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Motherhood

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The three words that changed my life forever

It’s been four months, this is my story…

Wow, those two words “my story”. Never in a million years did I think what I am about to tell you would become a part of my story, but it is.

But before I get to that, let me first rewind and start with the joy of it all because I believe the difficult ending shouldn’t define the whole story.

It was a Monday night in October last year. My husband, Phil was at indoor soccer. After putting my two-year-old daughter Alaia to sleep, I decided to catch up on some trash TV aka Keeping Up With The Kardashians. But before I could make it to the couch I felt an overwhelming sense of tiredness. I had “THAT” feeling.

I texted Phil and asked him to purchase a pregnancy test on the way home. I know he had his reservations given my previous ectopic pregnancy only months before, but I felt sure my mother’s instincts that I was expecting were right. By the time he would get home, I would be fast asleep and it was only around 9pm.

I was asleep by the time he got home, but the next morning I karate-kicked my way out of bed at 5.30am. Literally.

I was so excited to take the pregnancy test because like I said, I just knew. They were the longest two minutes of my life, which I’m sure every mother in the room can relate to. But right there beaming back at me were the two blue lines I had hoped for. I was right.

Automatically the tears streamed down and from that moment, no one could wipe the smile off my face. I called Phil to tell him the news as he was already at work. He was ecstatic to say the least. I remember then running into Alaia’s room, waking her up and dancing around the room with her in my arms – this was pure happiness.

Later that week I visited the doctor to get the official verdict. They called me back on Saturday morning to confirm, I was pregnant! That night was the night of the Housing Awards and while I had to abstain from drinking, I had a bigger secret that was far more rewarding that I couldn’t yet share with the world.

To top it off, my husband would go on to win a building award that night – life really couldn’t get much better than this, or could it?!

Similar to my pregnancy with Alaia, morning sickness would hit once again – only this time, ten times as hard. Again, my mother’s instincts came to play – twins I thought. Soon enough at my six week scan, it would be confirmed, there were two – NOTHING will ever compare to that moment! 

There were odds stacked against me – PCOS, one fallopian tube due to the ecptopic pregnancy, hernia operation just months earlier – and her I was pregnant naturally with my rainbow baby twins. The doctors couldn’t believe it. We cried, we laughed, it was the happily ever after to our fairytale. Soon we would be a family of five, and we couldn’t wait.

Having twins meant we were given somewhat “extra care and attention”, I wasn’t complaining, it meant I got to see our beautiful twins on screen more often than not – and that meant I grew such an incredible connection with them.

As most mothers will tell you, the second pregnancy flies by. Mostly because you are busy chasing around your menacing toddler but I also think it has a lot to do with the fact you are more relaxed.

Before I knew it, I was 20 weeks pregnant and it was time for our BIG scan aka the anatomy scan. There they were, our two little bundles of joy in all their incredibleness – our scan was perfect. All the concerns for twin pregnancies were thrown out the door and the professor was thrilled at the health of the babies and me. Another HUGE tick in the box!

Before we left we asked her to jot down the gender of the babies on a piece of paper. Remember being a kid and being told you couldn’t look at something? That was me, all I wanted to do that night was neatly open the envelope and peak, BUT I refrained.

We never found out Alaia’s gender during pregnancy so this was a new found excitement for us. Given it was twins and the age gap with Alaia was so small, we decided we needed to be prepared.

Tuesday night would come and a handful of our close family and friends came to the gender reveal. Phil held the needle with Alaia and…

POP.

Blue confetti came showering down from one balloon. My head was buried in my hands with tears and our friends and screamed in excitement!

Just as I looked up POP again.

More blue confetti came showering down from the second balloon and the crowd went from excited to mental and I was swamped with hugs and kisses – it was truly one of the best moments of my life – PURE joy would be an understatement!

It wouldn’t have mattered what they were, but that moment and the lead up were just epic. And my mama instincts were right, yet again!

We streamed the reveal live on Instagram and many of our friends filmed it for us. Who knew that our biggest joy would soon become our biggest pain. Those videos would become the unravelling of me…

For the next few weeks, I would spent countless hours buying the cutest matching boys outfits, I really was going a little nuts but living at that point was heaven on earth. Every day I would come home and show Phil and he loved every moment of it. There wasn’t a day that passed that we didn’t speak of our excitement for the boys arrival between each other and to Alaia also, we really couldn’t believe God had picked us for such a blessing.

Friday 9th February. Phil took the day off work and we decided to go buy the boys cots and nursery furniture. We found the most gorgeous grey and timber cots and after Alaia road testing them and giving her tick of approval, we ordered the lot. We were on Cloud 9. Our little family was so happy and it was only going to get happier or so we thought.

Saturday night. 10th of February. My birthday! 32. A birthday I will NEVER forget. Life couldn’t get much better. I told Phil no gifts this year, as I already had mine and we opted for just a dinner instead.

We went to our favourite Italian, followed by a dessert bar and by midnight we would be home. I washed off my makeup put my PJs on and hopped into bed. As soon as my back hit that bed a shooting pain reaped havoc through my body and I jumped up. One of the twins must be sitting on a nerve I thought to myself – I didn’t sense anything more sinister than that. I walked and swayed my way around the house, trying to get them to move.

