Budgeting with a baby

Before Lara came along I was never really one to budget, neither was my husband, so I guess we were a bad influence on each other when it came to money matters.

We were both living out of home at 18 years old, renting with friends. When Aaron and I met back in 2006, we moved in together a year after we started dating. We still rent the same place we first moved in to which is pretty special I think, and I guess pretty lucky to be able to rent the same house for 10 years and counting.

Let’s be real, renting is dead money! And it’s so hard to save for a house while you’re paying someone else’s home loan. Unfortunately we don’t have the privilege of moving in with parents to help save for a house deposit, so it looks like we will be stuck in the renters trap for a few more years yet!

Before Lara we basically lived pay cheque to pay cheque! We had new cars, we went away all the time, we travelled overseas, went out to dinner at expensive wineries every weekend, and basically just lived life not really caring about the future, and just lived in the moment, splurging on anything and everything we wanted.

Realizing how much money I used to spend on hair, beauty and clothes blows my mind now! I used to get my nails done every two weeks, spray tans, facials, hair colour every 6 weeks, extensions, eyelash extensions, shopping sprees every week… the list goes on! Buying pointless, unnecessary shit that I thought would make me happy.

When we got married last year we did the first grown up thing and opened a joint bank account and got private health insurance. When I fell pregnant a month later we knew things had to change because not only was a baby on the way, we knew that I would be finishing up at work soon enough, which meant we would only have one income. The company I worked for were closing up around the same time Lara was due to be born, so once I finished work there was no job to go back to.

We started off with our mobile phone plans. We switched them both to the same network and cut down the plan and immediately saved $100 a month! How crazy! We then got onto all the amenities and researched cheaper providers, and we did the same with our car insurance. It took us both by surprise at how much money we could save just by doing a bit of research for cheaper providers, but still get the same quality service and cover. We should have done this years ago!

We wanted to save as much money as possible while I was still working, but we both had quite a bit of credit card debt and thought it would be best to pay them off and clear all debt before Lara came.

We ended up having to pay around $5,000 for Lara to be born in a private hospital which didn’t help the little savings we had. If I could go back and change it, I’d still have Lara at the Bays Hospital because it was the best experience and care anyone could ask for! We will be having all our babies at the Bays, so I guess we better start saving!

We stopped eating out so much, and became quite mindful of our spending habits. One of the biggest money savers we found was our grocery shopping bill. We never did a big weekly shop EVER! We would just pop into the shops every night on the way home from work and buy ingredients for dinner which was such a trap because you’d end up spending $40-$60 a night!Now we plan out the meals for the week and write a shopping list. It’s actually a bit of fun trying to keep the bill under $100 every week, the lower the better and more exciting! Did I really just say that? Ha! Obviously the weeks where we need to buy formula, nappies and wipes, the bill goes up by $70 but that’s expected.

Before I fell pregnant with Lara we had a big clean out at home and threw out clothes, homewards and just stuff! It was a huge declutter, and the thought of clearing out the clutter and creating more space was so refreshing! I read a lot of books about minimalism and slow living and it really changed my mindset about the accumulation of ‘things’. Everything I buy now is thought out. “Is it necessary? What is it’s purpose? Do we actually need this?” I hate clutter, and everything in our home is there because it has a purpose. It’s quality over quantity, and that’s the mindset I have especially for Lara’s belongings. She has a small amount of toys, but they are quality toys.

Life is definitely very different to how we were living before Lara came, but that’s the sacrifice you make when you decide to have a baby. I no longer go to the day spa for pampering, and I get my hair colored maybe once every 6 months. I did find it very hard in the beginning not being able to just buy what I wanted when I wanted, but it really does make you think about what you’re spending your money on. I know from Aaron’s perspective he feels a lot of pressure to be the sole income earner, and it makes me more aware of my spending habits. Each pay day I withdraw myself $50 cash for the week and that’s for me to spend as I wish. It’s my coffee date with friends, tickets to the maze or aquarium, or a little something for Lara or myself. Or I can save it up for something big. It’s money I can spend without feeling guilty that I’m just spending all Aaron’s hard earned wage and any big purchases we always discuss before doing so.

Having the cash in my purse really makes me question what I spend it on. When you just use your card, you just constantly ‘tap’ purchases and you don’t realize how much you’re actually spending. There’s something about having the physical cash in your purse that you can see that makes you stop and think if you really need or want a coffee.

