Children: Theo, 5 years Robin 2.5 years
Expectations of Motherhood: Gosh I dont know where to begin with this one. I think for me I didn’t think routine was going to play as much of an important part as it has done. I was expecting to go backpacking across India when Theo was 6 months old, and boy did I get a shock. Along with the lack of sleep, constant feeding… I’m a natural adventurer and I genuinely thought having a baby wouldn’t slow me down, but it has, in the best way possible.
Reality of Motherhood: A total explosion of senses, aye. I’m still breastfeeding after 5 years, and that’s been a real rollercoaster journey. I’m so proud of myself, my body, for being able to produce milk and sustain and soothe my kids, but nobody told me how hard it would be in those moments of pure aversion and sleep deprivation.
Taking your child/children home for the first time: First time with Theo I went 40+16 days and in the end had an emergency section, which we were both in hospital for 10 days after.
When I came home on the 11th day I was emotionally empty. I felt like I had no clue what to do and felt so helpless, but then this amazing thing happened and I went into this self-directed cocoon. I think my body, my instincts, told myself that this is what has to happen, to heal and to protect and to learn what taking care of a baby and yourself means. It was truly the best few weeks where time stood still.
With Robin, I had a home birth, which I fought so hard to get. I saw 5 different consultants one of which told me directly that if I have a HBAC (homebirth after c-section ) “ I will die”. Not only did it install fear and an insatiable amount of self-doubt, but I was crying for weeks. I had suffered from PTSD from my emergency-section and I couldn’t bring myself to physically go through another birth in a hospital again.
So I looked into hypnobirthing and surrounded myself with amazing positive birth movements and support communites around Manchester, and stuck with my decision to trust my body. Sure enough Robin was born 40+10 at home, standing up, where I caught him and brought him to my chest. I laid on my sofa, he started feeding and the midwives made me a cuppa and some toast. It remains still the most empowering experience of my life. I loved every second.
The best/worst advice: Best advice comes from my mum who once told me, “you never have children for you, you always have children for them,” and I just love this. The love we have for these amazing creatures that we’ve made is beyond anything. But with that we can fall into this trap of self-righteousness that they “belong” to us, and thats so detrimental to a healthy relationship. We are their guide through life, their protectors, but do we have the right to own them? No.
I think another way of looking at it is, we should never have children because we want to ‘have’ them, we should want to have children, to let them go. It’s a really difficult one to explain, but it’s always been the best advice as it reminds me to look at my kids on a equal footing and embrace them for who they are, and not want I want them to be.
Worst advice: Theo stopped breastfeeding at 4, and although I’ve never received any direct advice that was bad, I’ve had many passive aggressive comments: “Oh wow you’re STILL breastfeeding?” Yep thats me, “Oh wow he’s STILL in your bed” Yep. But you know, you do things your way, I’ll do things my way and were all cool.
The hardest part/s of being a mother: Oh jeez! Without a doubt, patience. Picking your battles. Tiredness. Finding the time for you, the time for them individually, finding the time for your partner. Whilst supposedly trying to work, run a small business, keep a clean house, make sure the kids have enough balance in life. Accepting the change in your body, accepting the change in relationships both romantic and friendly. It can honestly make you so dizzy at times, that you feel like your spinning out of control.
The best part/s of being a mother: Creating life. You never know love like it, until you’re a mother. Seeing your kids happy and delving into their world is life changing. But ultimately, when you let go of control, that’s when the magic happens. Also creating, finding and piecing together a village with like-minded folk is something really sacred. I am so lucky to have found a bunch of loving and understanding men and women who inspire me as parents.
Has becoming a mother changed you? Yeah, its definitely grounded me a bit. It’s made me work on the aspects of myself that I need to change in order to raise my kids in the right way. I think children have this innate part of themselves that shows you which areas you need to work on. Which can be equally very rewarding and challenging.
Has your perspective on work changed since becoming a mother? Absolutely, although I work freelance, so I was able to bring my kids to work when they were super small, the idea of going back full time really scared me. I didnt want to loose the bond that I had created and it was physically painful to be apart from them for so long.
Before I had kids I never thought that would be the case, but it is and I’m fortunate enough to have had 4 years with Theo and 20 months with Robin, where I stayed mostly at home, working here and there. Now that they’re a bit older I feel like I’ve grabbed a bit of identity back and I’m working a lot more and I’ve found a really nice balance.
Hopes for your family: I would love to travel with them one day, take a year out and go grab some life experience. Raise some pretty decent humans in the countryside with a couple of pigs and goats, simple life is what I always hoped for…maybe a third babe in the future…
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: Roll with it, and ask for help. You have no idea how this baby will need you. Will it sleep? Will it have reflux? Will I be able to breastfeed? Will it take the bottle? But just breathe, let go of control, trust your instincts. And never feel shame or guilt. We’re all in this together and its really hard work. So let the tears come, let the incontinence flow and breathe, because you’re doing a great job.
Ema is a Macrame artist and her work can be seen at www.etsy.com/shop/macramadebyEma