As I begin writing this post, I almost can’t believe how quickly time has flown by. I’ve definitely been in the mama ‘vault’! And what a whirlwind of sweet joy, pure exhaustion, overwhelming love and a bucket load of ‘firsts’ these 6 months of motherhood have been.
I honestly feel (hand on my heart) that I’ve found my calling in life. I absolutely adore being a mother, and feel blessed and grateful every day for having my beautiful daughter in my life. It truly has been the most incredible, rewarding and heart-expanding experience. Gav and I are still in awe with the fact we’re now parents! It still feels somewhat surreal, a little bit daunting (you know, the whole being responsible for someone’s life part), but mostly it feels amazingly special.
If you were following my pregnancy journey you would have read my birth experience. Well…a lot has happened since that BIG event.
I remember the first night we had Chloe home with us like it was yesterday. I was petrified! Not of having her here with us, but of falling asleep! I wanted to stay awake all night so I could watch Chloe and make sure she was breathing. However, I was utterly exhausted from my epic birth experience and knew I needed to get some rest. So I popped her in the bassinet next to my bed and tried to fall asleep. This lasted about 15 minutes at which stage I decided to bring her into my bed so she was even closer to me. This first night was the only time I felt comfortable co-sleeping.
It’s unbelievable how much we learnt in the first few weeks of parenthood, and how quickly it went from being daunting and new, to second nature. Changing her nappies, learning to dress and undress her, bathing her, breastfeeding, night feeds (which feels quite lonely and isolating at first), working out the logistics of the pram, capsule, baby swing, baby carrier…the list goes on! But it’s all part of the wonderful journey.
I truly thought that breastfeeding would be an absolute breeze. It actually never occurred to me that it could be something I may not even be able to do. That was until I read about someone’s difficult breastfeeding journey on Instagram, and then went along to the breastfeeding seminar at the Birth Centre – then my eyes were really opened!
My journey with this beautiful bonding experience wasn’t a breeze but it also wasn’t super difficult either. It did hurt though, I did have chapped nipples and I did experience mastitis twice, but cleared it myself without needing antibiotics (I had a script filled just in case as mastitis can turn very serious very quickly). I was almost at the point of needing to express my milk in order to give my nipples a rest to repair, but found pure lanolin cream and Rite Aid gel pads to be my saviour. Get these two things in your kit expectant mummy’s! So, definitely not easy peasy but grateful that we didn’t experience any issues that prevented me from breastfeeding all together. My heart goes out to the mama’s who tried everything they could but with no success. It really is so unfair.
I know several mothers who had no issues at all except for maybe chapped nipples, so for many it’s not a problem. And if you are able to overcome any problems in the initial few weeks or months of your breastfeeding journey, boy is it worth it. Not only for the obvious health benefits for bubba, but for the sacred bonding experience you will have the pleasure of experiencing. Another bonus is fuller boobs! Especially when your milk first comes in. When my milk came in, I woke up one morning with boobs closely resembling rock melons.
Taking Chloe out in the pram for the first time was SO exciting, and to this day it is one of my favourite activities we do together. For the first 4 weeks though, I decided to keep Chloe away from busy public places. I did take her outside in the fresh air each day for walks in the pram, and we went to a couple of quiet cafes where we could sit outside, but that was about it. Newborns are such fragile little angels and I wanted to do my best to keep her away from any nasty germs; particularly since it was Autumn when she was born.
When a 1st baby birthday party invitation was sent to us when Chloe was about 7 weeks old, I must admit I felt unsure about going. In the end Gav and I decided she was possibly still a bit young to be around so many children in a germ ridden season, and we also cancelled our scheduled trip to Melbourne in July for the same reasons. Being winter by this stage and diseases like hand, foot and mouth floating around, we felt that this was the best decision for us.
But – I am not super duper paranoid about germs. I don’t have ‘detoll wipes’ in my house, and I like Chloe playing in the park and getting her hands in the dirt (which invariably gets into her mouth). Babies need this kind of bacteria to strengthen their immune systems.
We most definitely experienced this in the first 6 months, with it’s peak being from months 1-4. I don’t know if I’d class it as Colic as it never went on for 3hrs or more a day (max would be around 2hrs a day in total), but she was most definitely a fussy bubby. The first time she really cried profusely and wouldn’t settle for a good hour, I was visiting my mum…and thank god I was! Seeing my baby girl so upset and crying so much (and so loudly) very quickly turned me into a blubbering mess myself.
I’m pretty certain this fussiness was mostly caused by digestive issues such as wind and not doing poo’s frequently (she averaged 1-2 a week which is still considered normal but Chloe definitely seemed bothered by it). This was an issue that set in from around 4 weeks of age and lasted right up until she began eating stewed fruits (pear in particular) at 6 months of age.
I seriously tried everything I could to alleviate her pain. I saw a naturopath, an osteopath, ordered a herbal colic relief mixture from Melbourne that my friend swore by, did baby massage on her tummy, but in the end it was her digestive system maturing with age and the introduction of solids that fixed it.
