My Journey Into Motherhood: Hannah Strafford-Taylor

With more than 260,000 followers on Instagram, who doesn’t enjoy watching the uber glamorous Hannah Strafford-Taylor document her London life with husband Ian and daughters Soleil, nine and Winter, three? But it didn’t all come easy. Here, she tells us all about it and what being a parent has taught her…

For me, my journey into motherhood was a long one. I met my husband when I was 24, and we had only been together for a short time when I found out he had had a vasectomy and didn’t plan to have any more children. As a result, we broke up. I had always dreamt of becoming a mother – so, for me, it was a deal-breaker.

After some months apart, he agreed we could have a baby if we were still together after a few yearsFive years on, after we were married, we started trying. Our original plan was for him to reverse his vasectomy, but it didn’t work, so we had to go down the IVF route. We did our first ‘fresh’ IVF cycle, which heartbreakingly failed, but thankfully we got some good quality embryos that were frozen. A few cycles later, I was pregnant with Soleil. Incredibly, Winter is from the same batch of embryos, despite her having been frozen for six years. It blows my mind to think if they had put them in at the same time, they would have been twins.

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Like most people, my labours didn’t quite work out as I had planned. When I was pregnant with Soleil, I practiced hypno-birthing every day and was determined to “breathe my baby out”. But around 36 weeks, the doctors became concerned she wasn’t growing properly, so I started to be closely monitored. IVF transfers are always at a higher risk of placental complications.

I ended up having to go into hospital to be induced at 39 weeks. Before they even started the induction, I started to feel a stabbing pain and Soleil’s heart rate dropped, so I was whizzed upstairs for an emergency C-section. Even though this wasn’t the labour I’d imagined, it was wonderful and was over so quickly. My doctor performed what’s called a natural C-section, where the baby almost pushes their way up after the incision. I watched the whole thing.

I wasn’t offered a natural birth with Winter. Following a past accident, I suffer from chronic vestibular migraines and because of my previous experience with Soleil, I wasn’t given the option. For me, both my C-sections were fine and I recovered well, without the need for painkillers, which I know is unusual.

Nothing prepares you for how deliriously tired you’ll be in the first few days. Everyone tells you you’re going to be exhausted, but for me, those early days were both magical and intoxicating. Those baby cuddles, that overwhelming love and sheer pride that this tiny, incredible baby is all yours. I would love to do it all again – it’s quite addictive.

Before I had Soleil I was working as a model. I never planned to go back, first, because I was getting older and figured no one would have me and second, I never thought we’d have another child, so I didn’t want to miss a single moment.

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Both times around I absolutely loved being pregnant. I enjoyed having a bump and knowing there was a baby growing inside me. But I probably enjoyed the second pregnancy more. Because it had been such a long road to get there, I was terrified of miscarrying or having a stillbirth the first time around. When you fall pregnant in an IVF environment, you hear lots of sad stories and it made me paranoid, so I had scans every week.

With Winter I just knew everything was going to be okay. Even when I had my natural killer cells blood test at 10 weeks and they were so high my IVF clinic thought I would lose her, my belief that she would be fine never wavered.

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I had the same routine for both girls because it worked for our lifestyle, but the first time around I definitely worried more. Soleil didn’t walk until she was 18 months old and her speech was slightly delayed – I spent so much time worrying about it when I could have been just enjoying my time with her. Knowing how quickly time passes, I didn’t fret so much the second time. 

I know it’s a cliché, but from the second I became a mum, I felt complete. I was so happy and fulfilled. Like all mothers, my children are my world. I feel extremely lucky.

Everybody says time flies, but it’s scary how true that is. It’s taught me to be more patient and understanding; to live in the moment and be grateful and positive, which isn’t always easy. My mother grew up on a farm and always said it’s the simple things that count, and she’s right. Becoming a mother has really taught me that.

 

For me, the hardest thing about motherhood is being a working mum. Over the last few years, my Instagram has really grown into a full-time job. I have a fabulous assistant now, which has made life so much easier, and my mum helps with the girls two weeks a month. But it’s a real juggle and I feel real guilt. My girls will always be my first priority so I often work late and get up early to get ahead.

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My favourite part of motherhood is, honestly, the simple things. It’s the laughing, the cuddles, and just being with them. And, as they get older, I love the chatting. Soleil is growing up to be such a wonderful little girl, everyone comments how kind and caring she is, while the talks Winter and I have could keep me laughing for hours. 

I think it would surprise some people, but I’m actually quite strict. I like routine and am big on manners and making sure the girls are well behaved. But that said, I’m relaxed on things like chocolate and TV and we have a lot of silly fun. I think it’s important children are allowed to be children – they’re little for such a short amount of time.

If I look back on my childhood, I remember being happy and feeling loved. Cuddling my father on the sofa eating penny sweets from the newsagent and skipping everywhere holding my mums hand and feeling incredibly safe. My mum is amazing; she is totally selfless and always puts everyone before herself. My bond with her is the reason I wanted children so badly. If I am half the mother she is, I’d be happy and I know my girls would be, too.

There isn't anything I wish I'd known before having children, but I sometimes wish I had travelled more. Though I’ve seen lots of the world, there are still so many places I haven’t. Long-haul flights and jet lag with children just isn’t fun.

Follow Hannah @hannahstraffordtaylor

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