Saturday 23 June 2012

Delayed gratification

I was thinking a little bit yesterday about instant gratification and getting the things I want when I want. I don't know if it's that I'm just becoming older and more solvent, but lately I find myself in the position where I either already have most of the non-tangible things I want or where I can afford the majority of the material things I believe will make me happy. 

I've really invested in my most important relationships over the last few years and I now reap the benefits of that, and if I desire something - from a holiday to a new frock - I can look at my budget and generally find a way to indulge myself. It's most likely that said holiday would involve an Easyjet flight and a tiny, self-catering apartment, or said dress would be purchased from Primark or H and M, so it's not that I'm suddenly rolling in cash, but what it does mean is that if I am desperate for some kind of treat, there is normally a way I can get it.

In recent times everything around me seems to have become more accessible and faster - from fashion to holidays, food to music - and while I haven't had a credit card in years there seems to be a general social philosophy of 'buy now, pay later'. I think that has changed a little with the recession and as a society we have been a little more cautious after the bubble burst, but we are still as a nation in general very consumer-orientated creatures. I suppose in short my point is that I rarely have to wait long to get what I want now. That makes me sound very selfish, but I don't mean it like that - I am just reflecting on how lucky I am to be able to indulge a lot of my desires and whims.

But here's where pregnancy differs. Nothing about having a baby is instant. In fact, our experience has been quite the opposite. The Boy and I decided in September 2010 after five months of marriage that we were ready to increase our fold. I remember the day clearly. We'd been to the wedding of one of the boy's friends and enjoyed dressing up in our finery and knocking back the champagne and the wine, but coming back to an empty flat that day something changed for both of us, and we sat up into the small hours talking about our life now and how ready we both were for the next step. I came off the pill and we began trying for a family in the October - although for the first few months we were totally clueless about when we should be doing this (oh the irony of having spent half my life dreading I would accidentally fall pregnant, only to realise there were only a few days a month this could happen!) and I didn't fall pregnant until January 2011. And then of course as you know, that wasn't to be for us and we said our goodbyes to our first baby in the subsequent May.

Because our baby had just edged into the second trimester I had to go into hospital to deliver it, rather than have an operation to remove it, and as a result of being induced and having the contraction my body thought it had been through labour and it took months for my system to settle down again. Much to my dismay at the time we weren't really able to try again until August. But perhaps this was Mother Nature working with me, not against me, as I don't think we would have been emotionally ready for that challenge any earlier... who knows? And so we tried again for a few months - three I think, but I found the negative pregnancy tests too disappointing and I realised I was becoming quite angsty about the process which I didn't want - so we decided to calm down and just enjoy being together. And I guess as is often the way, that was when the wind changed direction and I fell pregnant on New Year's Eve during a short break away the Boy and I enjoyed together in Devon.

And I'm now 27 weeks pregnant and expecting our baby Beans in September this year - almost exactly two years to the day we made our decision to try to become a family, and it's already been 17 long months since my first positive pregnancy test. No, I think it's safe to say that there's not been much instant gratification there. Nine months is a long time to carry a heartbeat within you, and to feel it blossom, move and grow, but it is changing me as a result. In some ways I feel it's the making of me - already I can feel myself becoming more patient (believe me, patience has never been a quality I have possessed, anyone I know will tell you that!) and more calm. And each day that passes I love the Boy and my Bump more. With each kick I get from Baby Beans I feel so desperate to meet him or her - but I am also happy to smile to myself and wait. Because the best things come to those who wait, and for once, I'm happy to take my gratification delayed.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Happy and you know it

Yet again it seems to have been too long since I last updated the blog - which I can only put down to the fact that there isn't much to grumble about in life at the moment! It's obvious that I am a far more prolific writer when I have issues on my mind or when I feel weighed down.

Life continues well for me, the Boy and Bump. The weather may have been irritable and our move may be progressing at a snail's pace (more of that another time), but every day I wake up with a big smile on my face and feel like the luckiest person alive. As my bump grows and I feel the baby move more and more, I'm finally beginning to realise that we will become a family soon and that I will have everything I want in life - a fantastic husband, a child, a loving family, great friends and a challenging and stimulating job. Every day that really excites me, and there's not a lot that can get me down just now.

My emotions are on a bit of a roller coaster, granted, and over the weekend I did have a mini wobble - can I do this? will I be a good mum? can we really afford a baby? will Ben and I ever get to be spontaneous or have quality time together again? - but I know this is all normal and I can't wait to find out the answers! Hopefully I'll be able to share them here.

A few friends have been asking me lately how I will cope with "just" being a mum for a year. I have to bite my tongue a little as I find this irritating - but then I remember my friends are not all to know how long the Boy and I have waited to be parents and that we began trying to have a baby back in October 2010. Because I am considered a career girl and perceived to be a high flyer amongst my circle, they don't think parenthood will be enough for me.

