Being ‘mum’…

Pyjamas: Desmond & Dempsey (gift). Peggy wears: Sleepsuit, £19 for a set of 4, Next. Photographs: Joe Galvin.

It still feels SO weird to be called a mum, a bit like a wife. I still feel 23 inside and not ready for this big wide world but it’s happened, I’m in it and to be honest, 8 months in with Peggy, things are great. Work/life balance doesn’t exist but hey, we’re all muddling through this life.

I don’t want to be too schmaltzy here, because things have been amazing but they also haven’t been easy. So thought I’d share a few things I learnt and found from the complete change to motherhood.

As much as I tried to plan ahead, get the house in a reasonable liveable state (we still had tarpaulin on the floor when we came back from hospital and I was painting the hall the night I went into labour), I would never have been prepared for those first few months.

The relentlessness, the all-consumingness, the realisation that life will never be the same again. I knew all of these things but it never really hits you until it happens. And of course now, I wouldn’t want it any other way but with the hormones and the vulnerability of those early months, there were times when I thought ‘what have we done’ – not about having her, but more ‘are we ready?’, ‘can we really do this?’, ‘are we going to let her down?’.

I felt so conflicted in those early days and now I know that it’s common, I feel better, but at the time you feel you’re a terrible human. I would cry because the idea of ever opening a letter or getting myself a drink or going out ever again seemed impossible. And even when people tell you it will happen, it’s so hard to believe.

It took 4-6 weeks to really connect with her, I loved her and thought she was cute but part of me still felt used and that she didn’t love me or care when I was giving her everything. Now I know that was the hormones talking. Breastfeeding came quite naturally to me (yep, I was surprised, too!) but I was an emotional wreck and felt such a burden on myself in terms of responsibility in keeping a human alive.

The hardest part for me was losing my identity…looking back it was silly but I did find it so hard – I have always been so independent and done my own thing and working for myself probably hasn’t helped, I am so used to being self sufficient and getting things done, so when I couldn’t do all those things I struggled. And then I felt guilty for feeling that way.

But flipping the discourse is a good place to start. Being a mum doesn’t define me, but being a mum is a defining part of my personality. And I’m okay with that.

Jumper: H&M (sold out). Peggy wears: Top, Zara (old). Onesie: gift from a friend.

Childbirth was really empowering. I didn’t read, watch or listen to any birth stories as I’m the type of person who watches one trailer for a scary movie and has nightmares for months. Every birth is different, so I just thought ‘what will be, will be’. And with this I went into the birthing suite with no preconceptions, and you know what?! It wasn’t that bad! Luckily, I had a very smooth birth, who knew they existed? Probably because no one tells you the good stories…but trust me, they are out there! I felt like superwoman afterwards (if a little delicate!), us women are amazing.

I’d even go as far as to say I’d do it again. Maybe.

Working around a baby has had its challenges. This is SUCH a tricky one as one the one-hand I am so lucky I get to work on my own schedule and be with my baby everyday, but part of me wishes I had a choice. As I needed to work, it is hard to be objective.

I got a lot of messages saying ‘you are amazing getting out there and still working, proving it can be done’ but honestly? It’s not something I think people should aspire to…it’s important to allow yourself to breathe, heal, watch mind-numbing crap tv, put your feet up and come to terms with your new family.

If truth be told, I had to send a sponsored Instagram from my hospital bed hours after giving birth as Peggy came early, I was contractually obliged to post and I couldn’t afford to pull out of the job. If that’s not mad, I don’t know what is – luckily I was high on oxytocin so rationality wasn’t entering into my brain at the time.

There are times when Peggy is playing and I realise I’ve been staring at my phone, or the weird feeling when I am taking photos in the street and passers-by stare as Peggy is in her pram and I think ‘what am I doing?’ but, I have to accept that I know I’m a good mum, and those 15 minutes (okay, 45) of stopping to take a photo in the street means I can spend the rest of the day being with her. So you just have to let it go…

Although we have just enrolled her into nursery one day a week, to give ourselves one pure day of work and admin and I must admit, having that day helps us get so much more done and allows us to be better parents (without our phones) when we are with her. Peggy will start nursery 2.5 days a week in the new year and as much as it scares me, I know we are all ready.

I never understood how useful Instagram stories were until I was doing those late night feeds, the community and support of social media was a real lifeline for me. Even if I didn’t message, I would watch others’ stories thinking ‘oh, she’s using a dummy to help/I wonder if that swaddle bag works/okay, she’s going through this too’ and it kept me somewhat sane. I never quite understood the power of videos through social media before but suddenly it all just clicked.

And finally, from a style point of view….breastfeeding clothes. The concept truly baffles me, I honestly didn’t buy a single thing with that label – I just pulled up a top and put a muslin over the baby and my stomach. Sometimes buttons would work but most of the time they were a faff and it was easier just to yank a top up quickly.

