Motherhood Diaries: Sophie Beresiner
We talk to the award-winning journalist and mother of one to discuss her unique journey to motherhood
Motherhood Diaries is a testament to modern-day parenting; from life-changing tribulations, to joyous milestones - and all the chaotic bits in between. Each month, we’ll uncover a refreshingly honest account from the Liberty community, with the aim to support women who might otherwise feel frustrated, isolated or overwhelmed. Here, we invite all maternal figures to speak openly about their journey to motherhood, find light in each narrative and ultimately, a sense of solidarity.
Mother to nine-month-old M, former ELLE beauty director and founder of The Motherproject – a digital destination for all things motherhood – Sophie Beresiner is the collaborator behind our Five Minutes’ Peace Beauty Kit. Speaking openly and honestly to us about her own complex journey to parenthood, Sophie reflects on the highs and lows of becoming a mother via surrogacy, from battling against societal stigmas to the must-have piece of kit every new mum should own.
In all honesty, I didn’t always see myself as a mother. I’m not hugely maternal, but I am nurturing. It’s just I’ve always seemed to prefer animals to babies. I’m the best cat mother there could possibly be, so maybe I was practicing this whole time without really realising!
My journey to have a child was definitely unique. I never thought I’d be experiencing my pregnancy from the outside, but I was outrageously lucky to meet my wonderful surrogate Rebecca, and then experience the pregnancy in much the same way as my husband. Two non-pregnant people looking forward to the birth of our baby. It was also extra stressful in many ways, not having any sense of control over it, literally being geographically removed from it, but Rebecca was so brilliant at keeping us as involved as humanly possible at every step of the way.
I was chastised for choosing surrogacy by many strangers online. They thought me selfish for not choosing adoption instead.
I was chastised for choosing surrogacy by many strangers online. They thought me selfish for not choosing adoption instead. It’s a hugely important debate and one I have defended in length in my book The Mother Project: Making it to Parenthood the (very) Long Way Round. But in summary, I think adoption is the most lion-hearted wonderful opportunity, but I don’t believe it is the responsibility of the infertile.
Weirdly the resource I found most useful during the surrogacy was this pregnancy tracker app called Pregnancy +. It charts the baby’s development week by week with incredibly realistic graphics and interesting facts. My husband and I looked forward to checking in on it every week, and we sort of imagined the image on the screen would be what our baby would look like. It wasn’t! Also, I really appreciated all the preparatory shopping. It sounds superficial, but just the fact that I couldn’t buy maternity clothes felt like a gap in my experience. I spent very many wistful hours wandering around the kids’ department in Liberty, it’s so inspirational and beautiful. And devastating for my bank account.
One advantage of surrogacy is obviously not having to recover from a birth. I was upset about not being able to have visitors because of COVID-19, and everyone told me I would relish the time alone that they wish they’d been able to have. I definitely appreciate how close we are as a family because it is effectively just us, but I didn’t have the lethargy or hormones to contend with after the birth, so I was raring to go when it came to celebratory visitors.
My baby is very good at sleeping, which has helped my energy levels I am sure, but in lieu of a busy maternity leave of baby sensory and coffee shop outings I have written a book, launched a website and write a weekly column for Sunday Times Style. I don’t know who I am if I’m not busy, I just didn’t realise I’d have such a yearning to keep it up along with the immense workload that baby care presents. M was born in May, right in the midst of Lockdown, and things have pretty much been that way ever since. I have had one evening out since she was born. I miss my friends.
GET A SNOO. It is the one piece of kit I push on all my pregnant friends like I work for the company.
My advice to my younger self would be to get pregnant quick before cancer steals your fertility! Haha, I’m joking, I actually wouldn’t change this entire rollercoaster of an experience because - and I know this is clichéd, but it couldn’t be truer - otherwise I wouldn't have the beautiful baby that I have. I can’t imagine any other outcome. For mothers-to-be, I’m not going to go with the meaningful spiritual boost, I’m going entirely practical. GET A SNOO. It is life changing. It is the one piece of kit I push on all my pregnant friends like I work for the company, but it sleep trained our baby and I think it saved me from those first few months that I was so worried about, to the point I totally enjoyed them rather than endured them.
I have so many favourite Liberty kids’ brands and products. I discovered Big Stuffed in Liberty and I bought M the giant whale, it was the first baby thing I bought so it feels really special. Luckily, she also thinks so - I think we’ll have it forever. I love the Scamp & Dude baby grows, they’re the best easy outfit to chuck on when you want them to be really comfy but also look a little bit lovely. I’m also slightly obsessed with Stella Kids, especially the knits, but I’m trying to break that habit...