People keep asking when I’m going to go back to work, and truth is I probably won’t be on the job hunt any time soon. We want to have more babies and we want to have them within the next 4 years (before I’m 35) so there’s no real point in starting a new job and then having to leave again, plus I don’t want to put Lara in day care. I also just don’t want to work for anyone. I know that probably sounds a little selfish but I’m just being honest. I don’t feel called and I have no desire to be in a 9-5 mediocre job. If I’m going to work I want to do purposeful work, something I absolutely love…

I recently just started up my own online business which was a little scary to get started as we had to outlay some money to get things up and running. Starting your own business is risky because you don’t know if it’s going to work or not, You just have to jump in and see what the universe has to offer in return. This project is a great creative outlet for me which does wonders for my mental health. I get so much enjoyment from creating things with my hands, and it makes me excited to put myself out into the world and have people purchase my creations. It’s even better that I can do all this while being at home with Lara! I’m hoping that this little business can keep me busy and hopefully help us toward our savings goal.

Life doesn’t have to boring when you’re on a budget. There’s actually a lot of things you can do that don’t cost anything! Entertaining babies/kids isn’t hard and doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. We spend our days going for walks, the park, beach, gardens, & foraging. We have picnics with our friends, and go for hikes to magical places. There’s free story and activity time at the library, local play group for $2, and music, messy play and so much more that has very little costs involved. When we’re having home days we play in the back yard, and make our own sensory games and messy play. We still go out for breakfast and lunch etc but it’s once a week- once a fortnight if anything. You don’t need to have money to have fun!

While our dream to purchase a farm house over looking the hills is now further away than ever, and the luxury lifestyle is now no longer… Having Lara in our lives is all worth it. I don’t care if I don’t have the newest clothes, expensive makeup, or fine dining, I couldn’t care less for material items anymore. As long as Lara is clean, healthy, there’s food on the table and a roof over our head, then I’m happy! You don’t need alot to have a happy life. And with having less than I ever had before, I’m actually the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life.

Your priorities definitely change once you have babies, and it’s a good thing!

A mama’s mindset

Since becoming a mama to my beautiful daughter Lara, I’ve had so many other mamas and mamas-to-be asking for advice on how to mentally transition into mamahood, and doing so with a positive mindset.

I’m sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have the perfect answer. I can however tell you about my own experiences and how I have managed to keep my slow living lifestyle with a baby.

2 years ago I started a journey of mindfulness. I wanted to experience life deeply and be as present as I could. This meant slowing life right down and intentionally doing things rather than just mindlessly rushing from one thing to the next.

I particularly delved into this lifestyle when I became pregnant because I learned that by keeping myself calm, relaxed and quiet during my pregnancy was good for my stress levels, good for baby’s stress levels and it would ultimately result in having a calm and content baby. Now who wouldn’t want that?!

Over the years of living this lifestyle, it has really helped me transition into mamahood with understanding and patience which are two important things to have when you are a new mama.

I’m not going to sugar coat anything here, and I’m being completely honest when I say that the first month was the hardest for me. It’s not that parenting is hard, it’s just that life is different to how it used to be. And it’s an instant change that you can’t really prepare for until you’re living it! You’re now responsible for someone, and that someone is completely dependent on you. That in itself can be pretty overwhelming.

I questioned everything I did in those first few weeks, and all I wanted was for someone to tell me the right way to do things. Patience and understanding really helped me from loosing my mind. If Lara was upset, I would make sure I stayed calm and relaxed, and I found that Lara would pick up on my energy and she would relax too.

I remember when the midwife came to our home during week one for a check up and she was going through some programs and she passed me a brochure about shaking your baby. Now we all know that shaking your baby can cause permanent injury and even death and that you should never do it. But I can honestly understand how it can happen. There are some frustrating times of being a mama, and sometimes it’s not just the baby that makes you feel this way. It can be too much pressure from your partner for you to do more around the house while they are at work, feeling lonesome and isolated when the new born bubble disappears and friends and family drop off the radar, or just the fact that your hormones are all over the place and you feel like an emotional wreck! There are so many reasons to not feel good mentally, but if we just slow down and take each moment as it comes with calmness and mindfulness it not only makes life with a baby a little less stressful but it makes life in general more clear.

