Child: Eden, 10 months
Location: Burnage, Manchester
Expectations of Motherhood: I expected motherhood to be easier, but then again I expected it to be harder. I expected motherhood to be full of gurgles and love but I'd only ever known this expectation as an observer, so when I was THE MOTHER, I couldn't believe how each gurgle broke my heart and how the love I felt was more than I had ever experienced before (sorry husband!). I also wasn't prepared for the sisterhood that I found. I thought that motherhood would be far more isolating. However, having a baby connected me on a deeper level to some incredible women (and their partners).
Reality of Motherhood: The reality of motherhood for me changes on a weekly basis. Some weeks it's all...sick and changing nappies. Then it's sleeplessness. Then it's struggling to get a shower or brush my teeth. Then it was hair loss. Then it was marvelling at huge developments in Eden's ability. Then it was teething. Then it was remembering to feed another human being other than myself. Each time I nailed one reality, a new one would begin and it was a process for me having to deal with that one too! Other than the practicalities of being a new mum, the emotional reality was (and is) at times too much to put in to words. There was all of a sudden a person that I couldn't stop staring at, smiling at, crying at, just being completely in love with, which made all of the former realities vetoed. If I were to paint a picture of me in early motherhood, it would be me sitting on my bed, in my husband's t-shirt (maybe leaking from my bra), aching with tiredness but smiling like a maniac. I am surprised that I'm still married.
Taking your children home for the first time: I will forever remember the drive home from the hospital. Eden had terrible forcep marks on her face from birth and this kept us in hospital for longer than we would have liked and it was quite a traumatic experience. However, leaving the hospital, I felt like we'd escaped and I even kept looking back to the hospital as we drove away wondering if the midwives were chasing behind the car. But walking through our garden gate and up to our house, I felt like an intruder walking in on my old life. It was my home but I didn't recognise it. I remember saying things like 'Eden this is your home! This is where we live! Welcome home!" But all these words felt foreign. Just seeing her in our house felt so bizarre and it took a few days for my raging hormones to adjust to our new set-up. She felt so small and I felt so responsible, and rightly so, but everything was just so new that I could not prepare for any of my feelings. All of a sudden, I felt I had grown up.
The best/worst advice: The best advice that I got was through my hypnobirthing instructor and that was to trust my body. Your body knows best. The most incredible part of being a mother is childbirth. It is an experience so intense and so powerful that you have nothing you can do except trust your body. I feel like this affirmation has crept in to my brain since childbirth, on days where I have been running on 3 hours sleep or I have felt like crying for no reason. Trust your body, go with it and you'll come out the other side just fine.
The worst piece of advice that I ever received was "olive oil cures all newborn skin problems'... so off we went to purchase some olive oil and slathered it on her skin... What they meant was special olive oil for skin, not Marks & Spencer extra virgin. Who knew?!
The hardest parts of being a mother:
The hardest part of being a mother is probably twofold.
1. Give yourself a BREAK. Not just a 5 minute break to get a hot cuppa and social media catch-up. But a pat-on-the-back-you're-doing-an-awesome-job BREAK. Pre-motherhood, I was very critical of myself so I feared for my sanity as I entered motherhood but strangely I found an inner peace once I'd had Eden. She is my harshest critic; if i'm being shit, she'll let me know. But then again, if i'm being awesome then it's smiles and giggles all round! Hooray!
2. Give yourself a BREAK. Happy wife...Happy life?! Well, happy mum... If I'm run down and stressed then I'll make a crappy dinner, sulk in front of the TV once Eden is in bed and probably have a bad night's sleep. Where as if I've been kind to myself then I am on form...and the rest is history.
The best parts of being a mother:
There are no limits to the great parts of being a mama but I'd say the overarching thing has to be LOVE. The love for your new child, the love for your partner (even if it's a little harder to locate at times), the love for your body. My strongest and fondest memory of early motherhood was when Eden was crying and I just could not work out what was wrong, she was fed, burped, clean, and then I picked her up and she nestled her head in to my chest; I realised that she just wanted me. I had to keep reminding myself that I was her world. She didn't know that I was a new mum and that all this was new to me; she just wanted to be in her safe place and that was with me.
Has becoming a mother changed you: It was given me wider eyes, I see things differently now and I cry at everything. Becoming a mother allowed me to be the person that I always wanted to be. I realised that i'd let jobs and other mundane crap block who I really was, and then when I had Eden, I had the time to let all my barriers down and just be me. There was no time to pretend.
Eden inspired me to start up my business whilst on mat leave and without her I wouldn't have realised that I had the potential in me to do it! (www.acornandpip.com)
Hopes for your family: I hope Eden takes after my husband; funny and charismatic. I hope we get a dog. I hope we have more children (I think i'm a little obsessed with kids now). I hope my new business does well.
I set up an email account for Eden when she was born and occasionally I send her a little email or some photos (thanks to the Google advert for the idea!). I really hope that she opens the email account in years to come and understands where her dad and I are coming from. I hope that in amongst all of gooey, lovey-dovey-ness of the emails, she sees that all we want for her is to be happy in life.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: I don't feel in a position to give anyone good advice as I see my wonderful friends raising their babies differently to me but they are doing the most incredible jobs. I suppose this in itself leads to a piece of good advice (sorry!); trust in your own ability to raise your child. My love is all that Eden has ever known and I love her more than anything, so this in itself means I am doing a good job... right?
Visit Lucy's site www.acornandpip.com