The Moment I Stopped Loving Myself

I considered myself a high-flyer, married to an amazing girl, about to move abroad on a hefty expat package as the second employee in a Retail start-up in Russia for the biggest DIY Retailer in Europe….. travel, new experiences, money in the bank – what’s not to like for a 23 year old?

I was starting to love myself a little too much…..

I had sweated blood to get to that moment. Long nights in the office, working weekends, missing Christmas parties to finish a crucial spreadsheet for the board paper presentation the next day. I had a goal – I was going to make it happen, no matter what. Luckily I had the support of my wife, and together we moved towards what we saw as our future.

The move was eventful, the paperwork never ending, but we eventually got settled and the first two years passed in a blur of hard work and even harder playing. Moscow was a pretty soulless place in the daytime, but if you wanted to let your hair down in the evening, the options were mind-boggling for a guy from a sleepy English town.

The start-up was amazing; I hand picked my own team of buyers, who then helped translate my original vision into cold hard DIY reality. We had unbelievably tough timescales, the sort that give you a siege mentality and a do-or-die culture. Get the first store open within 9 months? No problem. Everything was going amazingly. I was loving life, and, after all that hard work, life was loving me back.

Then everything changed.

We started to think about a family. Something we had both wanted from the day we first met…. Things were going so well for both of us that we hadn’t even considered that there might be problems. Well, without going into details, it wasn’t as easy as we thought….. far from it. Just looking at a few cruel numbers on a piece of paper brought a numbing fear flooding into both of our lives.

Then, one night, staring through the summer Moscow smog at the sunset from our top floor apartment, beer in hand, it came to me…..

It wasn’t about me anymore.

It was about these little kiddies who we both desperately wanted to bring into the world, and I made a vow from that day onward to do anything to make that dream a reality. We immediately decided to escape the stress and the pressures (my wife was working for a top Retailer too), move back to the UK and start a course of IVF at the best clinic in London.

I resigned the next morning. I was massively letting my team down, but by now they knew our problems, and they were fully supportive. God, I loved those guys. They were like brothers and sisters to me. My boss however was horrified (he didn’t have a sensitive bone in his body, not the nicest bloke). I took all the flak that was rightfully coming my way, but deep down knew that this was the right thing to do. It was for my future family.

We were a month away from opening the first stores, and I was killing my promising Retail career stone cold as we had decided to move back closer to my parents in the UK. I didn’t care about that at the time, I’d survive somehow, I’d find a new career direction – it was all about one thing…..

I left the business, and we spent a month relaxing in Russia before we were due back….. Two days before our flight, my wife did a pregnancy test…… and another…. and another. They were all positive. No way….. We counted the days…. We wrapped her up in cotton wool. The trip to the IVF clinic happened as planned, but instead of discussing treatment options, we saw the magical scan of our little daughter in my wife’s tummy.

It turns out that we conceived a couple of days after we made the decision to come back. Call it fate, call it coincidence, call it the will of God; however you wish to view it, I have never looked back since.

Now, whenever I am making a decision (any decision), it is no longer about me…..
And that’s the way it should be.

p.s. 18 months after the birth of our daughter, our son came along at the first attempt 🙂


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