I really try to be present as much as possible when Lara is awake. I take her for walks and show her things up close and talk to her about life. We explore nature and I get her to feel the different textures of plants, flowers and trees. We go on bush walks, sit at the beach or just lay in the forrest watching the tall trees sway in the breeze. Being out in nature calms us both, and it makes me feel so good to receive earth medicine.

When she tests my patience, I sit her up on my knees and look into her eyes and I tell her how I’m feeling. It somehow makes me feel better to vent out my frustration by talking to her, rather than just getting myself all worked up. In that moment you kinda stop and breathe, and get that sense of calmness back which helps get through the situation at hand.

Children are only children for a very short period, and they learn the most from birth to age 5! I really want to be as present and feel so deeply in these precious times so I can give Lara the best upbringing possible. I resigned from my job 2 weeks before I gave birth, and I’m in no rush to get back into the workforce anytime soon. I love spending my days quietly and slowly living life with Lara by my side, nurturing her and loving her with my full and complete attention.

To end this post il leave this quote. One that I read and will keep with me. An insight into a mama’s life who wishes she didn’t mindlessly rush through life. A reminder to treasure every moment.

X Jes

Finding my tribe.

Why is it so important to belong to a tribe? We all need time to be held. To be supported, yet somewhere down the line we’ve arrived in the 21st century having lost the art of truly holding space for one another. We are living in such a fast paced environment filled with an overwhelming amount of technology and social media engagement that it has come at a cost, a cost that in a world filled with such instant connection, we all deep down feel more disconnected than ever.

So what is ‘my tribe’ you might be thinking? Your tribe are your friends, your family… the people you surround yourself with to lift you higher, to feel held, heard, supported and seen. Your tribe isn’t just the casual friendships you have where you only tag each other in memes on Facebook or the people you only hear from once in a while when they want something…You know those people… Your tribe are the ones who are ALWAYS there for instant connection, they’re on the same page as you, you connect in a special certain way.

As we grow older we become more aware of who our true friends are, who we grow with and who grows with us. It’s completely normal to move on from certain people, and have friends drop off, it’s part of growing up. However, sometimes it can feel pretty lonely in the process.

My pageantry years saw me lose a lot of friends. They either got tired of me asking them to come support me with all my charity events, or maybe they thought I was a bit up myself… I don’t really know! The climb to the top of that industry was hard work, and when I finally got to the end goal it was pretty lonely up there alone with my crown.

Now that I’m a mama I’m finding the same thing is happening. Friends I once had have completely disappeared. While I was pregnant it was like a novelty, everyone wants to know how you’re doing and you feel so cared for… people seem to just flock to pregnant women. In the first few weeks after Lara was born I was inundated with people wanting to come meet her, I had people at my house everyday, and a phone full of messages and missed calls asking to see the baby. However, now that the newborn bubble has popped, I don’t hear from anyone and these last couple weeks have become quite lonesome for me.

I’ve come to realise I don’t have many mama friends who I can turn to in those hard times when I just need to vent on how tired I am and knowing that someone else understands because they’re tired from the same reasons. Or even to just go for a walk or have a coffee with. I was hoping that I’d meet some new mama friends out and about at community events like story time at the library, but sadly I end up feeling more like an outcast while everyone else chats with each other and i’m left just staring at my baby. It’s in those moments that I feel really alone, where I’m in a room full of mothers and babies and yet no one gravitates towards Lara and I.

I’m really looking forward to mothers group starting, I’m hoping il be able to find some new mama friends there!

I asked my husband if there is something wrong with me? Perhaps I’m not approachable, or maybe some find me intimidating with my statuesque height? I’m not sure! Truth is I’m an introverted kind of person, which might surprise many despite the positions I’ve been in with my career and pageantry days, and I find it hard to reach out to others, no matter how desperately I want to. So maybe I shouldn’t complain? Is it my own fault I feel so lonely? Do I need to just grow a pair and try make friends with strangers? So many questions I ask myself… but I don’t want to force friendships, I want friendships to form naturally, so they last!

As I reflect on these lonely moments I have to remind myself that I’m growing and developing. I’m in a new phase of life, I entered my thirties this year, I’m a wife and mother now. It’s ok that my non-mama friends have dropped off the radar since I’ve had Lara, and it’s because we’re at different stages in life. I need to remember that there’s nothing wrong with me, I just need to find girlfriends that want to be part of my tribe. Girlfriends that understand what it’s like to be a mama, who are on the same page as me, with similar interests. My tribe isn’t yet complete, and I’m still searching for those women who I know are out there, and maybe they’re searching for me too?!

