My Postpartum Reality: Baby #2

This is my postpartum reality. 6am. After a night of tossing and turning while my babies slept. Up several times through the night, once even to find that I’ve wet myself. Yep 21, and I’ve wet myself. So 6am, I’m in a bath of Epsom salt with my 2 year old.

Recurring bouts of vaginal thrush has my head in a mess. A constant burn. A constant itch. I say vaginal because nipple thrush can also be really common postpartum, though I don’t have that type. I can fix it for a day or so with creams and tablets only it comes right back again. I’ve had ten weeks with only the occasional day of relief. And a fantastic doctor truly searching for solutions.

I haven’t brought myself to write about this yet because it’s “taboo” and talking about my nether regions apparently makes people uncomfortable, but I’m a sharer. And I suppose if this kind of discussion makes you uncomfortable then you can always leave the page.

It’s a silent struggle. Because physically I look very well for someone who had a baby 10 weeks ago. But this is the reality of postpartum for a lot of mums, you might not see the change or the the pain they’re in. Yet, they persevere.

This is in no way a comparison, or to say I have it worse. Some women definitely have it worse, and I am so incredibly thankful to have had largely beautiful experiences birthing my children. Though that doesn’t change the fact that I find intimacy incredibly difficult now, and that my patience is almost constantly thin because of the burning feeling I’m dealing with in the background. At the moment, my life is different because of childbirth although it may not look it, and I’m still learning ways to manage these new challenges my body presents. I can’t even begin to imagine how much more difficult this journey is for women who didn’t get the birth they wanted, or the body they anticipated to have afterward.

So please remember be patient and to be understanding. Not all battles are visible, especially on this postpartum road. We’re all walking our own lanes but to have one another to fall back on, even if it’s just to cry to, makes an incredible difference, no matter how we brought our babies into the world, or how we feel about our bodies afterward.

Physically, otherwise, I feel stronger. Stronger than I did 10 weeks ago, though still lacking the strength I once had to enjoy sport and exercise the way I used to, but I’ll get there.

I can’t help but think about the women who have longer harder journeys of recovery, and send them all the love I can muster. I see you, I get it, I know you’ll make it to the other side of this. Pregnancy, labour, birth and motherhood, it’s hard. But you’re stronger than you realise and that little baby you have in your arms… YOU are what love is to them. You are all they know and they love you like nothing else in this entire world exists (because they don’t know that anything else exists haha) but still, it is a deep, gravity defying love all the same. You’ll make it through this

And if you ever need someone to talk to, my inbox will always be open.

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

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Balling on a Budget: Making Parenthood Work when you’re Strapped for Cash

It’s no secret, our first daughter, Violet, was unplanned. I was 18 and in the middle of an education degree and Dan was 20 and had just left his job as a landscaper. We lived with his mum, and had absolutely nothing in the way of savings.

There we were, jobless and broke, and we’d been told we were expecting a baby. I think the first word we both though of was “shit”. Despite what the world might have expected us to do in a situation where we had no income, we decided to continue with the pregnancy. We loved each other, and we had always wanted children together, and god, you know I would never forgive myself if we had decided to terminate and then had fertility issues down the track. All we’ve ever wanted was to be parents together.

Despite having next to nothing, what we did have was love and support from everyone around us, and to this day it continues. Becoming parents so young hasn’t been easy, and I’d hardly say we’re now suddenly “well off”, because we’re not. We’re still rocking this gig on a budget.

We have always managed to make things work, whether it be strategy or pure luck, I thought I would share how we’ve made it to where we are today with you.

Find a job and stick with it (even if it’s just for now). God, it sounds easy. But the reality was, for about 4 months of my pregnancy with Violet, Dan didn’t have an income, and I was part time at a burger restaurant. It wasn’t because he didn’t want a job. Big cities can be tough, and it’s certainly a case of take what you can get. Once he got it, he stuck to it, as painful as it was at times. It paid the bills, and as long as that happened we could focus on finding something better in the background. So take what you can get and remember there will always be time to work on the bigger picture once you’ve got an income.

Take all the help you can get. I get it, it’s a pride thing. But there are systems in place to help your financial situation, systems that EVERYONE here in Australia is entitled to, not just low income earners. Enquire about what you’re entitled to and don’t be ashamed to claim it. The systems are in place to help, not only your financial situation but your overall wellbeing. That also goes for accepting help from family and friends, they’re here to help and they certainly wouldn’t offer if they didn’t want to help you.

Keep track of what you’re spending. Something we certainly haven’t always been good at. You don’t have to be as crazy as keeping every receipt, but taking note of your bank statements is a step in the right direction. You’d be surprised just how much a daily coffee on your way to work adds up.