An hour would pass and the pain had not subsided. I called St John of God Hospital and they suggested I pack a bag and go straight to King Edward Memorial Hosptial, so we did. I remember having to hold myself in the car up by arms, hovering over the car seat as I couldn’t sit flat on my bottom, the pain was unbearable. Through it all, still I didn’t have a bad feeling and thought we would be sent back home in a matter of hours. My instincts had failed me.

The next three words would change the course of my life forever – “You’re already dilating”.

NUMB. ABSOLUTELY NUMB.

I was 22 weeks, how could this be? What did this mean? Would our boys survive? We had entered new territory, the world of the unknown – all of this was new to us, but so quickly we would learn.

After making contact with our obstetrician, we were immediately assigned “The Golden Team” aka the best of the best at King Edward, it was somewhat comforting.

At 2 am a scan would show twin 1 was already protruding out, meaning stitching was out of the question. I was ordered strict bedrest. The doctors were convinced I would birth that night (or should I say morning) or at least within the next 48 hours. Again, my mother’s instincts didn’t agree – maybe it was hope, maybe it was stupidity but I wasn’t ready to give up on my sons. I told them I disagreed and I was prepared to stay on bed rest for the next 6-8 weeks and even Phil agreed. We were so optimistic even though the doctor’s faces would paint a completely different story.

I remember seeing motivational speaker Tony Robbins in Sydney and his words stuck with me, never allow someone to tell you a diagnosis of an ending be it cancer, early birth whatever because as soon as you accept that into your subconscious, you give up. Giving up was the last thing on my mind, I was ready to fight to the very end for my boys and I did.

I prayed, I hoped and I stayed positive.

We were given the most incredible midwife and Phil also pushed me to share what was happening on my social media. I was so against it but in the end I did and within hours hundreds of stories of hope came flooding. The messages of support, our daughter, our midwife and the fantastic team at King Edward were our saving grace during that time.

48 hours would pass and I was still pregnant. The doctors couldn’t believe it. Suddenly the prognosis changed and there was talk of possibly saving twin 2 should twin one come away. But, I still had faith both would survive.

Four days in and the mood was lightened yet again. There was mention of me being shifted to a ward instead of remaining in the delivery suite. I was also heading into the birth “grey area” where they could begin steroid injections in just three days to help strengthen the boys lungs. Things were looking up.

The following day, on the 15 February (my grandma’s birthday) I woke up feeling fine and was mentally prepared for the long haul of living in a hospital. We had a lot of visitors that day which was lovely. Alaia came up also and as always seeing her gave me the strength I needed to fight for her brothers.

But, what a difference a few hours can make – 5pm hit and suddenly I became very ill. What was happening? Suddenly I was vomiting, weak, hunched over, had a temperature and before I knew it doctor and midwives were in and out of the room and they were preparing for what was to come. I had contracted an infection and now my life was at risk. The inevitable was going to occur. They had to bring on my labour to save me but in doing do, my sons would be sacrificed. My whole world came crashing down… only in those moments I knew, I knew the fight was over, I knew my mother’s instincts had failed me, I knew I would lose my sons forever. I was completely broken.

Nothing can prepare you for that – nothing. I don’t think I stopped crying from that moment until long after their birth. It’s as if someone is physically ripping out your heart out. And while every effort was made to make the experience as comfortable as possible, it was something I do not wish on even my worst enemy.

I took every drug under the sun, not because I feared the physical pain but more so the pain on my heart. I wanted to be numb and I was exactly that.

At 11.51pm that night, Leo made his entrance into the world. He was the most beautiful boy I ever did see and had such striking resemblance to his sister. I always wondered how parents loved more than one child the same but there it was, the love gushing from my heart in floods and I finally understood.

I held him for hours, the hardest part was letting him go. But part of me knew grandma was there to take him.

Soon enough at 2.09am Cruz arrived he was equally as gorgeous and bared a striking resemblance to his Nonno, my father in law. Again the unwavering love unleashed – my precious boys, I thought I loved them inside me and that love was only a sliver to what I felt now. 

I don’t know what the hardest part of the whole ordeal was losing them, leaving them, burying them or not having the chance to tell them just how much you love them. I guess they are all equally painful.

For weeks I looked for reasons and blamed myself in more ways than I can count – was it pilates, did I lift something heavy, was it herbal tea, was it making love to my husband which made my cervix open, answers I will never know. The truth is, even medically it remains unexplained.

But, I’ve made a decision to end my suffering. I can continue to focus on the heartache of it all and continue to run myself to the ground or I can focus on those six most incredible months they gave me where I experienced some of the greatest joy I have known. I choose that!

Because although I only had hours in my arms, they are forever imprinted on my heart. I AM a mother of three and I stand proud! I will never forget my sons and will never be embarrassed or ashamed to share their name no matter how confronting that might be to others. I know I will have my days, but I will continue to talk to Alaia about her brothers and will continue to tell their story. I carried them, I fought for them, I held them and I loved them and I will continue fight for them, so that all women who loved and lost don’t give into society and forget their angels but rather speak loudly their names with such pride. Because although they are gone, they will NEVER be forgotten. And although they are not here, doesn’t take away that you are still their mother.

