Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fragile Miracle :: Ava's progress

Did you read Elles story on the premature birth of her daughter Ava? (Read it here) This is Elles first update on little Ava's progress in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and her ongoing emotional and physical experience with a premature baby.

...Enjoy...(With tissues in hand)

"Well what a week it has been! Ava has had some huge improvements and also scared the hell out of us.
She has now been moved to the special care nursery (SCN) which is the last stop before home, however she will be there for at least another 4 weeks.

She is having 3 hourly feeds of formula as I'm not getting enough milk for her and she is waking up for her feeds crying. This is a HUGE milestone as it is an important factor of coming home. She is still being fed through a tube at this stage but once she hits 1800grams they will try her on a bottle. She has put on 180grams in 4 days and now weighs 1650grams! Ava is also now in a heated water bed rather than a humidicrib, this helps her maintain her temperature. She is wearing a beautiful little pink hospital gown (about the size of a cabbage patch doll top) .

We cannot wait for Ava to weigh in at 1800grams it's a magic number in NICU and SCN, this means she can wear clothes, go into a normal cot, be tried on a bottle, go onto 4 hourly feeds and have her first bath! At the rate Ava has been improving I couldn't help but get the feeling that something was going to hit us out of nowhere... And it did.

When Ava was born she had a bleed on her brain (stage 1 bleed, 1 being the best and 4 being the worst). With premature babies a routine brain scan is done on day 1, day 7 and day 28 so the bleed was picked up on day one. They did her Day 7 scan and the bleed had not spread which was really good news however, she had a white mass above the bleed. Where the mass is situated is over her motor skills part of the brain.

Doctors came and spoke with me and what they had to tell me absolutely killed me. A lovely doctor crouched down beside me in the chair and slowly told me that Ava may have possible brain damage... my heart sank. I felt like everything around was closing in on me, I just burst into tears. I have no idea what they said after that, I was a complete mess. So many thoughts were running through my head and I couldn't stop blaming myself...How could I possibly do this to my beautiful girl? What have I done so wrong in my life that I'm being punished through my daughters suffering? I just could not get my head around any of it, I didn't understand and because I couldn't remember what the doctors had told me I was very confused. The news was shattering because she had been going so incredibly well! 

After I had calmed down I asked to speak with the doctors again so they could explain everything to me. A Doctor came back in the afternoon to speak with me and she was absolutely lovely.. She let me cry and tell her I didn't understand how I did this to Ava and what it all means. Was my baby going to be able to walk? Talk? Be a 'normal' little girl? She then explained to me how the mass could in fact disappear and be nothing or it may turn out to be Cerable Palsy (CP). I became hysterical I could feel my heart breaking for Ava. My love for Ava will never change no matter what but when the Doctor said CP all I could do was picture Ava in a wheel chair, being picked on at school, never being able to walk...I felt so guilty. What kind of life had I made for my child? 

I was completely naive, I had no idea that CP was such an 'umbrella term'. It could be something so small like running on her tip toes when she is a toddler or having to try twice to pick something up with her left hand. We have had a follow up brain scan and the mass is still there, however the Doctors are not as concerned now and believe it's going to just go away. The thought is constantly in the back of my mind...What if they missed something? The other heartbreaking decision I have made was to put Harley into childcare 3 days a week. I have been criticized for this decision and been made feel like the worst mother in the world. It was an awful decision I had to make but I need to try find a balance with my 2 children. They both need me, they both demand my attention in different ways and most importantly both need to feel loved by me. Harley absolutely loved his first day at 'school' I dropped him off at 9:30 and as soon as we walked through the door he was off playing. I said goodbye, got into my car and cried my eyes out and didn't stop until I got to the hospital. I felt so guilty. I feel bad enough that I'm forced to leave Ava everyday and now I'm making the conscious decision to leave Harley.

I have become incredibly skilled at every morning doing my hair, make up and putting on my poker face and doing what I need to be doing for my family. I pretend that I'm ok but reality is I'll never be ok while going through this. It's not just leaving my tiny perfect baby in the hospital everyday or leaving Harley in childcare, the thought is constantly in my mind that I will never be able to be pregnant again. I feel so cheated and selfish that I couldn't carry Ava full term. I'll never experience the first kick or hearing their little heartbeat for the first time again.

