A Yorkshire based parenting & lifestyle blog written by Claire Chircop.

MAMA IN QUESTION: JESS ELDER.

Welcome to my mini-series Mama in Question, a 10 question questionnaire filled out by mama's all across the country, hoping to serve motherhood realness and show all new mums out there that we're all in this together... And in reality, we're all just winging it! Details of how you can get involved will be down below.


Q1. What's one thing you said you wouldn't do as a parent that you definitely have done?
One thing that I always said I would never do as a mother was to use baby food jars. I had this idea in my head that our weaning journey would be spent with me creating all these fabulous concoctions in the kitchen, using all organic ingredients and mixing a variety of flavours and foods for Jamie to try. It definitely didn’t happen like that. In the beginning, weaning was hard, and so I caved and actually found that using jars took a lot of the pressure off!
There are days when I spend an hour or two cooking Jamie a meal from scratch, but they’re far scarcer than I first imagined. 

Q2. What's been the hardest thing about motherhood so far?
The hardest thing about motherhood so far, for me, is realising that you can’t really have expectations when it comes to growing and raising children. I like to have a plan and to know what the general outcome of something is going to be - it eases my anxieties.
When you get pregnant you have all this excitement about motherhood and all you really think of is the positive aspects, so it hit me like a truck when we found out our little boy was actually poorly, and nothing about his delivery was going to be “normal”. He was born with a condition called gastroschisis, which was discovered at my 12 week scan. Basically, he developed with a hole in his abdomen and his bowels were on the outside of his body when he was born. Before finding out about this, I daydreamed about giving birth and having him placed on my chest, our first night at home and feeding him for the first time, but none of these things happened for us how we had hoped they would. 
And that can be said for a lot of aspects of motherhood.
Sometimes, you expect to feel or to experience things in a certain way, and often times it can turn out to be the complete opposite, or entirely different to how you’d anticipated.
Motherhood is wonderfully unpredictable, and that’s been quite tough for me. 

Q3. Have you settled into a routine with your little one? If so, how easy has it been?
It took months for us to establish a routine, although I’d say that’s fairly normal in the first few months. The first night Jamie came home from the hospital, at 3 weeks old, we spent all night trying to get him to sleep in his Moses basket to no avail. We struggled for roughly another two weeks before deciding to co-sleep, but this didn’t really work for me as he was constantly waking and I was always quite aware of him being there, so I struggled to get a good sleep. 
Suddenly, at about 4 months old, Jamie stopped wanting to sleep in the bed at nap time, so I went out on a limb and tried him in his cot. It worked, and we tried it again for his night time sleep. He slept for eight hours straight! Ever since then, he has slept in his cot. He goes to bed between 6-7pm and wakes at 6am. He has a morning nap and an afternoon nap, which tend to be at different times depending on our schedule for that day. He still has a bad night every now and then, though I put that down to teething and cold season.
It turns out Jamie prefers to sleep with lots of space around him, and moving him to his cot just solidified his routine. 

Q4. What's surprised you most about motherhood?
What has surprised me most about motherhood is that not every emotion is positive, and that’s okay.
I struggled quite a bit at the beginning because it seemed like Jamie just cried constantly and I just didn’t know what to do. I felt as though there was so much pressure on “enjoying your newborn” and how it was supposed to be such a magical experience, but I had my moments where it just didn’t feel like that. I didn’t realise that practically all mothers experience the negative, too. We all want five minutes to ourselves sometimes. We have all stood there and questioned why on Earth our babies are crying when there couldn’t possibly be anything wrong, and all the rest, but at the time I felt so alone. It was only through finding the community of mothers through Instagram who openly share the downs aswell of the ups of parenting that I realised that those feelings are normal, and they don’t change how much I love and care for my son. 

