“In the early days, I remember my partner’s parents coming round with some gifts from their work colleagues and me bursting into tears. Those early days of hormonal rollercoasters were, in hindsight, hilarious.” Amy Benziane, on the ups and downs of parenthood…
Amy Benziane, 27, lives in Crystal Palace, London, with her partner and their 17-month-old daughter Esme
I didn’t really plan on having a family. I had a massive panic a few years ago when my partner said he always expected to have kids by the time he was 30. Turns out I was ready by the time it rolled around. Conception happened very quickly – the first month I came off the pill I got pregnant.
I had an accidental home birth with my partner, my mum and two paramedics stood at the end of our bed. It was dramatic but amazing. We did try to go to the hospital but I was only a few centimetres dilated and so was sent home with the instruction to come back when the pain got too bad. Fast forward six hours I’m saying I can feel the baby’s head coming and my partner is calling 999.
Although we did an NCT [antenatal] class, listened to all the things the midwives said, read the books… I still wouldn’t say I was confident on the subject. Everything went well and I know for next time to just plan a home birth!
In the early days, I remember my partner’s parents coming round with some gifts from their work colleagues and me bursting into tears. Those early days of hormonal rollercoasters were, in hindsight, hilarious. Aside from crying in front of the in-laws I spent a lot of time in bed watching Netflix with my boob pointing in the general direction of my daughter.
Motherhood, in a sentence: whatever anyone else says, you’re doing it right for you.
The sleep deprivation is the worst. No amount of stressful job or partying can prepare you for the mental turmoil of days and days of sleep loss. I quickly discovered that I’m a massive fan of ‘crutches’ – The XX’s Coexist, a boob and a familiar blanket and she’ll sleep for a few hours at a time. That’s good enough for me.
My partner and I agreed that he would take some SPL [shared parental leave] and I would go back to work when our daughter was 10 months old. It made sense as I was returning to a teaching role, full time, on the other side of London. Him taking the time off and me returning to work meant I could work my notice and start a new job, part time, close to home in September.
Our daughter learned to crawl on my first day back at work. I knew I was ready to go back to other people’s’ kids when I felt relief I wouldn’t need to keep my eye on her at all times rather than sad that I’d missed it.
Since having Esme, I’ve realised just how patient my partner is and how our very different personalities definitely compliment one another. It’s been pretty tough going from going out whenever we want, having our own space etc. to needing to rely on family to look after our daughter if we do want time just the two of us.
What’s surprised us both is how much we appreciate spending time as a family, hanging out all three of us together.
I’ve also been surprised by just how opinionated people are about every aspect of parenting! A friend of mine had another mother come up to her and say something along the lines of ‘Ooooh. Dummy in the daytime??’ pointing at her one-year-old disapprovingly. I think I might have replied with something less than child-friendly, had it been me.
I don’t think there’s anything I really needed to be told in advance of becoming a mother. Parenthood is odd, it’s like joining some sort of secret society where everyone knows… But if you told an outsider they just wouldn’t properly understand.”