I know I'm incredibly blessed to have two beautiful children but this feeling is shattering. I cannot put it into words. I sincerely hope everyone who can safely have a child do so and love, nurture and protect them. Be grateful and look at them everyday and realise just how lucky you are."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Bunny

Happy Easter! Unfortunately this year I didn't get to spend Easter Sunday with Stella, she spent it with her Daddy. Waking up and seeing all the lovely photos on Facebook of babies and their mummies with eggs and fluffy ears made me a little sad. Next year, when Stella is older and maybe (just maybe) big enough to eat some chocolate we will have a lovely, spirited Easter Sunday together.

I hope you and your family had a super special day together.

Our Week(s) in words #3

It's been a while since I summarised our week, so i'll be squeezing all thats been going on in this Single Ma' and sweet babes life lately in one post. Where to start?!

Stella has started to eat on her own. M-E-S-S-Y. I had to let go of my mess fear and let her go for it, she did quite well, shovelling toast with avocado and cream cheese into her little gob. She is eating really well now, 3 quite big meals a day. I make all her food and it's something I feel really good about, I know exactly what is in it and I can make sure she has a good balance. Making large batches and freezing them in portions is so much more economical, one day a fortnight I'll hunker down in the kitchen and peel, chop, stew, boil, mash and blend away.

Stella had her second cold this week just gone, she was so snuffly! I bought a vaporiser and kept that in her room for a few days, it seemed to clear her nose a little and helped her sleep. Its horrible watching a baby with a blocked up nose trying to eat or sleep. She's been snoring so loudly because of it. Nurse Mama has been making sure she's warm, rubbing vicks on her chest and feet and giving plenty of therapuetic cuddles. It seems to be making its way out, I'm really suprised that I haven't caught it at all; a diet of only chocolate must provide super immunity!

I am enjoying my one day a week working so much, I really look forward to deciding on an outfit and heading out that front door. My work collegues are like my family; I love them to bits, my boss is actually one of Stellas two Godmothers. We can talk about everything from relationships and secrets to fashion and children. Work for me is like a total win-win situation. I make a little extra money, I get to play with shoes and I get to share cups of tea with my closest lady friends. I am starting to think about the 'Future' and what my plans are in relation to work. Future is such a dirty word, it makes me feel a little nauseous writing 'The Future' down as a header on a piece of paper and contemplating what to put underneath, but its something that HAS to be done. So far, there is nothing written underneath that header, but it's kick started my thoughts.

After a month of terrible sleeping patterns I ended up taking Stella to 'Walker House' to get some specialist advice and tips on sleep and settling. It was, if anything, just a reassurance that we were doing the right things and that her sleeping patterns are normal for a teething baby that age. I started roughly following the 'Save our Sleep' routine by Tizzie Hall which assures me that my baby is capable of sleeping 7pm-7am most nights (yeah right, I thought!) The most valuable advice the book gave for me was a daily schedule for feeding and sleeping right down to the minute. The first few days that I tried it were difficult but after three days Stella was settling quicker, sleeping longer and anticipating meal and sleep times herself. Now we follow the routine a lot more casually and relaxed but the basic princepals are still there. It's not something that is going to work for everyone, but if like me you are feeling at the end of your tether and NEED more sleep...pick up the book and give it a read. It can't hurt to try. Stella now sleeps from 7pm til 6-7am every night! She will occasionally wake during the night and after a nappy change and tucking back in, will settle herself back to sleep. No bottle or cuddles required. I am so gratefull for the little bit of extra sleep, it really makes for a happier, more productive mama.

This week, we don't have much planned. I think we may catch up with Godmother Sophie after her return from holidays, gossip with Lauren, a Mummy date with Ali and Evie and work for me Thursday. I will definitely (hopefully) start getting back into regular 'our week in words' posts so as not to inundate you with such large, yawn worthy posts!

How has your week/weeks been? Any exciting milestones? Interesting events?
Plenty of love...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Nanna Knits

Mama wears: Dress by Cotton on, Cardigan by Jeans West, Brooch and earrings by That Vintage

Stay at Home Mama, Racheal

Continuing the 'Working to change attitudes'... The next mama giving insight to her choice and lifestyle is the lovely Racheal, a stay-at-home mother.

Hi, my name is Racheal. My partner Joe and I have a 21month old son, Michael and I am 19 weeks pregnant with our second child.  I’m a proud stay-at-home mum.

Since becoming a parent and meeting other parents, I have grown to learn that what works well for one family may not work so well for another. As far as the role a new mum chooses, (stay at home, work from home, working mum, etc.) there are pro’s and con’s for all of them. I believe, despite any criticism, we each make that decision based on what is best for ourselves and our families.

