The Biggest Solo Adventure I’ve Ever Been On: I’m Having a Baby

by Brenna Holeman

I suppose the title gives it all away, and, I suppose, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll have known the news for months. But yes… I am pregnant. In just a few short months, I will be a mom. And I’m going to be a single mom.

So… whew. Where to begin?!

I suppose we have to go back, way back. Because for most of my life, I always assumed I would be a mother. I’ve always loved kids, and always felt a strong maternal urge. But in my 30s, shortly after moving to London, I started to believe that maybe it wouldn’t happen for me. Maybe I was destined to be single for a long time, possibly forever. Maybe part of that was that I would remain child-free, too.

I can look back at those years and recognize that saying things like, “I don’t think I want children,” was, partly, a defence mechanism. That it was covering up that I was scared it wouldn’t happen for me, because maybe I wouldn’t find a partner, or maybe I wouldn’t have the courage to have a child on my own. And there were a few years in there that I truly believed that I would be happier being child-free and travelling the world on my own. But for most of my life, deep down, I always wanted a baby. I always wanted to know what it felt like to be a mom.

A trip to Churchill, Manitoba… I had only found out I was pregnant a week before. I was trying to put on a brave face – I was working, after all – but behind the scenes, my life was in shambles

And I’d like to state right now that I think it’s amazing that so many people are making the decision to live child-free, whether or not a partner is involved. I absolutely do not believe that everyone who says, “I don’t want children,” is using it as a defence mechanism as I was; I honestly didn’t want children at that stage in my life. I also absolutely do not judge anyone who makes the choice to be child-free, and hope that nobody ever feels pressure to have a child because of a family member, because of society, because of a partner, because of anything. I believe you have to want a child 1000000% before making this life-changing (and life-creating) decision.

So. Even with that in the back of my mind, I continued to throw myself into travelling constantly, living a fairly nomadic life. Until, of course, I didn’t want that life anymore. For a few years, no, I didn’t want kids. But that changed.

Pretty cool that, technically, baby’s first trip was to the polar bear capital of the world, Churchill!

I’ve talked a lot about why I made the decision to move back to Canada, and a huge part of that was that I was very lonely in London and very lonely travelling all the time. But another reason I moved home? I wanted to start a family. I felt an amazing sense of peace as I moved (back) into my little house in Winnipeg, as I adopted my beloved dog Dottie. I fell in love with gardening and cooking and working out and finding simple, daily routines. I fell in love with making new friends, with seeing family on an almost daily basis. I fell in love with my life.

And then I fell in love with a man.

I’m not going to go into details about my relationship with that person here. But we fell in love on the cusp of the pandemic in early 2020, and almost immediately we went into lockdown together. The pandemic exacerbated an already intense relationship, and we were soon living together. Along with that came near-daily talks and plans of buying a house, having children, and spending our lives together, as people in their late 30s in serious relationships are wont to do.

But as I already said: the title of this post gives it all away.

I found out I was pregnant on a warm Tuesday afternoon in late July. I remember clutching the pregnancy test in my shaking hands, tears of shock and joy rolling down my face as I sat on the floor of the bathroom. I was wearing a blue dress. I knew, instantly, that I loved this baby more than anything in the whole world.

But if life has taught me anything, it’s that – for all of our planning and dreaming and preparing and talking and promising – life doesn’t always unfold how we imagine it will. I’ll hold on to those precious hours forever, those beautiful hours where I was the only one who knew about the baby, when I could imagine whatever future I wanted to.

Because by the next evening, everything had changed. Everything I thought I knew had been shattered into a million pieces. Six weeks later, my relationship was officially over.

That’s all I will say about that relationship. Although I currently do not have contact with my former partner, I wish him and his girlfriend the best.

I was about eight weeks pregnant on my trip to Morden-Winkler in August

But I won’t lie: it has been hard. It has been SO hard. Last year, when I lost my job and everything I’d worked for for almost two decades, I thought THAT was tough. Being dumped while pregnant? Yeah. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been through.

And although it wasn’t initially my choice to be on my own, and although I was blindsided with the worst betrayal I’ve ever felt, a beautiful thing has happened over the past few months.

In August, I could barely get out of bed. I actually lost weight in my pregnancy due to the stress of the drawn out break up, as I wasn’t able to eat or sleep. I had work obligations to fulfill, and I watch those Instagram stories now and see the pain on my face as I try to pretend to be happy, pretend that everything is just fine. I was robbed of telling anyone about the pregnancy with any semblance of joy; that will always be one of my biggest regrets, that I had to share my pregnancy with my loved ones through tears of pain, not tears of happiness.

