Are we done…?

IMG_2553.JPGLast night as my husband and I divided and conquered showers, bottles and bed times for our two girls he looked at me (as I passed our 3 month old out of the shower) and said “no more..” I knew exactly what he was saying and feeling and wholeheartedly agreed!

I doubt I’ll look back at this post and laugh with a growing belly.. but I guess who knows.. never say never people keep telling me..

My reasoning was- if I didn’t shed tears when I packed away the three zero clothing of Raegan’s or when I packed away the bassinet and baby bath for the last time that that meant I was done.. I’m not someone who has emotional attachment to things- you can ask any of my family members.. new car- cool.. new house- cool.. things can come and go and I really wouldn’t be phased.. what am I attached to? I don’t know.. I’m still trying to figure that out.. but I digress.. no tears were shed, no heart strings were pulled.. I didn’t feel sentimental or overcome by a feeling of loss. It wasn’t a hard or long road like many others I know and for that I will forever be grateful. But all that being said I think we’re done. I never felt “done” after Ava.. I always knew we would have number 2 but this time it seems pretty final.

Only after watching Maria Kondo’s organisation show did I get together little boxes of sentimental things for our family- never assuming that they would value that stuff (if the word stuff doesn’t show you how non-sentimental I am I don’t know what will..haha) later in life.

Deciding not to have more children is monumental- I know. It’s something that I’ve been praying about it and asking for the Lord’s direction on. I’ve seen people mourn over the decision, talk about a sense of loss or sadness but not me and I guess that’s what makes us all unique.  How about you? Do you feel like you’re done or is there a niggling feeling in your heart for another baby?

The helicopter mum jumps out of the plane..

IMG_5551.JPGHave you heard the term- Helicopter parent? It’s a mum (or dad) who pays very close attention to their children at playgrounds/out in public- I think we all know them- it goes beyond the general caring for your child to make sure they don’t die while at the park- I’m talking about the parent who is one or two steps away ready to jump in when needed. They are hyper aware, standing at attention to defend and protect their child. Was I a helicopter mum.. am I a helicopter mum? Thinking introspectively- perhaps. I make super conscious efforts not to be when out with friends or at a safe park but sometimes it just happens, especially with the sacredness that comes with your first child.

Last week at an indoor play place I let Ava go. It probably wasn’t the best play area to do so as it is a HUGE indoor area with really really high climbing areas (which she wouldn’t be able to climb to without my help.. I think).. but nonetheless, I let her go. I let her go and play independently- so much so that I actually couldn’t find her at one point. I had seen her enter one area of the large child magnet contraption but not come out so I headed over to see what she was up to. I called her name, I scanned all the little girls to see if I recognized her strawberry blonde hair- I couldn’t find her. My next thought was (though fleeting)- did someone take her.. quickly countered with, no- I was sitting near the door no one could have walked out with her without me seeing..

Eventually we found her coming down a makeshift slide that started up pretty high (how she got there I don’t know) but it was definitely a test at letting her go.

She came running to me, crying, twice because of “the ball.” We’re assuming she slipped on a ball twice, coupled with the fact that we were 2 hours overdue for a nap who knows what actually happened, but all in all she did great.

It took all the will power in me to not know where she was at all times. She’s not even two- what if she breaks an arm or a finger or gets a concussion and I can’t find her.. those were very real possibilities that quickly raced through my mind.. and then my logic kicked in- broken arms mend, broken fingers mend, there’s mum’s everywhere- she wouldn’t be concussed without anyone knowing.

When your little one suddenly becomes independent and starts to do things on her own, it’s as if the moment you have been dreaming about collides with this very real motherly need to be needed.

After a long day of being generally overtired she woke up at 9pm inconsolably crying- I picked her up, carried her into bed with me and we slept the night away.

While I worked on not hovering that day I think she realized I needed to be needed just a little bit extra.

