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Not By Accident

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An audio documentary series about becoming a single mother by choice, not by accident. I’ve been using my audio recorder like a sketchbook or a camera for the past five years, capturing important moments and conversations on my path to single motherhood. I recorded my deliberations as I made my decision to have a baby on my own, and as I took action: telling family, friends and work, choosing a donor, insemination… I kept recording when it was more about reaction! Pregnancy, morning sickness, midwives, labour pains, birth, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, ear infections, routine, chaos, travel, work, childcare, searching for a new equilibrium. This is a story about how life happens and we can’t always control the circumstances or events, we just have to deal with what comes our way. But now and then we can make a big choice, and take action and set life on a new course. We don't have to just accept things as they are. We can make life more what we want it to be. This series is a record for my child, and for people like her. It’s for anyone struggling with the momentous decision, some way along the journey or living as a fully-fledged 'single mother by choice' or 'choice mom' like me. It's for those trying to understand decisions and actions being taken by someone they love. It’s for all the wonderful unconventional families who make the world a much more interesting place, and for all the wonderful people who accept and support us.




Ep 23: Community

The school year is away like a fast-moving train. In the past I’d have lost myself in the momentum. Not so much this year though. This year I have you to force me to go home, to switch off, to be still, to be present. But the school is about 50 metres from our home. We’re both fixtures. You ride your little bike through vast rooms, all over the building and bash away on the student’s drum kit. It’s an extension of home for us, for all the students, and for all the teachers. That’s how I...

Duration: 00:30:14

Ep 22: Lessons From Zorba

The Principal, my boss, has a job offer and decides to take it. The question of leadership opens up. While the Board search for a new Head, somebody will act. Most likely not me, though I’m Vice Principal. We’re living through the worst sleepless nights of the ear infection. I can barely get it together to brush my teeth, let alone to take real responsibility. I want to dig deep, to be as capable and strong as before, to prove something for the sake of all women. But for now I am...

Duration: 00:22:43

Ep 21: My Brother's Wedding

Nick called to tell me the news just before New Year’s, only weeks after we got back to Denmark. He proposed, and she said yes. I’m happy for them, of course, really happy. Nick has found the person he wants to share the rest of his life with! Selfishly I’m filled with dread at the thought of the trip, so I hope it will be a long engagement. I try to suppress the niggling feelings that weddings bring up in me. The flashing neon sign I feel lighting up over my head at times like this....

Duration: 00:18:01

Season Two Teaser

When I reflect on my childhood, I think of things I had that you don’t: two parents, a brother, a sister, a big house and garden, a dog, private schooling, beach and ski holidays, no money worries… and I wonder. I wonder if I’m making the right choices. In season two, we’ll make our way through four years, from one to five, across continents, cultures, careers, seasons, struggles, successes. We’re moving forward, in ten episodes, drawing from the past, cherishing the present, heading...

Duration: 00:05:38

Introducing FOUND Season 2

On today's special episode, live from SXSW in Austin, Texas, FOUND kicks off season 2 with finds from the Lone Star State. Host Davy Rothbart explores these lost & found notes and objects with the help of local comedian Jenny Yang. Subscribe to FOUND to hear the rest of this episode

Duration: 00:14:26

Ep 20: The Tunnel

Sometimes the grind of life can get you down. That’s where I am as we reach spring 2014. The birds are singing again, the walks between childcare and home become a lovely opportunity to be together. Each day a little brighter than the last. But I’m tired. Always tired. I struggle to find my role again in the shifting landscape at work, and the role of work in the shifting landscape of my life. I have a dull ache in a tooth. Later. I’ll deal with it later. Three years. It’s taken me three...

Duration: 00:18:58

Ep 19: Turning One

Episode 19: Turning One The shock of being back at work is becoming routine. Even the pre-sunrise race to childcare. I feel sorry for myself, and can't quite believe I made life choices that led us to this, as I force your pram through snow drifts, scarf guarding my face from the elements; you wrapped up like a bundle, bewildered, squinting to protect your eyes from the snow that whips across the landscape. It's ridiculously hard. Comically hard. I start to look at people with cars the...

Duration: 00:20:53

Ep 18: First Day Back

I still don't know if I can do this. I start work tomorrow, after a whole year off, with sleep deprivation still affecting my memory and my ability to cope, with my emotions always close to the surface. I don't know if I can be the mother I want to be and do my job well enough that I'm not letting everybody down. I do know it's going to be really hard. I hadn't understood before you arrived how painful it would feel to be away from you. I hadn't understood that I couldn't leave you with...

Duration: 00:17:24

Ep 17: Tomorrow Morning

I’ve been thinking a lot about the expectation of an exchange: you help me move house, I’ll buy you pizza and beer; you babysit, I’ll do the same for you another day. I had thought it rare that people do things for others without expecting anything in return. I’ve been wrong. People have done things for me, particularly since I became a parent, when I couldn’t offer anything back but friendship and gratitude. Acts of kindness and generosity have come without judgement, even though I’m...