While I was pregnant I had a full time job as an office administrator. Being new to motherhood and not quite knowing what to expect, I wanted to wait until the baby was born to make a proper and informed decision about whether to return to work or not. Once Michael was born and we had settled into our home, I knew I couldn’t bear leaving my son to return to work so early, if at all. Thankfully, my employers were quite relaxed and supportive of my choice.  Joe and I agreed that we could live off a sole income and that it was probably better for Michael if one of us were at home with him. There are always going to be oppurtunities for me to study or go back into the workforce once the kids are school age.

There are sacrifices that come with living on one wage. While Joe and I aren’t struggling financially, we still have to be careful and organised with what we spend after the bills, groceries and other essentials are taken care of. I did start working casually for 2-3 nights a week and several hours every Saturday when Michael turned a year old. However our town was affected by the QLD Floods and the place where I work was inundated with flood water. We haven’t been able to return yet but I’m looking forward to going back. Not only for the bit of extra money, but to interact with other adults again.

Personally, I haven’t received any criticism for being a SAHM. Though, I am aware of the misconceptions that SAHM’s either sit on the couch all day watching talk shows or go out shopping and have lunch dates often with other mothers. We don’t work; therefore we have a leisurely life. I have even heard of people saying mothers who stay at home mustn’t be skilled or educated enough for the workforce. Such comments make me wonder if the people who said them have children of their own. On the days Michael and I venture to the main streets of Emerald, in favour of shopping and lunch at the local coffee shops, I do a lot of window shopping and make a packed lunch for us to have in the park. I may buy the occasional coffee and cake when meeting with other mothers at playgroup. As for sitting on the couch watching TV all day, I’m lucky to go to the toilet without hearing a “Mum. Mum, mum. Muuum. MUM!” at the door.

A typical day for us means we are up and out of bed by 7am.  After breakfast is eaten, I like to put some music on and start with the daily list of chores I have written for myself. Having a list makes the menial task of housework seem more manageable and gives me a small goal to achieve. I’ve found that letting Michael ‘help’ me with cleaning is best.  It might take 5minutes longer to do, but it keeps him happy and occupied when I let him pass me clothes from the washing basket or give him his own cloth to wipe down his activity table. Apart from the housework the day is made up of keeping Michael entertained, fed and happy. Playing with blocks, reading books and any game that involves running around are some of Michaels more favourite things to do. Colouring and play dough are good for about 5-10 minutes, time enough for me to sit down with a cup of tea.  After lunch it is nap time and if I don’t have any chores left (chores I need to do without my little helper) I make time for myself - Reading a book, practising my guitar or doing something crafty.  Michael sleeps for around 2 hours, so it is plenty of time for me to catch up on anything I need to. Joe normally comes home at around 5 and we usually take it in turns to make dinner. He likes to cook and doesn’t mind helping me out most nights.I am extremely grateful to have such a wonderful and supportive partner. Joe baths Michael after dinner to spend a bit of time with him, before it is time for Michael to go to bed at 7-7.30. 

Staying home, there are good days and there are not-so-good days. The not-so-good days are the days where I just don’t have the motivation or energy to do much at all. It just feels like I am doing the same thing day in/day out and I feel very disconnected from the outside world. I question if what I am doing is good enough, and if I should be doing more for my family. Joe comes home to an unkempt house and cops the brunt of my bad mood.  Luckily those days are few and I find that cuddles with Michael or Joe and seeing them smile are usually enough to make me feel more positive. A talk with my parents or close friends cheers me up as well.

All in all, I am happy with where I am in life and treasure all the time I am able to spend with my son and with this next child. They aren't going to be little forever, and I want to be here for thier every giggle, tantrum and milestone.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Control and parenting...

"Whoever said it first spoke with insight and wisdom: you don't own children, you only borrow them" -Anne Linn

I like control, it feels good and when used positively it is wonderful. I like to control my lifestyle, my happiness and my thoughts. As a Mother, I have an overwhelming urge to control my daughter. Not in a 'No, you will not date boys' way, but in terms of comfort and protection. I'm not sure if this is a common trait in mothers, but a few mothers I know have empathised with me. They will tell their partners exactly what to feed the baby when they aren't present (down to the teaspoon) and can name the exact time to the minute that they want to put baby down for a morning sleep. This isn't to say we can't go with the flow and relax, we all know babies don't stick to a minute-by-minute routine. But we do have preferences as to how, when and what is done with our babies. Well, I know I do.