In September, I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t even bother to put makeup on, because I knew I’d just cry it off. My eyes were constantly red, filled with broken blood vessels. The thought of being a single mom of a newborn, of going through the entire pregnancy on my own, was devastating. Nightmares plagued my sleep.

In October, somewhere in the never-ending tears and the sleepless nights, I smiled. I was in Niagara-on-the-Lake with my mum, an impromptu babymoon-slash-get-me-out-of-Winnipeg holiday to Ontario, and we shared a laugh over dinner.

A mini-babymoon in Niagara-on-the-Lake

In mid-November, I realized I was dancing around the house again. Singing. I realized I wasn’t crying as much, and that my appetite was back (and then some… baby likes sugar). I sometimes slept eight full hours with no nightmares. I started working out again. I started writing again. I even started wearing mascara again.

In December, I started laughing. Full, head-thrown-back, belly laughs, laughing with family and friends and even on my own when I’d read something funny or watch a great show. I started feeling like myself. I started feeling like the best version of myself, actually, someone who is stronger and more capable and more determined and more ambitious and more resilient than I could have ever imagined. In fact, there’s no way I could have written this blog post until now; I was robbed of any joy for the first four months of my pregnancy.

But now? Enter: phoenix rising from the ashes, butterfly emerging from the cocoon, “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, all those cliches that mean nothing to you until you live them, until you can look back and see how far you’ve come.

That brings us to today, five months after I found out I was pregnant. Today, as I write this, my baby is kicking like crazy, having a full on dance party of his own in my belly. And somewhere, amongst all those kicks over the past six weeks of actually healing, I started dreaming.

Dreaming of a future with my adorable baby, of all the things we’ll do together, of all the songs we’ll sing on the piano, of all the impromptu dance parties in the kitchen, of all the movies we’ll watch and the crafts we’ll make and the cuddles we’ll share.

Of being able to show him the world, showing him oceans and mountains and cities with skyscrapers that we have to crane our necks to see the tops of.

Wearing the Halloween costume my mom made for herself when she was pregnant with my brother in 1989

Yes, his, him. Because I’m having a little boy. My eyes fill with tears as I write this, as he kicks and dances; my beautiful baby boy, my boy who has been with me through it all. Though the tears, through the uncertainty, through the singing and the laughter and the moments I just don’t know how I’m going to do it, he’s been with me.

He’s been with me forever, actually, a microscopic dot inside me as I swam in foreign seas and tried new foods and danced in jungles under full moons. He waited until I was ready, truly ready, to meet him. I understand now why I spent all those years travelling on my own, all those years living life on my own. It was preparing me for this, preparing me to become a strong, independent, capable single mom, a mom who knows that she’ll be just fine.

On that warm July afternoon, staring at the first pregnancy test, and then the second, and then the third, I knew it in my bones: I was going to have a little boy. That no matter what, we were going to love each other, that we were going to have the happiest life together.

I was around 16 weeks pregnant here… and had just found out (definitively!) that I was having a little boy

And oh man, has this little boy been my buddy. Because – please don’t hate me – I am one of those rare pregnant people who has had almost no physical symptoms. I think he’s known from day one that I had enough on my plate, that I didn’t need morning sickness on top of everything I was going through. I can look back and see that anything I was feeling in my first trimester was related to the after-effects of the break up, but I haven’t once thrown up, haven’t had any heartburn, haven’t had nearly any lasting pregnancy symptoms other than some minor vertigo/dizziness and a sore back (but my back is ALWAYS sore, so there’s that). As I enter my third trimester, I’m starting to feel a bit heavy and slow-moving, but that’s to be expected.

On the night I learned that everything I thought I knew was wrong – only 24 hours after I found out I was pregnant – I took a drive to clear my head, to try to make sense of what was happening, what I’d just been told. I didn’t have a plan of where to go, but I instinctively drove to my old childhood neighbourhood. There, in one of my favourite playgrounds from when I was a little girl, I sat on the swings and looked up at the stars through the trees, tears streaming from my eyes. I didn’t know how I’d get through this. I thought of my baby, not even the size of a poppyseed. I felt an overwhelming urge to protect him, a fierceness I’ve never known before.

And when I finally got back into my car, I realized an old mix CD I made for myself in the early 2000s was playing (yes, my car still has a CD player, and I love it). “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,” Johnny Nash sang; it’s always been one of my very favourite songs. “It’s going to be a bright, bright, bright, sunshine-y day.” The song faded out, and the next one began.

“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy,” John Denver crooned. “If I had a wish that I could wish for you, I’d make a wish for sunshine for all the while.”

