Child: Fabienne, 22mths
Expectations of Motherhood: I always knew it would be really hard work but the most rewarding experience at the same time. I just never realised just how difficult and exhausting it would be and just how utterly amazing it would be!
I work with children and have much younger siblings therefore thought I had realistic expectations of looking after children…turns out I was wrong! I don’t think anything could have ever prepared me for motherhood. Things are so totally different when it’s your own child (and when you are their tired round-the-clock carer!)
I had high expectations for the ‘skin to skin time’, the ‘sudden rush of love’ and expected to be crying etc when Fabienne was born. The truth is I was exhausted after being in labour for three days and felt ‘out of it’ and numb (partly down to all the pain relief I said I’d never have!). They showed Fabienne to me briefly when she first ‘arrived’ then whisked her away as they wanted to check her over after the lengthy labour and traumatic delivery. I remember having eye contact with her for a second and thinking that she didn’t look how I’d imagined. They took her into another room and my first spark of mothers instinct kicked in…. I insisted Josh went in and watched what they were doing. It wasn’t until a day or so later though that I felt the overwhelming love for Fabienne and the extreme desire to look after her and protect her and I cried.
Reality of Motherhood: It’s a real shock to the system and a steep learning curve!You do what you need to do!
1.The plan was that Fabienne would sleep in a cot next to our bed, and we would move her into her own room when she was approximately 6 months old. The reality is that she didn’t sleep a night in her cot until she was 13 months old, she slept with us until then. She is 22 months now and has her own bed, but this is still in our room…and she still often climbs in with us during the night!
2.The plan was that I’d breast feed until around 6 months but express so that Josh could help with the feeding. The reality is that I breastfed until Fabienne was 14 months old, Fabienne never took a bottle and I never seemed to get time to express anyway!
It’s extremely tiring though and you do need to find some time to look after yourself and your relationship with your partner. I’m still struggling to find the right balance to be honest.
It’s the best thing I’ve ever done and feel as though my life has more meaning now. I feel like I’ve found my place and have more of a purpose.
Taking your child home for the first time: Fabienne and I had been in hospital together for 8 days after her birth so we’d become a little unit and had learned to cope really well in one room with midwives and nurses always around to answer my questions. So taking her home was daunting. It was January, snowy, dark, and freezing cold. When we got outside everything felt surreal. The world felt different. I was so excited to take Fabs home but extremely nervous I was going to do things wrong. I was extremely conscious of her temperature, constantly trying to assess whether she was too hot or cold. I was scared that we would put the car seat in wrong, and once we were on our way kept asking Josh to drive really carefully. I was relieved when we got her home safely. I remember being in our house, just looking over at Josh, then at Fabi and just feeling overwhelmed with responsibility!
Worst: ‘you need to give her a dummy’, ‘just let her cry it out’, ‘ you need to put her down’
Best: Trust your instincts, do what feels right for you
The hardest parts of being a mother: It can be so emotionally painful! The worry that at something bad will happen to her, or to me or her dad. I just want to look after her every second of every day forever!!!!
– Trusting yourself.
The tiredness is hard too, you’re never ever really off duty…and won’t ever be again it seems!!
– Having to let go sometimes, I found it incredibly difficult to go back to work and leave Fabi after my maternity leave. I was able to go back part time and I found a brilliant childminder though which made things a little easier. I hate being apart from Fabienne but I love to see how excited she gets when I come to pick her up, and it makes me cherish all the time we do have together even more.
The best parts of being a mother:
The overwhelming, all encompassing love for my baby girl.
Seeing her with her daddy.
The ‘proud mummy’ moments!
Watching her grow and develop and seeing her individuality evolve.
Watching her playing and hearing her laughing.
The kisses and cuddles…..hope they never stop!
Being the one who can make things better when she’s upset or hurt.
Reading and singing with her and having our interesting and funny little chats.
Seeing how proud she is when she’s learned something new.
Waking up to her beautiful little voice and her beautiful little self
Hopes for your family: That Fabienne continues to be such a happy little soul, and that she is able to fulfill her dreams.
I am currently 22 weeks pregnant with a baby boy, so I hope that Fabienne and her little brother like and love each other and have a happy childhood together.
That Josh and I can provide a safe, happy, stable, loving, stimulating life for our children.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: To trust your own instincts and to do what feels right for you, your baby and your family. Everyone is different and you can’t compare your experience as a mother to anyone elses.
I spent a lot of time worrying about the birth, I googled video’s to prepare…..if you’re doing this or thinking of doing this…DON’T!! Each birthing experience is completely different. Yes it hurts but it’s manageable and you get through it. I had a fairly traumatic labour and birth and as you’ve probably heard people say before within no time I was saying that I’d do it again….I was actually very proud of myself afterwards! Additionally it’s such a small part of the motherhood experience that after you’ve shared your birth story with your new ‘mummy’ friends it’s all over and you move on to discussing what your little one is or isn’t doing…… and that is the what you will talk about forever more!
Make friends with local mums, go to groups. Surestart centres are brilliant. It’s weird at first, it’s like going back to starting school again and can be a bit daunting, but everyone is in the same boat and going through the same things. You can ask advice, help each other and have fun keeping busy together during your maternity leave. I don’t know what I would have done without the group of mums that I met, they became great friends and I think we’ll always be in touch since we went through such a life changing time together and it really is lovely to see all our little ones growing up.
And the old favourites:
Rest up as much as you can before the birth there is no chill time afterwards!
Try to enjoy every second they really do grow so fast!