Being a single mother and spending every minute of every day of every week with Stella on my own, I think this sense of control began. It felt secure for me and for Stella too I hope. I started to feel as though I was losing this control when she started spending regular time and staying overnight with her father at 6 months old. I found (and still do find) it hard to come to terms with the fact that I wouldn't be the one putting her to bed, feeding her a bottle, getting her dressed that one day a week. Is it a protective motherly instinct or a learned un-healthy behaviour? Either way, It is there.

I came across the quote above in my twitter feed and it resonated with me. 'Your child does not belong to you. You do not own them, merely borrow them'. Stella is her own person, she will one day move out, marry and have her own children. My job, as her mother is to give her the best possible chance at achieving, enjoying, experiencing and loving during her journey away from me.

"The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them" -Frank A Clark

I have the all the knowledge and resources available to give her the best possible chance at being healthy, happy, loved and secure. However I can't control entirely how she is looked after when she is not with me. I can guide, advise and hope but that is all. My hope is that her father and I, as separated parents, can work together as a team in parenthood. To have similar values, ideals and wishes for our daughter.

So, from this day forward I pledge to let go some of that control. To put more effort into guiding, demonstrating and loving. As difficult as it may be, it's an important asset to have as a parent.

Do you feel any of this control in your parenting? What are your thoughts?

At the speed of light.

How many times have you heard a parent say "They grow so quickly"? Well +1 to that...because my baby has grown so quickly. Every day there is a change in her, physically and mentally. It's incredible to witness; almost like being able to see a flower bloom.

Stella will be 10 months old in two weeks, un-believable!

She is so very mobile, something that has come about very quickly. To be completely honest I was worried she was a little bit behind in her gross motor skills, but it's amazing how much can change in a week. Within seven days she had started pulling herself up to standing on everything! Started waving goodbye and walking holding onto furniture. Now I'm wanting to take back wishing the mobility along quicker! I have had to make a few minor changes around the house and 'babyproof' a little, but she still manages to get into everything! Stella also likes to be involved in everything that I'm doing, she used to be happy playing with her toys and occupying herself for short amounts of time...Not anymore! She follows me from room to room when I vacuum, 'helps' me unpack the dishwasher and climbs up onto me to share my book/laptop/phone. She 'helped' me unpack the groceries this week by unscrewing the lid off a bottle of handsoap and pouring it onto the carpet. What a darling! Her latest trick is standing in the cot when I put her down to sleep, this has makes it much harder for her to self settle and takes a lot longer for her to fall asleep. The cot has also become victim to some teeth marks along the rail.

Each day there is something I notice that has changed overnight. She has slimmed down a little since becoming so mobile. Her hands are bigger. She has more hair.

The thought of her being 1 in two months makes me teary. It reminds me to spend as much time as possible in the moment with her. Don't rush anything along and just take in the minutes with everything you have. Suck them up, write them down, photograph them. Just be. Experience the minutes and enjoy them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fragile miracle.

I have a really wonderful circle of mothers I talk with regularly on Facebook, we share our stories and give advice, it's something I really appreciate and enjoy. One of these wonderful ladies was pregnant with her second baby, she is the same age as me and we went to the same highschool. I loved hearing her updates on her pregnancy progress with her unborn baby girl. When I learned that she had gone into premature labour, I was shocked, worried and nervous for her. She asked if she could share her experience and story with me and with you all, of course I said yes. As I read her draft e-mail I had tears running down my face...What a brave, strong woman.

This is Elle and this is her story...enjoy...

"My name is Elle I am a 'stay at home mum' to my beautiful 19 month old son Harley, A partner to an amazing man Matt and a 'NICU mum' to my gorgeous little Ava who is currently in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU). I wanted to share my story not only for my own benefit of letting it out, but also for those who may have to go through the NICU experience in the future.

So I'll start back to the day my waters broke.. 
April 4, 2011 at about 10am when I was about to vacuum my waters broke. At first I thought I had wet myself but quickly realised it was infact my waters breaking. Reality kicked in that I was only 29 weeks pregnant and I began to panic! I rang Matt screaming at him to come and get me then rang my mother-in-law to come and get Harley. I wasn't calm, I couldn't focus and couldn't find my hospital bag (I hadn't packed one as I hadn't planned on going into labour so early!).

