When I grow up, Whitby and a Wedding

Stella is 16 weeks old today. 16 weeks!

Gratuitous baby photo

I’ve been on maternity leave for almost 6 months and whilst I’m lucky enough to be able to take almost the full year off, there’s no escaping the fact that we need to start planning my return to work. I’m happy enough to be going back to do 2 days a week and even happier that Stella will be at home with her Daddy for one of those days and with her beloved G-Dawg and Grandpa (my parents – my brothers christened my mum ‘G-Dawg’ when she couldn’t decide whether to be a Grandma or a Nanny and it appears to have stuck…) for the other. However, I’ve realised that I don’t want to be a part-time P.A ‘forever’ and whilst a few careers did seem very promising for life with young children, (hi, teaching!) I’ve had a bee buzzing in my ear for many months now and I’m starting to take very tentative steps towards realising a dream that I’ve harboured in one way or another for a long time. Ultimately, I’m aiming to become a Health Visitor. I’ve yet to decide whether to take the plunge and dive straight into direct entry to gain the necessary training and qualifications, or to go the more circuitous route of returning to university to study Midwifery or Nursing first.

I’ve always thought that a good midwife is worth their weight in gold/saffron/platinum. I’ve always loved babies and been fascinated by their entrance into the world and subsequent development. But I was worried that my interest obsession with all thing baby was mostly down to the fact that I wanted one so desperately myself. Since having Stella, I’ve realised that wasn’t the case. It’s a genuine love, especially of the early days and weeks of a brand new family’s journey. Having had contact with 5 or 6 incredible midwives in the first 10 days of Stella’s life, I know exactly what a difference they can make to brand new parents. However, after those initial 10 days, maybe 14 depending on where you live, those wonderful midwives go back to the beginning of their birth-2 weeks cycle with other babies and other bewildered parents. You’re left with your Health Visitor. And to go all ‘The Apprentice’ on you, I think there’s a real gap in the market for passionate, driven, caring and compassionate Health Visitors. Which is where I, one day, hope to come in. There’s a lot to think about, such a lot. But it feels so good to *finally* realise what I want to be when I grow up.


10 days ago, we took Stella on her first holiday. It was ‘only’ four days, it was ‘only’ to Whitby, but good golly Miss Molly, it was wonderful. We shared a very swanky apartment with Rach, her husband Rich and delicious baby Esme and Rach and I were super-lucky enough to attend Amy’s wedding reception on the Saturday night. (About which you will be hearing much, much more very soon!) On the Sunday Rach and Rich set off home and Phil and I took Stella into Whitby for her first trip to the seaside.

Me: Will you laugh at me if I cry because I’m so, so very happy right now?

Phil: Of course not.

Me: *sniff*

Phil: I won’t laugh, I’ll have you committed because you’ll clearly have lost whatever marbles you had left.

Me: *hastily wipes eyes*

I’ve given it a whole lot of thought in the last 10 days and I’m now certain that that sunny Sunday was the happiest I’ve felt a very long time. Getting married, finding out I was pregnant, seeing the 6 week old blob that was our baby at the first scan, learning we were going to have a daughter, the day that baby girl arrived – all days where I thought I might burst, so happy was I.

And then, there I was.

I stood on the wet sand, inhaling the sea air and savouring the warmth of the sun on my face. I relived a thousand moments from my childhood spent barefoot on the chilly beaches of Ireland and I saw, in my mind’s eye, Stella prancing around those same beaches with the sand between her toes and seaweed in her hands. The tiny baby snuggled in her wrap against my chest became a toddler, a schoolgirl, a teenager; in mere seconds I watched her grow up with crashing waves and a shining sun as her backdrop. And then a soft sigh bought me back to the present and the tiny baby girl sucked her thumb and slowly closed her eyes.

We walked the entire length of the bay, hand in hand; stopping to snap pictures and tell the snoozing baby all about the shells and the caves and the glass rubbed smooth by the sand. We took our baby girl to the beach and we were happy.

Windswept hair and squinty eyes...


Have you ever seen a mermaid in a field? Or a ballerina in a marquee wearing a flower crown? Have you seen a stunningly restored VW camper van festooned in ribbon parked next to it’s shiny, be-ribboned comrade, the Mark I Golf? Did you know that 5 minutes walk along a country lane from The White Swan in Newton-Upon-Rawcliffe is the sort of view that makes your heart skip a beat and your senses tingle? Have you ever sat down with a dozen women for dinner, some of whom you’ve never met before, and laughed until your face hurt? Have you seen pure, unadulterated love on a dancefloor?

Amy and James’ wedding had all of this and more. So much more. More than I could ever put into words. Amy has already sent in her AOP – the dedication! – and so I will say no more. Readers, you’re in for a treat.

