Child: Alfred (Alfie) - 1 (10 months in the photo)
Location: Reddish, Stockport
Expectations of Motherhood: My expectations of Motherhood were way out. When existing mothers used to tell me about lack of sleep, emotions running high, not having time to even go for a wee some days.. it didn't really sink in throughout pregnancy. I had all these grand plans of being this super mum, baking, using reusable nappies, cooking all my own baby food, starting a business..... yep - I was deluded. Because after about 3 days all the plans went out of the window and I realised that all the mum's I had been speaking to were right, every warning and cliche was true.... its well hard! Having said that, I didn't expect to love it and be in love with Alfred as much as I am. I'm quite overwhelmed by that.
Taking your child home for the first time: I had a panic attack. I clung to the living room door frame thinking "shit, shit shit - how are we going to keep this little thing alive on our own without midwives?!" I virtually had to be kicked out of hospital, it was win win being in there in my mind. If you didn't know something, you pressed your button. If you were hungry, you pressed your button, if you were in pain.. you pressed your button. At home there was no button! My husband had to peel me off the door frame and coax me into the lounge, I think he thought I'd gone a bit crackers but all those hormones had made my emotions freak out. If I stepped into the living room, that was it, we were on our own with no button. I think he used wine as kind of carrot and stick to get me from the door to the couch.
Reality of Motherhood: The last year has been the best but hardest of my life. I had a lot going on before Alfie came along, I'm a serial hobbyist so it was a sharp shock when I had to come to terms with the fact I just can't do something or say yes to a spontaneous suggestion anymore. I also found the changes to my body a bit a reality check. Apparently, you can't eat cake all the way through your pregnancy and get away with it! My relationship with my husband has suffered too, because we are no longer the centre of each other's world and it's only now a year on that we are re-establishing the dynamics of our relationship within a family setting. All that aside though, through the hazy tiredness and heightened emotions it's been the most incredible journey watching this little person that your heart literally bursts with love for, develop at such a pace and become someone. The first smile, and "mama" and holding arms up to be picked up, and sloppy kiss - it's turned me into a complete sap. For me the reality is, it's the hardest but best job i've ever had.
The best/worst advice: The best advice was throw all your parenting books away and don't listen to people's advice, trust your instincts. The worst advice, this tends to come from the older generation where they were told one thing when they were new mothers and now it's advised against by doctors - but because it didn't kill their offspring they think it's tosh.
The hardest parts of being a mother: It's not about you anymore and it probably won't be ever again. Time, your time suddenly becomes the most precious commodity you have... and it's minimal. I've found this quite hard to accept and come to terms with. I never realised that I would become so obsessed with having a half hour bubble bath with the door LOCKED and a magazine. It was my little half hour of bliss in the early days. Also splitting my affections between my husband and baby has also been hard. It's a balance I've found hard to strike especially when tired and patience is low. Maintaining relationships requires effort, be it with friends, family or your other half and it's hard to put the effort in on 4 hours sleep a night for goodness how many months!
The best parts of being a mother: I'd be here all day writing it down. It's incredible. I'd say the smiles, cuddles and giggles though, and sloppy kisses.
Hopes for your family: I want us to be close, to work as a team. I'm from a close family myself and you can get through anything when you have the support and love of your family. I'd like us to have a brother or sister for Alfie too eventually.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: Don't listen to birth horror stories (or google them... or go on internet forums!) and start freaking out. I was petrified of the birth because of this and in the end I had an epidural and watched Top Gear - it was the easiest bit of the whole thing.
Do what's right for you and your family and if anyone says you are "making a rod for your own back" hit them with said rod.
Call in all your favours, family, friends and the troops and don't feel bad about it. People don't mind helping out a new mum, it gives them an excuse to hang out with a cute baby. If they offer to tidy, wash up, take baby for a walk.. do it.. don't be a martyr - pass the the baby and run! You don't get a medal for doing it alone and it's much much easier if you accept all the help that's going and maintain a little bit of time to catch up on sleep or have some time out.
If you don't have the support of friends and family close by, there are loads of free groups put on by sure start where you can meet new people and just get out of the house. Don't be shy as all the mums are in the same boat and probably just as gagging as you may be to speak to a grown up human.