our first family photo shoot

A couple of weekends ago, we had the pleasure of working with Sheena Cooke Photography to capture some pictures of our new little family. I am entirely un-photogenic and not very comfortable in front of the camera but Sheena managed to make us all feel completely at ease.

Archer didn’t need much help looking gorgeous but he was extremely sleepy so Sheena had her work cut out for her keeping him awake long enough to get some of the shots. She was amazing and I am so grateful for her being able to capture some truly lovely moments with my little family.

Here are some of my favourites…

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Thanks again Sheena… some of these are going straight to the pool room.

xx A

hi ho, hi ho…..

I spent the day in the office today. Not yet officially back from maternity leave, I went in to lend a hand to the very busy team and to make use of one the “keeping in touch” days I’m allowed during my maternity leave period.

It was nice….

It was nice to dress up and put on heels (unnecessary, but nice nonetheless).

It was nice to use my brain and once again connect to an industry that I love so much.

It was nice to feel needed by the team and to feel that I still have worth within my workplace.

So why do I feel guilty?

My son was at home spending the day with his Grandma who no doubt spoilt him with endless hugs and kisses. He probably had no idea I wasn’t even there. All he knows at this young age is hunger and love and both of those would have been taken care of in abundance. Yet I cant seem to shake that feeling in my stomach that being there makes me less of a mum.

Is it wrong, that only 7 weeks in, I’m ready for stimulation outside of my motherly bubble?

Society is making me feel like it is. I have found myself explaining my choices to complete strangers. Not only about today’s little workplace stint but also about my plans to return to the workforce part-time in August. “That’s not long off from work” people quip, “gosh, are you sure you’ll be ready?” numerous people ask. The truth of the matter is, financially we don’t have a choice. But even if we did, I’d be going back.

It will be with the needs of my son in the forefront of my mind and of course, things will need to adapt, but with or without the financial burden that forces my hand, I’m ready, even now, to get back into the workforce.

Intentional or not, many people have made me feel guilty. Made me question my decisions and my desire to return to work.

Too soon?

According to many, apparently so.judging copy

According to many, a new mum should be home (apparently for a year). For many, being out of the workforce is a relief and something to be relished. For many, the fact that I am going back to work sooner than most, makes me less of a mum. It’s a judgment that although I am sure is not intentional, has been felt.

Maybe it’s my interpretation, maybe it’s my over sensitivity, maybe it’s just how they feel.

I was never going to be the all-baking, crochet knitting, P&C mum. I love that other women  fill those roles; it’s just not me. I’m the mum that will juggle a meeting to make it to school assembly and a schedule a gig around his soccer game. I’m the mum who may have go to work some days but will spend others in PJ’s watching cartoons. I’m the mum who wants it all and isn’t afraid to try for it.

But he will always come first. He will always be my priority, but I can have my work too.

It doesn’t make me less of a mum.

Does it?

Xx A

dear lactation consultant…

One of the most common questions I was asked throughout my pregnancy was “are you going to breastfeed?”. My response remained the same throughout – I’ll do my best.

I wasn’t born yesterday, I am fully aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, especially in those first crucial few days. I am also fully aware of the issues that many of my girlfriends have had on their journeys through motherhood and that breastfeeding is not always as easy as hoped.

I knew that I definitely wanted to try to breastfeed for at least the first couple of months. I was prepared for the late nights feeding my son when my boob was his only option. I was prepared and excited about the bonding that comes with feeding. I was prepared for the benefits of a massive cleavage and the inevitable weight loss that goes along with exclusive breastfeeding.

I was not prepared for the issues that I encountered.

I was less prepared for the emotional turmoil that comes along with feeling like I failed my son.

I was totally unprepared for the abuse I received when after just 6 days, I had to start giving my son formula.

The long and short of my story is that due to a tongue tie that my son was born with and an inability to latch on correctly, my nipples were so badly damaged in the initial few days that my body went into shut down, my milk dried up and formula became a staple in our home. That makes it sound so simple and matter of fact.

It wasn’t. It was traumatic, both physically and mentally. The physical part I could handle. The emotional impact was tougher. Breastfeeding was impacting my ability to bond with my son and nothing is worth that.

Thankfully N saw what was happening and held my hand through the tears as I realized that my boobs were betraying my baby and I. We have an amazing Child Health Nurse who also recognized that the best thing for Archer and I was finding an alternative.