Categories: Life Experience, Money and Career
28 interesting thoughts on this


  1. ChirstyMac
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    aaaargh! NOTHING about this that I don’t just ADORE. Yay for the pure and beautiful happy!
    WHAT a start to a Wednesday (and so excited for AOP Friday now too!!!) X

  2. Posted May 29, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Aisling, you have just vindicated my decision to spend a week of the school holidays in Ireland on a beach. I really don’t care if it rains and rains and rains.

    • Posted May 29, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Agree. It’s beautiful, evocative writing and makes me want to stand by the sea with the wind in my face. Stella is a lucky, lucky kid.

    • Posted May 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Oh Laura… my mum is going home for 10 days next week and I am so.jealous.I.could.cry.

  3. Lara Blue
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Aisling- your words always seem to reach right through my chest and clutch directly at my heart. Your description of standing on the beach and imagining Stella’s life was just sublime.

    I think that you would make an absolutely amazing health visitor. Having the health visitor come round was very stressful for both my sister and my best friend and I know that if it had been you, the experience would have been dramatically improved.

    So glad that I got a minute to check into AOW today, I have missed this amazing space! (I am currently in the work van on my way to do an outreach event for schoolchildren so I am sneakily tweeting and reading AOW in the back!).

    LOVE xxx

    • Lara Blue
      Posted May 29, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      PS: The second picture reminds me of one of Whistler’s paintings from his Nocturne series. I think it’s called “Nocturne: Blue and Silver, Chelsea” xx

  4. Fee
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    This is just wonderfully written and how lovely to see you so happy.

    I think you would make a wonderful health visitor, I have many thoughts on the gap following a bereavement situation which I hope will change one day.

    Much love to gorgeous Stella x

    • Posted May 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Fee, thank you so much for this and your tweet – I too hope you are super happy one day not too far away xxx

  5. Posted May 29, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Gah, everything about this post is heartwarmingly beautiful – your happiness just shines through, and those photos make me want to go to the beach. Right Now.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your journey to being a health visitor, I think you would be brilliant. It’s also good to hear about someone considering a complete career change as it’s something I’m looking into in the long-term.

    I have four possible AOPs at the moment. I’m working on cutting it down. It’s not going well!

  6. Posted May 29, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Man I WISH I had a plan for when I grew up. Jealous. Yours sounds awesome, you are going to be SO SO GOOD at it. Win.

    Love xx

  7. Zan
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Lovely….and has made me v excited for our mini break to Whitby tomorrow! I agree (from friends experiences) that so much more support could be given from HVs sometimes. You’re clearly very passionate about doing this, am sure you’ll be amazing :)

    This post has also reminded me to decide on an AOP!

  8. Anita
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    And to go all ‘The Apprentice’ on you, I think there’s a real gap in the market for passionate, driven, caring and compassionate Health Visitors. Which is where I, one day, hope to come in.

    You COULD NOT be more right. Working as a GP in a deprived inner city area (nearly 15% of our kids are on the child protection register for various reasons) I have seen first hand what a difference a good health visitor can make. I’m lucky that the one I work with most is excellent but so, so overstretched. You can, and one day will I’m sure, make SUCH a difference Aisling. Lovely writing.

  9. Posted May 29, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Oh my goodness A you would be the BEST health visitor that ever lived! I know your secret plan though – you know that we will all want you as our health visitor and as such will have to move near you and before you know it Any Other Village will be born. It’s a good plan, I’ll give you that.

    Aaaanyway… You’ve reminded me how lucky I am to live right next to the sea. I’d totally taken for granted that we can just nip to the beach whenever we like and so as soon as madam wakes up from her nap I’m going to put her in her pram and head down there. The sun is shining here for once so it seems like a sign!

    Beautiful pics (and words!) as always xxx

  10. Posted May 29, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face commenting on my phone (which I hate doing when I actually have something important to say but I shoved my laptop under a piece of furniture some time during labour and I’m still not quite sure where it is). Aisling you are already halfway to realising this because your heart and your head are already there, caring about poor frightened new mums who don’t have a clue what they’re doing, making them see that they’re not screwing things up they’re just finding their way. I actually would have exploded without your support this weekend. You are so unbelievably kind, all the families you’re going to help in the future will be blessed to have you.

    sorry for soppiness and probable typos


    • Posted May 29, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Pen, it was a genuine pleasure *trying* to help you at the weekend, I’m only sorry that Any Other Village isn’t an actual thing because I’d have been on your doorstep in seconds. (Lucky you, then, that AOV isn’t up and running yet.)

      So much love x

      • Posted May 29, 2013 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

        Any Other Village…sign me up!!!