I found breastfeeding in public hard, mainly because just when I thought ‘cool, I’ve got this’, a man would get up from the table next door and move so I wouldn’t be embarrassed, which led me to be even more embarrassed and paranoid. And then I’d lose my focus….but on the sofa at home watching Love Island? Perfect.

Also: change bags. Again, I really don’t see the point. And they’re very expensive for essentially a wipeable bag with pockets. I bought the Sezane leopard ‘Sam’ bag whilst pregnant and remember thinking it wouldn’t be big enough, but it was more than enough! I haven’t ever had to carry that much, and what I do carry I put it into zip pouches so it’s all contained and easy to find, within my big bag. In my opinion, just buy a bag you’ll love forever and is big enough to store bottles, toys, muslins etc and you’ll be fine.

‘Buster’ toy: £23, Meri Meri.

So that’s us. Obviously I want to do a huge shout out to Chris for putting up with me those first tough months, what a champ. We still have no clue what we’re doing but we think we’ve found our rhythm, we’ve both got a sense of humour about most things and I know it sounds so cliche but Peggy just gets better and funnier everyday. Hashtag blessed.

T-shirt: Markus Lupfer (gift). Skirt: Asos (old). Trainers: Veja. Peggy wears: onesie, Maison Labiche at Alex & Alexa (gift). Leggings with tutu: £9.95, Gap Kids.

30 Comments

  1. What a gorgeous baby and you are making a fabulous mum – you should all feel very proud of yourselves becoming such a fabulous family. You have made me remember my early days of being a ‘mum’. I gave up work and became a ‘full time mum’ – it was not as easy to stay in my job and work part-time in those days. I lost my whole identity (and confidence). For 12 months I would not buy anything for myself – with not bringing any money into the house I felt that I could not buy anything for me (not even a pair of tights)! In the end my husband had to physically take our baby off me, leave her to be minded by her grandparents and march me to the shops.
    Ahhhh – happy days.

  2. Such an honest and beautiful post. Could not agree more. My little boy is 2 months older than Peggy, and i enjoy reading about your “tips and tricks” and fashion of course. Take care and best of luck 🙂

  3. Thanks for this honest piece. I am currently at home with my 7 week old girl and I’ve been feeling exactly the same. It has already gotten better and because of your blog post I finally feel like I have something to look forward to again so thanks a lot!

  4. I absolutely love this post, there are so many things that I recognise in myself. I have a 13 month old son, and really struggled to get my head around being a mum. I love that it doesn’t define me but is a defining part of my personality – I will remember that one! It is so all-consuming, especially at first you do nothing but look after them 24 hours a day… how can it not become part of you?

    ps. I agree on the changing bags too! Never bought one, just used my favourite rucksack!

  5. Candid and with so much integrity! And I love this baby Peggy, she was born on March 12th just like me, the photos with Peggy always make my day❤️

  6. Dear Alex, just want to congratulate you on what is probably the best piece you’ve ever posted. I am a 56 years young grandma who went through similar issues when I became a mum, and quite honestly, I don’t think there are many women who don’t experience the greatest life change without struggle. I love your practical FRUGAL approach to fashion, beauty and decor and really admire your taste. More importantly, I think your honesty in sharing your own life experiences is so important in the realm of social media, which is often so aspirational and unrealistic that it causes us to feel we can never be good enough.
    Thank you, Alex, for not just being an influencer, but being an encourager. Keep doing what you’re doing! All the bed to you, Chris and gorgeous wee Peggy! ❤️

  7. Such a lovely piece, thank you so much!

    Would you ever consider posting an edit of bags that could be used as change bags? Your round up would be so invaluable!

    1. This is a good idea! To be honest it would be hard as I wouldn’t be able to test for pockets etc but the thing to look out for is: a large size like a tote, pockets are good and the best thing about my leopard bag is the small strap as well as a long one. I attach mine to a clip on my buggy and the short strap means it doesn’t bash my legs as I walk! xxx

  8. I think all parents make it up as we go along! My kids are 18 and 15 now and we still have good days and bad days – hormones have a lot to answer for. My sister told me that my kids would make me laugh every day (sometimes for the wrong reasons!) and she was right. Enjoy your beautiful little family.
    xx

  9. That was a great reminder! One thing that is for sure, things always work out. All you need is to give it a little time without worrying about it all. Really, it’s the best joyride – roller coaster. And yes I totally agree with you about breastfeeding. I breastfed both of my children for 21 months and when I tried to do that in public, I soon realized that not everyone is comfortable with that. But hey, I never ever used a bottle, so there was a lot less to carry and therefore, I never bought any bag. My old ones, worked for me just fine.

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