Nicola, Benjamin and Erin

Name: Nicola 

Children: Benjamin (3) and Erin (4 months)

Location: Chorlton

Expectations of Motherhood: Honestly, I didn’t think it would be anywhere near as hard as it is. I’m a lawyer, and pre-pregnancy I worked long hours and managed a team of other Lawyers and paralegals so I was used to stress, pressure of time, trying to divide my time between lots of other people and having to respond quickly to the demands of my seniors, which often included the judiciary. I honestly thought raising children would be easier than work. I had planned to re-learn the piano, brush up on my French and even go camper vanning around New Zealand’s north island with the baby. (I cringe when I think about how naive I was). How wrong I was. 

Reality of Motherhood: Raising children is the hardest job I have ever done in my life. I am sleep deprived, I am tetchy, I am emotional, I am a control freak (who knew!), I am probably a borderline alcoholic and I am not a very good wife. There are never enough hours in the day, I have stopped having hobbies, I have stopped caring so much about my appearance, I eat far too many biscuits, I am constantly washing, folding or putting away clothes (note the omission of the word “ironing”), the dog is neglected, dinners are often frozen and at times I actually feel like a prisoner in my own home. But by God am I blessed. When Benjamin hugs me and tells me I am his best friend, or when Erin looks up and smiles at me while I am feeding her (excluding the middle of the night feeds I suppose) I feel enormously grateful and lucky to have two little people in my life who will always call me Mum. I adore watching them grow and learn and they surprise me every day with things I didn’t know they could do. Hearing Benjamin say “excuse me please” to another little person at a playgroup the other day filled me with pride. Watching Erin suck her thumb fills me with awe that she’s learnt to do it all by herself. Playing in puddles, making a mess with paint, chasing and trying to catch falling leaves, the smell of a newborn baby’s head, watching them bond with each other, dancing in the living room, encouraging, praising, teaching, learning, tickling, giggling…….. the list of pros goes on and on and is much much longer than the list of cons. Yes its hard, but raising children is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had the privilege to do. 

As for “work” – I returned to work when Benjamin was 11 months old and it was a doddle. I got to drink a cup of tea before it went cold, I got to go to the toilet with the door closed, I got a lunch “break” and I got to have adult conversations. And my armour was stronger – it didn’t really matter if I had a bad day in the office or if I got shouted at by a Judge at the Crown Court, because I knew that at the end of the day I would return to my “family” and they would make it all ok. Beside, being shouted at by a Judge is infinitely easier to take than a toddler tantrum because I’ve turned Cbeebies off!! 

 And as for New Zealand – its not going anywhere – what’s the rush! 

Taking your children home for the first time: Taking our children home were wonderful days for us. All the neighbours came out to see them, Mum and Dad were here and had cooked us a lovely meal. There were balloons, banners and lots of cards on display and I felt very very special. With Erin, she slotted straight in to family life. The dog didn’t seem too impressed that we’d gone and got another one though!

The best/worst advice: The best advice I got was from my mum and she simply said this “mother knows best”. I honestly believe that mothers intuition is a powerful tool. The best advice I could give is to take any advice with a pinch of salt!!!

As for bad advice – I don’t make room for it in my memory bank!

The hardest parts of being a mother: The guilt – and constantly worrying that something I have done or said in the past could have a negative influence on them.

The best parts of being a mother: That I can walk around in leggings all day.

Has motherhood changed you?: I haven’t changed – I’ve evolved.

Hopes for your (growing) family: We haven’t yet decided if we are to be a family of four or a family of five (six if you include the dog!) but however big the brood, I simply wish for happiness. The rest will follow.

What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: A lot of people told me to expect the sudden rush of love when I held my newborn baby in my arms. That was helpful advice to an extent because it numbed the anxiety of actually giving birth, but the reality was that when Benjamin finally made an appearance, I was so tired (physically and emotionally) that I just wanted to sleep. 

I remember not being that bothered that I didn’t have skin to skin contact with him (how bad is that??) and was glad that Tris was there to hold him and start that father/son bond whilst I was being repaired! That night however when it was just me and Benjamin behind our little curtain on the hospital ward, and the drugs had worn off, I could see just how helpless this little creature was and had an overwhelming need to love and care for him. I picked him up out of his little bucket and held him and my life changed forever. So my advice really is that what’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander. Everyone is different and everyone will have a different experience of childbirth and beyond.

Be true to yourself. Embrace the journey. Your child is their own person – baby expert books cannot change that. Acceptance. Strength. Love. Oh, and never break a promise to your child.

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