So to all the angel mothers out there, I honour you. What we have endured is a pain like no other, in fact every mother’s worst nightmare. And although you may never be the same, you are better because you had the chance to know them and know a love of that kind. You are allowed to scream, you are allowed to cry, but promise me you will never give up.

And to all the other mamas reading this, grip your loved ones a little tighter tonight because sometimes we take for granted what is right before us. And be KIND, my god be really kind, everyone is fighting a battle you may know nothing about.

And so I leave you with this:

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss in life is what dies inside us while we still live.”

I will not allow myself to die inside, I will continue to live for them.

So, to my precious sons Leo and Cruz – you gave me a love so strong it made saying hello and goodbye in the same day worth all the pain. I love you both more than you will ever know and just like I fought until the end for you, I will continue to fi

 

ght for women and for research in your honour. I promise you I’ll live life to the fullest filled with greater love, greater compassion, greater kindness, greater appreciation, greater presence and greater joy. I hope I make you proud.

All my love, your mama x

Side note: on Sunday, 27 May my husband and I, along with family and friends ran the HBF Run for a Reason in memory of our sons. We raised almost $12,000 for the Women’s and Infants Research Foundation . Any donations can be made via direct to the charity or through the Everyday Hero page set up for the event –

BULLIES be gone

In loving memory of Dolly Everett.

I began drafting this article some time ago but never got around to completing it. After hearing little Dolly’s story, my heart was broken. A sweet and innocent little girl pushed to a place where she felt there was no other way out of the hell that surrounded her. It scared the sh*t out of me as a mother and had me in tears and also brought back raw emotions of my own as I remembered those dark, unworthy and defeated thoughts. But, I was an adult, she was just a little girl. I needed to share this as a tribute to her.

Dolly was a 14 year old girl who was subjected to relentless bullying before she decided to take her own life. It’s hard to fathom that some people have the capacity to actively go out of their way to cause someone that much pain – a story enough to make you sick as a fellow parent or even just a fellow ‘good’ human.

BULLYING.

There are not many things I hate in life, but this is of them! An eight letter word that for some reason is breeding popularity, has ended so many lives and even had me contemplating my own last year. When did it become cool to be cruel? Did I miss something? ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!

“Oh my god did you see what he/she was wearing? I’ll send you a screenshot”

“Why does he/she look/dress like that?”

“Did you see his/her instastory? How pathetic. Who does he/she think they are?”

“Omg they’re so ugly/fat”

“Oh god they need to eat – anorexic”

“He/she is so fake seriously, no one likes them”

“They don’t have anxiety, she’s just doing it for attention”

Now, it’s my turn to be a bitch – SERIOUSLY, SHUT THE F*** UP!!!

If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I get it you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s totally fine but there’s a big difference in difference of opinion to blatant bullying.

If you’re building friendships on tearing people down, there is seriously something wrong with you and your clique of friends. Blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make yours any brighter!

And, I am not just talking school yard bullying, the bullying I have endured and witnessed as a 31 year old women and even as a mother is even more atrocious!!! Coming from people who are ‘meant’ to know better. The parent shaming, the name calling, the list goes on. Get your shit together adults, just stop – seriously just stop!

How can we expect kindness and acceptance from our children if we are not leading by example?

I have people that hate me that don’t even know me – go figure. Or people that think/claim to know me but wouldn’t have a clue what I am TRULY about. Some of my blog friends have hate pages created about them when people only know them through a few squares on a screen. Have we really become that insensitive?

If it’s become a trend to get together and rip someone to shreds for your own entertainment and ego then I’m here to be the trend breaker – I won’t stand for it! There are nbv humans at the other end of such hateful comments.

What happened to kindness and love? Do we really have to wait until someone takes their life to realise the implications of our actions?

It’s really simple – THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. And in this digital era, THINK BEFORE YOU POST, COMMENT OR WRITE! If what you have to say doesn’t add value, then DON’T say it. Stop the games, stop the shaming, stop the cryptic bullying posts, just STOP THE BULLYING. Or should I say, just STOP being an ASSHOLE!

If someone has bothered you, talk to them the old fashioned way and don’t just start an unnecessary hate campaign against them which can be easily avoided.

And if you’re watching/hearing someone else subjected to hateful comments, have the guts and loyalty to stand up for them even if it means standing alone – I do! It’s the people who have the courage to do this that will change the future for the better. But if we don’t stand up NOW and stop this ridiculousness, I truly worry what kind of future my children will grow up in?

Every human has the right to be treated equal and the buck starts with us.

Trade bitchiness for kindness because let me tell you something, kindness feels f***ng amazing! The look on someone’s face when you’ve helped them without expectation or given them a compliment is priceless and worth its weight in gold!

But be genuine, don’t just give a compliment then stab them in the back – be authentic and true to your word.

Say hi to strangers in the street, stand up for someone who doesn’t have the courage to stand up for themselves, exercise random acts of kindness and be a trailblazer for good in a world that’s trying to force you to be bad!

Let’s put an end to this pathetic and life threatening trend, let’s bastardise bullying – BULLIES BE GONE!

In a world where you can be anything, BE KIND!

