Our baby wasn’t really planned – it was a half assed plan if you will. I knew I wanted babies but I had just left my full time job to run my business, and being the household bread winner was as much of a challenge as I wanted. Plus I wanted the success of the business to grow after a long hard year of working two jobs to get it off the ground. I was enjoying watching it flourish as a result. This was supposed to be a wonderful time when after all my hard work, late nights and lack of social life I could really celebrate what I had achieved… you know, with fizzy stuff. Clink clink.
It turns out two weeks after I left my day job for good I found out I was pregnant. At first I was totally shocked…and scared…and had no idea how on earth this was all going to work – I mean how?! How do you possibly make it all work? I was working every hour I could and a baby would just ruin everything I’d worked for right? After the initial shock, I can’t say I had a blooming pregnancy and I wasn’t one of those women who walked around with a permanent contented smile holding her belly. Sure in my head I felt overwhelmingly lucky to be carrying a perfect little baby and I had moments of excitement and hope but my heart wasn’t in it. I was mostly freaked at how our life was about to change, how I may have worked so hard building up a business I couldn’t sustain and how my social life would be over…forever.
You see the main issue with my whole pregnancy was I listened way too much. True I had some wonderful support and a lot of it from lovely people I didn’t know that well. I also had friends in the industry who were running amazing businesses and had a family too – they inspired me that it could be done. But I listened to all the doom and gloom. Oh I listened wayyy too much – so much so that even the day before I was going in to give birth to my baby boy I was walking around a shopping centre and every time a pram or pushchair went past I didn’t feel a surge of excitement, I felt a little bit sick.
Then the day came. Off I trotted to the operating theatre in my slippers and dressing gown and as the door closed I realised I’d be leaving there with a little person. When he was born I saw him being taken off to be cleaned up (the only thing written in my birth plan – no gunky baby please. It was a pretty lame birth plan) he was this screechy blue little thing and I couldn’t see his face – I wasn’t sure I liked him either. They bought him to us and David held him – I still couldn’t see his face because of the position I was in. It was in the recovery room we really got to meet each other for the first time. We looked at each other and my first thought was ‘oh my gosh it’s an actual person’. I guess I was expecting a freaky morphed version of me and David but it was a whole new human… and how I loved him instantly.
So nine weeks on and where are we?
Business-wise I had to make the ultimate decision – do I scale back my business to be a mum or do I push it forward and really go for it to make it work for my family? Anyone who knows me will know the path I chose.
David left his job when Tristan was 3 weeks old and we now work together with baby and business. I have never been so busy and admittedly it was incredibly hard to begin with and Tristan was just 2 weeks old when I started working again. I cried. I just wanted to sit with him and play with him and be with him all day. I actually found myself being jealous of people with normal jobs who get the wonderful luxury of maternity leave; of turning your back on work to concentrate on just being with your baby. There is also times when I have been about to give up because I am so overwhelmed – I am stood in a sea of boxes with orders waiting to be packed up; with emails bleeping and my inbox growing, holding my little boy wondering how on earth I can get through it all… but you do and you can because us self employed business owners are made of strong stuff. We have been through years of hard work to get where we are and it would take something pretty drastic to keep us from chasing our dreams. Plus I have the support of David who is an amazing dad and is with me on every decision I make – I count myself incredibly lucky as he is a huge part of why this is all working.
What about being a mum? Well I am so completely happy. Yeah having a baby is hard but I was so concentrating on what the doom and gloomers told me I forgot how the hard work is made wonderful by the little person you now have in your life. Everyone forgets to tell you that. It is tiring, it can be stressful, I have been puked on more times than I can count but everyday he makes me smile. I get told everyday “ooooh just you wait..” Firstly it was “The first 2 weeks are hell – if you can get through them you can do anything” I thought the first 2 weeks were amazing – a roller-coaster of emotions for sure but worth every minute. Now I’m being told “oh, well enjoy it while you can; just you wait until teething/crawling/walking.” Seriously, it seems that so many people just want you to fail. You just have to smile sweetly back at them, take what they say with a pinch of salt and carve your own path.
I have admittedly made a few unpopular parenting decisions which enables me to work, but also to have a little more freedom and continue to have quality time with David, go out with friends, even have a couple of little holidays booked (Yes believe it or not you can have a life after a baby) but I have not made those decisions lightly and it’s what works for us. Everybody is different and life is what you make it. Life with Tristan works so well because we have made choices that make us all happy and help us to co-exist in one lovely little unit. My life is not over is has merely been enhanced beyond what I could have imagined by this amazing little person and I feel lucky everyday.
Lucy Ledger is a digital illustrator, specialising in vintage scrapbook inspired wedding stationery, working with clients all over the world. She lives in Ivy Cottage in Sheffield with her husband David, her son Tristan and Pip the cat.