It’s funny to think that it wasn’t much over a year ago that I was in Sussex taking part in the Nurturing Birth doula training course. My thoughts were consumed with setting up as a doula, how we’d manage to juggle childcare when I was on call and excitement as starting down a new path, one that felt distinctly separate from my role as mother and home educator (something that I felt most grateful for). The shock at finding out I was pregnant just a few months later sent that all into a bit of a (temporary I hope) tailspin. I managed to fit in one birth before I was too heavily pregnant and that was an amazing experience and an honour to be witness to but afterwards I was left thinking, what next? Was I destined to just embrace the stay at home Mum role for the next 2 – 3 years before doing something for myself again?

Since moving to Topsham for the first time in 2013, I identified the importance of being able to carve out some time and some kind of activity or task for myself that is independent of my role at home. It’s been good to reclaim my identity away from the kids even if it has been significantly changed and moulded by their presence in my life (in a good way I hope). I started working as a bartender/waitress initially and loved it, it may not have been intellectually taxing or particularly meaningful or important work but it was good fun and great to get out for a few nights a week. I also started playing music with Dan and actually joining him in playing gigs which was great for us as a couple and me creatively. Unfortunately, both of those pursuits ended up trailing off when we moved to Thorverton last year. However, by then, I thought we were finished having babies and after a lot of thought (and encouragement from Dan) had decided to follow my passion for childbirth by becoming a doula. It seemed like the perfect fit with home educating and I was excited at the prospect of serving women in this capacity. But then I fell pregnant and so that venture is on pause for the foreseeable future.

So back to my original question…what now? I love blogging and although I haven’t got much of a following, enjoy the act of writing itself as well as creating a record of my thoughts and our activities as a family. So I will endeavour to keep this site alive, even if it is only one post a week. However, in addition to this… earlier in the year I received an email from a friend who works for the maternity clothing company Yummy Mummy Maternity. They were about to launch a standalone site, http://www.yummymummy.co.uk with pregnancy and breastfeeding diaries, celebrity gossip and general parenting news and information and she wondered if I’d be interested in writing a weekly breastfeeding diary for them. I jumped at the chance; I love to write, I am passionate about breastfeeding and I wanted something to do to replace my bar work and my taster of being a doula. Although it is still directly related to parenting, I enjoy the challenge of making our breastfeeding journey informative and (I hope!) vaguely interesting to read. So every Thursday if you pop over there, you can see how I’m getting on with breastfeeding third time round. I’ll give you a spoiler – it’s not been plain sailing. But I won’t say too much more here, go and read about it for yourself! I don’t know how long they want me to do it for but I’m enjoying the opportunity for the time being.

A friend has also, just this evening, asked me about meeting up to play together (she is a violinist) occasionally which would be brilliant. She has two small children so understands the challenges surrounding practice and playing instruments but it would be good fun and a kick up the backside for me to actually get my cello out and start playing regularly again. I just hope that I don’t embarrass myself after such a long break – must get a bit of practice in before our first session I think!!

So I guess it basically comes down to the fact that I’ve been pondering my life-work balance, as it were. And just as I wondered how I could claim something for myself, opportunities presented themselves – in the form of writing and music. Elijah is also ok taking expressed milk and with the local pool reopening next week I’m going to grasp the opportunity to do some solo evening swims with two hands. (There is also the added benefit of supporting a local community swimming pool that is in dire need of funds for some big repair work – if you’re in the area, why not take a dip at Topsham Pool and help support them!) I feel like this is a bit of a self indulgent post so apologies for that. I wrote it mostly so I could keep track of where I’m at, to share what I’m up to and have a record to reflect back on in the future. But if you’re up for sharing, I’d love to hear how other people balance the various roles in their life and what opportunities have presented themselves at key moments for them.

I find it funny that whenever we are invited to a wedding, baptism or dedication, I tend to pull out the same verse from the Bible to put into the card: Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’. Obviously this is unlikely to be of much comfort if you’re not a Christian but for me, I find it helpful to reflect on it and remember it when I’m not sure where I’m going in life. When one path turns out to be a dead end and another seemingly has too many insurmountable obstacles, I try to remember that there is a perfect path for me, I just need to find it. Right now, my doula path has ended but I’ve been offered new opportunities which I’m going to embrace and if I get to rejoin the original path in a few years, that’s great and if not, I’m sure the next part of the journey will be equally exciting, whatever it may be. So here’s to opportunities…may we take them with both hands and enjoy the ride!

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