The Burn Out

Mum life, work life, wife life, and well all my life has got me feeling busy of late, and if I am honest at times quite drained. That is exactly what has prompted today’s blog post.

If you have been following along for a while, you’ll know that I am quite a deep thinker, and lately I have been thinking about all of the pressures that the modern-day mother feels. Mothers are under for more pressure than I ever realised… until I was one.

I used to dream of the day when I would have children and be able to go for lunch dates with my friends, read books for hours, cruise into the gym whenever I pleased, cuddle on the couch, and Disney movies in the middle of the day. The reality is that even when I am seemingly doing these things they look and feel far from what I had imagined. What I am actually doing is scoffing down my food, folding washing while the movie is on, and grabbing any chance that my children are occupied to get on top of work or chores. It feels like currently Mothers are expected, and expect of themselves, to be more than they ever have been before. A cook, a cleaner, a taxi driver, up hold a full-time job, keep on top of all the bills, walk the dog, and the list goes on and on. It is as though we have evolved to a point where we can be and do it all, but we are still figuring out exactly how we can achieve it. How do we be all that we want to be whilst still maintaining our balance and our sanity? 

Don’t get me wrong, in the beginning I was all about the gooos and the gahhs. The first sits, steps and swims. But then the children changed and so did I! They were less about the mamas and dadas and more about the nos. I couldn’t just pop the sleepy newborn in the pram and go get my shopping done. I found that I was losing my patience, getting cranky and feeling tired. Always rushing them because I had too much on my plate. Not taking the time to explain things, to teach them to tie shoe laces or chew their food properly. I was tired of taking them from place to place, and it all just seemed too hard. The household chores were drowning me, and I felt more and more resentful every time I did them. I felt like a hamster on a wheel with my life just spinning around and around, without actually getting anywhere! What was the point of it all?

This is what I like to call ‘The Mum Burn Out.’ You know, that feeling where you are tired, you feel nothing, and you put simple you are just over it. Its ok, I can almost guarantee that it has happened or will happen to just about every Mother at some point in her parenting journey. Like I said before the expectation is simply too high. Being accountable for other people 24 hours a day 7 days a week is exhausting and overwhelming.

SO what can we do to avoid ‘The Mum Burnout’ or ease when it strikes?

1. Get enough sleep.
2. Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
3. Exercise.
4. Phone a friend or catch up with your girlfriends.
5. Stop over committing yourself.
6. Get help in whatever way you need.
7. Get out of the house.
8. Spend some time alone.
9. Do something you enjoy just because you want to.
10. Implement a daily routine.
11. Reset your morning and evening routines if they aren’t working for you. 

12. Get dressed up. So, most of all today I wanted to remind you to stop, that you don’t have to do everything, and you don’t have to be everyone. Break it down and get back to basics. Simplify your life. All of us have elements of our lives that have grown to be far more complicated then they need to be. Stop living the rat race. Being busy can be extremely addictive but it’s not worth it. Remember the beauty in simplicity and being present with your loved ones. Give them your time. Laugh, smile, watch those movies if you want to. Just enjoy your now and set aside those expectations.

Lots of love!

The night time routine that changed it all!

Whilst we were away on holiday, without the children, we had time to do a lot of things, including of course… talk about our children!  We spoke about how much we love them and how much we miss them.  What we also spoke about was how disappointed we were in our current night-time routine and the changes we could implement for the better.  From the day Ari and Chloe were born I had always prided in a stellar routine.  Yes, I was a routine mum, and I honoured that routine like my life depended on it.  As a result, I had babies and toddlers who slept well, fed well, and I generally knew what we were going to do at each moment of each day.  You guess it, spontaneity is not my strong point!  Though in recent months I had let our routine slip… And now I was paying the price. Poor is at the dinner table, late nights and battling with getting children to bed.  All because I had been too busy to stay on top of the routine that we had previously put in place.  Having time away from the children made me realise how much I appreciated my routine of the past, and the way that it had fit seamlessly into our lives.  So, it was time to make a change… Since getting back from holiday and implementing our routine we have had such success with getting the children to sleep on time, and reclaiming moments as a couple and as a singular people in those night time hours. So, I wanted to share our bedtime routine with you in the hopes that it might help someone in the same situation that we were in.

Daytime – First of all a good night time routine begins with the day time.  Our children wake at about 6.30 to 7 am which means that Chloe’s naptime must happen from 12 until two, or at worst from one until three.  She still needs two hours sleep a day or she gets cranky in the afternoon.  So, for her nap she must be awake by 3 pm in order to go to bed nicely in the evening.  I organise to have lunch ready and her eating by 11 o’clock so she’s got time to enjoy the meal and digest her food before going to bed.

TV Time – We had found that our children had started to watch too much TV, they were asking for it all of the time especially in the evening and this was dragging out at bedtime.  We decided that we would no longer have the TV on during our mornings or days, and it could only be watched at night time for 20 minutes.  For us this is more than enough TV and has created a happy balance where the children look forward to watching a TV show of an evening.  This is except for Ari watching a Disney movie once a week when Chloe is asleep and he’s home.

