2018 has been a bit of a life-changing year for me – with some brilliant highs and some not so great lows. I figured a ‘round up’ post would be a good place to start my blog as what’s happened this year will largely form the basis of my story here. Plus I managed to get myself in to gear (3 months later than planned, because you know….sh*t happens) to launch this on New Year’s Eve so the subject seems appropriate!
A new kind of grief
I had my eyes opened this year to a new kind of grief after processing our first miscarriage and also experiencing a second one more recently. One where you grieve for a life that should be there, that should be just beginning and wonder what path may have laid ahead for them….for you… (as opposed to one that’s come to the end and a grief that you’ll never see that person again or have a new experience with them). I’m not saying one is better or worse than the other – just different. This was grieving for an experience that would never happen, or at least not beyond my womb. What would’ve been the due date of our second baby (May 2018) was particularly difficult for me and it took all I could to get out of bed and carry on over that period. It felt overwhelming and worrying – but slowly the black cloud lifted and I learnt that you just have to ride it, take what was coming and know it will pass. It’ll never disappear completely but that paralysing feeling does lift eventually. That was such a relief – it’s true what they say about learning to live with a new normal after you’ve experienced a miscarriage. I guess I’ve started to learn what my new normal is this year….
A new kind of strength
With the rough comes the smooth. Many good things have happened this year too, most of which were propelled forwards by the experience of grief and of losing our baby. Never knowing what’s around the corner….so why not now? 2018 saw us up sticks from London – the place we’ve happily called home for 12 years – and head to a coastal village in West Dorset which is the kind of place we’ve dreamed of for years (rolling hills, thatched cottages – me, crashing waves – him). In search of a more simple way of living - it’s also meant a step away from the pressures of a big job, an opening of my eyes to a life less stressful and ultimately, more joyful. The experience of no Sunday night blues for as long as I can remember is something to cherish! I’ve left behind many things I thought I valued but haven’t missed. I remember writing a few months back that I hope I never find out what it feels like to have another miscarriage….well I do now and I was able to draw upon previous experience and find strength to cope with something that felt impossible. I have also found strength in starting to get my head around the fact that we may never have another child (my endometriosis and 2 miscarriages makes me wonder if we can get things to line up again) but I have found deep fulfilment in the life I have in front of me, in the precious child I hold in my arms. I do genuinely feel so lucky for what we have been blessed with and if we don’t have another child, I don’t feel as though our lives will be any less complete. Perhaps it's self-protection or perhaps it’s because I’m much happier in my life now in general and therefore another child would be a wonderful, wonderful addition but it’s not the sole source of happiness.
Starting from scratch
The first question people tend to ask me when I explain the big move we made earlier this year is ‘so do your family live there? ’Errm….no.‘ ‘Oh ok – friends?’ ‘Errm….also no.’ It was just the three of us, plonking ourselves in a place we had a really good feeling about but apart from that, a whole heap of faith! No friends, no family nearby. We were daunted but excited. I remember the night before we moved when the only belonging of ours that wasn’t packed was our bed to sleep on that night. I listened to our neighbour pottering around upstairs (we lived in a rented flat for 6 months after selling our house), hearing repeated sirens in the distance and thinking ‘this is all about to change in such a big way’. With both of us willing to take a leap in to the unknown, it was an exciting journey and whenever one of us was feeling a little unsure, the other was able to reassure that things would work out. And if not, nothing is forever – we have to try at least. We both definitely felt a little ‘at sea’ (pun intended) in those first few months as we established a routine and got to know things a bit around here. But we still get giddy with excitement at turning down a lane and a patchwork of green fields opening up before us, rolling down towards the sea. My heart skips a beat that this is the place we call home! We’ve only been here 7 months but I feel such pride that this is where we live. I have felt bereft leaving for trips that are more than a few hours long – and I no longer feel too bothered about going away on holiday (Johnny thinks I’m mad so this might just be me and my home-bird tendencies!) In the last couple of months, I’ve started to make friends and really feel that we belong here – meeting women, other mothers, who are pretty much identical in their outlook on life has been such a joy. I’ve felt like I’ve arrived in to a friendship circle which just feels so easy. Special thanks to Anna and Sophie for bringing me in to the fold :)
Living with less
I have fewer belongings that I’ve ever had and this year helped to cement for me how to curate a capsule wardrobe that means you no longer want or need more (thank you Jessica Rose Williams). I can’t remember the last time I browsed online just looking at clothes and I think this year is the first I haven’t been lured by the sales advertisements. It definitely feels like I’ve broken the consumerism cycle in this regard – which I’m quite pleased about! We also saw quite a substantial drop in our household income as we left behind the London bubble – but it hasn’t felt like a hardship. In fact, I’ve saved more money than I ever have before because our outgoings are so much less. And all of this has allowed for an easier life – less stressful in terms of accountability at work, getting dressed in the mornings is (generally…) a breeze as everything in my wardrobe goes together and we have so much more time together as a family.
The coming year will (hopefully) see our house renovations start in the autumn – we had planning permission granted just before Christmas (yay!) Interiors are an obsession of mine and creating a sanctuary at home I think is really important for wellbeing – I’ve already got mood boards and spreadsheets coming out of my ears so I’ll be sharing that journey along the way. I also have a couple of projects that I’m putting money aside for and hope to be able to share more of as the year progresses. And it goes without saying that we’ll be doing more settling in to this new place we call home, sharing learnings from living in a very different way to how we used to. All in all, I am excited to see what 2019 brings!