1st January 2020

I have awoken today full of inspiration and ambition. As cliche as that sounds, I haven’t felt this way in a very long time. I have used this festive period for a bit of reflection and personal growth and to take stock of my life. 2019 has been one of the hardest years of my life, but also one of the best. We welcomed our first child, and faced all the challenges that come with this. It is true when people tell you nothing can prepare you for being a parent. I left my job to become a stay at home mum, something I swore blind I would never do. My body and my mind are changed beyond recognition and its taken me a while to come to terms with how different I am. Some of the changes I do not like, but some of them have made me a better and deeper person. My parents emigrated to France, something they have always wanted to do. I am overjoyed that they are finally able to live their dream, but I do miss having them just down the road. We welcomed my father-in-law from South Africa, and it is lovely to have family who were so far away, now so close.

I have high hopes for 2020. I’m not one for resolutions really, I think self improvement should be a continuous goal, not one just for the start of the year to be forgotten about in a few weeks. My boy is now a year old, and a fantastic little human. I feel we have climbed a huge mountain by making it through his first year intact. My husband and I have never loved each other more, and our little boy is the light of our lives and such a content child. If that isn’t the greatest achievement of my life I don’t know what is.

When I remember myself before I had a child, I can barely recognise that person. I was pretty happy with who I was, despite perhaps being a bit short tempered and opinionated. I thought I knew the world and how it felt to live in it, but looking back now its like I was living in black and white, and now everything is in full 4K colour. I feel everything so much more since having a child. Love, anger, hatred, patience, sadness, happiness, judgement, joy, irritation, excitement. It takes a bit of getting used to. Films I used to be indifferent to now leave me in tears and aching inside. I used to be able to look through the suffering on the news, I didn’t like to hear about the horrors and injustices of the world, but they were far away, easy to avoid. Now I feel strongly about everything. What if that was my child? What if my child was in that war zone, what would I do? What if I couldn’t protect them? What if someone took him or hurt him? What if he hurt himself? The world seems like a much darker and more dangerous place now I have something more precious than life its self to lose.

Feeling in colour is not a bad thing but it does take some getting used to. I now know what it feel like to be a child again. Kids feel things in their purest form. They haven’t been worn down by the horrors of the world, the drudgery of everyday life. They allow themselves to feel the full power of an emotion, and its beautiful to behold. I know when my boy smiles at me, all he is feeling is joy and love and in turn that passes to me. When I hear him laugh or see him smile, I’m lucky enough to share in his pure joy. Equally, when he is frustrated, tired or sad, I know all about it in no uncertain terms, but I will always do my best to help him though it. The gift of adulthood is knowing how to regulate and rationalise your negative emotions. The curse is we do it to our positive ones too.

Despite mentioning above that I am not one for resolutions, I have decided to set myself some general goals for the year. The first being to try and carry this positive feeling though the whole year, and not to get bogged down in the day to day irritations. My life is great. I’m doing well. Its VERY different to what I expected, but it is fulfilling and and meaningful just the same. I have everything I need.

The second is to lose some weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Try and drink a few less fancy coffees and do a few more classes at the gym! I know this will benefit me mentally as well as physically.

The third is to remain present. I spend too much time worrying about things that haven’t happened or that might happen and not enough time just living in the moment. I’ll never get back any of the time that has passed so I may as well make the most of it. Life really is too short for regrets. I need to take chances when they come, and move on when something doesn’t go my way.

The final one is to continue my quest for knowledge. Learning and writing bring me joy, so I need to make time for it.

This is a letter to myself really. This year is a chance to do better and to be better. I need to take it.

Induction Birth Story

I was one of the lucky women who has a really positive birth experience. I was quite nervous about the actual act of giving birth. Being a first time mum I had no idea what to expect and all I had heard was horror stories. I wasn’t scared of the pain as such, but more the likelihood of things going wrong or losing control of the situation. I imagine I had all the same fears as any first time mum who had google at her fingertips.