    • Posted May 30, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      I have no time to write this properly but I second penny – I’m lucky enough to have had aisling’s support over these crazy first few weeks of motherhood and she genuinely helped me more than any community midwife/health visitor! Can’t wait to hear what you decide A xxx

  11. Posted May 29, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    “Have you ever seen a mermaid in a field?” I will write that down and maybe frame it somewhere.

    Your descriptions are so beautiful, I have always been drawn to the sea, and being there with your husband and baby, sounds like absolute bliss. I am so happy for your joy.

    Your new career path sounds very very exciting, and I think it such health advisors are very much needed. I am sure you will do great.

    Thanks for sharing all of this.

    And I can’t wait to hear all about Amy’s wedding and all the magic that ensued, how fun!

  12. Molly
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    As a midwife I hate saying the words “The health visitor takes over from here”. I totally agree, there is a huge gap and having a passion for the job is half the battle. Good luck with persuing your dream, always strive to improve what has gone before.

    Also, I can’t wait to have children and bring them back to the West of Ireland, to walk along my childhood beaches. Really enjoyed your post.

  13. Posted May 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    In no way am I getting overly emotional at my desk on my lunch break remembering the first dance of pure love. Neither did I well up reading about Stella on the beach. For the third time today (I can’t stop reading it, if I lived anywhere near sea, I would spend this evening stood on the beach). I can’t tell you how happy your happiness makes others, it’s infectious and beautiful and incredibly deserved.

    And, you will be the most incredible health visitor. When I have babies, I want you to visit me. Actually, I want that anyway, regardless of your future profession but ALSO I want you as my health visitor. You have such passion and compassion, and this incredible gift for putting people at their ease and helping them believe the best about themselves and their abilities, even when they’re terrified.

    K x

  14. Ashley
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Good luck with your career plan! I am currently deciding what on earth I want to do with my life and you’ve inspired me to just get on with it. The seaside is my most favourite place to be- doesn’t matter what the weather is like, it’s lovely. Nice to read such a happy post :-)
    X x x

  15. Vivienne
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I am so happy that you have decided to pursue becoming a health visitor – it scares me the stories I hear online and first hand about the treatment and advice women have received from their health visitors….from the downright stupid advice to the potentially dangerous. Even my perfectly pleasant health visitor said I could easily give up breastfeeding at 6 months as most of Toby’s nutrition would come from food then. Erm….right now the floor gets more nutrients than he does! You will be wonderful, and the women you look after will truly be blessed.

  16. S
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful, amazing post as always A.

    First of all I need to say I’m soo jealous. I had to go back to working 4 days a week when J had just turned 6 months and now it looks like I might need to go back to 5 days. I know there’s no need to say to you to savour this special time with Stella because I know you are. It’s just so precious. I feel so guilty already and really wish our financial situation was different (4 days of childcare is expensive as well so not looking like things will improve in the near future…)

    Anyway, onto happier things. I can literally see the beautiful Stella dancing on the sand as a school girl. Your writing is so captivating. You will be such an amazing health visitor. The bewildered/terrified/scared new parents will find such warm comfort in you looking after them & their little ones. Similarly, I can see you as a strong, brave, beacon of hope for those poor children who need someone to be their voice if they are at risk of harm.

    What a tantalising glimpse of a spectacular wedding. Can’t wait for the AOP.

    Put my name down for a house in AOV please.

    Much love to all, especially little Stella xxxx

  17. Steff
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Just wow. I’m gutted that I’ve only just had the chance to read this!! Such beautiful word pictures (and actual pictures! I want to smush Stella’s wee cheeks so much!!), the best bedtime reading ever.

    Our Health Visitor is fab but I actually can’t imagine anyone better suited for the job than you. Even now, with your own little bundle of joy to look after you’re never more than a tweet or an email away from any one of us who need a pep talk / advice or pointed in the direction of gratuitous shots of baby animals. You’re amazing.

    I’m going to have to insist that H & C get to meet Stella someday. Without sounding stalkerish… Hopefully! Xx

  18. Posted May 29, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    A I sobbed reading this earlier and I’m sobbing again now. You will be the most amazing Health Visitor, I wish you all the success and love in the world to make your dream a reality xxx

  19. Posted May 30, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Crying out of sheer happiness – so beautiful!
    Lovely post x

    • Posted June 1, 2013 at 3:30 am | Permalink

      Reading back over my AOW comments from this week to see if in my sleep deprivation I actually wrote them! Just saw this and it was MEANT to say = instead of -.

      As you were.

  20. Rach M
    Posted June 9, 2013 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    Sorry to comment so late on this one. Utterly gorgeous writing, Aisling. Such a beautiful image of you on the beach thinking about Stella growing up. Xx

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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