Amy Ransom, if you haven’t heard of her writes a wonderfully funny and honest account of being a parent over on her blog, ‘Surviving Motherhood’. I was introduced to Amy at a Bloggers event in April 2015 and she’s one of those ladies you instantly warm too, chatty and friendly with a wicked sense of humour. Since meeting, we’ve kept in touch via the wonder that is Social Media, her Instagram account being my favourite place for updates. Think toddler tantrums, not quite nailing breakfast and gin, lots of gin. Amy has a newly published, awesomely pink book out now called, ‘The New Mum’s Notebook’ and she’s here to tell me all about it:
Hi Amy! Please tell me a bit about yourself and your background:
Where to start? (That makes it sound way more interesting than it actually is, by the way.) Well, I live in London with my husband and three kids. I was a media PA for 15 years after graduating in English Literature. Then one day, I wrote a book, started a blog, had a third child and realised that getting out of the house to an actual job was now impossible. So these days, I attempt motherhood and writing instead. Writing was all I ever wanted to do anyway but no one is more surprised than me that I’m actually making a living (of very modest sorts) from it. Words make me happy. So does a semi-colon. I’m a geek.
Your blog, Surviving Motherhood has been going since 2013, what made you start it?
I self-published a book and my techy cousin told me I had to start a blog to publicise it. I was like, ‘Really? That sounds like a lot of work.’ One blog post in and I totally fell in love with the medium and forgot all about the book.
You’re very honest and open on your blog, did you purposely set out to write in such a way, or is that actually just you?
It’s actually just me. Honesty is my thing, it always has been. It is both a blessing and a curse. You make some amazing friendships because you’re open and that encourages others to open up too. But sometimes I wish I could put on a fake smile when we’re hurtling down the road to school, me screaming, someone crying. Because we’re late again. But it isn’t me. And I accept that now. I’ll always wear my heart on my sleeve.
You’ve penned two other books to date, have you always loved writing?
Always. I have notebooks and folders full of articles and stories that never saw the light of day. I didn’t want to be a traditional journalist because, as my lovely dad puts it, ‘I’m not big on current affairs.’ So finding an outlet wasn’t easy for me and I guess I just thought writing was a little dream that would never be fulfilled.
Where did the idea of ‘The New Mum’s Notebook’ come from?
When I had baby no. 3, I fell apart. I was diagnosed with PND at 8 weeks post partum but I knew I was in big trouble at around 3 weeks. I had so many wonderful people around me, looking out for me. My practice nurse actually came to my house and did the first home visit of her 30 year career because she suspected something was wrong. It’s the only reason I got better, and quickly. Part of the problem, I feel, is that women have such unrealistic expectations of motherhood. We don’t know what’s normal and what’s not. We don’t expect to feel a mess. Overwhelmed. Lonely. I wanted to create something that walks a new mum through her first year of motherhood, whether it is baby no. 1 or 6! That supports her like a friend would. That tells her what’s normal. That tells her she’s doing a great job. But I didn’t want to lecture her – no new mum needs more advice she can’t process – I wanted her to feel reassured in the choices she’s already making. So I’ve made it into a journal. That she can write her own thoughts in whilst getting some positive encouragement at the same time.
Do you feel that some of the other baby books out there are a little to ‘flowery’ with the truth of what having a baby & motherhood is really like?
Honestly, I couldn’t comment as I didn’t really read any. Aside from Gina Ford, that is, who is as unflowery as they come! She was my best friend with babies 1 and 2. Should I even admit that? Baby no. 3, the boy, had his own ideas. He was much more Gerry than Gina. If I had to say anything about baby books, I would probably say that they can add more pressure to a new mum’s life. The first three months is not the time to be making huge decisions or beating yourself up because your baby isn’t doing what the book says they should be doing. It’s taken me three kids to learn that. And although I do have brilliant sleepers (they’re high maintenance when they’re awake though), which is possibly due to Gina, I stressed myself out about all sorts of other stuff that just didn’t matter.
What can readers expect from your book?
Support and reassurance. It doesn’t matter how you gave birth, how you’re feeding your baby, whether you rock your baby to sleep or stand on your head singing Justin Bieber, you are the best mum for your baby. The End. Your baby. Your rules.
You refer to the book as being a ‘Every new mum’s companion. Like having her best friend by her side’, what do you hope readers will gain from reading it?
I hope they will dip into it as often as they like, read something that makes them feel better, then jot down how they’re feeling or anything that comes to mind so they can always look back and see how far they’ve come.
Do you have a favourite section of the book?
I love the quote pages. Short, sharp affirmations that my brilliant friend and graphic designer, Gina (not that Gina I should add), made utterly beautiful. I also love that it’s split into 12 months so a new mum is being guided, gently, through the first year.
Is it something you wish had been around, when you became a first time mum?
Yes. Every time I’ve had a baby, my poor sister has had to listen to me say, ‘I didn’t feel like this last time!’ and remind me that I totally did. The low moments? The strange physical sensations? The night sweats that made me wake up with a 1980s perm? Every. Single. Time.
And finally, I know this gets asked by everyone, but what really is the best bit of advice you’ve been given/or have about being a first time (or second, or third!) mum?
Babies grow up quick. Those new baby cuddles soon get replaced by stroppy toddlers that challenge the hell out of you. Then your 6 year old rolls her eyes at you and gives you attitude. So although it sucks that you’re knackered and your baby won’t sleep, don’t waste your energy wishing any phase away. Because there’s another one just waiting around the corner. Learn to ride the wave of motherhood. And remember that nothing lasts forever. Except love. That totally does. Thank god.
I am in love with that quote, ‘Learn to ride the wave of motherhood!’ I wish this book had been out two years ago when I had my baby. New mums (and not so new mums) need something like this on the market, a truly honest account of motherhood written by someone who isn’t sugar coating things. Amy’s book, ‘The New Mum’s Notebook’ is available soon, if you want to be first in line and buy it 24 hours ahead of the official launch, sign up to the website now. The book will retail at £20.