It seems apropos that my first annual review since becoming a parent would come out in March.
If you’ve been here for a bit you know that I’ve been doing public reviews since 2014. I’ve had this drafted since January but here I am in March finally posting it publicly. I do these reviews mostly for myself, like reviewing my game tape.
But I also think there’s plenty of opportunity to learn for yourself from my mistakes, my wins, and all that I did in the last year.
TLDR: 2022 was a pivotal year for me both professionally and personally. I closed big life chapters in business while opening new ones in becoming a parent.
What went well
1. I had a healthy baby girl
My daughter was born at 11:42 pm on March 31st, 2022, and was by far my favorite part of 2022.
It was funny because I’d joked that my Q1 goal in 2022 was having a baby. She was due on March 25th but was a week late. When she arrived 20 minutes before the end of Q1 my friend joked “Of course she did, it would be very off-brand for her to have you miss your goal.”
The delivery did not go as expected. The whole way through my pregnancy I was not sure about anything else other than I didn’t want a C-Section. That was the only thing not on my “birth plan”. Well, you know what they say, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.
(Which I’d gladly choose over going through labor FYI.) After 12 hours of labor, I ended up needing an emergency C-Section, what a gnarly experience that was.
Regardless of how she got here, she’s healthy and that’s really what matters!
2. BestSelf got acquired (!!)
In comes one baby, and out goes another.
Maybe it was having my daughter that made me ready to let go of my first baby, the business I’d started 7 years before — BestSelf. After courting several different buyers in 2022, I found a partner I felt would be a good steward of the brand moving forward. Which was very important to me.
We closed mid October 2022, just over two years since I bought my business partner out.
I think it’s important as an entrepreneur (and a mum) to be able to take some chips off of the table. I hadn’t always been very good at this, often choosing to re-invest everything back into the business. Once you have a family you start looking at things through a new lens.
There are several reasons I decided to sell that I’ll share in a future article, but for now, it was the right decision for me. And the future of BestSelf. For more background and info on the sale process and why I did it, sign up to my newsletter where I’ll be sharing more details.
3. Bought a new house
If I were to invest in a city like a stock, Austin, Texas would be my top pick. I strongly believe in its potential to become the next hub for entrepreneurship in the United States. That’s why I’ve been doing my best to invest in real estate in Austin over the last few years.
To give you some context, I have a bit of a secret obsession with browsing through Zillow. I find myself checking the Austin real estate market almost every day to keep up with the latest trends and opportunities. If I’ve ever been to your neighborhood, chances are I’ve already checked it out on Zillow. Apologies in advance! 🙃
In fact, it was through this obsessive browsing that I stumbled upon our first home in 2019. The property was mid-construction and undervalued, but with a bit of insight, I recognized the potential and jumped on the opportunity.
And boy, did we make the right choice! Austin real estate prices have skyrocketed since then.
My Zillow habit has proven to be quite useful, especially as my family and I started considering a move to a new home with more space. I kept a close eye on the market and in November, I spotted the perfect house in a nearby area. It had everything we were looking for, and we jumped at the chance to make it our own.
A big backyard, a 450sqft casita (that I could use for my office), and was still within 12 minutes of downtown. Our realtor and good friend David Shapiro negotiated a great deal for us (highly recommended for anyone looking for real estate in Austin).
Lastly, rather than sell our old house, we decided to turn it into an investment property. Our best move considering the 3% fixed 30-year mortgage we have, and allows us to hold onto that Austin stock. 😄
4. No default parent & a new modern family
For many years a fear I had with having children was becoming the “default parent”.
The term “default parent” refers to the parent who takes on the majority of parenting responsibilities and duties in a household. This often falls on the mom of the household.
Turns out that when there are two moms it’s easier to avoid this happening even if by accident. It’s been amazing to have a partner to team up with, and I’m incredibly grateful to co-parent with Emily. This has become even more clear to me in the past year.
When we decided to start a family, we knew that finding the right sperm donor would be crucial. We were fortunate enough to have a close friend who was open to helping and who we thought would be a good role model (that and good genes 😉).
While we had a contract drawn up to protect us both, we made it clear that any involvement was welcome but not expected.
Since then, one of the most heartwarming surprises has been the incredible support we’ve received from him and his family. We already knew his family quite well, but we never expected them to embrace our daughter the way they have. Having had no other grandchildren (yet) they really stepped up as bonus family members and it’s been wonderful.
5. Community & relationships
We had lots of quality time with my family and friends last year. My mum spent six weeks with us spread over a couple of trips & was helpful with getting settled with our daughter. She helped us get some sleep the first few nights home from the hospital.
In October, my dad and stepmom came to visit us, and it was fun to show them around and give them a glimpse into my daily life. I’ve always believed to truly understand someone, you need to see how they live their life. Meet the people they surround themselves with. See their daily routines and activities.
