For those who’ve been there, done it and got a seriously impressive knowledge of poo to show for it, you’ll know that the first year of motherhood is a beautiful blur of wild highs and lows. The sleepless nights, the milestones (s/o to all those who dared to embark on that first solo trip out of the house), night feeds, nappy changes, first-times and cuddles. So many cuddles.
Google is both a hero and a villain in all this, but ultimately you know there’s only so much reading you can do to prepare yourself for the rollercoaster ride that is becoming a parent for the first time. Having a tiny human and taking care of them for the rest of their life really is bananas!
As Ottilie turns one, Zoe’s reflecting on her first year of motherhood from muddling through the sleep-deprived newborn days to finding her way with weaning and letting go of perfection, here’s everything she learned in her first year of becoming Ottilie’s mama.
Q: First up, how are you doing?! How is motherhood treating you?
I’m good! Motherhood is honestly the wildest ride full of ups and downs and inside outs. I feel very lucky I get to watch Ottilie growing every single day.
Q: Cast your mind back to when you first got home from the hospital. What did it feel like to be bringing Ottilie home for the very first time?
One of my favourite memories that has gone immediately into the “core memory” vault. I remember feeling so happy to be home (I’m such a homebody, especially when I’m not feeling 100% so I was really looking forward to hibernating) and it was such an overwhelming feeling of pure joy that we got to keep Ottie and it was the start of forever. It sounds cheesy but that’s exactly where my thoughts went. I just kept thinking, “this is her home now too, she just doesn’t know it yet!”. I was also very excited for my family to meet her (they came over around 2 hours after we got back – and they brought Nando’s haha).
Q: On a scale of 1 – 10, how tired are you, ha?
In those early newborn days I think I just muddled through on adrenaline and snacks and my sleep was all over the place, but these days the tiredness comes more from the mental side of it. Just trying to remember all the things, and be all the things, and do all the things. I’m surprised my brain is still functioning some days.
Q: What has surprised you the most about motherhood, so far?
Girls wee when you take their nappies off too. I always thought this was just a boy baby thing, Haha! On a more serious note though, a LOT has surprised me. I feel like I am constantly surprised by even the smallest things as I’m obviously learning a lot day by day. How quickly each phase passes in this first year is probably a big one. It feels like they take forever to give you their first smile, and then you blink and they’re toddling around shouting actual words.
Q: Watching Ottilie grow into her own little person must be both heart-warming and hilarious. What’s your favourite memory from the last 12 months? (Impossible to pick, we know!)
Oh my gosh, I have so many. She recently became obsessed with our piano and will now stand at it dancing around waiting for the music to play out of it. She also loves putting things up to her ear and shouting “HELLO?” Like Dom Joly.
Q: How has motherhood changed you?
I know it has, but I feel like it’s one of things where I’m so deep into it I don’t know how it’s changed me yet! I certainly have a lot less time to give others now I have Ottie which I always feel very guilty about. I do think it’s made me relax a lot more about the slightly more trivial things I’d worry about before. I have definitely learnt to be more present and in the moment.
Q: Let’s talk parenting ideals! Was there ever something you heard or read that you thought ‘yep, I’m definitely going to do that’ but that went right out the window once Ottilie was here?
SO MANY THINGS. You sort of fill your metaphorical tool belt with ALL THE THINGS that worked for everyone else and you go through them until you find something that works for you and your baby. This also means so many of these tips, tricks and gadgets don’t make the cut, but could be someone else’s holy grail! Just goes to show you that all babies are so different.
Q: Has your experience of becoming a mum differed from your expectations? Give us the expectations vs reality, the motherhood edition!
Yes and no. I feel like I soaked in a lot of stories before having Ottie, the good, the bad and the ugly, so I feel like Alfie and I had a very varied idea of what becoming parents and having a newborn MIGHT be. Having said that, living it yourself is very different and there were certainly highs and lows along the way!
Q: How would you describe your style, has it changed since becoming a mum?
I don’t know whether it’s changed necessarily but there are certainly styles I gravitate to a little less than before. I also find that to save time I tend to grab the same couple of outfits on rotation instead of exploring my wardrobe a bit more.
Q: The most random thing you’ve found yourself doing /saying because #MumLife….
Honestly, my most used word right now is “Careful…”
Q: What’s been your biggest challenge or learning curve thus far?
Learning how to juggle mum-life with work-life, friend-life, partner life and me time. I still don’t think I’ve found the right balance and I’m definitely winging it but hoping it becomes a little easier with time and practice. Haha!
Q: How is Ottilie and what’s the best thing about being her mama?
Ottilie is amazing. Every day that she grows older, we start to see her little personality develop more and more and I’m obsessed with her. I love her so much!
Q: Mum guilt is tough isn’t it – how do you deal with those rollercoaster emotions?
I send 30 minute long voice notes to my friends of pure waffle! A brain dump and a listening, non- judgemental ear always helps.
Q: The best thing about seeing Alfie become a dad?
Just how incredible he is with her. He’s so patient and doting and it melts my heart. He always gets the biggest laughs too!
Q: What’s one piece of invaluable advice you’ve received?
Do a Mummy MOT postpartum and DO YOUR PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES.
Q: How about one thing nobody told you but you WISH they had…
That an epidural means you have NO control over your farts and you can’t tell if you’re holding them in or not.
Q: Has becoming a mother yourself changed your relationship with your own mum?
I have a whole new sense of admiration and appreciation for her! And the fact that she had two under two!! (How!)
Q: Your proudest moment over the last year?
I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud. I was very proud of myself for growing and birthing Ottie, but I’m mostly just so proud of all the little things she learns to do. She recently started taking her first steps and pride was BEAMING out of me.
Q: Your ultimate mum fail…
I recently turned my back on Ottie when she was playing with the sudocrem tub…you can imagine what she looked like when I turned back round. How do babies do things so quickly?
Q: What pearls of wisdom have you got for any new mums out there about to embark on this wild and wonderful journey?
Don’t be too hard on yourself, take it easy, go at your own pace and utilise the help of your family and friends if they have offered it! Remember that every first time parent is learning on the job and that nobody expects you to be an expert from day one. Just as your baby is learning each day, so are you!
Q: Your can’t-live-withouts from the past year! Go-to brands, meals, toys, snacks, activities!
White noise machine (hatch), Felt flap books, Teletubbies, Silver nipple cups (for me), Zip up baby sleep suits, Angelcare Bath seat, Tommy tippee squeaky eggs, matchstick monkey teethers, Nappy Caddy, Huckleberry app for tracking those first feeds and naps!
Q: What have you got planned for Ottie’s 1st birthday?
We’re having some of our friends and family over and we’ll just eat food, cut some cake and celebrate the little lady we’ve all watched grow over the past year! I think I’m more excited for her birthday than my own!