As I had developed gestational diabetes, I was due to be induced. This is because GD can cause a whole host of issues with your developing baby, especially if you are left to go over 40 weeks. As I understand it, GD is caused by the hormones generated during pregnancy affecting your pancreas’s ability to make insulin, meaning that your body cannot process glucose properly. One of the main problems you can have with GD is a larger than normal baby. They grow bigger due to the increased glucose in your blood. Excessive exposure to the increased glucose can cause your baby’s blood sugar to fluctuate and a host of different health issues for both mother and baby, so its very important to take the diagnosis seriously. I was monitoring my blood sugar 4 times a day and had strict targets to keep it under.

As I mentioned above, I was due to be induced. I had managed to keep my diabetes solely diet controlled so I was allowed to go almost full term. I was going to be induced at 39 weeks but that would have been Christmas Eve so fortunately they were happy to let me carry on to 39+6 days. This takes us to 29th December.

I called the hospital that morning after a somewhat restless nights sleep. I was very nervous as all I had heard about induction was pretty terrifying. Stories of failed pessaries, increased pain and risks of emergency c-sections and interventions had really set me on edge. I was told to arrive at the hospital for 9:30 that morning and spent the time prior to this frantically checking and rechecking my hospital bag until my husband took it out to the car. We live 10 mins from the hospital so really he could come back and get anything I’d forgotten but my nerves were getting the better of me by this point.

Once we arrived at the ward I actually felt much better. Things were moving along now. I was hooked up to a monitor to check the baby’s movements and my contractions. After a while on the ward I was examined and had the 24 hour pessary inserted. At this point I was only 1 cm dilated and my cervix was not favourable to childbirth at all. I settled in for a long stay as induction can take a few days and various drugs to get you going. With it being my first birth I was expecting my body to need maximum cajoling. You have to lie still for an hour after the pessary is inserted, but once that was over my husband and I set off on a jaunt around the hospital. They say walking around can get things started and it certainly worked for me. I began contracting on and off. I can even remember thinking “Wow, this isn’t so bad, I can do this!” but that was just the start!

Fast forward 9 hours or so and I was still contacting irregularly, although they were take-your-breath-away painful by this point. I resigned myself to a sleepless night and sent my husband home to sleep. I thought at least one of us should get a few hours in! However, no sooner had he arrived home with his McDonald’s, I was calling him back. I had stood up to get back onto the birthing ball and bounce for a bit, and blood had started to pour down my legs and my pain had seriously ramped up. I was contracting every 40 seconds so I struggled to get out to the nurses station to ask for help (I have no idea why I didn’t just press the call button, but hindsight is a wonderful thing). They examined me and proclaimed I was 4cm and needed to be transferred to the labour ward right now as this was it! I made the shortest ever call to my husband and just sort of screamed “COME BACK ITS TIME” down the phone.

He arrived back in record time and I was wheeled down the corridor to a labour room. I had requested a water birth and fortunately for me there was a room free. At first I was told I wouldn’t be able to have the water birth as they were concerned about my bleeding. I was examined and they decided with a continuous trace on the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions I could get into the pool. In the half an hour it had taken to get to the room I had dilated another two centimetres so I was well on my way by this point.

My memory gets a bit hazy from this point as I was concentrating and in a lot of pain. I tried the gas and air but I couldn’t get on with it so I ploughed on without. The contractions came thick and fast. The pain is immense, but I was weirdly separate from it. It was a means to an end. It was pain, but it’s positive pain, because it’s your body doing what it’s meant to do. Every single contraction I wondered if I could carry on, or if this was it for me, but then it passed and I was okay for a minute, steeling myself for the next one. By all accounts I was making some very interesting sounds and using very colourful language. My mother tells me I was very rude to my husband which is appallingly cliche!

