Child: Genevieve, 18 months
Expectations of Motherhood: I don't think I had thought beyond pregnancy to be honest. We spent four years and four rounds of IVF trying to conceive so I think for such a longtime my focus was ~getting~ pregnant. I kind of hadn't thought about what would happen once I was pregnant and once the baby arrived. I guess I had a very romanticised idea of summer walks with a pram and a cute smiley baby but no substance behind it. I knew I leaned towards *crunchy mom* but it was all a bit distant and unreal to delve into until it was really happening.
Reality of Motherhood: I've never been more exhausted or happier in my life. I'd heard about how sometimes you don't bond straight away and that it was ok and you love them as you get to know them. But that was not the case for me. As soon as I laid her against me I just adored her.
With regards to my parenting style, I've stuck to my principles but I've also learned to go with the flow and to grow a hard skin. Everyone will have an opinion on everything you do. If you have done your own research and you are confident in your choice then smile and nod and ignore them.
Taking your child home for the first time: My daughter was born at home (planned home birth). I have a very distinct memory of her first night after we all went to bed. She was laid on my left and my husband on my right and they were both snoring. It was lovely, but the novelty of that wore thin quickly.
The best/worst advice: Best advice was to hold her as much as I wanted and she wanted. Seriously, cuddle that baby. Inhale them and don't dare apologise for enjoying it. Worst advice was regarding early weaning in order to get more sleep. In fact, any advice about getting more sleep. What works for one baby won't work for them all and will just make you feel worse.
The hardest parts of being a mother: The loneliness is tough. It is something I did not foresee. Also the stress and worry; you will never be of peaceful mind again.
On a practical level I have struggled with weaning and food issues. My girl isn't big and she's not a great eater. It played on my mind for a long time that she wasn't getting enough. Then a fantastic book called 'My Child Won't Eat' was recommended to me and it really helped my mindset.
The best part/s of being a mother: How can I choose just one thing? The cuddles and snotty kisses. The wonder in her eyes when she sees things that she hasn't before. Watching her learn new things. Knowing that when she's sad she wants me and that makes it better.
When I take her out anywhere we ~always~ get people stopping to say how happy and lovely she is. That makes me want to burst with pride.
Has becoming a mother changed you: Yes. It has changed my priorities, at least for the next few years. It has made me more passionate about making the world better for my daughter. It has made me more patient and relaxed.
Hopes for your family: I would love another baby so that my girl can have someone on her team all of her life. But beyond that I want us to adventure together so that she is never afraid of doing new things alone when the time comes. I want my husband and I to demonstrate a healthy loving relationship so that she looks for the same thing and doesn't settle for less.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums? Trust your own instincts. Don't feel guilty about looking after yourself. Delegate to daddy or any other support you have. Ask for help if you need it. For anything and everything, from breastfeeding to PND.