Yes folks, this is a picture of me, Natalie (slow learner) Lovett, circa March 2016. I'd just returned from a sales conference in the US for my employer at the time, Facebook. I was sitting at my work desk, when I turned to a colleague and said, "You know I'm not feeling the best, I think I might pop up to the doctors, I'll be back in an hour."
That hour, turned into a week at the emergency ward of the closest hospital my GP could rush me to, which was the Sydney Eye Hospital in Macquarie Street. My oxygen sats were incredibly low and I was bordering on pneumonia.
This certainly wasn't the first time I'd pushed myself beyond my limits and even being hooked up to all the gadgets and with oxygen mask firmly in place, you would have thought I'd have got the message and put that infernal computer down. And yet, I didn't!
Relentlessly pushing through had always been my modus operandi. But, as a 49 year old 'Single Mother by Choice' (SMC) looking after a busy 2 year old daughter, paying off a hefty Sydney mortgage and trying to maintain a full-time career, as well as manage my side gig of donating 24 embryos to other Australians, with all the media coverage that came with it and then somehow, I still thought my workload had room to embark on writing a book about it all and starting Lexie's Village Publishing. Was it any wonder I ended up in a hospital ward?
In my quest to be all things to all people, I'd forgotten one very important fact. I was my only source for generating it all. Even though my parents have always been incredibly supportive and help as much as they can, they lived two hours away and my younger sister had recently left Sydney to move to the US and my other sister had just as much on her plate, with a busy career, two children and living an hour away. I really had very little support, other than an au pair and friends I didn't like to lean on too much at the time because I was the one that signed up for this SMC gig, I needed to prove I could do it on my own. Or so I thought!
In my current situation though, it was glaringly obvious I was not coping on my own. Something had to give. If I was the sole source of providing for my daughter, bringing in the income and hoping to help others become parents, I had to look after myself first and foremost.
Bottom line, I needed to be healthy to give to those I cared about. I needed to put me first and work on getting better, so I could do the most important things I wanted to do.
It took several more months of convalescing and soul searching for me to figure out what was most important to me. Lexie, my daughter was priority number one and I wanted more time with her, I was missing out on precious moments with her because of work. I was passionate about embryo donation and helping others on the journey to realise their own special families, in whatever shape or form that may take.
I loved my job at facebook but I'd been there seven years and I'd given as much as I'd got from a truly amazing company but my heart wasn't in it anymore. I had purpose and focus in a different direction now. But could I live without the pay check?
Could I make enough money starting a fledgling business in a fairly unknown fertility area, without any formal qualifications or broad industry knowledge, other than what I'd learned first hand? How long could I survive on savings and no income?
I knew what I had to do, I knew it was time to leave facebook but it certainly wasn't easy. In fact, knowing I was throwing away a career in what was clearly my optimum earning period for the complete unknown was in a way, counter helpful to my health recovery, due to the monumental stress it invoked.
Despite my rational side telling myself I was crazy, I took the plunge and resigned from Facebook. They gave me the most lovely farewell I could have ever asked for, with Lexie in attendance.
I hired a demi-pair, (someone that pays you reduced rent in return for an agreed weekly amount of babysitting hours). I reduced my spending budget dramatically and gave myself a delivery date for the book and the business set up. I set up a makeship office in the lounge room, so I could be close to Lex as much as possible, which at times, was very distracting but a lot of fun.
Fast forward to February 2018 and I'm just recovering from another bout of serious asthma. This time yes, it was stress induced in part, what with running my own small fledgling company, while working on the second book but this time, I haven't picked up a computer for over a week. I've had my wonderful neighbour drive Lex to and from daycare, my friends have come over most evenings to help me cook and look after Lex and I'm sleeping a lot, resting and eating lots of wicked home made chicken soup.
I wrote this blog today to remind myself of where I never want to end up again. I know stress and the pressure I put on myself is a big part of how I get sick and I have to keep working on harnessing my constant need to say yes to everything and everyone.
In a way this blog was more for myself as a reminder and also to anyone one else that can relate. We are our own work in progress, so put down that iphone, walk away from the computer and commit to dropping one thing off your to do list this week. And most importantly, be sure to enjoy the most important people in your life. Be incredibly grateful for all you have, I know I am, every day. I just need to look after myself first, so I am able to enjoy it to the fullest.
Natalie Lovett is the author of the highly acclaimed book 'Lexie's Village - A New Kind of Family' and is actively championing ART and embryo donation rights and awareness. She has appeared in numerous TV shows (The Project, Australian Story, Today Tonight and The Morning Show), to tell her own deeply moving story of one woman’s extraordinary journey to motherhood and her idea that expands everything we believe about families.
The book is available for sale and Lexie's Village is offering a 15% discount and FREE SHIPPING to all Blog readers and Newsletter subscribers for your paperback copy using the code link below: