‘We both have different ideas about how to be a mother – it’s all about finding a happy medium’
New mothers K-anna and Hannah are one of eight couples who are being followed throughout the first 12 months of parenthood for Johnson’s® Baby’s A Parent is Born – a four-part docuseries directed by BAFTA Award-winning filmmaker Liana Stewart. Over 125 years after Johnson’s® Baby first began supporting new families, the series explores the experiences of parents today as they take the first steps into their new roles, one nappy change at a time.
Six months ago, K-anna gave birth to the couple’s son Amos after a successful round of IVF. The second part of the docuseries chronicles the last three months of their new family’s life, from the challenges of sleep deprivation to breastfeeding, and learning to co-parent as an LGBTQ+ couple. As Amos grows, K-anna and Hannah are finding joy and fulfilment as they discover the weird and wonderful world of parenting.
K-anna and Hannah met while they were both working at a summer camp for children and adults with disabilities in rural Minnesota, where they bonded over deep conversations under the moonlight. Hannah tells PinkNews that the skills she learned at the camp have come in useful now that looking after Amos is a part of her daily life.
Like parents all over the world welcoming a newborn baby into their family, sleep deprivation has been one of the major challenges that they have navigated since Amos was born. Episode two of A Parent is Born sheds light on the hurdles K-anna and Hannah faced as they started to let Amos ‘cry it out’, with a worn-out K-anna describing the previous couple of weeks as “a little difficult”.
“He’s showing all the signs of sleep [but] even though he yawns 700 times, he refuses to go to sleep, don’t you?” she explains. “I’ve tried to go to sleep during that time, because it makes me cry. You just feel really bad.”
Things are on the up though: Bathing Amos every evening is part of the family’s sleep routine, and the couple tell PinkNews that progress is fast being made when it comes to putting Amos down for the night.
“Looking back at the first three months, we were shells of humans,” K-anna says. “We were waking up every hour. Now, I’m still not getting as much sleep as I was, but the other night he slept for ten hours straight.” Hannah adds: “The bags under our eyes aren’t suitcases anymore. They’re more like bum bags.”
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The couple have been following Johnson’s® 3-step routine, which is clinically proven to help babies and toddlers sleep better in just one week. “We start with bath time with Johnson’s® Baby Bedtime Bath, then we do some cuddles and a little baby massage with Johnson’s® Baby Bedtime Lotion” K-anna explains. “Then we go into a lullaby and some quiet time where he’s cuddling into us.”
Having a child together has brought K-anna and Hannah closer as a couple. An area of growth between them is communication. Hannah thinks that the experience of trying to get pregnant as a same-sex couple meant that they were already used to communicating with each other about important things. For instance, the couple decided to use a sperm donor who was happy to be contacted when Amos turns eighteen, which was influenced by Hannah not knowing her dad growing up. “I think that will be really important to him – and it was really important for us as well,” Hannah says. Getting pregnant turned out to be a “military operation” which required constant communication. “You have to plan around your bank account and where you’re going to live,” Hannah says. “With IVF, it’s about the science that goes into it as well.”
Over the last three months, there have been some humorous cultural differences in communication, too. K-anna is American and grew up with a different style of parenting to Hannah. “We both have different ideas about how to be a mother and it’s all about finding a happy medium between our two worlds,” Hannah says. “He’s going to have to know what ‘diapers’ and ‘trash cans’ are,” K-anna laughs. “Even when I do the A-B-C’s Hannah is like ‘it’s not ‘zee’ it’s ‘zed’!’”
As LGBTQ+ parents, K-anna and Hannah have been finding their own roles in Amos’ life. K-anna has taken on more of the “primary parent role,” because she is still breastfeeding him and spending the most time with him while on maternity leave. “It’s taken quite a long time for him to feel a lot more comfortable with me,” Hannah says. “And I think it took me a while to feel comfortable with him as well.”
Episode two of A Parent is Born sees K-anna admit that being the primary carer to Amos is a “full time job” and “exhausting”, but that “when he looks at me and smiles” she realises she “must be doing something right.”
Hannah also notes that being the ‘other’ parent comes with its own unique hurdles.
“Sometimes I feel like I don’t have it in me to help as much as [K-anna] does”, she reflects. “It’s lovely watching her and she does such a good job, but it’s hard. There’s no just ‘us’, anymore.”
Recent studies show that more than 8 in 10 mothers under the age of 30 had feelings of loneliness some of the time, while 43% said they felt lonely all the time. At home on maternity leave with Amos, K-anna says she has felt lonely, but that it stems more from her family being so far away in the US. “Hannah’s family are here and I love them so much, but my family isn’t here,” she says. “Even he’s trying to crawl and I’m like: ‘Oh, I need to document this!’ because they’re not going to see it.” Technology has been a big help with this. “At 2.30 every day my mom calls and then my sister calls every day too. Thank goodness for FaceTime, because that makes it so much easier.”
Sometimes it’s the simple things that can change the dynamic of a day and help K-anna to find little moments of joy and peace in her new life, like getting out of the house and realising that there is a whole world outside of nappy changes and bath time. “Just going out in public and speaking to, like, a real human being who isn’t Hannah or Amos, I feel like I need to practise how to speak to people again!” The pair have also made friends with the other couples who are sharing their lives in Johnson’s® Baby’s A Parent is Born series.
As Amos turns six months old, K-anna and Hannah are looking ahead to all the things they have to look forward to, like Amos’s first Christmas and when he starts crawling. “I’m definitely excited for him to start eating actual food, because I feel like Hannah and I are such foodies,” K-anna says. “His first Christmas will be really special to me, because we’ll be going back to America. He’ll get to meet like the rest of my family and I can’t wait.
“I don’t want to wish too much away, but we have so much to look forward to.”
For more information about Johnson’s® Baby products, visit: https://www.johnsonsbaby.co.uk/baby-products. If you are struggling with any of the topics discussed in this article, please visit https://www.johnsonsbaby.co.uk/aparentisborn/helpandsupport
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