So will the real people please stand up? *mic drop*


If you or anyone you know need crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Or, if you would like to make a donation to Dolly’s dream, I have listed details below;

DOLLY’S DREAM FOUNDATION

BSB: 035 313

ACC: 237623

 

Our double rainbow

We always said two years would be a great gap between Alaia and her sibling, but never in a million years did we expect what was to come. We knew we had some odds stacked against us which meant the reality of it may take longer than expected.

PCOS.

One miscarriage.

An ectopic pregnancy.

One fallopian tube.

Recent hernia operation.

And basically a lifetime of doctors telling me I would find it hard to conceive without intervention -how wrong they were!

As we were sitting in a warm outdoor spa on a weekend away in Dunsborough with my cousin and his girlfriend, we collectively discussed plans of our next child and made a pact that we would begin to try so they were close in age.

The weekend came and went and a couple of weeks later my cousin’s girlfriend was pregnant, I was absolutely thrilled for them!!! I knew our news may take a little longer but wasn’t disheartened by any means.

Few weeks later…

I will never forget that night. It was a Monday. One month after our trip to Dunsborough. Phil was at indoor soccer and come 7pm I hit a brick wall, I was soooooo tired and for no apparent reason – anyone that knows me, knows I am quite the night owl. It was then that I knew, I just knew. I messaged Phil to purchase a pregnancy test on the way home. By the time he got home, I was sound asleep.

The next morning I woke and ran to the bathroom to do the test. Within a couple of mins, right there staring back at me were the words pregnant 1-2 weeks – I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT!!! Yes, I did a crazy happy dance, cried like a baby, woke Alaia up just to squeeze her and then called Phil to tell him the incredible news, as he was already at work.

The best was yet to come… or was it?

Within a few days my morning sickness (or should I say ALL DAY sickness) hit me like a tonne of bricks. Oh how I didn’t miss this feeling. I was only three weeks pregnant, how could I possibly be so sick. With each new day, the sickness got worse and worse. I was vomiting at least 10 times a day and the migraines, don’t get me started on the migraines! I knew something was different. I was sick in my pregnancy to Alaia, but not to this extent.

My mummy instinct told me, it was twins and I shared those thoughts with my close girlfriends and Phil.

Soon enough, our six week scan was upon us. On our way to the appointment Phil spoke about trading in his work ute for a new one. I told him to hold off until after the scan. He laughed at me innocently.

When we entered to greet our obstetrician it was the warmest of welcomes. We grew such an incredible bond throughout my pregnancy and birth of Alaia and it was good to be home in a sense. She asked how I was feeling and I informed her of my severe sickness and that I had a feeling it was twins – she too chuckled and said “every pregnant women says that”.

A couple of minutes later, the scan would show something different…

My mummy instincts were right! There they were, two incredible little miracles staring back at us!

“Oh my God, there’s definitely two heartbeats Solonge!” my obstetrician gushed with the biggest of smiles – her jovial midwife looking on in glee.

The tears streamed down my face and as I looked over at Phil his smile was bigger than the ocean – we were absolutely thrilled – what a blessing!

How could this be? How could my body endure all that it had in the past year and against the odds and being told I don’t ovulate regularly my whole life, I somehow ovulated TWICE! It was our little miracle or should I say our double rainbow.

Whatever would happen from here, nothing could overshadow my excitement, gratefulness and joy!

The next few weeks would prove challenging, my sickness got worse and worse to the point where I was bed ridden most days. I initially managed this sleeping while Alaia slept but then as it continued to worsen, my mum came to my aid and helped throughout the day.

Before I knew it, I was 11 weeks. I woke up with the worse migraine yet and for some reason my left leg had cramped leaving me unable to bend it.  I decided it was time to call the obstetrician. Once I told her I was still this sick and about the cramp in my leg, she told me to immediately come to the hospital.

I spent the next three days on hospital on a drip, had a load of blood tests and was booked into an MRI on my brain for the next day. Turns out the leg cramp was the result of a severe potassium deficiency brought on by excess vomiting. Easy fix though, some medication for a couple of days would rectify this, and it did.

Although I was so sick, I remained positive. It’s funny you know, once you’ve experienced pregnancy losses, the sickness is in some way a reminder or assurance your baby is ok. So, as much as I loathed being sick, it gave me the peace of mind I needed that my babies were ok.

Morning arrived and I was ready to go to my MRI. The specialist was almost certain the scan would be clear but wanted to rule out anything sinister given the severity of my migraines. I agreed.

Out came the wavier because I was pregnant. Although the contrasting dye was not going to be used given I was pregnant, it was considered there was still not enough research to conclusively confirm no impact of an MRI on pregnancy (even though there was more than 30 years’ showing no impact.) I signed the waiver and went ahead, I just wanted to be in the clear.

MRI was completed.

I was told I would be contacted by phone. The gentlemen who facilitated the MRI told me that those who had questionable results were contacted first (usually within an hour) and if I didn’t hear within a couple of hours, it was fair to say all was clear. I stayed positive and knew I would fall into the latter group.

I was taken back to my room.

Within half an hour, my hospital phone rang. The specialist told me they were shocked but had found something on the back of my brain, she couldn’t tell me anymore until a senior neurologist reviewed the images. My heart sank.