Night time – 5.30pm – At this time we all sit down to have dinner together. Prior to implementing the routine, we were having the children eat their meals in front of their TV on their own table, whilst I walked around the house doing chores.  As much as I valued this time for getting things done it just wasn’t working.  They were spilling food, things were going all over the floor, they were very distracted and not eating properly, and I often look over and they would be jumping on the couch!  It wasn’t until I started implementing eating dinner at the table as a family that I realise how important it is. Now we have conversations, we talk about our day, the good and the bad parts of it.  They eat their food, they use their manners. They must ask to leave the table when they’re finished and then go straight to wash their hands.  We also get them to be involved in setting the table for dinner.

6pm – At this time they chose a TV show to watch together while I tidy up the table. 

6.30pm – We start bath or shower time, which is quick as we don’t want to waste water and they would drag it out if they could.

6.35pm – We dress them, and they get to choose a book each to read for the evening.  We have a huge library of books to pick from, and I try to mix it up, but there are favourites.

6.45pm – At this time we get them to go to the toilet and we brush their teeth and comb their hair.  Then we start to wind down with either a massage or a back tickle.  We make sure that we aren’t in the room when either of them falls asleep as we want to have them independently falling asleep completely by themselves.  Otherwise we find this creates a bad habit, and they continue to want us into their room as they drift off.  My favourite part of the night time routine is when I jump into Chloe’s cot to give her kisses and cuddles and we talk about our day.

7pm – By this time both children should be asleep.  Of course, sometimes this does drag out, but I find it as long as we stay on top of it then we don’t have any issues.  Now we get to enjoy our evening together, perhaps do a little bit of work or do something for ourselves.

I find the most important thing with a night timer routine is to stay consistent.  Do the same thing every night and don’t stray from it.  Especially with Chloe, if you give her an inch, she will take a mile, so to speak.  So, we have them sleep with the same teddies every night, sing the same songs etc.  Of course, we do all sorts of new things in the day, but at night we keep it simple. 

I hope that this blog post has helped you in some way if you are struggling with your own routine. If you have any questions, please reach out to me on Instagram.

Enjoy!

Small-Signature-Nat

GET READY FOR SCHOOL AUSTRALIA

When it comes to decision making as a parent, I have found one area harder then any other….  How do I educate my child?  This questions goes over and over in my head in various forms, it is constant.  I feel the weight of their lives on my shoulders, as I ponder the decisions that I will have to make for THEIR futures.  Imagine that, the gravity of it.  Questions like, should I put them in day care?  Shouldn’t I?  Which school?  Public or private?  What do I need to do to get them ready for school?  Will they cope emotionally?  Have I prepared them enough?  More recently I have been thinking about Ari starting school as 2020 is creeping up on us. Whilst giving my babies an early life full of love, laughter and play it has become very clear that it is also important to me that I prepare them for when they are received by another educator, their school teacher.  I know for certain that I will cry because that is the weight and concern that parents hold.  I also know for certain that I will have the confidence knowing that I have done everything I can to make sure that Ari feels prepared and ready for school.

Get Ready For School Australia is an incredible resource kit perfect for parents, like me, who want to give their children a foot in the door when heading into formal education   It was designed and worded for Australian families and is perfect for ages 3-5 years old.  (Though Chloe even joins in on some of the activities at age one!)  It isn’t a ‘heavy’ material at all, but rather promotes engagement, play, family time and learning activities in a very natural way.  The thing that I like best about the GRFSA pack is that it takes the guesswork out of school-readiness.  Before we received ours, I found that I didn’t know where to start or what to do with teaching Ari school based learning at home.  I’m not a teacher so it wasn’t natural for me to know how to teach things like spelling his own name, or recognising the way that sentences are formed.  I used to be totally freaked out about how I was going to teach him all of these things and prepare him for school so that he could walk in confidently.   The program in this pack is aligned with the Australian Curriculum, even down to the Australian School Fonts that are used.  As it has been written by Australia families I find it extremely easy to use and honestly enjoy it.  I feel proud of him for learning, and proud of myself for teaching him.  Best of all it gives us both direction.  Ari loves his Get Ready For School Australia Kit, and I found that literally the day we started using it he was more observant in his everyday life.  Noticing letters on street signs, the way that I would say things to him, and of course he’s now asking even more questions!

The pack contains everything needed to prepare –
Here it is!
– Parent activity guide book: How To Get Your Child Ready For English
– Parent activity guide book: How To Get Your Child Ready For Maths
– Parent activity guide book: How To Get Your Child Ready For Science
– Forming Numerals workbook (for children)  in your State’s writing font
– Exploring Letters and Sounds workbook (for children) in your State’s writing font
– Early Learning Sticker Chart
– Personalised name writing set (first name only) in your State’s writing font
– 90 stickers to use with your Early Learning Chart
– 1 Micador Early Start Markers

You can find more information regarding Get Ready For School Australia on their website and through Instagram.

