Surviving the first few weeks with a newborn baby

I thought I was prepared. The nursery was complete, and I was mentally ready. Oh, boy was I wrong. For starters, the baby was in our room anyway so the nursery didn’t matter a bit in those early days and I finally started to understand why everybody told me to ‘sleep while you can’ when I was pregnant.

For me, the first 24 hours were a blur. Honestly, I was so scared of leaving the hospital with this new little baby who was completely dependant on me. When Reuben and I got in the car at the hospital car park (away from both of our parents), I burst into tears. I was emotionally and physically drained.

I’ve broken this down into bite-size tips and know I would have most likely forgotten key things so feel free to add tips into the comments:

  • Accept all offers of help – this is one thing I didn’t do. I’m all Beyoncé, Independent Woman and I was absolutely shattered after a few sleepless days/nights. Accept offers of meals, breaks for you to shower etc.
  • Sleep when the baby sleeps – actually, do it, or it’s likely you’ll never sleep again. If you can’t sleep, at least lay down and rest, don’t worry about everything else you have to do (at least in those early days).
  • Have plenty of maternity pads on hand; steal the hospital ones if you can (they resemble a super king mattress). You will bleed, a lot, sometimes up to 6 weeks +, also invest in some Hypercal lotion for your lady bits if you have a natural delivery. I talked more on Hospital Bag Essentials here. I’ve also heard great things about Viva La Vulva.
  • Don’t forget to take your pain meds if given some, I was terrible and in a tired haze I’d forget and pay the price later.
  • It’s totally normal to cry in those early days. If it wasn’t my partner, or me, it was the baby.
  • Confide in a friend/family member or midwife (if not your partner) about how you’re feeling and doing, make sure you know the early signs of postpartum depression and if you feel like things are getting too much – seek help. It’s normal and more common than you think. I wrote about my experience here.
  • Look after yourself.  I know this may sound weird but try shower every day, even chuck on some BB cream, it would make me feel (and look) so much better. It is so easy to live in track pants but not looking after yourself is a quick way to start feeling down. You need to maintain good hygiene practices throughout this time regardless of how you give birth.
  • Learn that it’s OK to say no to visitors in the early days – while you’re super excited to show off your new baby, they’re more prone to picking up bugs in those early days plus you’re still learning. I was still trying to find my feet with breastfeeding and attempting to do it with an audience was the last thing I wanted. If you’re comfortable, go for it however, it is okay to say no.
  • Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster – more so than when pregnant. I would cry for no reason, other days I was on top of the world. Hormones are all over the show, it’s normal but we aware and no what to look out for.
  • Trust in your midwife – they are a hive of support and information. Don’t be afraid to ask them (or your GP) questions. It’s their job and I’m sure they’ve heard it all (and worse) before.
  • Prepare meals – I lived on easy things like toast/soup/pasta etc for the first few days. Accept the offer of meals and have them in the freezer ready for when you get home. It’s one less thing you need to think about.
  • Don’t feel as though you’re a burden to other people because you aren’t. I thought I could do it all myself and quickly learnt this was not the case.
  • Expect nothing – leave your expectations behind.
  • Drop your standards a little – this was hard for me. I tried to maintain a spotless house knowing visitors would come over while trying to find my feet as a new mum. It’s OK to not have vacuumed, nobody is judging you – plus, it’ll give your visitors something to do, haha.
  • Get somebody to show you how to bathe baby if you’re not sure – we had no idea and quickly realised this when it came to giving him his first bath.
  • Establish a routine early – this worked so well for us. For the first few days while we found our feet we just worked around the baby and their cues. Once we introduced a routine, it made all of our lives easier.
  • Introduce a bottle – I know this one will get some disagreement. I gave Baxter some expressed breast milk in a bottle early on to get him familiar with the bottle in case we ever needed it. He was able to go between the boob and the bottle with no fuss and it made our lives easier moving forward. It also meant I could take a break every now and then and that Dad could do the night feed.
  • Put baby in their bed when showing tired signs – this way they learn to fall asleep on their own and associate bed with sleep time. We were told this very early on (I can’t even remember who told us but this was SO beneficial for us. Sounds easy, but it really was. Rubbing eyes, yawning? Put them in bed.
  • Be calm – I was a big ball of stress and anxiety the first few weeks and Baxter picked up on this, as soon as I learnt to chill a bit, things became a lot easier and manageable.

Most importantly, enjoy the process. The days goes surprisingly fast and they’re only small for a short period of time.

Life with two

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with the whole parenting thing. I mean come on, who hasn’t? I think we all do at some stage or another – some are honest about it, some aren’t. I get comments all the time said to me or sly digs about those people who ‘share to much on social media’, who ‘have to tell the world about everything’.  Well, over-sharer? Quite possibly. But I definitely don’t tell the world everything. There is a lot you don’t know about me and probably won’t ever know.

I’ve been extremely slack on the blog front, life happened, kids happened, work happened. I’ve just been busy in general. For a while there I got so consumed in the online world, I let shit comments get to me and cloud my judgement. I wanted to stop doing what I was doing, all for the wrong reasons.

