I initially created the blog Work Eat Play Repeat as working parents food blog. And to be honest, I still want to do that. While that remains a core mission, recent personal experiences have inspired me to expand my focus to encompass all three aspects in the name of my blog: work, eat, and play. Specifically, I aim to cater to the unique needs of working mothers. Let me share my story.

Where the story begins, our trip back to Perth

In April 2022, my husband Andy and I decided to go back to Perth with our 3.5 year old daughter Willow to visit my parents in Australia. We had not seen them in a long time due to Covid-19. It was a magical time – I had just found out I was pregnant with baby number two and I was very keen to see my dad as he had a few health scares over the last 12 months.

The first part of our drama unfolds

We catch Covid-19

Just before our much-anticipated trip to Australia, we all contracted Covid-19. In the days leading up to our departure, Andy developed concerning symptoms, including coughing up unusual mucus. Seeking medical attention, Andy went to A&E where an X-ray provided reassurance, but a follow-up GP appointment was advised for a month’s time. Undeterred, we went to Australia and had a lovely time reuniting with my parents, taking Willow sightseeing, visiting friends, the whole holiday experience. However in the background, Andy was working long hours remotely and he did not show signs of improvement. We consulted a local doctor in Australia and Andy underwent a course of antibiotics in preparation for our return journey to the UK.

Andy gets some bad news when we get back to the UK

When we arrived back to the UK, Andy went for that follow up GP appointment and the series of events that unfolded was a bad nightmare. Andy was admitted to hospital straight away where he was diagnosed with a bad chest infection, the flu and pneumonia. Fortunately, he recovered, but during a follow-up medical appointment two weeks later we had some bad news – the doctors found a lump in his lung. A few tests later, we found out Andy had stage one lung cancer. All that went through my mind was ‘please don’t die Andy, you have to be here to meet our son’. It was then a whirlwind trying to get Andy surgery to remove the cancerous tumour against a backdrop of long waiting lists.

Finally, in early July 2022, Andy underwent a successful operation, resulting in the removal of the tumour and a portion of his lung.

Andy quickly recovered over the coming weeks and he was able to gradually return to work. Andy was so lucky the surgery was curative and he did not need any further chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Gestational diabetes

In the background, the pregnancy was doing well but during my 28th week of pregnancy, I had a glucose tolerance test and found out I had gestational diabetes…… again. I was warned that I had a strong chance of gestational diabetes coming back again for baby number two and had already been watching my blood sugar levels. But the test this time showed the gestational diabetes was worse this time round. Fortunately through sheer determination (and a fab medical team), I was able to control the diabetes with diet and exercise alone although I was told on multiple occassions I should go on medication and/or insulin.

House drama

Then a new drama unfolded – the house we had been waiting for 13 months to purchase was going nowhere. The owners had pulled out of 5 onward purchases and were still dithering. At this point I was close to 7 months pregnant, and Andy and I accepted we would have to be in London for the baby to be born. To make matters more stressful, we had to start Willow at a school in London for reception as we did not know what was happening with the house. But we got our happy ending – a week later after saying no to the first house, we saw another house that just came to the market. This was a rare fixer upper and the owner had lived in this house for 50 years. Funnily enough, we never looked seriously at this area before and I had some apprehension – my heart was set to live in the other house’s area. But after everything that had happened to Andy, I knew we had to forge forward to fulfil his lifelong dream to live in the countryside and we made an offer. It was a competitive process but the stars were aligned and we got the house! To make things even more magical, we managed to complete in 9 weeks which is insanely quick for UK standards.

So two weeks before my due date, we joyfully moved into our dream home, enrolled Willow in a countryside school, and embarked on the path towards our dream life.

Baby Oscar arrives into the world

Then the big day came, our precious little boy Oscar was born. And he was perfect.