Make it yourself. Food that is. I would say clothing but you know this girl has no idea how to sew (properly anyways). Honestly though, homemade things will always save you money. Especially snacks. Feeding a toddler can be pricey when you buy pre-packaged snacks. Try batches of pizza scrolls, muffins, sausage rolls. They can be frozen and reheated and end up cheaper because you’re making batches.

Take moments over “things”. Whilst kids are little, and even as they get older toys always seem to be present. But remember they’re often tossed aside when something new comes along. Opt for experiences over gifts, especially in a sense of saving money. Beach trips, park trips, even just going for a stroll adds a bit of joy and money doesn’t have to be spent doing any of those things. Heck, even get out the hose in your backyard. The simplest things can bring joy to kids, you’ve just got to be enthusiastic and they’ll follow suit.

Don’t be trapped by loans. It is SO tempting, I know. Credit cards, car loans, short term personal loans… such a great way to get what you want, but long term… it is so much more expensive. Consider budgeting for the things you want, save for them first and then splurge. It makes all the difference week to week when you don’t have the weight of loan repayments. Though I do understand this way of doing things isn’t for everyone. And by all means, go ahead if you know it will work with you and your budget. But personally from my perspective, it’s one less financial stress for our family.

Make the big hard decisions. Sometimes it means picking up and moving, sometimes it means giving up things that take up too much of your budget. Sometimes it certainly is a bit of a sacrifice. However I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t be having children if you’re not ready to make some sacrifices.

I’ll be honest, I could go on and on here about how to make it work with little money. But truth be told, you probably already knew a lot of these points. A lot of people will put off having children for the sake of finances, which of course is a personal decision. But in my opinion there really is no “right time” to have children. You could want to buy a house first, or a new car, go on that dream vacay, get the dream job… all valid reasons to put it off, but there will always be something else to do.

We get to do all of our big dreams with our girls by our side, and although we’ve made a few sacrifices, we make it work. And I’d much rather have a couple tiny hands to hold through the tough parts of life, than to be handling it solo.

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

The Lazy Mum’s Guide to Keeping a Tidy Home

I have never been very good at house keeping. Before I had children I was a bit of a mess, I saw housework as a chore (because we all know it is), and like everything else I don’t enjoy doing I would put it off. And everyone knows mess only gets messier the longer you leave it.

Since having the girls I’ve come to realise that life is far more stressful in a home with children if it isn’t organised (at least a little bit). So I’ve taken it upon myself the teach myself easier ways of staying on top of housework, because let’s be real, lazy people will always find a shortcut.

So, here are some simple little tricks I’ve learnt that make keeping a tidy home that little bit easier;

1. One Touch Rule

This is made up, obviously, but it has made a huge difference in the way of keeping space de-cluttered and it’s super simple (though a bit of a challenge to begin with if you’re lazy like me). Things you’ve used, whether it be an item of clothing or a book, once you’ve finished with it, don’t put it in a space it doesn’t belong, put it straight back in its designated space. Everything you touch you should only have to do so once, for example if you have a coat on, when you get home don’t take it off and put it on the couch, that will mean you have to touch it again to put it away. It’s that bit of extra initial effort, but it’ll mean you don’t spend time later on decluttering that space.

2. Empty the Damn Dishwasher

SIMPLE. The dishwasher is finished? Empty it straight away. It sounds silly, but it is one of the easiest ways to keep on top of your dishes, it avoids dish pile up in your sink, making your kitchen look 100% cleaner without even trying. I usually put my dishwasher on at night just before bed, and in the morning, unpacking it is the first thing I do after getting Violets breakfast sorted. It means I’ve got space from the get go for the dishes we use throughout the day and the sink stays clear of dishes!

3. Hang on Hangers

This is a nifty little trick I learnt from my mother in law (to be). Hang your hangables out to dry on hangers! If you’re anything like me you’re not a huge fan of washing, not really the washing or the hanging part, but the putting away. Hanging things on hangers means you can literally take it off the line and put it straight into your cupboard (following the one touch rule without even trying). Which only leaves underwear and pants to fold, halving the folding and putting away job. I also find things tend to dry a whole lot better on hangers too, win-win!

4. Clean as you Go

If working in hospitality has taught me anything, it’s a whole lot easier to keep a space tidy if you make the effort to clean as you go. Not the easiest rule to follow if you’ve got a toddler racing around and a newborn who needs your attention, BUT if you can manage it, it’ll mean that when the kids do finally have a rest you won’t have to spend that time cleaning up after a mess you’ve made cooking. Again, the one touch rule comes in handy, put things away as you use them. It’s more effort to begin with, but SO much less work in the end.