Don’t forget to use my discount code SWEETIFE for $20 off the complete kit and free shipping!

Lastly I would like to  note that this is in no way a paid collaboration.  I was kindly gifted our kit to try and I have found it to be beneficial that I wanted to recommend it to you!

THE FINAL FEED FEATURING BUBS AUSTRALIA

Our Story
Last week we did something that I had long been procrastinating about.  I had said I would and then I wouldn’t for over 10 months.  I didn’t know if she could handle it.  If I could handle it.  Then I saw a window, a portal, and I knew that it was time to wean my baby girl from breastmilk at almost 22 months old.  Just writing this makes me want to cry.  I had thought about this moment and built it up so much in my head.  Chloe was completely fine, I however was not.

Since I had become pregnant with my two babies so close (19 months apart) I had been pregnant or breastfeeding for a total of 4 years, 1 month and 5 days.  That’s 1497 days of giving my body to my children and the thought of weaning broke me.

I never had a goal when it came to breastfeeding.  I had even purchased a tin of baby formulae when I was pregnant with Ari ‘just in case I couldn’t feed.’  Not once did I put pressure or expectation on myself with a deadline.  It turned out that I loved breastfeeding and ended up feeding not only my babies but safely donated milk to other little ones who needed it too.

The week before I decided to wean Coco I was on a photoshoot with my friends Sam from Laine Tribes.  I casually said to her “I think I’m going to wean Chloe next week so let’s take a few pictures of her feeding just in case.”  Then the following week she woke up one morning and I decided that I might wean her.  So, I took her into bed with me, put my phone down and enjoyed a morning cuddle and a feed.  I didn’t make a big deal out of it in my head just let myself think that ok maybe this will be the last time.  Then the following day instead of bringing her into bed with me we headed straight downstairs and made up her bottle.  She wasn’t fazed at all.  I wasn’t fazed at that point either because I had told myself that if I wanted to feed her again later I could.  NO PRESSURE AT ALL.  Then the days rolled on from there and I realised that I was really doing this.  She never asked for it, she’d been used to taking a bottle for a long time, so this really was her time.  For me it was soooo emotional.  I cried more than once, in fact I am crying now.  Some people reading this might think ‘well why didn’t you just keep feeding then?”  the answer is because it doesn’t matter when I weaned her I was still going to feel this way.  I had given myself months of grace period and kept feeding even though I knew that she was ready.  Don’t get me wrong so many times I nearly fed her to satisfy myself, but I needed to take this opportunity where I could see that she was happy and run with that.  Isn’t motherhood a funny thing!  Now that it’s over I am glad that it’s done.  Yay I managed to wean her from me, (or should I say me from her!)  And you know what, the love there hasn’t changed one bit!  I still get my gorgeous morning cuddle in bed while she guzzles her bottle and plays with my hair.  It’s my bliss.

How we weaned
I had introduced a bottle of expressed milk at a young age and loved the flexibility of knowing that my littles were comfortable with boob and my milk through bottle.  This made my weaning transition with both very easy.  At 12 months I decided to wean Ari and at 13 months (when I was 5 months pregnant with Chloe,) he had his last feed.  Funnily enough I don’t even remember it, I think the fact that I knew I would be feeding again comforted me.  Also, the fact that he loved his bottle… I mean literally two weeks later I put my boob in his face to see if he was interested and he looked at it like he’d never seen it in his life!  I like to take my time with weaning by slowly dropping each feed and trading it for a bottle.  My babies have always had three milk feeds per day by 12 months old – when they wake in the morning, after lunch nap and before bed.  The before bed feed had been an expressed bottle from quite a young age so this was easy to switch out by mixing my breastmilk with the milk alternative of my choice.  I gradually increased the amount of the alternative until it was 100%.  The next feed I switched was the after-lunch nap.  Finally, the morning feed was always last, where we switched out breastmilk for a bottle and big cuddles in bed.  I would generally give at least 2 weeks between dropping each feed.  By doing this slowly I also allowed my breasts to settle gradually and never had any issues with feeling too full.   With Chloe I started this whole process a bit later.

What we recommend 
When weaning a baby one of the first things on a Mother’s mind is what product to wean onto.  Knowing that you are giving your baby the best possible is ALWAYS a Mother’s number one priority and doing so make the weaning journey so much easier.  There is an overwhelming amount available on the market that it can be nerve wrecking, so I wanted to share what has been tried and tested with my family.  What we recommend.

I have been a long-time user and supporter of Bubs Australia.  Their range spans from newborn to toddler (age 3) and not only do they produce baby formulae but food products as well.  The Bub’s Goat Milk is an exceptional product that I highly recommend and have used for both of my children.  We have even travelled overseas with our Bubs products in tow and you can read all about how easy it was here.