And then? “You are the sunshine of my life / That’s why I’ll always be around. / You are the apple of my eye / Forever you’ll stay in my heart.” One of my favourite singers of all time, Stevie Wonder, sang to me as I drove the deserted midnight streets of Winnipeg.

I swear I didn’t make this mix on purpose; in fact, the CD was in “shuffle” mode. But of the twenty-odd songs on that old mix CD, song after song reminded me: I have my Sunshine. Everything will be OK.

Just a bit of reading to do before baby arrives

Over the past five months, I’ve learned so much. I’ve been reading a lot about pregnancy, newborns, and raising secure, happy children. I’ve also been reading a lot about relationships, because I’ve always loved studying relationships. I’ve thrown myself back into looking at attachment theory (why must the anxious attached be so attracted to the avoidant attached? WHY?!), narcissistic personality disorder, gaslighting, trauma bonding, love bombing… oh you know, all that fun stuff. And although I don’t plan on dating for a very, very long time – my baby is my ultimate priority now and forever, and it seems ridiculous to even think about dating with a baby on the way – but I hope I’ll be more prepared whenever I do.

Yuck to mirror gym selfies and that pose but yay to having the energy to work out

And besides reading, I’ve thrown myself into the other parts of life I know help me feel better: actively moving my body, eating well, spending lots of time with friends and family, working, attending regular therapy, long baths, gratitude journalling, walking Dottie, and so on.

On top of all of this, I’ve also started a new website (launching soon!) as well as taken on a major home renovation to make more room for Sunshine. Because, you know, suddenly being catapulted into being a working single mom wasn’t enough stress for me, so I thought I’d add a constant stream of contractors, engineers, and electricians to come by the house every day just to add a little spice in my life.

I’m earning a good salary again, working hard, and starting a whole new chapter in my career despite losing it all last year. I’m paying the bills, keeping a clean house, doing the yard work, dealing with car issues, working every day, staying active, renovating the house, seeing friends and family, and taking care of Dottie, all while staying healthy through my pregnancy despite the worst emotional trauma I’ve ever been through. And while I certainly have an amazing support network, I’m doing it mostly on my own. I know I’m tooting my own horn here, but I’m proud of myself, and proud that my son will have such a strong role model in his life.

I would like to keep this pregnancy skin forever, please

And… and this might seem strange… I’m really, really happy. It sounds like a cliche – I’m sleeping on a mattress on the floor, for goodness’ sake – but I think I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I am carrying a beautiful baby boy. I have an incredible circle of family and friends whom I see every day. I love my dog, and my work, and my house. I am healthy. I am excited about the future. I dance daily, laugh hourly. My life is filled with love, with so much love that I sometimes don’t know how I got this lucky. I couldn’t ask for anything more, really.

Current sleeping situation… and I wonder why my back hurts all the time

And while it wasn’t initially my decision to be on my own while pregnant, and to become a single mom… now? Now there’s no way I would want what I had, and I feel so incredibly grateful to be where I am today. Now, I couldn’t imagine NOT being a single mom. I really think that this was my destiny.

It took the worst emotional pain of my life – pain that left me breathless, left me wondering when I’d ever smile again – to turn my life into the life I’ve always wanted. A life that’s full to the seams with love.

Getting ready for an early Christmas celebration with family

And holy crap… I can’t wait to be a mom. I can’t wait to meet this little boy. I can’t wait for the chaos and the cuddles and the first time I see him smile. I can’t wait to teach him to be a kind, loving, sensitive person, someone who’s not afraid to share his love or his emotions. I can’t wait to see him play with Dottie, can’t wait to see him interact with my parents and my siblings and my niece. I can’t wait to learn who he is, what his favourite colour will be and what instrument he’ll want to play and who he’ll one day love.

I still cry sometimes, usually at night. There is no part of me that misses my former partner or that is still attracted to him in any way, but sometimes, when I’m lying in bed and Sunshine is kicking like crazy, I think about what it would be like to have a supportive partner who would reach out and feel those kicks, too.

I imagine what it would be like to have a loving partner beside me who I could talk to about the nursery, and baby names, and where we’d take Sunshine on his first trip. I think about how nice it would be to have someone to carry the groceries for me, to rub my sore back, to make dinner, to clean the bathroom. I imagine what it would be like to go shopping for toys together, to sing to him together, to get excited about his future milestones, those first words and first steps and first everythings. I always assumed, of course, that if I were ever to be pregnant, I’d have a loving partner by my side who was just as excited about the baby as I was. It never even crossed my mind that I’d be on my own while pregnant.