A different form of fussiness occurred at around 3 months of age when Chloe suddenly decided she ONLY wanted to be held by mummy or daddy, and if anyone else dared to try and cuddle her, they’d be faced with a screaming baby!! Both Gav and I found this super endearing and it didn’t bother us at all – our families on the other hand were most upset about it, and for a while there it seemed to be a hot topic. By 5-6 months old she became more social again and everyone was happy 🙂
What a huge milestone this was! I decided that I didn’t want to introduce solids until Chloe was at least 5 months old and showing signs of being interested in food. Chloe seemed really interested in my food and had great head control by this age, so I thought I’d take the leap and give it a go. Well…little did I know at this point in time that Chloe was actually 4.5 months old, instead of 5 months old. It wasn’t until my mothers’ group informed me I was two weeks ahead. #babybrainmoment
Chloe’s very first food was nutrient rich cooked egg yolk which is a perfect first food as rich in vitamins A, D, iron, folic acid and cholesterol. She loved it! For the next 5 days I experimented with a couple of other iron rich foods such as puréed beef mince with some bone broth, and also some puréed sweet potato and banana.
I then came to the conclusion that although Chloe seemed to like most of the foods, I didn’t think that her little body was ready for it. She became extremely constipated and was crying trying to pass a stool which reduced me to tears too. Her body would slouch forwards in the Bumbo as she wasn’t strong enough in her core to sit up straight, which isn’t good for posture alignment and showed me that she wasn’t ready for it.
So, I packed the Bumbo away and waited 5 weeks until Chloe was 6 months old and ready to sit in an ergonomic high chair (I use the BabyBjorn hight chair and love it). I must admit that I was somewhat relieved to go back to exclusively breastfeeding Chloe…it’s just so much easier!
Once I was ready to reintroduce solids, it took me a good couple of weeks to get my head around it and come up with recipes that Chloe loved. This is an example of what I’ve been feeding her so far with great success (Chloe is nearly 9 months old and has progressed to 3 meals a day and lumpier foods):
- stewed apple and pear with either 1-2 teaspoons of coconut cream, sheep milk yoghurt, goat yoghurt, organic whole cows milk yoghurt or a bit of grass-fed butter. I like adding a sprinkle of good quality gelatin (Great Lakes or Peptipro are fab brands) which is full of protein and great for the gut, and 1/2 tsp of cod liver oil (Green Pastures or Nordic Naturals) for omega 3s
- banana, avocado and coconut cream whizzed up in the blender
- egg yolk and avocado
- one of the meals below
- slow cooked lamb (puréed with the broth and veggies)
- puréed chicken soup (her fav)
- chicken poached in coconut cream and chicken broth with a bit of tumeric & cinnamon, and puréed with some steamed zucchini and carrot
- pork steak cooked in coconut oil and puréed with some beef broth and then I mix some stewed apple through it
All of the above recipes for lunch I usually serve with a side of veggie mash, and are often meals that I cook for Gav and I – makes preparing her food so much easier! And because a little goes a long way, I freeze portions of it so I’m really only having to prepare her food once every 7-10 days. Now that’s it’s summer here in Perth, I’ll be experimenting with some more seasonal foods. I’m very lucky to live very close to a great organic grocery store, so all the food I’ve prepared for her has been organic.
Bonding With Chloe
I felt a beautiful bond and connection with Chloe from the moment I held her. The love I felt for her in that moment though seems somewhat small compared to how much I love her now, 9 months later. She has expanded my heart and made me feel whole and purposeful in a way I could never have imagined. I’ll never forget the first time she smiled at me when she was 6 weeks old. It was after a feed when she was nestled into my chest, and she looked at me in a way she never had before – a real loving and knowing that I’m her mummy and she gave me the most beautiful smile followed by a little giggle. That was a very special moment for me.
These days the bond and love is so much stronger, it’s almost hard to believe…and I know it will just continue to grow. This all-consuming, pure love completely overwhelms me at times. It truly is magical to love someone this much, but it also makes me feel quite vulnerable. And if I’m being honest, it scares the shit out of me at times because I never want anything bad to happen to her. I had a conversation with my mum about this vulnerability and worry, and the first three words she said to me was…
welcome to motherhood
I’ve actually noticed that I’ve become super sensitive to watching the news and particularly anything children related. Gav likes keeping up with the local news, so I’ve decided to listen to inspiring podcasts as I make dinner so I don’t have to hear the news in the background. I really feel like it’s made a difference to my wellbeing.
All The Rest Summed Up…
// Sleep – this is such a HUGE topic, so I’ve dedicated an entire post to it rather than summing it up here.
// Mothers’ Group – I joined my local mothers’ group when Chloe was 8 weeks old and have continued to meet up with the mums and their bubs every fortnight. I love it. They’re all such a great group of ladies and it’s so comforting being able to talk all-things-babies with other new mums who are in the exact same stage. I’ve also just joined Babes + Picnics which has meet ups for mums and bubs all around Australia. The one here in Perth is beautiful. I really love how becoming a mumma has opened up my social network.
