“Motherhood, in a sentence: No two days are the same and you will be constantly surprised and delighted by your offspring, while also feeling tired and out of your depth at times.” Mum-of-one Nicola Emmett on an inflexible workplace and the importance of dividing duties…
Nicola Emmett, 36, lives in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, with her partner and their son Luke, who is nine months old.
“I have always wanted to be a mum. It felt like it took a long time, since we wanted it to happen so much. However, it was relatively quick – five months.
During the birth, I felt in control. I’d borrowed some hypnobirthing CDs and found it really helped. I remembered trying to relax as much as possible between contractions. I had a fast labour with only gas and air, so this approach worked for me!
But I did find I was disappointed with the hospital experience, the midwives kept on saying the since it was my first labour that my contractions would go on much longer. In my case, they didn’t – I had a fast labour and was fully dilated by the time I got to the hospital. I actually went into shock after my son was born, since it felt like everything had happened so fast. I couldn’t take it all in.
I did the NCT (national childbirth trust) classes and read some books that my sister recommended. In hindsight, I was more prepared for the birth and labour not really on what to expect or how to cope when the baby actually arrived.
My memories of the early days with Luke are of complete and utter highs and lows. I couldn’t believe I had a son! I would gaze in wonder at his perfect little tiny hands and toes. We were in a little bubble, doing lots of skin to skin cuddling and getting to know each other. But breastfeeding was a struggle and very painful for me.
As a mother, my greatest challenge is balancing my career with a little one. I’ve had to leave my current job and the thought of starting something new is both thrilling and scary
I was also surprised by the amount of crying, (yes I know, very naive). My son would cry if he pooed, if he wasn’t being held, if he had wind, if he was hungry, if he was tired and if he couldn’t settle. So there was a lot of crying. I also felt anxious, the responsibility of keeping this little human alive was pretty overwhelming at times and my husband was great at providing lots of reassurance since I was often in tears.
I remember eight weeks feeling like a bit of a milestone. I had begun to get to know my little baby and we had started to get into a bit of a routine. I had accessed a few breastfeeding cafes and got help with the feeding. He was starting to sleep a bit better and I remember feeling a bit more like life was returning to some kind of normality. Partly because we were also house hunting so we had to get on trains and buses and learn to cope.
The subject of returning to work is a bit of a sore point for me. I’ve just had to resign from my marketing communications manager position at a big American tech company. Although I wanted to return, the commuting, hours and lack of flexibility was an issue.
As for my relationship, we have argued more since the little one came along, usually about housework, but all is forgiven in a short space of time. The hormones made me very short tempered during the first few months. I think I’ve found it hard to adjust to being in the house so much and it means I get particular about keeping it clean and tidy. The tiredness can make you snap at each other, but it’s important to apologise and to try to address the reasons you are arguing.
Motherhood, in a sentence: No two days are the same and you will be constantly surprised and delighted by your offspring, while also feeling tired and out of your depth at times.
I’ve been surprised by how well my body has coped with the lack of sleep and getting back to ‘normal’ after the pregnancy. I feel lucky that I feel fit and well most of the time. Also, how I’ve made new mum friends and who have been very supportive. My relationship with my mother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law has also become stronger, which is lovely.
I wish I’d been told not to assume that just because your employer has a flexible work policy that they will be open to your flexible work plan. Get to know how open your managers are to flexibly working/ shared parental/ maternity leave, long before you are even pregnant.
If I could go back in time, I would move house before the baby arrived but apart from that… not much.
My advice to expectant parents is to make sure you are both in agreement about what kind of parents you want to be. For example, how will you juggle work, housework and the baby between you? My husband and I have had to divide the work, housework/DIY stuff but when it comes to the baby, we began sharing a lot of the nappy changing, feeding and playing right from the beginning. It’s been a huge help and it makes me feel like we are a team.
What makes it all worthwhile is seeing my son grow and develop and him mastering new skills, like feeding himself or standing up. He started crawling at five and half months and hasn’t stopped moving. So I think he’s going to walk early. Also, the way he looks at me or his father and grandparents. You can just see the love.”
Photo by Zanetta Pitt