Wednesday, 31 December 2014

So long 2014!

As Sarah and I took Willow on her last ever sunrise frosty walk of 2014 this morning we discussed the year that we have had.

 Despite ending the year on what some would consider of a low ebb, we have actually had a pretty amazing 2014. We agreed that if you measured the year in months, we have probably had 5/6ths an amazing year and 1/6th not too brilliant. But if you were to measure it in days we estimate that around about 97% of the days this year have been really awesome! This is probably because even when we are going through something awful we are generally strong enough to get through it, with a smile on our faces and with an optimism that things can only get better. 2014 for us has looked like this….

January saw me get a promotion at work, going up to a management position for the team I work in. It was the beginning of the Home Birth Team, and the first month that we started to feel a bit more normal for the first time since I began midwifery, as shift work ended we had weekends and evenings free together!

In February we celebrated Valentines Day number 10, and then escaped the hustle and bustle of our City to the hustle and bustle of…Marrakech! One of the most beautiful places we have ever seen, full of incredible sights, sounds, smells, interesting places, and incredible cavernous souks. It really was a trip to remember!

In March we were lucky enough to see the Northern Lights for a second time! We enjoyed our wedding present from my parents in the form of a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland. What a beautiful place, one we long to go back to soon. The architecture, the history, the cold, the landscape, we really do love this incredibly beautiful little island.

I turned 28 in April, and we escaped to a beautiful cottage in Devon for a couple of days, to enjoy some time together with Willow by the sea. We celebrated Easter in a new way - with a chocolate themed meal followed by a screening of 'Chocolat' at the oldest working cinema in the UK, with more chocolate themed goodies! 

In May we began the process that will hopefully, eventually, see our family grow a little more. We went for our first IVF appointment, which then kicked off a cascade of blood tests, scans and appointments. It was then that our IVF plans made a slight detour and we realised we can no longer use Sarah's eggs as originally planned. May also saw Sarah secure a new job, a promotion, and a change of location. She now works for a brilliant company, and is based in Selfridges. I could not be more proud of her if I tried really, really hard. 

June was busy and full of sunshine and days out together. And then on the 27th we flew from London to Las Vegas to start our three week tour of the West Coast of the USA, travelling from Las Vegas where we stayed in the Bellagio, to Yosemite national park via Bakersfield, San Francisco, and then to LA where we fell in love with Hollywood via Monterey and Cambria where we went whale watching and had a sunset campfire beach picnic, and ending up in San Diego!

Whilst in San Francisco, on the 4th July 2014 we celebrated our first wedding anniversary, a year to the day since the best day of our lives.

Much of July was taken up on our incredible once-in-a-lifetime and never to be forgotten trip, returning home on 17th July. We are so lucky to have seen and done such amazing things. On our return from the USA we decided to give home insemination a go, whilst simultaneously visiting the fertility clinic a lot to prepare for IVF if HI didn't work. For a while it was very baby orientated!

August saw us have our first attempt at home insemination, which was great fun and very exciting. After a very promising two week wait we had a positive pregnancy test! Which unfortunately ended in a chemical pregnancy. Another cycle the following month was also sadly negative, so we decided that we would definitely be going for IVF instead. 

We celebrated ten years of being together in September, with a trip to a very far away place known as….our home of Birmingham! Being exactly where we were when we met was a wonderful way to celebrate ten gorgeous years together, high up in the Rotunda building overlooking our city, remembering the day we met at the bottom of it, and eating Birmingham's best known food - curry! We also got the go ahead for IVF, but the estimated dates meant we would probably be looking at a two week wait over Christmas / New Year, so we decided it best to wait until 2015 to go ahead with treatment.

Sarah turned 30 at the beginning of October, and we celebrated with a week-long celebration full of food, family, friends, and love! We spent the day in her favourite park with Willow and the autumn leaves, and I surprised Sarah with a meal in a beautiful restaurant with all of her closest family and friends.

After staying in a gorgeous 5* hotel in Birmingham for the night we then left for a surprise trip to Cornwall, staying in a beautiful eco spa hotel overlooking the sea for the weekend.

We also completed something on my bucket list - a night under canvas! Glamping, in the Black Mountains in Wales, and spent Halloween at a pumpkin patch.

November was, in the grand scheme of things, pretty quiet. We spent time with our families and loads of time with our friends, and we had a lot of time for each other. We visited farmers markets on Saturday, ate gorgeous Sunday roasts on Sundays, and spent the working week, well, working. And on the very last day of November we decorated our house ready for Christmas!

Ah December, our little faithful friend, guaranteed to never disappoint. And disappoint you did not! We had not one but two amazing afternoon teas, in Birmingham, and then in London, and managed to do a whole lot of all things festive. That was until we hit Christmas week, when we had our Christmas that broke all the rules. Again we have spent a lot of time with our loved ones, and it has been perfect. Also seeming to find endless afternoons to snuggle down with baileys hot chocolates, and a good film!

Of course with the highs have to come some lows, life just would not be life without them. My best friend lost her Dad in January, which started off our year with a devastating sadness. The first of our friends to lose a parent, we all struggled to contend with just how fragile life can be sometimes, whilst simultaneously attempting to support a grieving family through the hardest time of their lives. My parents on the other hand, whilst still very much together, have struggled to come to terms with life after stroke, as my Dad had a stroke at the end of last year, and they have had to work out just where life goes from here. And then finally we got the news that my best friend, the one who lost her Dad in January to cancer had been diagnosed with, well, cancer. She will be fine though, it's just a little blip. She has an operation to contend with in January and then she'll be cancer - free. And finally… well then there's work. Unfortunately for me I have a lot of decisions to make regarding my career. I love midwifery, I do. I live, read, breathe, speak midwifery. But the politics, red tape and bureaucracy make it near on impossible to provide the service to women and their families that they deserve from us. The NHS is not what it used to be, and whilst I still have an immense and unfaltering pride in being a midwife, I don't know if I can continue to pour my heart and soul in to my profession only for the system to continually knock us all down. There is much reflection and consideration to be done, but who knows, 2015 might see me change career path entirely.

However it has to be said that despite all of the bad news that has came our way in the past two months, Sarah and I both agreed this morning on how peaceful, content and happy we feel. Life really does have a way of showing you whats important - spending time together, and how amazing our family and friends are. We know everyone says that, but seriously, there have been times our family and friends-who-are-like-family have left us speechless from their wonderfulness. We have a whole life ahead of us to continue to enjoy, and a whole brand new sparkly year to live through. We are so happy, healthy, very much in love, have infinite love and respect for our families and friends, a beautiful home in the city we grew up in and a spaniel who is just so wonderful. So all in all, life isn't too bad for us right now! Life has this funny old way of working things out for the best. So thank you, 2014, for being absolutely amazing. You have taught us a lot of very important lessons, took us to new countries full of amazing experiences, shown us paths that we never knew existed, demonstrated the power of love in overcoming hardships, and turned out to be rather incredible indeed. Happy New Year!

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