PARENTS

Cherry Healey On Birth, Breastfeeding And Bullying

09/09/2014 16:23 | Updated 20 May 2015

Cherry Healey exclusive interview

Cherry Healey shared her introduction to motherhood with the world when she filmed the birth of her first daughter Coco for a TV documentary.

Since then, the 33-year-old has had another baby, 11-month-old Bear, so we thought now would be a good time to catch up with Cherry to find out how her life has changed since becoming a mum-of-two...

Last time we spoke to you Coco was nearing her third birthday, now she's about to turn five. What new parenting challenges have you encountered over the past two years?

Wow - so many! Coco started going to nursery full-time which brought about the new challenge of classmate dynamics.

I've been learning how to deal with being left out, not wanting to play with someone, sharing and play date politics!

Coco's needs are moving away from practical and are becoming more emotional - she can now dress herself and (sometimes!) helps clear up, but what she increasingly needs from me is help organising her emotions. It's a huge responsibility but I love the challenge.

How's Coco finding being a big sister?

At first I think she was disappointed that he was soooo boring! Just a blob in a cute hat really. But as he becomes more responsive (her favourite game is to make him laugh so much he sounds like he's going to be sick) she is much more engaged.

She is also very protective of him and enjoys joining in on disciplining him!

Coco is quite an unusual name, and while Edward is more traditional - you've gone for an unusual nickname 'Bear' as opposed to the traditional 'Teddy'. How did you choose your children's names?

Coco was a name I'd had up my sleeve for a while, as it was the name of my first cat (I know, I know!). I used to dress the poor thing up as a baby and pretend I was his mummy. Sheesh.

As for Edward/Bear - my husband and I both love the name Edward and, for the first few weeks, we tried out using both Bear, Eddy and Teddy, but Bear was the one that stuck.

You filmed Coco's birth - were you tempted to televise the second? Did you film it yourself?

No we didn't - I'm not sure why! We took lots of pictures but it wasn't something either of us felt compelled to do.

It was an amazing experience when we had Coco and I love having that as a record but it wasn't something I felt the need to recreate for Bear's birth.

Was your husband Roly present at both births?

Yes. Brave.

Was anything different the second time around? Are you more relaxed or has having a second child created all new challenges?

With Coco I had planned to have a home birth but, because she wouldn't come out, it ended up being an emergency c-section.

As a result, and because it was what I knew, I booked for an elective c-section with Bear. It was a very calm, very happy experience and whilst the recovery is intense, I had a lot of support around in the early days to help with the healing.

I was nervous about having another child as many people say it's more than double the work - so I braced myself for something fairly horrendous. Yes, it's another person to bath, dress, feed, clear up afterwards and put to bed, but it's been better than expected. I still relish every moment of time alone!

You've spoken before about how difficult you found breastfeeding Coco - did you try it again with Edward?

I did. I went military on it. I bought every single item of breastfeeding apparatus on the planet. I felt like a warrior going into battle.

I also had the number of a fabulous breastfeeding counsellor, Clare Byram-Cook, as I knew I wasn't going to make the same mistake as last time and not ask for help.

In the end I did need all of the help I could get - it wasn't as hideously pillow-biting as with Coco and it was still pretty painful but, with Clare's help and LOTS of cream and gauze patches, I managed to get into a place where it wasn't so bad.

After six weeks it even became quite a peaceful experience and I then carried on for about four months before I had to go back to work. I have to say, I feel that I gave it my absolute best try but I think for some women it's just not an easy nut to crack.

How did you find weaning?

I love baby-led weaning! I wish I had been brave enough to do that with Coco. I actually do a mix of baby-led weaning and puree, as Bear quite often just sucks the solid items or throws the pasta around the kitchen.

So after his food-flinging session I make sure he's got a full tummy (yeah, this is mostly motivated by the hope he will sleep longer) by spoon-feeding him at the end.

​He's such a great eater and will try anything so it's a joy feeding him - he loves avocado, mashed banana, sweet potato - even old leaves from the drain (I know, I have tried to stop him but every time I turn my back....urgh) - he will eat anything.

Do you want any more children?

Right now, I'm in the thick of the Very High Maintenance Phase (lots of nappy changes, awake enough to not want to nap some days, crawling everywhere, not yet walking, annoyed if in buggy too long, bored quickly but can't yet draw or read or talk or play with friends or watch telly - I know this isn't good to admit!) so ask me again in six months!

How's Coco finding school? Any favourite/hated subjects?

She loves it. Lots of other kids to play with, toys, games, climbing frame, music lessons, glitter, blocks, tadpoles - it's heaven!

The thing she struggles with is lunchtimes - the teachers, rightly so, encourage the children to at least try new foods but this is something she hates. But she's learning that having a tiny bite of something will not result in the world ending - so it is, gradually, working.

Does it remind you of your own school days? Or is it very different?

Yes absolutely - my favourite activity was playing in the water and sandpit. Bliss. Coco is the same - give her an apron and a spade and she's a happy hamster.

Is bullying something you worry about for Coco?

The only experience of bullying Coco has encountered was when she first went to nursery at three years old - I remember being stunned at how early it starts.

There was a formidable little girl in the class that separated everyone into groups and announced that no one was allowed to mix between their allocated sections - wow! And because she was so charismatic and forceful the little children obeyed her!

Luckily the teachers handled it brilliantly but even they were surprised at the level of organisation demonstrated by a toddler!

Coco's fifth birthday is coming up - what have you got planned?

She is having a snake themed party and is going dressed as a ninja cobra. Her costume is going to blow her tiny mind and my mum is also making a cobra cake - I can't wait to see her face! We're having a magician and games, pizza and crisps - I think I might be more excited than her.

Edward's first birthday is also coming up. Will you be throwing a party?

Hmm. Good question. I think we will but we won't spend much money on it! I think Coco is using up the birthday budget this year!

How did you become involved with the Barnardo's Nation's Fridge Door project?

Barnardo's asked me to support it as they know I'm passionate about children's welfare (who isn't!) - I loved the campaign as it's such a profound and simple way to demonstrate how neglected children suffer on a daily basis, in the day to day things.

Not having someone bring them toast if they're not well, not having someone call to see where they are, not having someone to take pride in an achievement at school - it's the little signs of love that keep us all going and to grow up without them is hugely damaging.

What do you hope the project will achieve?

The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness and get people talking about the problems children face in the UK - the more people are aware of this issue, the more likely they are to support Barnardo's and the more children that can be helped.

So we'd like people to celebrate their own children's achievements - whether it's a painting, a cake they've baked or a paper maché masterpiece - by posting a picture online at www.barnadosfridge.org.uk and sharing it with the nation!

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