I never wanted kids. There, I said it. Can you relate?
Do, or did you, feel like you were closeted with those feels? My acknowledgement back in the day to a child was “it” or “that” when a little one was around. I felt that way for all of my teens, my twenties and dare I say, my early 30’s. If I told myself at that time that I would become the founder of a podcast series focused on parenting, I would have laughed in disbelief. I was so focused on dancing and performing on Broadway that my career came first and any disruption wasn’t welcomed. I was that career driven “modern woman” who could only see success, a rising bank account and the latest handbag…I love a good bag.
It took until I turned 34 to find, trust, and believe that I had found the right person to help make me a mom.
I can genuinely look back to when I first started dating my now husband, Rikki, that I could see having kids with him. Our biggest downfall, if you would call it a downfall, was that we were both workaholics. Fitness always went hand in hand with my Broadway dancing career, and was a passion of mine. So when I opened the doors to my barre fitness studio in central London in 2018, Define London, it became my first baby.
As I focused on growing Define, my husband was also building his own business, a solar energy company in Uganda. Yes, you heard that right, Uganda. He didn’t do the usual daily commute, he was in a completely different country. We were apart a lot and essentially did everything we could to support each other. High five’s for the big wins and pep talks over the phone when the chips were down.
I had my first pretty big blow not long after I opened Define, as my dad suddenly passed away just a mere 5 weeks after our big opening celebration. Both of my parents were there for the big night. It was wonderful to have both families celebrating and supporting my hard work. I love being a daughter. I love having parents and feel very thankful for all that they navigated for me. My mom to this day still helps with the solicited and “unsolicited” advice…but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Rikki and I began real talks about having kids after the sudden passing of my dad. We agreed we didn’t want to put pressure on each other. Let’s just see what happens! No luck for the remainder of 2018 and into 2019. Rikki’s work was really picking up and we were seeing each other when we could, but not as frequently as before.
I guess we hit a bit of a “jackpot” as I found out I was expecting.
Now, let’s talk about the realisations that accompany that positive pregnancy test, “Oh, hell I had tequila!” and “I’ve been eating so poorly.” Yes, that was me and Rikki, since we really were not peeing on the sticks and being 100% kind to our bodies. We got very lucky in our “geriatric years” and I was knocked up.
When I fell pregnant, it was our “right time” and it was the first time in a very long time that I felt a sense of calm.
The hormone rush was bananas at the beginning. They balanced out in trimester number two and well, it was back to upside down emotional craziness for trimester number three. I just wanted her out! Enough with the waddling like a duck!
I gave birth to my little babe, Adiya, in February 2020.
I had the pressure of my husband being constantly away while I was pregnant so the breathing classes and couples birthing classes weren’t in the cards. I think he was around for one scan the entire pregnancy. Am I angry? Nope, this was our game plan. I elected for a cesarean delivery as I felt that was a tick in the box I could control and mentally handle going in for. I also chose not to breastfeed. There, I said it! I chose not to breastfeed. I am a small business owner with a huge amount of pressure on my shoulders with the bricks and mortar that I felt I would not be able to juggle breastfeeding and the business. Judging me yet? It’s ok, I’ve been judged my entire life as I was raised in the performing world. I’ve got broad shoulders and can handle it. I found comfort from my mom when I told her my decisions and it turns out that is actually how she gave birth and fed both me and my brother. I took comfort in that and thought, we didn’t come out so bad.
After Adiya was born, we were put into national lockdown. We all felt the hysteria; the uncertainty for everyone.
COVID-19 was here, businesses were plummeting, we shifted Define to fully virtual, and there I was, teaching with a 4 week old newborn on my hip in the middle of a pandemic. By no stretch did I visualise this post-birth story. We were in sink or swim mode. I, to this day, never recommend working out that soon after giving birth, period. You get no medals for it, what you get is a hell of a lot more leakage, soreness, full body pain and an overwhelming sense of emotional disconnect. I wasn’t proud of myself. Yes, I successfully transferred my business to virtual, but I did lose the physical brick and mortar space. That hit me hard, but let me tell you, Adiya softened all of the blows as she was there every step of the way either strapped to my front, on my hip or nestled in her pram.
I share this journey in hopes for the newly expecting moms out there to find confidence and broad shoulders with all of their mothering choices.
It doesn’t have to be dictated by what we see as shiny and perfect on social media, from your circle of friends, or even your other half. Yes, receive advice and take it in. Ask yourself: Does it serve you? How does it make you feel? You will have so much coming at you that the most important thing is that you remain your best, strongest self throughout the process. You are not a failure if you don’t give birth in a pool and you are not a failure if you chose to give birth via Cesarean. There is no extra medal of honour for any of it. Bringing a child into the world is the absolute honour. Your journey of getting through all the ups, downs and all arounds. This is what makes and shapes your story.
I was pretty freaking strong pre-baby. Now, I feel like my power is far greater. I have a more meaningful voice and I want to be the best role model, support system, and sounding board for my daughter.
I can only hope that other mothers out there learn to relish in the big wins of motherhood and learn, grow, and fly away from the big lows… there are lots of those!
I personally live with this slogan: “At Its Best”. There can be crayon markings on the walls, the biggest diaper blowout, perhaps I forgot a change of clothes that day for a long car ride. I am trying! I am simply trying to be my best every single day for my little one and I hope others out there can feel inspired to lead each day with At Its Best… because you are.
Ashley is a mom, founder of the Bizzimumzi podcast, and founder of Define London fitness studio. She is a former Broadway performer, celebrity trainer and located in the heart of central London. Ashley’s goal is to use her voice and platform to create a welcoming community to share the highs and lows of parenting, and inspire others to feel empowered in their journey. As a self-proclaimed coffee infused mom and business owner, she has an infectious smile and warm demeanor as she spreads love and a sense of belonging to all that meet her. Subscribe and listen to the BizziMumzi Podcast to learn more!