Children:Oskar, 5 1/2 yrs and Elliot, 2 yrs
Expectations of Motherhood: Oskar was unexpected and came relatively early in mine and David’s relationship, so the prospect of becoming a mother was overwhelming and frightening at first. Two members of David’s family were also expecting around the same time so it was pretty intense family wise but they were wonderfully supportive. I am the oldest of my sisters and the first to have kids so this was a new experience for my family. David’s family is huge, so being surrounded by babiesin the beginning of my pregnancy just made it all the more nerve wracking for me, but actually it was just what i needed.
Elliot came along with lots of planning, organising and the chaos of a loft conversion. I loved being pregnant with both Oskar and Elliot but it was especially wonderful to
Reality of Motherhood: Bloody hard work but the most rewarding thing you can do. It puts enormous pressure on you and your partner but that experience of parenthood can make your relationship stronger than ever. I think it took me a long time with Oskar to accept all that comes with being a mother, allowing myself to just enjoy it. I regret that. If you’re happy and content they are more likely to be, I think I wanted it all and for it all to be perfect and by the book. I’ve slowed down a lot with Elliot and I am much happier for it. I don’t go to every babygroup going and my day revolves around what suits Elliot and Oskar. I’m much better at judging Elliot’s needs instead of trying to fit Elliot into a routine prescribed by someone else and just get on with the housework instead of resenting how mundane it is. After a long journey I am enjoying being a mother on a different level and the boys are all the happier for it.
Taking your children home for the first time: I had home deliveries for both Oskar and Elliot. I was very fortunate to have two healthy pregnancies and uncomplicated labours. I guess I put a lot of pressure on myself to have a home delivery with Oskar and when the midwife basically scoffed at the idea it made me more determined. I was lucky enough to be able to have that choice and I guess I put my foot down a bit. I felt comfortable and relaxed in my own home and had this compulsion to strip off for both labours, it felt pretty primal and very natural. The best thing I did (and would advise anyone) was to be active during the labour. The only way I think I coped with the pain without drugs was to walk through the contractions, pacing the room and hallway and rocking backwards and forwards on an exercise ball. I am such a woos when it comes to pain normally, almost fainting when I have blood taken, but envisaging the contractions as waves of pain really really helped me. There was a build up, a high point but always an awareness of an end. Being at home was wonderful but very very real when the midwife left us with this very delicate precious little person at 4am not to return until the next day.
I nearly didn’t have Elliot at home as he was 10 days overdue and they wanted to induce labour. They gave me a sweep but I’m convinced that it was an unnecessary discomfort as it just induced a false alarm. Elliot was going to come when he was good and ready. The next day David made me an incredibly hot curry and we went to the allotment and did some digging. Halfway around Highfield park my contractions had started and came almost immediately, thick and fast. Elliot came very quickly and I didn’t have time for the gas and air to arrive. Elliot was born with the cord around his neck which was really frightening at that moment but the midwife was brilliant and he was absolutely fine. The one to one undisturbed attention you get from the midwives at home is intimate and reassuring. I felt safe, in control and supported by these amazing women.
The best/worst advice: A lot of people want to give you advice especially when you are a first time mum. I think I always looked stressed and anxious with Oskar, people just want to alleviate that for you. Trusting your own instincts is always good advice, however it can feel a little vague and unhelpful the first time around because you’re so tired. Sometimes you just want someone to tell you what to do! Becoming a confident mother just comes naturally to some and others, like myself, its a very steep learning curve. I read too many books preparing for Oskars arrival and totally overloaded myself with contradictory information. I think i left myself feeling more confused and stressed out.
The hardest parts of being a mother: In the beginning its the sleep deprivation and the havoc it causes to everyday functioning. If you don’t slow down and rest, and expect life to be back to ‘normal’ straight away it can be pretty stressful.
The best parts of being a mother: Being so incredibly close to your child is such a unique feeling. Watching them grow in size and confidence is really rewarding and those hugs, they are the best thing ever. Also motherhood can really change you as a person. After lots of ups and many many downs I finally feel like a much more confident person, more forgiving, loving and content and that isn’t a bad thing to get from having kids.
Hopes for your family: To continue to grow in confidence as a family and for the children to have childhoods they look back and cherish. For Oskar and Elliot to grow up to be proper ‘Gentleman’ as my granddad has been telling Oskar in his 85 year old stern German manner! (whilst shaking his little 5 year old hand)
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: Having a routine was the best thing i did with the boys. I took it too literally with Oskar to begin with and found it very stressful and was constantly time keeping. With Elliot I gently guided him into a routine, it’s easier with the second because they kind of naturally slot into their siblings day especially with school in the equation. A bed time routine is actually a really lovely thing, especially in our house where having two boys makes it a noisy crazy place.
I just have to add that the best thing I ever got the boys was a puddle suit. They have just spent the last week getting muddy from head to toe, properly running and jumping in thick muddy water like crazy, and me, as cool as a cucumber!