And while I have days where I feel completely alone and long for new friends, I realise I need to also nurture those incredible friendships I already have. The friends that have been by my side since the very beginning, and have not only watched me grow but have grown with me. I treasure those friendships.

So what’s the summary of this blog post?

It’s to remember that life happens, people come and go. Real friends stay for the ride and also help adjust your helmet when the road gets rough. Don’t settle for meaningless or forced friendships. While it may feel lonely at times, be grateful for the people around you. Search for likeminded others, find those people to make up your tribe. Your tribe will see you through right until the end, so make sure they are the good ones.

And now that I’ve poured myself openly and honestly out into the universe, I trust that it blesses me with what I’m longing for…

After all your vibe attracts your tribe.

X Jes

Our Elopement Wedding.

Today marks 1 year since I got to marry my wonderful husband, so I thought I’d reflect back on that special day and tell you all about our elopement.

Aaron and I chose to elope for many reasons such as us both having such disfunctional families, the fact that we had been together for 10 years and didn’t feel the need for a big fancy wedding, not to mention the costs of having a big wedding, and the main fact of just doing what we wanted to do without the unwanted input of family and friends. Weddings can get out of control, and you end up doing things to please others. We found by doing things ourselves, quietly and privately, it meant so much more.

We didn’t tell many people that we were getting married, except a couple close friends who helped us with some of the wedding details. It was hard to keep it a secret, especially because we had decided to elope over a year before we did.

The venue

Our wedding took place on our 10 year anniversary. We got married at the Old Treasury Building in Melbourne. It was quiet, and pretty quick, but it didn’t mean any less just because we chose to get married at a registry office. We got to choose our vowels, and could personalise the ceremony any way we wanted to. We were married by a lovely female celebrant in the presence of our best friends. It was so nice to just be focused on Aaron and him on me without the eyes of guests watching your every move.

After the official ceremony had ended, we made our way to a beautiful estate called Montsalvat in Eltham to have our wedding photos done and a celebratory lunch. I came across the estate years ago and just fell in love with the old buildings and gardens, it really made the most perfect spot to capture our love and happiness.

The Dress

I had no real idea of the kind of dress I wanted, I just wanted something that suited me and my personality. I have a very talented friend who is a dress maker that I have worked with for many years during my pageantry days. I knew she would be the best person to help me with my dress as she knew my style and personality, and my oh my did she deliver. I love that my dress and vale were hand made and so unique, and more so that my friend Arlene was the one who made the magic happen.

The Ring

Aaron and I went shopping for my ring at the usual jewellery chain stores in the shopping centres. After looking and trying on hundreds of rings, I just couldn’t find anything I liked. Everything just looked the same, and I didn’t want something that everyone else had.

One weekend we went antique store hopping which we both just love doing, and I found myself in the jewellery section of the packing house in Tyabb. This beautiful aquamarine stone caught my eye, and I asked to try it on. I instantly fell in love with this ring and it fit my ring finger perfectly! The counter keeper said that the ring only came in that morning, it felt like fate had aligned me with this ring, and I just knew it was the one, and so it came home with us. I never looked at it or wore it until Aaron placed it on my finger the day we said “I do”.

The Photographer

Our photographer was a good friend of mine who I actually went to high school with. Paige has a way with the camera, and her work is exceptional. Aaron and I knew that she was the perfect person to capture our day and that we would feel completely comfortable around her.

The Honeymoon

Our honeymoon destination was Port Douglas in Tropical North Queensland. We stayed in a hotel in Melbourne on our wedding night, then flew out to Cairns first thing the next morning. We had the best 7 days up there, eating out everyday, relaxing on the beach, and exploring around the area. We had our first holiday together in Port Douglas as girlfriend and boyfriend about 7 years ago, so it was nice to go back and relive it all. Port Douglas will always hold a special place in our hearts.

And that’s our Wedding and honeymoon in a nutshell. We loved our wedding and would do it the same way if we had to do it again. It worked for us, it was quiet, and simple but full of love and it was one of the best moments of our lives.

X Jes

The finer details

Hair and make-up: I did myself.

