Woven- To know her is to love her..

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 a dear friend of mine who I look up to so very much. She has been my Pastor’s wife for nearly 8 years- side plug, if you’re looking for a church in Sydney, come along and check out ours here– it’s an amazing church!

She has two children, a beautiful daughter named Qiana and an amazing little boy called Joaquin! To have met her is to love her.. trust me..

You know those people who, when they hug you, are really hugging you? Like they are conveying their love and support with how tightly and confidently they hug you? She is one of those ladies.

Today, I introduce to you Robyn Harvey!

FullSizeRender (1).jpgRobyn (far right), Joaquin (bottom right) and Qiana (middle)

Okay, so here we go..

How big is the family you come from? I come from a family of 4 kids. I am the youngest of the four. I have 2 older sisters and an older brother. There is a 13 year gap between my oldest sister and I.

Can you tell me a bit about your family? My parents and siblings migrated here to Australia in the mid 1970’s. My parents were Pastors in the Methodist Church in Fiji. An opportunity arose for the position of a Pastor in the Northern Sydney suburb of Berowra that was offered to my father. There were strong links between the Australian Methodist and the Fijian church. It was a leap of faith for my parents to move their family to a country that they did not know. My siblings were young then and I was not in the picture yet.

They found it difficult to adjust to a new culture in the beginning and were faced with many challenges. My father was the first non- Australian minister to pastor an all Australian church. They were interviewed by 3 of the local papers at that time and published in the local news. We lived in Northern Sydney for a few years and moved around Newcastle, Yallambie Heights, Berowra and Hornsby, where I was born.

*I tried to find this article, but with it being so long ago I didn’t have any luck! 😦

Okay, so now onto your own family! How many children do you have? I have 2 children.- Qiana & Joaquin, who are my world.

How were your pregnancies? My first pregnancy I had morning sickness up until I was about 7 months. Towards the end, I had a lot of fluid and couldn’t wear closed shoes for the last few weeks and I had put on about 15kgs…yikes! With my 2nd pregnancy, it was great. Morning sickness ended at the 3 months mark and I had a pleasant pregnancy, no fluid like the first one and I was able to wear most of my normal clothes until I was about 7 months.

Where did you have your children? I had them both at Liverpool Hospital.

..and Natural or C-Section? I had a natural birth for both children. I was in labour with my daughter for about 16 hours. I was induced and had to be laying on the bed. Through the excruciating contractions I was unable to walk around or stand as I was strapped with the drip in my arm as well as the machine that was monitoring baby’s heart rate. With my son, I was in hospital at around 11:30pm in the evening and gave birth at 4:37am, it was a much shorter labour and less intense.

If you had to narrow down one of the things you struggled with the most, being a new mum, what would you say?

The hardest thing I struggled with becoming a new Mum was listening to all the different advice that people would give me. It was confusing and overwhelming at times. My mum would tell me how it should be done, the midwives would tell me what I need to do, my friends would tell me something different along with all the many pregnancy and baby books I had bought for myself. Who do I listen to?

We normally only see Joaquin and Qiana at church on Sunday where everyone is either serving, or participating in the service. I asked Robyn to share a funny story involving her kids!

Well, my son never crawled due to his low muscle tone, so he would roll everywhere instead to get around. (Well one day) I left him on the lounge room floor on the playmat to get his lunch ready. When I returned to the lounge room, I couldn’t see or hear him anywhere, I panicked a little and started calling his name out, but he wasn’t responding. After I had called out his name a few times, I heard a small voice that sounded distant, I kept talking to him until I could find where the voice was coming from. As I approached the sofa in the lounge room, it got louder. I got on my knees and looked under the couch and there he was, with the biggest smile on his face chewing on his, “chewy tube” (therapeutic tube) for babies with sensory issues. Cheeky monkey.

Let’s talk about work..Did you work outside of the home when you had children?  Yes, I did work outside of the home. At the time I was a Case Manager for a Welfare Organization working and supporting single young mothers who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. I worked 3 days a week. Qiana was in Family Day Care for those 3 days. By the time my son was born, my mother was on her way to retiring and was only working 2 days a week. So she arranged her roster to work on the days I had off and then she would have her days off when I went to work for the 3 days. This worked out really well for the next 5 years until my son was in Kindergarten.

