Tag Archives: Motherhood

What My ‘Birth’ Actually Looked Like…

There are very few ‘pretty’ pictures of my first few years as a mum.

Even fewer still are any insta-worthy memories of me and my pram, strolling along the beachfront, new baby tucked in, coffee in hand with a #yolo #mumlife underneath.

Not because I didn’t want to, or because I didn’t try my hardest to be that magazine-perfect image of a mum I’d been sold and completely bought into, but because that version of parenthood wasn’t ever going to exist for me.

We’d just gotten married and had one goal front and centre – to start a family.  I imagined myself skipping along, little cherubs in overalls, collecting flowers and sitting down for Sunday picnics.

Hahahahahahahaha. No.

I’d done what every normal (*cough*) girl does when she decides she wants to have a baby – subscribed to 337 magazines on everything from pregnancy, to birth, parenting, natural parenting, health issues and whatever else I could find. I bought books that covered my 9 months pre-natal all the way up until teen years that covered feeding, sleeping, discipline, milestones, wonder weeks and every possible medical condition I could potential imagine encountering. If my child had a rash or back-chatted me, I was ready for it.  Every single episode of Super Nanny ever recorded had been watched and I was horrified at those people who just couldn’t seem to get it together, it all seemed so obviously simple.

From the outside.

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I went to the doctor at least 9 months prior to our planned conception date (Hello Honeymoon 😉 ) , started my prenatal vitamins, downloaded my ovulation calendar & thermometer, my ‘maybe baby predictor’ where you spit on a little microscope and “if it’s blooming so are you”!

*Note, spitting on a stick just prior to attempting actual baby-making is kind of counter productive*

We attended breastfeeding classes (turns out Phil is a natural, if he’d had the boobs for it), the baby expo, where I purchased every single item that could potentially make my experience as hassle-free as possible, antenatal classes, parenting classes, first aid classes, water birth classes and began squatting in preparation to push that baby out (and…turns out I was a bottle feeding, c-section mama in the end).

I was so SO ready and I totally had this parenting thing down.

Then I became one.

The shock of motherhood, or the ‘birth of a mother’ is something I never knew about until I was there.

There’s my actual birth:

A planned c-section that, although, had dashed my plans for a romanticised ‘natural’ labour,  was thankfully drama free.  I went in, baby came out.  An hour later I was nibbling on sandwiches and drinking lemonade.

And then there was my ‘spiritual one’ where I was hit in the face with the reality of motherhood.  Now, if this rite of passage into motherhood was a physical process for me, it would have looked something like this:

Being rushed along a hospital corridor bleeding out, barely breathing, nurses screaming “we’re losing her!” probably with a fire on some ward and a hostage situation taking place circa 1990’s hospital drama E.R.

Because while the physical birth of my baby was relatively uncomplicated, my start to motherhood was anything but.

Everything that could go wrong did.  Everything I imagined in my mind of what “motherhood” looked like, was the opposite in reality.

The first few weeks were a blur.

My baby cried (screamed). All day. Every day. All night. Every night. For months. And months.  And months.

Crying is pretty much all I did too.

I cried for all my hopes and dreams that were seemingly being shattered with every day that passed. Unrealistic, ambitious and largely unattainable dreams – even for a parent with a baby that did everything they were *meant* to.

Because babies are meant to throw up on you, pee in your face and poop all down your shirt, into your car and into the bath. It’s just not meant to be glossy magazine glam, no matter how much you put fluffy socks onto it.

My turning points and acceptance came slowly. The first was our paediatrician who hugged me and told me that I was doing an amazing job, reminding my to always advocate for my child because if I wouldn’t, who else would? I was his mum, I need to be his voice while he learned to find his own…

…And then she asked me to wait out in the hall (I think she meant a few blocks away) because no-one could hear themselves think with my baby still screaming in the room.

The next revelation was driving home from KMART (that place is just FULL of inspiration). Just randomly I realised that this was MY experience. As difficult as it was, it was still MINE. And I wasn’t about to miss the moments I HAD because I was holding out for some kind of imagined reality.