Duration: 00:16:22

The Gift Of Listening: A Holiday Special

Why do we listen? If you ever wondered why you're so drawn to podcasts, this Holiday Special is just for you. Not By Accident host Sophie harper is joined by the hosts of 15 other podcasts to talk about the gift and the power of listening. The world needs a lot more of it, that's for sure. Be the first to get the next Gift: In the New Year, resolve to listen with a special offer from our sponsor: Subscribe to all the Wondery shows today: A...

Duration: 00:31:16

Ep 16: The Emails

Crossing the world from Australia to Thailand to Denmark, ending my maternity leave, ending 2013. A sense of loss, a sense of anticipation and anxiety, a reminder of and reliance on great friendships, and a wonderful holiday. The emails tell the story, starting with this one: > Sent: Monday, 2 December 2013 1:17 AM > To: Diana; David; Charlotte; nicholas; Jennifer; Rebecca > Subject: Hi from Bangkok > > We have made it and everything went more smoothly than I'd dared to hope. No >...

Duration: 00:32:33

Ep 15: Counting Down

Happy 4th birthday Alex! We have a party in Granny's garden to celebrate. An opportunity to try out my new recording gear. Your donations have gone to good use, thank you. I've caught up with myself. Here's Alex's first birthday! You sit together at the party in a paddling pool full of coloured balls, and you play. He seems so grown up, able to crawl around to whatever takes his interest. You're not mobile yet, but you can sit! It's a whole new perspective on the world. I can't believe I'm...

Duration: 00:22:49

Ep 14: Long Days, Short Months

We’re staying at Granny’s this week. She fell and fractured her kneecap. Considering everything she’s done for me during my life, and at the start of yours, taking us in, feeding me, caring for you when I reached my limit, when I got that 24 hour vomiting bug and couldn’t stand up... What would we have done without her? This feels like the least we can do. We’re sleeping in the room you call ‘our bedroom’, falling into some old routines. I struggle to put things in the right places when I...

Duration: 00:27:20

Ep 13: The Irresponsible Option

As my health improves and I feel more secure with my baby care skills, we begin to venture out. We meet my sister Charlotte, who looks so relaxed and confident out here in public. I can't even imagine feeling that way again, but I try to let it rub off on me. We sit and I breastfeed to settle you. Thankfully, you attach easily, barely allowing a glimpse, restoring my modesty with your little head, looking like you're sleeping in my arms. I can block out the world and find my centre again....

Duration: 00:29:13

Ep 12: Father's Day

You're six days old. I apprehensively pack my things and prepare to be discharged. It’s been a surprisingly idyllic little sanctuary, this hospital room. I'm not sure I'm ready to leave yet, but we have to start our real life together sooner or later. And we won't be alone, not yet. My mother is busy all day everyday, from this day, for months, cooking and feeding me, making cups of tea for visitors, fielding phone calls, rocking you to sleep when I've run out of steam. I honestly don't...

Duration: 00:26:40

Ep 11: First Hours, First Days

With you suckling at my chest and our family here to celebrate your birth, I feel elated, and sure it must be over. But it isn't quite over yet. The family are ushered out for the doctors to begin stitching me up. I’m on my back, feet in stirrups, trying to think more about you than about the four or five people examining the damage. Your tiny fingers are so long and thin, with soft fingernails that curl over at the ends. Your hair is fair and curly, but darker than mine. Or is it the dry...

Duration: 00:23:24

Ep 10: Birth

It's going to get messy, so if that’s a problem for you, you might want to skip this episode, or you can fairly safely listen to the first 9 and the last 4 minutes. I'm 6 days overdue. I can't imagine it's possible to be any bigger! I'm so uncomfortable and it's so hot! But I need to get out. I go to the little suburban supermarket near home, and think of my mother. Her waters broke with my brother in this very supermarket 34 years ago. I shop quickly, before history has a chance to...

Duration: 00:33:00

Ep 9: This Strange Period

My brother's baby is due this week. I'm feeling jumpy every time the phone rings. I sit down with my sister Charlotte for a not-so-quiet talk about birth, and the end of my pregnancy. I'd thought once I was home, I could start to focus on getting everything ready for your birth, but as it turns out, this period is not to be all about you and me. During this strange period, three of us are in hospital within weeks of each other. Charlotte's gall stones are a horrible thing to have to deal...

Duration: 00:30:59

Ep 8: Leaving and Arriving

After my maternity leave, in 2014, we did move back to Denmark, just for 18 months. I did make it work, mostly, as a single mother with a demanding job, thanks to my incredible friends and colleagues. It was painful when we left them, your second family, but so worth it for you to know your grandparents, aunt and uncle, and your little cousins. There are three of them now. Nick met Nozomi soon after you were born, little Ibuki followed, and any day now, I mean I’m literally expecting the...

Duration: 00:29:38

Ep 7: Dinosaurs and Pancakes

It's September 2012. There is a nervous excitement in the building and everybody feels it, from the chefs, to the finance department, and certainly us teachers. 115 students arrive on this Monday afternoon from around the world, about 25 different countries, to start their new life at the European Film College. Most will live on campus like me. They will work harder than probably ever in their lives, make many ambitious films, take creative and personal risks, challenge their...

Duration: 00:33:09

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