And on the darkest nights, when I just can’t sleep, I imagine what it would be like to have someone who turns to me and says, “Oh wow… we’re going to have a baby. We’re going to have a baby and he will be perfect and we will inevitably screw up sometimes but we will do our best, because we love him and we love each other, and together, we will be OK.”

My only full-length mirror at the moment is in the mud room, but I love seeing how much baby boy is growing

But after imagining that, again and again for months on end, that “what if” turned into something else. It turned into a mantra for myself, something to remind me of what’s here and now, of what’s important, of what’s reality. “Oh wow,” I started saying to myself. “I’m going to have a baby. I’m going to have a baby and he will be perfect and I will inevitably screw up sometimes but I will do my best, because I love him and I love myself, and together, we will be OK.”

Because I will be OK. WE will be OK. Call me crazy, but I have no fears about being a single mom. I know that I will be the best mom I can possibly be, and that my son and I will have a very happy, comfortable, fulfilled life together, one filled with laughter and love. I can’t wait.

With my sister Zalie and my brother Kitt on the night I told them I was having a little boy
With my mum in Toronto

To my family and friends who have been there since day one, I cannot thank you enough. You have pulled me through the most difficult time in my 37 years, and I am nothing without your love. Every single day I am reminded how much I am loved, how much I am wanted. The calls, the visits, the texts, the gifts… I have been showered with so much support and joy from all over the world, and no matter where life takes me, I’ll know I did something right, because I’ve somehow managed to have all of you surrounding me. They say it takes a village, and I have the best damn village in the entire world.

A special thank you to my parents, who I’ve spoken to and/or seen every single day since I told them I was pregnant. They take my calls no matter what, even if, in the early days, all I did was cry. They’ve known I would be a fantastic single mom long before I realized I would. Having my dad here in Winnipeg to help me every day at the house and with renovations has been a lifesaver. Having my mom visit regularly and FaceTiming almost daily has helped immensely. And knowing they’ll both be here in Winnipeg for Sunshine’s birth as well as the months after he’s born gives me such a sense of calm.

To Dottie, my beautiful girl: you have always been the best dog, the best friend, that I could ever ask for. You came from a life where you didn’t know what home or what love meant, but you instinctively knew that we could be both for each other. The night it was just the two of us again, you knew exactly what I needed, and you haven’t left my side since. I know how much you love children, and I know what an incredible big sister you are going to be to baby Sunshine. Thank you for being beside me for every second of the day and night these past few months, for your endless cuddles. Thank you for knowing when I’m crying and resting your head on my belly, reminding me that I have everything I need right here, with you and Sunshine, the best little family I could have ever dreamed of.

Baby’s first stuffed toy (OK, I’m lying, it’s actually his 20th or so but this one is just too cute)

To all of you who have written with words of support and encouragement – thousands of you, in fact – I am eternally grateful. I am still slowly responding to comments, emails, and messages, so I apologize if I haven’t personally written back to you, but I’ll get there one day. I have been blogging since 2003, and I will never stop being amazed at how beautiful and supportive this online community is. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for helping me through this pain to emerge stronger, freer, and happier. It’s cheesy but true: I couldn’t have done it without you.

And to my Sunshine: I love you. I have always loved you. I will always be there for you, my baby boy, just as you have already been there for me. There are already so many people who love you, and I can’t wait to introduce you to them. We are going to have the best life together, one filled with laughter and travelling and old movies and dancing to records and baking cookies just because. I can close my eyes and see you, see us. And oh, baby Sunshine, we are so happy. You are my whole world.

Even through the darkest days I’ve always known that, one day, the sun would rise again. I just didn’t realize that, this time, it was going to be the most beautiful Sunshine of my life.

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Veronika December 22, 2021 - 10:51 am

Oh Brenna, that’s so beautifully written it made me cry. I wish you and your Sunshine the best start together. You got this and with Dottie by your side, you’ll be the perfect little family. One day, somebody new will enter your life again, but only as a bonus, not as a requirement for a happy life. Wishing you all the best!

Brenna Holeman February 3, 2022 - 5:45 pm

Thank you so much for these beautiful words, Veronika. I am so grateful for your support, and yes, I love the thought of my little family of three… me, Sunshine, and Dottie! Sending lots of love xxxx

Susan (moonstruckinmt) December 22, 2021 - 11:14 am

Ah, what a ride, eh? And you’ve managed it with such grace, dignity, and inner strength. I’m certainly proud to have born witness to such a woman. I can’t wait to watch as your new love, life and adventure unfolds. My heart is so happy for you!

