How Life Changed

Isn’t it funny how life can change? I was chatting to an old school friend the other day and she casually mentioned her 30th next year. I was like wow she’s got that wrong – til I realised she was indeed completely correct. Mine’s not til the following year as she was older in the year and I was one of the youngest. But still, it’s been ten years since I did my A-Levels this year. Ten years since I left school and started journalism college. Nine years since I moved out of my parents’ home and into my first little flat with a grand sum of a microwave, a couple of towels and some clothes to my name.

Nine years since I took a job at a newspaper as a junior reporter (which means I’ve known Dylan nine years) and eight since I moved and settled in a new town where my job was based. Eight years since I became acting deputy and seven since I passed my senior exams. Six since I moved again and five since I ran a half-marathon, launched a paper and also began running a mental health group. Four since my own mental health took a turn for the worse and I spent a summer as an inpatient on a ward. But also four since the guy I sort of liked who I knew through work asked me on a date and also four since we got engaged and booked our wedding (it took five years for him to ask me out but once we got past that hurdle, we moved fast!).

Three years since we found out we were expecting a baby girl, since we moved in together, since we had our amazing honeymoon in Thailand and since Alexandra Cavanagh was born. Yeah, three years ago was incredible but also some of the hardest days of our lives. Three years since we were forced to cancel our wedding 48 hours beforehand, since I spent what should have been my wedding day on oxygen being taken to the bathroom in a wheelchair, since Dylan was told I might not make it. But also three years since we put our middle fingers up to a CAPS diagnosis and the shoddy odds of survival that offer and three years since I came home and we began life as a family.

Which makes it two years since we got married! Finally! The best day of our lives, so incredibly full of happiness and love. And two years since we found out that a baby boy would be joining our family (oops! But also yay!). Two years since we took Alexandra abroad for the first time.

And a year since Max Llewellyn Arturs was born. A year since the days of NICU and operations and ventilators and medicine and nurses and so many ups and downs. A year since we brought him home and settled into our new life together. A month since the turn of the year, bringing with it the hope of a calm and peaceful 2018!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

A Day In The Life

13450908_1199744843391977_6366577046684638305_n

Now I have a tiny little nephew it’s become even more apparent to me not only how much your life changes when you have a baby but then how much it continues to adapt and evolve as that baby passes through various stages. Even though Alexandra and Zachary are both still babies, the differences between them are staggering – maybe they should create a ‘mobile baby’ stage in between newborn and toddler.

Long gone are the days when I could put Alex down on the sofa or bed and she would happily lie there or just drop off to sleep. Long gone are the days of sleepy cuddles (except for one night a couple of weeks ago when she fell asleep on me. Not good if it becomes a daily habit but simply delightful as a one-off). Now she’s crawling and pulling herself up to standing, I can’t even put her on the sofa and build a fort of pillows around her to contain her while she has a nap. She would simply get over the pile and throw herself off the sofa.

But also long gone are the guessing games of the first few months – is she hungry, tired, just wanting fuss, all of the above? Now she’s a definite creature of habit and there are set times for meals, milk and sleep. We probably have one day in a month where she has a complete meltdown for a couple of hours and I can’t work out what to do with her. The rest of the time we can usually soothe her very quickly which makes life infinitely easier.

Yes we now have to be extremely careful about where we put her, what she’s messing with, whether she can fall off wherever she is. But she’s also excellent at occupying herself, playing with her toys or just amusing herself by crawling round.

So really, while some aspects of parenting her have become harder since she was Zachary’s age, others are just so much easier. Now my maternity leave is over I feel a little more like a real person again and not just a mommy. As she’s finding her identity and her way in the world, so too am I in a weird way. When your life changes so dramatically, you have to figure out a lot of things you thought you’d got sorted a long time ago. But that’s me off on a tangent and probably a whole different story!

Harriet and Alexandra x

Life Changes

Hanging out under the table, as you do.

Hanging out under the table, as you do.

Life changes so freaking fast, in the blink of an eye everything is completely different and you can barely catch your breath as you think back over all that’s happened and – gulp – all there is to come.

Next Monday I’m heading off to my former town (and to be honest it still feels like home when I go back) to sit in the audience for the mayor making. It’s the seventh year in a row I’ll have been to this particular event. In years 2010 to 2013, I attended as a reporter for one of the weekly papers in the town. I sat on the press bench next to one of the council’s press officers, wrote notes and the next day went into work and compiled a story about the new mayor (and sometimes there were other juicy goings on but this is not the time to get into listing exciting stories I covered!).

By 2014, I had co-founded my own charitable organisation focusing on mental health in the town. Mental health had also become a huge theme in my own life, much bigger than ever before. I had to obtain permission from the nurses on the mental health ward I was staying on at the time to leave for the evening (I was an informal patient meaning I wasn’t sectioned) to go to the meeting. I sat in the audience for the first time, with my boss over on the press desk instead of me. I watched as we were named one of the mayor’s charities for the year. I was hugely pleased but also scared, I was a week into the recovery period following the second of two overdoses and I had no idea how or when I was going to get better and sit on that bench again. Turns out I never would, but for completely different reasons.

In 2015, the event had rolled around again and I was now living in another county, I wasn’t a reporter anymore, I was engaged and I was pregnant. Talk about a whirlwind year. I sat in the public gallery again, for the second time. This time I knew what direction my life was heading in. I set next to Dylan and I felt happy and looked forward to the future.

Next Monday, I’ll be there sat next to Dylan and Alexandra. My life has changed so utterly and completely from those early years on the press bench.

In some ways, it’s sad. I miss running around getting stories. I miss covering elections and debates and people’s life events. I miss talking all day every day to anyone and everyone. But in other ways how can I miss that at all? I get to spend every day with the most precious, beautiful little thing. I get to giggle at every funny thing she does. I get to be someone’s mommy and that’s the best job in the whole world.

So for me next week will be a chance to reflect on all that’s changed over the past couples of years and who knows what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be in the next few?

Harriet and Alexandra x