Children: Wilf (2.5 years), Betty (5 months)
Expectations of Motherhood: I was expecting it all to be a total blast. I knew I’d sail through labour(!), enjoy my year “holiday” from work and then pretty much carry on as normal but with a new little friend in tow.
Reality of Motherhood: It’s much harder work than I could have ever believed! I haven’t had a full night’s sleep for almost three years, and I haven’t had more than one glass of champagne in a sitting for even longer, due to either being pregnant or breastfeeding. Huge changes from the red wine and lie in lover I used to be! My world has changed completely. But I really had no idea how happy my babies would make me, and how much I would love them.
Taking your children home for the first time: With my first born I was incredibly anxious. About everything. I would walk into a room and see danger everywhere. Everything my other half did would be wrong. I went baby-bonkers. With my second I am much more relaxed and it seems to have been rubbed off on her. She’s a laid back little thing. Although I have less time to sit and just adore her, I make sure I try to as much as I can – time flies even faster with the second one because there are so many more distractions!
Best advice: A wise friend told me that our role as parents is to give our kids everything they need to be able to go out into the world on their own and be happy. We are raising them to be confident about themselves. They are not a part of us to keep and control. Another friend gave me an enormous slab of chocolate and told me I could use it as a sleep replacement. I couldn’t have wished for a better present!
Worst advice: Being told not to feed my breastfed baby so much. I was told that he couldn’t possibly still be hungry, that I should give him a bottle to give myself a break, and that he would get too attached to me etc. Sometimes my little man just liked to feed, partly because he was small and therefore had a small tummy and had to feed quite often, and partly for comfort and to help him sleep. It’s not for everyone, it was hard work during growth spurts etc but I have loved feeding my babies.
The hardest parts of being a mother: The tiredness. The loneliness of the long night feeds. The constant demands on your time. Never being able to fully get ready for an outing as someone will need a nappy changing, to be fed, or to have a story read to them while you are busy trying to make your hair look half decent!
The best parts of being a mother: I’ve grown in confidence from performing this very important role – there is the saying that no one will know your kids like you do. I would never have believed that when I first held my tiny little boy and felt I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, but I know now that I am their Mama, and for the moment, I am their world. I know them inside and out and I will always do my best to make sure their trust in me is not misplaced.
My babies have brought me a deep joy that nothing else, even my great relationship with my partner, has before. I love the giggles, the sticky, snotty hugs and kisses and curling up with a sleeping baby in my arms.
Has becoming a mother changed you: I’m still the same person waaaay down underneath but my life and my priorities have changed dramatically. I’ve put myself, my other relationships and my career in the back burner in order to muddle through these early days with my babies as best I can. I realise that is not healthy in the long term and I hope that with time (and more sleep!) I can expand my focus and get more balance back in my life. I need to do that for my own happiness, for my (very patient!) boyfriend and our relationship and also to be a good role model for my kids as they grow up.
Hopes for your family: My hopes at the moment are simple. I hope that we continue to be healthy and happy. I hope I can provide them with a strong and supportive family environment, a childhood full of happy memories and a good grounding to make their own way in life. And I really hope that it’s not too late for me to learn to surf one day.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: If you’re pregnant, get yourself to a hypnobirthing class! I was wildly unprepared for my first labour and I ended up being incredibly frightened and fighting the process the whole way. I went to hypnobirthing before having Betty as I didn’t want to go through that again. Her birth was a much calmer and happier experience. Dare I say I enjoyed it? Well, I didn’t lock myself in the toilet and refuse to come out the second time around, so that was a big win for me!!