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

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“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

Tiny to Toddler – Violet at 17 Months

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It has been a while since I’ve shared a post solely about Violet. I often forget that not everyone sees her every day and watches her grow the way I do. But these last few months really have been significant for her, just as they are for any toddler. Vi is a couple of weeks off 18 months now! Which absolutely blows my mind. But what captivates me even further is the way her little personality develops more and more every single day.

So here, at 17 and a half months, she’s pretty much her own little person. She knows what she likes; nuggets, balloons, animals and the rather irritating but loveable “blippi” (some youtube guy… if you’re a parent, he’s a bit of a lifesaver, if you’re not a parent just don’t ask) and what she doesn’t like; Broccoli, garbage trucks and cows (it’s a long story, but we’re working on the cow thing). And of course there are a million things in between.

She can ask for things, usually by pointing and yelling, something we’re also working on, because GOOD GRIEF being squealed at for a drink of water is irritating. She’ll bring me her little shoes when she wants to go outside, or go to the kitchen when she’s hungry (24/7). She also listens (when she wants to) which is a miraculous achievement in my eyes, she’ll help tidy mess by picking up toys, or helping wipe her place at the table after a meal. If you’ve ever had your own toddler, or even looked after one, you’ll know that them helping tidy a mess that you normally have to clean is SO refreshing, I don’t feel like such a maid anymore!

She will walk, run, climb, you name it. She is definitely one of those “busy” toddlers, one of the ones where you spend 90% of their awake time hawk eyeing them in fears they’ll throw themselves from high furniture or discover a way to get outside without supervision. The great thing is though, these days because she is so busy in her awake time, she rarely says no to a nap. Bunny in her arms, a warm blanket and a dummy pretty much guarantees at least 40 minutes of quiet twice a day.

The dummy has always been one of our saving graces, so theres little to no surprise or frustration about the fact that she still has one at 17 months. We have made great progress with it though, we’ve always been very strict about only needing dummies for quiet time or sleep, so now she gets along just fine during the day (besides naps) without asking for it or whinging without it.

Kids of course develop at different rates, and I’ve always been a very “go with the flow” kind of mum, so the timeline of her development has never been a major concern for me (unless a checkup with her Doctor tells me otherwise). This involves everything really, from the age that she still uses a dummy, to how long it took her to walk and talk. I just find life a lot less stressful if I focus on what she can do rather then what she can’t or how long it has taken her to do something.

Breast-feeding is now a vague memory for our little miss independent. Right at about 14 months (a month into my second pregnancy) she self weaned off of her single feed she was having a day. It was a bit of a mutual decision really, I was uncomfortable whilst feeding after falling pregnant again. Morning sickness, tender nipples and a breast feeding toddler really don’t mix well. So I more or less just stopped offering, and amongst that process she hardly asked for it anyway. She’s always been a huge foodie, so it really is no surprise that she’s happy to munch away on real food and leave mums boobs for the little baby cooking inside. I do miss our booby cuddles, and probably would have been happy to continue the single feed per day if I hadn’t fallen pregnant, but since being boob free she really has become a lot more independent and sleeps a lot better, so it’s definitely for the best in the end.

I think the most notable thing about our Vi is her beaming happiness. Like every kid, she has her moments, but I can honestly say that she is one of the happiest kids I’ve ever met. Everything the world has to offer her is an utter delight in her eyes (besides cows, cows are scary apparently). And every new person she meets is someone else to share her joy with. She waves to strangers at the shops, giggles at kids who run by, says “love you” to random dogs when we’re on walks and is almost always up for a cuddle (if she’s not busy doing something else exciting). She’s reminded me of all the good in the world, and I honestly cannot wait for her little brother or sister to join us in this glorious life. Because no matter where we are or how much money we have, I’m certain that these two little ones will light up the world that surrounds them as well as the lives of everyone who knows them.

xo Emily @ lovinglittleone.com

20 Weeks Deep

I really thought I would have posted before now, publicly anyway. But I’m sure if you’re a parent you’ll get me when I say “we’ve been so BUSY”. And not necessarily busy doing anything in particular, just busy with life. Life with a toddler, and life preparing for a new baby.

It astounds me to say that this week, I’m 20 weeks deep into my second pregnancy. In fact, it astounds me so much so that I can barely comprehend it. Half way through the journey to meeting our second bundle of love. A tiny little human who is just as much a little person as Vi is.

