This week…baby and family photographer Charlotte Emily Gray
Emily Gray is a London-based photographer, specialising in newborn, baby, children and family portraiture. She trained as a fine artist and studied at the Royal College of Art, and says her style is ‘timeless and classic – these are portraits and family photographs that will not look dated in a few years and will become heirloom pieces for your family’.
My little Munchkins are…Two girls, aged four and two, who share a birthday!
No-one ever tells you…About after-pains, lochia, mucus plugs, cracked nipples, DAY THREE (all the crying) and all other manner of lovely things (at least they didn’t with me). I couldn’t understand how I’d made it to 29 without knowing all this stuff. If you ask me, it should be on the sex education syllabus.
I couldn’t have survived the first three months without…My family, friends, mince pies, freezer meals and just getting out of the flat. If we got up and out in the morning the day was just so much better – even more so when there was two of them. I wasn’t one for going to baby groups. Instead I ate copious amounts of cake, either in cafes or at friend’s houses, visited galleries, went to baby cinema or met up with non-baby friends at their work or studios.
I wish I’d known before that…It can take quite a while to recover from labour. I had a straightforward birth and was up and about quite quickly (I took my 10 day old baby to a New Year’s Eve party – what was I thinking?!) and suffered from very little pain, but inside it was not alright. The second time round I took it much easier and allowed myself the time to get over the birth.
It used to drive me mad when people said…Anything unsupportive. Along the lines of “oh you thought it was hard the first time round, wait until you’ve got two!” Ugh, thanks for that. Or when I was struggling on zero sleep with a newborn and a two year old who no longer napped and people would say “this is the easy bit – wait until they’re teenagers.”
The best present anyone gave me was…A set of nipple shields. I cracked them open on Christmas Day and would’ve swapped all of my gifts past, present and future for them. Oh the relief…. I had three months of continuous issues with breastfeeding. I visited every breastfeeding counsellor in our area and they were all stumped. These pieces of silicone made it possible for me to feed my first and eventually I was able to stop using them.
Our first holiday was…A wet week in June in Northen France with my parents. We started weaning her whilst we were away and she happily tucked into pieces of steak with a toothless grin on her face. Our second holiday was to Portugal when she was 18 months. We had visions of playing on the beach with her, paddling and building sandcastles. Our idyllic picture did not pan out – she went absolutely ballistic when we put her on the sand, hopping from one foot to another and screaming. She hated the sand on her arms or legs!
The most important that I’ve learnt is…Don’t compare yourself to others and be kind to yourself (I am still trying to learn this last one). I’m always trying to do it all and burn the candle at both ends, and this results in me feeling like I’m doing a bad job.
I wish…For two weeks in the sun with my husband and children, filled with lovely food and cocktails. 12 hours sleep a night for at least a month. A few extra hours in the day. And another baby…
I want my children to know that…They are unconditionally loved and supported by all of their family and friends.