Don’t tell me I’m too young to be a good mother

With a pink blanket under her head and her seatbelt nicely fastened I walked through our local supermarket collecting our groceries for the week with my daughter in the baby seat of my trolley. This particular week I decided to start purchasing foods for my daughter to try, now I’m not really about those premade baby foods (but if you are then you do you! nothing against it, just a personal choice) so I was putting things in my trolley like organic sweet potato, pumpkin and avocado. Unbeknownst to me the truth of societies still prehistoric views on parenthood was about to rear it’s ugly head.

As I turned the corner I very nearly bumped into a woman’s trolley which she had left in the middle of the refrigerated isle. I veered pretty sharply in order to miss the trolley,  which of course startled my daughter, no more then running into the other trolley would have anyway. She cried, like babies do, so I stopped momentarily to talk to her and comfort her out of her fright. Whilst I paused I unknowingly had blocked the woman from her stranded trolley, so she approached me with a louder than necessary “Excuse me!”. I pardoned myself and moved my trolley aside, my daughter still crying and myself completely in my own mum world deliberating whether to pick her up to stop her crying or to try and distract her with the dummy she had lost interest in five minutes ago. So it took me by surprise when the woman turned to me for a second time as said “she’s not yours is she?”

Now I’ve had my fair share of questions in public, mostly regarding my daughter being my sister and my own mother looking too young to be a grandmother which are all usually met with a bit of a laugh and then me explaining that she’s actually mine. This time I felt a sting of judgement coming through. I smiled at my daughter and looked at the lady and said “she sure is! isn’t she beautiful, she’s four months old”. She peered at me down her pointed nose and said “Well I don’t think children should be having children, but she is quite cute. Bit of a shame” A SHAME. If you know me you would know I hate confrontation, unless I know you well enough to pull you up on something I generally let it slide for the sake of saving an argument. This is my family though and I’ll be damned if I let someone tell me that it was a shame that my beautiful daughter existed as my daughter.

“Thanks for your opinion, although I didn’t ask for it. Not sure how many children you know but not many of them are in 5 year relationships with the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. Guess I’m just lucky hey? Have a nice day” my heart was pounding and I was out of there as quick as I could go, neglecting to pick up the butter I was in the refrigeration isle for! I pushed the conversation to the depths of my brain hoping never to think about it again but after seeing a few fellow “young parents” attacked on social media recently for their age and their apparent inability to care and love their own children I figured now would be a good time to think about it, and god forbid, talk about it because it is 100% not okay.

All parents, regardless of their age, love their children, they want the best for their children and they will do anything they can to help them grow into wonderful, compassionate and loving adults. Regardless of the house they live in, the clothes they wear, whether they are married, how much they spent on their car, if they’re homosexual OR if they’re still what you would consider teenagers. If they were mature enough to make the decision to bring a child into the world then they should be admired for doing so, and for doing the best they can for that child.

The love you have for your child can’t be measured by how many toys you’re able to buy them, whether you could afford to send them to an expensive school or buy them all of the latest gadgets. Love is measured by the smiles, the hugs, the kisses and most importantly the empowering conversations you can have with them about becoming the greatest person they can possibly be. To care for the people around them, to love unconditionally and be accepting of everyone regardless of their differences.

I might not be 25 with a mountain of savings in the bank reserved specifically for having in children, my partner and I might not be married but we sure love each other like we are and we’ll give our daughter every ounce of love we have to give before we will ever let her feel unwanted or unloved. Young parents, don’t let anyone ever discourage you, your baby thinks you’re the greatest mummies and daddies in the world, and without you, they wouldn’t exist. You’re doing an amazing job, and if anyone thinks any less then maybe they should take a look at what’s missing in their lives before they make any negative comments about how beautifully full of love your life is.

 

xx Emily

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You Matter Too, Mumma

A reminder for even the toughest of mummies, to care for yourself just as well as you care for your beautiful children 

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Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

When it’s 3am and your partner is fast asleep while you’re heavy eyed and nursing, remember Mumma, you matter too, and he knows that. He just doesn’t have the boobs or the perfect sleep inducing snuggles you do.

When it’s been hours since you’ve stopped to breathe and your housework is up to your knees, remember Mumma, you matter too. And the dirty dishes can wait until you’ve napped, they’re not going anywhere.

