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

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

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