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

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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

Two Weeks with Two Under Two

Holy heck. If that wasn’t the fastest fortnight of my entire life then I don’t know what was.

Matilda is two weeks old today. Which wells my heart and makes me teary at the same time. Mostly because I know that time won’t be slowing down any time soon.

Both of the girls have been amazing these past couple of weeks. Violet especially is beginning to shine in her new role as “big sister”. Although she is still yet to master the art of sharing, she really is making huge progress with her adjustment to having her little sister around.

I won’t fluff it for you, the first weekend for Vi was really tough. Tough on her and us. There were definitely a few contributing factors; excitement about visitors, lack of naps (because of the excitement about visitors), out of routine, staying with her grandparents… I could list a million things really. But she didn’t handle it too well to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, she was absolutely smitten with her little sister, but that first weekend was TOUGH. Now that we’re passed it though, and she’s had time to adjust without extra people around the house, she’s doing fantastically. Though still takes Matilda’s dummy occasionally.. she thinks it’s funny, I definitely don’t.

Matilda herself has been a little joy. I forgot how much newborns SLEEP! I WISH toddlers slept the way newborns do… all day, every day hahaha! But for the most part she’s a great little sleeper, besides the odd few hours at witching hour (shivers). She is quite a little bit more windy than Vi ever was (from what I can remember). But she really is slotting so easily into our little family.

I’m tired, of course. But I’m honestly one of the happiest sleep deprived people you will ever meet. Having my girls and my man all together these past few weeks has brought me nothing but teary eyed joy.

I often find myself trying to imprint all of these moments we’re having together in my memory forever. Violet hugging her tiny sister, Dan reading to them both whilst I make dinner. It’s the simple everyday moments… I try to grasp them as tightly as I can so not to ever forget them. They aren’t big significant moments by any means, but they’re heart warming, and so special.

I often find myself wondering if it’s possible at all to be any happier then what I am right now. If it is, then we certainly have a lot to look forward to.

And as quick as this update has been, I need sleep. But I’ll try to keep this regular. These are things I want to remember.

Xo Emily @ LovingLittleOne.com

What’s in my Hospital Bag – Mama Edition

I’ve had quite a few people message me recently about my lack of posting this. I do apologise it’s taken me so long to get up… better late than never though right? (Aaaand since beginning writing this I gave birth! Hahaha so it was delayed yet again… sorry!)

If it’s not already obvious, I pack a seperate bag for myself when it comes to hospital bags. I’m certain if you found a bag big enough you could cram it all into one, but having seperate bags has made it easier for me to determine exactly what we both need seperately. This post is about what I put in MY bag. If you’d like to read about what I pack for my baby you can read my previous post here

I’m sure I’ll probably miss items on this list, so, if you think of any that I’ve missed let me know! I’ll have to pop it in my bag before I go into labour (god, hopefully soon hahaha, sitting at 38 weeks and dying). I’ll do the same format, long paragraph about why I like/need the item and then a short description underneath so that if you’re in a hurry (or in LABOUR!) you can fly on through my babble.

let’s get started

1. Comfy black undies

I’ve started with something obvious, I’m aware. BUT I need to emphasise COMFY to you, after you’ve given birth the thought of anything other than comfortable underwear will terrify you. And why black you ask? well, remember the glorious 9 months you experienced without your monthly? She’s about to return, and she does NOT care about what colour underwear you’re wearing, but for stains sake, I’d choose black every time.

Any brand of black undies will do, I’d take a size up and pack at least 6 pairs (you’ll need the spares)

2. Maternity Pads

For that reason I was just talking about… You WILL need maternity pads. Even if you’re having a cesearan. I’m about to get a bit sciency so if you’re squeemish I give you permission to skip this part. But regardless of where you baby enters the world, they take with them (about 10-50 minutes after they’re born) their placenta, which was previously attatched to the side of your uterus. The exit leaves you with a little wound inside your womb (hahaha sorry, I had to), which will bleed like any other wound, I’m sure there are other reasons for the bleed and feel free to look them up if you’re curious, but to cut a long story short, maternity pads WILL be your friend, for the next 6 weeks or so. So do NOT forget them. I ended up having to use almost a whole packet whilst I was in labour as my waters had broken and leaked CONSTANTLY, so they’re great for that reason also.