Brenna Holeman February 3, 2022 - 5:46 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Susan! What an amazing comment to receive. I am so thankful for all of your support over the years. Sending love xoxo

Christine Merrill December 22, 2021 - 11:24 am

So excited for this journey for you, Brenna! You’re going to be an incredible mom, and I also can’t wait to see Dottie as a big sister. Sending lots of love your and Sunshine’s way!

Brenna Holeman February 3, 2022 - 5:46 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Christine! I hope I get to bring Sunshine to California one day 🙂 Sending lots of love right back xo

Maureen December 22, 2021 - 11:48 am

This piece is beautifully written. I read it as I breastfed my own little sunshine, my four month old boy. You have so much love and joy ahead of you your heart will be fit to burst. Your wee boy is so lucky to have such an strong woman to guide and inspire him.

Brenna Holeman February 3, 2022 - 5:47 pm

Oh wow, that’s amazing. I can’t wait to experience that bond for myself! Thank you so much for all of your support… sending lots of love to you and your little one xoxo

Marlee December 22, 2021 - 11:59 am

Such beauty & strength in your writing. And more importantly in your journey thus far with Sunshine. Thank-you for opening your heart and sharing. Here’s to the wonder, joy and abundance of laughter & love ahead of you – there will surely be plenty of everything! Sending love from the west coast for a happy holiday season and for all the seasons following as you celebrate each & every moment.

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:29 pm

Thank you so much, Marlee. Your support over the years has meant so much to me! I am blown away by the amount of love I’ve received from afar. Thank you again for your encouragement 🙂

Paige December 22, 2021 - 3:32 pm

Brenna, I am so deeply happy for you and your baby and the beautiful life you will have together! This was an amazing post, and I am so excited to read about your adventures in this next chapter of life. The happiness, love, and joy in your writing both here and on social media is truly inspiring. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday!

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:29 pm

Thank you so much, Paige! You have always been such a huge source of encouragement and support for me, and I am so grateful for all of it. I can’t thank you enough 🙂

Holly December 22, 2021 - 3:50 pm

You are absolutely amazing. I am seriously in awe of you. You probably already know this, but you didn’t deserve the horrible betrayal that happened to you. It’s obvious to all of your readers that you are a beautiful, caring, fascinating soul, and one day a man will be smart enough to see that (not that you need a man, of course!) Your baby sunshine is so lucky to have you as a mother, and we are all so lucky to be able to follow your journey together! Sending so much love.

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:43 pm

Thank you so much, Holly, those words mean so much to me. I am so thankful for your support and for this amazing online village, I honestly don’t know how I’d be doing it right now without all this incredible encouragement! Thank you for being here and for sending love from afar xo

Bea December 22, 2021 - 4:01 pm

What could I say? You’ve all said it already, written so beautifully that I cried while reading. I wish you all the best from the bottom of my heart! I’ve been reading your blog since those posts from your London life, then from Winnipeg, and it was so exciting to see how it all unfolds. You’re an inspiring and strong person, and you’ll be such a great mom.

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:42 pm

Oh wow, thank you so much, Bea! I am so thankful for your support over the years, it is so incredible to me that you have continued to encourage me through all these different adventures. I truly believe I have the best online village in the world, and I am so thankful that you are part of it. Sending lots of love xo

Chris December 22, 2021 - 4:13 pm

Wow, this is amazing! Reading this made me tear up. What an incredible parent you are going to be! I am in awe of how you managed to have all this thrown at you, and still be glowing and absolutely radiant in these photos. You’ve survived the unimaginable and THRIVED and are creating the best environment for your little sunshine. It’s been a privilege reading your blog for years and I am excited to see you embark on this new journey too. Cheering you on!

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:45 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Chris! It means the world to me that you have been reading all these years, I am so grateful for that kind of support. I feel so blessed to have such an incredible online village of people sending so much love to baby Sunshine and I. Thank you again xo

Lauren Miller December 22, 2021 - 4:15 pm

My biological father left my mother while she was pregnant with me, and well, need I say more about what I think of him? My mom is the most amazing, incredible woman I’ve ever known, and although it was inevitably difficult for her, I wouldn’t have asked for a better parent. I never missed having a father because she was such a great mom, and I eventually got an amazing stepdad, too. I know that you are going to be, as you said, just fine. You got this, mama.

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:44 pm

Thank you so much, Lauren… I have no doubt that your mom is an incredible woman, and I am so encouraged to hear about other single mamas who provided the best for their children. Thank you for all of your support xo

Shelby December 22, 2021 - 5:11 pm

Wow, so beautifully written. A testament to your strength, and inspiring to so many other women. Your baby is so blessed to have you and the beautiful community you’ve built! Your internet family is cheering you on from the sidelines!