Given the distance between Belfast and Dublin, we don’t have the opportunity to do that often so it was a treat.
Besides family time we had a ton of amazing community get-togethers in Austin. Below is a photo from our epic baby shower. I remember feeling so grateful that so many people came out to celebrate with us — and that we have such a great community here.
Our next goal is for our friends to have kids so we can all have them grow up together.
My travel in 2022 was light, not hard to guess why (new baby). The highlight was our Ireland trip home to see family and friends and introduce our daughter to all the family. Another great part of this trip was that we flew Emily’s family out for a week to Ireland. It was fun to share more of where I came from with them and also for our families to connect.
Check out this view from my mum’s apartment in Donegal (no filter):
What did not go well
This was the hardest part of motherhood for me. My daughter was born with a tongue and lip tie (we figured it out a month in) so she wasn’t able to latch or breastfeed properly. This affected my supply.
After we got the tongue/lip tie fixed we thought the breastfeeding would solve itself, however, she still wasn’t taking in much (0.5 oz after 30 mins). Eventually, I ended up pumping exclusively which took about 3-4 hours of my day. The closest I’ve ever felt to being an actual cow 🐄.
There’s also a myth about breastfeeding that it helps you lose weight. Let me tell you that’s the biggest lie ever sold.
I ended up giving up on the pumping at 3 months. It was affecting my mental health. I felt like I was not really being present because I was so focused on pumping all the time.
Looking back it was a good decision, so if you’re reading this and feeling similar then consider this your permission. Also, read this book and realize it won’t matter much in the grand scheme of things (but your mental health will).
2. Missed a big wedding
My little brother’s wedding was postponed several times due to COVID. By the time they rescheduled for the third time, I’d just found out I was pregnant and my due date was four weeks before their new date. I thought if everything went perfectly on time I could catch a last-minute flight out (to Portugal) for a few days.
Alas the baby was a week late, I was still recovering from my section and couldn’t find flights with less than 30 hours of travel time one way.
I’ll definitely be at his next wedding.
💪🏻 Get into the best shape of my life.
Shockingly (to me) when you have a baby, the weight does not “drop off” as I’d expected once she was out. Pregnancy and motherhood are tough on the body. I think at my max weight post-pregnancy, I’d gained around 38lbs.
I’ve lost 25lbs already and want to lose another 15lbs to get to my goal weight. I started the 75Hard challenge on March 1st to build some new life disciplines — and also because I’ve been wanting to do it for a while (will share the results in my newsletter).
🛠️Design & build my dream backyard
Now that we have the space I want to create an amazing biohacker backyard. It’s been my goal for at least 10 years to have an in-ground cold plunge. I think I saw a Tony Robbins video way back when and he would start his morning with one.
While I have a chest freezer plunge, it’s not really the same. Barrel sauna, outdoor shower and cold plunge, fire pit.. That’s the starting list.
😎Spanish vacation with family and friends
I booked an Airbnb in Spain in the summer to host some family and friends. Rather than plan a trip home to Ireland where it’s always hectic to see everyone, this way we can all have a holiday rather than me interrupting their daily lives. It’s a new thing I’m trying out. If it works out maybe it’ll become an annual tradition!
✨Grow my personal audience & brand
While I figure out what my next move/company/thing is I want to grow my audience into an asset that will serve any future thing that I do. My specific goals are Twitter: 40k, Newsletter: 20k (join here)
💻Learn how to code
I know how to create physical products, but now I want to learn how to make digital ones like apps or whatever I want to tinker with.
I usually share my favorite tools, shows, etc but this year is different because I don’t remember much except what baby products we loved and here they are:
- Nannit Baby Monitor — the best.
- Baby Brezza Bottle sterilizer
- Baby Brezza formula dispenser
- Dr Brown bottles
- Snoo — baby was sleeping through the night by 3 months with this thing. Bought second-hand off Facebook marketplace. We moved her into a crib in her own room at 4.5 months and it was no problem.
- Modern Pediatrics — For anyone in Austin with kids, this company is incredible. Pediatrician that comes to you so you’re not schlepping your baby around town a few days after they’re born. High recommend.
Last but not least, a Costco membership.
Nothing says “welcome to mom life” more than a Costco membership. But honestly, it’s the only financially smart thing to do once your baby starts eating solids. Never mind the college fund, no one tells you about the ‘berry fund’ you should have started when your child is born.
Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries my daughter will go through bushels of them with no regard for the family fortune she’s eating through.
This year I get to play and explore what I want to do with the rest of my life. It’s an exciting time (and a bit nerve-wracking). I’ve not had this much freedom since I can remember, probably since I was a teenager so I’m trying to enjoy the not knowing rather than force something prematurely.
Have an amazing 2023, the whole 8.5 months we have left 😆