Sharleen Browne and son Cijay. (Picture by Christoff Griffith.)
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She’s a successful marketing executive, a flourishing entertainment manager and TV host, and she’s played volleyball for her country. But for 32-year-old Sharleen Browne, her greatest achievement to date has been bringing her newborn son Cijay Jackson Jones into the world.
Becoming a mum was something Sharleen always wanted. When she turned 30 her chances were impeded when she developed fibroids.
“One of the reasons why I wanted to have the baby as soon as possible was because I had really bad fibroids. Like almost two years before I had the baby, I had a myomectomy to get a really large fibroid removed. If you want to conceive you have to do it quickly because those things grow back,” she explained.
Prior to that, Sharleen worked hard at preparing her body to carry her child, even before she and her boyfriend Cheyne Jones decided to start trying for the baby. Once they decided to start trying, Sharleen mapped out a plan to be completely ready.
“It’s something that I planned for because I really wanted it. Recently, people would have recognised I was on a work-out programme with my gym Bassa Bassa. Having played volleyball it was like you’re always on a strict regime where you eat a certain way and work out a certain way, and I had stopped that. Then your body basically goes to rot.
“So I had put on a few pounds but I knew I wanted to be a mother so I set a goal to lose some weight before that. I didn’t want to go into it being heavy so I had to get my body right and to be healthy. I started back working out at Bassa Bassa and I reached my goal and then I got pregnant,” she said with a broad smile.
Her son was born on December 29, weighing nine pounds 14 ounces.
In an interview at her home in St Philip, Sharleen, performing a balancing act – being interviewed while holding a slightly fussy Cijay and trying to keep him awake for the purpose of photographs – said mum life had been going great.
“Mummy life is wonderful. I feel like it’s my calling. I would go again. It’s new. Everyone tells you all the horror stories like losing sleep and so on, but what people consider horror stories I enjoy. It’s a really nice journey. We have been blessed not to have a complete horror when it comes to his night-time routine. He would go down around 8:30 p.m., then wake up around 3 a.m.
“In the beginning it was a little touch and go because we were now figuring things out a bit. But he’s a very peaceful baby,” Sharleen said while giving her son a soft kiss.
She told EASY she was enjoying watching her son grow and seeing his different characteristics emerge. She described it as being a very magical feeling.
“His resting face is a lot like me. I’ve heard people say I look intimidating and hard to approach. I guess he has that face, but he is definitely a fun loving person like his father, which means that both of them are going to give a lot of trouble,” she said with a chuckle.
However, the usually calm and easy going Sharleen admitted that having Cijay had made her into a very anxious and protective person.
“The level of anxiety for me though has increased. When he’s sleeping I would pop up to make sure he’s still breathing. Things I would have never thought about before like an exit route to the house if it’s on fire and that type of thing . . . . We recently got a dog to protect the house because of Cijay.
“I’ve become very protective. Bajans do this thing where they like to put their faces right in the baby’s face; and I’m mortified every time. So we’ve just been home. Cijay did Agrofest last Sunday; he went to Sheraton and that’s about it,” Sharleen said.
But she enjoys being at home now, a definite change from being out and about for her managerial duties.
“As it relates to how life has changed for me now, people are always saying, ‘Where is Sharleen?’ I would be everywhere at everything because being an entertainment manager you would see me everywhere. Then I completely dropped off the face of the Earth and I like it. I had never been a person to run to every fete . . . . I was there because of work. But I like keeping to myself now,” she added.
And as she prepares to go back to her job at ICBL very soon, she is dreading leaving her prince at home.
“I can’t imagine the day I have to go back to work. Even though it’s my mother or Cheyne’s mother, I don’t want to leave him with anybody. We are blessed to have the grandmothers to look after him while we are at work. I don’t want him in a nursery so soon,” she stressed.
“Yes I have to go back to work soon and it’s going to be hard. I look forward to doing the things that I love still, which is my marketing job at ICBL, but I know I will be running home to see Cijay every chance I get. My work is in St Michael and I live in St Phillip but I still plan to come home at lunch to see him,” she added.
But as much as she is loving the mum life Sharleen is focused on her corporate aspect and building herself as a brand.
“I’m still the same Sharleen. I’m still a creative mind. I have several ideas that I plan to roll out. Cheyne is very helpful with those activities. More TV spots, more entertainment . . . .Whatever comes my way I plan to tackle,” she said confidently.
And while she’s no expert on being a working mum, Sharleen’s advice to new mothers is to cherish the time they have at home with their babies now.
“I haven’t gone back into the work world as yet, so I can’t say how to handle work and the baby, but what I can say, it is true that the time spent is very precious and it goes quickly. When I look at him as a newborn and I look at him now, he’s a whole man. You really have to cherish the moments that you have with your child. When you are away from work on maternity leave, be away from work on maternity leave. Don’t focus on work because that’s time away from the baby that you would never get back,” she added. (DB)