Flowers: Peninsula Wild Flower. http://www.peninsulawildflower.com.au

Photographer: Paige Lee Photography. http://www.paigeleephotography.com.au

Venue: Montsalvat. http://www.montsalvat.com.au

Ring store: Tyabb Packing House. http://www.tyabbpackinghouseantiques.com.au

Dress: Arlene D’Monte Designs. (No longer dress making)

Calm birth, Calm baby.

My Lara is now 2 months old, and there’s one thing I’ve particularly become aware of in the last few weeks…  that she is a very calm and content baby.

We shouldn’t compare our children to others, but I not only have noticed her calming attitude, but many others have too! As I reminisce back to the birth, and all my intentions and self care while pregnant, it really makes sense as to why I have such a placid baby now.

From the moment Lara was born and placed onto my chest, she was quiet and calm, she didn’t even cry! The next 5 days we spent in hospital all I ever heard in the maternity ward was the constant screaming of babies, day and night; but not my Lara. The midwives frequently commented on how content Lara was, and only made a peep when she was hungry.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been to maternal health and pediatric appointments, mothers group, and community programs where we’ve been among other babies around Lara’s age. While they were quick to cry and become unsettled quickly, my Lara just lay there quietly with comments from other parents saying ‘Why can’t you be more like Lara’ to their own children.

While it’s only been 8 weeks since Lara was born, it has been very interesting watching her delicate personality come to life. She has been a very calm baby so far, apart from being a little unsettled from her 6 week immunizations and her developmental leaps. So far so good!

I’ve seen many parents struggle with restless babies/children who seem to constantly cry and be unsettled, and while I’m no expert or doctor, I truly believe that being calm during pregnancy and labour results in a calm and content baby. Let me explain more.

Right from conception, you and your baby are forming a relationship. Your baby is literally apart of you, he/she inhibits your hormones, calories and even picks up on your emotions in that they feel what you feel. After birth this continues, your baby absorbs your moods and nuances, no matter how subtle.

Scientific evidence shows that awake or asleep, babies are constantly tuned into their mothers every action, thought and feeling. From the moment of conception, the experiences in the womb shape the brain and lay the groundwork for personality, emotional temperament and the power of higher thought.

When you are calm, relaxed and content, it is most beneficial to your child whether they are in the uterus or earthside. Research has shown that the more a mother experiences stress during her pregnancy, and the more difficult the birth, the more a baby will cry and be irritable.

Marion Badenoch Rose from Aware Parenting tells us that babies cry for two main reasons. The first to indicate an immediate need – such as a need for closeness, food, a pain or to be made more comfortable (such as a nappy change, to be warmer/cooler or change position). The second reason for crying is the same as in adults – to express feelings and to heal from stress or trauma.

A baby whose mother is very calm during pregnancy, has an easy birth, who is held most of the time, is protected from over stimulation, and whose parents feel generally happy and loving will experience less stress. In comparison, a baby who has a mother who is stressed or scared whilst pregnant, has a difficult or traumatic birth experience, who is kept separate from mum or who frequently experiences stressful events such as loud noises, parents shouting, or busy shopping areas and lots of people, is likely to have more stress to heal from, and is likely to try and cry for long periods every day.

It is also interesting for you to know that babies/children can pick up on their mothers moodswings and hormone changes during PMS. You may find your little one becomes more crankier and more restless, with their sleep even being disrupted around the time you are due for your period. This is how intune your baby is with their mama.

During my pregnancy I studied hypnobirthing as I needed to eliminate my fears of childbirth. During my studies I not only learnt valuable knowledge to prepare myself to birth calmly, but also the necessary tools and resources to continue these mindful practices for beyond birth.

While pregnant one of the first things I did to eliminate stress was putting a pause on some friendships that were highly needy and draining.  I bravely sent txt messages explaining I just needed some time for myself and that I was trying to stay in a positive mindset. Your real friends will understand, and for those who don’t, well then you’re better off without them I say.

Other things I did to stay positive and calm throughout my pregnancy was weekly yoga classes, daily meditation, walks in nature, and just being really mindful of the things I was doing. Not rushing around, and just taking my time in organising things for the baby. The instinct to launch into activities and get things prepared for baby as quickly as possible may feel natural, but it is not usually the best way to operate. Thinking about what you want to do first, planning it and being methodical; that’s the mindful approach. It also makes the ‘doing’ more enjoyable, because you’re working to a plan and are aware of your progress rather than mindlessly rushing to complete a task.

