In the coming days you will bring your baby earthside and begin a whole new chapter of your life. Soon you will be a mother. The very thing you’ve been dreaming about, longing for and patiently anticipating will become a beautiful reality.
My friend, soon you will be a mother and you will feel a love like never before.
You will doubt yourself more than ever before, feel a gut instinct like never before and be more selfless than ever before.
You will fight with your husband more. And love him more too. Navigating parenthood together will be the most challenging thing you’ll ever have to face but you’ll see a side of each other you never knew was there. A fierce need to protect and nurture your offspring. That need will manifest in different ways for each of you and will often result in conflict. But it’s only because you both care so much.
You will sleep less and worry more. Exhaustion will seep from your bones but you’ll keep going because you have to. Because you want to. Because you need to.
You’ll cry more. Happy tears, sad tears, tired tears and I don’t know why tears.
You won’t have a clue what you’re doing and yet you’ll know exactly what to do.
You’ll hardly ever be alone. In bed, in the shower, in the toilet. And when you finally are alone you’ll miss them.
You’ll give more kisses, more cuddles, more of yourself than ever before. And some day you’ll get those kisses and cuddles back. You will nibble tiny toes, squeeze chubby thighs and marvel at every tiny feature that grew inside you.
Your tank will empty quickly and often. But it will overflow too.
Some days will be hard. And some nights will be even harder. But there’ll be a little piece of magic in all of it.
Soon you will be a mother. And it will be most fun, difficult, crazy, beautiful thing you’ve ever done.
Soon you will be a mother. And you will be amazing.
Something incredibly sweet has occurred in our house this week. Jesse has once again started sleeping in his own room. Hallelujah! I can now have the light on when putting on my pyjamas, read a book before bed and actually sleep in the position of my choosing without fear of waking him up.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for co-sleeping. In fact, I really love it. There is nothing, sweeter than cuddling up next to my small person at bed time. However, not so sweet is him deciding that my face is a comfortable pillow or getting kicked in the guts at 1am!
Co-sleeping with him as a newborn just worked for us. It was the only way to ensure anyone got any sleep and, when breastfeeding every couple of hours, it just made sense. But I was that woman who insisted I would not co-sleep with a toddler. Our bed was for us, husband and wife. The children would be welcome in the morning for snuggles but were not to sleep with us in our bed all night.
We moved Jesse into his cot in his own room at about 3 months old because I needed some space and because we thought it was what we were meant to do. It went okay for a while but then teething started and suddenly he developed a severe allergy to sleeping in his cot. It’s like he had a sixth sense and knew he was in his cot as soon as you had put him down in it. No matter how dead asleep he was prior, he would stand up and immediately start crying as if you’d just lay him on a bed of nails. And don’t even consider putting him in there to put him self to sleep. No form of sleep training or pick up, put down methods would work on a kid this stubborn!
So back into our bed it was and that’s how we’ve done it for the last 8 or so months. It worked for us. We all got sleep and we enjoyed being together.
But recently I just felt like Jesse was ready to sleep on his own. And I was ready for it too. So we converted his cot into a toddler bed and decided to give it a whirl. We started with day naps (yes, he would have these in our bed too!) and for a whole week he slept like a champ. So then, with a little hesitation from Kaine, we attempted his first night sleep in his ‘big boy’ bed. It was a little bit sad but incredibly liberating at the same time. And it went brilliantly, he was in his bed from 7.30pm to 6.30am with a couple of little wake ups in between. Success!
I was totally expecting it to be a gradual process but here we are coming up to night 4 and it has been a breeze.
Next step, getting him to sleep through the night… hmmm…
After breakfast this morning while Jesse was happily destroying a banana squeezing it through his fingers, I read an article entitled ‘Why Babywearing Annoys Me‘.
It was one mum’s rant about how baby wearing parents are “high-horse owning” and “smug” and have unachievable parenting standards. In one part the writer says that she feels baby-wearing parents think they love their children more and later she insinuates that we put the need to be hands-free for housework as a higher priority than giving attention to our babies.
As I read I was quite shocked by my reaction. Instead of feeling infuriated by such a small-minded perspective I actually felt saddened. Partly that this drivel is allowed on the internet. But mostly, here was a mum who obviously felt threatened by something she didn’t understand.
Jesse is 14 months and is still worn almost daily. I can say in all honesty that baby-wearing has changed my whole experience as his mum.