For the next 24 hours I would sit anxiously awaiting the outcome – did I have a tumour? Was it cancer? Will I lose my babies? For maybe ten minutes my positivity slipped away and all the worst case scenarios came flooding to mind. But I refused to accept them and quickly switched back to my positive thoughts.

The next morning the specialist called me, it definitely wasn’t the dreaded ‘T’ word – REJOICE! They seemed to think it was just inflammation and either old damage or something I was born with. *Sigh of relief.* She advised that the senior neurologist would come in and see me later that afternoon.

Dr. Gilbert arrived and asked me a series of questions about my history of migraines. He then reiterated what the specialist had told me but said he would email me once an even more senior neuro-radiologist reviewed the images. I was given some injections in the back of my skull to ease the migraines and given the ok to go home, it was Sunday evening by that stage. As I was in the labour ward, there wasn’t much more they could do for me and the matter could be handled direct with the neurologist, I couldn’t wait to be home to my girl.

Three days on fluid, the potassium and the injections in my skull helped me me feel a whole lot better. The sickness was still there, but the severity definitely minimised. Dr Gilbert was good enough to keep a check on me through email and by Tuesday I received an email from him saying,

“they concluded it looks like a remote ischaemia event. Ischaemia is a lack of blood supply to the area. Remote means it isn’t causing your migraines. Plan will be to follow up the scan in about 10 weeks with another”.

I was relived! For now, it seemed irrelevant and I was sticking with that.

I am now 14 weeks pregnant, our babies are perfectly healthy we and couldn’t be happier!

Sure the road to get here was a little bumpy (I know there is far worse stories) and I know I am still somewhat sick, but how blessed are we. Against our odds, we got our rainbow and a double one at that!

Maybe it was my conversion to veganism for a month prior or the fact my husband and I attended a four day Tony Robbins seminar in Sydney and I was in a great mindset – whatever it was, I was blessed, in a way I could never have imagined!

I know not everyone’s story is the same and I know some have a far harder road, I just pray this is a beacon of hope to someone out there that miracles do happen.

To all those who have loved and lost, or are yet to love a little one of their own my wish for you is 2018 is your year.

Sending so much love and positivity to all and hoping there are plenty more rainbows in the New Year!

All my love,

the A word

Heart racing.

Shortness of breath.

Sweaty palms.

Thoughts so loud, I turn the radio off.

Distorted vision.

Alaia crying.

Migraine onset.

Welcome to my world.

They say a photo speaks a thousand words well, not always. The smile on my face and the gleam in my eyes is definitely deceiving, under the surface lies a whole other story.

It’s something I was always unsure if I would share just yet but, with my sole purpose of wanting to inspire and help others, how could I possibly not be real with you all?

Anxiety. That seven letter word that has seemingly taken over my day to day life over the past three months.  If I had to put my finger on a moment or event that triggered it, I would say it was my ectopic pregnancy loss but, I also believe it is a culmination of life events, motherhood and a recent drama which funnily enough really flipped the switch into full force.

So, what is it? Let’s start with the textbook definition:

“the state of feeling nervous or worried that something bad is going to happen”

My first thoughts – understatement at its best. So here’s my definition which I hope does more justice for sufferers:

An intense state of feeling overwhelmed, nervous and worried, sometimes for no good reason, accompanied by sweating, a significant increase in heartrate causing heart attack like symptoms, loud and overbearing thoughts and a gut wrenching feeling inside your stomach or chest also causing nausea. Sounds dreadful right? Well it is.

To onlookers, anxiety is often not detected. It’s silent and mostly only affects its victim. Because it comes with such a stigma, people often shy away from sharing their feelings. Society expects sufferers of anxiety to be weird, introverted, crazy or different in some way, but this couldn’t be more far from the truth.

More often than not it’s the so called “normal” person sitting right beside you, the girl with the bubbly personality, the overachiever at work who always gets a promotion, the clown of the group or that mum friend you think always has her shit together that in fact is suffering in silence.

One thing for certain, anxiety does not discriminate. Sadly, a staggering one in four Australians will suffer anxiety at least once in their life – one in four!!!! So why aren’t we talking about it?

It’s time we raise the lid on it and become more transparent and educated on it.

You see for me, I am totally new to this anxiety world, I am still identifying my triggers. And, while some days I am completely unaffected, other days I am so consumed and would like nothing more than to stay in bed all day and sleep it off, but I can’t because we all know a mothers job never sleeps.

Motherhood brings with it, its own share of anxieties – how will I get this all done? Am I doing a good job? What will other mothers think of me? I want to be a mum but also want to work and have a social life – how do I manage that? The pressures we put on ourselves are endless.

Some days, you just want to throw your hands up and claim defeat, we all have those days right?  But, instead, I find solace in retracting to a quiet room while Alaia plays, just to gain bearings again or even meditate. If I am out, I remain quiet or withdrawn which can make me seem socially awkward at times but it’s what gives me comfort in those moments. I know some people reading this will be shocked as it’s a far cry from my old bubbly, carefree, lively and social butterfly self, but lately it’s been my reality.

It sucks, it really sucks.