I would recommend at least two packets. I find the Libra ones most comfortable but the U by Kotex brand is also quite decent. **DO NOT ATTEMPT TO USE TAMPONS- DON’T EVEN BOTHER PACKING THEM**

3. Shape-wear

And no, not because you’ll be hitting the town and need to suck in the love handles. Underwear with that EXTRA support really helped in those few weeks right after birth to feel that extra bit supported (and less like my insides were falling out). I have two kinds, ones that sit about half way below by belly button and ones that come well up and over it. The ones that come right up were excellent in the first few days, and I really can’t recommend them enough. While everything is super squishy and funny feeling they help you to feel like you have some kind of structure to yourself. The half way ones were just as good initally, and then even better by the time I was about 6 weeks post partum. I found I really didn’t need the support above my belly button after a couple of weeks so I preferred these later on.

Not essential but definitely something I highly recommend. Mine are from best and less, but you can find them pretty much anywhere that sells underwear. 2 pairs would be enough (I’ve packed 4 because I really loved them)

4. Comfortable Clothes

You’ll need comfortable clothing during and after labour. I’d suggest putting something aside at home that you can change into during your labour at home that you know you’ll be comfortable in. And have at least 2 outfits to wear in the hospital after bubs arrives. I LOVE nursing singlets. SO much easier than wearing a nursing bra with a shirt over the top. So I’ve packed two nursing singlets and two long comfy sets of pants. I chose long because generally it’s a little cooler in hospitals than the usual. I’ve packed a pair of short maternity pj pants as well just in case but I don’t see myself using them. It’s important to remember that you most definitely won’t be back to a normal size right after birth, in fact you’ll probably still fit snuggly into your maternity wear, so do stick to things that will fit even with a postpartum bump. As much as I know you’ll want to jump back into your favourite pre baby pjs.

At least two sets of comfy clothes, I prefer nursing singlets and long comfy pants for the cooler climate of the hospital. 

5. Toiletries

Obvious again, but you’d be surprised how easily they’re forgotten. My fool proof method of NOT forgetting your toiletries is to pack minis and leave your everyday stuff at home. Mini toothbrush, mini tooth paste, mini shampoo and conditioner, mini deoderant… all of it. It’ll just mean that you can have it all there in the bag ready to go, and you won’t have to do a last minute pack of all of the things you normally use daily. I’d also suggest packing some dry shampoo as well as some lip blam. Dry shampoo to help you feel just that bit fresher, and lip blam because hospitals are surprisingly drying! Trust me, you’ll thank me later

Packing minis is a great way to ensure you don’t forget anything, dry shampoo and lip blam are also a must (in the ways of comfort anyway)

6. Towels

The hospital will have these, but spoiler alert, they’re thin and don’t do their job as “towel” very well. So save yourself the heartache and bring along your own. I’ve packed two, and when I say packed, I just popped them in the back of the car (no use in having them take up room in the bag). The reason I’ve packed two is so that Dan also has one if he needs it, he might want to shower or he also might get into the birth pool with me if I’m able to use it. And, if he doesn’t use it, I probably will anyway. I’d also suggest putting an EXTRA spare towel in your boot, I know when my waters broke with Vi there is no way I would have gotten to the hospital without drenching the car if I hadn’t had a towel, and you don’t want to have to use the towels you originally packed for showering with.

A towel for you, a towel for your birth partner and a SPARE for the car. Put them all in your boot preemptively, no point in having them in your bag taking up space. 

7. Breast Pads

It’s not very common for your milk to come in right away, so this might not be something you don’t end up using, but if you do end up having an extended stay and your milk DOES come in, you will NEED these. Or you’ll constantly soaking through your bras and clothes. I used the New Beginnings brand when I had Violet, and loved it. I’ve packed the hydrogel ones this time just because I had some left over from before that I must have been given. I plan to use washable ones once we’re home, I didn’t with Vi because I didn’t really know anything about them but it will definitely save you money in the long run to use reusables. You can find them on Ebay super super cheap!