I purchased a stretchy wrap towards the end of my pregnancy because I loved the concept of wearing my newborn to help him adjust to life on the outside. Little did I know that a wrap or carrier would become his happy place and still bring him so much comfort after all this time.
“And if I went shopping, George went in his buggy. How on earth would I try something on with a baby attached to me?”
Yes, I go shopping with my baby in a carrier. Unlike this mum, my baby never liked to be in a pram. It’s not like I didn’t try. We have a very nice, expensive pram that I would have loved to use more often. I’d see other mum’s swanning around the shops while their perfect baby slept soundly. Meanwhile mine was screaming until I ended up getting him out and holding him while I pushed the empty, very nice, expensive pram.
“Er, why not just leave him snoozing in his cot or moses basket?”
Yes, my baby naps in the carrier. Again, unlike this mum, my baby is not a big fan of his cot, or bassinet, or sleeping on his own in general. And no, I didn’t build a rod for my own back. My little velcro bub was like that from birth. Just hours after being born he would not sleep in his plastic hospital tub but wanted to be on mummy’s chest. And that was just fine by me.
Wearing my baby has kept us all sane. I’m so thankful for it and will absolutely continue to do it with future babies.
Just the other day I was able to spend a beautiful day hiking with my family while Jesse happily slept on my back in the carrier. My dad also had a go of carrying him and Jesse was giggling and having fun the whole time. Now, I couldn’t have done that with a pram!
I also get to see many other mum’s and bubs enjoy baby-wearing as a Kangatraining Instructor. From those that are avid wearers to those that have never worn their baby before, their babies are almost instantly calm once fitted correctly in a carrier.
So, lady who hates baby wearers, we don’t wear our babies because we’re hippies or because we love them more than you love yours or because we feel the need to have our babies permanently attached to us as you so eloquently put it.
We do it because we want to. Because it makes our little ones feel safe. Because sleep is kind of important. Because it’s more comfortable than balancing a baby on my hip all day.
Mamas, can’t we just celebrate that we all parent differently?
Instead of judging a mum who has mastered how to turn a long piece of material into an intricately tied carrier for their baby, give them a high five ‘cos that shit is tricky! Baby-wearing may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But who cares! We’re all just doing what’s best for our families. And that’s what is important.
In the early days and weeks after having a baby so much time is invested just being in the moment. Countless hours spent staring at your new baby and breathing in that intoxicating new baby smell. Giggling at every new facial expression. Gently tracing their features with your finger and committing it all to memory. Stroking their perfect fingers and toes.
The laundry piling up doesn’t matter (because you hardly leave the house anyway). There’s no need for cooking because you’ve got frozen lasagne loaded in the freezer. And the dishes somehow get done either by a generous visitor or husband.
But eventually, life with a baby becomes the new normal. And as well as being mum we also need to be housekeeper, cook, business owner, wife and finance manager, just to name a few. There’s washing to hang out, emails to send and mouths to feed. It can be a lot. And sometimes we can forget to slow down. Stop and smell the baby.
A few nights ago I was putting Jesse to sleep, as I do most nights, when I was struck by just how special that time with him is. I admit, sometimes it can feel like a drag as I run through my mind all the things I need to do. I can find myself wishing my 1 year old was able to put himself to sleep like I hear so many other babies do.
And suddenly I felt that little pang in my heart. I felt yet again that perhaps I’d gotten bogged down in daily life and hadn’t stopped to really soak in that moment.
So, I cuddled him a little tighter, gently rocked back and forth as I whispered ‘I love you’ and ‘mummy’s here’. I kissed his head and drew in his sweet smell. It felt good.
Now I know that I’m not always preoccupied and I definitely don’t take motherhood for granted. Most of my days are spent playing with my boy, feeding him, clothing him. I kiss him a hundred times a day and tell him I love him. I watch him learn and discover new things. I teach him things and sing songs with him. But I admit, like everyone, I sometimes become frustrated when I just need to send this email or just need to get these dishes done.
But every so often I’m reminded that maybe those other things can wait.And that sometimes, maybe I need to just stop and smell the baby.
Staying active and motivated is challenging enough for mums with little ones and when winter sets in it is even harder.
But keeping up those great habits you worked so hard to create is key to keeping the winter blues at bay. Yes, its a real thing! Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a seasonal depression and most commonly occurs in winter.
