Michelle Heaton: My precious moments
Liberty X singer turned TV presenter Michelle Heaton says that motherhood means saying so long to spontaneity, but hello to bucket-loads of fun, love and affection
Did you always plan to be a mum?
Absolutely. I think most women do, especially if you're a girlie girl. You dream of meeting your Prince Charming, the man you'll build a family with, and I don't think that goes away.
Describe birth in one word.
Oh, there are so many words... exciting!
How was pregnancy for you?
Some women say it's the most amazing time, but I didn't get that. You have pain, you don't feel well and you get sick! With Faith (now two) I embraced it. But AJ (five months) was sitting on my bowels, which caused irritable bowel syndrome for the last three months. But at the time I was making my DVD, Active Pregnancy, so that took my mind off things. It also helped me through the back pain, kept my energy levels up and prepared me for the birth. I think it made it easier for me to lose the baby weight, too, as I'd kept active.
What's the best thing about being a mum?
There's a massive list, but I'd say the smiles and cuddles. It melts my heart. AJ's been smiling all morning and I adore seeing Faith cuddling him – all that love and affection.
Perfect family day?
Maybe just going to the park for a picnic. We did that last weekend – Faith playing, while AJ and I sat under a tree. We love that sort of thing as a family – we're very outdoorsy.
Who's your biggest parenting influence?
I guess my mum, which is natural – I'm really close to her. But I try not to take too much of a lead from other people. I believe you know the best way to raise your children. Everyone is different, so what worked for my mum and dad won't necessarily work for us.
What's the best advice you've been given?
I read it somewhere, and it was basically to do what feels natural. I'm not into the whole controlled crying thing – I don't like hearing them cry. I wanted to give them a cuddle or bring them into my bed. It was right for us.
How did you choose their names?
It was always going to be Faith or Hope – nothing to do with faith, hope and charity, we just liked those names. When she came out, she looked more like a Faith! My husband (Hugh Hanley) wanted a little boy to call AJ. I didn't want to christen him that, because I thought it might be too 'young' for him in later life, so we came up with Aaron Jay. We call him AJ, but Faith calls him Aaron.
What have you had to give up?
Life changes a lot – there's no more, 'Ooh, shall we go on holiday tomorrow?' or even, 'Shall we go to the cinema later?' You have to plan everything – and sterilise bottles and make sure you've got the dummy and the wet wipes! It's full-on. The reward is amazing, but spontaneity is the biggest thing I miss.
Biggest mistake you've made?
Giving Faith an iPad. But it's a godsend too. She's on it right now, so I can talk to you. Every mum has something to reward their child, or calm or distract them. She really likes to go on YouTube and watch Play-Doh being made or Kinder Eggs being opened.
What about your biggest panic?
Loads! When Faith was very little we rushed her to the hospital twice. The first time she seemed to be having trouble breathing, but I was told I was being an overprotective mum. Two weeks later, she got conjunctivitis so badly she couldn't open her eyes. I was beside myself. Then we went to Jamaica last year and she got so sick – she had a virus, and tonsillitis, and she was teething (the big teeth), all at the same time. And AJ got viral meningitis at two months, which was awful.
Any embarrassing moments?
In the park, when it was really busy, and AJ did one of those explosive poos. Luckily I had a new outfit for him, but we couldn't lift his clothes over his head because we would have got poo all over his face. We had to cut him out of them with mini scissors on a key ring!
What could you do better?
I think most parents would love to spend more time with their children. I have to work around them. I feel guilty about it, but it's that or I get someone else to look after them, and I'd feel guilty about that too! I try my best to delegate, and do emails when Faith is having her lunch or AJ is napping. I wish I didn't have to, but everyone has to earn money.
What does their dad do better than you?
He's really good at putting them to bed. He doesn't get home until about 6.30pm, so that's always been his time with Faith. I think she knows she can wind me up a bit more at bedtime. I put her to bed last night, and she gets just one story with daddy, but with me she was saying, 'More! One more!'
If you could invent something for new mums, what would it be?
Something that's better at getting rid of snot! Those gadgets don't do much, do they? It's really hard to see someone so little struggling to breathe. I'd also invent something to stop babies' hiccups. When AJ laughs he gets hiccups, then looks at me pleadingly as if to say, 'I can't drink my milk, I've got hiccups!'
What would you like to pass on to your children?
To have no fear and to do whatever they want to do in life. I think Faith is already taking that on board – she is very outgoing and extrovert, in a nice way. I hope that comes through in AJ as well.
What have your children taught you?
To be patient. You need patience with kids and I'm not really patient with anything else in life. I like to get things done, to be on time, I'm very organised, I like things to be clean. But with my kids, I'm the opposite. I know they're not going to tidy up after themselves, and I know they'll get stuff on their clothes. When Faith gets messy, I change her but I'm not going to let it bother me – she's only two!
Michelle was chatting to Pip Jones.