Maia Dunphy “I like motherhood a lot more than I thought I would, but I was not a happy pregnant person”
Writer, producer and documentary maker, Maia Dunphy, is an accomplished woman.
Along with a successful broadcasting career, in 2015 she also added the title of “mother” to her list of achievements and started a blog, The M Word, documenting her experiences.
Two hugely popular documentary series – The Truth About and What Women Want – made her a household name here and, over the course of the shows, the Dalkey native came across as likeable, witty and effortlessly confident.
However, chatting in the penthouse of Dublin’s Dean Hotel for Diet Coke’s “Get the Gang Back Together” campaign, it’s Maia’s vulnerability and honesty that shine through. Far from being the mythical mum who “has it all”, Maia is refreshingly open about the difficulties of motherhood. Curled up on a chair in a stylish, statement poloneck, she speaks candidly about baby Tom and having an elective C-section; the gnawing loneliness of being a new mum; and why living apart from your partner can be a positive thing.
“London is frenetic, it’s fun and it’s exciting, but when I got there and found myself pregnant I thought, “Oh God”. The first few months were really lonely. My life is very different in London to here in Ireland. I have my little family there but Johnny [Vegas, Maia’s husband] works a lot. The parenting blog that I set up, The M Word, has taken off massively, but one of our highest-rated pieces was when I wrote about the fact that motherhood can be really, really lonely.
“I just tried to write about my honest experiences of loneliness. I love my own company, but being lonely is very different to that. A lot of the other mums were embarrassed to admit it because it feels like you’re saying that you’re not happy to be a mum or that you’re not happy to be at this point in your life.
Speaking about her pregnancy and about how she would take to motherhood, Maia admits she likes being a mum a lot more than she thought she would
“I like motherhood a lot more than I thought I would, but I was not a happy pregnant person because I was thinking, “I’m not sure if this is even something that I want in my life”. I was never broody, I’m not quite sure what broody ever meant.
“It’s very hard to lose your sense of self and identity, but you do when you have a baby. I feel quite fortunate to have gotten pregnant quickly at 39, sailed through the pregnancy, I didn’t even put on that much weight, everything was ne. But I wasn’t singing to the bump, there were hardly any pictures of me, I just ignored it which I feel quite sad about now.
“At the time, I thought that meant I wasn’t going to bond and not going to be a natural mum, but I think the people who are worried pregnant people, end up taking to it. You just deal with it in your own way and however you feel, that’s normal.”
Following her documentary, The Truth About Childbirth, which investigated different ways of giving birth, Maia had an elective caesarean section and although she did get some negative feedback she never felt she had to justify herself and why should she!
“I got a couple of nasty comments such as, “That documentary was nonsense”, “You were always planning a C-section so don’t pretend you were looking into other ways of giving birth”, and “Typical celebrity”. I responded by saying, “I’m not a celebrity, I probably earn less money than you”! I didn’t feel like I had to justify my reasons to anybody. People said, “you didn’t really give birth”, but I never felt that way. I bonded with my son and a C-section is not the easy option. Major surgery? No thanks. My God, it’s agony after a C-section. The First six weeks you are in an awful lot of pain. I was in London, on the NHS and it was great, but I didn’t feel terribly cared for and I didn’t feel it was personal. I saw different doctors at every appointment and nobody had much interest in me. I had this fear of my waters breaking in a supermarket and not even knowing who to call.”
To read Maia interesting interview on Motherhood pick up the latest issue of RSVP magazine on shelves now.