I had such a positive birth experience, which was a result of my commitment to my hypnobirth studies and preparation. I birthed Lara naturally in a quiet and calm environment with dim lighting and the smell of my lavender essential oils. I remained quiet and generally calm throughout labour and was able to do so without any medication/drugs or intervention.

Whenever I feel myself getting stressed or if my mind is wondering while I’m trying to sleep, I use the tools and resources I learnt from my hypnobirthing course to help bring me into a relaxed state. A simple thing to do for when I can’t sleep or am nervous is I just do some big deep belly breaths, counting in for 4 and out for 6. Another way to relax is to scan over your body and ensure every muscle is soft and relaxed, even the muscles around your eyes. Make sure your jaw is relaxed so that your teeth part slightly. It is interesting for you to know that certain muscle groups talk to other muscle groups, so by working your way from the top of your head to the tip of your toes you’ll instantly feel calm and relaxed.

If calm birth/hypnobirthing speaks to your heart, I encourage you to keep learning about it. You have nothing to loose and so much to gain.

If it doesn’t, that’s ok! You do what is the most authentic way for you as a parent. Most of all enjoy your baby and all the gifts he or she brings to you!

X Jes

The first four weeks.

Throughout my pregnancy I was solely focused on preparing myself for the labour and birth that I never even gave a single thought to what life would be like after Lara was born. I’m still not sure if that was a good thing or not?!

I was quite fearful of labour and birth at the beginning of my pregnancy, and that fear came from hearing other peoples horror birth stories. After talking to my obstetrician about my fears, she suggested I look into hypnobirthing. I enrolled into a calmbirth workshop & practiced hypnobirthing techniques during the last half of my pregnancy, which meant listening to guided meditations 2-3 times a day, reading and studying daily and casting my thoughts and intentions in creating my ideal and perfect birth scenario. Because I was so focused and determined on having a calm birth, I put all my focus on that alone. My thoughts never wondered to what would happen after the birth or what life would be like with a baby in it.

As I write my personal experiences here, keep in mind that everyone is different. What I experienced might be completely different to what someone else has or will experience…

I’ve noted some of my ‘WTF’ moments I experienced below after my calm, drug-free and natural birth…(Yes, my practice paid off)

Get used to seeing blood…ALOT of blood! 

After laying on the bed in the birthing suite for 2 hours after I gave birth, with Lara resting skin to skin and calmly on my chest, it was time for me to get up and have a shower so we could move into our room in the maternity ward. Now I naturally knew that there would be bleeding afterwards, but good lord the bathroom floor looked like a murder scene! Blood was just running out of me like a leaking tap, even trying to dry myself with a towel and get dressed after my shower was a challenge. Try putting your clean undies on while blood is running down your legs… it’s impossible! And gross! Good news it does taper off after about 2-3 days and then it’s more like having your period for the next 4 weeks, which means wearing pads for 4 weeks! Ugh! My obstetrician said that I didn’t even bleed that much compared to others, and I thought I bled a lot! I believe taking raspberry leaf capsules in the last trimester of pregnancy helped with this as it helps to tone and strengthen the uterus.

As I had a natural birth with no tearing or intervention, I consider myself pretty lucky with the healing process. It was tender down there for a good week after, but nothing too bad that I didn’t need panadol or ice packs. Sure I couldn’t walk very far or sit on hard surfaces for the week after, otherwise I felt pretty normal. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if you had stitches down there! I put my eating 6 dates a day and soaking in the bath for 6 hours during labour down to my easy delivery.

Feeling like jelly.

During the last few weeks of pregnancy I felt so tight everywhere, like my skin had been stretched to it’s limits. It’s crazy how right after birth your skin sags and goes soft. My belly went down very quickly, but my entire body felt so soft and jiggly. I actually hated the feeling of touching my skin, especially washing myself in the shower and putting moisturizer on. Everything just felt loose and like I had no muscles in my body. I felt like this for about 2 weeks after birth, then I slowly started feeling myself again as my body started to tone up. I felt better when I wore fitted clothes like leggings, a crop top and fitted singlets. It just made me feel like everything was held together.