Where, are you currently working? Well, in 2014 the program I worked 16 years for, lost funding and I was made redundant. I then worked for another Welfare Organisation in the CBD for just over a year, whilst studying my Diploma for Interior Design. When I completed my Diploma, I felt like I needed a career change after working in the Welfare Industry for 17 years. Interior Design has always been my passion. I started my own Interior Design/Styling Business (Salt & Light Interiors) in September 2016. I work for myself from home and I also do Freelance Interior Styling for a styling company in the City.

Robyn is an amazing interior designer- so I’ll make a little plug here, if you are looking for an interior designer in Sydney- I cannot recommend her enough! Her company is linked here: Salt & Light Interiors.

What do you find the hardest thing now is, at this stage of life with your children?

My daughter is now a teenager, that just says it all. Dealing with a teenage girl has proven to be difficult and challenging at times. I guess adolescence is a difficult stage in life, having to deal with changes in the body, mood swings, hormones etc I’m learning everyday.

My son is turning 10 this year and he has an Intellectual Disability. We have had quite a journey with him, one of many challenges and obstacles, but also one of growth and many triumphs. His journey has not been easy, and will continue to be that way throughout his life. He is a placid boy who is very gentle in nature and always has a smile on his face. We will face more mountains to come as he gets older but with the support of our wonderful family, friends and therapists it makes a world of difference. We are so very thankful and so blessed.

As we round up our interview, could you give one piece of advice to a new mum out there?

My one piece of advice to a new mum is always, “Sleep when baby sleeps”. It is so important to be rested in our bodies physically and mentally. Having a new baby is such a wonderful and joyous life event for us but it can also be a very stressful one, having had a enough sleep helps you to think better as well as feel better.

 

 

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!

18449256_10212807023267323_1376406502457832545_o.jpg

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!

17522885_10212405636552906_6021607432505128295_n.jpg

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 🙂

 

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.

IMG_1089.JPG

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..

A heart for the home!

A few weeks ago I came across the below picture on instagram by Awaken Gathering- I took a screenshot with the intent of re-posting it when I felt to- that hasn’t happened yet (can you blame me).

untitled

This simple image profusely spoke to me. I can imagine there are quite a few mum’s out there who feel like they’re drowning in things that need to be done, errands that need to be run, commitments that were agreed to that we should have said no to, school pick ups and drop offs, dinners to plan, personal goals to achieve- I’m sure the list can go on and on.. You may find yourself wondering where time has gone. You blink and you’ve reached another weekend, another birthday, another anniversary.

I am surrounded by some of the most incredible women you will ever meet- trust me! I have seen many of them pursue their own goals and dreams while profusely loving their husbands and nurturing their children. They work full time and part time jobs outside of the home and yet manage life so effortlessly (it would seem). I know a lot of prayer and planning goes into their day-to-day lives!

So, if you are reading this and you feel like you are an overwhelmed mum- let me give you some encouragement- YOU ARE AMAZING! The fact that you birthed (or adopted or fostered) that child makes you amazing! The pain you may have experienced (in childbirth or through the heart wrenching process of adoption or fostering) will one day (if not already) be overshadowed with indescribable love. The lack of sleep you may be experiencing (yet here you are functioning like nobody’s business) will one day help you stay awake to watch that marathon at the Olympics in 4 years at midnight- YOU ARE AMAZING!

I promise you that there will be another pile of washing after you get this pile done (trust me- I have a newborn that has pooped through 4 outfits already). I promise you that your kids will not care that you served 2 minute noodles for dinner a few times this week. I promise you that your husband won’t mind going to get take-out because you just couldn’t manage to grocery shop today. These things are all fleeting and will come and go like the wind.

Being mum to your child/children is what really counts and you are doing amazing!!

Coincidentally today is also R U Ok? day here in Australia. If you’re not from Australia you can read here on how the day came about. Rocked by the suicide of his father, Gavin Larkin began the campaign to have Aussie’s around the country (and the world), on the 8th of September, ask friends and family if they are okay!

Dad’s/Husbands if you are reading this- I challenge you to ask your wives and partners today if they are doing okay- be their cheerleader today! Mum’s, text a friend today and find out if they’re coping with life at the moment! Remind her that you are in her corner- grab those pom poms and start cheering!!