Children: Indie Rose, 23 months and Reuben, 3 weeks
Expectations of Motherhood: If I had one ambition in life it was to be a mum. I was an only child until I was 11 before more siblings began to appear. It was lonely at times and I always wanted to have a sibling to play with. I think it’s what spurred my dream of one day having a large family of my own, with three to four children at least. My love of children led me to nannying and teaching and because of these roles, and my need to research everything, I felt I was pretty well prepared for what was to come in terms of both the birth and caring for the baby. Everyone told me it’s different with your own child, your life will change completely, you’ll be so tired, but did I take it on board? Nope.
Reality of Motherhood: It turns out it really is different with your own child. Nothing can prepare you for the amount of love you will have for your own child, that instinctual need to protect them at all costs and to try your best to provide them with everything you can to make their life as close to perfect as can be. Every time I look at them I think, ‘I can’t believe I get to keep them. I can’t believe they’re ours’. Babies really are little miracles.
I know that enduring childbirth and adjusting to life with a baby can be so difficult for some and I don’t want to undermine those experiences but it’s safe to say we were lucky.
Indie arrived on her due date. After practicing hynobirthing throughout pregnancy with my husband the birth went well. It didn’t go to plan but it did go well. She wasn’t born in the water as I’d wanted, the labour was longer than I’d hoped and her heartbeat dropped towards the end which was a worry but all in all I gave birth in a midwife led birth centre with my husband’s support and guidance in a calming, relaxing (as much as it can be) environment which I felt was good for all three of us.
Reuben on the other hand, made me wait until 40+5 yet his birth was an absolute dream. I had him in the pool and came out of it completely unscathed apart from wobbly legs and sheer exhaustion!
Indie was such a content baby and seemed to fit seamlessly into our lives. It was as though she had always been here and we found ourselves commenting on how easy and joy-filled we found caring for her. Of course there were mountains of washing, an untidy house, endless nappies and sleepless nights but cuddling your baby and breathing in their gorgeous scent makes that all a distant memory.
The second time round, Reubs has fit in seamlessly too, but my god is it more of a whirlwind. The poor thing gets dragged all over the show and has to endure his sisters tantrums and loud play, but already they are showing signs of having a beautiful bond. Seeing that is so special and nothing prepares you for the love you feel.
They have both breastfed like a dream, progressed as we’d hope and made our lives perfect. Aside from the sleep. Or lack of it. They weren’t, and aren’t in Reubs case, keen on that. The only way we could make both of them sleep was co-sleeping, and attached to my boob. We went, and are, going with it. It’s obviously what they want and need. I didn’t have to return to nannying after maternity (well I was made redundant so I couldn’t!) because I ran a small business on the side which I hoped to develop whilst caring for Indie in order to pay the bills, so in that respect I didn’t need her to sleep through the night in her own bed because I could cope.
Now Indie’s hit toddlerhood things are a little different. Or a little more difficult at times, should I say. She is full of energy and wants to be on the move constantly. She requires constant supervision, and more importantly (and more demanding on my time), constant stimulation. She is so used to having my undivided attention that she expects it now and it can be so difficult to get the other jobs/work done. She’s also hit the age of tantrums. Which are so exhausting. As a nanny I could cope with the odd tantrum because it’s easier to detach yourself but as a parent you begin to wonder, what am I doing wrong, even though really you know it’s all developmental. They go through so much growth and change at this age it’s all bound to get a little much at times. But it does for the parents too. And then there’s no booking a day off, or closing the door and saying bye in the evening. You have to continue no matter how drained you feel. But there’s an upside, when she’s not having a meltdown, she’s the most fun, lively and charming little girl I’ve known. She’s so clever and funny and each day is jam-packed with wondrous memories.
No matter how many rough moments come in a day it’s the good ones that stay in your mind when you kiss them goodnight and it’s those that will stay with me for life.
We’ve got a large family, and lots of friends, all keen to take Indie off our hands for a while but it’s not that easy. We’re both total control freaks and we know that when we’re caring for her we’re doing it the way we want. With a new baby I’m trying to accept a little more help because I need the rest, she needs the entertainment and Reuben wants some attention from me too!
Taking your children home for the first time: After staying the night in a private suite at the hospital, and of course not sleeping one bit because we were too excited, too full of love and adrenaline and having close family members visiting, it was time for us to leave by midday.
It was surreal walking out of the hospital as a family, rather than two, but it was also so exciting. We arrived home to a house filled with bunting and flowers and family all eager to cuddle our baby. It was hard to give up time with her but seeing the love on everyone’s faces was enough to make it worthwhile. One of the bonus points of breastfeeding too is that you will always get your baby back for snuggles at feed time! Eventually our visitors started to leave and we were left alone. The three of us. And it was perfect. We all crawled into bed and snoozed for a couple of hours before starting the never-ending cycle of feed/change/sleep/repeat.