One box should be fine, you might not even end up using them.

8. Camera/Phone and charger

Most people use their phone as a camera these days, so it’s unlikely you’ll forget that. BUT don’t forget your charger on your way out, I nearly did the second time around.

Obviously

9. A cardigan or jumper

It really does get quite cold in the hospital. Having something you’re able to chuck over your shoulders is really handy. Especially if you’re someone that is prone to feeling the cold more than usual.

Something that either has a zipper or is open- it’ll make breastfeeding easier

10. Your Birth Plan

Some people think birth plans are silly and unrealistic. I have to disagree. It is always best to have a plan in place, for both the ideal birth AND emergency. Even if you just jot down a few points you’re firm on that way you can give it to your birth partner who can inform the midwife if they’re able to. Simple things like prolonged cord clamping, skin to skin etc, whatever you feel you really want for your baby can be added to it. Try and discuss the plan with your midwife at your antenatal appointments beforehand, and they should be able to help you determine what will be best for you. Having an emergency plan as well is great, and also gives you a bit of piece of mind that if things do end up that way, you still had some kind of input with yours and your babies care.

Even just a small page of notes to give to your midwife.

11. Something to wear home

I mean, realistically you can just wear the comfy clothes home if you want! But if you want to feel a little chic and groovy on your way out, pack a specific outfit. Remember to make sure you’ll be able to breast feed in it. I wore a button up dress this time from Old Navy, UNBELIEVABLY comfortable. Plus I felt a little more human after spending two whole days in my pyjamas. (You can pack makeup too if you’re one of those people! Nothing wrong with it at all. I didn’t because I knew I just wouldn’t feel like it, and I was right, I didn’t feel like it at all… I’d just pushed a baby out)

Something comfy but acceptable to wear in public. Or PJs, whatever floats your boat

I’m almost certain I’ve missed some things in this list… partly because I’ve written it over the space of about 5 weeks, and also partly because I’m now sleep deprived as heck with a newborn asleep on my chest. But what can you do. It’s a work in progress. I can always come back and add to this if I need to. And if you think of anything I’ve missed, let me know! And I’ll add it

(I do have photos I’ll add to this in the morning.. I’m currently lying in bed and can’t be bothered to go and get the camera and transfer the photos over right now)

Xo Emily @ LovingLittleOne.com

Making a Change – We’re Moving

In my last couple of blogs I’ve mentioned we’ve been going through some pretty hectic change, and I do feel as though now is the time to share what that change is with you all.

There is no fluffing around it, so I’ll just get straight to the point, we won’t be living in Brisbane very much longer. And by very much longer, I mean we’ll be moved and settled within the next month, so BEFORE this baby is born.

It’s funny because I feel as though everyone thinks we make sudden decisions and never truly make up our mind on things, so this might seem very sudden, or you might be thinking “they probably won’t end up moving”. But the reality is, we’ve been thinking about this for well over a year. The first time we thought about it was literally an entire year ago when our lease was due for renewal, but at the time we had some things happening in our life that seemed to indicate that we weren’t ready for it just yet.

But now we’re here, a whole year later faced with the decision to either make a change or continue on with the way we currently live our lives. Both Dan and I agree that although the way we live our lives now isn’t necessarily bad, it’s not sustainable for our future. It might be sustainable for a 22 and 21 year old without children, but thats not our reality. And we want to be living life in a way that is sending us UPWARD, not flatlining us.

Brisbane is wonderful, really. We’ve been so privileged to be able to call it our home. We’re surrounded by supportive friends and family at almost every corner, and have the convenience of having pretty much anything we could possibly need at our fingertips. But that convenience is also an appeal for thousands of other people, which means the cost of living here is unbelievably high. I’m not about to share figures, because you just don’t do that with the internet, but I am about being honest, and we honestly can’t afford to live well here, thats just the reality of it.

Some people might say, “you’re getting by, why do you have to be able to live well? If you’ve got food on the table then you shouldn’t be worried”. We are able to put food on the table, sure. As well as pay our rent and bills on time, but at the end of the day, after ALL of the expenses, we’re left with absolutely nothing. We’re sitting in a house, paying someone else’s mortgage with almost every cent we earn. Dan is literally busting his butt to get to the end of the year with nothing to show for it. And thats something that we’re just not okay with anymore.