And while I kept convincing myself I didn’t chose anxiety, it chose me – I would be lying. A lifetime of high standards, perfectionism and people pleasing would lead me to this point. But, I am learning.

I am learning that firstly, I am not alone. SO many share this struggle with me and some are far worse. I am learning that I can manage the symptoms – I am finally making ME a priority because sometimes as mothers we lose sight of this. I am now on a mission to work on my mind, body and soul daily – I exercise, meditate and invest in self-development on a regular basis. And lastly, I am learning to love myself – would I be so hard on someone else as I am on myself? Definitely not. It’s time to be gentler on me.

The point of my article is far from a pity plea, but instead an arm reaching out to someone else out there suffering in silence, to shed light on a topic on that for so long has been taboo.

It’s a reminder for us all to really think before we speak. Is what we are saying going to add value to the people around us? If not, then why say it?

We may assume to be good judge of characters, but as I always say, never judge a book by its cover. Unless you have read every single chapter, you don’t know someone’s full story.

Moral of the story – be kind, always. Everyone has a story, every mama has a story and this is just one chapter of mine.

This too shall pass

Alaia’s being super cheeky at the moment and really testing the boundaries. And while today I had so much client work, editing, housework and blogging I needed to do, I instead spent it chasing her around. It’s hard being a mother sometimes, heck its hard being a woman, wife or better still even just an adult at times. One thing I have come to learn though is, nothing is permanent – this too shall pass.

I remember Alaia going through a car screaming phase when she was about six months old. I can’t count on my hands the number of times I resulted to walking up and down the side of main roads or highways just to calm her before going on my way again. I cried daily thinking that phase would never end, but it did.

I remember bad teething nights and thinking – god my good little girl is gone, but she wasn’t.

I remember having fall outs with people I thought were truly my friends thinking I would never move on from the hurt, but I did.

I remember moments of being completely overcome and consumed by anxiety thinking there was no light in sight and my life was over, but it wasn’t.

I guess what I am trying to say is, we can become so consumed in moments, singular moments that we forget just how insignificant they really are in the scheme of things. When we take a step back and appreciate our challenges for what they really are and that there is always someone else facing harder realities, we realise they are merely a pebble in an expansive ocean.

It’s so easy to become over focused on the problem at hand that we lose sight of all the things we should be grateful for. Ever disliked so much that even the way they chew begins to bother you? That’s because that’s where your focus lies. Every little thing they do will in some way will begin to frustrate you.  Yes my daughter screamed in the car for those countless hours, but how lucky am I to be able to hear her voice? There really is a positive to every negative.

Change the way you perceive things. Really take the time to evaluate them and  think, “hey, is this really worth worrying about?”

Whatever your little hardship be today, realise – this too shall pass. In a week, month or year this will become a distant memory. So breathe, ride the wave and come out the other end stronger than ever!

And don’t forget if those around you experiencing hardship, help put their problem in perspective so they too realise, this too shall pass.

I truly believe each of us is exactly where we need to be in life, no matter how hard it may be for us to see this in the present moment. Life gives us obstacles to test us and help us grow and reach our truest potential. It guides us to where we need to be and who we need to be around.

Start your week with a grateful heart – you’ll be surprised just how much good you have in your life, you just need to focus on it.

To work or not to work

Rewind two weeks…early morning, dress Alaia in her best attire and ready to hit the road. Nerves kick in, feels like a job interview. Arrive.Outside, looks impressive. Enter. Uninterested employees. Snotty children. Weird smells, random child who clearly has a cold begging me to hold him. This was my first welcome to childcare hunting. (Note: I know they are all not like this!!!) 

I never really believed in toddler instincts until that day. First centre (described above), Alaia clinging to my leg for dear life. The second and third were the same. Way to make mama feel at ease right? Fourth. We entered to the scent of incredible food and Alaia dashed to the kids quicker than I could say boo. The centre was incredibly clean, the educators were amazing as was the outdoor area and my prior research indicated they had an ‘exceeding’ rating which is rare. Victory!

Well, kind of. I would quickly learn my elation was slightly premature.

Fast forward to today, THE day.

Today was filled with so many bitter sweet moments. There was plenty of tears, let me tell you (me included) but, I simply had to persevere as I’d committed to this decision. After a while Alaia settled and I left. It was short lived. I received a call to come back only a couple of hours later as Alaia still wasn’t fully settled. Needless to say, it was an emotional rollercoaster for us both. 

You see, the concept of childcare has always been a hard notion for me to swallow. I grew up to a single mother who worked two jobs to provide for us, so I was forever in before school care and after school care, you think I would be warmed to the idea but, all I wanted back then was more time with my mum. But now I recognise she had no choice. 

I promised myself the day I became a mother I would commit to being a stay at home one. Contradiction right? Yep. But what if being a stay at home mum meant losing who I was? Is that fair? I know a few of you are who are reading this with judgey eyes are nodding right now – but does it really make you any better of a mother if you choose to be a full stay at home mum or not? I think not. I realised that part of my identity lie in my corporate role. I thrive in the corporate environment and having my brain stimulated is something I SO need. For me, (and this is by no means an attack on any mother because everyone is different which is a wonderful thing) there is a huge limitation to how many bottle, sleep and nappy conversations I can tolerate! My brain was screaming for something more. So, in my own mind I compromised to just a couple of days a week but no night work (a part of my job as a writer required late night tender writing). These compromises would mean I would still have the ability to be the mother I dreamed of for Alaia but also retain myself in the process. And so the decision was made.

