Health & Wellbeing

Embracing Duality – How Grief and Gratitude Can Go Hand in Hand

April 13, 2015
Baby Clothes

This past weekend has been such a wild mixture of emotions, I still feel like I am reeling a little bit. It’s probably unfair to say it is just this weekend that has been this way, because in reality the entire year has been full of magnificent highs and intense lows. But it all seems to have come to a head over the past few days.

Let’s start with Friday. I had been waiting all week to hear whether I had been successful in my latest interview. I had felt like the interview had gone well, and was more excited about this role than any of the others I had gone for. But even so, having been turned down three times before because of being “overqualified”, I wasn’t ready to celebrate yet. In fact, I had given up on hope that I would hear that week, and was focusing on the job at hand – i.e. packing!


Our house is full of boxes, bags and cleaning products right now!

Then, almost as soon as I stopped thinking about it, I received a call offering me the job. I start on Friday 1st May, less than a week after we relocate to our new house. The news of this job coming just 2 weeks after the news that we could finally set a moving date was pretty exciting. After months of uncertainty, of thinking we were getting somewhere and then being held back for one reason or another, we were finally on the move. Quite literally.

So that’s the magnificent high for this weekend. We’re just 2 weeks off our move, and I have a new job. And it is a job I just know I am going to love. I couldn’t be happier…

Only the process of packing up ready to move makes me face the reality that life is moving forwards for us. And in some ways that is hard, because it means letting go of the very last threads of a dream we once thought was our future.

When we first moved here, way back in 2010, we were yet to be married and we were childless. We weren’t even 100% sure I could have children, but we were hopeful. Hyperemesis was a complete unknown for us, and as for Small Fibre Neuropathy, well we couldn’t ever have foreseen that. I remember thinking that the second bedroom in this house was the perfect size for two children. I wanted two, at least, if not three or four kids if I was really honest with myself. And this seemed like the perfect home to begin that journey.

Kids' Bedroom

Plenty of space for two kids, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I am overjoyed that we have Little Man. We are incredibly blessed by him and I know that things could have turned out so differently. I completely see all the benefits of having an only child, especially now that TJ is sick. But it isn’t the dream that I held for so long.

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t broody. I think it kicked in pretty early on, and by the time my mum became a childminder I knew I wanted children in my life. And despite being adamant throughout my entire pregnancy that I could never do that again, there was always the doubt that said, “you won’t be happy with just one child”. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I am not happy, because I feel so incredibly lucky to have this beautiful bond with Little Man, but I do know that there will always be this part of me that grieves for the fact that we never got to expand our family.

And that grief was thrown in my face this weekend as I went up in the loft and brought down all of Little Man’s baby clothes. His 0-3 month clothes (which he outgrew in about a month – he was a big baby!) were stored in the carrycot to his pram (which he also outgrew incredibly quickly). I have yet to go through all the bags, but I believe we have clothes right up until the age of 1 year in there, and it reminds me so much of those beautiful early days. They were marred by breastfeeding issues, sleep deprivation, and depression, but they were also the most beautiful moments that finally made me the mother I had always dreamed of being.

Baby Clothes

Some of my favourites – I’m not sure how I’m going to part with these…

This dichotomy of emotions – joy and sadness, gratitude and grief – is what I am also feeling right now. I am overwhelmed by the thought of finally getting rid of items from those early days, items I stored away “just in case” we ever had another baby in our lives. And yet I am also relieved that those early days are long gone. No more will we face the crazy upheaval of newborn life, no more will we forget what a good night’s sleep feels like, and no more will we need to work our entire lives around the needs of one tiny (and amazing) person. And there’s a lot of relief in that…

When I think of moving to the new house, I feel a renewed sense of excitement. We’ll be able to do all the things we wanted to do when we moved to this house but were not able to do through time or financial constraints. I’ll finally be able to paint the welsh dresser, make a patchwork quilt, and generally make our house into a warm and inviting home. We’ll be able to have people over to stay because, although we will need to look after the needs of ourselves (and especially Little Man) first, we will not be stretched across too many needs and commitments.

crochet fingerless gloves

There will be time for a lot more of this as Little Man gets older…

My life will never again be the half-crazed rush of trying to juggle far too many balls, instead there will be family nearby, communities to explore, and a far better work/life balance. There will be time for quiet meditation, reflections on the beauty in our life, and rebuilding the core strength which gets us through the hard times. And for that I am truly grateful.

It doesn’t take away the sadness and grief for dreams that once were but will never be. I think that will always be a part of who I am. But instead of trying to be just one thing, I am trying to embrace the duality of these experiences and emotions and forge a new way forward which allows them both space in my heart. That maternal instinct, that so desperately wanted a larger family, can find a new way of providing love and support to others, and all because of the opportunities provided by fully accepting the gift of time and energy this new way of life is enabling.

Here’s to life, whatever it may bring!


I’m linking up again with Share The Joy over at Bod For Tea, as this post has brought me both joy in the memories and in the realisation of all we have together as a family!

Share the Joy linky at

  • Reply
    April 13, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    All those things would be huge when faced singularly but all together, wow. I guess trying to focus on the wonderful news of your new job has hot to be a way through it.

    • Reply
      April 14, 2015 at 9:39 am

      Hehe, thanks! We don’t really do things by halves in this family, it seems… Thanks for popping by!

  • Reply
    April 13, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Congrats on the job news, I’m on that path right now and feel your pain – hope your house move goes well too and wishing you much happiness in your new home #sharethejoy

    • Reply
      April 14, 2015 at 9:38 am

      Hi Stephanie,

      thanks for popping by. Good luck with your job search, I know it can feel never-ending at times!!

  • Reply
    Michelle Reeves (bodfortea)
    April 14, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Oh my goodness you’re really not doing things by halves are you! We tend to find that big changes come all at once in our lives too – living in China and having a premature baby thousands of miles away from our family and friends, moving home not long after my husband started a new job, breaking my hand and having an operation on it the day before scheduled lazer eye surgery… I wonder why our lives are this complicated sometimes! But perhaps it’s precisely because someone, somewhere knows that we’ll find the strength and resilience to push on through and come out the other side stronger. And you know what, we always have done. Good luck with all the amazing changes in your lives right now, congrats on the new job and the new house and also for starting to make peace with the might have beens. Thank you too for linking up this wonderful post at #sharethejoy. Will be sharing and pinning to my favourites board x

    • Reply
      April 15, 2015 at 9:20 am

      Thanks Michelle, I’m glad you liked the post and can resonate with it – and I’m definitely glad we’re not alone in this kind of crazy!! I feel like my life is never quiet and we are generally hit with mulitple things at once, but as you say it’s amazing what we learn about ourselves at these times! I sometimes think that maybe I’m too stubborn and that’s why the universe sends me such challenging times, to grab my attention and say “hey, there’s a better way to do this you know!” when I’m getting myself stuck in a rut 😉 I think I must have been divinely inspired to choose “Surrender” as my Word of the Year haha it’s certainly been one wild ride of learning to be patient and trust that it will all work out okay.

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