Today’s guest post is from the author of Baby Daze, Sarah Davis. Her story is incredible and inspiring so I’m delighted to be able to share this with you!
Life has a way of throwing curved balls when you least expect them. I experienced this in my own life in my 30s. However, these curved balls can also help us to learn resilience, flexible thinking and the importance of re-evaluating our priorities. It certainly worked like that for me.
At 32, I loved my full time job as a primary school teacher, I was fit with an active social life, I’d just married my partner of 7 years & we’d planned to have a holiday to Australia then start trying for a baby. Life was great!
Less than a year later, things were very different.
Eight weeks after our wedding I had an appendectomy. This was followed by several periods of illness which resulted in M.E. I needed a stick to walk with, I was physically and mentally exhausted all of the time, I had no concentration or tolerance of noise, I wasn’t able to shop, clean or cook without being immediately flattened or leaving a cooker ring on by mistake, etc. I couldn’t work either. My husband became more like my carer and we certainly couldn’t think of having children with me like this. I did everything that the medical profession recommended but was told that I may never recover and would just have to learn to live with the symptoms!
At aged just 33, I couldn’t accept this. I refused to be beaten and carried on pushing myself. This just resulted in a boom/slump cycle of activity then collapse. I tried to return to my teaching job part-time instead of full time. Soon, I realised that if I was to stand a chance of recovering fully, then I would need to give this up, too.
Suddenly I didn’t have my health, my mobility, the job I loved, the financial stability I was used to or the prospect of having children. I’d always wanted to be a mum and this was the biggest blow of all. My physical state affected my mental health. I questioned my purpose if I couldn’t be a mum. What I did have was an extremely supportive husband. Though he was also struggling with this huge change in our lives, he continued to be a rock for me.
I managed to get a library assistant job 10 hours a week where they were very understanding of my medical condition. They allowed me to alternate periods of physical activity and sitting down jobs, with my hours spread across the week. A few months into this we found out about a private clinic doing something called The Lightning Process. With little left to lose and the chance of everything to gain, we went along. The short version is: I made a full recovery!
Having my life back again was amazing!
I climbed Helvellyn, went back to volleyball aged 39 and even played in a match! I was able to go back to teaching again and went part-time through choice rather than necessity. I carried on working part-time at the library, too.
Having children was back on the cards! We knew we’d have to get on with it as I was 36 by then. Then life threw its next curved ball! I didn’t get pregnant! We had a very long wait until finally I was lucky enough to conceive aged 40! Seven years after we’d planned. Even then there were complications at 6 weeks and we thought we’d lost our baby. Several scans later, in the week of my 40th birthday, the 13 week scan revealed all was OK.
In 2011, I gave birth to our baby boy, Matthew.
After all that waiting he arrived four and a half weeks early! I left work at 3.10pm and had him at 5.34pm!! I guess he figured we’d waited long enough!
Being caught up in the whole rollercoaster of events and emotions that is motherhood has also had an unusual and unexpected outcome for me. When my son was about 4 months old, while up one night for the 3am feeds, a poem came to me. I wrote it down and it was swiftly followed by another. This happened repeatedly over the next few months while up for feeds. It may have been the hormones, the peace and quiet, or the emotional intensity – or maybe I’m at my most creative at 3am!
Friends and family suggested I get them published as, by the time he was 8 months old, I had 42 of them! All about my experiences of motherhood – from the first scan, through birth, feeding, nappies, etc. to the end of maternity leave. They are short, humorous, honest and sentimental. Titles include ‘Getting to know you’, ‘A human milk machine’, ‘Public Conversations’ (about parent over-shares in a restaurant), ‘Roly Polies’ (in the middle of a nappy change!) and finishing with hopes for the future. I made a few tentative enquiries about publishing but was too busy enjoying being mum.
Once my son was at school, I decided to contact publishers.
I tried 7 publishers and got 5 offers! My book ‘Baby Daze’ came out in February 2018. This year has been amazing! ‘Baby Daze’ got recommended in ‘Mother & Baby’ magazine’s ‘3 of the best funny reads’ feature. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone further than I ever could have imagined. I’ve been interviewed live on BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Gloucestershire and Talk Radio Europe. I have spoken about my experiences of breastfeeding and shared my poems with groups of 60 expectant parents at Mothercare events as well as groups at Mamas & Papas. I’ve even done an event at the library I used to work at!
I’ve been featured in online and in print publications, my book is available from major high street booksellers, indie bookshops and online in this and other countries! My biggest achievement is my son and, now aged 7, he loves having a book inspired by and dedicated to him. He even asked to take it to school for show & tell and his teacher said he did a Q&A that had all the children engaged. Of course, it was the nappy related poems he chose to read! I hope one day when he’s older he’ll be able to relate much more to the feelings and emotions behind the words and see how much he is loved.
I’m now a supply teacher part-time so I get to do some school runs, go to assemblies and fit in book promotions when my son is at school.
At the worst point of my illness I couldn’t read a book or listen to the radio – now I’ve had a book published and been interviewed live on the radio!
Reviews and further information about Baby Daze can be found on Amazon.
While you’re here, I recommend taking a look at Jo’s guest post from last week!