10 reasons why I love Bubs Australia for my babies:
1. Australian made.
2. No numbers. No nasties.
3. Premium nutrition – it’s full essential fatty acids, vitamins, prebiotics and other beneficial nutrients.
4. Accredited by the best.
5. Naturally easy to digest for happier tummies
6. Great for little ones who suffer from cow milk protein intolerances or sensitivity, with issues like poor digestion, congestion and skin sensitivity.
7. Organic.
8. Is gentle on tummies.
9. Easy to use.
10. Great to travel with.

Bubs Australia products can be purchased from Coles, Chemist Warehouse, Woolworths and online here.  For more information on the Bubs Australia range visit their website or Instagram.

FOR 20% OFF OF BUBS AUSTRALIA TODDLER GOAT MILK AND BUBS BABY FOOD PRODUCTS, PLEASE USE THE CODE NATALIE20 AT CHECK OUT WHEN PURCHASING DIRECT THROUGH THEIR SITE.

Now the question remains… will I ever feed again!?

Details of Breastfeeding shoot:
Photographer – Laine Tribes
Make Up – Jenna Turner Make Up Artistry
My swimwear – Jets 
My lace gown – Breastfeeding wear Australia
Chloe’s Swimwear – Willow Swim

Small-Signature-Nat

As always please remember that I am not a midwife, lactation consult, doctor or any other medical expert.  I am just a Mother expressing her journey and opinions.  

#BUBSPARTNER

Chloe’s Birth Story

I’ve been writing my darling girls birth story and have been feeling so positive about it that I decided I want to share it for anyone interested in reading. After having complications with Pre Eclampsia and Hellp Syndrome in my first pregnancy, going through a labour with a lot of intervention and an almost 3 litre blood loss, I swore I would never have children again… (and I’ve always counted myself as one of the lucky ones as many I have met on this journey have lost babies, their health or their lives to Hellp.) However I made the decision to not let fear get in the way of my wanting for a bigger family and the love I could give to another child.

This pregnancy came with anxiety but even more faith…

The day before Chloe was born I had a sense of knowing that tomorrow would be ‘labour day.’ I spent it ticking off my ‘to do’ list, while Ari was at his Nana’s house, and in the afternoon went for a quiet walk on the beach. During my walk I listened to my birth playlist which I had created a few weeks prior, I enjoyed watching the waves as they would build in the ocean, crash into the sand then head back out to sea. I thought about how the movement of the waves was so similar to labour surges… how they build, peak and then ebb away. A small seashell caught my eye so I picked it up and decided I would take it into labour, to help me visualise my relaxing walk along the beach.

That evening I started to feel more frequent braxton hicks. I was able to go to bed early and have a good sleep before waking at 3.30am to slightly stronger and more regular contractions. I went to the bathroom to discover a small amount of blood which appeared to be another sign that I was going into labour. I lay in bed timing and feeling the motions of the surges until my Ryan’s alarm went off at 5.00am. I told him that I thought I was going to labour, but that he should still go to his normal gym session as I was sure it would be awhile off. After he left I again went to the bathroom to find a larger amount of bright red blood. This time the colour of the blood concerned me so I called our wonderful midwife Deyna, (who had also delivered Ari,) and it was decided that we would meet at the hospital so that she could check me out. Surprisingly at no point did I feel stressed or overly worried, I was happy to wait for Ryan to arrive home and for my parents to make the half hour journey to look after Ari.

As the surges got stronger I decided to pop my ear phones in and listen to my Calm
Birth tape supplied to me by my instructor Karen (the same lady who took the Calm Birth course we attended whilst I was pregnant with Ari.) Once Ryan got home he arranged the last few items which needed to go into our hospital bag. It was helpful that I had put a note on the pantry door with anything that we needed to do/pack so he didn’t need to ask me anything and I could continue in my labour zone. Once my parents arrived I had one last dance in the living room with Ari (to my birth tape) like we did every morning. I felt quite emotional saying goodbye to him knowing this could be the last time I cuddled him as my only child.

During the half hour drive to the hospital I felt four strong surges which were quite intense as I was sat in the car. It gave me flash backs to Ari’s labor where I was pretty much stuck to the bed because of all the tubes I was attached to (stupid Pre Eclampsia and Hellp Syndrome!) Still, I felt great and we even stopped and got Callipo ice lollies on the way there.

When we arrived at the hospital we were greeted by our midwife. We did a few tests including my blood pressure and urine. We had been doing these weekly to make sure I wasn’t developing PE or Hellp like in my last pregnancy. The results showed that my blood pressure was high and the urine sample indicted that there was protein present, this made me a little nervous. While we waited for a decision on what course of action to take we decided to watch a funny movie ‘What to expect when you’re expecting!’