Milestone Mission Potty

motherhood- great mountain top experiences & deep dark valleys.pngWe have friends that have one baby and friends who have four. Us first time mums over-worry and over-compensate we probably over-research too. I also self reflect when I’m around mum’s who have multiple children- observing how they discipline or how they manage multiple children. How do they split their time? Do I like the dynamics- are there things I can do better or implement with Ava? I self examine way too much but that’s something to explore another day and time.

Last week, on Thursday morning to be accurate I picked Ava up out of her crib around 7am, we brought her into our bed (like normal) while Greg went and made her up her bottle. Her and I lay staring at each other- sharing kisses and baby babble. We went through her morning ritual of asking where all the people were that she knows- papa, bubu, tutu, nanny.. they are constant questions throughout the day..

Greg brought her bottle up and she proceeded to drink most of it (like normal) but then she sat up, turned to me and said poo-poo.

Back-story we have been working on pointing out the potty to her. Telling her no more nappies.. poo poo goes in the toilet (she calls the toilet ‘toto’).

I put her down and we raced to the bathroom. I took her nappy off, put her on the potty and after about 10 seconds I saw the little trickle of wee going into the potty! This may be too much information but this is a parenting blog for goodness sake.. We yelled and celebrated- we shared multiple high fives.. Greg even got out of bed and gave her a few high-fives! Once she had finished I grabbed some toilet paper and just sat there looking at her partly because I didn’t know what to do- do I lean her forward and wipe, do I have her stand and wipe, what happens to the toilet paper- do I put it straight into the big toilet or teach her to put it in the potty.. so many questions…and I partly sat there startled that we had reached another milestone. I am seriously tearing up typing about this experience. We had, week after week, encouraged her to go to the potty and now that she had she had crossed into this new stage of independence. Our once little baby girl who couldn’t even hold her head up is going to the bathroom by herself!

When you are married you quickly form a rhythm and routine with your new spouse, with young children everything is new and exciting- new skills are learnt constantly, milestones are faced and conquered..what a journey it continues to be!

I have found motherhood to be full of great mountain top experiences of joy and proudness and at the same time deep dark valleys of fogginess and exhaustion. This balancing act, I’m sure, doesn’t get any easier as they grow, but boy do they grow and I am blessed to be able to watch that happen and be right alongside her for every experience!

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What I’m currently listening to..

Working as a sales person part-time means I am on the road quite often for work. If you live in Sydney you know how chaotic the traffic is- it’s very organised chaos but still chaos. We live 22 minutes away from work when there is no traffic, but it can take me well over an hour in traffic. Not discrediting the blessing of having a car and being able to drive sometimes it can be very tedious! While I am 100% not a fan of long road trips, actually just last night we were chatting with a few friends who mentioned that taking a road trip and listening to podcasts hours on end is a dream for them.. I almost broke out in hives. Greg, my husband, listens to a podcast when he runs on 1.5 speed or something crazy like that. Who, in their right mind, runs 10kms and listens to someone speak on fast forward and finds it enjoyable?

I also like silence in the car- odd right? Greg has teased me about this since the day we met. I help to lead our Music Team at the church we attend- I am constantly listening to music to find new material or learning a new song, but when I am in the car I love the silence that it brings. If you think about life we are very rarely ever in complete silence. Maybe very late at night when everyone has gone to sleep but that’s normally the time I am trying to fall asleep as well! From the minute our babies wake up in the morning they are usually learning new words or simply cooing and ahhing. While they nap during the day we generally will watch something or respond to emails, or catch up on missed phone calls.

I said all that to say that while I’m not keeping up to date with a podcast every day I don’t mind an episode or two while I’m driving to and from work a few days a week. Below is a roundup of my top go-to’s at the moment. From motherhood to random facts I love the content these authors are creating!

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TED Talks Daily |  Glorious in the mundane |  The Moth |  99% Invisible | Coffee + CrumbsAwesome with AlisonCraig Groeschel LeadershipFocus on the family

Woven- Two little peas in a pod

For those who have just started following Growing A Bebé, Woven is a new series of stories from the women around me- their stories of labour, love and growing their little families.. I hope you see the imperfect perfect of this experience we call motherhood in the tapestry of stories woven by each woman..

