon – which ended up being one of the best decision – for me and my sanity – sound ominous…? Bear with me.

 

The morning was spent exploring Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus and the Houses or Parliament. We saw some great sights, the sun was shining and it was great to spend such quality time with my dad.

London

For lunch we went to the Irish Bar near Leicester Square and I got chatting to my dad and step mum and Stephen and my plans in terms of having the baby down under, Stephen sorting out his visa and the house and everything else. It all seemed to overwhelming and I was struggling to figure out what exactly I wanted to do for the best.

 

I knew that I didn’t want the six weeks I was back in the UK to be all about finishing the house and for Stephen and I to neglect our relationship as a result and to not enjoy the pregnancy. At the same time however I didn’t want to return to Australia without him and have to spend another number of weeks without him there. I’d already spent so much of my pregnancy without him and our relationship was so new, the thought of even another four without him there, especially for my third trimester seemed daunting and not something I wanted at all.

 

I’d been mulling things over in my head and I think my dad could pick up that I had quite a bit on my mind. I opened up to my dad and Helen (my step mum) and spoke about how I was feeling and my predicament. After hearing my concerns my dad totally understood where I was coming from and advised that I should write a list of pros and cons for both options. Option 1 being to return to Oz as planned and for Stephen to follow ASAP and to have the baby there. Option 2 involved staying in the UK to help Stephen with the house and to have the baby here, then to move back once the house has been sold/ rented and the baby is ¾ months old – massively taking the pressure off – but the baby wouldn’t be an Australian citizen…

 

I came up with the following:

 

OPTION 1

 

  • The baby would be a resident of Australia
  • We wouldn’t be moving with a newborn baby
  • We get to start our new life in Oz ASAP
  • No house in Australia – I’d have to move on my own
  • I’d have to spend at last six weeks away from Stephen
  • I got to go back to my job in Oz
  • My mum had flights booked to be I Sydney when the baby was due
  • Stephen can’t work for six weeks upon arrival in Australia
  • Stephen’s family wouldn’t get to meet the baby until we returned from Oz on a holiday

 

OPTION 2

 

  • We get to relax and enjoy the pregnancy
  • I wouldn’t be spending any more if the pregnancy on my own
  • Stephen can have more time to finish the house
  • We have support following my C-section from family
  • Stephen’s and my family get to bond with baby
  • We get to move to Oz anyway, just a few months later
  • Stephen can continue to work and save for the move
  • I can work remotely (run my business from UK and also contract for UK PR agencies)
  • Whilst my mum would miss the birth, she’d get to spend more time with the baby overall in the first ¾ months

 

Overwhelmingly I started to think that the best option for our family was to take the pressure off Stephen with the house, to relax and enjoy the pregnancy and of course our relationship. I felt like since the moment we met we were always on a count down, or working towards a deadline. I wanted our relationship to be normal and for Stephen to not feel like everything was changing and that time was against him.

 

I was in a position where I didn’t have a place to live in Australia, my job was contract based and not permanent and I’m a resident of Australia, so can return at any time.

 

Stephen has a job in the UK that he’d been doing for ten years, a house that is I a perfect location near to the beach that was very much a work in progress and his family and friends. I wanted to let Stephen know that there was no pressure either way, but that I thought that it might be better in the long run for us to take the time pressure off and to start 100% enjoying the pregnancy and our relationship.

 

When I first spoke to Stephen about my thoughts on the phone, he was quite resistant to staying in the UK, he was keen to get to Australia to start our lives there and was worried that if we didn’t go before the baby was born that we wouldn’t go. I had to stress to him that I had no grand designs on moving back to the UK, that I’d moved to Oz nearly seven years ago and it was where I considered home. I explained that I was trying to look at our situation objectively and not emotionally and to do what was best for our baby and us in the long run. Once I started to explain about the house, our time together (and the quality of it) and the support we’d probably need after the birth he started to agree and understand that it probably would be for the best to take our time, step back and have the baby in the UK.

 

I felt relieved that we were in agreement, but had a few things to consider about the impact of our decision and how it affected my family and friends in Australia….

