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New mum Spotlight dentist Dr Vanessa Creaven opens up on lockdown life and the joys of parenthood

Dr Vanessa Creaven puts the spotlight on motherhood as she tells Denise Smith why she's raising a determined daughter

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Spotlight dentist Vanessa Creaven with her five-week-old baby Grace at her home in Galway. Photos: Ray Ryan

Spotlight dentist Vanessa Creaven with her five-week-old baby Grace at her home in Galway. Photos: Ray Ryan

Spotlight dentist Vanessa Creaven with her five-week-old baby Grace at her home in Galway. Photos: Ray Ryan

It's a surprisingly balmy afternoon in mid-March when Magazine+ is welcomed into Vanessa Creaven's baby bubble via telephone.

The Spotlight Oral Care co-founder is nursing her five-week-old daughter, Grace, from her Galway home as she talks motherhood, maternity leave and the importance of putting on a daily wash.

"I adored her from the minute I looked at her," says the 30-year-old businesswoman. "I was totally smitten.

"It's like love you never experienced before, it's a contentment I never felt before. I feel like I have had her forever, I can't believe how big she is getting."

As one half of the seismically successful Spotlight brand, Vanessa and her sister, Lisa, have rolled out a line of teeth-whitening and oral care products that have taken over the market both at home and abroad.

Now stocked in over 4,000 stores across the US, the dentists have had little respite in the few short years that have seen their business balloon internationally, but the pandemic has afforded Vanessa the opportunity to slow down in ways she never expected.

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New mum Vanessa at home with baby Grace.

New mum Vanessa at home with baby Grace.

New mum Vanessa at home with baby Grace.

"This time last year I was looking for apartments in New York and now here I am in Galway with two dogs and a baby and I couldn't be happier," she laughs.

"Life really can change so much in one year. We were launching in the States and the plan was for me be over there 60pc of the time.

"I was flying over and back to the States every second week - how mad does that sound now? Even the thought of going to Dublin would give me anxiety now, let alone New York."

Having tied the knot with her husband Barry in a fairytale wedding in Marbella in 2018, the couple were ready to start a family.

"It was a really organic time and I was at home loads," continues Vanessa. "It was definitely the right time for us to try for a baby. We have been able to cocoon and just chill out and relax for the year."

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Vanessa with sister and business partner Lisa.

Vanessa with sister and business partner Lisa.

Vanessa with sister and business partner Lisa.

Naturally when it came to parenting advice, there was only one go-to for the first-time mum: "Lisa has three gorgeous girls, who are aged five, three, and two. She is my expert.

"I really took it in my stride. I didn't watch One Born Every Minute, but I think if I started to watch it while I was pregnant I would think to myself, 'is it too late to turn back?'

"I remember asking Lisa, 'what is your one top parenting tip?' And she said, 'do you know what, I have one thing to tell you - put one load of washing on a day. It's amazing and it will be really helpful'.

"And I said, 'Oh my god, Lisa, I thought you were going to come out with something deep and really philosophical'. To be fair, it's quite a helpful tip."

Parenting advice aside, Vanessa is simply relishing every moment with her baby girl.

"I look at her and I just think, 'I hope nothing bad ever happens to you and nobody touches a single hair on your head'. I am going to cocoon her, she will live with us forever," she laughs.

"I hope she enjoys life and has fun. I hope she is kind, I hope she is determined in her own beliefs, that's what I hope for her."

Rocking baby Grace in her arms in the comfort of her idyllic nursery, Vanessa has settled into the simplicity of lockdown living with surprising ease.

"It is a very plain life I lead. I am not going here, there and everywhere.

"I walk my dogs, I am on a call and I feed my baby - it's not too glamorous, 90pc of life is the mundane, everyday and I love that."

Despite going back to basics, Vanessa does admit she was slightly apprehensive about becoming a mum.

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Vanessa on her wedding day with Barry in 2018.

Vanessa on her wedding day with Barry in 2018.

Vanessa on her wedding day with Barry in 2018.

"Before I had Grace I saw the hardships of motherhood on social media, which is so important, but I remember I had this overwhelming apprehension and thought process of 'will I be able to do it?'

"I think it's important to see both - the negatives and positives. I think motherhood and new babyhood is a very contentious issue.

"You don't want to show too much positive or negatives because people have strong beliefs. Even with breastfeeding, I have never breastfed anything so I said I will try it and see. If I struggled I would have just bottle fed. Fed is best.

"Sometimes it can be too hard living up to all these standards," she adds. "I will also say that with Grace being five weeks, I am a five-week-old mum, so I know nothing.

"If someone asks me, 'what is your best advice?' I'd say I have no advice, come back to me in five years. Ask Lisa, she has three of them!"

One thing Vanessa can advise on, however, are the barriers to women in business.

"You can have kids and grow and run a business," she insists. "It doesn't have to be one or the other. We have a lot of working mums on our team and on calls there are babies and children crying. Sometimes women can feel shame, but it is life - as women we shouldn't be penalised for that.

"Responsibility for childcare seems to fall a little more on women so we are aware of that and we support our staff accordingly.

"I often get asked, 'have you not taken maternity leave?' But I have and I haven't.

"I haven't taken traditional maternity leave. I have stepped back but I am still on calls. Lockdown gives you the opportunity to do a bit of both.

"Before the pandemic it would have been hard because of the travel. Now if Grace has slept well the night before I can jump on a call. I really listen to my body."

And for her first Mother's Day?

"I will be spending it with Barry and Grace and my two dogs, Alfie and Lola," she beams, "and I will be perfectly content."

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For more on Spotlight Oral Care’s oral health products see spotlightwhitening.com

For more on Spotlight Oral Care’s oral health products see spotlightwhitening.com

For more on Spotlight Oral Care’s oral health products see spotlightwhitening.com
  • For more on Spotlight Oral Care's oral health products see spotlightwhitening.com

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