My next guest in our series, Woven, is from a dear friend of mine. We have been friends since we both can remember; we’ve celebrated birthdays, weddings and kids together! We both married Greg’s in the same year as well (a little fun fact)!

Today, I am excited to introduce Rachel Willmott!

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Okay, question number one- how big is the family you come from?  Not very big at all! Mum has 1 brother & dad is an only child. I am blessed to have 2 grandparents still here with us. I am the eldest of 3 siblings.

Can you tell me a bit about your family? Dad comes from Scicily / born in Australia, and has remarried an Australian. Mum comes from Chile / came over when she was 4yrs old.
I’m the eldest at 30, younger sister at 26, brother at 19 and a half brother who is 5 weeks old.

How many children do you have? I have twins girls who are 2.5yrs old and another bub due in August 2017.

Where did you have your children? The twins were born at Liverpool Public Hospital, NSW.

How did you find out that you were having twins? Take us through that first ultrasound! From the very beginning, our girls have made our parenthood journey an adventure full of surreal & comical surprises. The routine 6 week scan was no exception. Having a heart full of mixed emotions coupled with a bladder full of water, I lied on the bed waiting trying not to shed tears, burst out in laughter or pee myself. It felt as though as soon as the sonographer placed the doppler on me he made a very strange and surprised sound. His english wasn’t very good so Greg asked why he made a strange noise? We remember his words as though it were yesterday, “Looks like double-trouble”, closely followed by “Go halve your bladder – too full”. As I sat in the bathroom, my mind was racing through questions like “his english must be really basic”, “did I hear him correctly?”, “how large will I grow?” and finally “why do they ask you to drink so much water in the first place?”.

When I came back, it was confirmed that we were indeed staring at two little peas in my pod. Greg and I looked at each other in absolute shock and somehow had a magical conversation through eye contact. We had joked about having twins, then to see those twin hearts beating was a surreal moment for us. Obviously once we got over the initial shock, the logistics of having twins began to set in. The journey since has been challenging, often fatiguing but above all extremely rewarding!

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Audrey & Evenlyn (The two peas in a pod)

Did you have a Natural of C-section birth? How long was labour? I had natural births for both girls. If calculating from the actual pushing phase: Labour was from 11:00am – 3:20pm = 4.5 hours. My water broke 8am Wednesday & so I spent the night in hospital where I dilated 7cm without knowing it. I was given an epidural Thursday morning & started pushing before midday. Girls were born by 3:20pm Thursday.

How was your pregnancy? I had a great pregnancy, aside from some back/body aches due to being rather large and having to sleep sitting up for almost 2 months. I had regular ultrasounds and appointments so I was always well informed with my personal & twins’ development.

Did you take maternity Leave? If so, for how long? Yes, my Mat Leave was exactly 12 months.

What was the hardest thing you struggled with being a new mum? Sleep deprivation (I seriously love sleep) and my own personal body recovery & healing. I had to be readmitted to hospital 2-3 weeks after delivery due to Mastitis & an infection from the episiotomy. Not pleasant. At. All. All the while trying to juggle two crying babies, two nappies, two bottles, two of EVERYthing.

Did you work outside of the home when you had children? No. Well I wasn’t ‘paid’, but I sure did lots of work 🙂

What do you currently do for work? I am currently working 2 days/week as a Payroll Clerk for a Transport Company. But I’ll be going on Mat Leave again very soon!