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:42 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Shelby! I honestly feel so lucky to have this amazing online village behind me, I am so grateful for your support right now 🙂

Alyssa December 22, 2021 - 6:09 pm

Brenna, I am so happy that the dark clouds are gone and the Sunshine is shining through! Beautifully written post. You’re a beautiful, loving, radiant, strong person, and I know life will be giving you the most wonderful adventures. And on a completely unrelated note— your blog helped me in my first journey abroad to India! It made me feel so much more prepared and less scared and anxious. It was the trip of a lifetime, so thank you for helping me be brave and allow myself to soak in the joy that is travel. Love and hugs to you.

Linda December 22, 2021 - 7:01 pm

Oh Brenna, I can’t wait to meet little Sunshine! He will be the most wonderful addition to our already wonderful family: one more blessing. And I can’t wait to watch you grow and evolve – as all mothers do – when you are handed that tiny bundle of love. It’s definitely going to be an amazing journey, but like all your previous solo journeys, you will triumph and become a different person, even stronger and more resilient. I’m so ready to watch and listen and share, where and when I can, in this glorious adventure. xoxo

Megs December 22, 2021 - 7:18 pm

This is so beautifully written. You are going to be the best mom! I love the idea of you, Dottie, and little Sunshine as a family, the three of you will do amazing. Thank you for being so open and honest with us, I’m sure your story is going to help so many people xx

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:41 pm

Thank you so much, Megs, that means so much to me! It can be hard to be so open sometimes but I know that it’s the only way I know how to write 🙂 Thank you for all of your support xo

Carolyn December 22, 2021 - 7:31 pm

This is so beautifully written, so candid and so touching. Congratulations on your baby and your newest journey. Can’t wait to read more about it.

Brenna Holeman February 3, 2022 - 5:48 pm

Thank you so much, Carolyn, I’m so grateful for your support xoxo

Lisa Rae December 22, 2021 - 7:44 pm

This is why you’re my favorite blogger. Thank you for being so honest even though nothing you’ve been through has been easy or fair or right. I’ve been reading your blog for years and your strength has inspired me so many times. Love to you!!

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:30 pm

Oh wow, thank you so much, Lisa Rae. Comments like this give me so much encouragement! Thank you for all of your support xo

Jennifer December 22, 2021 - 10:04 pm

I was shocked to hear that your partner left you while pregnant, that is atrocious. But then I instantly thought, “If anyone can do this, it’s Brenna.” I am so excited to see where life takes you and Baby Sunshine xoxo

Brenna Holeman February 3, 2022 - 5:48 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Jennifer. I think it’s in the darkest moments that we discover how strong we really are. Thank you so much for your support! xoxo

Daniela December 23, 2021 - 6:10 am

Oh, Brenna!

This blog post is so beautifully written, it made me cry! I can’t believe it’s been almost 6 years since I’ve found your blog and how much life has changed. I still remember reading your travel guides to Cinque Terre and your life updates from London! Wow, I guess time really does fly…

Regardless of everything that’s happened to you and the current situation we’re all forced to live in these days, I still see the light at the end of the tunnel. The same light that made you turn a very difficult subject to write about into a love letter to your family, friends, and loved ones, into an ode to hope, to happiness, to positivity, to peace of mind!

Please stay safe, sing a lot of Michael Bublé to your baby Sunshine (who can say no to his Christmas album?), and pet Dottie 2021 times for me! I think 2022 is going to be a great year, THE BEST YEAR!!! 🙂


Jess December 23, 2021 - 10:23 am

I never felt a strong desire for kids and always thought that all that talk about newborn snuggles and such was a little bit cheesy, but now with a two month old I know it’s the absolute best feeling in the world. I can’t wait for you to experience it. I hate to hear that your journey started out so terribly, but no doubt you’ll be an amazing mother. That little boy will have the best example of strength and grace.

Brenna Holeman February 3, 2022 - 5:49 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Jess! I can’t WAIT for those snuggles… I am already so in love with my little boy. Sending lots of love to you and your little one xoxo

Maria February 4, 2022 - 8:26 am

Brenna this is so so so beautiful, I am literally bawling my eyes out! I’ve been following your journey since I was still in high school, back when you were solo travelling all over the world. You’ve been such a huge inspiration to me and even a role model, contributing to my becoming the woman I am today. Now, 7-8 years later, I’m still coming here from time to time to “catch up” and I just found out about your baby boy. I am sure you’re going to be an amazing mother and an amazing role model for your son. I am so so so happy for you! Sending lots of love to you and your sunshine!