My brain honestly struggles to fathom it, it’s so hard to explain. But I’m sure if you’re a parent you’ll understand. You hold so much love for your first born that you question how you’ll be able to love any little babe just as much. But somehow you just know you will.

This pregnancy has been so incredibly different to my pregnancy with Violet, but also so similar. The sickness hit hard in the first few months, just like it did with Vi. And I can’t quite put my finger on whether it was more difficult in general, or just more difficult because I have a toddler. Maybe both? I was certainly more sick more often, and lost about the same amount of weight as I did with Violet in the beginning.

At about 12 weeks it fully subsided, which was certainly sooner than what it did with vi. And since then it has been mostly smooth sailing. Low blood pressure and iron plague me a little, but they do for most pregnant people and they’re easily managed so I am certainly not going to complain.

Violet has been nothing but her beautiful little self throughout this journey so far. She knows where “mummy’s baby” is, and loves to give the bump a little kiss and stroke every now and then. And whilst I was sick she would toddle along behind me to the bathroom and pat my back for me as I’d loose my lunch (and anything else I’d attempted to consume in the hours prior).

It’s definitely her journey I am interested in seeing! How she handles seeing such a little baby around the house, one that won’t leave and will become a part of our family. But I have endless amount of faith in her ability to adjust, and love this little one as much as she loves anyone dear to her (which anyone who knows her, knows her love comes in buckets full of cuddles and kisses).

It’s so strange, but some days I forget about the little baby growing inside of me. I’m so busy with life on the outside, teaching Violet about the world and watching her grow and play. It’s only when I feel a kick, or sit on the couch to relax that I remember there’s another little one joining us soon.

I have high hopes of continuing to share this journey with everyone, because I have been told by so many people that they’ve missed my little updates and stories. Which warms my heart because I really have missed sharing with you all.

So here’s to 20 weeks, and 17 months! 20 weeks of tiny babe, and 17 months of our gorgeous Vi.

xo Emily @ http://www.lovinglittleone.com

“Mudging” (Mum-judging)

If you’re yet to join the ranks of motherhood “Mudging” would have to be one of the weird made up words you’re yet to involve in your day to day vocabulary. Mainly because I made it up, but thats besides the point.

But the act of “mudging” or “mum-judging” is VERY real, in fact, so real that I’m surprised it hasn’t become a common hashtag or catchphrase yet. The reality of it tends to be quite hidden, that is until the day you, as an unsuspecting first time mum join the “mummy groups” that are the hidden forums of the judgy-mcjudge dark side of the internet.

At first you’re delighted by the empowering and basically utterly adorable posts… “#normalisebreastfeeding” and “#fedisbest”, Babies everywhere, milk teeth on show, wrinkly bums out for the world to see. There are threads on postpartum advice, advice on the best bottles, a plethora of info on where to buy the best baby things at the best prices. I mean, I could go on ALL day about the beautiful thing mothers pages appear to be, but thats obviously not what you clicked on this title for.

It appears the one thing they forget to give you in your “pregnancy and motherhood” gift pack you receive at your first antenatal appointment is the pamphlet that apparently almost every other mother out there has read stating:

“MOTHERHOOD IS A COMPETITION! DON’T TAKE LAST PLACE!” 

But I’ll tell you now, you’ll find that pamphlet plastered passive aggressively in the comments section of almost every single post on your friendly neighbourhood “mum’s page”. You wouldn’t believe it but the drama we thought we all left behind in high school is surprisingly alive and well in the same “empowering” posts we all thought were here to make us feel better about ourselves.

But it doesn’t begin and end with disagreement. There is name-calling, blatant shaming, gang-up type behaviour, unsolicited advice, posting of articles that are completely biased and mostly entirely unreliable used in order to “educate” people on what they should be doing with their OWN children.

Post upon post made in spite of other posts because people are too passive aggressive to address issues on the original conversation. But commenting their opinion on the post would be disregarding the “scroll on” rule that almost every single one of these pages has, so better to create an entire other post on the matter right? So it doesn’t appear as though its a response to something that’s not agreed on, rather a new “topic” to discuss.

Yet no matter how many rules are made, or how many people are “removed” from these groups the issue is still there. The people that are removed simply create their own “NEW GROUP!” that is somehow better and more positive then the last. Spoiler alert, it never is.