Today was hard, I am not going to deny it. The mama guilt was overwhelming, I was second guessing my decision all morning. BUT, I will still go and give it another shot next week.

It’s so important not to lose ourselves as women just to be the mother society dictates us to be. What about us? What about what we want? And in reality do we ever stop being mamas anyway? Being a mama is full time job and we are always on call anyway. 

So, whether you decide to return to work or be a stay at home mum, just be the mother YOU want to be. No one has the right to judge your position until they have lived the life. Everyone’s decisions are based on their own experiences and should be respected. It’s what works for you and your family – and this extends far beyond just the work debate. I’ve already dabbled in that conversation before so I’ll leave that aside. 

Because at the end of the day, if you sacrifice who YOU are to be the mum you THINK you should be or TOLD you should be (according to society), are you really any good to anyone if you end up empty yourself? Is that really the example you want for your children?  

Food for thought.

We’re all mamas at the end of the day and we are all pretty fricken amazing no matter what we decide to do!

We’re all superheroes

It was literally the last place on earth I thought I would be judged for my screaming child, but there I was in the mother’s room of a shopping centre being stared down with a look of disgust by someone who was supposed to be on my side… another mother!

Firstly, my daughter isn’t a brat, she’s teething. See how I just felt the need to explain myself to you guys, even though I shouldn’t have to.

The thing that has certainly shocked me the most since becoming a mother, or actually even since I was first pregnant, is the pressure, comparison and judgement passed upon you by those that are supposed to know better. It seems pregnancy and motherhood come with right to tell people what you think or ask them questions which would once be considered intrusive.

Your belly is too big. Your belly is so small. Are you having a natural birth? Did you have an epidural? Are you breastfeeding? Breast is best. Has your child done this yet? Your baby eats a lot. Your baby doesn’t eat enough. Are you back to your pre-baby weight? Are you back at work? Does your child watch TV? Do they go to day care?

Why is it that as women and more so as fellow mothers some feel the need to belittle the parenting or decisions of another? I’m here to tell you screw all that!

Screw the mother who was looking down on me in the mother’s room because my child was tired and crying. Screw those who look down in shame on you for having an epidural or an elected cesarean – it’s your child birth and you are free to choose how you want your baby to enter this world. There’s no medals for a completely natural birth let me tell you. Screw those who tell you ‘breast is best’ – in my opinion, fed is best! As long as your child is not starving and you are giving them nutritious milk, you’re doing a better job than what you think!

Screw those who tell you your baby/belly is too big/too small. Little do they know you’re worried about how little your baby is or on the contrary that you’re self-conscious of how much weight you’ve gained.

It’s time that we as women become more supportive of each other rather than competitive – and that goes further than pregnancy and motherhood. How about we just start empowering each other full stop.

In this day and age it seems woman are getting bitchier and bitchier. We go on and on about this alleged sisterhood but does it really exist or is it just a facade? Enough is enough! Let’s celebrate each other, each other’s children, each other’s achievements, each other’s triumphs, each other’s success. The world has enough chaos, why add to it?

Real queens fix each other’s crowns

How about we stop ripping each other’s off?

And men, don’t be sitting there shaking your heads thinking “woman”. I have seen some of you act bitchier than woman – so get your act together too.

There’s plenty of room in this world for everyone to be successful and happy – wouldn’t that be a dream?

It’s time to put an end to the judgement, let’s stop the hating on each other in fear of someone being better than us. We are all on the same journey here as mothers and it’s about time we banded together and celebrated each other for taking on the toughest job in the world. Like really celebrated each other from the deepest pit of our soul. Because we are all pretty fricken amazing when you think about it. We create, carry and raise those little humans, no matter which way you choose to do it.

We are all superheroes in our own right and it’s time to start making each other feel that way!

To all the superheroes – much love,

The best ever chocolate cake!

I am usually a sucker for lemon, banana or carrot cake BUT, when I came across this recipe shared by Rebecca Judd a year or so ago, I decided to give it a whirl and let’s just say it very quickly became one of our family favourites!

This is literally the easiest and most delicious chocolate cake you will ever make AND, its flourless – winning!

I love that this recipe is simple and has minimal ingredients, making it perfect to whip up with the kids. This was Alaia and I’s first baking experience together and we had an absolute ball.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think in the comments below.


Ingredients

200g almond meal

200g drinking chocolate (I used the Cadbury one)

200g butter (room temp)

200g caster sugar

5 x eggs

Method

1. Lightly grease a round spring form tin

2. Preheat oven to 160 degrees fan forced

3. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined

4. Bake for 40 minutes….done!

I love to enjoy warm with some vanilla ice cream or just on its own with a sprinkle of icing sugar.

Enjoy!

The courage to be you

Isn’t it crazy that I considered not uploading this picture as I thought it was unflattering?  It really got me thinking, is this the kind of example I want to set for my daughter – being so self critical? Hell no!