The trip to the hospital felt like a lifetime and all I wanted was to hear my babys heartbeat. When we arrived at the hospital I realised that not only had my waters broken but I was also bleeding. I finally got to the maternity/labour ward and the lovely midwife strapped the monitors on my belly and I could hear my babys heartbeat.. The relief I felt was unexplainable and I was able to relax a little. They put a drip in and started antibiotics to fight any infection and also medication to stop my labour long enough so I could have 2 steroid shots over 24 hours (which matures a babies lungs quickly). Doctors and midwives came and went and I was exhausted. Every Doctor had a different opinion; I was told my labour would be brought on after the steroid shots had time to work, That I was going to stay in hospital until I was 34 weeks. I was incredibly upset and confused, all I wanted was to go home to my son as I had never spent more than a night away from him. I had a panic attack.

I was a mess on Tuesday (5/4/11) and was moved to the maternity ward. I wasn't allowed out of bed, I hadn't seen Harley, Matt went back to work (with my encouragement) and I remained locked away with nothing to look at but four white walls... It became a quick downward spiral in what seemed to be depression. I was a wreck and very irrational.. Matt would bring Harley in after work Tuesday and Wednesday, it was so hard to watch them leave!

On Wednesday night I began getting cramps. I was given pain killers and I was able to get a full nights sleep. I woke Thursday morning feeling very uncomfortable and felt like my waters had broken, obviously this wasn't the case and after checking I came to the scary realisation that I was bleeding heavily. Shortly after, I began getting contractions every 3-5 minutes and they slowly intensified....It took the Doctors two hours to decide to let me continue into my labour and give birth. At about 7pm the contractions were every minute and incredibly painful! With Matt by my side along with my best friend Renee I went through the hardest time of my life! I ended up having gas and after 9 hours of labour had only dilated 2cms, the Doctors decided to give me oxycotan to try to help me dilate and with this my contractions became unbearable. I was exhausted and knowing I wasn't making progress made it very easy to 'give up'. At around 1am the Doctor decided a C-section had to be done as my babys heartbeat was slowing. There was one more woman in front of me going in for an emergency C-section so it would be at least an hours wait for me to get in. Luckily I had an amazing midwife who demanded I was taken up first... I owe that midwife my life aswell as my daughters.

At 2:50am on Friday the 8th of april, Ava Sarah Daley was born weighing 1580grams. Her cry was so tiny but she cried and hearing that was incredible. She was so tiny yet absolutely perfect! They took Ava straight to the NICU and Matt went with her. While I was in recovery the Doctor who performed the C-section came and spoke with me, He advised me that if I had tried to push or if they had waited to do the C-ection my uterus would have ruptured and Ava and I would have died instantly. There was alot of damage and I am no longer able to have any more children. So laying in recovery alone without my baby wondering how she is and then being told I can't have anymore children...I just felt like giving up!
I was taken back to my room and waited for news on Ava ... Minutes felt like hours and finally Matt came in to me and updated me on Ava's progress. She had to be ventilated as she couldn't continue breathing on her own...All I wanted to do was see her and hold her. At 1pm (10 hours after she was born) I was able to see my daughter but because of the drugs in my system I nearly passed out in the NICU and was rushed back to my room. The same happened when I tried to go back to see her that night. It was so heartbreaking but I was determined that the next day I would get up and shower and see my baby...And that I did.

This is where our NICU experience begins and what is now my daily routine. Seeing Ava for the first time, I just stared at her for much dark brown hair. It continues to amaze me that even though she is so tiny, she is perfect! Ava continued to improve every day for the next 3 days. She had her ventilators taken out and a 'C.P.A.P' put in (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). It's a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep airways open whilst asleep. After 24 hours on C.P.A.P, I held Ava for the first time...It was so scary, I didn't know how to hold her or where to touch her. Her tiny little hands had drips in them and she had cords and monitors on her body everywhere. Even though I was so scared the instant bond I felt with Ava was amazing. I was worried I had lost the chance to bond with her because I wasn't able to hold her but relief rushed over body as soon as I did.

Ava continued improving and was taken off the C.P.A.P on Sunday and put onto 'highflow', which is basically forced air so she was breathing on her own but had a bit of extra help getting air in. While I was holding her On Tuesday morning they took her off the highflow and she breathed on her own- No monitor! She did perfectly! She continued breathing on her own once she was put back into her humidicrib. Ava also had jaundice and was under lights for a week which meant holding her was limited to an hour a day maximum.

In the first few days everytime a monitor made a sound my heart stopped but now I know a 'good beep' from a 'bad beep'. I was sent home from hospital on Tuesday, four days after Ava was born. Such a bitter- sweet experience...I was so excited to go home to my little man but so heartbroken to leave Ava in the hospital. I felt like the worst mother in the world! What kind of mother just leaves her new baby in hospital? What kind of mother chooses which child is more important? I was hysterical when I walked out of her room knowing I was leaving her. It was however, made easier going home to Harley...I cannot even begin to imagine how parents cope going home to an empty house.