Well, life is still happening and I am still shit at making time for me as much as I try preach about how important it is. It’s a work in progress okay. BUT, I need to get back to writing, it helps me release and I get messages daily saying it helps you to so win win right?

I’ve been a mum of 2 for over a year now – what the actual fluff (see Mum, I can do it without saying the F word). If anybody knows where the past 12 months have gone then please holla atcha girl and let mew know cos I’m sitting here in disbelief that we’ve already celebrated Lily’s 1st birthday. I was so freaked out when I found out I was pregnant (yes, pregnant on my first child’s 1st birthday – am I mad?). I had huge fears about how things would pan out and how I would cope. I struggled with one so how on earth was I going to manage with 2? Well, I did. We got through and here we are, a year in and I am by no means going to say it was easy – it most certainly wasn’t. But I’m alive, and so are both the kids (and Reuben – just).

People often ask me what life is like with two kids. I don’t have a straightforward answer. It’s hectic, with one you can get away with distracting them and getting other stuff done, with two – you distract one and then the other goes in to pick a fight. So basically, there is a never a dull moment – for me anyway. Like everything in life, you find a way to get through, to manage – to get by. I can pop Lily in the highchair, give Baxter some toys and still get housework done. We chose to have the kids in quick succession which meant a small period of madness. Lily is 1 now and I think we are out of the really tough stage (for now), they’re getting along reasonably well (70%) of the time but don’t get me wrong – I know we’ve got some real shit times ahead of us. It’s all part of this parenting gig.

Looking at these kids when they’re playing nicely just makes it all worth it, all those shitty times are just forgotten about. I say to Baxter do you love Lily and he says “yes Mummy”. I die inside. He pats her head and gives her kisses. They’re really starting to engage with each other and get each other. He knows how to wind her up and she definitely knows how to wind him up.

Baxter is a mini Reuben and Lily is a mini me. It’s scary but its Karma at its finest, haha. I see us in them and it scares the shit out of me.

I am glad we chose to have the kids close together (18m gap). The stages are familiar with us and we haven’t forgotten about the tough times. Our theory was, ‘do it quickly and get those initial shitty times out of the way’ – they’re gone, behind us and gosh it feels good. The first 12 weeks is still hell but a different kind of hell because we remembered what it was like as we’d not long done it. We clearly remembered what tactics worked with Baxter and tried them on Lily.

The kids are actually different, Baxter was SO chill, almost too chill. Lily is so full on – all the time. Is really rough with Baxter (the me in her, haha). She climbs, jumps and squeals and the kid has no fear – none of which we experienced with Baxter. He has totally had to up his game now she is walking and trying to rule the roost.

Baxter is now in Kindy 3 days per week and is thriving, best thing we did for him (and lets be realistic, for us too). Reuben is a stay at home Dad still so having B in Kindy 3 days allows him some 1 on 1 time with Lily which he really enjoys.

The wolfpack is complete with no additions in the foreseeable future. I am content with the kids. I am still working on myself and managing my anxiety + depression but to be honest, I don’t think it will ever be gone. It’s part of me, its who I am and some days are shit, other days I am on top of the world.

Here’s to another year…

To the boy who made me a mum

To the boy who made me a mum,

You turned my life upside down.

You showed me that there were far more important things in life than what I was currently prioritizing.

You brought out strengths in me that I never knew I had and discover weaknesses I never knew existed.

You made me realize I was focusing on all the wrong things in life and that it was the small things that really mean the most.

You’ve made me cry, you’ve made my laugh and you’ve made me yell.

You have the most amazing personality and you have such a kind heart.

You inspired me to start this blog and help so many people.

You saved me.

The moment you were put in my arms, I was overwhelmed with emotions. So much love, and so much fear. I was so scared because this whole motherhood thing this was new to me. I was so scared of not being a good Mum to you. I got post natal depression and I cried a lot. I would sit there and look at you, and cry. I was so scared that I was failing you because I wasn’t coping. The first few months were really difficult for me, coming to terms with such a big adjustment, my hormones were all over the place and I was discovering a new side of myself.

You are such a good big brother (most of the time) and these days when I look at you I am so proud of how far we have both come.

We are gonna move mountains together kiddo 

Let’s get real

Why is it that there is so much fear about being real? Why are we afraid to post photos we deem ‘bad’? Are we afraid others are going to be like “damn girl, you look like shit” and I’m all “thanks, I just pushed a baby out of my vagina”.

The number one compliment I get around my blog and what I share is that fact that its real. I am far from well-presented, I barely have my shit together and make up to me is mascara and BB cream (sometimes I splash out and wear foundation). I’ve been a tomboy most of my life and have never been one to ‘dress up’ so when I do, I feel awkward as fuck and it shows in everything I do. I always feel like I don’t fit in and this, along with me currently not being happy with my body is half the reason I don’t go out.

I am just like you, well, I don’t know you and its highly likely that you’re better looking than me but you get the idea. Somebody messaged me the other day and said “you’re so lucky, your life looks amazing – you have it all”. I don’t, I am over-worked and I am tired. I have problems just like everybody else (if you don’t, I’m hella jealous). I am kind of sad that they had that impression of me because I am very honest online and with what I share.

