Meet Alice, the gorgeous first time mum who took having her baby at 32 weeks in her stride. Alice shares her practical advice about ‘controlling the controllables’ and making sure you have everything ‘baby’ set up well in advance. We also love her honesty around the realities of juggling motherhood and the importance of having your ‘village’ around you for support.
Can you tell us about your career journey?
I’m a communications manager for a large online media business. I studied public relations at university and I’ve worked across media buying, in-house communications teams and PR agencies.
Congratulations on being a mum to gorgeous little William. It sounds like he was quite keen to make his entrance into the world, arriving at 32 weeks. Can you tell us what happened?
I was going about my business (literally, at work in meetings) for a couple of days until I realised something wasn’t quite right, so I called my obstetrician. When he said, ‘How quickly can you get into hospital?’ I knew it could be serious. It was 7.30AM in the morning and I was ready to go to work. My husband drove me in. I called my manager in the car on the way to let her know. I had nothing with me except my work clothes and handbag. I honestly believed I’d be going into the office later that day … oh, how wrong I was!
At the hospital my obstetrician confirmed my waters had broken—I was shocked. At 31 weeks and five days, the main aim was to keep baby cooking until at least 32 weeks, which is known as ‘the magic number’ for having a premmie baby. At 32 weeks, the chance of complications dramatically reduces and babies spend time in a special care unit instead of a neonatal ward.
So there I was, unexpectedly holed up in hospital on bedrest for a few days. We got to 32 weeks without a blip, and my obstetrician was pretty certain I’d be going home the following day, and I’d be back at 36 weeks to be induced all going well. As it happens in the baby delivery business, things can change pretty quickly. My husband and I were hanging out in the hospital room that night when my obstetrician walked in. He was in shorts and a t-shirt (not his usual suit or scrubs) so I was suss straight away! He said the nurses had called him into the hospital as the baby’s activity had slowed down. He’d changed his mind—he wanted to get the baby out tonight. We would be parents in a couple of hours, he said. William Timothy Herbert Hodges was born on 20 January 2017 at 11.12PM, eight weeks ahead of schedule, yet absolutely perfect.
Wow that must have been quite a shock. How did you feel starting parental leave earlier than expected?
To be honest, it was the furthest thing from my mind when things started happening and I had to go to hospital. When I had a bit of downtime in hospital though (before we knew Will was about to arrive), my manager and I had a few conversations—we were talking about me starting leave earlier than expected, given my changed circumstances. I can’t say I was disappointed or felt cheated by my abrupt start to parental leave. As the saying goes ‘control the controllables’—and this situation was definitely out of everyone’s control!
What are your tips for anyone preparing to go on parental leave?
Pack your bags. And set up the baby’s room, way in advance of when you think you have to.
How do you juggle motherhood?
It’s true what they say: it’s the best and hardest job in the world. I have absolutely loved the journey so far but I did not know how challenging it can get. Having a support crew or a ‘village’ around you is so important. I’m lucky as I have a wonderful husband, great family, kind neighbours and lots of friends, including new mates from my amazing mother’s group. All of these people have helped me make the transition into motherhood. It definitely takes a village.
What is the best career advice you have ever been given?
People won’t remember what you’ve done, but they will remember how you made them feel.
Lastly, at the end of a busy week, how do you positively re-energise?
Uber Eats and a couple of glasses of wine. Uber Eats is a godsend for anyone on parental leave!!
Favourite time of the day is … 8PM—unwind time on the couch with my husband. Our guilty pleasure is Gogglebox!
I’m happiest when … I’m spending time with my husband and son.
I’m addicted to … Uber Eats.
Favourite wardrobe staple for work … a very well-cut blazer.
Favourite wardrobe staple for weekend … jeans and a tee.
My role model is … Queen Oprah Winfrey.
Heels or flats? At 5 ft 2, I’ll say heels.