My Experience as an Educator made me a more anxious new mother …
No matter your experience with young children whether you are an Educator, Nurse, Doctor, Entertainer- Nothing will prepare you for becoming a mother.. WHY? Because nothing compares!
Since I was a small girl my family knew I was destined to work with children. I treated my doll like a real baby and was drawn to babies and small children everywhere I went. I loved to cuddle babies, help feed and change them and was always role playing being a mummy.
At the age of 18 I started my traineeship and went on to complete my Diploma in Children’s Services. I worked in a couple of Child Care centres before becoming a Nanny. This was the best job I have ever had. I loved my two girls with all of my heart. I looked after them as if they were my own and was a big part of their family. Years down the track they started full time school which was when I started Family Day Care. I looked after 4 babies during the day and picked my girls up from school. Within six months I knew I needed to expand and open a child care centre so that I could accommodate the high demand of a homely – family owned and operated centre.
Although I was not yet a mum I always had strong maternal instincts and cared so much about how mum’s felt when dropping their treasured tots to child care. I knew they needed to feel that their child would be cuddled, loved, supported in their learning, distracted with activities and kept clean, well fed and well slept. I did and do everything I can to make all families feel this way about leaving their child with not only me but my wonderful team of Educators at my Early Education and care centres.
I married my long term boyfriend Brock in 2013 and fell pregnant with my daughter Piper shortly after. I had by this stage looked after hundreds of children of all ages and stages of their lives. Without sounding “cocky” I did this well. I didn’t meet a baby I couldn’t settle and get to love their time in our care. I could read their cues for wants and needs and deliver quality, nurturing care and education to them without a second thought.
My Pregnancy was wonderful, I was fit, happy and most of the time very well. I couldn’t wait to be a mum. I had no doubts in my mind that becoming a mum would be the easiest, most natural thing I would ever do. How very wrong I was!
At 8am on the 14th of August 2014 I was induced. Apart from this inductoin I had a drug free, natural birth with the support of a doula and welcomed Piper Luxe into the world 4 hours later. The first few days in hospital were great! Piper was asleep most of the time and breast fed well.
We weren’t home long and things started to change. Piper wouldn’t feed. She was extremely unsettled and didn’t sleep. I was beside myself. I had no idea what to do with my own baby. How had I looked after everyone else’s babies so well and not have a clue what was happening with my own. I was in disbelief that I felt so out of my league. I had put so much pressure on myself unintentionally and it ultimately made me feel like a failure. The truth is I probably felt the same way any new mum felt especially one who’s bub was very unsettled, I just added the pressure of feeling the need to be the perfect mum and baby duo to reflect my ability to care for other children. Looking back this was very silly.
3 months on and with the help of a Pediatrician to get medical issues (Reflux) under control and a Sleep consultant, we got Piper into a routine which she thrived on and finally I felt normal. I often thought about those hard few months and how it made me feel. I wish so much that I had accepted it as a normal part of adjusting to life with my own baby and not have beaten myself up about it. I wish I had known that no amount of experience with children prepares you for becoming a mother. I wish I had known that the love you feel for your own child actually hurts your heart. I honestly thought I would have the same love for my child as I did for the children I cared for. I learnt quickly that it is actually a very different kind of love.
2.5 years on at 8am on the 7th of April 2017 I was again induced. Now this time I thought I knew exactly what I was in for both the labour and newborn parenting. Wasn’t I very wrong! My Labour was very different to the first. Almost double the length which made it a lot more mentally and physically challenging. I was determine to have another natural birth with no interventions mainly because I am scared of needles and read LOTS about the cascade of interventions. With the help of my Doula we welcomed Madden Hugh at 4.37pm Naturally. I was very lucky to be able to experience this again as I know that intervention is sometimes needed for the wellbeing of mum and or baby. I left the hospital feeling excited about being a mum of two and confident that I had learnt all of the tools and tricks from my first child to ensure my baby would breastfeed and sleep well and I had promised myself not to stress about the journey possibly not going smoothly. It was over the next couple of months that I made a huge realization. That nothing can prepare you for the birth and parenting journey that you are on with each of your children no matter your previous experiences. My gorgeous newborn baby boy quickly showed the very familiar signs that my daughter showed of having reflux, feeding and sleep issues. I was again in this whirlwind of what the hell is going on! Why do I feel so out of my depth at this mothering Gig. I had all of this experience both in my time as an Educator and Child care Owner and I felt that I SHOULD know it all and I shouldn’t need help from anyone.
I am very lucky that I was actually ok with asking for help. I didn’t wait for things to get really bad. I recognized that getting help sooner rather than later will make me a better mum, wife and person. I googled everything ( sometimes not a good idea), saw my Pediatrician several times ( until I was happy with the improvement’s in my babes), let myself cry about failing at breastfeeding then quickly picked myself up and said this mantra daily – ‘my baby is fed, happy and healthy, my baby is fed, happy and healthy’ until I believed it and finally I took the help offered to me by my surrounding network of Family and friends. This got me through the first few months and then I got the help of a Sleep consultant to help teach my babies how to self-settle and learn the art of sleep and the HUGE importance of it.
Being a mum is the most rewarding, exciting, confusing and challenging thing I have ever imagined. I absolutely love every minute of this wild, funny, challenging and truly wonderful journey I am on. I believe that all mums sppuld feel that they are more than enough! You are the best in the eyes of your child! No matter our different ways of parenting, feeding, sleeping at the end of the day we are chasing the same result- to have happy, healthy children who are loved. Never be afraid of needing help! NEVER!
Here are my TOP 5 TIPS for surviving the first few months of motherhood whether it be first second or fifth time, and no matter your previous experiences or career.
1. Ask for help and accept all offers of help whether it be a cooked meal, babysitting or a take away coffee delivered.
2. Don’t beat yourself up about breastfeeding. If it isn’t working out for you and your baby it is OK! Mum and bub being happy and bonding lovingly is THE only thing that matters.
3. Always act on your gut feeling. If you think there is something not quite right with your newborn or with yourself, seek help and do not settle until you are satisfied.
4. TALK and share your ups and downs with anyone who will listen. You will feel a lot less alone by sharing stories with other Mum's and people who have been exactly where you are right now. Just remember never to judge or criticize another Mum's decision’s or opinions.
5. Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep! For yourself and your Baby. Sleep affects your whole family and it is very important to work on getting it sorted. If you can afford help from a sleep consultant don’t hesitate and if you can’t – look out for free workshops and research from reputable sources.
Lastly enjoy moment with your beautiful baby. Take in that newborn smell, the long nights, the hours on the couch feeding because it all goes VERY fast. Before you know it your little one will be running around.