I know I’m late to the party sharing my New Year post but I’ve decided to cut myself some slack this year, I hope you don’t mind*. If there’s one thing 2017 taught me it was not to sweat the small stuff. Less stressing over little things and more enjoyment of the wonder of life as I learnt the hard way just how precious it is.
2017 was a year full of change. A year like no other and one filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
Back in January as we started with a clean slate, like every new year grants us, I was busy running around doing last minute wedding preparations. I married John in a simple but incredible ceremony, no fuss, no froth, but so many happy memories. I wish I could have bottled up the emotion that bubbled away inside as I walked up the aisle with my dad as my sister sang for us, surrounded by just 40 of our nearest and dearest before heading to the local pub for a good old-fashioned knees up.
After John’s lovely speech we asked our guests to look under their chairs as we’d hidden an envelope containing the gender of our baby. The look on their faces as they pulled out the pink ‘It’s a girl!’ card was just magical. I was 20 weeks pregnant and I felt HUMUNGOUS but looking back you can hardly tell I was expecting. The evening was spent dancing, drinking (lemonade for me) and singing out of tune to Call Me Al. Just perfect.
As my stomach grew so did our plans for trying to prepare for life as a three. Barely time to get used to being a wife as I had a clock ticking trying to get my head ready to be someone’s mother. We moved out of our gorgeous but impractical tiny cottage into a larger home. We took a trip to Girona where I waddled around in the Spanish sun eating ice creams and drinking Fanta Lemon, both of us trying to image what parenthood would be like. We began NCT classes to meet other expectant and slightly terrified looking parents-to-be and my mum threw me a fantastic baby shower – despite it still not really feeling real!
Then, on 31st May, two days after her due date I went into labour. You can read all about the birth here but my overriding memories are one of pride, happiness and amazement at what my body had done. Our baby girl, Everleigh Gray Siddle, was born safely at home and life changed once more.
The first few weeks were a blur of feeding, recovering and staring gooey-eyed at our chubby bundle. We proudly went out to show her off to everyone and anyone, catching each other with wide eyed ‘look at what we’ve created!’ gummy grins!
In July there was another birth – my fourth novel, Chasing The Sun was released into the world. Compared to my other publication days this was probably the most low key. Trying to juggle this new level of tiredness, constant feeding and the demands of a newborn as well as promoting a book was tricky. I hated that I couldn’t throw myself back into the bookish world 100% but it was a good lesson that things had changed – I wasn’t superwoman and that it was okay to not be back at work six weeks after giving birth, however much I tried to make it work!
In August, we went on our first family holiday to France. Travelling with a baby was a whole new experience, and another lesson in taking things slow. Memories of walks in the sun, devouring delicious french food and driving around quaint countryside as we went on days out.
In September I became an auntie for the first time as my brother and his wife welcomed gorgeous baby Phoebe into their world. This was also the month where we had Everleigh christened and I got to meet and hang out with the fabulous Lindsey Kelk as I supported her during her book tour. I managed to try and get back into work mode by editing book 5, appeared on BBC breakfast and popped to London to be a guest on Maya Jama’s podcast. I had been determined that I was still Katy and not just Mum but the reality of trying to collide two worlds was not an easy one, especially with a baby who didn’t sleep. It’s something I’m still learning to do.
As the nights drew in and the autumn leaves dropped I was lucky to take a few mini breaks with my little explorer in England. We ticked off Windsor, Winchester and Sussex. Watching Everleigh grow into this curious little person has been incredible and I’m desperate to show her more of the world.
Then, in November, everything changed again. My dad died very suddenly from a heart attack, leaving us all with a huge hole in our lives. He had been my best mate, supportive grandad and babysitter, and loyal helpful fan of my writing. It didn’t, and still doesn’t, feel real that he is no longer here. The older Everleigh gets and the more she changes the more the pain increases that he’s missing out on her life. He adored both his grandchildren and it is so unfair that he only got six months with them.
Trying to juggle grief, motherhood, and writing was not easy, especially as we had Christmas and New Year to get through. But, despite some very low days, I survived. We were determined to make Everleigh’s first festivities filled with as much love and light as possible. I’m now trying to keep busy and create a ‘new normal’ without this special person here. It is the toughest thing I’ve ever been through.
So, that was my year, now over to you. Thank you for following along on this bumpy ride called my life. Thanks for buying my books and spreading the word of the Lonely Hearts Travel Club when I’ve been too consumed with tiredness and grief to do so. You have been the best support. I’m still working my way through the messages I received when dad died, overwhelming is an understatement! It was so touching to know so many people care, so thank you.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and adventurous 2018!
*Disclosure – My laptop decided to go crazy and stopped me from uploading images, so technically this post should have gone live a little earlier than planned. It also means that since writing and posting I managed to drop a coffee table on my foot and broke my big toe! So much for a quiet start to the year. If anyone has any tips on speedy recovery for broken toes then please let me know!