Two hours passed in this fashion, though I had lost all sense of time by this point and it felt like forever and no time at all at the same time. suddenly the sensation of the contractions changed. The pain stopped and all I could feel was this overwhelming urge to push. It felt to me like if I didn’t push, I would die. That was how strong the urge was. I can remember the midwife telling me to breathe through it as this was all happening very fast but I couldn’t. I HAD to push. So push I did. It was seriously hard work but I was just happy it was going to be over soon. I was pushing for about half an hour apparently. I can remember the exact feeling of his head being born. I have never been so relieved in all my life. Oh my god it was pure elation (followed closely by the searing pain of a second degree tear) but all the pain and the sweat and the tears are nothing compared to the feeling of bringing a new person into the world. A person who up until 9 months ago didn’t even exist. I’d already given this baby everything I had, and I was happy to do it. The feeling is like nothing I’ve ever known.

It was fleeting though, because at this point the midwives started pressuring me to continue pushing as they had lost the trace on his heart rate and were concerned. The contractions had really died off after the head was born, but I pushed some more and there he was! My baby boy was bundled into my arms and I was hurried out of the birthing pool as I was bleeding a lot and they needed to have a look at what was going on. They gave me an injection to get my placenta out sharpish and started pulling on the cord to encourage it, which was a pretty gross feeling. It was even worse when the cord snapped and sprayed us all with blood! But eventually my placenta came out with a little bit of palpating my stomach. That was quite nasty and I really didn’t enjoy that, but I was looking at my baby the whole time and wondering how in the hell I managed to get that out of me.

They stitched me up and put me back together and then they left us to bond. It all felt very surreal to me. I could not believe we had a small human to keep alive, much less that I had just expelled them from my body.

I had a good birth as they go. I was kept informed and in control of my own care. My induction was successful and I can’t imagine it was any more (or less!) painful than a spontaneous birth. I didn’t use any pain relief, but I can totally understand why people do! How ever you have your baby, it’s a damn amazing thing to do. Be proud of the mothers in your life, because they are the reason we are all here.


My pregnancy was generally quite easy, despite a few complications. I was about 6 weeks pregnant when we found out, having taken a test due to the fact I could NOT get enough hummus. I had previously hated the stuff but I was getting through a tub a day! I had the usual morning sickness (although definitely not limited to the morning!) and fatigue attributed to the first trimester pretty much within a few days of finding out. I think I had been feeling off and not understood why before that. I can remember wondering how it was possible to feel so tired, but wow, that was nothing!

At 7 weeks pregnant I did have a bit of drama. I had a bleed at work. I called the hospital and was told to go to the walk in centre as I was before 12 weeks and obviously that is when you are most likely to miscarry. I was beside myself with worry. After a four hour wait I was seen by a doctor (it was 10pm by this point) and he was also concerned I was miscarrying. I was referred for an emergency scan. Thankfully the scan showed a healthy little pip in there. We could see the heart beating and everything was in the correct place. The bleed, however, was due to a sizeable cyst that had developed on my ovary. The doctors werent concerned however and it was decided wed just keep an eye on it. Luckily for me it had shrunk by my 12 week scan and was no longer a problem.

At our 12 week scan we had the usual tests, and it came back that I had ‘low PAPP-A’. This is a hormone that the placenta makes and is detected in the mothers blood. Recent research has shown that low levels of this hormone can indicate future problems with the placenta. These issues can lead to low birth weight in babies and occasionally still birth, but that’s not very likely at all.

Obviously this news was pretty upsetting to start with, but once we had spoken to the doctors I felt much better about it. We were offered additional growth scans and monitoring to make sure everything was in order, and I continued on my merry way through pregnancy with it at the back of my mind, but not massively worried about it.

By 20 weeks my morning sickness had tapered off and I was feeling pretty good considering. I had just started showing a very small bump, though you might just have thought I was a bit thick in the middle if you didn’t know me. The second trimester was definitely the best. It was during this trimester we took a holiday to Biarritz, our last as a couple. We had a lovely time and things felt very real once it was over.

Once back home, it was straight back to the hospital for me. Due to my medical history, I was due a glucose tolerance test as I was at risk of gestational diabetes. The test is pretty nasty. You have to fast for 12 hours (not easy when you are pregnant!) and then have a blood test. They then give you a truly gross glucose drink that tastes like a dusty orange. You have 10 mins to drink the whole thing, then you have to sit still for 2 hours for your body to deal with the glucose. It was very boring I have to say. After this 2 hours, you have another blood test and you are free to go. By this time I hadn’t eaten for about 18 hours so off to Costa I went for my last meal as a non-diabetic!