We want to be able to afford to have Dan take a weekend off, and not struggle for money for the next 2 weeks as a result. We want to afford to take our kids on little camping trips, which literally cost next to nothing besides fuel and our time. To be able to afford to have a date night (JUST Dan and I!) more than once every 6 months. There’s honestly so many more things I could list off that we can’t afford right now that we would love. But more than anything, I want Dan to get home from work at the end of the day and not feel like he’s suffocating in a job he doesn’t enjoy to live in a home we can barely afford to be in.

I definitely know I don’t have to explain our reasons, so I suppose this is where a post I’ve written is more for me than anyone else. But we know that this is the right thing for us, as much as we’re going to miss the place we’ve made a home together in, and the people who have so warmly supported us. There is so much more to be felt in life than stress over money and time, and good things can be found anywhere if you look hard enough.

Perhaps the wonderful thing about all of this is the possibilities that lie ahead. Change petrifies the both of us, but also fills us with hope as well as gratitude for what we’ve already been so lucky to have. So while things are still so uncertain in terms of where exactly Dan will be working or the home we’ll bring our latest little addition home to, we do know that the change we’re making BEFORE we know those things will propel us into a brighter future, not only for us but for our children as well who will always be one of our biggest priorities.

Stay tuned for updates! Because there will be MANY.

Xo Emily @ LovingLittleOne.com

Pregnancy, Week 23: Ethics and Questioning my Sanity

You know you’ve been binge watching too much of Netflix’s “The Good Place” when just about every thought that pops into your head, you manage to somehow link back to moral ethics. And this week/last week… we watched the whole two seasons (again). So now, I’m sitting here questioning the ethics behind feeding my toddler left over roast veggies because I couldn’t be arsed grocery shopping, again.

Don’t get me wrong, the veggies are healthy and she LOVES them so it’s not the act, more or less the laziness behind having zero groceries in the house for about the 6th day in a row.

At 23 weeks, my brain is mush and the absolute last thing I want to be doing is grocery shopping. It’s always crowded, and about 8 degrees colder than I find mildly comfortable. PLUS last time I went grocery shopping I got stank-eyed by a 2 year old (not my child, surprisingly. Though she has got a good stank face) and its really just something I don’t have the strength to face again just yet… He was a MEAN looking 2 year old.

little bean is now big enough to show easily in pretty much anything I wear. Which is both good and bad. Good because it’s more obvious now that I’m having a baby and its not just pudge from my last one. And bad because pretty much all of my non maternity pants no longer fit, including my favourite tights. But alas, this bump will only grow bigger so I’ve again reached the crossroads between sucking it up and continuing to wear the same wardrobe week in and out, or buying more maternity clothes. Which is never really a good idea if we’re being honest, they’ll only be needed for a few months longer, then they just become baggy house clothes that you spent too much money on.

My memory is currently about as awful as my bladder capacity. And whoever said you should have less frequent trips to the toilet in the second trimester is a LIAR. Swift kicks to the bladder make it pretty difficult to go any longer than about an hour between loo visits. I forget where I put my phone, my keys, my wallet, Violet’s nappy wipes, the TV remote… pretty much anything smaller then a carry-on bag you can bet I’ve misplaced. It certainly doesn’t help that Vi tends to hide these things regularly, but you know, you can’t blame everything on the kids.

Beyond losing things and stretching clothes, the last couple of weeks have been super all over the place for me, emotionally. I tend to swing wildly and randomly back and forth between “everything is okay, we’ve got this” to “holy crap what the hell are we doing”, and although both feelings are pretty normal, I’ve felt myself internalising them a lot more than usual this pregnancy. Which means bad news when the bottled emotions come spilling out all over my coffee in the form of panicked wails.

Dan and I are no strangers to this whiplash kind of emotional rollercoaster, just seems to be heightened for the both of us at the moment which can be both stressful and confusing. We do have big things going on in our life beyond the baby and Vi that are obviously contributing, it’s all reached quite a pivotal peak and we’ve just been left clinging on to faith that we’ll reach the other side relatively unscathed and hopefully in a better place as a family.

