Monday, 26 June 2017

Ellie, Lucas, Aurora and Jake


Lucas, 4,  Aurora, 2, Jake, 2 - they are twins 


Expectations of Motherhood:
Before I had Lucas, I planned to return to work after 6 months. I had a promising career in PR and communications and I didn't want to lose everything I'd worked hard for. I thought maternity leave would be so much fun - meeting new mum friends for coffee while my newborn slept peacefully in a pram. I anticipated I'd have time for hobbies, such as knitting and reading. I think my whole expectation of parenthood was based on films and TV programmes. 

Reality of Motherhood: It was like someone took the pieces of my life and threw them into the air - when they landed, my life was unrecognisable. 

When Lucas was born, I struggled to bond with him and by the time I had, I knew I wouldn't be ready to return to work as soon as I had planned. However, my post was made redundant when Lucas was 5 months old and after lots of discussion with my husband, I decided to put my career on hold and stay at home with our son. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made. 

Taking your children home for the first time:
When we took Lucas home, I kept looking behind us, sure that a midwife would come and rescue him from his clueless parents. I couldn't believe we were allowed to walk out of hospital with him! At home, we all sat and stared at him sleeping in his Moses basket (first and last time). We had no idea what we should have been doing.

Our twins were born at home in a planned water birth, so there was no 'taking home'. It was still very surreal, but I loved being at home. We put Lucas to bed, ate pizza and drank champagne.

The best/worst advice:
My dad once told me that his best parenting advice was 'fake it til you make it'. I was flabbergasted - he usually seemed to have it all together raising me as a single parent, but he was faking it! I always come back to that advice, and I think he was encouraging me to trust my instincts. 

I've had lots of poor advice, but the one thing I'm still cross about is the suggestion to buy a top and tail bowl. I cannot think of a more useless object to purchase.

The hardest parts of being a mother: T
he relentlessness. We have 3 children under 5; there is no break. We are always rushing, always on a knife-edge, and it is very difficult. For a long time I struggled with my new identity as a stay-at-home-parent. I now run 3 businesses and do some volunteer work, and this has helped me to feel like me again. Parenting is such a thankless job, isn't it?

The best parts of being a mother:
 My children. I sometimes sneak a glance at them and I cannot believe they are ours. They are little miracles, and watching them grow up is a magnificent gift. I feel incredibly lucky that we are happy, healthy, and financially secure. 

Has becoming a mother changed you?
 My priorities have changed. My family will always come first, and after being out of the workplace for 5 years, I cannot imagine returning. My previous job would have been hard to balance with a young family, and the truth is I like being there for school runs, school events, and playgroups. Some of my pre-children friends have found this hard to understand - I would have too before having my son. At the social enterprise that I run, we want to help parents to develop their skills and experience while raising young families, without sacrificing time with their children.

Hopes for your family:
I hope they are, and continue to be, happy. I hope they always know how much we love them; how hard we try, even when we don't get it right. I hope they will come to us when they are struggling, and that we will be a safe space for them.

What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums? 
Talk about how you feel. You might think you're the only one feeling overwhelmed, but you aren't! We need to talk about how hard the transition to parent can be - it is life-changing in the truest sense of the phrase. 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Katy, Joseph and Eliza

Name: Katy 

Joseph, 3 years old, Eliza, 11 days old

Heaton Chapel

Expectations of Motherhood:
I thought I had a pretty good idea of how much my life would change when I became a mummy. I think I'd been told pretty much on a daily basis (especially whilst at work) how much of a shell shock it could be. I still had my own fantasy though, Sitting serenely with my little baby, cuddling for hours on end!

Reality of Motherhood:
It was a shell shock! I'd managed to stay fairly laid back during the pregnancy and birth of Joseph, but as soon as the reality set in that he was actually mine, I did my own head in! 

I work as a midwife so I had an internal conflict going on between my Mummy brain and my Midwife brain. I'd read the textbooks but clearly my baby hadn't! The breastfeeding went a bit pear shaped, and I felt so guilty for supplementing with formula and then giving up completely a few moths down the line. I felt in a way that my body had let me down at the last minute, I'd been able to grow and bring a baby into the world but then to not be able to nourish him completely was devastating. That combined with issues with healing after the birth and then my mum being diagnosed with a brain tumour when Joseph was 6 weeks old meant that my mood was on a downward spiral. Eventually, not being able to see me cry any more, my lovely brave mum marched me off to the GP! It was so hard to admit how I was feeling. It felt like I should have been able to just cope with it all, like somehow I should have been immune to postnatal depression because of my job. 