When the babies washing is a mile high and she has a poop explosion for the third time, remember Mumma, you matter too. And no matter how much poop you get on your clothes, in your hair and on your arms, you’re still a hero.

When the scales seem broken and the loose skin on your tummy makes you feel that you’ll never be the woman you used to be, remember Mumma, you matter too. Your body is a temple that grew life, it will always be amazing.

When people judge you for breastfeeding/not breastfeeding/cuddling too much/letting baby cry… basically everything, remember Mumma, you matter too. And your parenting will always be what’s best for your baby.

When it’s been months since you’ve slept through the entire night and your baby wakes with aching gums for the 6th time since midnight, remember Mumma, you matter too. This chapter of your life is so very tough, but also so very short and so tremendously filled with love, treasure even the toughest of times.

motherhood is filled with ups and downs, things that make you yearn for your days that were filled with nothing but yourself and the TV remote, but at the same time you couldn’t ever imagine being as happy as you are without them. Taking a breather every now and then to remind yourself of just how important you are is such an underestimated thing. Light a candle, run a hot bath, read that book you’ve always wanted to read, get your nails done or your hair washed and blow dried, call your mum, or your dad, or your best friend, take a nap, heck take two if you can. Of course we all feel like there isn’t any time for these things but there really is, we’ve just got to make it. I’m breastfeeding as I write this if thats any indication.

We’ll move mountains for our kids, we’ve got to remember to soak in it’s beautiful springs on the way up.

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Parenthood and Mental Health: Becoming the best version of you, for them

The following contains discussion about mental health, if the topic may lead you to feeling upset or ‘triggered’ please refrain from reading. Remember that there is always support around you, never be afraid to reach out

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Something about my personal life I’ve never really delved into is mental health. Mostly because of the stigma around it all, and also because for some people, it’s a difficult topic to stomach. But here I am opening up, because if you know anything about me, I think outdated stigmas stink.

I have dealt with different difficulties to do with mental health for a long time. I’m not worse off than anyone else, I don’t glorify it, but I certainly believe that everyone, to some extent, deals with some kind of mental barrier, large or small. For me, for a long time it has been anxiety. It has affected my schoolwork, my performance as a young elite squash player, my relationships, my career choices and the paths I have to take to reach my goals. It’s not sad, I’m not asking for sympathy, it’s just an aspect of my life that I have learnt to live with and even at times, embrace. I certainly feel like it is something that needs to be talked about more though, especially when it comes to parenthood.

Becoming a parent is a mammoth journey of emotion, personal growth and empowerment, it’s a given that you will be tested to your brink, beyond and back again. Here you are, two (or maybe even just one) individual people, suddenly given an entire new life that is now fully your responsibility, a tiny little person who relies solely on you and you only to survive. If thats not enough to scare the pants off you then clearly you should be having 20. It’s a huge task, and incredibly daunting and it is 100% okay to feel completely and utterly petrified.

I’m not a professional and I can’t give any professional advice but I can share my own experience in hopes to provide some kind of reassurance that no one is truly alone. For me talking about my emotions has been an incredible influence on my mental health. Finding someone I trusted in the early stages of pregnancy to express my concerns about my choices and the impact that those choices would have on my life was so important. And having or finding a support network to support your choices positively is worth every single person involved’s weight in gold.

“finding a support network to support your choices positively is worth every single person involved’s weight in gold”

After pregnancy into the first few weeks can be full of extremely complex emotions, for both mum and dad. And baby blues, as well as full on postnatal depression is something that I truly believe can happen to both women and men.

I can’t begin to stress how important it is to realise, for everyone to realise, that struggling mentally is something that deserves your attention, much the same way a broken wrist or leg would. And tending to your mental health isn’t something anyone should be ashamed of, when you have a little person relying on you it’s something you should prioritise. If your baby had a serious cold or needed medical attention you wouldn’t put it off, and much the same as your physical health impacts them, your mental health does too. If something doesn’t feel right, seek help, you and your baby deserve to know the best version of you ever to exist.

There are various places to reach out to including;

beyondblue.org.au 

mindsuatralia.org.au

cope.org.au

wayahead.org.au

as well as various mental health hotlines that you can call no matter the time of day

BeyondBlue – 1300 22 4636

LifeLine – 13 11 14

PANDA  (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) – 1300 726 306

And my email, facebook inbox, and blog are always open to anyone who feels as though they can find someone to open up to in me. Even if you aren’t a parent, everyone deserves to be the best version of themselves, you aren’t hindering anyone by expressing your feelings, and there will always be someone who cares.