I decided to just fake it til I made it.  To find joy, even in the most obscure of places, and screw the resentment and regret that I’d kept finding myself lost in.

I decided to take in the tiny moments I did have, really breathe it in, and what was real around me., instead of peering into other people’s insta windows for the moments that I didn’t.

To put it simply, I made a choice to no longer grieve for something that had never existed anywhere except inside my own mind.   The birth, my ‘new parent’ experience and my skewed perception of motherhood all needed to be let go.

I took a second look at the glossy magazines that had fed me images of two-dimensional perfectly dressed mothers with their giggling, smiling (non-screaming) bundles of joy, babies who slept and ate and did everything advertising had told me they should, and I took a breath and decided one last thing.

That no matter how much I was invited to buy into it,

My experience of motherhood was not for sale.

 

School Clutter Clear Out

Today was the last day of school for 2016 for our kids and they return home from a year of learning with all of their ‘stuff’.  So much stuff!

If you ever thought that having a baby created alot of ‘stuff’ in your house, just wait until they’re school age and watch the piles begin to appear.  And grow, and grow.

In approximately 55 days time, they will return again to the classroom with their shiny new piles of ‘stuff’ that you’ll have bought, labelled and laminated.

Crazy as it sounds, my back-to-school prep begins tonight, tackling the piles and jobs that often get put on hold.  Doing it now means that when it’s time to spend nights on end in January labelling socks and covering books, our 2016 ‘stuff’ & clutter is out of the way.

The golden rules to making this work is to:

1) Streamline/double up on your jobs – anything that can be done together at the same time, do it!

2) Touch each item only once.  If you pick it up – deal with it straight away.

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End Of School Clutter Clear Out List

  • Hang their Christmas cards in their rooms (the kids and I will do this tomorrow, tonight I’ve just helped them sort their cards into piles ready to put up with blutak). (10 minutes)
  • Put up the decorations/cards and gifts they’ve bought and made for you.  As well as any awards or Christmas photos they’ve come home with. Each of my kids has a felt pin up board in their room and I’ve simply swapped out and filed some older items from there. (10 minutes)
  • Clean any laminated charts that you need for next year.  Especially the THRASS chart which will be filthy.  A quick spray with eucalyptus & a wipe and it’s ready for next year (2 minutes).
  • Disinfect headphones – a quick wipe with eucalyptus should do the trick.  (1 minute)
  • File all the work you’re going to keep/throw all the work you’re not.  I have a large expanda file for each child and put all their special pictures, drawings and items in there. (At the end of the year/start of next year, I’ll go through it and cull 2016 to keep only what I really want and scan into the computer or throw away the things I don’t.  I find it too hard to do it as it comes in, I never know which pictures are going to be the ones worth keeping until I can compare them all. I also do the same for workbooks, I’ll keep one or two but for now, I put them all into a box to sort at the start of the new year when we can go through and reflect on them). (5 minutes).
  • Copy and laminate any resources that have come home that you’d like to put up in their homework nook.  Such as their names, school logins, alphabets, number charts, left and right reminders.  I copy and re-laminate these because the ones that come home are usually a bit ragged around the edges. (5 minutes).
  • Empty and wash lunch-boxes, lunch cooler bags & school bags (inside & out)  with hot soapy water.  I do this in my kitchen with an Enjo cloth, dishwashing detergent and a towel on the floor.  A quick scrub and they’re now hanging on the washing line to air out overnight. Remove all bag tags as well – Santa has new bag labels for their stockings this year, the ones I’m keeping, I’ve given a quick wipe over to freshen up.   (5-10 minutes) **Streamlining here – I also give my stroller a scrub and remove the seat cover to throw into the washing machine.**
  • Wash all hats, take home bags and library bags.  I throw all of mine into the machine in delicates bags.  My stroller seat is also in the machine with this load. (5 minutes to sort, 5 minutes to hang).
  • Wash or throw out their nap-time cushion (for Kindy/Pre-Primary age). (1 minute)
  • Polish or throw out school shoes.  One pair I’ve kept as they’re only new so I’ve polished them up for next year and the others I’ve thrown straight out as they were just about falling apart.  (1 minute)
  • Read through and scan or file the school reports.  Follow the ‘pick it up only once’ rule.  Don’t forget to celebrate their achievement! (5 minutes)
  • Sort and store their stationary into the cupboard.  Test texta’s, sharpen pencils and throw out anything you don’t need to keep.  (15 minutes)
  • Put away all empty workbooks – these can be sent to school next year or used at home to practice homework. (1 minute)
  • Strip wash school socks. The soap build-up from washing can leave them feeling hard and crunchy, a strip wash 1-2 x per year will get them feeling fresher and softer.  Method – Soak in napisan, launder on a normal wash with regular laundry soap.  This is to remover dirt & stains. Launder once more with a tiny squirt of dishwashing detergent (but NO laundry soap!) and put some vinegar into the rinse dispenser.  Run a rinse cycle 1-2 times to remove the soap build up and dry indoors on a rack to keep their newly returned softness (10 minutes plus time in machine).

