Styling: Emily J Dawes. Make-up: Nicky Weir using Vieve. Hair: Sven Bayerbach at Carol Hayes using T3. Fred Windsor-Clive/Sandpaper/Channel 4

Emily J Dawes is the stylist. Nicky Weir uses Vieve for make-up. Sven Bayerbach uses T3. Fred Windsor-Clive/Sandpaper/Channel 4 

 I recently went to visit a dear friend of mine who had just had a baby. I’ve found this kind of visit a tedious task in the past.

A woman in her 40s who has never had children, but is determined to be a mother, I’m not.

These interactions were possible when I was going through fertility treatments. I would turn up bearing gifts, at a time that fitted in with the baby’s feeding schedule, and be asked if I wanted to hold the newborn. It was impossible to hold the newborn because I was certain that the baby would begin crying right away and I was concerned.

I’d do something awful like not supporting its head. Hesitant to take the infant in my arms, I would think darkly to myself that if biology had already deemed I wasn’t a fit mother, then who was I to disagree?

Small people used to make me feel big. 

New parents don’t have to think about the potential impact of their child on others. It absolutely wasn’t their place to manage my conflicting emotions. However, for many years, my big emotions were magnified when I met smaller people. The squalling newborn in my uncertain arms was a representation of everything I didn’t have.

The mother would complain a lot, and it was quite common. It was perfectly understandable – having a baby is exhausting; the sleep deprivation is hideous; birth itself can be deeply traumatic – and I became used to hearing how difficult it all was.

This is not about friends suffering from postnatal depression. That’s a medical diagnosis that can cause a different type of distress. No, the ones I’m referring to are the new parents who seem to forget that having a baby is also a gift – a joyful privilege that not everyone is equally blessed to experience. You must find some happiness despite the chaos of life.

It was amazing to see my friend when I came to visit her last week. She was radiant with it. She was exhausted and still recuperating from her birth. Underpinning everything was gratitude. It was so nice to hear her speak in this way – and I realised how rare it was.

We’ve all become so used to talking about things being hard that we’ve forgotten how to do the opposite and celebrate the good times. The circus once known for its perpetual achievements has turned into an arena where everyone can share their problems and praise each other’s bravery. Truthfulness is not a bad thing. But honesty includes both bad and good, doesn’t it? It isn’t one-sided.

Perhaps this is due to noble intentions or a greater awareness of the privileges we have. Maybe my earlier friends were aware of my personal struggle to concieve that they thought they could ignore my joy.

In reality, it only adds to the sadness. For every story I’ve heard of how hard it is to have a baby, I’ve also questioned why I want one so much. Every time I was told how hard it was to be a parent, I tried telling myself how lucky I was to be able to go on holiday at a moment’s notice or sleep in at weekends.

What I was missing, I now realise, was the other side of the story – the one where having a baby is also amazing. My friend was radiant and happy in her new bubble as a mother, which was an amazing correction to my previous mistakes. I heard the hard parts but she also shared the great stuff. A portion of her happiness was passed to me by her.

That is why I’m so grateful.


This week I’m…


MOISTURISING with Kiehl’s Crème de Corps Nourishing Dry Body Oil – a few spritzes and I’m moisturised all day. From £15.50, 

WATCHING Sathnam Sanghera’s Empire State of Mind, a riveting and moving documentary analysing the effects of Empire across Britain. All 4

This gorgeous, monogrammed bag from Noble Macmillan is perfect for styling your outfits. From £150,