So whether you are at risk of SAD or just need a little extra help to get moving in the cold, here are some simple tips especially for mums to beat the winter blues.
1. Write down one thing you want to accomplish the next day before you go to bed
As a new mum, some days just having a shower and practicing some basic hygiene feels like an accomplishment! But the simple act of writing down a goal for the next day and then achieving it will help to make you feel productive and good about yourself.
If you are like most mums and have about a dozen things swirling in your head at night, write them all down so that you can stop worrying about them. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get them all done. Just move them to the next day’s list.
2. Get dressed and ready for the day by 9am
There will absolutely be times where you find yourself still in your pj’s at 4pm and that’s okay. But as a general rule, try to get dressed (yes, yoga pants and a sloppy joe count!), do your hair (yes, messy mum-bun counts!) and whatever else makes you feel ready for action by 9am.
3. Do something active each day
Finding the time to exercise can be tricky for mums. And just the thought of stripping off your warm and comfy slippers and robe to slide into your active wear and runners has you climbing back into bed. But the key here is to make it fun and be accountable to someone.
Partner up with a mummy friend or involve the whole family including dad as well. Booking into a fun group fitness program like Kangatraining (insert shameless plug here) is a great way to not only get active but to socialise with other like-minded mummies. While there is no shortage of activities to chose from, Kangatraining is a specific post natal workout run by mums, for mums. Kangatrainers are educated in post natal exercise, women’s health issues such as PND and weak pelvic floor, as well as safe baby wearing practices. Not to mention it recently won the award for best pre / post natal activity at the What’s On 4 Australia 2016 Junior Awards. Okay, I may be a little bias given that I am a trainer myself, but seriously, it’s awesome!
Hopefully these ideas will help to keep your mojo flowing throughout the cool winter months. We all still have crappy days from time to time though, so don’t be too hard on yourself either.
Some days we just need to rock our pj’s, pour ouselves a glass of wine and binge watch an insanely ridiculous but oh-so-addictive tellie show.
We are just days away from our little boy’s first birthday and we can’t quite believe it. No longer a ‘baby’ and becoming more toddler-like with each day.
This special milestone has me reminiscing about his arrival into the world and those first few days as a first time mum.
So I thought I might commemorate the occasion by telling Jesse’s birth story. Partly because all mum’s love to share their labour stories and partly because all kids love to hear about their entrance into the world. But also because I don’t want the details to get fuzzy. I want to document it so I will always remember.
Those last few weeks of pregnancy
I was loving pregnancy but I was also starting to get very excited about meeting our new family member. And if I’m honest, a little anxious about the pain I was about to endure. I had heard lots of birth stories and was even blessed to witness a few bubs coming into the world, but I had no idea what my birth experience would be like.
I knew what I wanted; a calm yet active labour. To labour at home for as long as possible. To do it as naturally and unassisted as possible. But I also knew that a birth plan doesn’t always go to plan and should be flexible.
Kaine would ask me every day towards the end if there was “any movement at the station” before leaving for work and each time I would smile and assure him no, not yet.
On the 25th of May, Kaine decided to start his leave from work. Even if bub didn’t come for another week or more, we would have some special time together before bub did come.
We went for a walk with the dog that day (well I waddled) and I distinctly remember on our way back the man across the road asked how long we had to go. Ten days I answered excitedly. And two days later we were parents.
Tuesday 26th May, 2015
7am – I’m lying in bed enjoying one of the last few sleep ins I’ll have for probably a very long while and feel myself drifting in and out of sleep. I start to realise that it’s mild period-like pain waking me from my slumber. Without opening my eyes I sleepily wonder to myself if it’s the early stages of contractions. I ignore it for a while longer and continue to snooze.
Later that morning we are both awake as we had plans to go the shops. It’s not until after we are there for about an hour that I mention to Kaine that I think I’m getting mild contractions. Nothing to freak out about, but perhaps we should go home. By this stage they were feeling a bit stronger and all I could think about was not wanting my waters to break in public (clean up in isle 5!).
As the day got later, the contractions got stronger and more painful, but still very irregular. Some were 20 minutes apart while others were 4 or 5 minutes apart.
11 pm – Kaine asked (yet again) if we should tell anyone. I told him no because I knew these things could stop and start. The midwives had told us to stay at home until the contractions were 3 minutes apart so that’s what I was going to do. I instructed Kaine to go and get some sleep. But there was no way I could with the waves of pain I was getting.
