Cherry Has a Baby: One Year On
I am 29 but I still don't feel grown up enough to have a human baby. But I do have one. As I write this, she is putting the contents of my make-up bag into the dishwasher.
Cherry Has a Baby (Cherry Healey and Sophia Sigawale)
I was scared about becoming a mother for so many reasons. How could I deal with the torture of childbirth? Could we afford it? Would I be a good enough mum? Would I lose my own identity? I spent the next 9 months trying to understand my feelings in a bid to become 'ready' for motherhood. A few things did help. Whilst making the documentary Cherry Has a Baby for BBC Three, I met some wonderful women, one of whom had a fabulous philosophy about giving birth. She firmly believed that it was nothing to worry about - our bodies are designed to give birth and that being scared would only hinder the process. Whilst I was still overwhelmed at the thought of becoming a mum, I was at least reassured about labour.
But no matter how many books I read or people I spoke to, I couldn't seem to make peace with the idea of motherhood. And in the end, it wasn't until my daughter arrived that my maternal instincts kicked in.
Now my daughter is one year old. And I can't believe it, but I love being her mum. Of course there have been highs and lows. Over the past 12 months I've had to become more organised, and it can be hard getting enough sleep, but I've learnt lots along the way. So here are ten things I want to share:
CHERRY'S TOP TEN BABY SURVIVAL TIPS
1. OK, I won't lie. Childbirth is no picnic. BUT there are now so many options available to make it more comfortable, there really isn't any reason at all to be scared.
2. You are eating for two but in QUALITY, not quantity. Your little bean is really little. It doesn't need a bag of doughnuts. (I only learnt this after month 3!)
3. In ante-natal class they teach you about perineal massage and pelvic floor exercises. They are gross, but do them. They really help.
4. Give in to spandex and maternity tights. They are amazing.
5. Don't spend a fortune on baby stuff. Second hand/hand-me-down/borrowed stuff is brilliant. They grow out of/get bored of most things in 5 minutes anyway.
6. Don't listen to people who spread doom and gloom about parenthood. If it's so bad, why do so many people have more than one?!
7. You won't lose your identity. The structure of your life will change, but you can still be the same person. Having a baby does not equal a lobotomy.
8. Sleep is precious. Try everything within your power to get enough. If you're really tired, it's hard to feel good about anything.
9. Babies are really funny. You will probably think your baby is the funniest person on the planet.
10. Look after each other. Whether that's a boyfriend, girlfriend, hubbie, wife, friend or family member - your support network is incredibly important.
It's been a really steep learning curve, and whilst I still make mistakes all the time, a year on I can say with confidence that I wouldn't change it for the world.
Cherry Healey presents Cherry Has a Baby tonight at 9pm on BBC Three. And check back here next week as Cherry will be writing a blog post about meeting brides of different ages for her next programme Cherry Gets Married, which you can watch on Monday 20th September at 9pm.