The reality of it is, in most situations people just can’t help feeling they know better then someone else. And motherhood just so happens to be one of those things that people who have experience in, think they know ALL about.

There is no doubting women are strong, incredible creatures. Not only for what our bodies are capable of, both in pregnancy and childbirth, but also in our remarkable ability to carry on through the struggles motherhood itself can bring beyond the womb. But with our strength comes a fire we are using against ourselves; fellow mothers who are not only experiencing the same difficulties motherhood presents us with, but women with their own life struggles and hardships.

There is no denying the beauty behind women who support one another, and we all know that these groups are started with that intention. But FAR too many times we let our ego and our hunger for “knowing best” get in the way of our ability to empathise.

So much time is wasted dragging one another across rock hard ground without ever stopping to contemplate the fact that we are all just women who love their children with every ounce of who we are and who we ever will be.

I am sick of reading and hearing about women purposefully hurting other women for the sake of an argument. And if it were as simple as leaving the “mums groups” I don’t think I’d see enough reason to write this post. But in all honesty it is everywhere. It is facebook posts on public profiles, and in the comment sections of public videos, its in the judging remarks of one woman to another on the street (even if one of them never actually hears it), it’s in the looks we give and the sounds we make, the messages we send, the phone calls we make… even in the thoughts we think of ourselves as we stand in front of the mirror questioning our own ability as a mother.

And if that isn’t the saddest part about all of this then I don’t know what is.

Our inability to consider one another with empathy and love is hurting our ability to consider ourselves with empathy and love. And how can any mother can be the best they can for their children without first being the best they can for themselves.

#StopMudging

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xx Emily @ Lovinglittlone.com

Our experience with bedtime and crying

Notice how the title doesn’t say “controlled crying” or “cry it out”. Yeah, I did that on purpose. Mainly because the method we use doesn’t have a name, we just did what felt right and what worked for us. If you read this and think, hey that actually is a method written about feel free to let me know! I’d love to read it.

Now this is a touchy subject. I’ve seen MANY heated discussions on bedtime methods and what people think is right and wrong for children. And I won’t deny the science or the methods out there in books and in documentaries but we decided quite early on that we would take parenting as a day to day thing, do what feels right and if and when it stops feeling right for us or our baby, we’d stop.

Until our daughter was 6 months old we had a pretty easy run, she would fall asleep in our arms and then we would move her to her cot and she would stay asleep until the next feed, whenever that may be. She never slept through but this is something we were and are still ok with. She would wake up at night, have a feed and nod straight back off to sleep. I’d either shift her back into her cot or enjoy a bit of co-sleep cuddles for the night, whatever felt right at the time.

After 6 months we started noticing her “bedtime” was getting later and later, because no matter how hard we tried, if she was being held around a light or tv or conversation, we was too curious to fall asleep. This posed an issue for us, because it meant I either had to go off to a dark room in silence and hold her until she fell asleep OR switch up our method. I endured 4 months of the first option before I’d decided enough was enough. And that’s when we introduced a proper, scheduled night time routine.

Kids LOVE routine. And we’d always had a rough routine of what order things are done in but never really set times. So we decided, start cooking dinner at 5:30, she eats by six, bath time by 6:30-7, book and bed before 7:30. “Bed” was into the cot with me beside her but not touching or talking to her.

The first few nights were tough. She sat and cried and cried at me, every 10 minutes or so I would give her a short little pat on the back and a reassuring “I love you” but I wouldn’t pick her up… she was tired and me picking her up would only prolong sleep. The first few nights it took about 30-40 minutes of crying. Not terrified crying, not hurt crying, not hysterical crying, just whingey tired crying.

Slowly but surely, the amount of time she would spend crying got shorter and shorter. After about 4 nights of the new routine she was only crying for 10 or so minutes. And by a week and a half I could walk into her room with her in my arms, place her down in the cot, pat her quietly for about 10 seconds or so, say I love you and leave the room with absolutely NO fussing or crying.

I was astonished. This was a child that hardly ever self soothed, now going to sleep almost entirely on her own, no fuss, and almost HAPPY to be going to bed.

Now I’m not here to preach, every baby is different and every parent will do things differently so I’m definitely not going to tell anyone what to do or that it will work for them. And I didn’t walk into this new routine thinking we’d see that much of a difference but HOLY, it has changed our lives. Our night times are almost completely stress free, beautiful in fact. My partner and I can enjoy alone time without fear of having to listen to tears, or trying to be quiet so she would go to sleep in my arms.