Oscar falls sick in hospital during the first 24 hours of his birth

Shortly after Oscar’s birth, the pediatrician’s routine visit brought unexpected news. Oscar had a heart murmur, indicating a congenital heart defect from a hole in his heart at birth. Additionally, he was diagnosed with positional talipes, (bent feet due to compression in the womb). Within 12 hours, Oscar’s breathing difficulties escalated, and he was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit. Placed in an incubator and administered antibiotics as a precaution, I was terrified. I kept thinking ‘Andy is safe, now keep my baby safe’. Thankfully, Oscar made a quick recovery, and a few days later, we were relieved to be discharged from the hospital. (Note: And 6 months on, his heart and feet are okay).

I get some worrying news about dad whilst we are in hospital

There is something else that was happening here in tandem whilst I was in hospital – on day two of Oscar being born, my mum rang from Australia – dad had fallen down at home and my mum had to call an ambulance. My family reassured me dad was okay and that he was excited about Oscar being born. During the brain fog of Oscar being so ill, I tried my hardest to focus on him only and not to worry about dad, but I was worried. I knew deep down this was not a good sign – a fall is always not great when you are over 80.

Oscar falls sick again and we are back in hospital

But right now, Andy and I were just relieved that Oscar was okay and my mother in law came down to help us out. I was in new mum mode and trying to cope as new mums do. Then when Oscar was two and a half weeks old, he caught the RSV virus from Willow (as kids always catch bugs). And Oscar was admitted to hospital for three days. It was scary, he had to go on oxygen to keep his blood oxygen levels high and there was nothing that could be done but wait. Thank goodness he recovered.

My dad passes away

Oscar and I returned home again, and Andy and I got back into the bubble of newborn baby life and sorting out the new house. However, just three days before Oscar reached the one-month milestone, devastating news reached me – my father had passed away in Australia. Shock, disbelief, sadness. I was able to keep my husband and son safe and alive but not my dad. The next three weeks was hard. Hindered by my recovery from the c-section and Oscar’s recuperation from his virus, I couldn’t make the journey back to Australia. Not being physically present for my grieving mother, siblings, and extended family, and being unable to bid a personal farewell to my dad at his funeral was an agonising experience. Fortunately for modern technology I was able to join the livestream of his funeral. And then Christmas arrived, filled with joy and laughter surrounded by friends and family. I was silently grieving my dad, but I knew I was going to be okay.

I will miss you dad, rest in peace

So this is a long and detailed account of what has happened to me in 2022. I do not think I could have gone through so many life changes in 12 months – pregnancy and baby, cancer, new house, loss of a parent – each of these things a massive life change in itself.

My ‘why’ for this blog

So this brings me back to why I have changed my blog to be more than just a food blog and to be a lifestyle blog – because life changed me and it has made me realise something – you only live once – so you have to make the most of it. And as a working mother, I want to live an intentional life, where I focus on things that matter to me the most – my family, my health and myself. What this means to me is to focus on three things in my life – productivity and time management (work/life balance so I have time for things that matter), my health (making healthy food and lifestyle choices) and myself (having fun and enjoying my life with my family). Perhaps this blog is my therapy, but really I want to help other mums out there. I know life can be tough but we can do this if we focus on things that matter most.

Breaking my three areas of focus of my blog further

  1. Work – my blog will focus on time management and productivity hacks for working mums so you you have the time and freedom to spend quality time on things that matter most to you
  2. Eat – share healthy recipes (with the cheeky dessert/cake recipe thrown in) focused on a healthy balanced approach to food as well as sharing our food journey growing our own produce in our garden
  3. Play – my ramblings on fun things to do with the family, sharing special family moments and celebrations and tips and any insights I have learned

Thank you for taking the time to find out about my story and my ‘why’ for this blog. I hope you continue to be part of this journey with me as I take on the next chapter of my life and I hope I can help you to live a more intentional life. If I can help you in any way, even with a small productivity hack, a healthy recipe, or inspiration for fun things to do, I’ve done something special.

You only have one life, make it count.

x Karen

Celebrating the Royal Coronation

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