Which is ridiculous I know! After starting on antidepressants I slowly started to feel brighter again, and more like myself. I began to bond with Joseph more, and I suddenly got loads of motivation to get out and about. I joined a postnatal fitness class where Joseph came with me in the pram, we did lots of mum and baby classes and we met up regularly with a group of local mums who were all so lovely and non-judgemental. 

I really loved my year off with Joseph in the end and I was sad to have to go back to work and leave him. We are really lucky in a way that because my husband and I work shifts, we are able to work alternate days and therefore not have to fork out for childcare. It helped with the anxiety off leaving Joseph too as I knew he would be perfectly fine with Daddy. (They love their boys days!) After a few weeks of settling back into work I decided to wean off my antidepressants (with my GP's support). Thankfully I've continued to be on a good place since then. 

Second time round I think I'm more chilled out about it all. Not that I'm saying I've got it all sussed out yet (Eliza's not even 2 weeks old as I'm writing this!) but I'm determined to try and just go with the flow. We've been hit by more feeding issues after the dreaded tongue-tie strikes again, We are persevering but just taking one day at a time. I had such a positive birth experience and I've felt so well physically after Eliza's birth, I think that has played a major part of how I'm feeling in my mood. And when you feel happier in yourself I think it's easier to cope with what life can throw at you. 

Taking your children home for the first time: After seeing hundreds of women go home with their new babies, all bundled up in their shiny new car seats, it's so surreal to be doing it yourself. When we brought Joseph home from the hospital I felt like I'd literally stolen a baby from work! I kept looking for reassurance, like, 'Are you sure I'm allowed to be doing this?' 

With Eliza it was a little more, I don't want to say stressy, maybe busy! Not only did we have a newborn to wrestle into a car seat, but we had Joseph with us too! He's such a good boy, but very curious. The moment our back was turned he was nearly diving into the clinical waste bin! 'Ooh mummy, what's in here?!' We managed it though and it was so nice to get home and begin our new lives as a family of four. 

The hardest parts of being a mother: The hardest part of being a mother for me is the guilt; the constant worrying and second guessing whether I'm doing the right thing or not. I mentioned above that we don't have Joseph in a nursery or with a childminder. It would have been logistically difficult for us to get him there and pick him up with us both working antisocial hours, and obviously cost was a big factor. 

It's been lovely to spend so much time with him, but I've found myself feeling so guilty about it. Was he missing out on interaction with other children and adults other than us? Was I holding him back? Was I going to delay his development? It sometimes feels like you can't do right for doing wrong. 

The best/worst advice: The best advice I was given was to ignore everyone's advice! As soon as you tell anyone your expecting you get bombarded with well meaning advice. I think it's a case of listening to everything and trying to work out what works for you as a family. And what works at one point might not work at a later stage. So for us it's been about being fluid. 

I can't actually think what's the worst advice. What I think is a stupid idea, someone might think is a genius one! 

The best parts of being a mother: The best part of being a mummy has to be the unbelievable love. I'm head over heels in love with my hubby but my goodness, the love I feel for my little ones is something else. The feeling that you'd do absolutely anything for them. I didn't feel it right away with Joseph, and that was another thing I felt guilty about! But it grew and grew. The early days are so hard when you feel like your giving absolutely everything of yourself to this little being, and all they do is eat, poop and sleep (sometimes!) in return. But when they start to give a little back, that's when it gets really good! Even if it's just a little windy smile or now Joseph is a little older, when he says something cute like, 'Aw mummy, your so beautiful' it just melts my heart! 

Has becoming a mother changed you? Absolutely! It's hard to remember what life was like before having the little ones. In a good way! I think it's changed me at work too. I'm not saying for the better, that always got on my nerves when people say you've got to have kids to be a good midwife. But it has certainly changed the way I talk to parents now. I think having gone through it myself and totally feeling like I was bumbling along with it all, I want to give new mums and dads that reassurance that's it's ok to feel that way too.