5. Keep cleaning supplies where they’ll be used

I have a great mind for putting things away, but I’ve found if that space isn’t within an easy reach I rarely bother to use it. So I’ve started keeping cleaning supplies where they’ll be used most. An example, toilet cleaner is on the windowsill above the toilet, it doesn’t look the prettiest so it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but it really has impacted the cleanliness of things in my home. Just remember if you have children that “within reach” is within your reach, not your child’s!

6. Good Cleaning Products

Products with multiple uses and that WORK are your friend. It’s all well and good to have an entire cupboard of products, but if you’re anything like me you’ll dread using them because of the sheer amount of them. We have been using a brand called “Koh” for a couple of months now and I’ve been really impressed with it. It has a ton of multi uses and is a lot better for the environment than your usual cleaning products. You can find more info on it Here if you’re interested, I could go on about the reasons I love it but the website speaks for itself. Basically, good products have motivated me to actually use them, and that’s why it’s on this list.

7. Try Timer Cleaning

Being lazy goes hand in hand with being unmotivated. Give yourself a kick in the arse by setting a timer. I’ll often walk into a space and think “I’ll do it soon” and then it never gets cleaned. By setting myself 10 minutes to clean the space, it actually gets done! And better yet, I often feel motivated to keep cleaning other areas afterward. Be sure to actually use a timer, on your phone or something, otherwise it probably won’t work as well.

8. Baskets and Boxes

I don’t know about any other mums, but especially now after Christmas our house is filled with toys, literally from one end to the other. I can honestly say the easiest way to keep sane surrounded by children’s toys is to throw them all into a nice looking basket and chuck it into the corner of the room. Vi is old enough now to help throw them into the basket so we have a general tidy up time before every meal where we spend time together putting all of the toys into the baskets, leaving the spaces generally clutter free (for the most part).

9. Ask the kids for help

Now, obviously I’m not asking the 7 week old to help tidy things, but Violet is a very capable helper. She was able to do so from about 12 months, and she’s always been happy to help so long as I’m helping her too. We make it a bit of a game by singing a song I made up called the tidy up song. Cleaning doesn’t have to seem like a chore, and the more fun you make it for your children the more likely they are to want to help and they should always be helping! It’s called being a part of a household, no one gets out of it, unless they’re too young to do it yet. There’s nothing stopping you from making it a game either, who can pick up the most toys? Who can wipe up the most mess? There’s no limit to the fun you can have really, it’s all about what you make it.

Most importantly, above all of this, remember it’s okay if things don’t always get done. Don’t put pressure on yourself to “keep the house clean”… as soon as I stopped putting that expectation upon myself, I stopped feeling rotten when it didn’t get done, which in turn gave me a better relationship with cleaning. It wasn’t a “job” anymore, rather something I actually wanted to do.

The mess really will always follow you when you have children it’s just the reality of things. Toddlers are messy, newborns preoccupy you… but it’s not impossible, especially when you do little bits here and there to keep things manageable. Hopefully this list inspired you a little, even though your hands are probably already full. I believe in you!

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

A Note on Postpartum Self Confidence

Our bodies go through a hell of a lot to bring our children into the world. Things get stretched, in more ways than one and our body goes through some pretty crazy hormonal sh*t. Pregnancy and childbirth changes you, whether you’re up for it or not.

I could ramble on about the details, and there are plenty. But the reality is, like I’ve stated a million times before in my previous blog posts, it’s different for everyone. Some of us get stretch marks, some get pelvic floor issues (lots of us actually hahaha), some wind up with back problems, and others bare scars on their bellies (and some in secret places too, shhhh).

And though not all of us have physical reminders of the tiny life we carried inside of us, 9 whole months of memories from pregnancy is something every mother carries with her in her heart, whether her pregnancy was easy or challenging.

I personally have had a lot of comments on my postpartum journey- not that I don’t encourage it. I share regularly on my Instagram platform about my journey with my body beyond birthing my babies, particularly in my story highlights. I feel as though it is a very important journey to share, and fortunately a lot of other influential mamas out there are doing the same these days. It helps remove the facade, that we carry these babies for 9 months and then immediately return to how we looked and felt prior to pregnancy, because that seriously isn’t the reality.

In my own way, sharing it makes me feel a lot more confident, because although none of my old clothes currently fit and I’m a bit chunkier in some places that I didn’t used to be, I have SO much love and support from the people who mean the most to me.

The reality is, postpartum self confidence, despite the name, is derived from the strong foundation of people you surround yourself with. Who lift you higher in all of your endeavours and encourage you to seek to find the love for yourself that they hold for you, not only as a new mother but as a seperate human being who deserves love a validation.