Long Distance and Second Trimester

After a whirlwind five-week break and the most amazing time with Stephen the 16th January came by much quicker than we’d anticipated, the day his flight was booked to return home. Prior to Stephen leaving we’d had a chat about what our plan would be in terms of him coming to Australia, where we’d have the baby and what the next steps would be. I’d had quite a bit of time to think about what was best and I wanted to make sure that I was sharing the load. It didn’t go unnoticed that Stephen was prepared to give up his job, his life in Liverpool, living close to his family and of course his home!

 

I’d suggested that I go back to the UK for six week to help him to finish his house and anything else that might make the move easier on him. He agreed that this was a good idea. Due to the nature of my work, being a freelancer and running my own business, I am very fortunate that I’m flexible with my working hours and that a lot of my work can be done remotely.

I’d managed to secure a eight week contract working for a PR agency in Sydney for four days a week and that contract would finish at the beginning of Marc h. In terms of timing, this worked out perfectly. It meant that I could earn some money to pay for my trip home and to also put some savings to one side. I booked my flight back to Manchester for the 6th March, returning to Sydney on the 20th April (hopefully with Stephen in tow).

 

When he left Australia, it was really hard knowing that for the next eight weeks I would be facing the second trimester of my pregnancy without him. It was daunting, but I knew that it was all working towards a better future for our little family. I threw myself into work and we reverted back to speaking via phone calls, texts and e-mails.

 

The second trimester of my pregnancy was surprisingly easy with regards to any niggles, pains or weight gain (or anything else that comes with growing a baby).

 

I consider myself massively lucky as my best friend, who I’ve known since I was 16 and had moved to Australia the day after me in Jan 2009 had found out that she too was pregnant – and due a week before me! We just couldn’t believe it! Neither were planned pregnancies, but the parallels in both of our life stories are just uncanny and there isn’t anyone else in the world that I’d want to be going through this with. It helped me a great deal with Stephen not being there. Anne-Marie was and is a huge support and a great sounding board relating to not only pregnancy, but also matters of the heart.

lis and sprite 2

I think sometimes with me being pregnant, it was easy to forget that Stephen and I were in the throws of a relatively new relationship. We’d only been officially together since October and we were not only in January. We were learning so much about each other every day, whilst also trying to figure out our future and how we worked together as a couple.

 

I wasn’t under any disillusion that there would be family and friends that had their concerns about our relationship and how fast we were progressing. That’s’ not to say that they weren’t massively happy for us, they just wanted me to be happy and of course were very protective of me, in part due to my history. I was also astutely aware that the two times that Stephen and I had spent together hadn’t been ‘real life’ I hadn’t been working, we’d been on holiday and very much in the honeymoon period. I think we’d both be lying if we said that we didn’t have concerns about how we would function in the realm of ‘normal’ (what ever that is) day-to-day life.

 

That’s why I think it was so important for us to have the six weeks with me in the UK, living with him, him working etc. almost as a ‘warm up’ if you will for the ‘real deal’.

I don’t think I have to lament over the magnitude of the path we had ahead of us and how important it was that we did things for the right reasons and understood that we were both working towards the same end goal – to be a happy a healthy family who loved and respected each other.

 

I made the huge decision to give up my lovely Bondi studio after two amazing years there. It was far too small for a family of three (plus Louie the dog), plus I didn’t want to have to deal with the stress of finding tenants during the six weeks I was going to be in the UK. Luckily I have some fantastic friends who offered for me to stay with them over the next two months in return for puppy sitting duties and providing my great company, ha!

 

Work was going great and I even had a colleague that was due the day before me, there was definitely something in the water! It was getting harder each time I spoke to Stephen as I missed him so much, and so much of what you say over texts can be misunderstood. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were both working towards the same end goal, which sometimes seemed so far away.

 

 

I’ve got something to tell you…

I returned to Sydney and threw myself back into work on Sydney Social 101 and the first couple of weeks went by in a blur, I missed Stephen massively, but we of course spoke on the phone every day. We both spoke about the amazing time we’d had back in the UK and continued to book our plans for Vietnam and Stephen’s first trip to Sydney.