So my family, partner and direct career all agree that breastfeeding, although a fabulous option for most new mums and bubs, was not working for my son and I.

this is what i neededWhy is it then that certain lactation consultants within the community have found it suitable and necessary to inform me of the error of my ways? Telling me that “breast really is best”, “you should push through” “just hold your baby differently” “here, let me show you”.

NO!

It’s not working for us. My baby isn’t happy! I’m not happy! You are not in my home at half past three in the morning to see our struggle. Don’t tell me what is best for my son when you don’t know either of us.

The lack of support and self-righteousness of these women has been something I was totally unprepared for. I’ve had phone calls from a lactation consultant telling me that she knows better than our pediatrician how to treat my sons tongue-tie – stopping short of telling me I was a bad mother for listening to the doctors. I’ve had another practically wrestle my poor son by the neck to try to get him to latch on differently. I could go on for hours about the ways in which I have been insulted and offended by this certain breed of lactation ladies who lack empathy, manners and decency.

this is what i gotI know that not all lactation consultants are the same. There are some who are warm, kind and supportive – regardless of whether you breastfeed or not. Unfortunately, the ones like those I encountered, damage the industry as a whole and leave a bad taste in the mouths of new mums that take a long time to fade.

Speaking with other women about their breastfeeding journeys, I find that my story is not unique. Many have had encounters with lactation consultants that have left them traumatized, teary and questioning their decisions and ability as a new mum. How is this helpful?  An occupation which is designed to encourage breastfeeding and provide support to women at an emotionally and physically fragile time is doing the opposite – instilling negative emotions, fear and feelings of failure.

So to the lactation consultant community – I beg you…. Calm the fuck down. Stop for a moment and listen to your patients. Open your eyes to each individual mothers situation and help to guide her to a solution for her and her baby. I know it will pain you to hear it but breast is NOT always best.

Some of us are betrayed by our boobies. It doesn’t make us failures. It doesn’t make us bad mums. Please don’t make us feel like it does.

Xx A

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/goetter/3588637633/”>Raphael Goetter</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

this is not a food baby

So I haven’t written for too many days.  Lets just say life went and got in the way and I needed to take a few days to focus on something more important.  Add in a quick trip to Albany for work and I find it’s suddenly been a week since I’ve written a word.

But, now I’m back. You can all let out a communal sigh of relief. Stop panicking. Its ok. I’m back on deck. Oh sorry….what’s that? You didn’t realize I had left…? Well, this is awkward.

Anyway. Whilst you were busy missing my thrice-weekly updates, I had a revelation. A pretty big one.

I’m. Having. A. Baby.

That’s right. A real life, can’t give back, person sized, fully-fledged baby. What the fuck?!

I think it started to hit me a few days ago when a friend gave birth to her little bundle of baby boy joy. I was sent a picture of the gorgeous little 2-hour-old creature and suddenly realized – one of those is going to come out of me.  Not only was it going to come OUT of me but it is currently IN me. Growing all that hair and limbs and starting to yawn and hear and all sorts of human like

This is not a food baby.

This is not a food baby.

things which don’t seem quite right when occurring inside my once empty mid region.

Insert mild panic attack and sudden return of nausea.

Now we are 19 weeks into this journey (where has that time gone by the way?) I guess those dots are all starting to connect. Those dots, that just a couple of months ago were floating around aimlessly in my head, were, in an instant connected, lined up, pieced together and slammed into my unsuspecting brain like a freight train.

I’m. Having. A. Baby.

Not a food baby. A real baby.

No doubt the photo wasn’t the only thing to trigger the connection with my uterus that occurred other day. The large bump starting to protrude through my clothes were my abs used to be is somewhat of a wake up call, and the rock melon sized boobs where my quite delightful C cups used to live are a definite sign that something is going on.

A baby. That’s what’s going on. An actual human being that in about 20 weeks or so is going to be here and need me.

I’m going to be a mum.

You have no idea how ridiculous that sounds in my own head. But its real and its happening and I actually starting to quite like the sound of it.

Don’t get me wrong. There is still a LOT I’m learning to come to terms with. A lot that seems bizarre and at times I still feel like I’m having an out of body experience and that some other poor woman is going to push this baby out at the end. But day-by-day, bit-by-bit, those dots are becoming a part of my being.

Baby. Mum. Me.

Not a food baby. A real baby. And he’s mine.

xx A