The Truth About Motherhood: Jane Fforde, therapist

Jane Fforde

“If I could go back in time, I’d invent the kind of social media that exists now to empower and enable mums to be awesome. I didn’t know what to do with myself some of the time.” Occupational therapist Jane Fforde on becoming a mum at 25 and feeling a bit lost and lonely…

Jane Fforde, 35, lives in Leeds with her husband and their two children: Will, 10, and Natasha, seven.

“I always wanted a family. Probably could have waited a few more years, but I’m delighted with where the journey has led me. Conception happened quickly. It was something of a surprise with William. When I discovered I was having Nat three years later, I had just bought the Vivienne Westwood wedding dress I had always coveted. It got exchanged for a size bigger and we brought the wedding forward to the following month. (I like to be spontaneous, can you tell?).

The births couldn’t have been more different. The first was excruciating, William was back to back, big and the midwife only permitted me pethidine and paracetamol. I was on a side ward and hobbled to a private room only when I was ready to push. The midwife then explained that she was not in the state of mind to complete my stitches. Thanks, love! I’m sure I wasn’t that terrible. (I later saw her on One Born Every Minute. Not a welcome sight). Maybe she was having a bad day.

Next time I had a home birth. I had at least two midwives there throughout, gas and air, my own bath and bed then pizza and champagne at home the next evening. It was blissful, calm and peaceful. It still smarted a bit, mind.

The greatest challenge I face, as a mother, is letting the children make mistakes that they can learn from them. And not shouting when I do the school run.

The early days were lovely, initially, while we were in a little bubble. I was feeling so much love for my little bundle. But the physical pain is crazy. I felt like I had done Barry’s bootcamp for 12 hours straight. All my muscles ached. I remember thinking that I’d never imagined that.

I had PND (postnatal depression) after William. I wasn’t diagnosed until eight months after his birth. I think my roles had changed so much from those of a carefree 25-year-old. And I had no idea what I was doing. It wasn’t easy to meet other mums for me. I had one or two fantastic friends but they lived on the other side of town. I only really have made more ‘mum friends’ since the kids started school. I felt lonely and really out of place at baby groups.

For me, I have good and bad days all the time. I think most parents do. Sometimes I feel like I’ve ticked all the boxes and other days I’m hopeless and can’t even find a tangle teaser or a school shoe!

After having William, I trained as a teacher then I taught at a few schools for a good five years. For me, it just didn’t work with family life, though I loved the classroom. I’m now training as an occupational therapist and have not looked back. I adore it.

Motherhood in one sentence? ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’

The most surprising thing about my parenting journey so far is how my children have become interesting, delighting and kind. William even told me there are 80 rupees in a pound the other day! I love seeing them grow into big people. Though it feels bittersweet at times. Looking at baby pics and thinking that little monkey will never be so tiny again.

When it comes to parenthood, nobody knows what they’re doing. We’re all doing our best. Other mums aren’t scary and when you find the right bunch of pals (and you will) it will really enrich your life and that of your family.

If I could go back in time, I’d have two home births. And invent the kind of social media that exists now to empower and enable mums to be awesome. I was kind of lost, I didn’t know what to do with myself some of the time.

My advice to expectant parents, if you are part of a couple, is to make time to do things together. It sounds obvious, but it’s so important. If you’re single, or in a couple, make time to see your friends. Especially those without kids… it can be easy to let that slip. I also really value having friends who knew me before I was a mum. This may seem impossible when you have a tiny, but it really does get easier to do. Promise.

And what makes it all worthwhile? When we all share our silly in-jokes and made up family words we have for things. You know the ones, we all have them. We will forever call Natasha ‘Borshka morshka’. I have no idea why. I love making those kind of traditions.”