Becoming a mam has been the most difficult and wonderful job. Nothing prepared me for how much I love my daughter, and how obsessed I have become with naps, feeding and poo!
My husband and I had been keen to start a family but weren’t having much luck after 6 months. I knew it might take a while but nothing prepared me for the disappointingly blank pregnancy tests after each cycle. In February we decided we’d try again later, as having a baby during the run up to Christmas would be difficult for me as I run an online shop – Welsh Gift Shop and it is my most busy period,
I took the final pregnancy test on a whim, as I felt ‘different’. I couldn’t believe my eyes when two lines formed on the little strip – I was pregnant!
In hindsight I had a wonderful pregnancy with no morning sickness or problems, but I still spent the first few months worrying that no symptoms meant I wasn’t really pregnant and it had been a faulty test!
I told my parents the news on Mother’s Day, surprising them with a visit and a ‘Mamgu Orau’r Byd’ card. I will never forget my mam and dad’s joy and surprise when she opened the envelope and read the card aloud.
I took up (very relaxed) pregnancy yoga at the hospital and met some lovely mams-to-be who I am great friends with now. I recommend joining a pre-natal group as it is a huge help having a support network. We have an ‘open all hours’ watsapp group which was most active at 2am during the early night feeds!
The birth was hard (to say the least!) as I had gotten an infection during labour but our perfect baby was delivered safely. When she arrived we were so relieved we forgot to ask if she was a girl or a boy! Of course the sex did not matter in the slightest, we had a little baby, Rodney! (Only Fools and Horses reference there)
My work load was at its peak when she was born, but fortunately I’d managed to employ help with the packing and posting, so I didn’t have to do anything physical. I was mostly cwtched up in bed with Arwen, answering customer emails on my phone whenever I had the chance. My husband shared my maternity leave which was a huge help as it meant he could spend the first few months with us. It is a scheme I recommend looking into as many of the mams and dads we met felt so anxious at the prospect of returning to work that they couldn’t fully enjoy the time they had together.
I now have two full time jobs, but fortunately I love them both. The best thing about running the welshgiftshop.com is that I work from home so am able to be with my daughter. Child care costs are crippling and the emotional turmoil of leaving her to return to work would have been very hard for me, as I know it is for other brave working mothers.
It took a while for Arwen to settle into a good nap schedule; she would always fight sleep which was tricky with my work. Now at 10 months she has two good naps so I’m able to get a surprising amount done in that time (I’m writing this during an unusually long morning nap!). She is also more independent so I can get on with my jobs whilst she entertains herself. Sometimes she even helps me – she is an excellent model / toy tester for our Welsh baby gifts!
It has always been a huge regret of mine that I am not fluent in Welsh, but I hope to rectify this with Arwen. Sadly, when I grew up in South Wales in the 80’s and 90’s the language wasn’t as popular as it is today; we didn’t speak it at home apart from a few key phrases (come here, stop it, good night) despite my mam being first language, and I scraped a B grade at GCSE.
I am now determined to bring Arwen up as a Welsh speaker, which in turn is helping me! She has a Welsh singing star, welsh books and a nursery rhymes CD but the most effective teacher is Mamgu – who now will only speak Welsh to her when she visits.
There goes the baby monitor – her nap has finished so off I go!
By Becca Hemmings, Welsh Gift Shop.
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