Meet the awesome mama juggling celeb photoshoots and raising two small humans. We chat child care, pandemic pregnancy and leaky boobs with award winning photographer, Felicity McCabe.
WERE YOU PREPARED FOR THE ARRIVAL OF NUMBER 1?
Nope! I thought I was prepared. We had painted the nursery room, and bought the cot and the car seat, and done the antenatal course. But psychologically I really wasn’t prepared.
Until number 1 arrived, I had no idea just how much this little person would depend on me. Obviously, I knew that babies were pretty useless at cooking up their own dinners, but I just had no idea that I would be completely and utterly at the beck and call of this tiny person every single minute of the day and night. That was a shock.
WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF BEING PREGNANT AND HAVING A TODDLER DURING THE PANDEMIC?
I think that we were lucky. We have a work space at the bottom of our garden, so my partner and I could share the childcare equally and still work on our projects from home, which definitely helped us to keep sane.
My little boy happily pottered in the garden during that beautiful weather. Too young to really miss friends or realise what was happening around us. The paddling pool was the best investment of 2020!
I really felt for families with older children who had to miss school and friends. That must have been so tough to go through.
When I was about 4 or 5 months pregnant with number two in 2021, I remember feeling very smug that I’d timed it so well as the covid numbers were dropping really low. I remember thinking that by the time I went into labour it would probably be all over. Then the Delta variant came along and wiped that smug grin right off my face.
HOW WAS THE TRANSITION FROM 1-2?
It wasn’t so bad to be honest. I was gearing myself up for the huge upheaval and rollercoaster of emotions that I had felt with having our first little one. But this time, everything was so different.
I did a course in hypnobirthing, and I also had some help from a wonderful doula to help me understand what had happened the first time around. It really helped me to have a happy birth experience. I came home the same day and we just started to muddle along. There’s definitely been tricky bits and I do miss the days of joining them for nap time. But I love how Number 1 sings to Number 2 and makes her chuckle. I’m mostly fuelled by coffee and dark chocolate nowadays, but it’s worth it.
DID YOU TAKE MATERNITY LEAVE?
Yes, I took about 9 months off with my first one and will probably do the same this time. I’m self-employed though, so during both maternity breaks I’ve had to keep up with accounts and admin, and have also taken on a few small commissions and kept pottering on with some of my own projects.
I have a pathological need to keep making stuff, so it doesn’t feel like “going to work” when I make pictures. It makes me happy. When I can’t make pictures, I make cakes and bread, and that is so unhelpful when you’re trying to shift the baby weight.
HOW DO YOU JUGGLE YOUR ROLES, BOTH AS A PHOTOGRAPHER AND AS A MUM?
When I first started taking on commissions again, my partner or my mum would come with me to look after the baby nearby so I could breastfeed between shots. Then when he got a bit bigger, and he could stay home with my other half, I would just have to deal with the porn star boobs that would turn up around 5pm after not seeing baby all day.
I remember directing a British national treasure for an advert and suddenly realising I had two wet saucers of boob milk soaking through my tee shirt as I discussed the character motivation with her. So awkward.
ANY ADVICE FOR NEW MUMS?
Keep a spare pair of reusable breast pads in your bag (see previous answer). And just enjoy the cuddles and gappy grins. Everything changes constantly so no need to worry. It’ll all work itself out.
I’m just enjoying the last few months of this maternity break as it’ll be the last time I get to do this, and in my spare moments I’m working on a long-term project that I hope will make it into book form at some point.
FINALLY – WHAT’S THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU WANT TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN
To be happy. I hope they laugh every single day of their life.
Check out more of Felicity’s amazing work here