Hopes for your family: I hope that we settle into our new lives as a family of four. That they grow up to be happy and healthy in whatever direction they choose to go in. Who knows we might even add one more into the mix!

What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: Enjoy it, be present in it all. (I'm guilty of not following my own advice here!) listen to everyone's opinions, smile and then do your own thing with what feels right for you.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Helen and Maeby


Child: Maeby, 20 months

Location: Levenshulme

Expectations of Motherhood: Honestly, I thought I'd be pretty crap - or, if not crap, exactly, then I thought I'd find the transition a lot harder than I did. Which is not to say I've found it easy, far from it, but let's just say I had (fairly justifiably, based on 30-odd years of prior experience!) low expectations of my ability to act unselfishly when I needed to.

I've also got a pretty chequered mental health history and I was fairly certain that would come to the fore in the form of post-natal depression and was somewhat bracing myself for the worst. Thankfully education around mental health issues in motherhood is very much better than it used to be and I was supported throughout my pregnancy and made to feel like support would be there if I needed it when the baby came. 

All of that was coupled with a sense of fear about my ability to love my baby - I think a lot of people harbour secret doubts as to whether they will really be capable of loving a child - pregnancy feels so abstract and the testimonials of what comes after seem to veer so wildly between gushing and horrific it feels completely impossible to get a grip on what the reality will actually be *like*. All of that makes you wonder why on earth I wanted to have a baby...and honestly, I don't know, reading that back! 

I love my partner very much and we enjoy each others' company immensely, I think we wanted to let someone else in to enjoy the fun we have, but all of the above should signal that I went into the whole thing with some serious trepidation.

Reality of Motherhood: As a caveat to what I am about to say I want to be clear that I know I have been very lucky - and I want to emphasise that I am aware it is pure luck - the vast majority of women don't have the experience that I have had and that's not down to anything they or I have done differently, it's just the luck of the draw and for no discernible reason I came out of that well.

So with that's been the most enjoyable thing I have ever done. I was induced at term because of some minor, low-risk complications in the pregnancy and for me that translated into a short labour that was painful but well managed with medication and from that point onward I became a walking example of every cliche I had ever heard about birth and motherhood. 

No post natal depression ever materialised and I fell in love with Maeby almost immediately and that love, mixed with some kickass hormones doing their thing for the first few months, meant that any abandonment of selfishness happened without me really noticing - all of a sudden I became utterly focused on my child and her needs. Of course there were difficult nights and utter exhaustion but it just seemed so completely inconsequential when set against the joy of her - seeing her grow, feeling her weight, watching my partner blossom into a truly exceptional father. 

About three months into my pregnancy I posted on mumsnet (first mistake, right there) that I was irritated that someone had told me having a child would be, "the best thing you will ever do" (as opposed to my professional or personal achievements that didn't just require some unprotected sex to get off the ground) and got an unsurprising amount of ire back in return. Now I get it. I have done and will do many more things in my life that make me proud but none of them will make me feel like this. 

On the flip side of this parental bliss, within a few months of being on maternity leave I had also learned some truths about myself - namely that I am someone who needs mental stimulation in the form of work in order to be happy in the home - that's a nice way to say I was climbing the walls and grateful at the end of my mat leave. That's OK and it's not selfish - I am a far better mother for being happy in myself and work is a big part of that for me personally (but not for everyone and not everyone has the privilege of being able to work that I do either).

Taking your child home for the first time: Because of my complications me and Maeby stayed in overnight after she was born so we'd already had a night alone together on the ward - which began in fine style as she filled her first nappy precisely 30 seconds after my mum and partner left to get some sleep and at the exact moment I realised I'd never changed a nappy. I think that might be a good metaphor for new motherhood in itself. 

I muddled through, with the help of a kindly nurse who told me that, no, the tabs aren't meant to have actual glue on them but promised me they would work anyway. I was dubious then and I remain so today. 

Maeby was born at the end of May and overnight there was a big summer storm with thunder and lightening - she mostly slept and fed through the night but I was too wired to sleep so I watched it raging from the window and felt simply amazed at the world. 

