PARENTING: Regular columnist Reah Marshall talk maternal instincts

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I always knew that I wanted to be a Mum. It took longer than I imagined, but now my son is here, it feels like I’ve never been without him.

Of course, there was a time when my lifestyle was very different.

I first moved out of home when I was 18, got a flat and quickly became fiercely independent. I had to grow up quite quickly, as my parents divorced when I was young, and I had often had to fend for myself throughout my teens.

However, within my circle of friends, I was always known as ‘Mother Marshy’, a name bestowed upon me due to my natural maternal instincts. My flat was often a drop-in centre for the waifs and strays amongst my friendship group. It has always been my nature to nurture.

Perhaps the turbulence of my own childhood drove me to ensure that those closest in my life would always receive the love, support and comfort which I felt was lacking when I was growing up.

Despite this intrinsic need to protect those around me, I was very much a party animal. I smoked, I drank heavily and was pretty wild throughout my twenties.

As I entered my thirties, I began to slow down.

I think I had always planned to have children earlier, but I believe my lifestyle got in the way. However, as my partner and I passed thirty, I still couldn’t seem to stop the late nights and addictions.

Waiting for the right time to quit my bad habits was just creating too many barriers.

There were also too many variables getting in the way. The house wasn’t suitable, we didn’t have enough money, the list seemed endless.

Despite this, and to my surprise, I fell pregnant at 31. The very second I found out, I immediately stopped smoking, drinking and eating unhealthily. The maternal instincts came through with a vengeance which surprised us all.

My body became a temple, I ate healthy meals, lots of fruit & veg/vitamins.

I exercised and rested well in between. During labour, I remained focused, calm and without pain-relief. Again, I feel that this was down to my body and innate instincts, overriding my previous indecision and dictating my actions.

In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have had any habits to kick. But I believe that I’m living proof that it doesn’t matter what you did in the past, it’s the decisions you make when it counts is what really matters.

If you’re struggling with the same dilemmas as me, wanting to kick a certain lifestyle before even trying for a family, just remember that you may have it in you to surprise yourself when it really counts.

By DT Parenting Columnist Reah Marshall