The irony of life really rears its head in moments like these, the most challenging things often come around at what feels like exactly the wrong time. But then again, is there ever really a good time to face trialling adversity? Probably not, much like there never really being a good time to go to the dentist or call Centrelink *shivers*. But we push forward, whether it be by choice or by the force of change and time.

The one thing I am sure of is my love for Dan and the family we’ve created together, beyond the crazy hormones and shitty life situations. They give me my sanity, a constant in a world that is so uncertain for us at the moment. They’re all of my good mornings and all of my goodnights, and soon we’ll have one more little person to cuddle for all of those.

These 23 weeks have certainly been wild, and very very fast. In fact, I really can’t believe we’re here already. We’ll be seeing you soon little bean!

Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we truly are.

-Arthur Golden

Xo Emily @ LovingLittleOne.com

“Who the hell am I” : Challenges with self image in Parenthood

From the moment you lay eyes on your first born, you feel a shift. Suddenly, everything you once deemed important becomes a shadow behind this tiny little human that lays quietly (or loudly) in your arms.

The first moments are often peaceful and relieving, and most often remembered through a haze of exhaustion and hormones, no matter how your birth took place. Though the one emotion that will forever be cemented in your brain is the tremendous amount of love you felt, and still do.

Your days become a giant mixing bowl filled to the brim with crazy things you would have never imagined in your life before your baby. Not only learning to navigate feeding, sleep, changing and settling your little one, but doing the same for yourself whilst in full blown recovery from likely one of the biggest physical events your body has ever been through.

There is no use in trying to be polite about it, your body is a mess. Your hormones are through the roof, you bleed for weeks on end, you leak endlessly from your significantly larger (and significantly more painful) chest balloons, all while getting the equivalent of about 3 hrs sleep every 24 hours (depending on circumstance of course). So really, there’s no wonder you may be sitting on the couch at 3am with a newborn attached to your boob thinking, “who the hell am I?”. In fact, your life changes so much after having children its no wonder at all if you’re still sitting on the couch at 3am long after your toddler/teenager has gone to bed thinking “who the hell am I?”.

There is a lot to be said about the way we think about ourselves. Outside influences almost always contribute to this, so it is only natural that your self image changes after becoming a parent, for women and men alike. I know, as a mum, there is almost a constant looming pressure to provide the absolute best experience for your children as you can. From tummy time and sensory play when they’re tiny, to outside park play and time spent with other children in toddlerhood. I find myself almost always analysing our days wondering if we’re doing enough. Even though I can almost guarantee that if you’re there for your kids, they’ll feel like it is enough regardless of what you get up to.

Beyond those moments, there is the downtime, when you’re alone and left with time to think about you. Social media for me, is one of the major things that triggers these moments. It’s more or less allowing myself to think about the fact that I am really not sure of who I am beyond parenthood. I’m not sure of my style, or what people think of me as a person beyond being a mother (not that either of those things should matter). I’m sure this is something other parents experience, and even people who aren’t. The path to understanding yourself is very complex, and often confronting. But it has definitely been something I have been left to contemplate quite often.

The main thing I take away from it, is that its okay not to know these things. And it’s certainly okay for now, to let “parenthood” be my definition, even if its just for a little while. Because the truth is, what defines you is something that is constantly evolving. I mean, many aspects of my life have defined me; my love for art, reading and learning, my determination to improve myself through the sport that I loved (squash), and even the places that sport took me throughout the years, as well as the people I’ve grown up with, and the people I’ve met along the way. Every detail of the events and people in my life have helped create “me”.

And for better part of the last 3 years, parenthood has been a massive part of who I am. My life, twenty-four seven, 365 days of the year. So yes, I am a mum. I’m also a lot of other things, some of those things I understand, and some of them I don’t. But for now, what I most understand is my life with my loving partner and my soon to be two children. And right now, I’m totally okay with that being all I know, because more that will define me is yet to come.

xx Emily @ LovingLittleOne.com