What do you find the hardest thing is now, at this stage of life with your children at the age they are? The hardest thing for me at this stage is trying to find the time, energy and motivation to stimulate their inquisitive brains everyday. (and filling out the day-care paperwork so THEY can worry about paint & dirt & inquisitive brains) haha
Having said that, the girls are actually quite easy to ‘talk’ to at this stage than ever before, which I’m finding a lovely surprise.
Don’t get me wrong, they still have their tantrum-like commands and requests, but I find it’s easier to talk and reason with them at this stage.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new mum what would you tell them? Stress less. This coming from someone who doesn’t stress very much! Honestly, I can look back and say that I worried about insignificant things that I read TO DO & NOT to do. But every mother & child is different. It’s so easy for a new mother to fall for the ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ expectation to have everything perfectly under control all the time. So stress less 🙂

 

Love lives here..

There was a time where a messy house would put me out of sorts. By out of sorts I mean, I would go commando cleaning everything up, I would probably get annoyed at my husband and say something I didn’t really mean because why..why can’t me take his shoes upstairs..For me, in my younger years, things out-of-place meant my life was out of place.
My family home never had little figurines or heaps of photo frames out..my mother only got a fridge that had a magnetized door in her late 40s- so there were never little pictures or letter magnets.. My sisters and I joke that we don’t know what happened to our mum because whenever my niece draws a picture it somehow lands on the fridge door for a few weeks.. Like who is she and what have you done with our mother?

It’s funny to think how pedantic I was about having a clean home.. I knew a change was coming- everyone warned me that once I had children it would change. They laughed at my white walls and my light grey couches, they looked at me incredulously when I bought a cream rug that piles so much it’s actually driving me nuts.. Oh, I knew change was coming I was just trying to delay the inevitable I guess…

But..fast forward almost 10 months..I can say, without reservation, that having a clean home is the furthest thing from what I desire.. well maybe it’s dropped a few spots down the list..

I have a friend (if you are friends with me and this mum you will probably know who I am talking about)- her house is kid friendly. By kid friendly I mean, there are kids things everywhere! Downstairs, in the living room, outside.. everywhere. They converted their garage into a massive kids play area (including a huge blackboard wall.. something straight out of  my dreams I’m telling you).. Before having a child of my own, her home drove me insane.. I would itch walking the door, wanting to help organise things, put toys in clear plastic containers, labelled perfectly with a label maker. To organise books onto the book shelf in alphabetical order.. I envisioned room after room of perfectly ordered things… it was like putting someone in a room with pink walls, knowing that they hate the color pink, and leaving a paint brush with a can of blue paint, their favorite color and not giving them the opportunity to paint those walls.. At first you resist, then you tolerate and then you accept.. but..and you knew it was coming..since having Ava everything has changed..

Now, when I walk into her house I see a house full of love- love for children, that shows itself by all the little knick knacks lying around on the ground. The kids’ area seeps into every corner of their home and I secretly love it. It is a home filled with life and love and fun toys and gadgets. It’s a pirate mask and a superman cape, it’s a dragon fighting figure that we haggled the seller down by $2 for. It’s book after book and every kids animation you could dream of.. Love lives in her home..

Remember my beautiful white walls? In our home, where the kitchen meets the dining room there is a sharp corner. In order to make the corner in her walker, Ava has to sidle up against the skirting board and quite literally run the top of the bottom half of the walker along the top of the skirting..the top of the skirting is black, but I can’t bring myself to remove the scuff mucks because for me it means Ava was there at sometime that day..it means love lives in my house.

We had three bath toys for Ava- 3 toys I carefully packed up after every bath time into the soap holder. While they did overflow they still fit, out of the bath, in a corner to keep the bath “clean”.. well that was until yesterday. A quick trip to Kmart reminded me that I needed to grab a few extra bath toys- now we have every letter and number slowly sliding down the side of the bath tub as they dry out overnight. Our attempts at practising the number and letters failed last night- she was more interested in biting them and seeing how many she could fit in her mouth- but honestly, it doesn’t matter.. When I walked into the bathroom this morning and I saw the letters strewn all over the bath, completely clashing with our bathroom design I smiled..because it means that loves lives in my house..