I put on a total of 18 kilos during my pregnancy, and I lost 10 kilos during the first 2 weeks without doing anything but sitting in bed. I don’t feel ‘fat’, in fact I feel pretty good, I think the fact I can fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans helps my confidence. I know it will take some time before I feel like my old self again, and I’m not going to push myself too hard for it to happen too quickly either.

Boobs as hard as rocks.

My breast feeding journey was over before it really begun as Lara was having difficulty latching and I wasn’t supplying enough ‘food’ for her. We decided to stick with formula feeding on day 4, which was also the day my milk came in… WOW! After a day of not expressing, my boobs got so big and so hard, they hurt to even lift my arms above my head. They were so engorged and constantly leaked. I had to wear ice packs and a compression band around my chest for days to help with the swelling. It took a good week for them to go down, but I was still leaking milk just a few days ago. It’s a gross feeling! If I didn’t wear breast pads I would soak through a bra and t-shirt within an hour! Crazy!

Crying… and it’s not the baby.

Whether it was the influx of hormones going crazy or the lack of sleep, the first two weeks I found myself crying a lot. If Lara was crying from a belly ache or being hungry, I found myself in tears too! Sometimes I felt so helpless to her if I couldn’t settle her, or I’d feel so anxious and scared that I’d just start crying. Because both hubby and I were struggling with lack of sleep we would get grumpy at each other which would also lead me to tears. Some people call this the baby-blues, but I think it’s just trying to adjust to life with a baby. Everything is new and different and it really takes time to adjust.

I was fortunate enough to have Lara in a private hospital which meant we stayed in their care for 5 nights. I loved this because it meant I got 5 days of learning from the midwives, which is a wealth of knowledge for a first time mama such as myself. The first few days at home I found pretty overwhelming and scary as it meant no buzzer to call a midwife when I needed help or advice. This probably contributed to the tears I cried.

Say good-bye to sleep.

If you’re like me and is someone who doesn’t function very well without a full 8 hours sleep then let me tell you sister, prepare to drink multiple cups of coffee and have a constant headache! I thought having broken sleep during the last trimester of pregnancy was supposed to prepare you for life when baby arrives… Ha! Lara is a pretty good baby and feeds every 3-5 hours, but it takes at least 1-2 hours to change her nappy, feed her, burp her and then soothe her back to sleep. Then there’s the challenge of moving her from your arms to her bassinet without waking her up… I honestly am finding it really hard to adjust to having 3-5 hours sleep a night. Since being home from the hospital I’ve showered and got out of bed before lunch time about 3 times. Everyone says to nap during the day when bub has her naps, but I find it really hard. I’d rather do some housework and have some quiet time with a cuppa. I can’t sleep knowing there’s washing to do or floors to clean. They say newborn babies get better with their sleep patterns around 6-8 weeks, so I am hoping by then we all will be able to have better sleep and wake up a bit fresher!

Feeling anxious ALL THE TIME.

I usually wouldn’t call myself an anxious person, I am generally quite chilled out and go with the flow, but Lara has changed me! I constantly worry if she’s ok! It makes me sick to my stomach sometimes. Is she breathing? Is she too hot? Too cold? Why is her eye sticky? What’s that red mark on her skin? Why isn’t she drinking all her milk? I question everything. I’ve especially been so paranoid and nervous that she’s going to get sick. She’s had a little cough the last couple weeks and it terrifies me that it’s going to develop into a cold or even worse, whooping cough! It also doesn’t help that people who have come to visit us have been sick despite my best efforts of warning them to stay away if they’re unwell. You suddenly forget about looking after yourself, and your main focus is on your baby and that they are 100% healthy and well. I am looking forward to Lara’s 6 week immunizations, just for piece of mind that she will be protected from some illnesses at least, and then maybe I can stop worrying so much.

The little things.

Like using the car seat and pram for the first time. Sure you can try practice setting up and using these before bub is here, but the real challenge is doing it with a real life baby! It still takes me ten minutes and a lot of head scratching to work out how to strap Lara in and out of her car seat!

Because Lara is on formula, she gets quite bad tummy aches and constipation. If we change her nappy and there’s a poo in there it’s basically like Christmas! I never thought I’d be so excited to see a poo!