 

Breastfeeding Without a Cover (gasp)

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I honestly find it hard to believe that now, in 2017, breastfeeding is still taboo. Society as a whole has grown so much in so many ways, yet here we are still chucking little tanties about babies suckling from nipples in public.

As natural as it is, it still makes people uncomfortable… The same way women talking about childbirth makes people cringe. It must be something to do with the fact that they produce milk, making them large, because last time I checked males have nipples too and even the ones who aren’t dads run around with theirs hanging out.

I’m not really talking about the instances of covered feeding, because thats pretty widely accepted. Because the little muslin wrap somehow makes everyone forget that theres a nipple underneath with a baby attached. I’m talking about uncovered, in the open feeding; no fiddling to get yourself covered, no baby pulling it off half the time. Just baby and nipple, out in the sunshine.

I breastfeed. Exclusively. Not because I am against pumping or formula but because it’s just damn easier. As difficult as childbirth was made for women, the gift of being able to breastfeed truly makes up for it a little. There is no cost, no need for heating (or keeping it cool in storing), no washing up and the best part, it’s always readily available. I currently take the ‘all-guns-ablazing’ approach. If I’m going to feed in public I’m going to do it my way, comfortably without a cover. And for some reason (well beyond my knowledge) a lot of people think that this gift, of feeding my child whenever and wherever they become hungry is, wait for the grown-up word… gross.

Because nourishing a newly growing human being from the organs made to do exactly that is somehow right up there with the gross things of the world like picking your nose and godforbid eating it in public.

So gross that you’ll be judged with an updown glare from a 14 year old in a crop top smaller than your maternity bra while her mother suggests you “cover up because there are children around who don’t need to see it”. Children. Lady, you do realise children are fed this way right?

Freedom of speech is all good and well but freedom to feed comfortably also relevant. Just as relevant as every other pressing issue of the 21st century from misogyny to racism. Insecurity around feeding only leads to added stress and greater difficulty in completing the task in the first place, and insecurity comes from unnecessary glares and comments. We’ve got a right to have our boob out, just as you have a right to look away. Don’t make something natural and beautiful difficult and uncomfortable when it doesn’t need to be.

 

Dear Violet: Letter 1 – The greatest 10 weeks of my life (so far)

IMG_0186The beginning of a series of letters to my daughter Violet Rae, who today turns 10 weeks old.

Dear Violet,

Today you are 10 weeks old. I’m sitting here staring at that sentence and finding myself unable to truly believe it. Ten weeks ago today you entered the world, beautifully and loudly. I remember the instant you took your first breath and filled my ears with your cry, and your lungs with air for the very first time.

Already, in ten weeks you have taught me so much. To trust my instincts; motherhood comes naturally. To be patient; everything will happen when it is meant to, even your naps (no matter how badly I wish you’d close your eyes so I can sleep for 5 more minutes). To enjoy the early hours of the morning; There’s no point in wishing to be back in bed when your smile lights up the world, even while the sun still sleeps at 4am. To treasure every moment; you grow at the speed of light and I’ll be darned if I miss a single second of it. And that there is always more room for love; Before you I didn’t think it was possible to love anyone as much as I love your daddy, now as my love grows for you both every single day I truly see just how infinite and unconditional it can be.

You’re smiling more than ever now and showing us the things you love (and love to dislike). Booping your nose and talking to you, tickling you and bouncing you makes you so happy, as well as bath time just before bed and your play mat in the early hours of the morning when sleep seems to be the furthest thing from your mind. Nappy changes and sitting in traffic seem to be your least favorite things in the world, as well as that nasty runny nose you had two weeks ago that kept you up all night for so many nights in a row.You keep us on our toes thats for sure. You seem to know the exact instant that I sit down to eat dinner, because the second I do you decide that lying on your play mat or in your rocker is not at all where you want to be and you’ll just die unless I pick you up for cuddles again.

I’ve got to tell you a secret though Vi, even though you’ve only been around ten weeks I’m pretty sure your daddy has fallen head over heels for you. You should see how much he does for you, how hard he works. Up working late, and still waking up for cuddles with you in the early hours of the morning, even if it is only briefly. You’re his world and your smile makes his whole day, every day. So never stop giving him those, okay?

