How it all began

525600 minutes. That is how many minutes there are in a year.
I thought I would introduce myself by telling you about a particularly eventful 525600 minutes in my life. I will start in January, skip to the spring and end in mid December.

The year is 2004, I am in London and I am working for a large and well known British company, climbing the career ladder, when my incredible & inspiring boss was abruptly fired and asked to leave the building.

I am pretty upset about it and I began wondering if I want to stay in a large, cut throat company without my boss, and I decide NO, I want a change, possibly somewhere more personable.

After some searching, I was offered a job with a small but growing company.

Before resigning from my current position I decide to take a holiday.  I booked a 2 week trip to Nepal where I would spend one week in a Buddhist monastery, meditating, and another week in a 5 star hotel, relaxing.

There is 347 200 minutes left in the year, I’m in Nepal and I’m meditating with 50 people from around the world, when I start to feel extremely nauseous and dizzy.  I run to their prehistoric toilets, and stay there for about an hour….before managing to crawl back to my room, and wait for whatever bug I have to pass.

But after 4500 minutes, I realise that it is not passing!  I have not eaten anything in days and decide that it is time to see a doctor.  I leave the monastery and go to the hospital in Kathmandu.  It doesn’t take the doctor long to figure out that I do not have a bug or the flu…..I am, in fact, pregnant.

After 3000 minutes, I regain my ability to speak, and I immediately start thinking: SHIT! This can’t happen to me! I am about to start a new life and become an integral player in a growing company!  Having a kid is not part of the plans…….. especially because I do not have a boyfriend!

I book myself on the first plane back to London, where this must all go away, but on my plane ride back, I have the sudden realisation: I have never been pregnant before, and I am 32, it’s possible that I never get pregnant again!  I always wanted to be a mom, just not now, but this may be my only chance.   Within a split second that I knew for certain that I was going to have this kid.

When I get back to London I make 3 very important phone calls:

1.    The first is my mother.  I should tell you that I come from a very conservative Jewish family where I was bred to grow up, get a career, get married and move within 5 minutes of my parent’s house.  So when I call mom from across the ocean, to tell her that I am about to become a single mother, it may not surprise you that the woman started hollering: Oye Gavolt Jan, how can you do this to ME?  What will my friends think? What have I done wrong? Jan: HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?  Um, well mom…..

2.    The second dreaded call was to my ‘friend’, where I had to tell him the very exciting news that he is about to become a father.  Suffice it to say that he is was not very excited at all, and reacts in a similar way to my mother asking me the same ridiculous question of: How this could have possibly happened??  I start to wonder what part of sex-education these people never really grasped.

3.    The 3rd phone call is to my future employers.  I tell them the news and then I quickly assure them not to worry, I will not take more than 3 months off and that I will continue to achieve all our agreed objectives.  They thanked me for my honesty, and promptly send me a letter of withdrawal for the position offered.    Apparently the company felt that I would not be at all suitable for the role after all, and they wish me the very best of luck in my future.

So just to sum up: I am pregnant, my family is not speaking to me, my ‘friend’ is not talking to me, I no longer have a new job, I am constantly sick and to top it all off, I am told that I have gestational diabetes.  This means that I cannot indulge in any oversize chocolates during the ONE time in a woman’s life that she actually has a valid excuse to do so.

There are 20,000 minutes left in the year and I am in the Royal London Hospital and I am in some serious pain.  I am surrounded by dozens of Bengali women who are on their 5th or 6th child and they are staring at me wondering what I am making such a big fuss over.

2000 minutes later i am still in enormous pain, despite having been given enough drugs to sedate several horses.  My mom (who is now speaking to me) is exhausted and the midwives and doctors are close to tears wondering when I will get out of their labour unit.

With 18500 minutes left in 2004: I take that final breath and give birth to the most perfect girl in the whole entire world. She is calm and strong and beautiful.  As she looks straight into my eyes….  Time stops.

525600 minutes: how do you measure a year in someone’s life? I would measure this one with true love!