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:31 pm

Oh wow, thank you so much for following along for all these years, Maria! It means so much to me. Thank you so much for all the love from afar, I honestly feel that I have the best village in the entire world. Sending lots of love right back xoxo

Lina Gustafsson December 23, 2021 - 1:47 pm

You are just one of the most pleasant people I’ve ever had the good fortune to come across! The love and respect you have for other humans is so beautiful, and the grace with which you go through life is so wonderful. It is so clear, even through writing, how powerful your love for your son is, and it makes me so so happy to read it. Reading this even makes me a little envious of the life your son will have, since I know that he will have the most amazing experience in life, with a caring, loving, smart, strong, indepent, adventurous and kind mother. Just knowing that you exist in this world makes me feel happier, and I’ll be thinking about you this Christmas. I wish you and your son the absolute best, and I know you will give him all the happiness in the world!

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:32 pm

Oh wow, thank you so much Lina, your comment made me cry! I feel so blessed to have your support and love from afar. I will certainly do my very best to be the best mother to little Sunshine, and I am so grateful to have this amazing village behind us all the way. Thank you for your beautiful words and all of your encouragement, it means so much to me xo

Victoria December 23, 2021 - 2:48 pm

Ok literally cried the whole way through this, but good tears!! I’ve been reading your blog since I was a lonely little sophomore in college who just wanted to see the world so it’s been amazing to see your journey over the years. Yes you will be a great mom!!! Also Dottie is going to be the CUTEST big sister a little boy could ever ask for.

Lots of love for you and your family!!!

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:40 pm

Oh wow, thank you so much for all of your support over the years, Victoria! That is so amazing to me that you have continued to read, it honestly blows me away. Thank you for all of your encouragement, I truly believe I have the best village in the world behind Sunshine and I 🙂

Isabel December 23, 2021 - 11:01 pm

Oh Brenna, I cried so much reading this. We have never met, but it is so clear through your writing and through your posts on social media that you are an incredibly special person. You have been through so much in the last two years but you have handled it with such grace. If this were me I would have named and shamed, lol, so kudos to you for taking the high road!!! I wish you a magical Christmas with your family and I can’t wait to read what you have to say about motherhood! Sending lots of love to you and your little sunshine xoxo

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:39 pm

Thank you so much, Isabel, your support means so much to me. I always strive to be open and honest here and it blows me away that there are lovely people like you that resonate with it! Thank you for all of your encouragement, it means the world xo

Alex December 27, 2021 - 1:06 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this challenging and beautiful piece of your story with us, Brenna! I’m so happy that YOU are happy. I became a mom 6 months ago (after several years of being a backpacking bum!) and while I wouldn’t say I bonded with my daughter straight away, probably due to a difficult birth, the love I feel for her now and the bond we have is just the absolute best thing in the world. You’re going to be a fabulous mum. Wishing you well this holiday xxx

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:38 pm

I can’t imagine that bond… and I can’t wait to feel it for myself! I love that backpackers like us will have these amazing stories to tell our babies… and that we’ll hopefully be able to travel with them one day, too. Thank you so much for your support and for all of your encouragement, it means so much to me. And lots of love to you and your little one!

Samantha December 27, 2021 - 7:09 pm

I can’t imagine the pain you had to endure at the beginning of your pregnancy, and I’m so sorry you had to go through that. But I am so happy you are doing so well now! I follow you on Instagram as well and your glow and your enthusiasm for your baby boy is incredible to see. Wishing you all the best with your pregnancy and in the new year 🙂

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:37 pm

Thank you so much, Samantha, what a beautiful comment to receive 🙂 I am so grateful for all of your support and for thinking of me and Sunshine! Sending lots of love xo

Gigi December 30, 2021 - 6:37 am

Oh Brenna this is so unbelievably beautiful you have me in tears. What a journey! What a story! And the best if yet to come. I’ve been following you for years. And you’ve been my biggest inspiration to live and travel abroad solo. I wish you all the best in the new year with your new baby. You will be a fantastic mom and your son will grow up in a safe, loving warm home. We are all rooting for you! <3

Brenna Holeman February 3, 2022 - 5:50 pm

Oh wow, what an incredible comment. Thank you so much, Gigi!! I am so thankful for your support over the years, and reading things like this really does give me the strength to keep going every day. It is so unbelievable to have this kind of support from amazing people like you xoxo

Flor December 30, 2021 - 9:47 am

This is the first time I get to your blog. I first read your post on how to plan a very long solo trip… and now, this one.
I don’t know you, but I feel incredibly happy and grateful that you’re getting out of those dark times and that sun is starting to shine again! I’ve been through betrayal as well and I get you, it’s painful as hell, but there’s no single thing in our path that’s just there by chance. Perhaps we don’t understand it yet, but there are plenty of good things ahead… your beautiful baby boy, for example! 🙂
It has been lovely to read this post, I will keep in touch with your blog, I love when people share their feelings and don’t care about being vulnerable or exposed… I believe it requires so much from us that we emerge stronger and fiercer than ever.
Hoping you and your baby the best!!