For ten weeks you’ve been the centre of my entire world, my every waking moment and every dream. But really you’ve been that for so much longer, and will be for the rest of my life. I can’t wait for every single moment.

 

All of the love in my heart is for you my darling, I love you now and always will.

Love, Mummy xx

Newborn Madness: 10 things I wish someone had told me about parenthood

If you’re a parent, by the time your baby turned ten weeks old you most likely, at some point, sat and thought to yourself “well why the heck didn’t anyone say anything about this BEFORE the baby got here?!” at least once, right? And you come to realise at some point, that no matter how prepared you thought you were, no matter how many books you read, how many classes you attended, nothing really prepared you for the mammoth task that was and is parenthood.

 

So, for all you newbies out there; here’s my top 10 things I didn’t know before I became a mum, that in a few months time you’ll be thankful you now know . And for everyone else, here’s a bit of a giggle, because honestly, I really should have guessed.

 

  1. It’s okay to get poop on things

No matter how great you think you’ll be, there will be at least one sh*tty nappy change (pun intended). Whether it’s that first tarry black post apocalyptic looking poop, or the runny after-immunisations sludgy yellow slop. It’ll happen. It’ll get on your carpet, it’ll get in your hair, it’ll get on bubs face too! And it’s TOTALLY OKAY. Because unlike those embarrassing posts you made on facebook when you were 13 that are now stuck on the internet forever to haunt your present self, it’ll come off with the quick swipe of a nappy wipe.

 

2. Getting poop on yourself without realising until you’re in public is also okay

It’s honestly inevitable. If the poop can get on the carpet and the walls then yep, it’ll get on you too. And at least once you won’t see it until it’s too late, and everyone in k-mart will know you spend your hours wiping someone else’s bum. And it’s fine because you don’t know those people and they don’t know you. And if you do know them then just pretend its mustard, trust me, same colour, they won’t even know. And if they do know they won’t say anything because they feel sorry for you, you’re a sleep deprived mess.

 

3. You will forget your new child’s name

Let’s be real, unless you’ve been set on one name your entire pregnancy, you probably spent many hours deciding which name would be best for your unborn little cutie. You’ll see and contemplate a LOT of names. And in the midst of being sleep deprived and a little all over the place you may have to think once or twice in those early hours of the morning if Violet really was the name you picked or if you dreamed it up and literally have forgotten their real name entirely. Trust me, it’ll only be momentary but it’ll happen. Don’t beat yourself up about it, just don’t do it when you’re registering them for their birth certificate yeah?

 

4. Keeping track of nighttime feeds is never a good idea

Remember the days when child-less you would wake up before your alarm, look at the clock at 2am and smile because you still had another 4-5 hours left to stay in your pillow kingdom of warmth. Well looking at the clock at 2am when you’re feeding, changing nappies and sometimes also sheets (because accidents happen) will not make you relieved nor anywhere near somewhat happy. You’ll be sad. Tired and sad because god only knows when this child will let you rest again, and for how long. Don’t look at the clock, stay blissfully unaware. In fact, pretend it’s 5pm, put a movie on, have a cup of tea. Time is utterly irrelevant. Trust me, you’ll be happier for it.

 

5. Babies smell fear

You finally put bub down for a sleep after a few solid minutes (maybe even hours) of screaming. You’re relieved, but also scared they’ll wake up again as soon as you walk away. THEY WILL. THEY KNOW. THE MINUTE YOU THINK IT THEY WILL WAKE UP. confidence is seriously everything. Believe in your bub, she’ll stay asleep, she’s awesome at this, just look at her. Same goes for non parents who are scared to hold baby because he’ll cry. He knows, even you just thinking it gives him the advantage. fake it till you make it I say, even false confidence is better than none at all.

