Child: Martha, 1 yr old
Reality of Motherhood: We did a lot of walking for the first six months. Martha wasn’t a good sleeper and would sleep best in the pram so Pete and I walked everywhere, all the time, whatever the weather. It was exhausting, felt like we were constantly in a tag team and the sleepless nights were relentless. I used to get a feeling of dread during the evening before I went to bed, knowing that there was another really testing night ahead of us. Having said that the daily experience of feeling such love for her was wonderful. It does gets easier and generally I think I enjoy being a mum more each day. She definitely amazes me more every day.
I feel like my identity has really changed since having a child, I feel more confident in myself as a person since becoming a mum and having your own family gives you a feeling of security. It also puts things into perspective as I guess you don’t have as much time to question things, its just about getting on with each day.
It’s harder to go on holiday with a baby and the days of packing light are definitely over. I do miss being able to travel without a baby.
Taking your child/children home for the first time: I remember sitting in the back of the car with Martha, looking out of the window and thinking ‘wow – every adult walking along this road in Stockport was once a tiny perfect baby like this’. It sounds cheesy but it was like I suddenly had a better understanding of humanity and the wonder of life. It made me realise that everyone starts from the same place but it’s so much to do with the life you’re born into that will shape your direction. We found ourselves laughing at ourselves as we drove so slowly and carefully feeling much more vulnerable than we had ever done before.
There was a lovely feeling of calm in our house when we first had her home (which didn’t necessarily last). I think it was partly because of hormones and also because if we were relaxed we felt it would help her to feel the same. It was nice to be in a cocoon for the first few weeks, having some days just to ourselves but then also really loving introducing family and friends to our little girl. Also to find ourselves constantly staring at her with amazement and looking across the room at this little person thinking ‘ooh there’s three of us now!’
The best/worst advice: Lean on other people and if someone offers help then say yes even if its just to do something little. Don’t try to do it all by yourself.
I found the books too much and didn’t read them much apart from once when it left me feeling totally stressed as Martha didn’t behave in the way the booked described she should. Asking friends about how their babies have been and for any advice always felt much more reassuring.
The hardest parts of being a mother: The tiredness and having to always put your own needs aside.
The best parts of being a mother: Going into her room when she wakes up in the morning and seeing her smile when she sees you. Creeping into her room at night and watching her sleep. Seeing her learn something new. Seeing the pleasure having a child brings to the people you love. Watching her play with her cousins and my closest friend’s children. Experiencing her coming to you for comfort and security. Watching her develop her own independence and confidence as an individual. Watching her laugh at something she finds really funny. Sharing all of this with Pete…the list is endless.
Hopes for your family: That we are always able to communicate well with each other and respect each others differences. That we value each others’ company and the time we spend together. That we are gentle and patient with each other. That we learn from Martha as much as she learns from us. That relationships with family and friends always remain central to our lives. That Martha is able to think freely, grow up to be quietly confident and fulfilled in whatever she does. That she’s not afraid of trying new things. That Martha has a sister or brother in the future.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: Take each day at a time and lean on your friends and family. Don’t push yourself too hard and don’t do anything you don’t feel ready to do. If you’re having a really hard day, ring someone and tell them – it feels so much better once you’ve shared it.