If you don’t have this support network, I beg you, go out and find it. There are groups of women all over the world who will support you and love you for who you are. Especially in your new role as a mother. And if you can’t find them, reach out to ME, there won’t be a day that passes where I won’t tell you how incredible you are.

It’s also important to remember that it’s okay not to feel perfect with your new body. It’s okay to have a goal to lose weight, or tone up, or even put weight on. Life is about growth and change, and if we aren’t striving to better ourselves then what are we striving for?

A tiny new baby in your arms does not mean you don’t have the right to miss your old body because of what it gave you. But it’s important that you know how much of a badass you are for bringing a whole new little person into the world… stretch marks, lose skin and pelvic floor issues included.

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

The Hazy Days: Getting through the first month with a newborn

There is no doubt about it, bringing a child into the world will be one of the most incredible and most exhausting things you will ever experience in your life. I’d consider myself a bit of an old hand at it now, having done it twice, but that would mean I know what I’m doing. And let’s be honest, none of us do!

There are a few little things I’ve come across in my experiences that have at least made things a little easier. Hopefully this can help at one or two people out in their journey to parenthood, I know I wish I had read something like this before I had my girls!

Be Lenient

This is a skill you’ll soon learn very quickly. But knowing you’ll have to be before the time comes does make the pill a little easier to swallow. In childbirth, the early days, into toddlerhood and no doubt beyond. There will be times when things don’t go to plan, you’ll need to be prepared not let go of your expectations and go with the flow.

Sleep when your baby sleeps

I can’t stress this enough. Guests present or not, you need to rest. Take every moment you can to get that rest, you’ll be all the better parent for it

One word, SWADDLE

Your baby is used to being all tucked up inside your very comfy uterus. Once out, their natural startle reflex can be confusing and more often than not will startle your baby out of their sleep. In my circumstances at least anyway, I found swaddling an unsettled baby really helped calm them down and keep them asleep for longer. I highly suggest the ergo swaddles or the Love to Dream, zippers are your friend. Traditional swaddles are fine of course, but when you have a Houdini on our hands, a zip could mean all the difference in the amount of sleep you get.

Don’t be afraid to do the (safe) things you said you wouldn’t

So what, you SAID you’d never use a dummy, or you’d not co-sleep, or you wouldn’t pick your baby up too much? Whatever feels right once your baby is here, so long as it is safe, is okay to do. Don’t beat yourself up over promises your non-parent self made… you were exactly that, NOT a parent. Sometimes doing those things you’d said you’d never do, helps more than you could imagine.

Be okay with saying “no”

If you’re anything like me, “no” is hardly in your vocabulary. But for sanity sake, if you need to refuse visitors, or refuse unsolicited advice, DO IT. Your baby, your time, your body… You just had a baby! Do not feel bad for putting your needs before others. And don’t feel bad about refusing advice that doesn’t suit the way you want to parent.

Take a moment for you as often as you can

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the world of a new baby. Don’t forget to take those moments to have a shower and just breathe. Wash your hair, shave your legs, clean your face… or whatever you like to do that makes you feel human. If someone is around get them to watch the baby for that time, or even if someone isn’t, I used to drag the tummy time mat into the bathroom and put Violet on it so I could have a couple of “mummy moments” to myself. They really are so imperative. You need to look after yourself just as much as you need to look after your baby

Talk when you’re not okay

There will be tough days, plenty of them. The hormones that surge your body after having a baby are beyond crazy, and they can leave you feeling anything but yourself for a while. Remember that it’s ok to feel the negative feelings sometimes, and it doesn’t make you a bad parent. Reach out as often as you can, you’ll find that a LOT of other people have gone through what you’re going through, you’re not alone. And if you do feel as though your feelings are beyond “just hormones” PLEASE seek help, you’re entirely worthy of receiving it, and you will always be worthy of happiness.

Walk away for a minute

Babies can cry for long periods of time, at times it can make you feel a little insane. If you’re having trouble coping or feeling frustrated, pop them down somewhere safe, like their cot, and walk away for a moment to somewhere you can’t hear them, only for a few moments. Just enough to breathe and remind yourself that this won’t be forever, they won’t cry forever. There will be peace and quiet again, just breathe mama, it’ll be okay.

Take all the photos, and spam all of your socials as much as you like. Your baby is beautiful and they’re all yours! Enjoy every moment, soak in that newborn smell and take comfort in knowing that that little baby is and always will be yours.

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

I Didn’t Graduate Today.

The cohort I began my university degree with graduated today. Four entire years of hard work and study has come to an end and they’re now qualified primary school educators.