I had been back three weeks when I started to feel a little under the weather; I felt nauseous and tired all the time and wasn’t sure what was up.

I decided to book an appointment at the doctors to make sure everything was ok, I had been burning the candle at both ends, whilst also travelling all the way around the globe and then back again so didn’t honestly think too much of it. I managed to squeeze a last minute appointment with my GP before work the next day.

The first thing the doctor asked me was when my last period was… which threw me a little – I explained that I only had a dot of an ovary and had eight eggs frozen in the UK due to my uncertain fertility. My GP still stressed for the date, so I told her. To my complete shock she asked me to take a pregnancy test. Which I did. To utter amazement, it came up positive almost immediately and to say I was surprised was an understatement, after everything I’d been through I didn’t think I could get pregnant, let alone so quickly after meeting someone, no matter how special they seemed to be.

My head was a spin of emotions, excitement, fear, and happiness – so many things to process I couldn’t figure out what to think. All I knew was that I wanted to make sure everything was ok with the pregnancy before I told Stephen the impending news… My GP managed to get me in for a dating scan the following day. I didn’t sleep a wink that night as I couldn’t believe what was happening and I was worried how Stephen might take the news….

The scan was a 10am the next day, so I’d already told Stephen that I had a doctor’s appointment and that I’d call him straight after – so he was expecting my call. I told him I’d left my charger at work the night before as I knew I wouldn’t be able to speak to him and not tell him what was going on.  I went in for the scan and couldn’t help but feel a little bit excited as I sat in the chair. The sonographer was the nicest person and put me at east straight away. He picked up the embryo on the screen immediately and was even able to pick up a heartbeat. The date of the pregnancy was just over five weeks, I simply couldn’t’ believe it.

As soon as I left the clinic I phoned Stephen, who had been waiting up for my call. My heart was racing, but I still felt a sense of ease in knowing that I had to tell him I was pregnant with our baby. As soon as he answered, the words just fell out of my mouth and he was pretty stunned, to say the least. He just kept on saying “Oh my days” over and over again and then quickly realized that I was on the other side of the phone (after about a minute, ha!) and immediately asked how I was feeling.

We proceeded to have a really good chat about how we were feeling, I explained that I was excited that it was with him, but if I could’ve done it differently, I would’ve liked it to maybe be in a year’s time… However I was so happy that I was able to get pregnant and that I wouldn’t have wanted this to happen with anybody else.

After a lengthy, open chat we both felt a buzz of excitement as Stephen realized that at 41, he felt ready to have a baby and was happy that it was with me. I felt so lucky that I’d been able to get pregnant, as I know how much of a gift it is and how much my friends have struggled.

We knew that we had our five-week trip ahead of us in three weeks and literally couldn’t wait to be back with other and talk about the new future that had been set out in front of us.

On the 15th December, the day after my 31st birthday, I boarded my flight to Vietnam, knowing that he was doing the same from Manchester. I was beyond excited to see him again and couldn’t wait to just get a hug from him.

When I touched down in Hanoi, I was tired, the flight wasn’t easy with the lovely nausea that the first trimester brings and having to walk around the plane every 30 minutes. Despite the tiredness I was consumed with excitement and couldn’t wait to get to the hotel. Stephen has arrived two hours before me, so was sleeping in the room.

As I got to the hotel concierge took my bags and escorted me to the room, as the lift headed up to the 9th floor my stomach was doing somersaults. We knocked on the door and my heart was racing. Stephen took a while to come to the door, he opened it and was stood there v sleepy in his dressing gown, I just threw myself around him! I was beyond thrilled to be back in his arms and he felt the same.

Things didn’t feel any different, although we both kept saying that we couldn’t believe that I was actually pregnant! The first night we went out for dinner and then headed back to the room and just crashed out and watched a movie, it was absolute heaven!

The trip went by in a blur and was the absolute trip of a lifetime. The first trimester of my pregnancy didn’t bother me too much, apart from me having to be more careful with my food choices than I normally would be (food makes me happy and I usually love trying international cuisines).