So, with the lights dimmed I had my contraction timer app and a game on my phone for in between and every time a contraction came I would get up and squat whilst bracing against the kitchen bench.
Sometime during the early hours of Wednesday I migrated to the spare room to get some rest in between contractions. The gap was getting longer and the pain was getting milder. By 6am the next morning, they were all but gone! I had a midwife appointment at 10.30am, so I knew that I could fill her in with the nights activity and see what she says.
Wednesday 27th May, 2015
After barely any sleep I was feeling particularly spritely – must have been adrenaline kicking in.
10am – We head off to my midwife appointment. I explain the last 24 hours and she says that’s all great signs and this could go on for a week. What now? A week?? Hell no. I have a couple of little pains in her office but nothing to really worry about.
Afterwards we drop by mum’s for a visit as she is right around the corner. Now she knows nothing of what’s been going on until I rush to the kitchen bench to resume my squat position. Conversation stops and breathing gets heavier. I see the look of glee on mum’s face which at the time, seems kind of cruel. After two more I say to Kaine for the second day in a row, “I think we need to go home now”.
12.30pm – We arrive home and while Kaine goes to get lunch I hop into bed with the lap top to continue watching Glee on Netflix which has been my guilty pleasure since starting my maternity leave.
I soon find myself hovering by the bed in a world of pain. I recommence timing contractions and they’re getting closer. It’s time to call the hospital.
The midwife answers and I can hardly talk I’m in so much pain. I manage to form enough words to tell her what’s happening and she tells us to come in.
Holy sh*t! This is happening! We grab our bags, I warm my heat pack one more time and we head out the door.
That car trip is not one I’ll forget anytime soon. I can’t squat my way through contractions in the car and instead have to sit up right. I clench the seat beside me. I start to cry. Partly from the pain and partly because I’m scared.
I have a contraction in the car park and two more getting up to the maternity ward.
2 pm – They hook me up to a machine to listen to bubby’s heartbeat and to monitor contractions. For the next 30 minutes, they just stand around and watch me ryth pain with each one. After deciding that I am indeed in labour they check to see how dilated I am and whether or not they can break my waters.
I was so happy to hear I was 4cm dilated (all that work last night paid off!) and breaking my waters was surprisingly easy and pain free.
Well, from that moment, it was game on! We put the call in to my parents as we had agreed that my mum and sister would join us in the birth suite. They were both unbelievable support as was Kaine.
And I was lucky enough to be able to stick to my birth plan entirely. I remained mobile throughout the whole labour and stayed off the bed pretty much the whole time. It was definitely leg day as I continued to squat with each contraction. Boy did I feel that the next day!
But it was part of my routine. I coped by doing the same thing every time. At one point the midwife suggested I count or get Kaine to count during each one. I remember thinking “if you start to count out loud and I will slap you!”
When it came time to push I thought nature would just take over. But I found that I really had to deliberately switch gears from riding through the wave of contractions to using it to bear down. I was getting to the stage where I didn’t know how much more I could do or how much longer I could go for.
When I said that the midwife replied that they wouldn’t let me push for much longer. Immediately I wondered what that meant. Assisted delivery? Caesarean? Okay, time to get this baby out!
I realised what was holding me back was my fear of tearing after hearing one particular horror story. I just had to put that aside and breath this baby out. And that’s exactly what I did.
7.50 pm – It’s finally over. The sweet relief of no more pain washes over me as does the love for the tiny baby I hold in my arms. “Well what is it?” I hear everyone say and I realise I haven’t yet looked to see whether I’m holding my son or my daughter. And nobody else in the room knows either.
It’s a boy I say as I look up at Kaine. We both smile as we look back down at our beautiful baby boy.
My dad, who was not-so-patiently waiting in the waiting room this whole time, joins us while we all marvel at our beautiful baby boy. Around that time, we all put in our final guesses for baby’s weight. He was a delicate parcel of 6 pound 2 ounces. I think Kaine might have guessed his weight exactly.
I was just completely in new mum bliss mode now. Thrilled to have had such an amazing birth experience but also thrilled it was over. Just in time for my next challenge. Motherhood.
I’ll never forget the moment my life changed forever. The moment I fell even more madly in love with my husband and the moment my heart started to live outside my body.
A little over a year ago we decided to document our first year as parents – a 365 project and one of the catalysts for this blog.
