It’s been a while..

Wow.. I didn’t realise I hadn’t posted in 2 months! Life has gotten busy to say the least.. and I’ve been in a bit of a funk. I don’t feel like I have anything very interesting to say.. they say comparison is the thief of joy.. well there are A LOT of amazing bloggers out there with amazing families and kids and DIY projects.. and here’s little ole’ me from the backside of Sydney just trying to juggle one child and a part-time job.. It’s been hard.

Ava tuned one while I was on a bit of an unexplained break- YAY! We had a great week of celebrations with her. She ate way too many sweets and had one to many servings of cake, but I’ve adapted the motto- if it won’t kill her let’s give it a try.. my how times have changed. I didn’t pull out my good camera once for her birthday so you’ll just have to head over to instagram to see a little snapshot of weekend parties!

She has gotten way more talkative! Her vocab is probably around 20 words now.. and her second top tooth has finally caught up to her first top tooth- YAY! Symmetry for the win!

With Ava turning one has come a whole new set of struggles. Last night was actually the worst she’s ever acted- my husband and I looked couldn’t help but look at each other in shock. She is strong-willed and defiant! We will tell her for e.g. not to drop her water bottle off her highchair- she’ll pick it up and throw it over the edge. We smack her hand (yep..we lightly smack her hand), pick the water bottle up and say “no, leave it on your highchair”. This will happen two or three times- by now the tears are starting to fall. She will stop pushing the bottle of the highchair for a minute or two, and then put her hand on it as if daring us to do something. She will then look at either my husband or I in the eye and as if in slow motion push her bottle of the highchair.. argh!! It drives me nuts!!

We love her to death, but we are definitely on the parenting journey. I constantly struggle with the thought of “am i harming or helping her.” Are our boundaries and discipline too soon, or are we actually helping shape her for her 2’s and 3’s?

I don’t think you are ever prepared to become a mum or dad.. it’s so much more than getting pregnant and birthing a child.. you actually have to now raise them..

It’s such an emotional, exciting, overwhelming, crazy role to live out.. One that we are extremely grateful for.. but boy.. is it challenging!

For any mumma’s out there- I’m sure you’re doing an amazing job.. It’s okay to countdown the minutes till bedtime.. It’s okay to hide in the bathroom and eat that chocolate bar.. it’s okay to reminisce about when it was just you and your partner or when you didn’t have to vacuum for the ONE THOUSANDTH TIME! It’s okay to dream of that rug in your living room that was once spotless but is now COVERED with little specs of food.. it’s okay to struggle to remember when you last showered or actually finished a meal or a hot cup of tea… oh sorry.. did I lose some of you there? Guys.. I am totally being real right now.. this journey is challenging.. but if you asked me to do it all over again I would say yes in a heart beat. I would literally give my life for my baby girl..and you know.. the past is never as great as you remember it.. and who else will feed the tiny ants that you sure are living in your rug anyways?

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- 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..