All 7 of us.

April 2017….

We are strolling through the car park next to a mariner, marvelling at the luxurious yachts and the expensive cars driven by the owners. He points to a large, family SUV and says, “That one would be perfect, it would fit all 7 of us”.

I almost miss a step, I have to force myself not to respond. Did he misspeak? Miscount? Or is he being deliberate. I know him well enough to know that it likely wasn’t an accident. I also know him well enough to know that I need to contain my reaction to this inconspicuously huge revelation.

Because, right now, there is only six of us. There’s me and my two girls, and him and his two boys. An almost Brady Bunch.

The seventh, a potential baby of our own, has been a hotly contended subject. It’s been the dealbreaker that wasn’t. It’s taken me a long time to find peace with not getting my way in the situation. To bury the piece of my heart that was desperate for another baby.

And now he says “seven of us”?

Before we had gotten together, properly, I asked if he was done having kids. His youngest is about a year older than my eldest. Honestly, I suspected that he had had a vasectomy. He’s older then me, and his ex-wife even older then him, in her forties. I assumed they had discussed it long ago, but I wasn’t sure if it was decision he had made for himself. He told me that he thought he was, but that with me, he really loved the idea, and that if we wanted to, yes it was possible. A vasectomy had been suggested, but he’d never felt right doing it, he wasn’t sure that he wouldn’t someday want more kids. With someone else. And then, here I was. Wanting a baby with him.

But then, when we became an official, public couple, and his ex wife found out, ran off with his kids, kickstarting a long, expensive and emotionally excruciating family court battle, and his answer turned to a hard, immovable, adamant NO.

It was devastating. We had walked through so many fires to be together, and now we weren’t just on separate pages, we were reading different books. My littlest girl was two and a half, and I was ready to either have another baby, or go back to work full time. I also have difficulties falling pregnant, and didn’t want to keep waiting to start trying, being that it could take many months. For me, it was now or never. For him, it was absolutely not now. We were still new, and although we were both certain of the relationship, there was so much other turmoil in his life, that he just could not entertain the idea of bringing in another child to complicate things further.

Knowing now as I do how things worked out, he was absolutely right. But for me, at the time, I felt betrayed. We had spoken about it. He has said yes. We’d talked baby names and who it would look like. I was ready. And now he’d taken it back. I was so angry at him. I’d put so much of my life aside to be with him, and now it wasn’t going to move forward how I thought we’d agreed. Looking back, I’m a little surprised he stayed with me through all the pressure I put on him in those early days. He hates being made to do things. He hates, as anyone would, being pushed into things. And he hates confrontation, and confront him I did. A lot.

I remember the final fight we had about it. We’d sent some heated texts, before giving each other the silent treatment for a few days, which neither of us coped with well. Finally we met at the beach to talk it through.

“If you want a baby, you need to be with someone else.” He said, hopeless tears in his eyes. He was exhausted from the same fight, over and over, and I knew that he couldn’t do it anymore.

“It’s not that I want any baby, it’s that I want YOUR baby.” I explained.

“And it’s not that I wouldn’t want a baby with you, it’s that I don’t want another child at all right now. Of course it would be with you if I did want one”.

I taking it all as a reflection of how he felt about me. I was jealous he’d had children with his ex-wife, that he’d told me he wasn’t ready when she was, but he’d done it for her, but now wouldn’t for me. It infuriated me because he would constantly tell me what an amazing mother he thought I was, but, he didn’t want a baby. To me, those couldn’t be mutually exclusive things. And I couldn’t see that he had learnt having a child you weren’t ready for, was a terrible idea.

To him, it wasn’t that he didn’t adore me, or value me as a parent, it’s that his plate was so full, and he was already drowning. I was heaping on with expectations he couldn’t manage, and it was hurting him that he just couldn’t agree with me. He wanted to make me happy, but this was one thing he couldn’t budge on. I was asking far too much, and we were both miserable.

So. I agreed to stop asking.

I told him that I wanted him, more than I wanted a baby to someone else. I would rather choose him, and no baby, than no him. But we also agreed that I would stop taking birth control. It was ruining my body, my cycles were awful and more hormones horrendous (and possibly/almost definitely responsible, for some of the big fights we’d been having, which were almost exactly every 4 weeks). We agreed that he didn’t want a baby, he needed to be responsible for preventing it. I told him that I wouldn’t deliberately try to get pregnant, I had absolutely no desire to have a child the father didn’t want.

We closer the door on the argument. We bought condoms. He was quite nonchalant about protection though, which I found confusing, given he was the one not wanting a pregnancy, and we didn’t use them often, and instead relied on a very lazy combination of family planning and the withdrawal method- risky, given both are notoriously unreliable, but given I rarely ovulate, nothing eventuated.

