I have spent a lot of time looking ahead and planning for the future in both my business and my personal life. In the summer of 2017, with the realisation that I would rather be happy by myself than have a child with the wrong man, I recognised that quite a lot in life is down to luck and chance rather than design. Furthermore, I really believe that in order to let new things happen in your life it’s important to let go of some of the old stuff. In my case the ‘old stuff’ was understanding that maybe there was another way and that I didn’t need to keep chasing after the ‘norm’.
With hindsight I can see that during my time with ‘Mr Nice’ I had already started the process of redesigning my life to ensure that I was living as I truly wanted. That summer I celebrated the first of many successes in my business (I became a Stella&Dot STAR stylist), and boosted my income utilising my previous career by undertaking work as a marketing contractor. I also enjoyed more travelling with a trip to Dublin, a girl’s holiday in Ibiza, a yoga retreat in the French Alps and visiting friends in Holland.
As a “young” single lady, I was ‘living my best life’ as the saying goes;
Definition of ‘Living my best life’: Living up to your full potential. Instead of putting off the things I wanted to do until ‘someday’ in the future, doing them now. Recognising that life is finite and you don’t have to wait to feel fulfilled. It also means living a balanced life.
This was absolutely the approach to life I had found; I was trying out lots of new things and deciding what was for me and what I needed in my life, whilst considering what aspects of my life I was willing to shelve/pause/stop.
My love for travel was one of these. Whilst acknowledging you can travel once you have a family, which I have witnessed many times, I appreciate people’s flexibility to travel once they have children changes quite dramatically. It was at this point I decided that, if 2018 was to be the year I started the process of trying for a baby, my wanderlust deserved a fantastic solo travel adventure before going on hiatus.
I spent the rest of the year working hard, playing hard and planning my trip. At the start of December I left the UK for a 6 week trip with stops in Hong Kong, Sydney, Fiji, New Zealand and India on the itinerary. Christmas and New Year were spent with family in New Zealand, where I embarked on plenty of people watching, whilst India allowed me to stretch the mind and body. Despite landing in England on a typically wet and windy January day, I didn’t feel at all depressed or anxious as I had done when returning home from previous trips. Instead I felt a sense of calm and being ready for the next stage in my journey.
Despite my excitement about the year ahead, my return was also greeted by sadness. Whilst I’d been away, my Grannie’s health had taken a turn for the worse and at the beginning of February, just 3 days after her 97th birthday she passed away.
My Grannie was an amazing lady, she had lived through the second world war, married her sweet heart and had 2 children, my Dad and my Auntie Jane, grandchildren, and great grandchildren that she knew and loved (another 2 have joined the clan since she left us). Grannie really wanted us all to be happy and she knew that, for me, this meant having a family. Whilst she wasn’t here to witness the next stage of my life, I am sure that she would have been accepting and supportive of the decisions I made.
Until this point all my thoughts and research on ‘project leapfrog’ were based on articles, forums and books written by people I didn’t know. As a result my experience was feeling very theoretical when what I really needed was someone to chat to. I had so many questions and what I craved were honest answers from someone that was living the life I was looking to choose. Luckily my friend Sarah, who I had recently spent a week with in Fiji, knew just the person and put me in touch with Natasha, one of her good friends. Natasha is mummy to Violet and has become an invaluable sounding board and is now my go-to single mother friend.
Natasha and I first spoke on the phone one evening in February 2018 (just before my 37th birthday). I know that this chat may not have been noteworthy for her, but for me, standing at the start line and about to make one of the biggest decisions of my life, it was. I will forever be grateful to her for being so warm, honest, frank and matter of fact about what is such a personal journey. She took me through all the things I would need to think about and simplified it for me. She explained how she had selected the sperm, managed fertility appointments around work, how she had handled telling people her news, her family set up and how she was planning to make childcare work for her now and in the near future. We laughed, we joked and we bonded. It was so refreshing to talk to someone that was living the life I craved and, despite lacking sleep and money, she was over the moon about where she was in her life.
Buoyed by this chat the next stage for me was to start to gather more information about how exactly it all worked. Here’s where my sister Sara takes centre stage. Sara is three years younger than me, however she is wise beyond her years and when it comes to children, she, more than anyone else, is the person I rely on to have the answers. She is a real-life baby and child guru and is the most brilliant mummy to my amazing niece and nephew.
One Saturday at the end of March, Sara and I headed to a presentation at the London Women’s Clinic entitled: ‘Fertility options for single women’. These seminars were held every couple of months and promised to be ‘informal and informative’. During the session we learnt about Fertility MOTs, Egg freezing and Treatment Options available using donor sperm; including donor insemination and IVF. Information was also given regarding choosing a sperm or egg donor and about the current social and legal implications.
Sara was the ideal person to accompany me to this session. She was not afraid to ask questions and we left the presentation informed and in high spirits. The experience certainly helped me a great deal and as we were walking back down Harley Street, Sara turned and said ‘I think it all sounds really good. In fact, if I didn’t have a husband and children I would be very tempted to get some super sperm myself’. Right, there was the green light I needed to advance to go…