Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Elisa and Nova

Name: Elisa

Child: Nova Millie, 10 months (4 months in the photos)

Location: Warrington, Cheshire

Expectations of Motherhood: I was so nervous. I’ve never been the most maternal of all souls. Before Nova, I had never changed a nappy or fed a baby, and if one was handed to me I’d prefer to not hold it in case I dropped it – they seemed so incredibly fragile and dainty to me. Also, to be honest I only really thought as far as giving birth and the following first couple of months – I expected many sleepless nights, a much more scruffy-looking version of me and a lot of chaos.

Reality of Motherhood:
Wow. It was a different sort of tiredness than I could ever have imagined in my wildest dreams – at times I couldn’t even string a proper sentence together. But we were so lucky with Nova and 99.9% of the time she was a super-pleasant, totally laid-back and happy little creature. It was so strange to all over sudden have her home after preparing for her arrival for so many months.

The first three months were really hard. I felt like a robot: changing nappies, feeding, putting Nova to sleep. Changing nappies, feeding, putting Nova to sleep. Changing nappies….you get the gist. And even though she was mine, even though I loved her from the moment she was put on my chest she was still a stranger with a personality and character that would first really emerge in later months. Then the day came when Nova first smiled at me. I just melted, and our bond since has become stronger and stronger.

Taking your child home for the first time: 
When we walked out of hospital and the sunlight hit my eyes I felt like that dude must have felt when he woke up in 28 Days Later – confused, weak and like I had been in a deep comatose sleep for a very long time. My partner was carrying Nova in her car seat in front of me, and I remember the congratulations balloon tied around the handle hitting me on the head every couple of steps. It took quite a while until we had figured out the car seat (it seemed so straight-forward in the shop!), and then we drove home at 20mph. All three of us were exhausted, but also happy (well, Nova was asleep but she must have been happy to get out of there).

The best/worst advice: When I was in hospital after giving birth, I was told so many conflicting things. Each midwife would do things differently, the health visitor had a separate opinion and then there are so many members of the family who all want to help with advice. But the truth is it confuses the hell out of you! What is the right thing to do? Who is the most appropriate person to listen to? Is there a ‘right’ way? An important realisation to me was that your confidence as a mother grows with time. After all, babies aren’t delivered with an instruction manual and all babies are utterly different! I’ve been to so many different activity and play groups where we met other babies Nova’s age, and it was amazing to see that even though there are the general baby behaviour characteristics, each of them is a completely unique individual. So stick to your guns and do what you think is right. Oh, and it really is bliss to speak to other mums with young babies – cause dads don’t and physically can’t really understand all the emotions you are going through. They do try to (bless them), but when you chat to other mummies it’s amazing when you discover that many times they feel exactly what you feel. And you’ll need that validation sometimes.

The hardest parts of being a mother: The sheer amount of responsibility that comes with being a mum. You now have to be a role model, a proper adult, and you are on duty 24/7. When your childless friends go to a Stone Roses gig so can you – only, you best not attend the after party, as coming home at 4am does really not work when you need to look after a sprightful baby from 12pm. Trust me. 

And if you thought you had little time before, you’ll be kicking yourself now. Tiredness is hard too – it makes you a lesser, more grey version of the original you, and sometimes it makes you look more negatively on life that you normally would.

The best parts of being a mother: Being able to say ‘that’s my daughter’. I am so proud of her and absolutely adore my little girl. And I will move heaven and earth to make sure that she will have everything she needs in her life. When Nova giggles and stretches her little arms out to me it makes it all worth it and I’d do it all over again a thousand times.

Has becoming a mother changed you?: It has changed everything. And I mean everything. I don’t feel, act or think like the Elisa I was before. Nova comes first now and I have adapted. Sometimes it makes me feel a lot more boring and less spontaneous, but for the most of it I utterly enjoy being Nova’s mummy. All the little things she does every day bring so much joy to me and even though it is hard work at times, once you are a mum you couldn’t imagine your life without them. What I didn’t expect or think about is having to get to know your close ones all over again – your parents and his parents as grandparents, your partner as a dad (or mum). It took some readjusting, but now, 10 months down the line I think we’ve figured it all out.

Hopes for your family: I just want us to be happy. I don’t expect and wouldn’t want perfection, but I’d like Nova to have a secure and happy childhood and watch her grow into a fabulous lady. And I want us all to stick together through thick and thin, for better and for worse. Cause it’ll be worth it!

What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums?: Try your best to enjoy every moment you have with your little ones. A friend of mine recently posted this poem, and even though it’s incredibly cheesy it makes a really beautiful point:

“I won’t always cry, mummy, when you leave the room,
and my supermarket tantrums will end too soon.
I won’t always wake, daddy, for cuddles through the night,
& one day you will miss having a chocolate face to wipe.
You won’t always wake to find my foot is kicking you out of bed,
or find me sideways on your pillow where you want to lay your head.
You won’t always have to carry me in asleep from the car
or piggyback me down the road when my little legs can’t walk that far.
So cherish every cuddle, remember them all,
because one day, mummy, one day I won’t be this small.”

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