For me, over the past year to eighteen months, life has happened more than I could ever have imagined. I have moved house, changed jobs, got married and had a baby, not to mention the heart wrenching grief of losing my Mum. Add to this the fact that moving house meant leaving my home comforts for an off-grid yurt and leaving my job meant a huge drop in income, re-training and attempting to set up my own Forest School. The wedding we had planned was brought forward due to my Mum's failing health, followed by a separate legal bit and a further big wedding celebration resulting in three not-quite-as-planned weddings. I lost my Mum ~ my beautiful Mum, my best friend and inspiration~ just days after the first wedding. Then somewhere in the middle of all this I found out to my utter surprise that I was pregnant! A little acorn was growing inside me, a tiny miracle ready to bring joy and light into our lives in January 2015.
However 27 weeks and 2 days into my pregnancy, Oak surprised us all by arriving in this world three months early. Suddenly I had a premature baby in a special care unit and I was spending all of my days in hospital, plucked from my life, my plans, my wonderful pregnancy and my woodland home to a life of sanitisation, heart monitors, ventilators and electric breast pumps. How were these two lives ever going to be compatible? How would we ever bring our tiny, fragile, premature baby back to a yurt in the woods in the middle of winter?
We were incredibly lucky in that although Oak was born much too early, he was born strong and healthy, and our journey, though long, was smooth. After nine and a half weeks in hospital Oak was finally allowed out in time for Christmas. We went straight from hospital to stay with family until the New Year. We are now staying in a house which we have been very kindly loaned for the first six weeks of the year to make the transition easier. We will move back to the yurt just in time for spring. Oak is growing stronger every day, and I am slowly adapting to the life changing experience of being a Mum.
After a month of solid walls, electric kettle, dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer, the impact of sleepless nights, dirty nappies and endless vomit has been softened. As I sit here on the last day of January with just two weeks left before we take Oak home for the first time, I reflect on the year gone by and think about what challenges and adventures lay ahead. I know it will be tough at times, but if this year has broken me, then it has at least put me back together a little bit stronger. I am no expert on parenting and this is only the beginning of my journey, but I do know that I would rather invest time in my children than money, would rather have my children watch the stars in the night sky than stars on TV and play with sticks and mud rather than games consoles. This is the life style that we know and love, and I hope that Oak grows to love it too.