I started working more. I applied to transfer my university degree, was accepted and the following year, I quit work to study full time. I’d have my degree finished in 2.5 years, and then I’d start my career. My little one grew, and as she got older, and our independence as a family grew too, it was easier to imagine life without another baby. I’d agreed “no”, so I pushed my life in a direction away from the homemaker role, and started to see a life laying out for myself with the children we had between us, and a career I’d dreamt of for a long time.

And then, barely 6 months into my degree. Only a little over a year since we decided not to fight about it anymore, just as my heart is healing from the “no more babies” grief that seemingly only mums experience. Then, THEN, he casually drops a:

“All 7 of us”.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Now?! Now he’s bloody ready? What. A. Prick.

It made sense. The worst of the court proceedings were over. He had stable time with his kids. His job was going well. Our relationship is so happy, we were travelling and having regular date nights, my study was going well, everything was quite settled. Obviously it was a much, much better time.

But uni? My degree? My career? What if now, I’m the one not ready? I don’t want to postpone all that again. I did that after my first and it took me 6 years to go back. I was looking forward to the new plan I had made. The one without a baby.

Later, I ask him.

“Did you mean to say 7?”.

I think I sound more annoyed than I intended. He looks quite abashed. “Yes.”

He tells me that he started thinking about it a few months ago. That he is quite excited at the idea of having a child together. That he wants to parent with me, not just the children we have, but one we share only with each other.

I ask if he’s happy to wait until I’ve finished studying. He tells me that the timing is up to me. But we stop being careful at all pretty quickly. I stop checking the calendar, and we give up on the withdrawal method almost all together. I start getting little twinges of hope and excitement every time my period is late. Disappointment when it arrives. We pick baby names. He changes jobs. I take extra courses to fast track my study program. It’s subtle. But it’s there. It’s not an “if” anymore, it’s a “when”.

* * *

18 months later, the test is positive. And I laugh, because I have exactly 9 months of my degree to go…


Word Project: Day Ten

No one wants to be a bereaved mother. Bereaved mothers don’t want to have be bereaved mothers. We don’t want to walk the path we do, but we have to, because we love our children despite their death.

When my daughter died, I had to learn who I was in this new world, which seemed so suddenly grey, where everything was off kilter, my balance was gone. I didn’t know who I was without my daughter. 

Missy Higgins 

Where I Stood

I don’t know what I’ve done

Or if I like what I’ve begun

But something told me to run

And honey you know me it’s all or none

There were sounds in my head

LIttle voices whispering

That I should go and this should end

Oh and I found myself listening

‘Cos I dont know who I am, who I am without you

All I know is that I should

And I don’t know if I could stand another hand upon you

All I know is that I should

‘Cos she will love you more than I could

She who dares to stand where I stood

See I thought love was black and white

That it was wrong or it was right

But you ain’t leaving without a fight

And I think I am just as torn inside

‘Cos I dont know who I am, who I am without you

All I know is that I should

And I don’t know if I could stand another hand upon you

All I know is that I should

Cos she will love you more than I could

She who dares to stand where I stood

And I won’t be far from where you are if ever you should call

You meant more to me than anyone I ever loved at all

But you taught me how to trust myself and so I say to you

This is what I have to do
‘Cos I dont know who I am, who I am without you

All I know is that I should

And I don’t know if I could stand another hand upon you

All I know is that I should

‘Cos she will love you more than I could

She who dares to stand where I stood

Oh, she who dares to stand where I stood

On 30th June, Paisley will be 4. To honour her I am raising funds for Heartfelt, an amazing Australian charity of photographers who help the family to capture priceless memories of their children gone too soon. If you can, please consider supporting this outstanding organisation.

Two Point Five

Little Girl, lately, parenting you has been hard. Your big sister started school, and we’ve all adjusted quite well to the routine. I’m naturally a pragmatic and organised person, so packing lunches, making sure we don’t forget homework and home readers and library day and sports day and news day, has all come quite easily. Our mornings getting out the door on time have all been fairly smooth, and you love the walk to school to drop your sister off. The structure suits us as a family, your sister was well and truly ready for school, and I was really looking forward to spending some time with you alone. You’ve started a dancing class and swimming lessons, and we’ve spent time going for walks and to the park, as well as just playing together at home. 

And with all this, I’m sorry, my sweet girl, but you are driving me completely mental. You’re “twoness” is in full force. I loved the two’s with your sister, we engaged in similar activities and I absolutely adored her company. I really expected to find this time with you nourishing and soul replenishing, just like I had with your oldest sister. But you are just such a different person, and you challenge me daily. You are full of “no’s” and “I don’t want to!’s” and “I don’t like it ANYMORE!!”. All of these are accompanied by a loud “HUMMMPPHHH!!!”, a shoulder shrug and a pouted face. 

You don’t listen. You won’t hold my hand around cars. You argue with everything I ask you to do, including things you actually want to do. At the moment a standard conversation with you goes something like this:

You: I want my Milkies !!!

