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

To the ones who stayed

Thank you.

Thank you for understanding all of the messages I forget to reply to and that I’ll probably never be the first to message you or call.

Thank you for understanding when I can’t make it to your party or bail on plans for the 40th time.

Thank you for understanding why my house isn’t always spotless when you visit or when I don’t check in for months at a time.

You see, I’ve been a little busy, a lot of the time. I have two little people who need me, but I need me too, in the tiny moments of freedom of mine.

I could make empty promises, to be more reachable and present. But the reality is, I can only take each moment as it comes and hope that you’ll always be as understanding as you are now, without resentment.

This journey that I’ve been on, becoming a parent, is something you’re yet to experience. And I know it must be hard to understand exactly how I’m feeling, but your understanding all the same is such a blessing.

You still check in when you can, and you know that a few months without conversation doesn’t mean anything other than we’ve both been busy. Most importantly you still see me for me, kids, messiness and all, and gift me with little reminders that you still love who I’ve turned out to be.

I started my journey a lot earlier than most, and I’ve lost some friends along the way. But the beautiful thing I’ve come to realise, is who is truly here to stay.

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

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

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

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

Matilda Joan: My Second Natural Childbirth Story

I struggle to find the words to justify just how incredibly lucky I feel to be sitting down to write something so positive in regards to childbirth again. I really truly thought you couldn’t possibly be so lucky twice. Perhaps it’s the stigma around childbirth, and the “scary” that is portrayed as the norm. Or maybe I was just doubly nervous because it was no longer just me and the baby to stress over but also our Violet as well.

But here I am, having made it to the other side of the waiting, sitting in awe of the human body and all of its capabilities. As well as in awe of the tiny little human we’ve created that somehow has filled our hearts with twice the amount of love we thought possible.

The real story of my labours always seem to begin in the lead up. Just like with Violet I spent a large chunk of the weeks prior very uncomfortable; experiencing early labour. Constant tightenings that I was unsure of being Braxton-Hicks Contractions or real ones, for days on end. Nausea hit me like a ton of bricks once or twice as well, which caught me by surprise as it had never happened with Violet. I could just SENSE things were moving along, but the frustration lay within the not knowing. Was I close? Would my waters break first again? If they don’t how will I know I’m in labour?

I had had a couple of really, really tough nights in the week before. Going to bed with pains thinking for certain I would wake up in labour, and then being slightly disappointed when I didn’t. At the time it felt like I was experiencing all of this pain and discomfort for nothing as nothing had progressed.

Despite it all, I really tried to focus on this pregnancy being completely seperate and different to my pregnancy with Violet. Having already been through it once does give you a certain feeling of expectation, one I very much tried to avoid. Because Violet had made her entrance by 37 and a half weeks, a small part of me expected this pregnancy to be the same, and a large part of me was tired and over it by the time 37 and a half weeks came and went. We knew she would come when she was ready though, so I spent a lot of my time distracting myself and trying to be at peace with the fact that I couldn’t control when she would be born. And pretty much as soon as I relaxed and accepted this I felt much better, at least mentally.

It wasn’t long after the acceptance (sounds dramatic right?) when things really started to heat up. It was like my body had finally had a chance to relax and so she knew it was time.

Pains through the night was nothing unusual for me at this point, but on Tuesday night (13/11/18) I found myself up at a really odd hour on the toilet. Toilet trips of course were also nothing new, but things felt different. And about 30 minutes later I lost my mucus plug. I didn’t think too much of it, as I’d already lost pieces of it the week prior, so I chucked a liner on and went back to bed. Funnily enough, Vi had also woken (which is unusual for her) so she was lying in bed with Dan, as I hopped back into bed with them I’d told him I lost my plug.

When we woke up on Wednesday morning Dan mentioned how he’d had a weird dream that I’d said I’d lost my plug, and we had a laugh over the fact that it wasn’t a dream. That’s when I noticed more pressure down below than I’d noticed before.

I tried to go about the day as normally as possible, I didn’t want to get my hopes up as I’d done the week prior, so we went into town to take Vi to the Drs and then went for a browse around the shops. While we were there I noticed the pressure worsening, and whilst Dan was in a store I took Vi to the parents room so I could change her and go to the toilet myself. (This might be tmi so skip over if you don’t like talk of bodily fluids) I realised that I had been having slightly brown discharge throughout the day, but noticed it more so this time as there was more and more of it.

At this point, it was the first time I’d thought to ring the maternity unit. My waters broke before anything had begun with Violet, so I really didn’t know what to expect of labour beginning any other way. They’d said it was normal, especially if I’d lost my plug and that things may progress but there was no reason to come to the ward.

