At Baby Hero we believe parenthood is one of the great threads running through society, allowing us to connect across nationalities, languages, and ethnicities. In our Hero Parent series, we'll be interviewing mothers and fathers around the world about their experiences becoming and growing as parents.
This month's Hero Parent is management consultant Ayesha Baigmohammed, mother to 5 month old cutie Ameer. Born and raised in Pakistan, Ayesha and her husband Ibaad now live in London where they met in university. Ayesha tells us about her positive experience with the British NHS system, how becoming a mom has deepened her relationship with her husband and their plans to raise Ameer with an appreciation for his Pakistani heritage.
Discovering I was pregnant was big news for Ibaad and me. It left us in shock for a while. We had become accustomed to our no-kids lifestyle in London and were reluctant about change. Once it finally sunk in, we were over the moon. We just couldn’t wait for the baby and I guess it was the excitement that kept me strong. I had a tough pregnancy with constant cramps, aches and pains. The immobility frustrated me and It wasn’t something I was prepared for. Looking back, if this struggle can result in giving you your biggest happiness ever, it definitely is worth it!
Because of my aches and pains, the doctor advised plenty of rest. Luckily, my firm was very understanding and allowed me to work flexible hours. My usual working hours are hectic with a lot of travelling. I know women feel working while pregnant helps them keep busy, but I think expectant moms should try and relax as much as they practically can. This may be the last time they get some time to themselves and should make the most of it.
We had an amazing experience. We were initially hesitant because of some horror stories going around, but a close friend recommended registering the birth at a local hospital (University College Hospital) and that turned out to be a great decision. My delivery was tough (latent labor for 5 nights), but my midwives and doctors were extremely supportive. They provided me with the best quality care possible.Their post natal care was great.The best part of the NHS system is the community care they provide in the initial months after the delivery. Midwives, health visitors and lactation consultants visited me every day for the first 8 weeks. I am sure some people have had bad experiences but based on mine I would recommend it to anyone.
Both Ibaad and I come from very close-knit families and we couldn’t imagine having our first baby without our families by our side (especially the grandparents). It was such a special occasion and we loved the fact that we could share it with our loved ones. Both the families provided immense support to both Ibaad and me. We have amazing stories, videos and pictures to share with Ameer when he grows up. There were hilarious moments (both grandmothers having panic attacks close to the delivery) but we wouldn’t have had it any other way. I don’t know how new parents manage a drastic change in their lives without any support. The last few days before the birth and the first few days post-birth are the hardest for both the mum and dad and they need as much support as they can get. I was being pampered the entire time, not needing to worry about things around the house, leaving me to focus my time and attention on Ameer.
Raising a child away from Pakistan was a very difficult decision. If Pakistan did not have the kinds of security issues it does, I would not raise Ameer away from home. We had such a wonderful childhood in Pakistan with our families and would have wanted Ameer to have the same experiences. He is missing out on bonding time with his whole family and it bothers me a lot. We will try to teach Ameer Urdu and make sure he understands and appreciates Pakistani culture. We are very proud of our heritage and want Ameer to be equally proud. Living in London has its' advantages; it has allowed the three of us to bond as a family unit. Ibaad and I get to devote all our time and attention to Ameer which a lot of parents in Pakistan don’t get to do. Because I don’t have any help here, I get to do everything for Ameer on my own and love it!
This was something that haunted me throughout my pregnancy and I remember nagging Ibaad about how we should do all that we can now because life will completely change after the baby. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes, life has changed but it has brought Ibaad and me much closer. We can’t do the same things as we used to before but we would rather be spending time with Ameer instead. Ibaad is a pretty hands-on father and is great with Ameer. We cherish every moment with him and make the most of our time together once he is asleep. Early bedtimes have actually really helped (although we spend most of that time just talking about Ameer and looking at his pictures again and again). Maybe when he is older, we can consider suitable childcare options. I am a pretty paranoid mum at the moment and not sure how I will deal with that.
I would say the hardest part about being a mother is the sleep deprivation but that's not a struggle as such. People who know me well would know how important sleep was for me. I couldn’t manage anything if I didn’t get my 8 hours of sleep every night. Funnily enough, I have just learnt to accept it and live with it. It drives me crazy every night when I have to wake up every hour but I completely forget about it when the morning arrives and I have these big gorgeous eyes staring at me from the cot. I bet my husband would beg to differ as he has to deal with a very unpleasant me at times – it can get annoying when the little one wakes me up every hour while dad gets to sleep 8 hours non-stop at a stretch!!!!
So far, I have loved everything about being a mother. I never thought I would be so maternal but the feeling is so great that I can’t compare it with anything in the world. Ibaad thinks I perhaps have become a bit too involved and obsessed with Ameer. I think the hardest part is yet to come when I will have to return to work and leave my darling son at home. I am not thinking about it at all at the moment and will cross that bridge when it comes.
The UK has great maternity options as compared to some other countries; every mother is allowed to take up to 12 months which is perfect. Pay packages vary between employers, but the minimum statutory pay is almost full pay for the first 6 weeks and a certain amount (not a lot!) for the next 33 weeks. As much as I hate the idea of going back, I will have to go back to work as my current visa requires me to. Hopefully I can work flexible hours and most companies have relatively good flexible working policies.
As much as my husband and I love going out, we have realized Ameer is not an outdoor baby. He hates being bundled up in the winter and puts up a fight every time we got him out. Now that the weather has improved and he isn’t layered so much, he likes to look out and observe his surroundings. Favorite outings are either to the park or his Gymboree classes. Once Ameer is a little older, I am sure he will get to experience a lot more of what London has to offer in terms of sports, arts, culture and diversity.
Big sparkly eyes full of mischief and curiosity – my own little curious George!
An adorable smile to die for
Gorgeous flock of black hair
The best thing about the onesie is the amazing soft fabric. Ameer ends up having daily mishaps and I have to wash his outfits often but because Baby Hero's products use high quality fabric - it doesn’t lose its softness even after multiple washes. It is worth praising what a great initiative this is and a very generous concept. I was lucky enough to receive high standard healthcare at birth and my heart goes out to women who don’t have such opportunities at such an important time in their life. Kudos to Baby Hero and I wish them best of luck and success for all future endeavours.