This month's Positive Birth Interview is with Kate, a good friend of mine and an inspirational mama to two little boys. I couldn't love this interview more! Pop on the kettle, pour yourself a cuppa and enjoy this uplifting read - two birth stories in one 🙂
So who is Kate..."Well, in my head I am a 25 year old, lucky enough to share a house with the cute guy I had a crush on when I was 16 but then I look in the mirror and remember that I am nearer to 40 than I am to 25 and am a wife and mother of two. I believe in making your own happiness, karma and live and let live. I am also a HR Manager and Qualified Financial Advisor when am not at home being Mama Blake."
Tell me a little about your family?
Ollie and I are married 5 years. Our oldest boy, George just turned 3 and Jamie is 6 months old. We live outside a small village in County Cavan and love to laugh.
Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in between?
Motherhood was planned, like most of our life events starting a family was a natural next step for Ollie and I. There was no big discussion, we decided we would start trying and thankfully within a couple of months we were expecting.
Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?
We were thrilled on both occasions!! For George, it was November when we found out and they were turning on the Christmas lights in the town we were living that evening. The atmosphere was magical, made all the more special for us because our hearts were full of excitement for the weeks and months ahead. We were just as thrilled when we found out about Jamie. This time I had greater personal excitement, I loved being pregnant with George and here I was lucky enough to have those precious months all over again.
How did you tell your partner and how did they react?
First time around, Ollie was getting ready for work, I was hoping that I might be pregnant and shouted out to him that I was going to do a test. I knew he didn’t hear me as there was no reaction. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the pregnant message in the digital screen. I met him in the corridor and said I had good and bad news. The bad news was he was going to be late for work and the good news was we were having a baby! I think we just hugged and stared at the test stick over and over again. Second time around, it was mid week and this time both of us were getting ready for work. We were thrilled and doing our hug and stare at the test routine, but were soon brought back to reality by an impatient toddler looking for his morning drink of milk.
How was your pregnancy?
On George, I had 3 or 4 weeks of feeling nauseous followed by 6 or 7 weeks of awful migraines. Thankfully with the help of acupuncture and physiotherapy the migraines cleared up by week 17 and I had a blissful pregnancy from there on in. A good friend gave me her GentleBirth Book early on in my pregnancy and I got hooked. Listening to the tracks and using affirmations introduced me to a new world of calm and I loved it. My pregnancy with Jamie was carbon copy but the heart burn was more persistent – day and night.
Tell me about your birth experiences…
We opted to go to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and were paired up with a consultant called Dr Rabee. The first time we met her we liked her, she was straight talking but warm and personable at the same time. Through my GentleBirth preparation we put together our Birth Preferences. Dr Rabee happily signed it off for us and added “And I will be there if you need me”. And she was. When I went to the hospital to have the boys the midwives were thrilled to see the Birth Preferences on file. They really just left me and Ollie to our own devices and if they needed to clarify anything they asked Ollie first so as not to interrupt me. I laboured for a long time with George – we clocked 26 hours from waters breaking to birth. He was born at 4.15am so Dr Rabee was being updated through the night. She decided to come in when I wasn’t progressing through the pushing stage. She told me afterwards that she was coming in to section me but couldn’t believe how calm we all were, George included, when she arrived. Instead we agreed on vacuum and George was born within a few minutes of Dr Rabee’s arrival. I was just 6 hours in labour with Jamie. It was fast and furious and again I struggled at the pushing stage. Dr Rabee to the rescue. I remember her saying to me, “You will do the work, I will just give you a little nudge!”. True to her word Jamie was born again within minutes.
I can’t say enough good things about the team in the hospital, from the lady who brought me for my first shower after having the boys, to the team of nurses on the ward – they were all so professional and caring. The hospital is very under staffed but I never felt neglected or rushed. They are a fantastic group of people. I thank God so often for Gentle Birth – I would be a fairly relaxed person but GentleBirth gave me that extra edge I think. Some of the affirmations really stuck with me and got me through both labours. I knew that if I was calm so would my little baby and that was the best start in life for them. You can do anything for a minute after all.