She doesn’t sleep through. She never has, but she’s easy to get back to sleep, so that’s never been a problem with us. I am just so surprised at how well this has worked for us.

I’d love to hear stories of bedtime success! No judgement from me either as to how you got there! It’s a long and tough journey but such a feat when you finally reach it. So share away in the comments!

Violet Rae: Nine Months (of mischief)

As per usual, it astounds me what these short months of Violet’s life have brought us. So many beautiful moments of peaceful cuddles and smiles. Nine months have passed and I’m struggling to believe that she’s now been out in the world longer than I carried her inside of me. Is it just me or is pregnancy SO MUCH SLOWER than any other time period? I’m pretty sure we’ve discovered a way to slow time, it’s not for everyone but if you’re really desperate, fall pregnant!

I want to take a moment to be real with you, this month has been… testing. Her curiosity is at it’s peak, tied in with the new found mobility of crawling and climbing and grabbing, I find myself spending every waking moment making sure she isn’t strangling herself or throwing herself off of high furniture onto hard tiles. Naturally, I find myself saying “no” a LOT, and then shaking my head as I realise that she doesn’t understand “no” and even when she eventually does understand it she will probably ignore it anyway. She is cheeky to the core, and meets every scold with giggles and clapping no matter what ‘cranky face’ you pull. No area of the house is off limits, she has discovered everywhere from the bathroom to the laundry, with the kitchen being her favourite (more cupboards to open and random objects to play with).

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But despite what appears to be naughtiness, our baby girl really is starting to become a little girl, and dare I say it, a toddler. She is discovering the world around her, including the boundaries she likes to tip toe around. And somehow no matter how frustrated you get with her, she can still make you smile and your heart melt inside. She’s constantly talking, mostly about “dada dad” and never afraid to giggle for the sake of it. Food is still basically the centre of her world, whether its your food, her food or the dogs food, she wants it and will try he best to get it, even if she has to climb over a few things to get there.

Breastfeeding is still a very big part of our routine, and I am hoping to keep it that way for as long as I can in an effort to avoid formula and cows milk until her stomach is more matured. For the moment the comfort it offers her is irreplaceable and I feel as though I would miss the midnight snuggles that happen with ease when there is booby involved. I can see nothing but benefits of extending our breastfeeding journey, from both a physical and psychological perspective for the both of us.

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Along side Violet’s milestone of 9 months my 20th birthday has come and gone and I am now no longer considered a “teen mum”, however thats not to say have any better idea about what I’m doing. It does thrill me a little to think that by the time I am 40 I will be long past my last nappy change and hopefully getting a full nights sleep while my babies are off finding their own place in the world, which is sad, but very exciting. I’m getting very good at treasuring every moment, they are only small for such a short time.

Now is around about the time when people start to ask questions about a sibling, usually by asking the baby (who has no idea what they are saying) “when are you going to have a little baby brother or sister?”. Our answer at the moment is “we have no idea”, in my head I feel as though getting Violet through toilet training would be easiest before another little one joins us, but we all know that things don’t always go to plan, so for now we are just rolling with the punches. (if you want an explicit answer: I’m not pregnant and not planning on it for at least another 6 months to a year, but we will see how we go)

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However! Violet did obtain a furry little sister this month, Mila. Mila is a domestic kitten who is just on 3 months old, she is from a great rescue in Brisbane called Best Friend Felines. We welcomed her into our home on my birthday and are very proud of the way Violet has taken to both her and Moey in the last few months. Can definitely see an animal lover shining through. If you’re after a cat or kitten please don’t hesitate to check out Best Friend Felines on their website or Facebook, or any other similar rescues before heading to a pet store or breeder. Little rescue babies and big loveable cats need love too, and there are so so many of them out there who need homes before it is too late for them. You can view profiles of cats and kittens available for adoption through their website (here). Because who doesn’t love looking at photos of cats and kittens right?

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It’s safe to say, after 9 months, life is finally starting to set into rhythm again. A beautiful sense of normality has returned, and although I might have some loose skin here and there I am mostly back to my pre-baby body, only I now have a cute little girl to hold my hand wherever I go. What an epic 18 months we have had! I honestly cannot wait to see what the next 18 months hold.

 

xx Emily @ Loving Little One

 

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