Motherhood isn’t easy. Although, sometimes when you look at pictures of celebrities in magazines and read inane quotes from women banging on about their perfect pregnancies and amazing lives, you can sometimes think you’re the only person who finds it hard. Which is why it’s incredibly refreshing to hear mother of four Sadie Frost’s honest take on it. Extracted from the wonderful new book Nourish, written by Sadie, her sister Holly and her friend Amber (whose brilliant cookbook Love, Bake, Nourish we featured last year), Sadie talks all about pregnancy (and suffering from hyperemesis), motherhood and her struggles with postnatal depression. I particularly love what she says about dealing with negative thoughts and staying positive. Sadie Frost – she’s one inspiring woman…
Pregnancy, babies and being a mummy
Pregnancy can be a wonderful thing in a woman’s life, a time full of excitement and wonderment. I experienced it four times and all my pregnancies were completely different. I suffered from hyperemesis, a complication that causes vomiting, nausea and dehydration. I was hospitalised and put on a hydration drip until my body had recuperated and was rested. Also three out of my four babies were born at 32/33 weeks, which meant their first few hours or days were spent in an incubator. So, even though having my children is the most wonderful thing I have done in my life, I know pregnancy and childbirth can also be complicated and stressful. I took a natural approach to my pregnancies and to the births but in no way would I judge the different choices women make: every woman is different, as is every pregnancy. What worked for me, though, was sticking to yoga, reflexology, positive thinking and visualisation as well as meditation, all of which are discussed in this book. These different therapies helped me with my pregnancies and the actual labour opted for water-births). I tried to eat healthily and stick to my normal diet as much as possible, never giving myself a hard time if I craved only sweets and jelly babies because when you are struggling with morning sickness you have to, to some extent, follow your cravings.
Motherhood is like nothing else, the love you feel is beyond your expectations and when you see your beautiful innocent child suddenly your life makes sense. The first few nights when I took my baby home and got to know this new human being were, to me, what dreams are made of. Of course motherhood is tiring and stressful, as you have to learn on your feet how to parent your child all the way from being a defenceless little baby to adulthood – mostly without any training. So a lot of it must be instinctive to you and again a very personal thing.
Being a mummy
When my children were born I chose that they slept in bed with me. I also chose not to let them cry themselves to sleep, and I never ignored them when they were crying and wanted something. Yes, it did mean parenting was a lot harder as I had to attend to their every need and be very hands on. But as with any stage in life, you just get on with it and face problems head on. There are highs and lows and I experienced both, including lows when I suffered from severe postnatal depression and was even hospitalised on some occasions. It was over eleven years ago when I suffered from postnatal depression and at that time there were quite a few stigmas attached to the condition. For many people it was as if you were behaving like a moaning Minnie who should be grateful and not complain that you had a beautiful baby in your arms. The simplest way I can describe it is to say that there is no rationale behind it, it hits you hard and you may experience some of the darkest and scariest days of your life, feeling cut off, lonely and possibly unsupported. If you have any concerns that you may have postnatal depression please see your doctor immediately and be reassured there is treatment that will make you feel better. In time, the feelings you have will pass and you will be able to get on with your life.
Motherhood has many different phases, from thecooing baby, the energetic toddler, the questioning and curious infant, to the rebellious and sometimes worrying teenager. You have to evolve with them and try your best to give them unconditional love. I have in no way been the perfect mother and have made many mistakes as we all have. But I have loved my children constantly and tried not to judge and expect unrealistic things from them. To me, being a mother involves teaching my children about the good things in life, being compassionate, generous and forgiving but also accepting that, at the end of the day, they have to find their own way and learn by their own mistakes – especially in their teenage years when they find you highly embarrassing and do not listen to a word you say. Above all, I try to stress to my children to have no judgement and to be loyal and loving to themselves.
Family matters and therapy
What is a normal family? What family has a completely normal set up these days? It is sad but true, what family has not suffered some tragedy, misfortune or scandal? Life is complicated, painful and, without sounding too much like a hippy, we are on a journey, experiencing life on life’s terms and learning lessons every day. The dynamics of each family are different and can be constantly evolving. Sometimes we can get into unhealthy patterns so it can be helpful to get some extra help from someone who is experienced, like a therapist. Whether you are facing things on your own or with a partner or even the whole family, problems can be shifted, aired and then hopefully remedied.
I have used therapy during various points in my life – when I lost my father, when I was going through a painful break up and when I had postnatal depression. Looking back, I can say now that with the work I put into my therapy, my whole life seems less complicated and a whole lot better.
How to keep on track & stay positive
For all of us women there is a lot to do within a day. We all have very busy lives and we are constantly multitasking. In my case having four kids, three businesses, a need to exercise, run my home, my life, kids’ lives, dogs’ lives, wanting to eat healthily and so on … it can all become really stressful. And yes, sometimes my regime completely falls apart. I eat the wrong food, drink too much and some days I just don’t feel motivated to exercise. But nobody is perfect and when you feel like this you just have to draw a line under that day and start again. Well, that’s what I do! But we have to keep on going and moderate our lives rather than being judgemental and self-critical. Through everything you do, you still have to love yourself. I always tell myself that provided I am good 95 per cent of the time, for the other 5 per cent I can live my life feeling less pressurised and constrained, and that way ultimately I can be happy, as I am not under such scrutiny. After all, it is so important to live life to the full. A friend said to me once, ‘Sadie, you have got to start living. Stop worrying!’ If you start considering how many summers you have left when you will be physically fit enough or adventurous enough to jump off the side of a boat, it gives you the impetus to utilise your time more fully and actually go for it and be daring!
With so much to think about there are several strategies to help you put yourself under less pressure, not least being organised and managing your time carefully – especially if you have a very full day ahead of you. When I’ve got a busy day ahead and I know I won’t have time to get food I put a couple of sachets of miso soup and a pack of almonds in my handbag for snacking on. Then I won’t get hungry and reach for a chocolate bar. And even though making lists, schedules and keeping diaries may seem a little clinical, they do help you feel in control and confident that you’re getting everything done, which keeps your mind at peace. I like to try to make the first few hours after I wake as smooth as possible because if that happens then the rest of the day tends to work out too. Preparing breakfast, doing the school run and getting to work can all become a lot easier if we follow a few simple steps and start the day focused, grounded and unstressed.
Of course, if you can include a walking meditation when you are walking to work, returning from school or taking your dogs to the park, you ground yourself and start the day positive and calm. While I walk my dogs, I try to think of as many positive thoughts as possible. If a negative thought comes into my mind I replace it with a positive. The more you do this the more your mind has positive thoughts. Harbouring resentments is not good for anyone, so if I am consumed with resentment towards somebody or something I try my hardest to alleviate this. A friend of mine gave me a tip for times when my mind is full of resentful thoughts about one person or some intense situation. She suggested I visualise shrinking the thought or image in question, turning it into black and white and sending it to another part of the world. I tried this and it really works; it gives the resentment less importance.
Come back next week for amazing recipes from the fabulous Amber Rose!
Nourish by Amber Rose, Sadie Frost and Holly Davidson is published by Kyle Books, priced £19.99. Photography by David Loftus.