A doctor then came to see us. She said that due to the high BP and protein in my urine I could be trending towards Pre Eclampsia again, so some blood was taken to confirm what was happening, and they decided to do a few more tests including an internal which showed that I was already 4cm dialated and that the bleeds I was having were due to a placental abruption. It was decided that the best course of action would be for my waters to be broken to help encourage the labour to progress a little quicker. I was given four hours to develop into good active labour before we would try some Syntocinon (proper induction like what I had to have with Ari). It was so important to me that during this labour I didn’t have any drugs for pain relief or for complications. I required a lot of help with Ari’s birth to keep my body from getting sicker, and I really didn’t want the same thing to happen again, so I set my mind on getting this baby earth side as soon as possible… it felt like a race against the clock but in a good way.

Our midwife went ahead and broke my waters which didn’t hurt at all. When she did this we realised that there was meconium in the waters, which meant that the baby had poo’d inside of me. This can be serious for the baby so another good reason to get it out quickly.
We got my birthing kit out and Ryan started to pin birth affirmations onto the hospital walls, he also stuck up a picture of the babies scan in the bathroom shower and scattered candles across both rooms. (I had also done all of the same preparation for Ari’s birth.) I put on a bracelet that some friends had bought me to wear in labour, and held tightly onto the seashell I had picked up from the beach the day before, and popped my earphones back in which then stayed firmly in place for the whole labour. I listened to music by some of my favourite artists like Flume, Florence and the Machine and Bob Marley. I had chosen each song for a reason mainly from special times in my life and music that took me to a beautiful place in my mind. The song that stuck with me the most was Florence and the Machine “You’ve got the love” and the words “Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air, but I know that I can count on you…” seem relevant and made me think of my husband. At one point I looked over at Ryan who was laughing at me, when I asked why he said, “You are literally dancing through your contractions.” I used to listen to the birth tracks when having breakfast with Ari and dance around the kitchen making him laugh too.

Right after my waters were broken the surges got more intense and more regular. I didn’t want to be on the bed at all, and instead found myself walking around the room. When a contraction would begin I stood still, let my whole body relax including my knees and let the pressure/pain wash over me. I found that I actually enjoyed the feeling of the contraction coming on, peak and then fade away… again like the waves I had watched in the ocean the day prior. I also tried a few different positions on the floor like kneeling with my body resting on the side of the bed. Then our midwife suggested the shower so I moved in there. I grabbed the fit ball and sat on it with one shower head on my back and the other on the front where I felt the contractions. It was so good to be covered in water which really is my happy place. At this point I entered what I believe to be transition (the most challenging part of the labour I think.) Because I had laboured before the feelings I felt seemed familiar, and I could recognise that it was a good thing, and that when I started to get frustrated and irritable it was ok. I just kept on staring at my babies scan and stayed in ‘the zone’ as much as I could. At one point things got quite funny when I was blocking the shower drain with the fit ball, and Ryan kept telling me I needed to move off of if or I would flood the room, but I kept refusing because I didn’t want to move!

After awhile I started to feel that I was getting closer to pushing (I also had in my head that if I kept telling myself that then it would start things off sooner.) Just before this stage I decided to swap from my music to my Calm Birth tape. I skipped to a part of the track where it talks about transition being challenging but short, I felt like I needed to hear that familiar voice that I had listened to so many times. I then started to make moaning sounds and heard our midwife say to Ryan that this was a good thing, and it showed that I was progressing. She also suggested that I start doing figure 8 motions with my pelvis. This felt uncomfortable, but made a huge difference in helping to open up my pelvis and move the baby into position.

Next I felt that same incredible sensation that I had felt with Ari, where my body involuntarily started pushing my baby out. I had no control over it at all, it just happened like it had done before and it felt amazing. At this point I still had my underwear on so Deyna asked me to take them off, I really didn’t want to move but after a couple of requests I managed to get my feet up enough to remove them just in time! I went to my knees and I felt one huge push of my body and Ryan said “The head is out!” I couldn’t believe it and was in shock that the head was there so quickly in just one push! It felt like such a strange feeling to go from nothing to the head being there (Ari’s pushing took 45 minutes) that I kept saying “get it out!” I had a few moments to get myself together and prepare for the next push. Then it came… that same involuntary sensation, and with a push from me and our midwife moving the baby into a better position, it was born and Ryan caught it in his arms. I was still facing the wall on my knees at this point with the umbilical cord between my legs and Ryan holding the baby in his arms behind me. We heard that beautiful cry of our baby and knew everything was ok. I was in complete shock that it had happened so quickly, that when Ryan told me to turn around and have a look I needed a minute to compose myself ready to catch eyes with our baby for the first time. Then as I turned around our midwife said to Ryan “have a look a what you got” and he replied “it’s a girl!” And it was at that exact moment that I saw her for the first time and it was love at first sight. She was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I felt quite shocked at this point on so many levels… that here was the girl that I had dreamt of her entire pregnancy, shocked that she birthed in just two pushes, and shocked that I had accomplished the completely drug free labour which I had spent months preparing for. I was desperate to hold her and my husband passed our baby girl into my arms and I just couldn’t believe how beautiful she was. We made our way to the bed with the cord still attached and lay there falling more and more in love with her. My body was shaking because of all of the adrenaline, which made me nervous but Deyna assured me it was completely normal. Our darling was alert and looking at us so intensely and after a while she fed for the first time. I was given the honour of cutting the cord which was incredible. We spent some time talking to each other and to our midwife about the labour while I birthed the placenta. Once that came out it was discovered that a blood clot had formed between it and the uterus wall, (where the placenta had pulled away) so it was the blood cot that had be shedding and coming through all morning in that bright red colour. We spent 6 hours getting to know our beautiful girl, taking photos and smothering her in kisses before going home to our own bed. Being able to take Chloe home that night was a dream come true, our families had a cuddle straight away and when Ari woke up in the morning he got to meet his little sister.
Chloe Marie was born one week early at 39 weeks weighing a very healthy 8.4 pounds. Active labour lasted just two hours and those very few pushes took just five minutes.