Again, trying to continue the day as normal we headed to squash for the evening. I noticed how uncomfortable I was beginning to feel, not with tightenings or anything, but just feeling “off”. Mum and dad had offered to take Violet to their place in case things progressed during the night but I didn’t want to jinx it, so we brought her home with us.

I’d had regular pains start pretty much as soon as we’d eaten dinner. But they weren’t strong enough to feel confident that it was actual labour beginning. So we did the bedtime routine with Violet, and we watched some of “that 70s show” just in case things heated up, but they didn’t, so we took ourselves off to bed at about 9:30.

I woke up at midnight to slightly heavier contractions, to the point where I couldn’t sleep through them. So I got up and timed them for an hour or so to see if it was worth ringing the ward again, I cleaned the kitchen at the same time for something to do, mainly because I didn’t want to come back from having a baby to a messy house hahaha.

(About 1am on the 15th- in labour)

My contractions with Violet never really regulated properly, and they didn’t this time around either. But they did get more intense, so I phoned in to let them know things were progressing. And of course right after I did, they tapered off. As frustrating as it was, I was a little relieved. I was able to take some Panadol to take the edge off and sleep for another 4 hours until 5am.

This time when I woke up I knew things were moving, I had to stop to breathe through each contraction. I gave myself two hours, two hours of comfort at home. I went outside to breathe in the morning air, and then came back inside to make myself some breakfast: scrambled eggs. Half way through, Vi woke up. And I was kind of glad she did. We got a full 40 minutes together, eating eggs and talking about her little sister who was coming to see us soon. Each time a contraction would start I’d hug Vi and tell her how much I loved her, and continue to hold her until it was over. It sounds sappy and cliche but it really truly helped.

(5:45am, labouring with my little love)

After a short while I went to wake Dan up and let him know it was almost time. I rang mum and asked her to come around to watch Vi, and by 7:15 I was ready to make the 20 minute car trip to the hospital. I lapped the house 3 times, procrastinating getting in and making the drive. Mainly because I knew it would be the last time just us three would be in the house. As we drove away, Vi stood in the driveway with nanny waving us off. I was teary, teary because it was my last moments with Vi as an only child, teary because we were about to meet our second beautiful little girl, and teary because well… hormones.

The drive was surprisingly okay. I hated sitting through contractions with Vi, this time it was uncomfortable but not unbearable. Mainly because we didn’t labour at home as long as I did with Violet, just because we didn’t want to risk me giving birth on the side of the road.

We got to the hospital at about 7:45. The bigger rooms were taken and unfortunately the birth pool was too. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but I was also just so excited to meet our little girl that it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.

So, in our little room with the diffuser running and some calming music on an occasionally skippy CD player, Dan and I sat, paced, bounced and mostly, just chatted our way to meeting our daughter. I think that was my favourite part. It was just Dan and I and an empty room, something that we haven’t had really at all since Violet was born. It was almost like we were giddy teenagers again, he always takes every chance he can to make me laugh, and it was honestly exactly what I needed through those few hours. The contractions were strong and intense, but the pain was almost halved by the fact that I could just stand there in his arms and breathe through the process my body was going through. And even laugh at some points during contractions, which admittedly hurt more, but filled my heart to the brim.

We had an amazing midwife as well who was happy to let us do our own thing, but still checked in enough for us to feel comfortable about my care. At about 11am she came in to do some obs and monitor for a little, just as she finished and as I moved to hop off the bed my waters broke. From here the contractions intensified again. I opted to say put on the exercise ball for a few more contractions before moving to my safe space again- the shower!

She set up some oils and Dan turned on some calming music on his phone, we turned all the lights off and moved the exercise ball in. This was my zone, my place. The space I knew I’d welcome my daughter into the world.

It’s funny, because although this was the exact same position I brought Violet into the world in, it was so different. Instead of feeling out of body, I felt entirely present. Breathing through each contraction and coming up for air each time- with Violet I felt like I was sucked into one long wave of pain with no time to breathe, this was totally different.

I buzzed the midwife in when I felt the incredible pressure I remember feeling before Vi was born, and with 3 contractions and 3 pushes at 12:16pm on Wednesday the 15th of November, our little Matilda Joan was born swiftly into our arms. Into a room so full of love it was almost bursting at the seams.

Mum and dad brought Violet in as soon as Dan let them know Matilda was here. I was euphoric, I didn’t feel exhausted at all. And when Vi came into the room it was like everything I’d ever wished for was right in front of me.

(Completely in love)

I can’t thank Daniel enough for everything he has done and continues to do for us. His love and strength has always been my guiding light and this was even more evident during my labour with Matilda. My world is everything it is because of him. Our girls are the best thing that has ever happened to us, and I am so incredibly grateful to have him by my side through these momentous times, even if he does make me laugh in the middle of a contraction at 9cms dilated.

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One