Sure, I may take some nice pictures of the kids, that’s the bonus of being a parent and a Photographer but have you seen many photos of me? Nope, they’re few and far between. If Reuben or somebody else happens to snap a good pic of me then I am gonna use the shit out of it (haha) and I don’t know the last time I felt I looked good enough to justify a selfie. Reuben’s idea of a spontaneous photo without me having to ask if me in bed eating KFC and sharing it on Snapchat.. yeah, thanks babe.

Let’s be real people, let’s stop being scared and shy about showing off what’s really happening. Let’s share squares of reality, not carefully composed works of art. It’s unrealistic and fucking hard to maintain. I know your real life isn’t like that, especially with a child. It’s simply not possible. You might be fooling some, but you ain’t fooling me.

I am a Mum. I am struggling with my identity these last few years. I know I am more than a Mum but I am also not the old Jess (and I don’t want to be). I am quite depressed and I am working on it but old habits are hard to break (lack of patience, high expectations for everything). I am really down on my body but in all honestly, I am currently doing nothing about it. I want to lose weight, I want to be healthy but I also want to eat shit food. Time is not something I have a lot of right now so that also plays a big part in my lack of motivation to be better and feel better. I am winding down and will be finishing up my photography & work for the year so hope I can get out and do some exercise of the Christmas holidays. What a stupid time to start right? The time of year when everybody binges – ha. So there, I got my own issues, don’t you worry about that. More issues that vogue but I’m treading about water. I am honest with you guys, I see no reason not to be.

Being real is so refreshing and only then can we slowly start becoming accepting of ourselves and our own lives because we start to see others are just like us too! These unrealistic portrayals of motherhood and life in general are stupid and I am so over seeing them. They affect so many people and this makes me sad. People are so confused by social media and are literally comparing themselves, their children and their lifestyles to something that isn’t even an honest representation. We’ve all been there, I used to do. The best thing I ever did was learn to stop caring so much about what others think (thanks to reading “The Life Changing Magic of not giving a fuck) and I feel better for it. Sure, I am human. I am the queen of overthinking but I’ve stopped comparing myself to others. I have my own hustle and I don’t time to be worrying what you’re up to. In saying that, I care a lot about those close to me and I treat them right.

So here’s me, stuffing toast in my face about 10 minutes after giving birth to Lily while Reuben dresses her. How fucking good is that milo & toast post birth though!? While the images isn’t what I would deem ‘pretty’, it tells a pretty bloody cool story and that’s what photos and memories are all about.

Mum Bod

I still don’t think I have really come to terms with my new body, while it’s easy to adopt the attitude ‘out of sight, out of mind’ – they are definitely not out of mind, far from it. And I am reminded of this everytime I get out of the shower and see my reflection in the mirror.

It’s selfish I know, others are having issues falling pregnant and I’m moaning about my stretch marks, marks which without, I wouldn’t have my kids. I am truly grateful for my children. Don’t get me wrong, the way I feel about myself and my body has NO reflection on the love I have for my children. I am able to mourn the loss of my old body while coming to terms with my new one. Somebody commented on my Instagram and told me this was sad and that I clearly wasn’t doing anything about it. Right oh. Me and my new body is a work in progress, I know this. But right now, these are my feels – and they’re real.

My stretch marks are bad. Really bad. They look like I’ve been attacked by a wild animal (maybe that’d be a better story to roll with). They’re deep and almost look like burns. I know they will fade over time but I think with the extent of them, it’s likely they’ll always be quite prominent. The tattoo is ruined, but I am not bothered as I hated it anyway.

 

I heard a quote the other day, “For every woman who hates her stretch marks there is a woman wishing she had them”. It really got me thinking. Thinking about the new body I have. I am thankful everyday, don’t get me wrong. The stretch marks a part of me now, a part I am yet to fully accept. They are battle wounds and I now have two amazing and seriously adorable kids. I am still allowed to feel the way I feel though.

Whilst I am almost back to my pre-pregnancy weight, my body is most certainly not the same but I am OK with that. Am I really? Yes and no. It’s funny because I weigh the same but I am different size and body shape now, my boobs went from a C to a DD and I am not even breastfeeding anymore. I don’t fit any of my old clothes and I can’t stand anything that is tight fitting, although I never did, to be honest.

3 months on from baby #2 and I don’t think I can say I ‘love’ my body but I am coming to terms with the fact that this is my body now. Not everybody gets stretch marks, yay you. I did, and it’s really not the end of the world.

 

So here I am, baring it all to you. If anybody else is in the same boat you’ll now you are not alone. It’s tough, I won’t lie. I feel sad when I see people bounce back from their pregnancies. I don’t wish for a perfect body, I just wish I could be comfortable and confident in myself. It will come with time I am sure. I will never have my old body back. I look in the mirror and I don’t like the person I see anymore.

I am learning to accept it while doing things to improve both my mental and physical state.

We got this mama x