Hopefully that helps you clear out the clutter that comes home from school this year a head start into your back-to-school prep for next year.

Let me know if you have any tips or routines you follow to stay on top of the end of year ‘stuff’… I’d love to hear it!

Rebecca xx

Body After Baby: The ‘Miracle’ Product Every Pregnant Woman Needs To Know About

“I’m pregnant!!!!” First comes the big announcement

Then comes the apparent fact that you can kiss your waist, breasts and “lady bits” goodbye.

Perhaps for me, it was because I’d spent the last decade working part time as a model, perhaps it was the well meaning, yet overly terrifying images that people unintentionally imprinted into my imagination, or perhaps it was the fact that my mother had lamented on an almost daily basis about the mummy tummy gifted to her by yours truly.

Whatever it was, as soon as we had our “Let’s start a family” conversation, I raced out to research every possible way that I could support myself throughout pregnancy and beyond.

What I found straight away was two definitive answers:

  • That no matter what, your body will permanently change in some way, shape or form. Feet can even go up by an entire shoe size.   Or two (“Yes, Darling… I need ANOTHER new pair of shoes. Not my fault, my feet are bigger after bearing your children…”).
  • That every single woman has an individual divine design that will dictate their own unique size, shape and body type.

Being healthy, fit and supporting my own body shape, became my priority as well as minimizing any damage that could result from the incredible physical feat I was about to embark on.

No different to applying sunscreen every day to prevent premature ageing of the skin, I decided that prevention would be much better than cure and so I focused on products and healthy habits that could assist me this outcome.

My first discovery was the SRC Recovery Shorts. If you know me, and you’ve told me you’re pregnant, you no doubt have heard me go on, and on, and on, and on (and on!) about these shorts.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a pretty confident statement that I believe 100% that these shorts are the reason the waist I was born with and enjoyed in my early 20’s is a very close cousin of the waist I have now in my 30’s after bearing three gorgeous babies.

I also have no doubt that it has the potential to manifest further back into a slightly more mature-looking identical twin sister once I manage to start hitting the gym again.

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Pre-Baby On Board                  Two Weeks Post Baby 1         Back Shooting In Studio

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Six Days Post Baby 2      36 Weeks Along With Baby 3    Three Weeks Post Baby 3

In the three post baby photos, I was right in the middle of wearing my SRC shorts.   During this time, I literally watched my stomach go from swollen and unbelievably stretched back to a place of normalcy by being supported and protected during it’s most vulnerable phase of metamorphosis.

The theory behind the shorts wasn’t rocket science, in fact, it was simply a better designed, packaged and convenient way of centuries old belly binding.

The SRC Recovery shorts are a medical compression garment designed to be worn for the first 8 – 10 weeks post pregnancy, for as many hours as comfortable (both night and day) for best results.

For the first few weeks after having a baby, you will still be losing fluid and research has shown that providing support to a wound or swollen area can reduce swelling, pain and aid healing.

The SRC Recovery shorts also allow greater core stability, supporting your abdominal muscles, caesarean wound and/or perineum.