We were told we were ready to be discharged by lunchtime but there was a staff shortage and being the good middle class NHS lovers we are we kept telling the staff to take their time...we were discharged at 3am. Taxi home and my lovely mum had stocked our fridge with food so we took a picnic to bed and just stared and stared and stared at our little friend.

The best/worst advice: The best advice came from the many wonderful mothers in my life: do what you want. There is so much weight put on the importance of ensuring you're doing the right thing at all times but every kid is different, every mum is different, every day is different, and everyone's definition of "right" is different - if it works and you're happy don't beat yourself up about it. Also buy lots of biscuits and store up the box sets of stuff you want to watch for the post birth month - makes getting up at 3am almost pleasurable.

The worst advice is something I've heard pedalled time and time again - "sleep when they sleep". The problem with that is that you don't know how long they're going to sleep for - I've always wished that babies would display some sort of digital countdown-to-wakeup clock once they're asleep so you could at least decide whether to bother starting something instead of convincing yourself they're just about to wake up and sitting on the sofa for three hours (not in itself a bad thing, but frustrating when you've lots to do). 

When you're truly sleep deprived the definition of hell is following the "sleep when they sleep" advice, closing your eyes for five minutes only to be woken up - yet again - by a screaming child. No. Just, no.

The hardest parts of being a mother:
The not knowing: not knowing if you will get a decent night's sleep; not knowing if you will have a battle on your hands or a pleasant evening; not knowing if it's worth spending thousands of pounds on a family holiday or whether you should stay at home because you'll be miserable and/or ill; but most of all the not knowing - ever - if you're doing the right thing by them. 

To go back to the work analogy - if I have a work project that I am passionate about I will throw everything I can at making sure that I understand the implications of every action on that project, with kids you can't do that and I am far more passionate than I ever have been about anything at work. It kills me.

The best parts of being a mother:
Seeing my little scrap emerging into this funny, interested, imaginative little person - nothing beats it. Something that's surprised me is the camaraderie amongst parents, online and in person - I'm a member of several groups in both spaces which have genuinely helped when I needed it most.

Has becoming a mother changed you?
Yes. I am a determined person but having Maeby has somehow galvenised that determination and I am much more action-orientated. I am far more patient, by necessity, and I am far more driven to make things happen and do good work. I'm not sure how much of that is *for* her and how much is resultant from the experience of bringing her into the world and recognising that, despite my misgivings, I am actually very good at loving her.

Hopes for your family: Cliche alert: when I was pregnant I remember describing to a friend how I hoped she would be funny, clever, brave etc and my friend interjected with a gentle nudge "..and happy?". I dismissed that because I didn't realise how much it would come to mean to me - it's all I want - for her to be happy - what we do as a familly is all motivated by that at it's heart. In a way it's given me a purpose I think I lacked before.

What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums?:
Oh my god, just do what works for you! If you want to breastfeed, if you can't breastfeed, if you want to use disposable nappies, if you want to stay at home, if you want or even need to go back to work three weeks after they're born: it. Is. Fine. 

You being happy is going to have far more bearing on how happy they are than whether they eat organic food or not - just concentrate on that and the rest will fall into place. And remember that anyone who offers you advice only has their experience - their children (or not!) - to base that advice on - it's not the law, it's just what worked for them, if it doesn't work for you it doesn't mean you've failed, it means your kid is a glorious, frustrating little person all of their very own.

Helen is one of the founder directors of Levenshulme Market and for a day job work in communications for The University of Manchester.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Olly and Genevieve

Name: Olly 

Child: Genevieve, 18 months

Location: Cheadle

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.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Java and Gryffin

Name: Java

Gryffin, 11 months

Old Trafford

Expectations of Motherhood:
As soon as people found out I was pregnant they would exclaim, 'You will never sleep again!'. So this was my main expectation. 

I felt like I was preparing myself for a tornado, but somehow, nothing can ever quite prepare you for the sheer and utter madness of the first few months. I was also very scared that my child wouldn't like me and vice versa. In a very hormonal, overdue state I googled which star sign my baby was likely to be. He would most likely be an Aries. I then googled 'famous Aries' and one of the first results was Adolf Hitler. I think I must have been quite emotionally charged at the time, as this felt like an ominous sign so I poured myself a shower and sobbed for an hour. 