Me: let’s go and get your milk then

You: I don’t want my milkies!!!

It’s entirely exasperating!!! Constantly arguing with you is tiring, frustrating and is wearing me down, little girl.

You are so bright, your speech is excellent, and your skills of deduction are great. But your reasoning skills? They apparently don’t exist. Use of the word “no”?. You’re all over that. 

You have so much light in you, you radiate joy when you’re happy. You’re funny and sweet and incredibly empathetic and caring. You have the capacity to be a gorgeous, gentle, good natured little human. But you seem to save most of that for my partner, whom you worship. You will curl up on his lap, put your hands on his cheeks and turn his face to look into yours, your nose touching his, leaving him no choice but to look into your piercing blue eyes and fervently say “you see me?! You ok?! You need a cuddle?!”.

You make us laugh so often. Almost as often as you make me want to cry. 

You are truly the definition of a Rainbow Baby. You’ve brought me so much love, so much happiness, and an incredible amount of joy. But you have also brought a phenomenonally emotional roller coaster to my world. Carrying you was terrifying, birthing you was undeniable triumphant. Walking from the hospital with you alive in my arms was the most perfect thing I have ever done. And now, at 2.5, you evoke all those feelings in me daily. 
You love to tickle and play and hide, and love to tell us how funny you are. “I funny mummy!!”, you’ll say, “I’m a funny bunny!!”. 

Yes, baby girl you are. But do you think you could say “no!!” just a little less? 


4 and A Quarter

My precious Sunshine Princess, 3 months you’ve been 4 now, the Theatrical Threes a distant memory.

At 4 you seem so big. So grown. In so many ways it feels like your childhood is slipping away from me, as your need for my help, and input gradually lessens. I spend less time with you than I ever have, you are at preschool 3 days a week, and between your extra curricular activities, and my busyness with The Rainbow’s toddling adventures, I sometimes find I miss you. We find moments to connect every day, especially at bedtime, but sometimes they aren’t as many as I would like. In some ways it feels like I parent you in a more indirect way now; the scaffolding and modelling I used with you as a toddler to teach you so much of the “how” and the right way to manage things have paid off because you are well rounded and self sufficient, but you no longer need me as a constant guide, and it’s strange finding my place in parenting you as your childhood complexities change.

The years of complete physical dependency are all but gone. You still need me for the big things, obviously things like cooking, cleaning, driving, but there are so many little things you do for yourself now, made all the more noticeable by how much I do for The Rainbow, that it reminds me it wasn’t that long ago you needed me constantly like that too. You can dress yourself, get yourself snacks and drinks, spread the butter on your toast, pour the milk on your cereal. You can wash and dry yourself. You pick your own clothes and get yourself ready to leave the house. You can occupy yourself for the whole day, busy in your own world, where your imagination makes you queen, where a cardboard box is a car, an aeroplane, a bath, a castle and a birthday cake all within the space of an hour. It’s like all of a sudden the helpless infant, the dependent toddler, and the needy preschooler have disappeared and left in their wake a self reliant, confident, independent, happy little girl. My guidance is more subtle now, and my unintentional messages more noticeable. You need for me is on a more emotional level now, helping you manage your sadness, or anger, comforting you when the world gets too big. You are still growing and learning socially, starting to have to negotiate more complex friendship circles, and learning that some people aren’t as kind as you would like, and that people think and want different things than you. You don’t understand when I can’t see your perspective, or can’t guess your thoughts, and it frustrates you. As it does me. But I don’t want this world to be harsh for you just yet. I love how you simply assume goodness and optimism. I love that your worldview isn’t tainted.

I’m constantly amazed at how much of your own person you are now. Your words and thoughts and actions are all your own now, influenced by what you see and hear, yes, but so much just yours. The way you think about the world, and the questions you ask, remind me that your thought process is just so different to mine. The innocence and curiosity of childhood gives you such a pure perspective of things, and you are driven to understand and know about everything. You’re learning about the solar system, and dinosaurs and how your body works, and you ask the most remarkable questions, often I really have to think about how to answer you.

Then there is the playful side, the child who explores and plays and create and imagines. You are always laughing, singing or talking to yourself. You think potty humour is hilarious, anything about farts or poos is sure to have you in stitches. You love to play mums and dads, switching roles with me to act as the mummy while I am the little girl. You turn our living room into a volcanic eruption, leaping from cushion to toy to chair to avoid the lava. Dragons and pirates and monsters, mermaids and unicorns and witches and fairies are all very very real, sometimes too real, and they live in your world, the world of joy and creation, a world I remember and miss from my own childhood. I hope you hold onto that magical realm as long as you can.