Most essential item in your birth bag?
Bendy straws or a good water bottle – having baby is thirsty work.
Describe motherhood in a few words…
Fulfilling, Tiring, Messy and a Blessing.
What was the biggest surprise about becoming a Mama?
I assumed before I had my boys that I would get great joy from all the big events – first words, first steps etc but soon realised that joy comes from the smallest moments when you have kids. For the second year on the trot I have a mason jar in the kitchen window with a pen and notepad in it. I try my best to write down what we call precious moments so that I will remember them. The plan is that we will read the notes out to each other on New Year’s Eve but sometimes if I am having a bad day I will take a sneaky dip into the jar and read a note that me or Ollie have written. It’s just a few words scribbled down on paper but it reminds me to count my blessings and recharges the soul.
Best baby purchase?
I would say a changing table with drawers. We have ours in the main living area – it holds all of Jamie’s clothes and paraphernalia you could ever need (nappies, thermometer, wipes) but thanks to the drawers it looks neat no matter what is really going on behind closed doors.
Probably a Moses Basket. For both the boys we borrowed one and I was so thankful because they grew out of it in a matter of weeks. In Jamie’s case he slept in it maybe 5 times, in the early weeks he was happiest lying on our chests for his naps. If we had bought it new it would have been a waste of money.
What do you do when the baby sleeps?
In the early days, I would also sleep if I felt really tired but reality is there are things that need doing around the house so sleeping when baby sleeps was not always an option. Now, when Jamie has his first nap I meditate for a few minutes. I love it. It gives me a few minutes for me, to check in and see how I am doing before I spin around the house
getting washed, dressed and on with the endless list of household jobs.
What do you miss about life before kids?
Uninterrupted Sleep. I was a great sleeper. I loved my bed and would often complain that I only got a mere 10 hours straight. Ha, wasn’t I spoiled!
If someone agreed to mind your kid(s) for a week what would you do?
Miss them within a half an hour! Let’s see, I would take my husband away on a spa break for a few nights and then tell him to go be “Ollie pre kids” for the rest of the week and I will be “Kate pre Kids” too – for me that would be lie ins, going for runs, meeting friends for breakfast, dinner and tea and shopping with just a handbag on my shoulder – imagine?!
What do you love most about being a Mama?
Snuggles, Maybe it’s a boy thing, they are so affectionate. There is nothing a hug can’t fix.
Best advice for new Mamas…
This too shall pass. This applies to the good stuff and not so good stuff. If you are having a bad day, tomorrow will be better. If you think that Babs will have colic until he’s 18 – he won’t, one day you’ll realise that it’s passed. Same goes for the good stuff. Those early days when your newborn is happiest lying on you – those days will pass too so enjoy them. Or when you think your little man will still be running into your room on the night before his wedding, he won’t and some day you will miss the midnight snuggle so enjoy them as well.
Finally, happiness is…
Being with my boys - all three of them. They are my happiness and I love them all so much.
Thank you so much Kate, so much positivity and great tips here! The mason jar tip is one of my favourites, so simple - and so easy to do once you commit to it (I'll admit I'm still trying!)
If you would like to take part in our Positive Birth Interview Series, I'd love to hear from you - pop me an email to [email protected].ie.
Claire Flannery is the Founder and Owner of Strength Within coaching and consultancy, where she focuses on helping people create the headspace and mental clarity to discover, cultivate and maximise their strength within. She is a qualified Business Psychologist, Executive, Business & Personal Coach and Gentlebirth Instructor with over a decade of experience working in HR leadership in Financial Services. She is also a Mum to two small boys and has personal experience of successfully managing her career while preparing to transition out of, and back into, the workforce; and is passionate about helping people to successfully navigate the huge identity and life transition involved in starting and growing a family. As a large part of her work, she is privileged to work with women and their partners as they make their journey through pregnancy, birth and early parenting. Along with Coaching services, she runs Gentlebirth and Return-to-Work workshops in Dublin, Ireland.