So now my day consists of mornings with Harley then about 4-5 hours in the hospital with Ava. I ring NICU 3 times during the night to check how Ava is and first thing in the morning. I am expressing every 3-4 hourly as Ava has a feeding tube. We also live 45kms away from the hospital so travel is a big pain. I struggle everyday with finding a balance between time with Harley and time with Ava...I feel completely torn. I love both my children with everything I have, this experience is the hardest thing I have ever gone through and I can't wait for the day we get to bring our daughter home. I'm trying to just take each day as it comes and hope that the next five weeks fly by..."


I would really love to share with you Elle and Avas progress in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit and share with you their precious milestones. Keep an eye out for more posts on this beautiful, couragous lady and her tiny Ava.

I heart baby news.


Baby news gives me goosebumps and a lump in my throat. Even if I don't know the mama (Yes, i'm strange).
I was reading one of my weekly blog loves Peace, Love and Leener and did a little happy dance at the news of her expecting her second child! Head on over and congratulate her!
Meanwhile, Melissa from Dear Baby is 4 weeks shy of welcoming her second child, baby Arlo into the world.

Cluck, cluck, cluckity cluck.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Work at Home Mama, Tenille.

My name is Tenille, I am a work-at-home mama of an (almost) 12 month old boy, Cash.
I’ve always found these labels funny. Stay at home, work at home, part-time, full-time... The reality is that once you are a mother you have one job. Just one important job, and the rest becomes a sideshow.

I’ve always been a multi-tasker. Never more so than when I was pregnant with Cash. I had a full-time job in hospitality, a part-time jewellery design business of my own and had taken on numerous other projects. I was producing an independent theatre project as well as doing volunteer work for the Buddhist Council of Australia. I was determined to prove that pregnancy was not an illness, that I was as strong and powerful and as capable as I had ever been. I carried heavy things, I rode my bike, I continued with a strong yoga practice and I said,
‘yes, yes, yes’.
I can still do that. I can do everything, all at once. I had this image of myself as a mother, doing everything that I did before, just with a baby on my back. I recounted loudly to anyone who would listen, stories of the women from other cultures that squatted, delivered their baby in the field where they worked, picked the baby up and carried on working. That would be me.

Cash was born after a very long, natural drug-free labour. It was the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life. After, I felt as though I had run a marathon. Every muscle in my body ached, from my feet to forearms. I was both empowered and humbled by the experience. The relief I felt, in the few quiet hours after the birth, was validated by the delusion that that was the hardest thing I would ever have to do. It would never get harder than that.  Boy, was I wrong! Being a mother has surpassed every expectation. It is the hardest job I’ve ever had. But it is also the best.
It took me awhile to adjust and work out what my new role was. Like any new mother, I questioned my worth. Is it ok for me to be ‘just a mother’? Shouldn’t I be something else as well? I felt as though the modern mother was expected to do and have everything, including a successful career. I continually found myself in situations where people were asking, “so when are you going back to work?” A short return to a weekly hospitality shift when Cash was about 5 months old left me anxious and unhappy. All week, I stressed about my one working day. I realised that what I really wanted was to be able to stay home with him.

This decision was certainly to the detriment of our family finances. So I set out trying to make it viable.
I had a jewellery design business that I had been working on part-time since I left college in 2007. It was something I eventually wanted to make a living from. So I thought, well, why not now? Why not put everything out there and try to actually make it happen? So I did. And that’s what my life is now. Trying to launch a new jewellery design label while taking care of a baby and running a household. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s really hard. There are many days when I think, I should just go back to a ‘real’ job, even just a few days a week. At least then I would have a regular stable income and wouldn’t have to worry about all the extra things I have to worry about now. But there are the amazing days too, where I count my blessings and love every bit of my life.

One thing that being a mother has taught me though, is that if you spend your days trying to qualify and quantify your work and your value, you’ll go insane! So I have to remind myself to stay in the moment. If my baby needs me, he needs me and that task can wait. But if I am working on my jewellery, I need to be fully there and not thinking about the domestic chores piling up. Otherwise I won’t produce my best work. I’ve realised that I can do a lot of things at once. But being a happy multitasker requires mindfulness. So I have to make sure that I keep my mind on whatever is in front of me in that moment.   