Think of it like this… for 9 months, you’ve slowly grown a watermelon inside of your stomach. It’s being held up there in an insane, gravity defying way, then the next minute, the watermelon is out and everything has nowhere to go but back down to earth. You want to guide that previous watermelon residence back down to earth gently with a scientifically-proven support crew in place.

I began wearing my shorts the moment I was up and out of bed and I wore them 24/7 for 6 weeks or more post partum. I also had a piece of medical tubing that I would use when my shorts were being washed, dried and I put them straight back on again.    And the results were nothing short of amazing.

By the time Ava was born (2013), the market seemed to have a few more products on offer. I did try some of them out but I found that the level of support and the results were nothing like what I was seeing with my SRC Recovery Shorts. They’d proven to work twice before and I was not going to take my chances third time around.

Yes, it was at times irritating to have to wear them 24/7 in the middle of a hot Australian summer but seeing my stomach defy THREE TIMES what I had been lead to believe was the inevitable, was more than enough incentive for me.

A word of warning however: If you are going to do it, spend money on a product and put your faith in it, you MUST follow through on the recommended instructions. Wearing intermittently, wearing for a short time, not starting them early enough, using a product that has been worn for multiple pregnancies and/or not cared for according to instructions may not give the same results.

Another cautionary note: This product is a support garment, not a weight loss product. It has the capacity to support your mid-section and return you to a great point to restart your post baby fitness goals, and while I can only describe my results as ‘miraculous’, it’s not going to give anyone a waist, butt or thighs that they weren’t born with or that they didn’t work hard for.

Even if a flat tummy is not high on your list of priorities, there is a huge amount of research to show why post partum belly binding is something to still consider for health and wellbeing reasons.

SRC Health has a range of products to support women in pregnancy and beyond. Their original Australian designs meet the needs of a new mum and the rest of the family. More information on their unique, patented designs, sizing guide and online shop can be found here: http://www.srchealth.com

The Greatest And Most Horrific Moment In My Life

International Women’s Day is once again fast approaching and as always, becomes a time of reflection for me. In 2011 I was inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame along with 99 other women from the past 100 years – celebrating the achievements of inspiring and incredible women – all who had contributed to the fabric of our great State.

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I stood there, my name listed alongside Edith Cowan (posthumously), Professor Fiona Stanley, Dr Fiona Wood, Gina Rinehart, Priya Cooper​, Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi, Dr Anne- Azza Aly​, Margaret Court and… because someone also thought so – me! I sat there star-struck, in awe of these great women around me. But as I sat there, I was also profoundly affected by the fact that I was there in one of the greatest capacities that a woman has – inside of me was another heart beating alongside mine, I was in the early phases of growing a new life. It was my secret and as I cradled my already growing tummy on stage amongst these women, not quite yet ready to tell the world, I looked up and all I could think of was what this new little life meant for me as a woman, and as a mother.

However, only days later, my world came crashing down as our little baby was not to be. I felt totally violated. Robbed by some invisible being who stole all my hopes, dreams and plans for the future. It was singlehandedly one of the greatest moments for me professionally and most horrific moments I’ve ever had to face personally. I steeled myself, took stock of my life, my aspirations and stepped back in all areas to focus on what mattered most to me – being a mother to my beautiful son. Four years on, I have another son and a daughter and a renewed passion for the journey that lies ahead for our family.

Now with a daughter to guide, and all too familiar with the challenges that lie ahead for her as we still fight for equal pay, equal rights and equal opportunities, I remind myself how blessed she will be for how far we have already come.

I don’t know what the future holds for me as I’m still firmly planted in the cyclonic winds of early childhood but I do know that I’ve already achieved something kick-ass incredible… something I struggle to comprehend that it was even possible – the fact that I created LIFE three times over. And what amazing little lives they are.

So many inspiring women around me that come into my world on a daily basis – International Women’s Day WA (IWD)​ is a celebration of you, of us and how we affect the world through peace, through innovation and through sheer hard work and determination. Yep – it’s good to be a lady!