Rachel and Henry

Name: Rachel 

Henry, 6 weeks


Expectations of Motherhood: 
I don’t think I had any really. 

I had been told that having children would be medically difficult so I had given up any thought of a future which included children. I think I really believed I was ok with that. 

Naturally, finding out I was pregnant was both wonderful and terrifying, I think we spent the evening we found out eating Chinese food and panicking slightly. Sometimes a good food binge is necessary.

Reality of Motherhood: It’s quite the culture shock isn’t it? I mean, wow it’s hard. When else are you given a whole new job without any kind of training? 

I was completely overwhelmed at first, it’s such a complete sense of love coupled with a totally awesome responsibility. It’s taken the last few weeks to find some sort of rhythm. I’m slowly getting to know the habits of my new son although they change so regularly it’s a challenge. 

He was tongue tied at first so feeding was a bit hard, but I wanted to try to feed him myself if I could. I love feeding him now but it does take some getting used to and I totally understand why it’s not something everyone does. I’ve been close to giving up myself many times.

There are lots of lovely moments when I am totally in love with my child which is such an all consuming feeling. Challenging and wonderful all at once, it’s quite the contradiction.

Taking your child home for the first time: It was really surreal, I kept expecting someone to come to collect him. The idea that he was ours to keep was a bit beyond me. My parents were there to settle us in which helped and once they’d gone we found that it was just us and Google. 

The best/worst advice: The worst advice for me is sleep when the baby sleeps.
Henry doesn’t nap well on his own yet so sleeping while he is means sleeping while driving, pushing the pram or wearing the sling. 

The best advice would be ask for help. It’s hard and you need to find people to help. Allow them to take over and try not to feel guilty for having a rest.

The hardest parts of being a mother: The guilt. I’m Catholic so I thought I knew about guilt but I had no idea. I’m terrified I’ll do something wrong and spend a lot of time worrying about ridiculous things then using the Internet to convince myself he’s suffering from some terrible illness. My partner spends a lot of time talking me down. 

The best parts of being a mother: Being a mother as I didn’t think I would be. Also watching my partner with him; he’s a natural dad and is building a beautiful relationship with our son. 

Has becoming a mother changed you: Yes absolutely, there is a tiny person who comandeers all of my thoughts. I didn’t realise the capacity I would have to put someone else’s needs before my own.

I’m also much less concerned about some of the petty issues that bothered me before. I just don’t have the space in my head to worry about them. Far too busy worrying about the colour of poo and the amount of wee being produced!

Hopes for your family: That we continue to learn about each other and can help our lovely little baby become a lovely little man. 

What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: Don’t expect to sleep on the first two or three nights, it’ll save you being surprised.
Swaddle and cuddle your baby all you want, they need you to.
Find people who’ve done this and ask for help, they’re the only ones who really know. 

Extra Info: I’m a seconday school RE teacher on maternity leave.
I have a wonderfully supportive partner Paul who is already a super dad.

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