Here’s a little reminder of what we set out to do.
For the entire first year of Jesse’s life and our first year as parents, chronicle our journey through writings and photos.
Both journal something every day of Jesse’s first year of life and our first year as parents, no excuses (no matter how sleep deprived we are)!
Each take a photo every day of Jesse’s first year of life and our first year as parents, no excuses (crappy, badly lit, grainy selfies at 5 minutes to midnight included)!
Not share our journal entries or photos with each other, until after Jesse’s first birthday (the official end of the project).
At the conclusion of The 365 Project, compile and publish the journals and photos as two individual books titled ‘Not So Secret Life Of Us: A year in the life of a first time Dad’ and ‘Not So Secret Life Of Us: A year in the life of a first time Mum’.
We are 343 days in now so well and truly on the home stretch. And though it’s been challenging at times I’m proud to say that we have managed to stick to our intentions for the project.
The hardest part for me has been taking a photo every day. It sounds easy enough and like most mum’s my camera roll is full of photos of my baby. But some days have been so full on the only time I’ve been able to take a quick snap is when Jesse has fallen asleep for the night. And other days there’s just enough time to click a few selfies in between meal times, play time and nappy changes. So this means plenty of dark, grainy shots of Jesse sleeping and selfies with bad hair and dark circles under the eyes.
I’m not sure how interesting it will be for others to read. A New York Times best seller is probably out of the picture! Some days my entries are only a few words long while on other days I have waxed lyrical about the joys and challenges of new motherhood. But I am really intrigued to read Kaine’s finished product as I’m sure he has written thoughts and feelings that weren’t vocalised (as I have) over the last 12 months. I’m also looking forward to looking back over my own and reminiscing, particularly those early days and weeks.
Honestly, it really hasn’t felt like a chore at all and it will actually be kind of weird not to do it any more. Though preparing our finished products as books will certainly keep us busy for a while yet.
I’m really proud that we have stuck with it and no doubt we will have a new project in the works soon enough.
Recently my two best girlfriends and I were invited to participate in another wonderful photography project by Renee Trubai called “Hear Her ROAR”. Renee says, The project is about showing women the beauty of themselves that has perhaps been forgotten, ignored or tucked away. It’s about rejuvenating- and celebrating- your love and respect for yourself.
This is simple for me … I want to show women the strength of their own beauty.
We haven’t yet scheduled the shoot but the preparation for this session, and all of Renee’s work, starts long before the first frame of film is snapped. She always does a thorough consultation first and provides some nuggets to mull over beforehand so that we go into the shoot with a mindset and vision for the end result.
For the preparation of this session Renee asked a seemingly simple yet quite challenging question, for me anyway.
What does beauty mean to you, for you? What environment / outfit / music / style / activity lights you up inside … the kind that has your eyes sparkling?
Whoa! Instantly I was blindsided by these questions. When was the last time I felt really beautiful? What does it look like when I feel beautiful?
My immediate answers to these questions seemed obvious. Well, I feel beautiful when my husband tells me I look pretty or when my little boy cuddles and kisses me. I feel beautiful when I’ve had my hair done at the salon and my nails are freshly polished.
And then I realised that these things were all about other people showing me I’m beautiful. But I wondered how I make myself feel beautiful. Just me. Not a compliment from someone else or when I’ve actually had the time to get primped and preened by a professional.
I wondered if I really didn’t know myself all that well and what I do, wear or listen to feel beautiful or whether I had just not ever really stopped to think about it. Maybe both.
I don’t wear much make up these days and most of the time my hair is dirty and tied up out of the way. I can’t remember the last time I wore high heels and most of my nice dresses still don’t fit almost a year after giving birth.
But when I think about what beauty means to me and what makes me feel beautiful in my daily life now, I think about laughing with my girlfriends so hard my tummy hurts. Teaching a Kanga class, working my body and helping other mums. I think about the empowerment of giving birth to my child and the strength I am learning now that I am a mother. I think about being on holidays, adventuring and exploring.
Don’t get me wrong, I still feel like a million dollars when I get the chance to dress up, when my body is trim and when I’ve spent hours being pampered at the salon. But to me, a truly beautiful woman is one that is happy, powerful and confident. A woman of strength. One who tries new things, loves fiercely, smiles a lot and can laugh at herself.
So I challenge you to think about it… What makes you feel beautiful?