2017 was certainly a year of change for me, with many unexpected twists and turns. Usually, these kinds of posts are filled with bloggers summing up their year of amazing travels. But this year has been somewhat different for me, and if you’re a regular reader of Where is Nikki? then you have probably noticed that I have been a lot quieter than usual.
Some might be thinking that I would have tons of material to write about following the announcement that I was moving to Tanzania last year. And yes, you wouldn’t be wrong! I had all sorts of aspirations to transform this blog into one that focused on adventures around Africa and expat life in Tanzania. And I still have lots of stories and article ideas up my sleeve, which I will hopefully get round to writing about soon.
However, there are a number of personal reasons I had to put this on the back-burner, and some of which I will try my best to explain below.
So, let’s start from the beginning…
MOVING TO AFRICA
As I mentioned, last year I moved to Tanzania, an East African country that I had fallen deeply in love with and had visited a handful of times previously. I had been fantasizing about the idea for such a long time, it felt like a dream come true when I was offered a job out there.
To begin with, things were going well. While there were a few wobbly moments where I struggled to adapt to such a drastic change in lifestyle, I managed to settle down quite quickly and generally felt happy with my decision.
I was settling into my new home and job doing marketing for a safari operator, I celebrated my 32nd birthday with both old friends and new, and I got to see more of East Africa including Lake Manyara National Park, the mountains of Lushoto, and the beaches of Mombassa in Kenya.
And to top things off, I fell in love with a local friend I’d known for about two years and moved in with him and our two adorable rescue dogs, Bobbie and Marley.
On the whole, I was happy and things were turning out just the way I hoped they would.
FALLING PREGNANT IN TANZANIA
Moving abroad to Tanzania was meant to be a new chapter in my life. However, motherhood wasn’t exactly what I had planned for this new chapter…at least not straight away anyway. That chapter in the “The Life of Nikki Godwin” was meant to be written another few years down the line.
But as we all know, sometimes the universe can have different plans for us! And there I was…around three months into my new life in Tanzania…staring in disbelief at a pregnancy test where two blue lines had appeared.
My boyfriend was standing beside me, carefully assessing the reaction on my face. We had only just made things “official” and although he had been 100% supportive, I am pretty sure he was crapping himself just as much as I was.
How the f**k did that happen? – was the first thought that came to my mind
Ok, so at the age of 32, I am obviously aware of how the “birds and the bees” work, however, I have always been responsible in that department. Not only that, but I was diagnosed with PCOS a few years back, and wasn’t even sure having children would be possible for me.
So when those two blue lines appeared, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a shock for both of us.
As the following weeks…months…passed, it took me quite some time to come around to the idea of being a mum. Even though this was something I had always wanted, it was hard to ignore all the other concerns and worries I had about my circumstances. The timing just felt completely off.
How was I going to make this work?
I was in a new relationship; I had only just started a new job; and I was adjusting to life in a foreign country, thousands of miles away from my family and friends. And now I had to contend with all of that, with a baby on the way.
Add all of that to the normal discomforts of pregnancy and you have the perfect recipe for homesickness and just desperately wanting your mum around!
They say that everyone’s pregnancy experience is different, whether it be for practical, physical or emotional reasons. For me, it was a cocktail of all of these things, and during those months, I had never felt so far away from home.
WHY I TOOK A HIATUS FROM BLOGGING
Initially, I had only planned to take a couple of months off blogging to allow myself some time to adjust to my new home.
But not long after finding out I was pregnant, I found myself withdrawing from it completely. In fact, I found myself withdrawing from a lot of things and noticed a change in my general mood and behavior.
The “fearless” Nikki that had taken the plunge to move to Africa…now suddenly felt very scared, alone and overwhelmed.
These emotions had become so overpowering, that it got to the point where I felt like I was just “existing.” I was doing what I needed to do to get by but had little interest in doing anything else that I loved to do. I just felt numb and disconnected.
Most people are familiar with post-natal depression which can affect new mothers after the birth of their baby. However perinatal or antenatal depression, which occurs during pregnancy, is much less talked about. In fact, I’m not sure I even knew it existed until it happened to me. But having experienced issues with mental health in the past, I was aware of the signs and knew I needed to find a way to cope with it.
I would often ask myself if I was the only person that had ever felt this unhappy during the first two trimesters of pregnancy. All you hear is people telling you how amazing pregnancy is and how you have a certain glow about you.
But where the f**k was my glow?!?
I won’t go into all the nitty-gritty details of what was causing my depression. Perhaps one day, when I am ready, I will write a post about my experience and how I coped with it while living abroad in a country where there is very little support. It seems odd to me that not enough people talk about the downsides of pregnancy and how it can be such a lonely and scary time for some.
But for now, I will explain that this was the main reason I took a hiatus from blogging. I needed to give myself some time to get in the right headspace and build my strength up again. Not just for me, but for our child.
FROM DISBELIEF TO ACCEPTANCE
I can’t pinpoint the exact day I became excited about the baby and finally getting to become a mum. Maybe it was the day we found out we were having a girl or maybe it was the first time I felt the delicate flutter of her moving around?
All I know is slowly but surely, my fears were replaced with acceptance, and the dread was overtaken by joy.
I still sometimes feel guilty about my reaction to the pregnancy. I have to remind myself that it was okay to feel the way I did given the circumstances.
Just because I felt anxious and depressed didn’t mean that I didn’t want my baby. In fact, nothing could have been further from the truth. I am excited about meeting my little bundle of joy, seeing what she will look like, and getting to know her little personality. And I can’t wait for my new adventure in motherhood and to have a mini explorer that I can introduce to the world.
But at the time, it was just hard to feel positive when I constantly had feelings of confusion, fear, and guilt. And that was okay.
The more I learn about pregnancy, the more I realize what a miracle it is and that there never really is a “perfect time” to fall pregnant. You just need to believe that everything happens for a reason, and when it does happen, it will be the right time for you.
As John Lennon once wisely sang “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” And if I have learned anything in recent years, I certainly believe that statement to be true.
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