Hi I’m Hannah, a first time Maman.
Kate asked me to share with you a few things that have surprised me about motherhood so far. I thought it made sense to start with my pregnancy.
I’m not sure what I expected but I found the whole thing pretty tough. In my head, I naively thought I would just get a lovely baby bump and that was would be it. The fact was my lovely bump came with various ailments including SPD and a very bad back. This made my job as a visual merchandiser pretty difficult and I ended up counting down the days until my maternity leave started (at 36 weeks).
Ah maternity leave… my expectations were enjoying lovely long walks, lunch with friends and a lot of sleep. In reality I was now too enormous to actually drive let alone walk. I spent most of the days before baby arrived watching Netflix in an enormous heap on the sofa. I was too uncomfortable to sleep and had to venture to the loo at least once an hour. To top it off, I was also told I would most definitely be early. I was 12 days late…
The baby that kept us waiting so long was our wonderful little girl Ottilie (definitely worth the wait!). We found out we were having a girl at our 20 weeks scan but managed to keep it a secret until her birth which made it extra exciting to announce.
Labour and just after
My vision of a natural water birth soon disappeared 24 hours into my labour when I asked for all the drugs. I ended up having an emergency section after 50 hours and my enormous daughter was born. 8lbs 15oz and I’m only 5ft!
I hadn’t really planned on having a caesarean so didn’t know much about the recovery. I thought I would have been home fairly quickly but ended up spending 6 days in hospital. The first few days were awful; will I ever be able to cough/sneeze/walk upright again? I couldn’t pick Ottilie up or even reach her from my bed. Our bodies are pretty amazing though and by day 4 I was changing nappies in the night and able to walk, albeit very slowly, around. I’ve slowly recovered (and still am) from the surgery. There’s no quick fix, I thought I would have felt “normal” by now but actually everything is still a bit uncomfortable. As I’ve been told by many people, 9 months of growing a baby and 9 months of recovering.
Boy that stuff gets everywhere! We have a new addition in our bathroom; a permanent bowl of stain remover! It’s also the go-to topic of many conversations, if you meet another mama I swear you will be talking about poo within the first 10 minutes and that soon becomes a very normal thing to do.
I knew I would love my baby but I didn’t realise it would feel like it does. It’s a different kind of love, an all-encompassing wonderful feeling. I miss her when she sleeps, I look at photos of her while she’s feeding. I went to the local shop for 15 minutes the other day and made my husband send me photos. You can be having a crap day on a thimble-full of sleep and with just one look she can change my mood. She is definitely never getting a significant other and will live with us forever.
This started when I was pregnant. Feeling guilty if I ate the wrong thing (Hello daily triple-chocolate muffin!). I thought I’d be one of those extra healthy organic pregnant ladies. I wasn’t. Then once they arrive you constantly wish you could do more for them. You’re forever thinking:
- Shit, I’ve not read a story tonight
- She’s been in her bouncer for way too long
- Oh god, how long has she been in that wet nappy?
- She’s crying but I really need a wee/to hang the wet washing up/ to eat etc. etc..
I’m not sure this guilt will ever fully leave me, but you know you’re doing the best you can and her smile keeps you going.
I have zero experience with babies and have thus never dressed one. Trying to wrangle Ottilie into a pair of tights or get her arms into ANYTHING is so difficult. I was very careful and extra tentative the first few weeks and it took me forever to get her changed. She’s a bit easier now, or maybe I’ve got better. I’m not looking forward to the rolling over/ crawling stage… she’ll probably just have to be naked all the time.
Getting stuff done
I thought everything would take a bit longer but this is another level! If you need to be somewhere at 10 start getting ready at 8 or maybe even 7 to make sure. I swear if everything’s going well and you’re all set to leave there will be a ‘poonami’, or she’ll need feeding, or my boobs will leak everywhere.
Also forget about just ‘popping’ somewhere, ‘popping’ will almost certainly leave your vocabulary or be redefined as: Popping (verb) – taking 3 hours to go somewhere, covered in poo and someone will be in tears.
Now this hadn’t even crossed my mind but is a common theme among my mama friends. Let me set the scene: It’s 5:03am, baby wakes up for food, you spend over an hour getting them back to sleep, you use your ninja moves to get them into their Moses basket and quietly sneak your way back into bed. Cue husband’s alarm… it blasts like a foghorn and wakes up baby. Angry whisper shouting and elbowing in back ensues.
I thought I would feel so uncomfortable doing this but I am super lucky that I’ve found it so easy, the awkwardness of getting your boobs out in public vanishes fairly quickly. It was tricky to start (I literally got milked by the nurse in hospital) but by 4 weeks old I was feeding Ottilie in an Indian restaurant and it felt normal. I’d thought about nursing clothes, but maybe not in enough detail. Some clothes lend themselves to breastfeeding but it’s quite tricky when you’re trying to be discreet and lift up a million layers of t-shirt and jumper. Also you get used to the milk patches and leakiness. Heaven forbid you forget breast pads and go out in public. They become a staple of your changing bag and it’s always funny when one pops out and lands on the café floor.
As I’ve tried to depict, the whole thing was and is a bit of a surprise! You can read all the books and go to all the classes (we did both extensively) but something will definitely happen that you are unprepared for. There is no right way of doing things and when you think you’ve got it right something will change. But that’s ok because we’re all just doing our best and that’s enough.
It’s easy, just be prepared for unpreparedness!
A Guest Blog from Hannah Giddings
Hannah is a first-time Mama living in the beautiful Five Valleys, Gloucestershire, in a post baby bubble with her husband Joe and 12 week-old daughter Ottilie.
Hannah is a fashion and textiles graduate currently on maternity leave from her job as a visual merchandiser. She has a passion for design, fashion and travel. These passions are artistically portrayed alongside candid snaps of life with a new baby via her Instagram.