This week we are lucky enough to have yet another inspiring mum boss on the blog. Charlotte, who you might also know as Emily (all will become clear), is responsible for some of the most-liked photos on some of the most popular Instagram feeds, yet we rarely catch a glimpse of the lady herself! The reason being is this Mama is more commonly found behind, rather than in front of the lens. YES! We have Charlotte the owner of Emily Gray Photography (herein lies the name confusion).
As well as juggling a successful business and finding time to be creative, Charlotte is also responsible for raising two smalls. If that didn’t keep her busy enough she also recently raised an amazing £3238 for Save the Children’s Child Refugee Appeal by organising a marathon all-day, non-stop photo shoot for local families in Hackney, where she lives. Here she shares her experience of motherhood and best of all, she has an extra-special, pre-Christmas treat for readers of the blog…!
Number of Kids: 2
Names and ages: Iris (3) and Vivienne (1)
Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?
It was planned, but it’s still a surprise!
What were your initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?
Shock! I wasn’t sure it was going to happen for us. I was totally floored and ran to the chemist to buy another couple of tests. They came back positive, so I ran back to the chemist to buy their most expensive test, which told me I was 5+ weeks pregnant. Turns out I was actually 10+ weeks!
How did you tell your partner?
He found me sat on the bathroom floor surrounded by tests when he came home from work!
Shocked but happy!
Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?
Once the initial exhaustion was out of the way I felt good. I had aches in my hips but nothing serious. I found my second pregnancy slightly harder, as I was working on photo shoots up to 39 weeks, running around after a non-napping one year old and dealing with 4 flights of stairs up and down from our flat every day.
Tell me about your birth experience…
My two births were different, but thankfully both very quick. The first was in hospital. I’d labored at home and came in at 9cm dilated. I’d wanted to deliver in the birth centre, but I was put on labour ward. At the end of the day we were both fine, but I wasn’t listened to and I didn’t feel like it was a good experience. I actually felt quite numb afterwards. My husband said it was like I’d shut down. Between two and five weeks after the birth, I had 3 secondary post-partum hemorrhages and eventually they removed some retained placenta.
For my second baby I knew I wanted to be at home. I was convinced I’d have a better experience, I’d be in control and I was also concerned at the speed that the baby might arrive. I went to the loo at 10.00pm and thought I felt a pull inside me as I stood up. Five minutes later I had a cramp, five minutes after that the cramp started to come in waves and then the contractions started. My husband started filling the pool whilst I called the midwife and Vivienne was born at 11.54pm in our kitchen. I delivered the placenta without the injection and made sure that the midwives examined it with me so I could see it was all there! Amazingly this all took place on Iris’ second birthday, so I have two winter solstice babies!
Describe motherhood in a few words: Relentless but amazing.
Can you share any highlights?
I love watching them play together. They sit opposite each other at the dinner table and they have such a laugh. They are often quite cheeky and I start off trying to discipline them, but they just descend into giggles and it’s hard not to join in!
Can you share any low points?
When Iris trapped her finger in her bedroom door in the middle of the night when she was 2. It is a fire door and it was nasty – I had to take her to A&E and she had surgery on it.
What do you do when the baby sleeps?
I ignore the mess and just sit straight down at my computer and work. I can only do this if it’s a day when Iris is at nursery.
Have you got a blog?
I do have one, where I am supposed to post about all my latest photo shoots. But I don’t, I’m useless at that. I just post to Instagram instead. I really should do something smart, like link them up…
Have you got a business?
I run Emily Gray Photography. I offer relaxed and natural family photography, from newborn shoots with 4 day old babies, to big family get-togethers. I also shoot kids fashion, take portraits and head shots of people for their business or blogs, do a bit of product photography… For people looking to buy someone close the gift of a photo shoot, I offer personalised gift vouchers.
Why ‘Emily Gray’?
My middle name is Emily so it’s not a completely random choice, though with hindsight wasn’t the best branding decision! I studied at the Royal College of Art and wanted to use a different name to the one I used for my art practice, to keep them separate from each other. I figured that it would just be a little bit of work that I did whilst on maternity leave and that I would be back in my studio quite quickly. Obviously that didn’t happen! The business took off, it’s getting busier by the month and I have to explain to every client that my name is Charlotte not Emily!
What’s the best bits of being a Mama?
The giggles and the love.
What are the worst bits?
Cooking meals and struggling to juggle it all. I often feel like I’m not giving anything the full attention it deserves – my kids, my husband, my business. The flat is a constant mess but that’s ok! I’m learning to be kinder to myself and love the Yes Mum cards, which I use as a reminder!
If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?
Catch up with all my work, have long lie ins, play my music loud in the evening, go to the cinema.
Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?
People tell you to savour every minute, which is hard as it can be so tough, particularly in the early days. Instead I’d say be kind to yourself. It isn’t always easy but it’s the most amazing experience.
BIG THANKS to the mega talented mama Charlotte for taking part this week! Be sure to check out her website: Emily Gray Photography and give her a shout if you need any professional photos. ALSO she is kindly offering a 10% discount if you quote ‘DOUBLEMAMA’ so what are you waiting for?! Perfect family Christmas present or what?!
If you’d like to feature on the blog as part of the ‘In the (mother) hood’ series, please drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