Last month, Health and Living was delighted to spend time with a very special group of mums, who met online as they were all due their babies in August 2013.
We were there as 26 of the 48 mums in the group met up in person for the first time at the Maldron Hotel in Portlaoise, having supported each other virtually through their pregnancies, labour and childbirth.
From this group, we will be following four of the mums more closely on their journey over the next six months.
Today we introduce our four mothers, Kelda, Niamh, Jane and Emma, and catch up with their stories to date, and over the coming months we will explore their babies' progress.
We will also discuss their opinions on various aspects of raising a child, including nutrition, education, discipline and childcare, as well as examining the challenges involved for the women in raising their gorgeous new babies.
'All I've ever wanted is to be a mammy'
Emma and AJ Leahy
Emma Leahy (31) is married to chef Dan Leahy and they live in Blessington, Co Wicklow. They have two children, Hannah (3), and AJ (six months), and Dan also has a son Shane (17). The Dubliner is a stay-at-home mum.
"I met Dan when I was working in an Irish pub in Essen, Germany, and I moved in with him after our first date. We lived in Edinburgh for two years and moved home when my mum, Bernie McKnight, was diagnosed with cancer. Dan and I got married in August 2008 and my mum passed away in April 2009. I found her passing very difficult and suffered with anxiety for a long time, and still have moments where it can creep back up.
"We started trying for a baby in November 2009, and found out we were pregnant a month later. We welcomed Hannah into our lives in August 2010. From the moment I held her, I knew that all I wanted to be was a 'mammy'. Sad it may be, to be defined as 'mum', but if that's all that this life has to offer me, I am more than happy.
"I am a stay-at-home mum for now, and am fully embracing my days of tea parties and playdough. Time is something that wasn't afforded to my own mum, so I'm trying my best to make the most of mine.
"After our daughter's first birthday, we decided to start trying to conceive again, but after six months of nothing happening, I started small things like changing my diet, taking supplements, and, of course, worrying that something was wrong.
"After almost 12 months, we finally got our good news, but I had this niggling feeling that there was something different this time.
"When I was 12 days overdue, I was brought in to be induced, and ended up with a 20-minute labour. There was no time for an epidural, just gas and air, and then pop, baby AJ was out! He was born on August 23. I tore and had stitches, but was up and in the shower 90 minutes after labour.
"On your second baby you don't have the luxury of napping when your baby naps, as your other child needs your full care and attention.
"So I found I was more tired, but also far more able to cope than I had imagined, and luckily both Hannah and AJ seem to thrive on routine.
Health & Living