This week's 'what I have learnt' comes from my friend Kimberlee. I first met Kimberlee when she contacted me on twitter early into my pregnancy kindly offering to lend me some of her old maternity clothes. Since then she has also helped me learn to knit (i've made a scarf so far) and we try to meet regularly at Knit Club! She is also the lady behind 'The Homemade Mama' which we ordered cakes from for my recent baby shower (they are seriously good!).
Kimberlee has been through so much in her journey to becoming a mama and I'm always taken aback by how strong and together she is. Thanks Kimberlee for sharing your story!
What i have learnt since becoming a mother
I have always assumed that i would be a mother at some point in my life, and if you had asked me in my early twenties i would have said that i wanted a successful career, to buy a house, get married and travel before having my 2 children. You see i had a plan that i have decided my life was going to follow and I was going to do everything i could to stick to it. I wanted to be one of those women who had it all without having to compromise, because that's what i was raised to want. You see I was raised pretty much single handedly by my mum who made so many personal sacrifices for my sister and I and as a result we never wanted for anything except maybe more time with her because she worked long hours away from home. Her determination to provide us with financial stability and all the home comforts had led her to work her way up the corporate ladder and she had a very successful career as a result. She wanted the same for me, and really encouraged me to strive for greatness, which i did. I got excellent A-levels, a brilliant degree and went on to do a Masters, educationally i achieved all that i could. I went on to get a good well paid job and in my spare time i ran marathons for fun! I was the definition of a modern successful young woman. Things were going to plan. But then life stopped following the plan that i had laid out for myself, and it wasn't something i really knew how to deal with…..i began to fail. In my mid-twenties I fell ill after contracting the measles virus and was left with epilepsy, as a result I was also now without a job. Since then i have also had 3 miscarriages, each one more crushing and heartbreaking than the last. My plan had well and truly gone wrong!
However this is where things changed and i started to learn a valuable lesson: Life is so much better when you stop trying to follow plans and start trying to make the best of every moment that you have! I had given up hope of ever becoming a mother or having any of the things i had dreamed of, i was in full self-loathing mode because I had failed to achieve what i assumed would be the easiest part of my life plan: To fall pregnant and carry my baby to term. Yet even though my mister an I weren't trying to have a baby I found out only 6 weeks after my last miscarriage that i was pregnant again. It wasn't planned but I then carried my son Henry to term, something that i hadn't thought possible after so many failed attempts. However the journey from conception to birth of course didn't go to plan. Our 20 week scan showed Henry's heart was abnormal. I spiralled in to panic fearing the worst, however he is fine. He has Mesocardia, which means his heart is centrally positioned but structurally and functionally fine. The heart specialist told us that our son was not 'normal' just 'a little different'. It was scary facing the prospect of having a child who would be born ill and maybe not survive, however it made us realise very early on that we would love this little boy no matter what happened. Plans didn't matter, making sure that was was loved and happy did. We threw ourselves in to getting ready for his arrival, for me this meant reading very single book available before having him in an attempt to be a good mother and get everything right. I thought i had it all planned out even down to the labour! The books tell you that a first time mother will be in labour for a minimum of 12 hours and to pack food and music to keep you going, so that's what i did! We rocked on up to the hospital with a picnic basket full of goodies and a 24 hour labour playlist on my iPhone…..i knew what i was doing! Once again Henry showed me that you can't plan life….he shot out in just over 5 hours meaning that i didn't get time to eat any of my picnic or listen to any music because i was too busy actually having my baby!
From the moment Henry was conceived he has shown me that doing things your own way and at your own pace makes life so amazing! All of those books that i thought i needed to succeed as a mother are untouched since his arrival, all of the advice that people thought i needed to know is unused. My son is his own person, with his own needs, no book can tell me what he wants, nobody else has had the privilege of raising him so they cannot know what is best for him! I have learnt to throw away the rule books & plans that were so full of unnecessary pressure & unachievable targets and just start trusting my instincts. People will often question the decisions you make as a mother, whether it regards how you feed your child, how you care for them or whether you chose to go back to work. However I am still breastfeeding, I have adopted an attachment parent approach to caring for Henry and i am trying to start my own little business. None of this was planned, it's just been a natural progression that has felt right for the whole family at this time. It may not be right for others or even for me in the future however it's what needs to be done now. I look at my happy 9 month old son who is learning new things everyday not because it's part of any plan or written in any book, but because that's what he wants and needs to do now, and i know that because he changes so quickly i have to forget plans and just enjoy our time together now. I know that the pressure can be put on mothers and babies to keep up with the crowd and 'be the best' but my experiences as a mother has taught me not to compare Henry to other babies or myself to other mothers. Every baby is so different regardless of what many of the pregnancy and parenting books tell you, and you just have to love and support them and have faith that they will show you when they are ready for the next change, development or adventure that you experience together.
My son is an amazing little person with a fighting spirit who from the word go was here to show me that life is so much better and full of beauty when things don't go to plan and as a result my life is so much more exciting and enjoyable since he came in to it!