Living in a bubble. I’ve only left the house a handful of times since bringing Lara home from hospital and that’s really to run to the supermarket or chemist. We managed to have a nice walk on the beach the other day while the sun was out which was pure bliss for my soul. The weather has been so cold I just don’t want to take her out, and then I don’t want her to get ill, or risk people touching her who are sick. The days seem to just blur together, and I don’t even think about what day of the week it is anymore. I was also hopeless at replying to messages before I had Lara, and now I really just can’t give a hoot about checking my phone. So now you know why I haven’t responded to your messages.

I’ve also stopped caring so much about people’s problems. My main focus now is my baby and my little family. It might sound selfish, but having a baby really puts life into perspective and what is important. I am a 30 year old wife and mother now, and life is very different to what it used to be, and I find myself straying away from certain people and things that don’t align with my thoughts and life now.

While pretty much everything I’ve written here sounds negative, I don’t mean to scare any mamas to be or sound like a sad sack! These past 4 weeks have been a major learning experience, and while I try to look at everything in a positive way, there a days that really test you. Having a baby isn’t easy, and it takes some time to adjust. But the love you feel for your baby and partner/husband has no comparison. I feel so grateful and blessed to be where I am in life with what I’ve got and I look forward to learning and experiencing life with Lara as the days go on. I miss her when she’s sleeping, and even though I feel so tired and my eyeballs are hanging out of my head, I get so excited to hold her in my arms and stare at her beautiful face. These past 4 weeks have been a whirlwind, but it’s been the best learning experience ever!

X Jes

Yes, I formula feed my baby!

If you’d like to criticize me for feeding my baby formula, take a ticket and get inline.

There’s currently a campaign making the rounds on social media in regards to normalizing breast feeding in public and how important feeding your baby breast milk is. You will find mamas posting pictures of themselves breastfeeding their child, followed by a lengthy post about how incredible their body is for producing ‘liquid gold’ or ‘nature’s food’ for their baby and how important it is for babies to be fed breast milk.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that ‘breast is best’ for babies, and I had planned on feeding my baby this way, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out the way we plan.

I gave birth to my baby 9 days ago and I’m currently feeding her with formula. Lara is formula fed not because I randomly chose to do this, but because I was having difficulty to feed her from the breast. Do you know how disheartening it is to not be able to produce enough breast milk to feed your child? It is so deflating to not be able to do something your body is naturally supposed to do, especially when your child is screaming with hunger and frustration.

While in hospital we tried so hard to breastfeed. I had the midwives hand expressing me every couple of hours which hurt, and then every time Lara was due to feed I had a midwife trying to get Lara to latch on properly. It resulted in tears for both of us. Lara just wasn’t ‘getting it’ and because she wasn’t suckling properly she ended up damaging both of my nipples to the point they were bleeding. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience for both of us, but everyone kept saying to push through the pain and keep going as we would eventually get there. That’s easy to say, but when you’re doing it, it’s extremely hard!

After 4 days of gritting my teeth through the pain and a broken heart of struggling to feed my baby, we found that Lara wasn’t putting on much weight as she wasn’t getting enough ‘food’. The doctor suggested we needed to ‘top her up’ with formula to help her put on the weight she needed, to which we agreed on.

The day before we were due to go home I told my husband how anxious and nervous I was to go home and tackle this breast feeding journey on my own without the assistance of the midwives. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to express enough and that Lara would again struggle to latch. It wasn’t until one of the night nurses came in to my room and asked if we were formula feeding or breast feeding, and at that moment I told her of my difficulties and that I felt I couldn’t continue with the breastfeeding any longer. This particular nurse was so understanding and supportive and helped us transition to formula. The next feed I fed Lara with a bottle of formula milk and she drank it so easily and comfortably. She slept well because her tummy was nice and full and after a day she had put on 35 grams. And I didn’t have to go through the agony of expressing and the tears of frustration.

So while everyone is campaigning to normalize breastfeeding, I’m here to say let’s normalize formula feeding too! There seems to be so much criticism surrounding formula feeding and it’s really not fair! While breast feeding mothers may get criticized for feeding in public or to ‘cover up’, Formula feeding mothers get criticized for not giving their baby the nutrition it needs or in my experience so far am asked why I’m not breast feeding!

People are just so nosey and really don’t think before they open their mouth. In my opinion, a healthy baby is a fed baby, whether it’s breast milk or formula, and no one should criticize or judge a mother for how she is feeding her baby.

x Jes