When I look back at both of my labours, even though Ari’s came with the challenges of Pre Eclampsia and Hellp, I have always thought of it as beautiful and looked back with a huge sense of pride for my body at what it could achieve and how sick it could get but also how quickly that it bounced back. I used a lot of the same tools like Calm Birth for his labour that I did with Chloe’s, and I think that is what made what could have been a ‘traumatic’ birth a beautiful one.

With Chloe’s labour I will never be able to properly explain the relief and gratitude I feel to have achieved a calm, natural birth and that I was able to go home so quickly. This was the birth that I had always dreamt of and worked so hard for over two pregnancies to prepare for. I have a new sense of pride in myself that I was able to overcome my fears of having another child, and work through any anxieties during the pregnancy to achieve this beautiful, calm, natural and drug free birth.I guess it’s true what they say that all good things come to those who wait.

Thank you to our midwife Deyna delivering both my babies, for easing any anxieties I had and who I have 100% trust in. The staff at our local hospital including Dr Weaver who bet me a Mars Bar that I wouldn’t get Pre E or Hellp again (yes I went back and gave him the Mars Bar.) And my husband Ryan who is the most incredibly supportive pregnancy and birth partner that I could ever imagine. These people are my dream team and I owe everything to them.

Small-Signature-Nat

Ari’s Birth Story

This is the birth story of my beautiful and sweet boy… the one who made me a Mother.  Ari’s is not the simplest of stories… but really when is Motherhood ever simple…

Firstly a couple of important things to note about Ari’s birth.  I as lucky enough to employ a private midwife to care for me in the lead up to birth, during and post.  I did this because I was always a little nervous about labour and I liked the idea of having continuity of care.  I also attended a Calm Birth course run by a lady called Karen from Fit For Birth in Noosa.  Here I gained vital tools which would help me to deliver Ari.  In the Calm Birth course Karen talked about how it prepared expectant Mothers and Fathers for all sorts of labours including the difficult ones… Well that’s exactly how Ari’s birth turned out to be….

I had been feeling unwell for a few days and had been using my Calm Birth tapes in the bath to relax.  I was up at all hours of the night feeling uncomfortable but having never been pregnant before I just thought that what I was feeling was all completely normal.  A few days later I decided that I should say something to my midwife Deyna, so Ryan drove me to her office for an appointment.  I was now 38 + 1 day.  During this appointment Deyna checked my blood pressure which was a little high, and she was concerned about the pain I had been feeling whilst breathing, so she decided it would be a good idea for me to head to the hospital to have them run a few more tests.  I still didn’t think it was to serious (maybe I was hopefully dreaming) as I wasn’t feeling to bad ‘just a bit off’ so I told my husband to head back to work whilst I waited for the results.

Welllllllll it turned out I had Pre Eclampsia and Hellp Syndrome (perhaps I have a high tolerance to pain… or maybe Pre Eclampsia is just sneaky!)  I was told that I would need to deliver Ari immediately.  Hearing this news I must admit I did get emotional and I started to cry.  I had heard of Pre Eclampsia before, and though I did not know just how serious it could get, I realised t could be a huge issue.  After I let my tears rolls down I remember my Calm Birth teachings,  and honestly took a breathe, and pulled myself together ready to deliver my baby however that might be.

At first the doctors thought that I would need to have a c section due to the urgency of the situation.  (Basically with Pre Eclampsia and Hellp the health of the Mother and baby are at risk until the Placenta and baby are delivered.)  Before making a decision the doctors did an internal examination where they fond me to be 3cm dilated (yep high pain tolerance right there.)  It was then decided that I would attempt a vaginal birth, but that I would be induced to speed things up.

I got hold of Ryan and told him to go grab the baby back rom home and get to hospital ASAP.  (We didn’t even have the bag with us because I thought I was just going to discuss a few aches and pains!)  I asked the doctors to  hold off on breaking my waters until Ryan would arrive, so in the meantime they moved me to the birth suite and got me prepped with cannulas and lots of other wonderful hospital type things.  Deyna and Ryan arrived and we were ready to start.  Once my waters were broken birth was well and truly on!

