“I honestly don’t remember when it started to fall into place. I just made sure to remember how horrible I found it so it wasn’t a shock for number two.” Anna Whitehouse – Mother Pukka – mum-of-one, soon to be two, on the sleep deprived early days…
Anna Whitehouse, 35, lives in Leyton, east London, with her husband Matt and their three-year-old daughter Mae. She’s five months pregnant with their second baby. She’s the founder of Mother Pukka.
“I planned on having a family in a way. I always had it in the back of my mind but ignored the practicalities. I’ve written a lot about miscarriage. Loss was a big part of our journey towards having Mae and getting pregnant this time round.
Mae’s birth was swift. It was a c-section and over in eight minutes. I remember saying to the hospital, “I either want a sandwich or baby” having been held on the ward as a few emergency c-sections came through. I was nil by mouth for eight hours and in a bad place emotionally and digestively.
I wasn’t prepared for childbirth at all. I wasn’t really open to reading up on the subject – I wanted to work it out myself. Looking back I could have done with a little more info.
My memories of the early days with Mae are that it was blissful and wondering why people found it so tough. Then the shitness descended as I truly understood sleep exhaustion.
I honestly don’t remember when it started to fall into place. I just made sure to remember how horrible I found it so it wasn’t a shock for number two. There’s nothing like hearing people coming in drunkenly from a night out at 3am when you haven’t slept a wink – but without the fun times.
My advice to expectant parents? Go your own way. Don’t look up to anyone or down on anyone – look straight ahead.
I was living in Amsterdam where mat leave is three months. It sounds worse than it is – most mothers return to a three-day week so it works out ok. I loved being back into an adult routine. This time round I plan on taking two months off completely – mainly because my job has become so entwined in my life.
Becoming parents made me realise that Matt’s more capable than me in so many traditionally maternal matters. He makes sure Mae’s intake of broccoli is where it should be. I’m on the sideline dangling sweets.
Motherhood, in a sentence: Like being slowly run over by a tractor and then being given an infinite supply of strawberry Wham bars on the other side.
The most surprising about my parenting journey so far is that my career feels like it has only just begun. Working and having a baby is something I didn’t think could make me happy – we are expected to pretend we don’t have a family at work and that we don’t have a job at home. I didn’t think I could find a way around that.
Before embarking on parenthood, I wish I’d been told: keep your eyes on the prize – your prize. Be that a hot cuppa, a kid-free wazz on the toilet or running a multimillion pound empire. It’s your lane, your life and that simple focus made me much happier in a flash.
The greatest challenge I face, as a mother, is looking after myself. I’m good at keeping others going but tend to find myself living off cold fish fingers. But a quick shin cuddle from your three-year old to punctuate a day filled with tantrums and Ocado orders makes it all worthwhile.
Keep parenting the shit out of life.”