Most mornings if Ava is up early she plays with a Lego set in our bed while either Greg or I get another 20 minutes of sleep. Sometimes, if we’re in a rush, we don’t clean her lego up- we leave it between our sheets and hastily make the bed.. only to find it at night, pulling back the covers. And you know, it doesn’t bother me, I actually love it.. I love finding remnants of my baby, even after she’s gone to bed.. because to have her things strewn over the bed, or in the lounge room means that she has loved and she has played, and she has enjoyed the time she was awake that day…

It’s so easy to see the messy home, or the toys out-of-place. It’s easy to see the dust accumulating or the finger prints on your mirror, but I want to challenge you today to look at the things that you see as out of place or dirty, and instead see them as a reminder of the children you are helping raise. I would rather a home filled with love and a toy or two out of place, than a perfectly kept lounge room any day of the week.

Very early one morning..Lego, our sleep saver..

Woven- A story from Iraq

They say it takes a village to raise a child..

I wanted to introduce a new series of stories from the women around me- their stories of labour, love and growing their little families. There will be women who have migrated from other countries, women who are in ministry with young families, women who are stay-at-home-mums and mums who run their own businesses.. Mums of twins, mums of boys and mums of girls.. I hope you see the imperfect perfect of this thing we call motherhood in the tapestry of stories woven by each woman..

My first story comes from Nan, my grandma, my mum’s mum. Since going back to work part time my Nan has been an amazing support. From watching Ava one day a week, to making sure we have nappies and wipes.. we are so very blessed. She is the most selfless woman I have ever known..

So.. while there are many stories untold here, you can catch a small glimpse into her life as a woman and mum.

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A short background- Arpin (or Nan to us) was born and raised in the city of Mosul, Iraq. At the age of 21 Nan married Dinkha. Side note- her mum married at 12 but didn’t live with her husband until she was 13/14. Nan said she was playing with children at her own wedding.

Also, another side note- a lot of the answers here are about my mum (Jena). Nan’s son Johnny passed away 6 years ago- It is still a very difficult thing for her to talk about.

So Nan, how big was your family? It was me, my mum, father and three brothers. I was the second eldest..and then George and Edward.

Can you tell me a bit about your dad? My father was the best father. As a teenager he sent me to typist school (no one in those days sent their girls to education), he sent me to a dress maker to learn to be a seamstress. He hired a private tutor at home.. he used to buy me gold and clothes.. he preferred me over the three sons. He was the best dad. He moved here to Australia in 1965 and died in 1972. He was a very hard worker.

In those days most families didn’t let female children have higher education. My dad went to the principal and said what do you think- we send our daughters to high school- I was best friends with the principals daughter.. the principal said no.. they are just going to get married..But my father said no.. I will send her to high school.. So I went to high school.

So Nan, how many children do you have? Jena (53) and Johnny passed away 6 years ago- he was 49.

Where did you have your children? Baghdad, Iraq in a hospital.

Did you have a Natural of C-section birth? Natural. When I had Jena, I woke up to go to work that morning and had her later that day.. Jena’s labour was about 6 hours, Johnny was 22 hours..

How was your pregnancy? No problems, very normal.

Did you take maternity Leave? In Baghdad, they give you 40 days with pay, and then you had to return to work. My mother-in-law looked after Johnny and Jena full time after I went back.

Nan and her family moved to Sydney, Australia back on the 1st of July, 1966 from Iraq.

How did you tell the children that you were moving to Australia? We didn’t! Wherever we went the children went.. Jena was 2, Johnny was 5. They didn’t ask anything.. we just packed and left. They just followed.

What was the hardest thing you struggled with being a new mum? Probably the broken sleep, during the night. I remember Jena used to wake up during the night a lot..I can’t remember why, she just would always wake up..

 

If you could give one piece of advice to a new mum what would you tell them? The first thing would be- show your children lots of love. The second thing would be to take good care of your children. Back in those days I had a very weak heart- I was emotional.. I would worry that they would get hurt..but now I am the same way with my grandchildren and great grand children..

I devoted all my love to my children..

