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

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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

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

Violet Rae 10-11 months

I feel like I say this every single time I write a post but it’s been a while so I’m going to say it again, where has the time gone?! The last few months have been so incredibly busy. As everyone would know we had Violets first Christmas just last month, but something that is new is SHE IS WALKING!

Her first steps happened on the day she turned 10 months, I mean, I’m not going to lie, they were a tad encouraged! However it only took her a month to figure out the whole balance thing and now nothing can stop her! Our house has become a madness of running and squealing and mess and just an entire bundle of fun really. I have to say it, we now officially have a toddler *sobs*.

Watching them learn and grow and take in the world around them is SUCH a gift. And I’m so incredibly thankful for it, but it’s gut wrenching how quickly the time passes without you even realising. I feel like it was just yesterday I was lying on an uncomfortable old hospital bed watching the most beautiful little baby I’d ever met sleeping right next to me for the first time.

I remember going to the shops with my mum without Violet for the first time since having her. I nearly bawled my eyes out. And now she’s an independent little miss, who’s quite happy to go to her grandparents without question for a few hours, or her Aunties or her uncles. Heck she’s even great with strangers if she sees me smile at them first. It’s crazy how much she has grown, and how they evolve from tiny, fragile little people who need you to hold their necks up to rampaging, enthusiastic little characters in only 12 months.

She knows what she wants and she lets you know it too! She’s absolutely food obsessed and is doing such a great job transitioning to her solids through the day, but is always up for a booby and a snuggle at midnight (and you read right, she’s not sleeping through yet, but I really don’t mind).

I really feel like I’m just spewing information at you all, but I have so much to say that I just can’t put into words. The last few months have been such incredible, challenging and honestly life changing months. Not only am I learning the ropes of toddler parenthood but so much is happening in our social lives as well surrounding our friends and family. This month we made the rash decision to send dan to FIJI! with his best friend Jeremy in only three weeks time. And although unfortunate events lead to it all happening, we’ve just taken the baton and started running full speed with it.

Not only are we planning last minute holidays but we are beginning to organise violets FIRST BIRTHDAY. That’s right, she is one in less then a month. Someone hold me upright… among present brainstorming and party planning ideas I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed and just over all losing it a bit. So I also chopped all my hair off 🤣 but don’t worry I’m not regretting it.

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Vi really has just become such a little girl in these last few months. I had felt so determined in the beginning to film everything and write everything down, but the truth is, enjoying the moment is so much more important. I’m still taking videos and photos, and when I get the time, like now, I love sitting down and reflecting on violets first few months. I’ve learnt over time not to promise anything on writing posts and whatnot, but what I do know is I have always enjoyed writing them. And although they may be inconsistent as hell at times, there will always be more to write and share with you all.

I can’t believe we’ve been on this journey for nearly two years. Blogging through my pregnancy, and about Violets birth and now we’re almost at the end of her first year! It never ceases to amaze me just how many of you beautiful people love hearing about our journey. We may have been young when we first found out we were expecting, but we have grown SO much, in ways almost impossible to explain, and parenthood has done nothing but make us stronger and happier people. So thank you all so much, for your constant words of engagement and endless love and patience. It means the world to me, I can’t wait to look back on this all one day and share it with Violet, to show her just how lucky we are to have a life full of so much love.

Xx Emily @ LovingLittleOne.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

xx Emily

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Breastfeeding Without a Cover (gasp)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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