Whilst the feeling of admiration for them doesn’t waver, my sense of wonder at how different things would be if I had been graduating with them does linger. It’s not a negative feeling, nor a positive one. In fact, I don’t really quite know how to describe it.

I found university incredibly difficult, in all aspects of the word. Mentally I don’t think I was ready, fresh out of high school I thought I had made the right decision in regards to my career, and as my teachers from high school would put it “the start of the rest of my life”. But the reality was a much more complex one, I was young and uncertain.

I loved the idea of working with children, but when the reality of planning and curriculum came into play it was almost as if my brain fuzzed over. I found practical placement intimidating and draining and my assignments began to make me feel sick to think about, let alone sit down and complete.

My friends were bright and successful students, and I loved watching them succeed, though I had a doubt within myself that grew with every passing week and each grade I’d received back which was never more than “average”.

I knew I needed to take a break. My mental health was suffering at a level I’m not even sure I’m able to describe, but the feeling of not wanting to disappoint my friends and family also grew along side it.

Just before the second semester of my second year began, I found out I was pregnant with Violet. The single piece of information changed my plans… all of them , even though deep down I was unsure of what they were to begin with.

I think part of me knows that I probably wouldn’t have been graduating today even if Violet didn’t come along. I was far too unsure and insecure about where I was headed to be certain that I would graduate. Vi was more or less the crunch point for that decision making process.

But here I am now, two and a half years later. Two beautiful daughters and marrying the man who means the most to me in the entire world within the next year. Still pretty uncertain about what I want to do with my life, but entirely sure of how I want to feel. Happiness is my biggest pursuit.

I certainly lack a degree of any kind. But I’ve honestly done more learning and experienced more personal growth in these past four years than I ever anticipated. I sincerely hope that regardless of my academic status, my friends and family are still proud of me. It’s silly that the matter should bother me at all, and yet it does.

I’m continually asked when I’ll return to finish my degree. And the real answer is, I really don’t know when, or if I will at all. My values and goals have shifted so much in the past couple of years that I hardly recognise myself. I still possess my credits from my course, so if I choose to return I can. But for now it’s certainly not in the forefront of my mind.

At the moment, I really just want to be a great mother. I want to be here for our girls as they hit their milestones and help them grow into smart and independent little people themselves.

The exciting part about what lies beyond motherhood for me is that my future career is still a mystery! While this would worry some people, it excites me. Nothing is set in stone. I LOVE my blog, and writing, and I also have a growing passion for childbirth and postnatal care which I’m also thinking of chasing. There’s a million things I could do, and be really. And it doesn’t HAVE to be just one thing either.

If the world has taught me anything from becoming a mother, it’s that things don’t always go according to plan. In fact, YOU have the power to change your plans, and change them again if you will, and sometimes the plans will change on their own. As long as you are staying true to yourself and what you want most, nothing can deter you from fulfilling your passions. Whether that be a degree, a travelling adventure, parenthood or simply self improvement. You are the captain of your own destiny, even when things go astray.

So far, my destiny has given me two beautiful little girls to love. And although when I began my degree in 2015 I certainly wouldn’t have anticipated to be seeing in 2019 with two children, I’m not at all deterred or intimidated by the fact that I didn’t finish my degree. Great things will always be on the horizon, so long as you look for them.

I can’t begin to describe how proud I am of my friends from University who graduated today. And I can’t wait to see where life takes you in your new careers.

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

Bittersweet Babyhood

These are the days, where we long for sleep and the simplest of tasks seem to take us half the week.

Where our patience tests us (our toddlers too), we wonder if we’re ever doing enough, and surely we do?

To keep them busy,

To keep them happy,

To fill their day with fun.

Whilst we feed, and we burp and we rock to sleep the newest little person, so little, like they were once.

With so much to do, and so little time, it’s a constant fear of missing the little things that often fills our minds.

So, I sit, a little longer than I should. One on my knee and one right beside.

I read three or four books more, even when she’s sleepy eyed.

We play outside a little bit passed dinner, and bath time is often a little bit late.

But our bellies are always full and there are always more games to play.

They’re only little for such a short time. And my heart grows a little heavy when I think about how they won’t always be little and by my side.

Though, that’s the bitter sweetness of it all, some day they’ll have their own little hands to hold.

So, for now I treasure every moment, cuddles and tantrums alike. And when I’m stuck on the couch for the fiftieth time with a baby that won’t settle and a toddler with an attitude as large as mine…

I’ll remember that these moments only last a very short while and no matter how big they get, they’ll forever be my babies- just like I am to those parents of mine.

Xo Emily @ LovingLittleOne.com