Lynette Fay: I knew my life would change but I didn't know the whole world would
The advantage of having a baby in my 40s is that I am fairly sure who I am at this point in my life. I know my own mind. I was completely ready for this
OCTOBER 31 2019. It was Brexit day (again) and I joked that it was also the day of Lynexit. Having signed off from The Irish News column a couple of weeks earlier, this was the day my very big bump and I left the Radio Ulster studios. My first baby’s arrival was imminent.
Seven months later I have a bouncing, rolling, inquisitive, happy, baby girl, who sleeps sometimes and loves blowing ‘raspberries’ since she discovered her tongue last week. Every week brings a new milestone in her life. It’s incredible to watch.
As expected, life has completely changed. Sometimes Halloween last year seems like yesterday, sometimes it seems like years ago. I find myself typing during what we now call ‘the witching hour’, when the baby gets cranky because she’s tired, but she will be asleep soon and we will get an hour or two to ourselves. That time is now sacred. All parents know exactly how I feel.
So, after only having myself to take care of and manage for many years, how am I getting on? Honestly, I take every day as it comes. Today was a very good day because Neansaí decided to sleep for most of the night last night. Sleep is a luxury now and a valuable commodity.
When I was pregnant and then when I had the baby, there was no shortage of advice coming my way. People really don’t hold back on the baby advice, do they? Most of it was well intentioned but eventually I had to blank a lot of it out. I was completely overwhelmed and it made me very anxious.
My partner, mother, cousin and a couple of like-minded friends have kept me sane. I don’t engage in online forums. I don’t follow ‘Mummy’ accounts on social media. I value my sanity too much. As boring as it sounds, I have found that the best attitude is to just get on with it. Oh, and there’s no point gurning about being tired. I have accepted that as a way of life now.
Before the world changed completely, maternity leave was going well, but if I’m really honest, it was getting mundane and I was very lonely at times. Most family and friends are busy during the day when I have the time and energy to engage in conversation. Come evening, I’m exhausted and ready for bed by nine. Rock agus roll!
I think that lockdown and maternity leave are very similar – I didn’t leave the vicinity of the house very often, we tired to ‘do a big shop’ every week, staying in was the new gong out and the BBC Breakfast team felt like family.
The advantage of having a baby in my 40s is that I am fairly sure who I am at this point in my life. I know my own mind. I was completely ready for this.
Despite any amount of advice to the contrary, I have been adamant that I wanted to return to work as soon as possible. In fact, circumstances beyond my control have meant that my maternity leave was slightly extended. I have enjoyed the extra time, but I’m self-employed, so it’s time to shake myself and get back at it. Must do is a good master.
While returning to work was inevitable, going back to work in the middle of a global pandemic was unforeseen. I knew that my life would have changed forever by now, but I never expected the same to apply to every single one of us, in every way possible.
Just before I was due, the Radio Ulster schedules changed. After 15 years of working weekends, my working week changed to Monday to Friday. I presented my new afternoon show (creatively called The Lynette Fay Show) for only two weeks, so it didn’t feel real.
From today, it is! It’s like the first day of school and, as such, I am excited and nervous about it.
As well as trying to remember how to speak to and engage audiences today, I will make an effort to cover up the really bad hair situation, find clothes that fit, use an iron and apply some make-up, all the while telling myself that I can do this.
And then there’s the guilt I was told about. That part was not exaggerated. It is real and I feel it, but I will deal with it. I have to.