// Watching my love father our love – it has been so beautiful watching the love and bond grow between Gav and Chloe. I am very grateful to have a partner who is such a wonderful, loving and hands-on father. He really is amazing, and Chloe loves him so much. Another confession…it did take a good 5-6 months for me to let go of being so controlling. Now, 9 months down the track and after leaving Chloe with Gav several times a week (so I can have a nap, go to the gym, nip down to the shops etc), I feel so much more secure and confident about leaving her with him. I’m pretty sure most mumma’s feel this way initially! It’s that whole mother-child connection thing. But, I will say that it is incredibly important to let our partners find their way with fatherhood, and not feel as though there’s a watchful eye over them all the time. They need to make mistakes like we do as mothers, and find their groove without feeling that the wifey is going to shout “not like that!”
// Immunity – Chloe has had the sniffles once so far, and nothing else as yet. My goal is to build her immune system up with nutrient dense food including lacto-fermented vegetables which I’ll be incorporating into her diet soon. Food really is thy medicine and gut health is so important.
// Teething – I swear Chloe has been teething since she was 3 months old! I’m still waiting for her to cut her first tooth, I can’t believe it! When-will-it-happen??
// My identity as a mother – as soon as I fell pregnant I felt a massive internal shift. I was already a mother in my eyes, and knew it was the beginning of a new identity and direction (particularly in my business) for me. I feel a positive change in my identity as a mother now and it sits very well with me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still ‘me’ with the same personality and interests (albeit with some new ones around motherhood now), and I still need and enjoy time out for myself, but I’m really loving this new motherhood journey and how it has made me grow. I haven’t launched anything new yet with my business, but I will most definitely be changing my coaching direction towards maternity and motherhood. All in good time…watch this space.
// Developmental milestones – Gav and I have loved watching Chloe master her knew skills…it’s fascinating! Chloe seems to be an earlyish developer. She was rolling at 4.5 months, commando crawling at 6.5 months, creeping crawling (on all fours) at 7.5 months, and at 8 months started pulling herself up to standing. I wonder when she’ll take her first steps? Oh my.
// Into the mouth it goes – when babies start putting everything into their mouths it is a healthy sign of discovery and interest in the world around them, but boy is it nerve-wracking at times. Leaves and sand have become Chloe’s latest obsession.
//Timing = EVERYTHING – oh boy ‘aint that the truth! For example, to maximise wake time if I want to head out somewhere, I try and get out the door within 15 minutes of Chloe waking up from her nap, and home again at least 30 minutes before her next nap is due so I can maximise her sleep in the cot (doesn’t always work out this way of course). Chloe’s always been great at sleeping in the car and pram, but she definitely gets a more solid sleep if she’s in her cot, plus it means mummy can have some down time at home!
// The first few times I drove with Chloe in my car, it caused me so much anxiety! But I was surprised by how quickly it became second nature. I definitely recommend getting a mirror to put on the back head rest in front of your bubba, so you can see them whilst they’re in the rear facing position…this made a huge difference! We used a capsule for the first 8 months, and have only now swapped over to a car seat. We like the Britax brand.
// I’d say it was around the 6 month mark that things started to get a whole lot easier. A big noticeable change came when Chloe started going to sleep at night at around 6-6.30pm. Having roughly 3 hours downtime with Gav in the evenings has been so nice. Oh, and having a glass of wine again.
// Self-care in motherhood – this is sooo important. Another juicy topic which I may leave for another post.
// Getting her temperature right – I won’t lie, there have been nights when I’ve suddenly woken up worrying if she’s too cold or hot! I do love that a lot of the sleeping bags come with a room temperature thermometer. Very handy.
// DoTerra oils – Chloe has been an oily baby from the moment she was born. My go to oils which I have in roller bottles (1 drop and the rest filled with fractionated coconut oil) are: lavender & cedarwood for bedtime, balance for fussiness, frankincense for a whole range of things, wild orange for immunity and mood, On Guard for travel and immunity.
And lastly, some recommended reading. I haven’t read all these books, but they are all of interest to me!
- The Conscious Mother by Kirstin Bouse – a-mazing. Includes a workbook and takes mothers on a journey of self-exploration to prepare and support them through motherhood.
- French Children Don’t Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman – an entertaining read with some surprisingly good tips and advice. An oldie but a goodie!
- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr Marc Weissbluth – fantastic advice from a leading paediatrician and researcher on sleep and children.
- Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne – I can’t wait to read this one. Looks very interesting.
- Elevating Childcare by Janet Lansbury – equally as interested in this one.
- Parenting By Heart & Sleeping Like A Baby by Pinky McKay – all of her books are meant to be amazing.
- Bubba Yum Yum by Charlotte Carr – an awesome recipe book for raising babies and children on the paleo lifestyle.
I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it there! Looking forward to continuing my motherhood journey with you all. Would love to hear from you – got any tips you’d like to share? Resonated with anything I’ve written? Feel free to share in the comments below.