Q5. Do you think social media portrays motherhood correctly?
I think there are definitely still aspects of social media that portray motherhood as being this 24/7 exclusively positive happy thing, but I think a lot of that stems from a fear of how other people perceive us as parents. People can be so weirdly judgemental when it comes to the way that other people raise their children, most people just want to stay in line. 
Then there are the social media posts that share the reality - the happy times, and the nitty gritty all mixed into one. More and more people are beginning to open up about the struggles they experience as mothers, as well as sharing the most special parts of their days, too. I’d say the parents who share both sides definitely portray motherhood accurately, as it’s showing that no matter how clean, intelligent, well-behaved etc your children are... we all have our bad days. 

Q6. What do you think of your post-partum body?
I love my post-partum body! I got a bigger bum, more shapely hips and longer, thicker hair. I don’t mind the stretch marks as they’re only on the sides of my thighs and my stomach and everywhere else looks exactly the same as before I got pregnant, so I couldn’t be more grateful for that, although there are definitely one or two things i struggle with. 
Before I got pregnant, I was a UK clothing size 6-8 and I had a large bust. I stayed pretty small throughout my pregnancy, and slimmed down quite quickly after having him, too. I’m back to a size 8 now, but my bust has gone up to a GG and hasn’t gone back down at all which has just been crazy.
That definitely bothers me as they’re not exactly comfortable. 
And an emergency c-section that, almost 8 months down the line, has left me with a scar that’s still red and raised, as well as uneven due to my stitches opening during the surgery. I barely looked at it when I first got it because it reminded me of quite a traumatic part of my life - Jamie’s birth was difficult and we both got very ill very fast, so it was hard to see that reminder.
As the months have gone on, though, I’ve started to come to terms with it a little bit more. I’m sure in due time I’ll come to properly accept it. 

Q7. What's been your favourite memory so far on your parenting journey?
My favourite memory so far is the first time we got to hold our little boy. I had to be put under general anaesthetic for my c section, and Jamie was taken straight to surgery, so we didn’t get to hold him until roughly 24 hours after he was born, which was actually much sooner than we had imagined it would be!
My mum and two aunts were there, and they all captured so many photographs of me and my partner holding Jamie. They are so beautiful and I have framed one and put it in Jamies room for him.
I just felt so much love in that moment and I will never forget how it felt.

Q8. How do you feel you’ve changed since becoming a parent?
Since becoming a parent, I’ve noticed that I have no time for people who don’t have good intentions for me and my family, or for those who can’t be consistent and reciprocate effort.
Time is so precious, especially now that we have so many memories to make with our little boy. 
You will always meet those “friends” in life who think they can come and go as they please and, before I had Jamie, I was the type to let them. Since becoming a mother, I won’t let that kind of energy near me. I feel a strong need to only surround myself and my family with genuine, loving people who have our best interests at heart, and I can definitely tell when someone is being insincere.
Call it Mothers instincts.

Q9. What's been your proudest motherhood moment?
My proudest motherhood moment has been all of it, to be honest. I suffer with anxiety and OCD which can sometimes be extremely debilitating, but I fight through it everyday for my family. Its tough to struggle with your mental health whilst raising a child, yet so many of us absolutely ace it.

Q10. Looking to the future, what are you most excited for your little one to experience?
I am definitely most excited for when Jamie really starts to have an understanding of the world - I love to get outside and do nature based activities, and I take Jamie to do these things as much as I can, but at his age we are quite limited at the moment. It will be nice to be able to take him to explore the world and to be able to teach him about the things that I enjoy doing like reading, writing, walking etc and to have him be able to talk about it back to me.


If you're wanting to get involved please feel free to DM me @ClaireMacBlog or send me an email to clairemacblog@gmail.com as I'd love for you to join the 'Mama's in Question' party bus.

You can answer whatever you feel comfortable answering, all I ask is that it's honest! I wan't to show others how flipping hard this parenting lark is!... Because I don't think we give ourselves enough credit for it! And we should! I'll of course be sharing the ish out of your social medias & blogs etc, so let's let loose, connect with one another and raise a glass to all those mamas just getting by!

Claire.X
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