Real Motherhood Stories: Bryony & Evelyn | Documentary photography | Huntingdon & Cambridgeshire family photographer

Real Motherhood Stories is about using the power of photography to tell the story of motherhood through the real and honest moments; capturing mothers being mums and sharing your words alongside your photographs to create a meaningful legacy to give to your children. 

In Bryony's words:

My mum, nan and grandma were big inspirations to me growing up.  I’ve always wanted children. I was definitely going to have children. It wasn’t planned. Originally we wanted to buy a house first, then probably get married and have a baby. So Evelyn was a bit of a surprise, but it was always in there (to have a baby). Now we wouldn’t change it. It happens for a reason.

Black and white photograph of mother and her baby

My pregnancy went well. I didn’t have any problems, apart from having Cholestasis (a liver condition) at the end of my pregnancy. I felt I had it easy.  We had kept the baby’s sex a surprise. I very much thought we were having a boy, but everybody thought we were having a girl. I absolutely loved not knowing though. It made it more exciting. We were just like take it as it comes.

I had regular check-ups because of the Cholestasis, but the birth was straightforward.  The breastfeeding was the most difficult thing. In the beginning it was really hard, I really struggled with breastfeeding. That was probably the hardest part; breastfeeding was harder than giving birth. The first time when we were out and Evelyn needed feeding I kind of worked myself up on where to feed her, what I was doing and it was horrible. 

My mum and nan didn’t breastfeed. I think their generation were told that formula was better. …To begin with Evelyn lost quite a bit of weight, so even when she was feeding constantly she wasn’t properly feeding. I am always very much go with the flow and whatever happens, happens, but by day 5 when she lost more than 10% of her body weight. The midwife was saying you need to bring her to the hospital straight away. She then needed all these tests done, like heel-foot test, so instantly you then almost start to worry. In the hospital, we were told to write down how much she was feeding, etc, so we almost got a bit too preoccupied with that. 

When we were in hospital we saw a breastfeeding specialist, who asked us what we wanted, and because we had got so far, we felt like we almost wanted to give breastfeeding a try. It was lovely to have her support, because we would have given up much earlier if it hadn’t been for her. When Evelyn started to go up the percentile line, it kind of felt like we were doing something right.

Mother breastfeeding her baby black and white photograph

The first time I realised I was feeding Evelyn in public I didn’t even think about it. I think that was the first time when I understood what she wanted and you felt like you nailed it a bit. I think that was my most favourite part was when I didn’t realise I was doing it. So now it’s like we feed her and it’s fantastic.

baby upside-down in mother's arm

We still have what we wrote down in Evelyn’s memory box, because we literally wrote down every single feed she had in the first three weeks. We kind of became quite preoccupied with that and became our focus, so then it took a while for us to relax again like she’s fine and there’s no problem there.

I also kept the bands from hospital, the hat she came home in and her first babygro. We’d also kept all the cards from my baby shower and when she was born. We just add to it as we go. We haven’t written anything. We made some scrapbooks with the baby milestone cards my mum and sister got for us. So I tried to take photos of her as a bump to when she was first born. Then she’s got one for her first year.

mother and baby looking in the baby's record journal

At the beginning babies don’t do much. She was always easy-going as a newborn….It can be easy not to go to the baby classes, not to go out. It’s much easier to stay in and not do anything, whereas it’s so good for the both of us to actually get out, go to classes or even meet up with some friends for coffee. 

Now that Evelyn interacts with us, like we can make her laugh. It’s almost like it gets better. We get excited for her to do that and do more. I want her to wear pretty clothes, but I also want her to play football in mud. Like I want her to do a bit of everything. Obviously she’ll do what she wants to do, which is absolutely fine and you’ll love them no matter what. We’re not the type of parents that gets stressed or strict on following a routine.

Becoming a mother has changed me, like before I would just do what everyone else wants to do. I’m very much a people-pleaser, so I go along with whatever is easier or felt I had to. Whereas now I have a reason not to and have more priorities.

I’ll be going back to work soon and found a nursery for her. I’m quite excited for her to go to nursery. I think it’s so important for her to socialise and have her own life. I’m excited for her (when she’s a little older) to have her own friends and for her to come home and say what she did today.

Baby's hand resting on mother's mouth in the doorway of the kitc