I expected to slot into motherhood easily.
Taking your child home for the first time: Felix had an infection and spent his first few days in the neonatal intensive care unit. It wasn’t the start we thought we’d have. After eight days we were given the all clear, and it was amazing! We were so desperate to go home and get on with normal life. We left the hospital and went straight to Tesco to do some shopping – something so ordinary forever changed. I was at university and my partner worked from home, so we had what felt like endless, wonderful time together, marvelling at this tiny person we’d made, and figuring out how our lives would fit together. We were a complete unit, I’ve never felt so secure in any of my relationships as I did in those first months of parenthood.
The best/worst advice: I was in my first year of my degree when I got pregnant. My Mum’s reaction when I told her the news was ‘oh no!’. She must have worried I’d drop out, but I didn’t. I spoke to one of my lecturers and he helped me to have confidence in my abilities and my choice to continue without deferring. I had to effectively do my second year backwards to fit the assignments around giving birth, but I worked hard, and with my partner doing the majority of childcare, I graduated in the standard three years, and got a first. The advice was to trust myself and not let other people determine what being a mother should mean to me and my ambitions. Oh, and my Mum told me every phase is the best bit. She was absolutely right!
The hardest parts of being a mother: I never clicked with the whole baby group thing. I got hung up on how much I hated the idea of making friends solely on the basis of having babies the same age. I couldn’t get passed it. I knew Felix needed to go to groups, so I took him to at least one a week, but it was a struggle. I was so awkward that I didn’t make any mum-friends, and had to wait for my friend-friends to start having babies so I could talk about life as a mother to understanding ears. I isolated myself. It made the first year quite lonely.
The best parts of being a mother: Where do I start? Watching this amazing little person grow and develop and express himself and his personality. There’s a trend for mourning the loss of the baby as a child gets bigger. I don’t feel that at all, I’m filled with excitement and curiosity about each new stage he goes through. He’s currently at the very beginning of learning to read, and I adore every small word he shouts out that he’s read from a sign as we drive around. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him. This small child is brimming with possibility.
Has becoming a mother changed you? I’m more considered in my actions than I was pre-Felix. The freedom of life without children has changed, not disappeared, just changed. There’s less spontaneity, more planning.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: You don’t have to sacrifice yourself for your child. You can still be you. You can take your baby to a festival. You can buy a camper van and travel the world. You can go to parties. You can finish your studies. You can start your own business. You just have to make sure you build your life around the needs of this tiny person.
I live with my (now) husband, Lee. We run a design business together. It was a decision we took that means we are less secure financially, but we get to spend time with each other and Felix. We can work around the school day and holidays, he can hang out with us at the office, we can take days off to do fun stuff – it gives us freedom. I adored the early years, teaching him about the world, and nurturing him, and now he’s at school I’m loving the return to having non-Mum time between 9am and 3pm. It’s a journey we’ve been on, and I enjoy each new phase more than the last. He asked me about having a brother the other day – that’s not going to happen, I feel we’ve all developed along the way, and I don’t want to go back to the beginning now, this bit is too good, and I can only see that continuing forever.