The Truth About Motherhood: Ruth Cullen, teacher and blogger

parenting truths

“The early days with my firstborn were full of worry and extreme tiredness. We were readmitted to hospital after three days, because he had lost so much weight. I then had to feed him every hour.” Ruth Cullen on motherhood, so far…

Ruth Cullen, 36, is married and has two children aged eight and four. They live in Herefordshire in the West Midlands.

“When I was a teenager I didn’t want children. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything worse. When I met my husband we enjoyed being just the two of us for 12 years before we wanted to have children. It took about six months to conceive with both my children, I didn’t get to hung up on it and was happy to just wait and see.

I found childbirth traumatic. I went two weeks overdue with my first and had to be induced. Then I had to have an emergency c-section as his heart had stopped beating. I opted for a v-bac with my second, but ended up having another emergency c-section as his heart also stopped beating.

I felt well informed about childbirth, my midwife was lovely and I had a great consultant at the hospital. It just didn’t go according to my plan and I wasn’t prepared for that.

Motherhood in one sentence: It’s the most wonderfully tiring experience you could ever have

The early days with my firstborn were full of worry and extreme tiredness. We were readmitted to hospital after three days, because he had lost so much weight. I then had to feed him every hour and then pump after that to store the milk. I only ever got twenty minute naps in between for a week. It was like torture.

After the first month to six weeks, it got a lot easier. I was able to drive again after the c-sections and really enjoyed being able to leave the house. Not that I went far, mainly just to my mum’s!

I felt more in control with my second child, I was able to feed him better and although I was recovering from my c-section with two children at home, I was happy to be there.

I’m a secondary school teacher and I took nine months off with my first. The transition was hard and the school still expected too much from me. I dropped to working part time shortly after. With my second I took a year off. When I came back, the school handed me my redundancy notice. I am just returning to teaching after three years at home.

My husband and I are a lot closer since having children. Initially it’s hard because you are so tired and can snap at each other, but I really appreciate what a great father he is to our boys. This makes me love him more than ever.

What I’ve found most surprising about my parenting journey, so far, is how much washing is involved! Seriously, I do a minimum of three loads a day. I don’t know how families with more ever get through the laundry.

My advice to expectant parents is: be prepared for it to take over EVERY aspect of your life, at least until they are a toddler

Before embarking on parenthood, I wish I’d been told you will never get a lie in again. Getting up at 7.30am is considered a luxury in our household. Most mornings we are all up by 6.00am.

If I could go back in time, I would have worked part time from the beginning of having kids, rather than putting myself through the ringer thinking my work needed me. My child needed me the most, jobs come and go but you can’t get their childhood back.

The greatest challenge I face, as a mother, is making sure my children make the most of their childhood – not growing up too quickly and not spending it all staring at a screen. 

But when they make me laugh, my boys are comedy gold. They can make me smile even when I’ve had the worse day, what could be better than that. It’s hard, but I wouldn’t change anything.

Ruth Cartwright is a teacher and lifestyle blogger