The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

When two become five – How it all began

on September 24, 2013

On the one hand I wonder how quickly it seems we are marking our fifth year in Singapore but on the other hand, I’ve cumulatively spent nearly two out of the five years incubating our three children. So that hasn’t really given us a lot of time to wake up from sleep deprived nights and properly take in what’s all around us.

It all started at the beginning of 2008 when Husband’s department was rumoured to be shutting shop and the murmurings of an impending economic crash started circulating. We had not long been married and our thoughts were turning towards starting a family. The furthest we were planning on moving to was just a few miles away in Winchmore Hill, London; somewhere slightly more affordable for a bigger space, close to good friends and also not far from the A1/M1 access routes back up north to see our respective families. With the threat of redundancy looming even greater, Husband decided to widen his search area. Globally. The opportunities didn’t appear overnight, more like a couple of months and still it wasn’t a real possibility. Interviews in the financial sector can stretch to five even six rounds and still nothing comes of it. But suddenly, a change in tempo indicated that something would occur. It came down to this offer in Singapore or one with Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong. You can imagine which one we are thankful for taking now.

The week after Husband accepted the offer, I found out #1 was on the way. Hugely exciting of course to be expecting your first child and full of naivety too about how utterly life changing it would be. Did we reconsider? A little but then what would be the alternative? The redundancy happened and nothing in London looked promising. We decided to take the chance because we figured it would only be for a couple of years and we would come back home. Famous last words.

Back then we had a comfortable, steady life going on like most people. Newly married with an exciting future to plan for, an established network of friends with a busy social calendar that was full weeks in advance and I was working for Cancer Research UK in a role I had been wanting to break into for some time. But the terrain was going to change no matter what we ourselves chose to do. One of our Best Men went through a separation which we never saw coming and so that changed our regular Sunday lunch gatherings. Children are not the only casualties of divorce and I miss her still. Then he too moved across the globe.

Husband moved out to Singapore three months before I did when I was 10 weeks preggers. I had a three month notice period to work through and I also wanted to use this time to get used to the idea and catch up with family and friends before the Big Move. It was a bit strange living on my own for the first time in nine years and doing everything for myself but actually you get used to it pretty quickly. There’s no one else to think of at mealtimes, less laundry, less mess and you get to watch anything you like. Of course I knew it was only temporary but I was glad I enjoyed my own company as that was something I would endure more of over the next few months.

I didn’t think too much about being on my own preggers either, I was nearing the end of the first trimester and I had a whole group of friends on hand for anything I needed. I was well looked after and my sister in law lived only a short walk away too. Mrs Steamer came with me for the twelve week scan and it was a bit sad that Husband missed out on this very first time but the reassurance that all was going well was most important. He made it to the next one though and we’ve had many more since.

I’m really glad I took the time to go and visit friends I hadn’t seen for a while. Friends who had moved out of London and live in Croydon, Cardiff, Chatham and Thame. It’s really good to know what you’re leaving in order to make coming back something to look forward to. I will never ever forget the stories about labour that Mrs Calamari shared with me, I never understood the significance at the time but all I can say is you can eat far too many prunes to encourage that first bowel movement.

Then there’s family. I miss my Mum and Dad all the time but they are very stoical. Mr Li in particular is that very old fashioned Chinese man who, despite living in the UK for nearly 50 years, still holds some very strong Chinese principles. He really does believe I ‘belong’ to the clan of Pontefract and therefore must do Husband’s bidding. Does he know his daughter at all? I find it hard to be this far away and I feel terribly guilty that he has five grandchildren in total but has never spent their early years with them. With the help of Nephew #1, he has only in the last few months discovered the magic of Skype and the first thing he said when he saw all three was ‘Why are they not wearing any clothes, they’ll catch a cold’. Well it’s 31 degrees indoors.

So that’s how I came to be in Singapore and tomorrow I’ll tell you how it’s been.


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