The second time round was a quick return home, but this time I think it was even more magical. Returning to our eldest and introducing her to her little brother. She’d been waiting so long to meet him and he didn’t disappoint. There certainly wasn’t any relaxation this time but that’s all part of the fun, right?
The best/worst advice: As a new mum you receive so much advice; some good, some bad. We learnt to take it with a pinch of salt and to be honest, just followed our own instincts instead.
The worst advice was to sleep when baby sleeps. The time when baby sleeps is the only time you get to catch up on jobs, or if like me, your baby will only nap whilst being worn, it is your only time to take a breather, grab a cuppa and catch up with friends via social media or read a book or just do something for you. I’m my own worst enemy, even now, when it comes to staying up too late. I need to sleep but I also enjoy spending time with my husband, not doing anything exciting mind, just watching tv and having a snuggle (with a newbie in between us!). Rock and roll.
Being a terrible housewife the best advice I received was how to stain remove! And you’ll need it a lot! Forget Vanish, it’s all about original Fairy Liquid. Soak the clothing in warm water, rub some fairy into the stain and leave to soak in the water for a few hours. Wash and be amazed!
The hardest parts of being a mother: At times motherhood can be mundane and lonely. When you’re going through the humdrum of everyday stuff like washing, changing nappies, coping with tantrums, trying to get them to eat something, it can feel like there’s no one to turn to. All the friends that don’t have children yet don’t want to hear about it, and they probably wonder where on earth the old you has gone, the one who used to talk about music, fashion and go out(!). I love being a Mama and I wouldn’t ever wish to change it but I do sometimes wish my old brain would come back, even if only for an hour or so each day. The one where I could think about and focus on other topics that might be of interest to somebody else!
The best parts of being a mother: There is no better feeling than that of love. Of loving and being loved. When Indie wakes up in the morning and calls my name and smiles the biggest smile and offers kisses and cuddles. Those moments melt my heart.
I love seeing them change and develop. I almost burst with pride each time I witness them do something new. It’s incredible seeing the person Indie is growing into. We have so much fun together, exploring the world, playing games and being silly.
Has becoming a mother changed you? It’s not something I like to dwell on really but I do sometimes struggle to make sense of who I am now. I know I’m a Mama, and a great one (I hope!) and I love it but the old me seems to have disappeared somehow. My social life can’t be the same, I can’t go out clubbing (not that I really miss that!), my husband and I can’t have as many date nights as we used to, I rarely see new films, listen to new music, shop for myself, exercise or catch up with friends for hours on the phone. It’s an adjustment for sure. I used to have interests of my own but now I barely have the time to wee alone let alone pursue a hobby. I’m happy with who I am but I suppose it’s more that I worry others will think I have changed, become uninteresting and uninterested in them! Of course that’s not the case. The physical time spent with friends when they can fill me in on their lives means so much to me, I just hope they know that my lack of time or energy to pursue all the things I said earlier is in no way a reflection of my feelings towards them.
Has your perspective on work changed since becoming a mother?
Being unable to return to my job was in actual fact, a godsend. I understand that some parents love their jobs and it is a huge part of who they are so fully respect those that go back but, myself? I’d hate to leave them both.
Being made redundant meant that I had to make a go of the hobby I had, stamping cutlery, and turn it into some kind of business. Being a stay at home mum also means I get to put into practice everything I learnt as a teacher in the activities I plan for both children. I see it as the best of both worlds. For now at least.
Hopes for your family: All I want is for us to continue to be happy, healthy and full of love. My husband and I don’t earn a fortune, we can’t afford the best of everything, we can’t always go abroad but that’s because we made that choice. We value our happiness, our time spent together and we want our children to know that it isn’t the material things in life that make us happy, it’s the people, it’s the time shared and the memories made.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums? I really would recommend doing a hynobirthing course whether it’s your first or second, or whatever number, pregnancy. We found it invaluable during pregnancy, at the births and even now I find myself drawing on some of the positive affirmations and breathing techniques.
Also just try to enjoy it. Remember that there’ll be good and bad days, but the good will always outweigh the bad. Pregnancy and childhood is so fleeting and precious and it’s so important to cherish each moment.
Whilst the babes sleep, I run a small business hand-stamping vintage cutlery and engraving enamelware. Each order placed supports me and my little family and I really am hugely grateful for each and every one.
Come and give me a follow on Instagram @shopbyonemamaoneshed or take a look at the website onemamaoneshed.com.