Samantha and Betty

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Name: Samantha Jepson

Child: Betty, 15 months

Location: Manchester

Expectations of Motherhood: I never thought it would be easy. I have friends who had babies in the years before and I knew the struggles they had. I actually didn’t put much thought into what type of mother I thought I would be or what it would be like, I just knew I wanted to be a mother. My family is made up of strong women. I am very close to my Mum and my Nanna was the true matriarch of our family. Family was everything to her and the most important thing in life. She passed away a couple of years ago, but when I found out we were having a girl, it felt perfect because she could be named after her.

Reality of Motherhood: I did think it would be easier.

I had a straightforward pregnancy for the most part. I got very ill half way through with a blocked kidney and nearly died of sepsis. This was actually nothing to do with the pregnancy, but things were made more complicated due to being pregnant. This was the first time I realised my body was no long my own. I am very much a “get up, get on with it” kind of person, but now I needed to slow down as someone else’s needs and life was involved. I felt the weight of that.

We had a difficult birth, we both started with an infection half way through and after delivery Betty’s cord gas was testing low, possibly due to stress, so she got taken to neonatal quickly and we were separated for 4 days until feeding was established and then she came on to the ward with me.

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We were in hospital for a week in total. All of this didn’t hit me until months later and I realised I was struggling with things more than other new mums around me and I was finding things a lot harder than a new mum possibly should. I went to counselling where I realised I was suffering from a form of PTSD. 

I didn’t expect that my child would be teaching and nurturing me. I was aware that I would be a parent and that I would be doing that, but I didn’t realise how much I would change and how my child would be navigating this new realm with me.

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Taking your child home for the first time: I was so excited to get home, the time in hospital had been horrendous. Due to the fact that we’d been separated, I didn’t feel an initial bond to Betty. I had cried to my mum, looking at her in her cot at neonatal that she didn’t feel like my baby, that I’d felt like I was the same as my mum, simply visiting a baby in hospital. I was so happy to get home to start bonding as a family and become a Mum to my daughter.

That first night cluster feeding kicked in and she fed and cried from 9pm to 5am! What have we done?! Cue my first furious googling when something doesn’t go the way I expected!

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The best/worst advice: You need to get them into a routine!! Argh!! I hate this. This has caused me so much anxiety and stress in the last 15 months. I am an organised person day to day. I like order, I like routine. I read parts of the dreaded Gina Ford and I clung to the idea that if I got her in to a routine all would be fine. My counsellor pointed out to me that due to the trauma, I was trying to use my usual coping mechanisms (order, routine) to gain control back. However, babies aren’t robots to be programmed, so when Betty didn’t fall in to line, I fell out of my mind! I felt I was failing and I had done it wrong. 

The best piece of advice: Relax, they find their own rhythm eventually. You can’t spoil a baby, they aren’t manipulative, you aren’t creating a rod for your back. 

The hardest parts of being a mother: The constant worry and uncertainty of everything you are doing. I am a fairly confident person, but being a mother is something I am not confident about. I constantly worry I’m not doing it right, that I’m not being the best I can be for Betty. When I met her and bonded with her I knew she deserves the best Mother, because she is amazing. I will spend the rest of my life trying to be that and trying to live up to her.

The best parts of being a mother: Witnessing someone experience life and everything in it for the first time. My heart has grown so much bigger. Sometimes I look at her and I am amazed I created her. You are forced to slow down and appreciate the smaller things and see magic again, because that’s all they see; the magic and wonder in life.

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Has becoming a mother changed you? Absolutely. You are a completely different person from the moment you start labour. I had never experienced something so raw and natural before. It has taken me a good year to start to find parts of my old self again, but this new me is an extension. Betty is teaching me every day how to be this new me.

Has your perspective on work changed since becoming a mother? I’ve been back at work for a couple of months so I’m still learning about what work now means to me. I know I am much stricter about the time I leave and leaving work at work. My home time is much more precious and I’m wanting to create a good work life balance.

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Hopes for your family: I hope Betty feels loved and that her home is full of happiness and love. I want her to be able to talk to me about her worries and life. I hope she is happy.

What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: You are not creating a rod for your back. Do whatever you need to do to get through that moment. It will change, it is just a phase. Put down the book on sleeping, feeding or any other expert advice and just respond to your baby. No expert knows how to deal with your baby better than you. Your instinct is there, tune in to it.

 

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