I’m lucky though, that as an artist and designer, my work is very personal and there is less of a divide between work and leisure. It means I don’t have two separate identities, no work self vs. personal self. It’s all the same person. Honestly, I actually really love that! I feel like a whole person, instead of a person playing various different roles.  

There are times when I am packing up a big consignment order or frantically finishing off a piece for a deadline that I wish I had somewhere else to work. When my dining room table is covered in scraps, or when the baby wakes up while I’m on the phone to a gallery, I have brief doubts. It is hard to balance work and life when it all happens in the same place. But when I am right there for every moment of sheer joy that parenting brings, I realise that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere but home.   

Working to change attitudes

Mothers tend to be scrutinised for their choices all too often, one of many being working status. Working full time? Home full time? Working from home? Working part time? Studying?
No matter which 'status' you belong to you will find someone, somewhere does not agree and will go out of their way to make you feel guilt. The reality is there is no wrong choice...every choice is right. Right for you.

How often do you reply to an intrusive, offensive comment about your working status with confidence? Most likely, not often enough. Stand proud and practice your "this is what I do, don't like it? I don't care" speech in front of the mirror!

I'm going to explore all the different choices that different mothers make and how their lifestyles work for them. Let's embrace our diversities and work to change attitudes.

If you would like to tell me your story, I would love to hear it and possibly share it. I hope you enjoy reading all about these mothers and their work/life balance.
Plenty of love...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Nothing new

Something old, NOTHING new, something borrowed or renewed.

Last year I stumbled upon the Salvation Army Nothing New concept. At the time, I had around five friends birthdays and was in the process of moving house... As much as I would have liked to participate in a month of 'Nothing new', it was not an ideal time to try it out.

I consider myself somewhat resourceful... I tend to keep bits and bobs knowing that I will use them for something one day. Don't get the wrong impression- I am no hoarder. As equally as I like to re-use, I also like to purchase. I seem to have a slight addiction to the shiney and new and find it super cathartic to throw things away, which is totally not environmentally friendly or promoting sustainable living. Finally, I mustered together enough guilt to start my own 'nothing new' concept.

Called Something old, NOTHING new, something borrowed or renewed. Much like the Salvation Army concept it focuses on puchasing less and being resourceful more. It's all about re-using, handing down, giving away, re-cycling, re-vamping, re-creating and most importantly not buying anything new.

The initial reaction from my Facebook friends was that it sounded far too hard and unachievable. Wrong!
If I, the queen of consumerism can do it...So can you. Or at least try. Take on the challenge in a smaller scale.

That old white t-shirt that you were just about to throw out? Stain in black for winter life, cut it up and use for cleaning rags, use it in some crafty, nifty way.
That nailpolish that is slightly gluggy and gooey that you never wore? Mix it with clear varnish and paint those toes.
That bunch of roses that are looking wilted and sad? hang upside down with a ribbon to dry so you have them forever.
That foundation you bought in the wrong shade and didn't bother returning to the store? Sus out which friend has that colour tone and pass it on. Or mix it with moisturiser and use to 'bronze'.

I could go on and on and on and on. It's not about walking around barefoot and unshowered. Its about gathering some kind of consciousness about how much you consume and taking tiny baby steps to reduce that. Will you join me? For the month of April and May I will be doing weekly blog updates on how I am going with the challenge and perhaps some features on your progress, experience and ideas for others?

Come on, I know you want to!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mama got inked

I've always had this slight obsession and intrigue with tattoos. LA Ink marathons and lazing on the couch were my maternity leave indulgences. I always said that in my 'next life' I would be a tattooed chick. Well, who waits for the next life!
Don't dream it, do it!

On Saturday I said goodbye to my pale, bare, left forearm and made a very nervous trip to the tattoo studio. I was more nervous about this than I was about labour! The pain was (thankfully) bearable and in less than 20 minutes it was done. I still can't stop staring at it!

My main concern about getting my first tattoo was the stereotypes and judgements placed on people with ink. So far, all has been fine. I find a lot of older people look at me with concerned faces, as if they are thinking "Poor dear must be rebelling", I just smile sweetly and they either look away or smile back. I know that this perception is changing rapidly so it really doesn't bother me. I dress well, I speak well, and well... I'm a decent person. A bit of art on my arm doesn't change that! I worked my first shift with the tattoo in tow today and was pleasantly surprised at everyones reactions. Because it is 'tasteful' and quite pretty I don't have to cover it when I work. This made me incredibly happy!