I was quite restricted during birth, due to being rigged up to Syntocinon, and was only able to move between the bed and a fit ball.  The doctors had also put a catheter in to help monitor my urine output and I was also on water restrictions to make sure that my kidneys were coping.  (One of the unfortunate side effects of Hellp is that your kidneys can fail.) I managed to get through most of the 4 hour labour drug free and using what little tools that I was able to.  If anyone has ever been inducted you will understand how intense it is (but of course all birth is intense.)  Oh and how god are heat packs and cold flannels!

Throughout the labour doctors were regularly monitoring me and doing obs to make sure that I wasn’t going to have a seizure.  At one point it did look that I might so it was decided that a Magnesium drop should be inserted to hopefully prevent the possibility a seizure happening.   A few times I signed for a C Section however we never got to that point.  Throughout all of this I just kept focusing on the baby and myself, and tried to block out as much of the ‘noise’ as I could.  I had packed a few birth tools in my baby bag including a picture of the 12 week scan, a baby rattle and my favourite stuffed animal Ryan had bought me years early… all of these thinks helped as distractions to ease the pain.  Music was also my haven.

As I headed toward transition I could really feel the pain in my back, and with no resources left to pull out of my bag of tricks I opted for the gas.  I know it doesn’t work for everyone but it certainly took the edge off for me!  Once we got to the pushing stage I can remember Ryan saying ‘Oh wow it is amazing how bits of his head come out then move straight back in!”  WORST THING TO SAY EVER!!!  The pain I felt when I birthed his head was interesting to say the least (hello ring of fire) and I can remember Deyna saying ” Oh sweetheart don’t cry” to our baby.  Wow he was almost here.

After 45mins of pushing Deyna and with one last huge push Ari James entered this world and was pulled straight up onto my chest.  He was happy, beautiful and he was healthy.  At this point I started to feel quite giddy and later Ryan told me it was as though I was drunk.  My Pilates had gotten so low from the Hellp Syndrome that my blood didn’t clot and I had lost almost 3 litres of it… I could feel it too.  I started to ask “Am I ok? Am I ok?”

I can’t remember much of the first few hours of Ari’s life.  I remember him being on my chest but I can’t remember all of the details of it.  Sometimes that used to make me feel bad, as I guess I felt as though I had let him down in those first few hours, but I know that everything was out of my control and that I honestly did the best.  I felt as though I fought really hard for my life, Ari’s safety and for a natural vaginal birth.

For the next few days I was bed ridden with Magnesium running through.  I was on seizure watch so had to have a nurse in the room with me 24/7.  Not the best way to spend your first few days as a new family but certainly not the worst.  I ended up having a blood transfusion and iron transfusion as well.  I remember being upset on our first night in hospital when Ari would cry and I couldn’t get up to hold him, I was however able to soothe him with my voice which I thought was magical.  I also spent the night asking any nurse around whether I was going to die (I wasn’t I was just so scared.)  On day three when the baby blues hit I cried all day saying that I could never have a baby again because if something happened Ari would be without a Mother.

I fainted on the second night in hospital which made me feel nervous to go home.  We spent five days in hospital although it was expected that I would stay in a lot longer.  I recovered very quickly and two weeks later all of my bloods and organ functions were back to normal.  I was so scared that I would get sick again or faint holding the baby, so we made sure that I was alone with him for at least another two weeks.

I was quite emotional for sometime after Ari’s birth, and even still on his first and second birthdays thoughts drifted back of that fear of dying and leaving my family.  These thoughts subsided though after reading accurate information relating to Pre Eclampsia and Hellp and also talking to my midwife.  I did attended a debrief appointment with the Obstetrician in attendance and this was a fantastic way to get the facts on how things went, why they happened etc. rather then just the emotional of it all in my head.  I would recommend this to anyone.  After that appointment I decided that in fact I did want to have another child, and I must say that the birth of our second is what has truly healed my fears the most.

Ari’s birth was as beautiful and challenging as the toddler that he is now, but most of all like him it was magical.  I have a true understanding of just how sick you can get but your body CAN bounce back.  I also have a great appreciation for modern medicine and the time/place that I live in.  And honestly how amazing are birth partners… I would have to say that my husband truly would be among the best.  He knows when to push me, and when I have had enough.  BUT mostly I am so incredibly grateful for that sweet and beautiful boy, and that we are here together today… the one who made me a Mother…

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If you would like more information on Pre Eclampsia or Hellp Syndrome talk to your GP.

(If you have read this I would love it if you had the time to read Chloe’s birth story as well.)

Seaside Sunset

Earlier this year, just before Chloe turned One, we decided to update our family album with a photo session by Nicola Holland Photography.  Nicola is our family photographer and we have had more photo sessions with her then I can count… maternity, newborn, birthday parties… we always have a great time and the images that Nicola produces speak for themselves, time and time again.

For this particular shoot we wanted to keep it super relaxed, so decided that the location should be our local beach at Alexandra Headland.  The sunsets there are just gorgeous and we picked the perfect day for it!

