Reality of Motherhood: This will sound negative to start with, but it is the hardest and often most thankless task in the world. The relentless tiredness in that 1st year of Douglas’ life was something no-one could ever have explained to me beforehand. While in it you cannot see the wood for the tress.
Occasionally the fear of being responsible for this little person’s wellbeing and their future was overwhelming, especially in the early days. However, being a mother is so rewarding and the joy you feel when your child does something new and exciting, or tells you they love you, is not even remotely comparable with anything else in life. It has taught me how to have endless patience, which I didn’t know I was capable of (and can only be a good thing). It has given me a love that is so overwhelming it can still make me cry now just thinking about it.
For me I could not be the stay at home mum I had hoped to be (and had put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to be). Once my little boy was 1 I realised that I had to have something else too, and so I went back to my wedding accessories business that I had set up just prior to having him. I think this makes me a better mum as I really look forward to the days I have with him and also look forward to work (which is often a lot easier than childcare!).
I can deal with this decision now, but at the time felt a huge amount of guilt for wanting to be something other than Dougie’s mum. I really believe women get a hard time these days whether they choose to go back to work, have to go back to work, or choose to stay at home. You can’t win no matter what you do, someone always has an opinion on it. Usually other mums!
I also have made some amazing life-long friends since having Dougie and I think it has been really important for me to have this support network. No-one can understand motherhood like someone else going through the same thing at the same time as you.
I liken being a mother to being at university in freshers week. You meet lots of other mothers after you’ve had a baby and the one thing you have in common is a baby (when at uni it is being at uni), but understandably you won’t get on with them all. Within a few weeks you work out who are your real friends.
Generally my experience of other mums has been positive, but I do know of people who have not had such a positive experience. I think it’s really sad that some women can be so horrid to other women when they should be supporting each other.
Taking your child home for the first time: For me this was a bit of a blur. I had a planned C-section with Dougie as he was breach, and so all I can really remember is slowly shuffling along endless hospital corridors and then the same into my house (1st floor flat unfortunately). I felt rather like an invalid and was constantly in a lot of pain (it went soon enough though).
I remember us driving very slowly to the house and playing a song called “Douglas” by a band we like, and me mostly crying all the way home!
The best/worst advice:
The best advice I was given was to, “Enjoy these moments as they pass”.
The worst advice comes from people interfering when you are trying to get on with your daily life – eg. when you’re shopping in Sainsbury’s and someone tells you, “He doesn’t need a dummy,” or something equally as ridiculous, and frankly it is none of their business. You become public property as soon as you are pregnant and this seems to continue into motherhood.
The hardest parts of being a mother: For me this is now a lot easier, but for a very long time I just found it so hard to trust my instincts. I was always worried about WHY he was doing something and WHY he had changed his patterns. Now I see there is no rhyme or reason and you cannot control things, so it’s just best to not analyse things too much. They are just babies and they do weird things and have no manual.
Oh and of course the tiredness- I am always always tired and have just accepted that I will always be now.
The best parts of being a mother: There are a million things, I can’t really put this into words. At the moment probably the fact that Dougie makes me laugh about every ten minutes! He is like a little best mate to hang out with and have chats with (usually about nonsense).
When they tell you they love you, when they do something to make you so incredibly proud, when they wake you up at a reasonable time in the morning (not 5am!) by coming to the side of your bed and stroking your face. I think having a reason to be rather than just being you is the best thing.
Has becoming a mother changed you?: Without a doubt. I thought I knew who I was and I think I really have only discovered this since having Doug. Sometimes you have to change too for the good of your child. There were things I looked at in myself that I wanted to change in order to make life better for him. For example learning to be braver, as I want him to experience things in life and not be scared of stuff!
Hopes for your family: Just health and happiness. We are so excited to meet the new baby in October. We don’t mind what this next baby is (Dougie is adamant it is a boy called Donald though?) and we won’t find out as we both like a surprise.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums:
Be kind to yourself.
I wasn’t last time and hope I will be this time! And you really do know best – it takes time to realise that, but you do. Instinct is an amazing thing.
Nicola makes wedding accessories which can be found here: