Back Story


There is a back story. Five years ago we moved from Kent to a village near Solihull. There were lots of good reasons for our move and we committed ourselves to this new place. We are very grateful for the good things here, especially an extraordinary amount of help during my pregnancy. In many ways it doesn’t suit us but we thought it would be a good place for our children. It has been.

Jonny Duddle describes a place that always makes me think of this village in his book The Pirates Nextdoor: “The cars were washed, the lawns were mowed, the hedges trimmed and neat”. We are not neat, and we don’t ever wash the car. They don’t like our wood pile here. We don’t fit. We had thought we would stick with it until the children finish school, then move nearer to our church in Walsall, and into the countryside (these aims are in direct opposition but we feel like we’ve found the right compromise).

Then on the 8th February 2017 the mystery of the missing period was solved and a blue line appeared on the testing stick. This was a very Great Shock. This baby seemed almost immaculately conceived. Almost. It seemed impossible, not least because for so many it is such a long struggle. Here I will be honest but first I will say, I am sorry.

I didn’t want a baby. At all. Not in any way. Throughout my sick and painful pregnancy people told me it would be worth it. I didn’t believe them. The hardest thing was knowing of all the people who desperately wanted this blessing. Who had waited years and been through terrible ordeals and who would make wonderful parents. And we were given a blessing that at that time we didn’t want.

I was wrong. Utterly, completely, absolutely wrong. Birch is beautiful and precious and I had forgotten the amazing feeling that it is to find you love a new person completely and wholly. And he doesn’t mind how much I kiss him. In fact he thinks that’s pretty funny. He brings the big children together and distracts them from arguing with each other. He is marvelous.

His birth changed everything. We live in a three bed semi which has never been something we dreamed of. It is fine and we are grateful. It is not a good fit for our family of five and staying in a place that we do not fit into for an extra six years seemed like a daunting prospect. We could buy a bigger house here but we both quailed at the thought of a bigger mortgage on a house that makes us feel like square pegs in round holes.

So it is to Birch that we owe this adventure. Ben works for Automattic, makers of WordPress and was given six months paternity leave. It is an amazing and extraordinary company. I’ll write a bit about paternity leave next, but this time has given us an opportunity to make plans.

We made the decision to move over Christmas, partly because we saw a house we really liked which was subsequently sold. We were three days too slow selling our house. I am glad of that now. We thought the plot of land we have bought had sold but it came back on the market.

Instead of trimmed and neat we will have mud on our hands and wind in our hair. And no holes to squeeze ourselves into in order to fit.

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