I am a size 12 which latest research shows is the Australian AVERAGE – so why do I sometimes feel ashamed of my body? I have an hourglass figure and a bigger bust than most so naturally look a little top heavy but does all that justification really matter? No. Why do we as women find it so hard to be comfortable in our skin? Why are men exempt from this kind of judgement and scrutiny? I am not saying they deserve it, but why are we the only gender always under the spotlight.

We are so polluted as females with images of what we ought to look like – yet are these images a true representation of the mass population? I don’t think so. First being super skinny was all the craze and now it seems the bulkier big booty look is taking the lead. And now consequently, those on the lighter end of the scale are being bullied too – madness!

Why do we scrutinise ourselves or worse still why do we criticise each other as women when we are supposed to be in the same tribe?

Every single one of us is beautiful in our own way, whether it be a size 6 or a size 16, Kardashian booty or not. And believe it or not, each one of us is an inspiration to someone! There is someone out there looking up to us just the same way we are looking up to someone else.

Its time to stop self sabotaging and loving ourselves for exactly who we are and where we are right now! Because self love is the first step to progression and global acceptance.

Sure, if you want to change something about your lifestyle for health benefits, that’s totally fine – but do it for you and no-one else. By constantly comparing ourselves to others, we are robbing ourselves of true happiness. Forget who the world tells you to be and be who you are!

So, if someone hasn’t told you today or more importantly if you haven’t told yourself, you are beautiful! Don’t forget it.

Let’s top the negative self talk and instead teach and empower our daughters to love themselves just the way they are – because that’s really what we want for the future generation isn’t it?

What things to do you truly love about yourself? 

 

Alaia’s wardrobe: our top six brands

Now there’s no denying it, my daughters wardrobe has quickly surpassed my own – dressing girls really is as fun as everyone says! I always get asked where I buy Alaia’s clothes from so, I’ll definitely make this a regular segment on my blog. But, to begin with, I thought I’d kick off with a rundown of our top six brands/stores.

Seed Heritage

I absolutely love Seed for both girls and boys. Their ranges  ooze style and are both modern while cute. While admittedly their full price items can be a little on the pricier side, I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for and their clothing always washes well and therefore does last the test of time – which will know is important with kids.  With that being said, if you are price conscious, sign up to their e-newsletter because their online and in store sales are just RIDICULOUS and I always score myself (well, Alaia) a bargain! I also love their gorgeous shoe designs which start from pre-walker right up to bigger kiddies.

Country Road

Think classic, simple, stylish and quality without being overly babyish, I head to Country Road for Alaia’s wardrobe staples – like jeans, long sleeves and jackets as they fit like a glove.  Similar to Seed, their items are a little pricier but can’t deny they do wear so well. And the boys range, don’t get me started on the boys range! Mamas with little men, this has to be my favourite for your little studs, so if you haven’t already – be sure to check out their range. You’ll have him looking like Prince George in no time.

Pictured right: Alaia wears Country Road frill detail tee, charcoal jeggings and soft jacket. Boots are from Seed. 

Cotton on Kids

I’m sure this is already on every parents shop list – Cotton on Kids. They have really nailed it with their ranges and prices! Great for every day staples and even those semi-dressy pieces, I stock up on basic tees and tights from here for Alaia all the time. They fit well and are always at affordable prices. Again, sales here are FAB but you have to be quick because they go like hot cakes.

Pictured left: Alaia wears Cotton on Kids basic jacket and black basic tights. Booties are from Fawn + Finch. 

Rock Your Baby

Want your little girl to stand out from the crowd? Then this is the brand for you. I just adore Rock Your Baby! Their pieces are quirky, whimsical and fun while still oozing femininity.  Their pieces are definitely suited for special occasions or make the perfect gift for any little miss.  Quality wise, they are brilliant – thick plush materials make their pieces premium quality. They do also carry a boys range but I can’t comment on this as I haven’t had any exposure to it.

Pictured right & header: Alaia wears older style ‘pom pom romper dress’

Moda Bambini

Armani Baby, Chloe, Hugo Boss, Roberto Cavalli  – these are just a few of the fashion brands you will find at this hidden gem. Moda Bambini is a small boutique located in Osborne Park, Western Australia and is my go to for very special occasions or special gifts. Only downfall to buying gifts from here is I always end up walking out with way too much for Alaia – oopsie! Given the designer labels, it is relatively expensive however you will still find brands such as Fox and Finch. Definitely worth a visit and the sales here are excellent with sometimes up to 75% off!

Pictured below: Alaia wears denim and tulle Fox and Finch dress, floral Chloe dress and Monalisa dress far right. 

Fawn + Finch

Now we can forget about those little feet now can we. Hands down favourite shoes for Alaia are from Fawn + Finch. With an extensive range premium soft cow leather, these little shoes not only look good but also last the test of time that is, childhood! The customer service is fantastic and I really need not look anywhere else as they have me well covered. There are imitators on the market, but they just don’t compare!

Pictured below: Alaia’s  Fawn + Finch t-bar moccasins and bootie collection (minus two)  

fawn and finch shoes

Happy shopping!

What are your favourite clothing brands/stores for your little one?