Expectations of motherhood:
Oddly I'm not sure I ever had expectations of motherhood per se.
Somehow Imogen was here before I'd ever even thought about motherhood. I'd thought a lot about 'having a baby' but to me the two are slightly different things. All my thoughts about having a baby were focused around the practical implications and how we'd cope. I didn't ever really give much thought to what it would mean to be a mother. It's been lovely to realise that I absolutely adore it.
The reality of motherhood: Good grief it's hard isn't it!?
There is something about being the absolute centre of this tiny person's universe that is both wonderful and terrifying at the same time. I'd always - rather naively - thought that the bond children have with their parents is a result of the amount of involvement those parents have. I think I was totally unprepared for the completely natural, inevitable, unbreakable bond that Imogen has had with me from the very start. It's incredible but such an enormous responsibility.
Taking your child home for the first time: Absolute bliss. I was really lucky to have a very straightforward birth and we got to take her home the same day. I was so thrilled to be going home, so thrilled to not be in labour anymore and just mystified that she was finally here. I can remember so clearly being in the back of the car with her and having to shield her eyes from the street lights. Truth be told it makes me go a bit gooey thinking about it.
The best/worst advice: I must confess that I'm awful at listening to advice. I got advice fatigue while I was pregnant - when the world and his wife seem to fall over themselves to give you unsolicited advice. I was pretty adamant right from the start that I was happy to try things out but would not blindly follow any method, routine etc. I wanted to figure out what was right for us a family and sod everything else.
Imogen was a pretty easy baby (despite what seemed to be a firmly held belief that sleep was for wimps) so I didn't really feel like we needed a lot of advice (although I always thought there was something fundamentally sensible about the baby whisperer books).
We did, and still do, go with what feels right. So for instance, I didn't breast feed exclusively for 6 months, I've never let her 'cry it out', she's never slept in our bed and we did baby led weaning. I don't think any of things are 'right' for everyone but they worked for us.
Hardest parts of being a mother: The unrelenting nature of it all. Having to do it all day and all night, every day and every night is far far more exhausting than I could ever have anticipated.
The best parts of being a mother: The sense that you're building something new and fantastic. You've gone from a couple to a family and I just find that magical (cheesy but deliberate choice of word).
Hopes the future: We're hoping to add to our family in the coming years and that's a scary but exciting prospect. I'm so thrilled with our little family of 3 that up-ending all of that feels a bit nerve-wracking. We're confident it will be worth it though. This is just the beginning.
Advice for expectant mums:
Trust your instincts. All of the guidance you'll get is just that, guidance.
Oh and try and enjoy it, they'll be grown and slamming doors before we know it!