I have a very close relationship with my own mother but we have had quite dramatic ups and downs so this possibly contributed to my fear of parenthood. I also found it hard to believe that we would ever have a healthy child as we had a late stage termination with our first baby in 2014. She was a little girl and we named her Alma. She had an interrupted aortic arch in her heart and was diagnosed with DiGeorge syndrome. We chose to end her life at 24 weeks and gave birth to her tiny body at St Mary's hospital. The idea of having a healthy child seemed impossible at times. Overall, I felt fearful.

Reality of Motherhood:
I was correct. I have barely slept more than two hours at a time in 11 months. But what I wasn't prepared for was the overwhelming love and joy I feel hanging out with this hilarious human that has appeared in our life. I couldn't ever have imagined how deeply I would love him. It hurts my heart when I look at him inspecting his peas on his plate and babbling earnestly about something or other and pointing out the buttons on my shirt. I have chosen not to return to work (a combination of childcare costs and feeling ready to move on from my previous work), so being a full time stay at home mum means that I am at the 24 hour mercy of another person's whims and desires. The days often feel long and repetitive and occasionally I feel deeply bored, but there is also much delight in the small moments. Moments when Gryff tries a new food, or learns how to open a drawer or decides that being chased is the most hilarious thing to ever happen to him. These moments stop me in my tracks and remind me how lucky I am to witness them. And the laundry. No-one can prepare you for the laundry, especially if you use reusable nappies. 

Taking your child home for the first time:
We had Gryffin at home as we had hoped. He was born at the bottom of our bed in the midday sunlight. Unfortunately I had bad tearing so an ambulance took us to the hospital shortly after and we had to stay there for six hours while I was sewn up and the midwives helped me latch Gryffin onto my breast. 

When we returned home I was nervous to be left alone with him. I hadn't yet felt the surge of love that so many mothers describe, I was nervous of him and felt awkward around this person I didn't know. I was confused as to why he couldn't simply 'be'. He was either asleep or awake and crying or trying to feed but failing. We would sing to him, rock him and dance with him but the only thing that could calm him was 'All Night Long' by Lionel Richie and it still works eleven months later. 

Three days after he was born I was sat staring at him in bed and suddenly realised that one day he would leave home and I started crying uncontrollably. I think the love hormones had finally started to kick in.

The best advice: The best advice I have received and keep on coming back to in moments of doubt is to find your own way as a mother. I am highly skilled at comparing myself to others and endlessly worry that other mothers are far more attentive/fun/creative/careful etc etc etc. But it is so true that you just need to do what you need to do to get through the hard times and try and retain a smidge of your sanity and keep your baby safe. There are as many ways to mother as there are mothers and children. 

Also, to visit a cranial osteopath. Gryffin cried endlessly for the first six weeks until we took him to see a cranial osteopath and after six sessions he was a different baby. It's easy to forget that the birth process can also be a traumatic experience for the baby and they can experience injuries. I'm not entirely sure what the osteopath did, but it worked. Gryffin has been so much happier since. 

The worst advice: The old 'You're creating a rod for your own back' adage. I understand it but I don't necessarily agree with the principle. I co-sleep with Gryffin and feed on demand. We never decided that we would 'follow' attachment parenting, I only found out that it was a style of parenting once I was doing it. It's not right for everybody but it works for us. If your instinct is leading you somewhere with your baby, it's most likely that you know best.

The hardest parts of being a mother: The lack of sleep has been (and still is) very hard. It affects your mental health, your tolerance levels, your ability to be patient..all the things that are pretty necessary to be a warm and loving mother! I find it extraordinary how many times I have truly believed that I cannot give another ounce of my being and then somehow...carried on. 

And knowing that Gryffin will be hurt is deeply upsetting. I try not to think about the heartache he will go through once he starts to understand the world in a more sophisticated way. The current political situation is weighing heavily on my mind for his future.

The best parts of being a mother:
The warm, cosy, deep bond Gryff and I have. Today it took me an hour to get him down for a nap and I felt like I was losing my mind, but then he slept next to me for a while and when he woke up he was soft and rumpled and delighted to see me. He lay back on my legs and babbled about something very important in the dim light of the bedroom. My heart was brimming over and I felt so lucky.