When we moved here, Jena’s dad wanted to go out all the time, after work… but I would always say no, because the children don’t see us all day.. I wanted to stay with them.

My kids were pampered..

Do you have a funny story about one of your children? (I prompted her to tell this KFC story) 

I used to work full time, so in those days, the shopping supermarkets were only open till late on Thursdays nights. So on Thursday night I did the shopping, and didn’t cook. I bought take away food. I asked Johnny what do you want to eat? Every Thursday it was KFC. KFC. This went on for a very long time (months and months). One day I said I’m sick of it. I have to do something to change this..So I bought him 9 pieces..9 pieces.. he ate 7 pieces.. After that he never asked for KFC again..

Did you work outside of the home when you had the children? 

I wanted to be with Jena when she started school but I used to work full time. I went to my boss, and asked him to

give me part time work- I’ll just work during school hours. The boss said no, sorry we don’t have part time workers. So I left. At this stage there was no such thing as part time work.

I used to take Jena to school and bring her back at 3pm.. After 2 months the company sent after me saying you can come back part time.. there were 2 girls who tried to fill my job but couldn’t keep up with the workload.

So I came back but only worked school hours..  I dropped the kids… and picked them up.. no one was part time in the company- only me..You see how I sacrificed my time for Jena..

After we finished the mini-interview Nan wanted to tell me this funny story:

When I was a littler girl I was religious. By myself I used to walk to church… it took about 20 min.. So one Sunday, in those days there were not many cars.. just bikes.. so my eldest brother had a bike.. The houses in Baghdad where normal in a circle.. in the middle they had a courtyard. I used to keep the bike in the courtyard. So on Sunday everyone was home- I got up to go to church, it was winter- I had raincoat on.. so I went outside, crossed the street, there were two Assyrian men..They asked me “Did your dad give your pushbike to someone?” I said no.. so I went back to the house…I said to dad.. my pushbike is taken.. So my dad came down to go and find the thief.. We asked the men which way did the thief go.. They pointed “this way..” So my dad started running.. I forgot about church and I followed my dad..

So anyone who saw us went with us running and running to find this man who took the push bike, maybe there was 10 people with us running.. they joined the club.. so my dad, had put a new coloured grip on the bike, on the handle.. so as he was going he saw the thief.. he noticed the pushbike with the different grip on it. The thief is standing there putting air in the tyres.. my dad saw the bike and knew it was ours.. he swore at him.. he said.. “where are you taking this bike?” The thief ran away.. My eldest brother had a suit on.. Because he was leaving the house he had to put his suit on..so my dad said “what, after you put your suit then you go to find the thief?”.. here I got the bike, go..

It was a big story in the neighborhood.. Joseph (my father) brought the push bike back.. No one went looking for their push bikes but Joseph did!

We were a group running through the streets.. imagine.. my father first, I was second and all the people were following running.. everyone thought It was something to see.. when they saw it was a pushbike they were very disappointed..

So that day I didn’t go to church..

The Mum Uniform

Since having Ava I have to plan when I shower/wash my hair/what time of morning I get changed- mostly everything has a routine! Ava’s at the stage where she lunges for things so simply putting her on the bed now is no longer an option (unless we put her all the way in the middle and check on her every minute or so). I think I have worn my hair in the same style since Ava was born- it’s super hard to get creative when your priority is not yourself anymore..

Anyways.. I haven’t done a round up of outfits lately so I wanted to cover what I think a ‘mum uniform’ is for me. In movies mums are always portrayed in their gym pants or tracksuit pants with an oversized hoodie dropping their kids off to school.. if you are one of these people- no judgement here.. I just cannot mentally cope with the day if I don’t put on something semi-presentable (to me).

These are a few of my go-to outfits or forms of them- they are all super affordable and mum-appropriate!

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From left to right (clockwise)

Green Shirt Dress | Scarf | Shoes

Denim Top | Skirt | Shoes

Khaki Dress | Cardigan | Heels

Parka (similar) | Skirt | T-shirt | Boots