In Vietnam we travelled to Halong Bay, Hoi An, Nah Trang and Saigon for Christmas day. The sights were incredible and we just didn’t stop laughing the whole time!

 

Upon our return to Sydney at the end of December, we spent New Year at Watson’s Bay Hotel in Sydney and toasted (mine was orange juice) to 2016 and all that we had in store.

The three weeks in Sydney were spent showing Stephen the sights and introducing him to what was to be his new home. I also had my best friend Sophie visiting Australia with her husband, who Stephen got along famously with, so it all worked out perfectly.

I couldn’t believe that in a matter of six months and a chance meeting with a handsome stranger on a plane had lead to this exciting new beginning and I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.

On the 13th January 2016 we had our 12-week scan and were able to see the heartbeat together this time and our little baby move on the screen. Such a special moment in time that I was so thrilled that we were able to spent it together.

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Travels to Mend the Soul

I returned back to Sydney in December 2013 and didn’t look back. However I feel that I must be honest in saying that 2014 was certainly a year where I learned a lot about myself and found myself unsure of knowing where my place was in Sydney. I missed the UK, but knew in my heart that Sydney was where I wanted to be.

It was difficult after spending a year away to go back to the routine and life I’d grown to love in Sydney before I left. Friendships had evolved and the ‘dream job’ that I returned to Sydney for turned out to be anything but.

Never one to throw in the towel, or to let a difficult time dampen my spirit, I kept moving forwards and realised that at 29 it was time to live on my own and to give my business (www.sydneysocial101.com) a real go – time to focus on me! I moved into a rented studio in Sydney, but it was my own space, a place to call home and it helped that it was only two short minutes walk from Bondi Beach – a lifelong dream of mine.

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View from the rooftop of my new place – heaven!

I’ve always been a believer that you control your own destiny and that you have to carve your own path and listen to your gut, this has never lead me more so in the right direction than this time in my life. I began spending more time with amazing friends that built me up, rather than drag me down. I found that a true test of friendship was when they are there for you when you’re at your lowest, not just when you’re riding high!

I threw myself into my business and launched a concept that I’d been chipping away at for over 12 months, whilst also carving out a solid publicity work portfolio of freelance work, including working for one of the biggest film producers in the entire world. Life was starting to move into the right direction after one year back down under.

I had the most amazing 30th celebrations on a boat with 40 of my closest friends on Sydney Harbour, a time I’ll never forget.

I also had a trip booked to Philippines over new year, which would involve scuba diving (a true passion of mine), relaxing times and discovery. I had a very good feeling as the sun rose on Boracay Beach in the Philippines on January 1st 2015.

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Boracay Beach NYD 2015

My friends who I travelled to the the Philippines with both felt exactly the same. We had a deep conversation about the excitement of contemplating the year that had just been, it has been less than ideal for all of us, and of course the year that had yet to come. We laughed about where we would be in 12 months on NYE 2015/16 and what the next 12 months would hold.

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Diving in El Nido – Philippines

Little did each of the three of us know that 2015 held so much more in store for us than we ever could’ve imagined possible…

A year that began with a trip of a lifetime to the Philippines only got better and better,  I got to travel to many far away shores including, Fiji and Taiwan, whilst planning a six week trip to Europe in July/ August including planned jaunts to Ibiza, Amsterdam and Spain.

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Cloud 9 in Fiji – May
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Me and the girls in Fiji – May
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Media Famil in Taiwan – June
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Taiwan Media Famil

I was loving the freedom of travelling to places I’d never seen with family and friends, but also felt in my heart that I wished that I had that special someone to share it with.

In July my mum came to visit me in Sydney for three weeks, I was thrilled that we got to spend some quality time together and I’d booked some special trips for us, including a cheeky little getaway to Hunter Valley.

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Me and my mum – Hunter Valley – July 2015

After our three week trip, which was just lovely,  I had a flight booked to the UK with my mum for my six week European vacation. We had a long 24-hour flight ahead of us, little did we know that it was set to be a journey that would change my life forever..