Helen and Elliott

Name: Helen

Child: Elliott, 1 yr

Location: Manchester
Expectations of Motherhood: Just the usual, absolute horror, worry, agony, lack of sleep, terrible piles, ‘life never being the same again’ etc etc, Yep, all the good stuff.

I tried not to expect or think about it so much. I was in the ‘over 35’s’ group too so most of the medical info was pretty grim. We had bad results/stats for all our tests so when I think back I’m amazed we actually went through with it. Sounds a bit pessimistic but I guess I was preparing myself for the worst.

I’ve never really been a broody person so it surprised me that we had both come to the same conclusion that we wanted to start a family, so I just wanted to get on with it.
I expected it to be a lot less fun than it is too, I thought it only got interesting once they began to talk and that you just had to get through the first couple of years to get to the good bits.

Oh, and I thought I would have time to learn to bake and sew and sit around reading, whilst blissfully feeding my dozing bundle……ha ha ha!

Reality of Motherhood: Truly amazingly brilliant, truly amazingly difficult and truly amazingly scary. 

A huge mixed-up bag of contradictions.

It’s not easy trying to sum it all up in a couple of paragraphs. I’ve never ever been so completely in love with anything so much or had such a laugh, it’s brilliant. I do have days when I find the whole thing very hard but I can honestly say most days are just ace, funny, cute, and happy. Sometimes I feel like I’m skiving cos I’m having so much of a good time!
It’s gradually changed me but I’m happy with that. In some ways I’ve become tougher, but then softer with other things. I feel quite selfish about time and not wasting it on things that don’t matter, but then if I see and kids or babies on TV upset and suffering I’m an absolute wreak. Contradictions again!

Taking your child home for the first time: We had a long labour resulting in a Caesarian section, I can’t use the word ‘emergency’ – it’s scaremongering. Yes it was a bit hairy for a while but we all came out of it absolutely fine, and our son, so far, is a healthy happy little boy and that’s the main thing. 

Due to the nature of our birth we had to stay in hospital for 5 nights so we were incredibly happy to be told we could go. It took 3 trips to the car with all the paraphernalia we had accumulated from our stay in hospital, the final one with our little baby. It was a mixture of excitement and fear. The drive home was like a scene out of a video game, cars driving at us, pensioners walking out in front of us, buses careering towards us, terrifying obstacles everywhere, Elliott oblivious to it all. We managed to see the funny side though, a good blueprint to adapt to!

The best/worst advice: Best advice was a short book called ‘Helping your Baby to sleep’ by Siobhan Mulholland, quick read and to the point which is what was needed after many nights of little sleep, verging on the point of irrational strategies to end the sleep deprivation.

Also, a friend told us not to keep things too quiet at night as they did, otherwise your baby will get used to the silence and wake up at the least little noise. So far Elliott sleeps, mostly, through anything.

Worst advice – all the other books! (I did say a big bag of contradictions). Too long to read, too nazi, too awful, just not for me/us. All babies are different, I can’t understand how one book can determine all babies. Surely they need to be respected and therefore treated as individuals? I know they work for a lot of people but not for us. I launched ‘The Contented Little Baby’ out the window it annoyed me so much and that was only after reading about 5 pages of it, and then had to go out in pajamas to pick it up. If you are going to read the books, maybe do it before the baby arrives, I was too tired and busy feeding to read a big massive book and a boring one at that.

One minute I was praising the hospital staff and wanting to buy them all presents, the next we were being given terrible awful contradictory advice. One midwife told us we had to insert a laxative into our 7 day old son, can you imagine having to hold down your terrified screaming kid and force this thing into him only because you’ve been told to do so by a ‘professional’. The next day a different mid-wife came along to tell us what we did hadn’t been needed and asked why did we do it. I think she must have seen the look on my face, as she quickly did a back-track and said it wasn’t so bad. Too late, I was already thinking of ways to hide her body after I’d strangled her, I didn’t though, we moved on. 

Pretty soon after that I decided I wasn’t going to be doing anything else without asking a lot of questions before hand, luckily Elliott didn’t seem to be too scarred from the incident, but we were. We can and do laugh about it now but it was really upsetting at the time. I was livid with myself because I was so afraid of doing the wrong thing and I’d trusted the people who were supposed to know more than me. I should have spoken out and listened to my instincts. 

I don’t have my Mother to ask all the usual questions or any other family near by but we do have brilliant well informed mates with first hand experience, who, so far have always been spot-on when I’ve asked for help/advice. I’m eternally grateful for this.

The hardest parts of being a mother: It was a while before I got to hold our son, they took him away to check all was well and we made nervous small talk until we heard a yelp, then they brought him over, just as I was asking my partner what he was doing with the rest of the weekend (that must have been the epidural talking). Jon held him first then was ushered out while they finished patching me up, so it was a while before I actually got to hold him. I remember saying ‘Cheers everyone’ to all the theatre staff, like they’d just bought me a pint; I don’t think it had actually hit me that now I was a Mother, it was quite an eventful beginning.

So, when I finally did get to hold Elliott, I didn’t feel that rush of love that you hear about. Everything seemed to be, ‘right just get on with it’ and mechanical and this is your life now. It was all ‘do this’ and ‘do that’ and none of that soft focus coochy moment you think there might be, us all gazing at each other, none of that.
Now, of course I don’t think now it would be possible to love our little boy any more and I do feel guilty that I didn’t have that ‘rush’, I also feel guilty about many many other things; is he eating healthily, is he getting enough exercise, is being stimulated enough, is he being too stimulated!!! I even feel guilty for feeling guilty and worry that I worry too much but apparently that’s all part of being a mother.

Trying to stop swearing is hard – I’ve got a bit of a potty mouth so having to curb that is proving, at times, somewhat of a challenge. The partying was easy to stop, I was bored of that anyway but the swearing, proving a bit difficult!

The best parts of being a mother: The laughs, the little games he loves to play, those little legs running, normally away from me, his happy little face first thing in the morning going in to get him up, last thing at night doing the bedtime routine, teaching him new stuff, seeing him take that stuff in and being able to do it.

Dancing round the kitchen with him, throwing him on the bed, chasing him about which he loves. Just hanging out with him is ace; he’s such a funny little person and is always trying to make us laugh. I do feel very very lucky to have this, 95% of the time is just brilliant, the routines and rituals he has, his smell, his hands, his feet, do I need to go on….it probably sounds pathetic, but I can’t help it, he is just so amazing, the good times definitely outweigh the bad and it’s really not all worry worry guilt guilt.

I think we’re lucky with our timing, deciding to do this later on, I just feel ready, and it’s the best job ever.

Hopes for your family: That we always get on, that we always love each other and are happy and healthy. In years to come if we go through tough times I hope I remember to look back to these days, at how happy, contented and grounded we all are as a family.
I also hope we fulfill our job to bring Elliott up to be a good person, who’ll be happy and thoughtful of others.

Any advice you offer to new and expectant mums: Do it your own way, you may not think or feel you know what you are doing, but I reckon there is something that just naturally kicks in. The crying won’t last forever so just grit your teeth and get some earplugs.
Don’t be afraid to speak out if you’re not happy with the way you are being treated by one of the many professionals you will come across, you don’t have to be rude but it may save a lot of stress to question something you feel uneasy with.
He or She is YOUR baby; no one else’s and no one else knows them better than you.
Try to retain a sense of humor; after all, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, so they say!

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