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http://www.nicolahollandphotography.com.au  (If you are getting married check out her wedding packages!)


What we wore:

Mama Bear

Top – Sports Girl
Shorts – Forever New
Ari
Overalls – http://www.ltlppl.com.au
Chloe
Dress – Sprout from Myer
Headband –  http://www.lambandsparrow.com.au
Daddy
Chucked it on 5 minutes after we were meant to be at the beach!

*Disclaimer: At times this website contains posts where items and experiences have been sponsored, gifted or blog posts have been paid for in return for advertisement/promotion.  Where this applies it will be clearly stated at the bottom of the blog post. Natalie Sullivan and www.thissweetlofeofmine.blog only endorses brands/items that her family uses, loves and highly recommends. To read the full disclaimer see here

Chloe’s Baby Bump

Chloe’s baby bump pictures were taken when I was 34 weeks pregnant.  We opted for a low key lifestyle shoot with most of the photos being taken in our home and at our local park.  I think that shooting at home makes for extra special memories where all members of the family are their most relaxed. Ari was just 17 months old at the time and looking back he was definitely still a baby himself.  We didn’t find out the gender of baby 2, so I find it interesting that my colour of choice of dresses for the day were pink… mmm those Mama vibes!

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Photos – Nicole Holland Photography – http://www.nicolahollandphotography.com.au/

*Disclaimer: At times this website contains posts where items and experiences have been sponsored, gifted or blog posts have been paid for in return for advertisement/promotion.  Where this applies it will be clearly stated at the bottom of the blog post. Natalie Sullivan and www.thissweetlofeofmine.blog only endorses brands/items that her family uses, loves and highly recommends. To read the full disclaimer see here

 

The 2017 wrap up… and what’s to come for 2018!

As years draw to a close and we focus on the new its important to take note of everything accomplished over the past 365 days.  For us 2017 was a huge one full of milestones and celebrations.  I brought in the New Year with a 36 week baby bump followed by the arrival of our sweet baby girl Chloe.  I learnt how to be a Mother of two and survived ‘2 under 2.’  We enjoyed vacations to Melbourne, Cairns, Stradbroke Island and internationally to Singapore and Vietnam (all with the babies in tows.)  We celebrated our 5th Wedding Anniversary and Ari’s 2nd birthday, then followed my 30th and we had a huge Gatsby style party.  We completed and sold our beautiful three storey house and moved to a rental by the beach.  There seemed to be party after party with three weddings and many MANY birthdays (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 30th.. you name it!)  Our construction company saw huge growth thanks to the ever overachieving Mr Sullivan and behind the scenes there has been what seems like countless building projects going on.  During all this madness I feel like I am really starting to find myself in many ways and am looking forward to more personal growth to come.  If I could sum up 2017 in three words the first that come to mind are joyful, chaotic and full!

For 2018 it is time to slow it down a little and enjoy more time living in the moment with our family.  To grab the simple smiles in everyday and soak them all up.  First up we will celebrate Chloe’s first birthday, then there are trips to Japan, UAE, Italy and Greece.  Houses to complete and more to start no doubt.  I have made the decision to postpone Ari starting day care until 2019 which means that I will have two babies home with me fulltime for a second year… but this also means that it will be his last year with me fulltime so I intend to enjoy every second of it.

I have also disliked the word resolution so instead of New Years Resolutions I have been thinking about my 2018 Goals will be.  My biggest hope is that I can do more to enjoy the JOY in everyday, so far this is what I can come up with:

  • Do more for other people.
  • Squeezing in time to enjoy the things that make me happy which include writing this blog and developing my work outside of my Mother/Wife/Life duties.
  • Take better care of myself.
  • Prioritise child free time with moments alone with my husband.
  • And to slowwwww down a little but say yes more.  Enjoy simpler less structured activities with the children and not necessarily always stick tot he same structure of weekly life.

To a lot of people these are not huge goals, and no I am not looking to achieve anything amazingly astonishing.  These are personal promises to myself that will help me to become an even better mother, wife and person.  I think we can all agree that it isn’t always the huge decisions and shifts that bring about the biggest changes to our lives, but the little things the we implement into our daily existence that slowly make us happier and happier… So with that said… Wish me luck!!

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10 quick things to know about me!

Here goes…

  1. I was born in the England and have three half brothers.
  2. I am scared of the dark, like can’t even put the bins out scared.
  3. I have always wanted to adopt.
  4. My grandmother was born in Malta, I was also baptised.
  5. I love planning parties especially children’s ones.
  6. I am an overly organised bossy boots.
  7. I have an obsession with travelling to as many countries in the world as I can.  I actually dislike going to the same country more then once.
  8. I try to exercise every day, it keeps me sane.
  9. I have a birthmark on my left hand.  My Mum told me that Mr Stalk bite me before he dropped me off!
  10. I became a vegetarian about 6 months ago and I love it!

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Image by – http://www.nicolahollandphotography.com.au