Also, after giving birth my body simultaneously felt like it belonged to a seventy year old who had been in a car crash and the body of a warrior/super hero/feral beast. It was pretty incredible to know I had grown a human and pushed him out, I felt so invincible that I then ate some of my placenta raw in a smoothie. It felt fitting after having done something so powerful. Whenever I feel nervous or anxious I try and remind myself that I can be incredibly strong and the birth is a perfect reminder.

Has becoming a mother changed you? I feel that the world sees me in a different way. To some people I am invisible as a body behind a pram, and to others I am now a valid member of society because I have started my own family. I find this disconcerting.

I am still struggling with my shift in identity, figuring out which parts of me remain now that I no longer do the job I used to do, socialise in the way I once did or wear the clothes I have packed away for a distant day in the future. What of me remains, who am I now? I spend my days hanging out with a soon to be toddler playing with bricks and the sock drawer. In the evenings I go to bed at 7pm with Gryffin (because he won't sleep without me and I can't bare to let him cry) and watch tv on the iPad. Who does that make me? 

Hopes for your family:
I hope that we can offer Gryffin a firm enough foundation to allow him to grow with confidence and security. I would like him to feel safe within his family and to understand the importance of generosity, kindness and celebration. We would like to have another child so that he can have a sibling for him to moan to about us when we are old farts.

What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums? Embrace it, embrace the pregnancy, embrace the early days and surrender to them. I felt pressured to get back to 'normal' and cook meals, hoover and run errands while Gryffin was tiny despite it feeling impossible. I wish I hadn't put that pressure on myself. It is a precious time and I'm only just starting to realise that it's one of the fundamentals of being alive. Not the only one, there are many, but it is certainly a very joyous and beautiful one.

Other info:
We had a termination when our first baby was 24 weeks in the womb. Making that decision broke my heart and affected me profoundly. Even though our baby wasn't alive I had become a mother, so when friends around us started having babies I felt a lot of bitterness and jealousy that they were recognised as mothers because they had a baby in their arms. We named her Alma. We buried her ashes on my favourite hill in Glossop. Her brief visit taught me about love in a way I hadn't experienced before. Our son Gryffin was born exactly a year after her due date in March. I wrote about the abortion on my blog as I struggled to find anything online about people's experiences regarding late stage termination. I think there's still a lot of taboo surrounding it. The incredible thing is that once friends and family started to find out what had happened, so many got in touch and shared their stories. Being honest about the painful stuff can be incredibly powerful.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Nabilah and Effie

Name: Nabilah

Effie, Months

Location: Glossop
Expectations of Motherhood:
 I thought I had been around enough friends and family who have had children to give me an idea of what to expect. My partner has 2 children who stay with us part-time so I was used to having children around the house, and I had just about started to cope with this, so I thought I had a good idea of what was coming…….. How wrong I was. 

Reality of Motherhood: Motherhood is by far the hardest, most tiring and challenging thing I have ever done. It is also the most satisfying, enjoyable and fulfilling thing I have ever done. I now know I wasn’t prepared for how much my life was about to change. 

When you lie there looking at your baby and your heart could explode with how much love you have for her, knowing she is now your world. What you get back is worth it all.

Taking your child home for the first time: I was terrified and anxious. My partner had asked if we could go home the same day, I prayed for the midwife to say no, and thankfully she did. I needed a night under the watchful eye of the experts - surely they would give me some sort of test before I took this precious thing home to look after myself. 

The best/worst advice: The Worst advice was start as you mean to go on with baby; get into a routine asap and try to get out and about as soon as possible. 

The hardest parts of being a mother: The unknown…. not knowing if you’re doing a good job, should you be doing something different, the lack of sleep, and the guilty feeling you get if you need timeout for yourself. 

The best parts of being a mother: All of it. Especially when she looks up at me and smiles or puts her hands out for a cuddle. I feel blessed that something so amazing as Effie has come into my world. 

Has becoming a mother changed you:
 More than I ever imagined. 
My worries are different, obviously, and my priorities have changed. I don’t remember life much before Effie. 

Hopes for your family: That we grow stronger together, having a great relationship and trusting each other. I hope to give Effie all that she needs and be the best I can be for her. 

What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: Trust your instincts. You know your baby better than anyone else. Don’t compare yourselves to new mums and your baby to new babies, you are individuals learning from each other.