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:36 pm

Thank you so much, Flor, that means so much to me. I always strive to be as honest and as real as possible, because as you said, so many of us have been through betrayal and darkness and I think it’s so important to be open about that! I also believe that there is something really beautiful around the corner for Sunshine and I, even if on dark days I can’t imagine it. Thank you so much for all of your support and I hope you’ll continue to read the blog (whenever I have the time to post, hah!). Thanks again 🙂

Mariana January 23, 2022 - 4:53 pm

Hi Brenna!
My name is Mariana, I follow you since some years ago.
I am 32 years old and have a 3 month old baby and I just want to say to you, that you will be all right and you have got this !!! You and your baby do no need anything but each other, I’m am 100 % sure about this. Don’t ever doubt yourself.
Motherhood is very difficult but you are not alone (writing this with my very heaby 6.5 kg baby in my arms since she can’t sleep anywhere else lol) . If you ever need a friend don’t hesitate to reach out please. When I read your New posts I can feel your pain, but know this please… all the way from México you have a mama friend

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:34 pm

Aw, what a lovely comment, Mariana! Sending lots of love to Mexico right back 🙂 Congratulations on your little one… I can’t imagine the joy and love that comes with motherhood, but I can’t wait to experience it. Thank you for all of your support, it means so much to me.

ANUKRATI DOSI February 7, 2022 - 10:10 am

You are one courageous woman that I know, Brenna. I got so emotional while reading about your journey. You are going to make a beautiful, loving mother.

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:33 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Anukrati. That is such a beautiful comment to receive, and I am so grateful for your support right now xo

Emily February 7, 2022 - 7:40 pm

This made me tear up with happiness, i’m so thrilled that you found your way to this point. Thanks for sharing so much of your life with us and for sharing it so beautifully!

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2022 - 8:33 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Emily! I am very thankful for all of your support 🙂

Jillian February 9, 2022 - 10:56 pm

You are such an amazing, strong, loving person. You may not remember me (I attended one of your London meet ups) but you were so lovely and warm to every single person who showed up, making sure to talk to each of us individually. I remember walking away and thinking you were even more radiant and likeable in person than online, which I thought was a pretty fantastic feat! This next step for you is going to be incredible, and I have no doubt that you will be the best mum ever to your little Sunshine. Thank you for sharing this with us and know that you are in the thoughts of so many of us xx

Victoria@TheBritishBerliner March 14, 2022 - 3:23 pm

Hi Brenna,
Firstly, congratulations on your little sunshine. He’s going to be such a loved little boy.
Secondly, I’m really sorry to hear about the breakdown of your relationship. It must have been a shock. If you can bear to see the stream of sunshine, it’s that you got to find out that Jon wasn’t the man for you sooner, rather than later, and the love and support of your family will always be solid, and 1000% focused on you!

You will be such an amazing mum to a beautiful boy. You have far more strength, courage and determination than you give yourself credit for, and this baby will bring out everything you need to have a happy life, an enjoyable birth, and the road to a challenging but you-would-never-want-to-turn-the-clock-back, exciting journey.

This might not be the ideal way to have the child of your dreams, but you’ll make it work, and we’ll be with you, every step of the way! You’ve got this! xx

Jensen Bloom April 1, 2022 - 9:59 am

Reread this post and that’s so awesome you didn’t have really any symptoms of pregnancy besides the baby!!! Woo!

Saba December 10, 2022 - 4:13 am

Today, I found your blog while searching for sources to write my essay about and now here I am fascinated by your story. Is it okay if I say I cried all the way reading this purely and beautifully written story of yours. It was so pure that I could sense it while reading every single word. Sometimes, it’s hard to talk about this stuff with others, but you did. I must say it gave me such an inspiration, since I’m struggling with some of the things you mentioned here. thank you for sharing this and being an inspiration, also I wish you and your little sunshine a life full of happiness and light.

Carla May 7, 2023 - 10:01 am

You are incredibly brave! That you were able to go through this with such grace, and are not afraid to accept and honour your own vulnerability, gives me renewed hope in humanity – especially women! – as I face my own struggles. Thank you so much, obrigada, and best luck for you and your beautiful family!


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