 

6. Breastfeeding is just as full time as pregnancy when it comes to what you can eat

Oblivious little me “I can’t wait to have this baby so I can have a glass of wine/soft cheese/salami”. REMEMBER, if bub will be affected by it, and they’re drinking the milk that you make. You can’t have it. It’s obvious, but I really wish someone had reminded me of this before I got all excited about the fact that the end of pregnancy was near and that my freedom of eating and drinking whatever I wanted was near. It wasn’t and still isn’t. I’m not complaining, breastfeeding is incredible. Wine though…

 

7. People aren’t joking about parenthood being isolating

Seriously. You’ll think we’re over exaggerating about the isolation of parenthood, but it’s real. And it’s there. And it’s probably one of the biggest contributing factors to the baby blues other than the feeling of being overwhelmed by the sudden and new duty of caring for a tiny human being. But it’s totally normal to feel that way, for younger parents and older ones. You’re transitioning into a new lifestyle, especially with your first child. Your friends want to give you space to settle, you may not know many other people with babies, or you may know hundreds. But those first few weeks can feel lonely and asking for help, or even just some company is 100% okay, and in no way a sign of weakness.

 

8. Realising that no parent is an expert, and every baby is different is a must

This includes realising that not all advice is good advice, and not all good advice is advice you have to take. Every baby adjusts to the world differently, reaches milestones at different times, and reacts to different parenting methods totally differently. If Belinda Opinionista from down the road says you have to rock your baby to sleep every sleep time until 4 months because she did and now her kids sleep perfectly, but that doesn’t suit you or your baby, don’t do it. Just because it worked for someone else, or studies say it should work doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. And you should NEVER feel guilty for not doing something if it doesn’t work for you and your baby.

 

9. It’s okay to walk away for 5 minutes

When the screaming has been non stop and you can’t seem to solve or soothe them it is 100% okay to put baby in a safe place, like their cot, close the door and walk somewhere where you can’t hear them for five minutes. In fact, I honestly think you’ll go mad if you don’t. I thought you couldn’t, I would rock her and bounce her and hold her while my ears would ring from the endless screaming until I felt like I could break down crying because I didn’t know what I could do to help her. I eventually worked out that walking away, just for those five minutes and recollecting myself was the very best thing I could do for her. You come back with a fresh head and a calm demeanour that your baby will be able to pick up on and in turn will help calm them down.

10. Getting to know your baby takes time

The biggest thing of all. You’re new to being a parent. Your baby is new to being a baby. Everything is a little all over the place for the first few weeks. In the beginning it’s all extremely instinctive, feed, sleep, feed, sleep. You might feel a little overwhelmed, maybe even a little used considering you pour all your hours into feeding and tending to this little humans every need to get nothing much back for a while. But when those smiles start coming, and the personality starts to show that’s when it will all feel worth it. as time goes on you never think you can love your baby more than you do right at that very moment. But every single day that child will prove you wrong by filling your heart with even more love than you ever thought possible.

 

Violet 4 WM

 

Above all else, take a deep breath and remember that this gorgeous little human is entirely your own, and you get to love them for the rest of your life and beyond.

 

 

 

Here’s to the new dads

Here’s to the new dads 

To the men who had to listen to the complaining, hungry, tired and sore pregnant ladies for 9 months, only to get to the end and have the circulation squeezed out of their hand while watching the equivalent of their favourite pub burning down.

Here’s to the amount of times he held your hair back through morning sickness, and funded your many late night cravings of the oddest, and often hardest to purchase food at 1am.

To the guys who lovingly reassured their partners time and time again that “no, you’re not fat honey, you’re pregnant”, and took one for the team at social events by drinking for two.

To the men that attended all the little pre-baby gatherings and smiled over the tiny little outfits and shoes while pretending that they don’t think any of it is that cute, when really they really do think it’s all that cute.

Here’s to the hours he spent worrying for you, about how smooth the pregnancy will be, and how brave you’ll have to be through the birth… all while being the rock that you need to keep sane through your own worries.

To the pain he must have gone through watching you through your pain and felt helpless to stop it.

To the tears he shed the moment he laid eyes on the tiny little human you created together and felt more love than he could ever possibly imagine.

To the hours he spends burping and changing nappies while you sleep for ‘just five more minutes’ after a feed.
To the man who, despite being just as sleep deprived, just as emotional having brought a new little human into the world, and who longs, just as much as anyone else, to spend time with you and your little baby… still goes to work in the early hours of the morning until late at night to give you the life you live and love together.

Here’s to the new dads, who are just as important, and deserve just as much recognition as the new mums. The men who without, we wouldn’t be blessed with the beautiful gift that is motherhood in the first place.

For Daniel, my rock. You’re one of the greatest fathers I know and I’ll thank you every single day for the rest of my life for everything you do, everything you are, and for this gorgeous little girl we get to call our own.