We’re big fans of Good Living’s down-to-earth columnist Giovanna Fletcher, 32 – and her older sister Giorgina, a PA who lives in East London with her husband Lee, is just as warm and gorgeous. Giorgina, 34, was living with Giovanna last year when she gave birth to her first child, daughter Summer Rae, now seven months.
"I Googled everything – ‘How loud should white noise be?’ and the colours of poo. It was amazing"
We find out how motherhood has changed the sisters’ bond…
Have you always been close?
Giovanna: We’ve got closer since we had the kids. It was so magical being there for Giorgina when she brought Summer Rae home last September and being able to enjoy those precious first moments together.
Giorgina: Lee and I moved in with Gi and Tom [Fletcher, McFly musician and Giovanna’s husband] when I was six months pregnant as we were getting some work done on our house. It was great for Lee to have a bit of a warm-up for fatherhood with their sons, Buzz, three, and Buddy, one.
How did Giovanna help you in your first months of motherhood?
Giorgina: It was like having a live-in midwife! I learnt so much from her. She told me when to start expressing milk, when to give Summer Rae a bottle – everything!
Giovanna: Not in a bossy way! I think it would be amazing to have a midwife who stays with you for a week or two after you have a baby. You leave the hospital with this little bundle – they can’t communicate with you, you can’t communicate with them. It’s just so overwhelming. I was glad to be able to help Giorgina through that time.
What surprised you most about having your first baby?
Giovanna: The amount of love you feel, and the love that grows is completely different to anything you’ve ever experienced. But then, so is the frustration!
Giorgina: I didn’t realise how up and down your emotions can be. During the first few months, I was literally crying over everything one minute, and laughing the next.
Was it difficult for you to leave the Fletcher household?
Giorgina: Yes! When Summer Rae was two months old, we moved back home. I remember getting into bed that first night and expressing milk. I was on autopilot and without Giovanna to help, I completely forgot to fit the bottle to the breast pump – and the milk went everywhere!
Giovanna: We now see each other once a week for pizza night – but it seems like a long time in between as the kids are growing up so fast.
How has parenthood changed your relationship with your husband?
Giovanna: Me and Tom have become more of a team. In the early days he was on tour a lot, but now he’s at home more we really cherish that chill-out time in front of the TV.
Giorgina: It hasn’t changed that much. Lee’s really supportive and never judges me when I’m erratic!
In moments of doubt, what saved you?
Giovanna: I went through a phase where I Googled everything – ‘How loud should white noise be?’ and the colours of poo. It was amazing.
Giorgina: Friends who you can be totally honest with. I remember asking a mate how long she waited to have sex after giving birth!
Did you feel more confident the second time around, Giovanna?
Giovanna: Yes, definitely – you’ve had two years’ experience changing nappies by then! For the first year after I had Buzz, if anyone asked me a question about the kids, I’d turn to Tom for the answer. And I’ll never forget my first midwife appointment as a new mum. I didn’t realise she was there to be on my side and, when she arrived, there was milk everywhere and Buzz had done a massive poo up his back. I thought she was going to take him away from me. Instead, she just scooped him up and gave him a bath! I worried a lot less when I had Buddy.
What’s it like juggling a toddler and a baby?
Giovanna: Unpredictable! Toddlers are manic, crazy little things. You can be having a sweet chat one minute and then he’s throwing things down the stairs the next. Just when you think you’ve got to grips with things, the whole dynamic changes again!
Do you feel different about your body after having a baby?
Giovanna: Of course there are times where I think, ‘Oh my God, look at those stretch marks and wobbly bits!’ But I think it’s incredible that our bodies are able to create another human.
Giorgina: It certainly makes you appreciate your body before…
Giovanna: Oh yes! I look back at pre-pregnancy photos where I remember feeling proper downbeat about my appearance and I think, ‘Wow, you looked amazing!’. But you never appreciate it in the moment.
Is it easy to make friends among other new mums?
Giorgina: I didn’t realise how cliquey motherhood can be. When I joined a baby sensory class last month, some mums ignored me when I tried to speak to them.
Giovanna: But sometimes, mums are oblivious. In any other moment, you’d be friendly and inclusive but your line of vision is narrowed because you’re so focused on your kids.
Does social media help mums?
Giovanna: It’s created a community so you don’t feel so overwhelmed or isolated. A blog I follow, Hurrah For Gin [about parenting ‘sans the sugar coating’], takes moments and makes them funny, like the ridiculousness
of getting shoes on a toddler.
Giorgina: Obviously, there’s the flip side of Instagram where everything looks perfect – but people take photos of the special moments, not the meltdowns! That’s why social media is good, because it does highlight the tougher times.
What’s your brother Mario [Falcone, of TOWIE fame] like as an uncle?
Giovanna: The kids love him. He’s a real family man and comes around for cuddles. Now Buzz is running around, Mario’s really hands-on.
Giorgina: Yeah, he’s definitely broody…
Any more kids on the cards?
Giorgina: Yeah, one or two!
Giovanna: Yeah, I think so…
Giovanna, in your book Happy Mum, Happy Baby you talk about your struggle to conceive…
Giovanna: It made me feel fretful during both my pregnancies. It was important for me to share my experience as so many couples go through fertility problems. Writing the book was such a cathartic process. I feel like a different person now, and things that used to stress me out don’t anymore. My main priority is keeping my boys happy and having a happy home!