Before I decided on getting my tattoo I read an interesting and insightful post by Danielle from Sometimes Sweet titled 'How tattoos (may) change your life'. Dani is my ultimate beautifully inked idol! Not to mention the most inspirational blogger. I'm really glad she did this post as it prepared me and made me seriously think about my decision.

I am considering adding to my tattoo... perhaps with tree's, branches, leaves, birds, words....Oh the possibilities are endless! But for now I am happy with getting used to this one. When the honeymoon period is over I may start planning the rest of my arm. Maybe.

What do you think of it? Are you inked? Do you plan to be? And yes, if you thought you recognised the image, the amazing Miss Hill designed my tattoo!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My swim to shore

I am still in the process of writing my 'birth story', 9 months on and it's still half written, cut off mid sentence. 7 diary pages long and I'm still only up to the first few contractions and 7 hours before Stella took her first breath. I started writing it when my first born daughter was 2 weeks old. The memory of a 2 week old baby, tiny and vulnerable escaped me so very quickly. I almost feel as though the memory was never there, I felt absent the entire time. My body was there, but I was elsewhere. They are moments I'll never get back and moments I crave to re-live.

After that 2 week milestone, it became far too painful to continue writing. It would bring back memories of how I wanted things to be, how they were supposed to be and bring home the reality of how they really were. I was single. There was never going to be a happy family with a white picket fence. Of course now my outlook is completely different, I can finally say I am at peace. I have tried to keep writing a page or two here and there and am determined to finish it sometime soon so I can share it with you. Stellas birth was beautiful, uncomplicated and wonderful. I was incredibly lucky to have such a quick, positive experience. When people ask me how her birth was the best response I can give is 'Easy!', this usually gets me a glare and a 'yeah right' in response. But that's how it was. Beautiful and simple and I want to document that moment when everything was perfect as best I can.

Recently I have been in awe of quite a few new mothers I know. Being out and about shopping at 2 weeks after the birth and looking amazing! They have such positive outlooks and seem to have glided into motherhood with such ease, poise and grace. I admire them. It got me thinking of my transition in to Motherhood and had me fumbling back through my 'pen to paper' diary to find some entries I had written in those first few weeks post birth. I wanted to share with you my transition with pure honesty and conviction. It is raw and true. This is a summary diary entry I wrote on New Years Eve of my recollection of those 'first few weeks'.


"The first week after bringing Stella home from the hospital was HELL. I was entirely under the grips of anxiety. My whole body shook constantly. All day and all night for a whole week I felt as though I couldn't breathe. My mouth was dry, my hands were always sweaty, I couldn't eat or sleep. I felt like the walls were closing in on me. In all seriousness. I remember trying to eat dinner one night and the house around me started to feel smaller and smaller. It got to the point where I thought I couldn't breathe and felt the urge to open the front door and just run.

I feel as though I missed out on enjoying that time with Stella. I didn't feel a closeness to her or any love for her yet I suppose. It was totally and utterly horrible. Every time I closed my eyes and tried to sleep I thought I could hear her screaming... those breathless, high pitched screams a newborn can do for hours. Even when she was asleep, I could still hear them and to me they were so real, it wasn't in my head. It made sleeping, even when I had the chance, impossible. I didn't sleep or eat for nearly 7 days.

It's indescribable how difficult the change from being your own person to being responsible for every little breath of such a vulnerable, tiny being actually is. It's like being plunged into cold water...Ice cold water in complete darkness and being told to swim to shore. Perhaps it's not like that for everyone, but for me it was a haunting, paralysing experience."

...That was my recollection of those first few cold weeks in July 2010. Thirty nine weeks ago to be precise. 9 months on, the end of an important relationship and a house move later- You can't wipe the smile off my face. I go to sleep at the end of the day beaming with joy and content. I would love to hear the story of those first weeks with Stella from another perspective, something I might just have to work on getting her Daddy to write for me and perhaps for Winter Love.

How did you transition to Motherhood with your first child? Was it a positive experience? Do you have vivid memories of those first few weeks or are they faint in the distance?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Little Red Rockin' Hood.

Stella Wears Tights by Pumkin Patch, Shirt by Dymples, Coat by Ladybird, Shoes found on eBay (unsure of sellers name).

THIS is my favourite outfit Stella owns, I have been waiting and waiting for it to be cool enough for her to wear. She has had a cold and a snuffly nose, so that combined with chillier weather gave me the perfect opportunity. The coat is still a little big so should last her well through this winter. I know I am a little biased in my opinion but...isn't she just the cutest ever!