Huge Changes | Family Life
If you follow me on Instagram, you might recently have seen a post about a massive change in my circumstances this year. We now have a daughter. Actually, we have had a daughter for a while but just chose not to say anything about it.
I lead a very public life and really enjoy sharing what I’m doing with people around the world. The dialogue I have with friends and followers here on Bikes n’ Stuff, on my Youtube channel and across the various forms of social media that I use make me feel part of something really awesome – a global community that is largely friendly, warm, fun and supportive.
I enjoy being frank and honest with people, sending tips and advice back and forth and giving people a realistic idea of what it takes to do what I do. My Instagram account is 100% real but of course it shows the edited highlights of my life rather than the boring, the tedious or simply stuff I don’t feel like talking about.
So my posts didn’t reveal fact that in between training and racing we were doing rounds of IVF and then going through the incredibly complex, invasive and stressful adoption process for a further year.
When things finally did work out and our wonderful daughter came home with us I was unsure about whether I wanted to tell anyone outside of our immediate family and friendship circle. I never lied but was just noncommittal, like she’d always been there! But then lots of questions were asked that I was unable to answer.
“How long did I ride for in pregnancy?’
“How long did I wait before I started racing again?”
“How did I get back in shape?”
“Who is the small child that has suddenly appeared?”
These questions were delivered across multiple social media platforms, through direct messages and via friends and acquaintances across the globe. Some people who knew what had happened called and asked me what they should say next time the subject arose. Dave and I had a long think.
Eventually, we decided not to continue hiding something (someone) that has had such an enormous impact on our lives. I started to feel uncomfortable hiding the fact we’d built our family in a non-traditional way – I wanted that to be an amazing thing rather than some kind of secret we squirrelled away.
I realised I didn’t want adopted children and children from non-traditional families to be any less celebrated than other children. I felt that opening up a dialogue about adoption, something that’s rarely discussed could (even in a tiny way) help adopted children and parents feel less isolated or ‘different.’ Things that are never discussed or shared can almost self-perpetuate the idea that they’re tricky or uncomfortable subjects. I don’t want adopted children to feel that they’re different to other children, that the family lineage should be hidden.
I hoped that in being open about infertility and adoption I could help people feel less alone, more comfortable talking about their struggles and get this issue that affects so many people a bit more out the open; a little like with the new conversations we are having around mental health, which is losing its stigma now people are less scared to talk about it.
The response that I got when I shared our story was totally overwhelming. I received hundreds of messages and wonderful comments from people, all of them so happy for my family and I. I also received a lot of messages from people in similar situations – people struggling to conceive, struggling with the adoption process or finding it hard to keep their head above water in tough times. I’m so glad that I decided to shout about how proud I am of our story rather than keep the whole thing in the shadows.
Having a daughter has meant rethinking absolutely everything. I’ve had to adjust how I train, carefully consider which races to target next year and learn how to deal with being exhausted all the time. Dave and I have found it brutally hard going from childlessness to caring for a toddler overnight and we’ve had to grow up a lot in a very short amount of time
So life is not easy; far from it. But life is amazing, rewarding and delightful. Like they say, the best things are worth fighting for and stuff feels that much sweeter when you’ve sweated hard to achieve it. It feels to me like our little girl is the ultimate reward for the tough years we faced together. So here’s big ‘yay’ for family life and a high five to all the mammas, daddys and soon to be parents!