I was diagnosed with Gestational diabetes at 24 weeks. This was pretty upsetting for me as obviously this carries serious risks for your developing baby (and I had been caning the carbs up to this point). I began to monitor my sugars by testing my blood 4 times per day. I was fortunate as I managed to keep my sugars controlled by diet alone.

After this diagnosis things were pretty plain sailing. I was due to be induced at 39+6 weeks as the growth scans and placenta checks had all been okay. I went into hospital to be induced on 29th December and Alistair was born that night at 00:08.

The Journey Begins…

Contrary to what my sixteen year old self would have believed, my life has followed a somewhat conventional path up to this point. I left school at eighteen with a couple of below average A-levels and an idea that I would work and do a degree a at the same time. I was fortunate in that a family friend offered me a job at his engineering factory. I jumped at this chance as the money and prospects were way better than the waitressing job I had been doing while I was in school.

I began my job at the factory in October 2012. I had been working at weekends since I was 15, but this was my first “real” job and I was excited. Things went well and I enjoyed the work. I was in the inspection and packing department. A few weeks into the job I met one of the boys who worked the machines at the other end of the factory. His name was Ryan and he was South African. We caught each others eye right away and it wasn’t long before we had arranged our first date, dinner and a movie. We had a fantastic time despite discovering our 12 year age gap (he looked young and I looked old apparently). We instantly clicked and ever since that first date we haven’t spent more than a few days apart. By December I was spending every weekend staying with him at his sisters house, where he lived. Things were pretty serious and we arranged to meet each others parents. I feel like this was much easier for him as I had to fly half way round the world to meet his mum and dad and all he had to do was drive round the corner!

Our first photo together

We planned our trip to South Africa for the September of 2013. I was very excited as I had never been much further than France. We spent three and an half weeks there and I met all the extended family and saw loads of the country Ryan had grown up in.

Chapmans peak in Capetown

After this holiday I moved in with Ry and we lived with his sister, Bobby, and her family. This was the arrangement for about two years until we decided to buy our first house. The house hunt was a short one. I think we only viewed about 4 or 5 houses before we settled on the house we now live in. It needed some work but we were excited to make it our own.

First step across the threshold!

Two years passed happily in our little home when Ryan decided to organise a trip to Iceland with my family for Christmas. I had always wanted to go as I am very into geology and I’ve always thought it was a beautiful and alien place. We had a fabulous time. On the 23rd December, Ry organised a trip for just the two of us. He had researched a hot spring that was off the beaten track for us to hike to. I was very excited as this is exactly the sort of thing that interests me. The hike to the top of the mountain where the hot springs were located was an adventure. The snow was deep and the path treacherous. There is only four hours of daylight in Iceland at that time of year too so time was of the essence. I remember getting a bit nervous about all these factors as we made the assent but Ryan was adamant we had to make it to the top and swim in the hot river. I’m glad we did! The scenery was spectacular and it really was an adventure with mild to moderate peril.

Once we reached the river we prised off our frozen clothes and shoes ( it was about minus seven degrees Celsius) and jumped in the water. Ryan offered me a drink from our supplies which I declined, but as I turned to look at him I saw him there in the hot river on one knee. No wonder he was so desperate to get to the top! I said yes, and the next stage of our life together began.


We returned home just after Christmas and I went into full bride mode. We set a date and I attempted to plan my wedding. We gave ourselves eighteen months to get the wedding sorted and chose the twentieth May 2017 to marry. The day was perfect. My mother made our wedding cake and Ryan’s best friend sang “Say You Won’t Let Go” as our first dance. We honeymooned in Mauritius and it was beautiful. We had entered yet another stage of our lives together and we couldn’t have been happier.

Nine months on from our wedding we once again levelled up our life together when we decided to start trying for a child. This is where Alistair’s story begins!

Christmas Day 2018, 5 days before we met you