I was thinking about this on the way into work this morning - I can't express enough how ready I feel for this next chapter in our lives. Yes, I have lived a very busy, sociable and full life since I finished university and began working 12 years ago. On top of work I have attended creative writing classes, written my first novel, qualified as a counsellor and spent five and half years volunteering in the evenings for a bereavement charity as a therapist. For years there was rarely a party I didn't attend, and my diary was crammed with appointments with the Boy and friends for the theatre, cinema, galleries...

But for this very reason I feel I've totally done my time and lived my life, and am so ready for a new direction. I've danced all night in some of London's most famous clubs while high on life, and I've partied in squats and tower blocks in East London and watched the sun come up. I've stayed out all night and gone to work the next day. I've been to exhibitions and museums meeting people like Mario Testino at previews when I worked on a fashion trade magazine. In my current job I've campaigned on issues that have led to the law being changed to improve conditions for children and working people, and I've been to parliament and conversed with the likes of Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham. I've even had a cup of tea with David Miliband and in front room in Borough.

I've been on boat trips on the Thames - night and day - and bus and walking tours around London. I've bought two homes here and lived in zone one for more than a decade - both alone and with others. I've picked up hippy bargains in Camden and Spitalfields, and (window!) shopped at Harrods and Libertys. I've walked for miles and miles around the capital and ridden the bus, night bus, tube and overground train at all hours of day and night. I've had spontaneous weekends away with friends, and lazy weekends barely moving from bed with the Boy. I've read enough books to fill a library and I've been to enough gigs to last a lifetime - from tiny events with up and coming new bands in dirty student unions and back rooms of pubs, to huge elaborate concerts at the likes of Wembley and the Emirates stadium.

I've enjoyed a plethora of day trips and weekend breaks to most towns of interest in England and across Europe. I've holidayed in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, the USA, North Africa, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean - and I've been to so many of the Greek Islands that I struggle to remember their names now. I've drunk fine wine and flat beer, and I've eaten at some of the best restaurants in town - and happily munched many a chips in pitta bread weaving my way home from a bar somewhat intoxicated.

I've learned how to be on my own, how to be happy in my own skin and how to relish my independence - but be grateful and thankful for my dependence on the Boy and others who care for me. I understand how I work, what scars the past has left on me, and how those wounds can be fixed - and I've put time and effort into healing them so I can be a well-rounded person and the best possible version of myself I can.

In short, I've had a fairly charmed life and I've indulged most of my whims and fantasies. Don't get me wrong, I've worked blinking hard for everything I've wanted - working three jobs when I first moved to London - but I've certainly reaped the benefits. Suffice to say there aren't many experiences left on my bucket list - I've packed it in. At times I realise with maturity and hindsight I did pack too much in - and sometimes I lived my life a bit too close to the edge, I see that now. There weren't many stones left unturned in those hedonistic, selfish days of my twenties - and it is definitely for the best that those days are behind me!

But in honesty, there's not much I would change as it's got me where I am today. Which is extremely appreciative of the good things in my life, committed to putting effort and energy into the relationships that are important to me, being able to hold dear and value what is really important in life, and having confidence in myself and the courage of my convictions.

So - to answer my friends, who cock their heads and look at me with a puzzled expression, I don't think there could be a better time for me to be "just" a mum. I think with my life experience behind me and the unflinching support of the Boy I'm going to be quite a good one. Bring. It. On!

Friday 8 June 2012

The child? It grows...

The title of this thread is a private joke between one of my best friends and I, but forgive me a little self-indulgence today. I feel content, light - and even a little cheeky. It's a quote from my favourite play - the Crucible by Arthur Miller, spoken between the play's protagonist John Proctor and his wife Elizabeth. My friend played the part of Elizabeth in a production we were involved in as teenagers while I huffed and puffed in the background as the determined but ignorant lawyer Danforth - for some reason we found it hugely entertaining and I'm not sure she ever managed to say the line without a smile gracing her lips.

I feel good. I've had a blissful week off work relaxing at home - helped by the fact my days off weren't annual leave but time back from the extra hours I've been working lately - and I am feeling really at peace with myself. It's the happiest place for me to be - but sometimes I don't realise how far I've drifted from that inner epicentre until I have a chance to catch my breath. I've also had days on end spent in the company of the Boy... I won't gush (much) but it has been good for my soul to be in his presence and arms, and suffice to stay it still makes me pinch myself that even after more than five years I walk beside a man I fall more in love with every day.

But - I digress. The theme of the thread is my growing child, or more pertinently my growing belly. I love it. Feeling Baby Beans move around inside me is the most exciting feeling I have ever experienced, and the huge, pure rush of love I feel when I think about what is happening underneath my layers of flesh and bone is just immense.

Like many expectant parents we've begun to document our baby before it arrives, with a weekly 'belly shot'. And I continue my self-indulgence by posting them below - from 16 weeks to 25 weeks... With three months still to go I'm not sure I'll fit in the camera lense by the end of this journey!