My heart swells with how proud I am of the person you are. You have so much vibrancy about you. You are imaginative, and smart, and creative and cheeky. You are sweet and empathetic. You are brave and bold. You are an amazing big sister, you adore The Rainbow Princess and love to make her smile and laugh. You are well spoken and outspoken, you are fierce and stubborn and headstrong. You are not easily coerced or bargained with. You want what you want, and I’m (hopefully) helping you learn that right way to go about getting it.

There is so much magic in watching you simply be. You are engaged and bright, sensitive and kind, energetic and playful. You are everything I could have ever wished for, and so much more. I love you sweetheart. To the end of the stars and the bottoms of the ocean.

13 Months

It seems like only yesterday that I sat down to write your 12 month post, but here we are at 13 months already my lovely little Rainbow Princess.

We celebrated your birthday 2 weeks after it, when daddy was home from work. We had a fabulous afternoon party at a local hall, rainbow themed of course! You’re excellent godmother made you a beautiful rainbow layered cake, and for someone who just earlier texted me that she set baking paper on fire in the oven, this was quite an achievement. I pretended to help just so I can tell you I made your first cake, but really all I did was mix the colours into the batter. Your great grandparents made a long trip to attend, and you paternal grandfather came from interstate to meet you for the first time. it was a really special afternoon, only dampened by the fact that you, and quite a few of our expected guests were unwell. You were actually very sick, the sickest you’ve been in your short life, with a lung infection and ear infection, but you coped really well and looked delightful in your rainbow tutu. I have made some really amazing new friends because of you my precious girl, so thank you; thank you for all the love and light you have brought us, that was all particularly obvious that afternoon.

I love documenting you each month, and wish I started it sooner, because it makes me really pay attention to the new things you are doing, and this month there was quite a few. Although you don’t have a lot of words yet, you are really quite communicative and it’s very apparent that you understand a lot of what I am saying to you, and you respond appropriately. You are very interested in interacting with us this month, you’ve started giving high fives, and blowing kisses, nodding yes, shaking your head no. You bring me books you want to read and tap my legs, and clamber happily onto my lap when I oblige and sit down to read with you. When you want a toy or a drink that is out of reach you will find me, take my hand and lead me to it and then point and nod. You often bring me a container from the pantry, indicating what you’d like me to give you to eat (see, you don’t need a snack schedule, you remind me to feed you all the time!) You are so used to your daily routines that you can infer what you need to do from what I say to you, like running to your highchair and trying to climb in when I say its meal time, or heading to the bathroom after dinner for you bath (or running away and hiding when I say it’s time to change your nappy or get dressed). The comment “you’re so clever!” usually elicits a proud clap for yourself, as if to say, “why yes I am!”

You love to put on necklaces, and get really upset if we try to take them off you, but you are always very sharing and will find a spare to put on me. Almost always at home you have a long chain of dress up pearls on. At first I though The Sunshine Princess must have been putting them on you, until she corrected me and I saw you doing it yourself. You love to brush your hair too.

You are starting to sort your shape blocks into the container now, its still in the rudimental phases, but you are on your way. you also love taking lids off and trying to put them back on containers. The climbing has gotten worse, if you can climb it you will. At least now you’ve learnt to get back down by yourself. And you’ve not had too many big falls yet. now I just need you to realize that the slides at the park are for down, not up. Although you did give it a good try.

You love to hold my hand and lead me places, or bring me objects you have found for me to examine. The world must be so fascinating when everything is new. Its my honour that I’m the one you want to walk beside you, and I will enjoy it as long as it lasts, and try to not let my enthusiasm for your treasures fade, even if the thirtieth stick you show me looks exactly like the first.

You’re still a good eater, you went through a phase this month where you thought that anything with Caesar dressing on it was just the absolute best. Other favourites are Chia mountain bread, frozen berries and yoghurt.

Sleepwise most of this month was pretty uneventful. You slept poorly when you were sick, as to be expected, but more nights were better than they have been before, down to 1-2 wakes a night, with just one breastfeed. last month you were still having 2-3 over night, so this is a huge change for you. You are down to one day sleep now, usually a long one in the middle of the day, but some days you are happy with a short sleep. I’ll give it to you kid, you don’t love sleep as much as I wish you did, but you sure cope well without it. It’s another way you are very different to your big sister, at the same age she would have been a mess on the amount of sleep you have some days, but you have far less trouble with it then she did. Maybe it comes from being the little sister, always having to fit in with everything else going on, but you are definitely going to be one who drops the day sleep altogether early . Because I no longer need to spend the first few hours of the night resettling you every half an hour, I have *finally* enrolled in a certificate IV course I became interested in when you were born. It’s exciting but it also reminds me that I no longer have a new baby who needs nearly all of my focus, and that’s a little sad.

You went into toddler size nappies in the day this month (you’ve been wearing them overnight for awhile) and you’re in virtually all size 0 clothing now. There’s still a few 00’s that fit you, but it’s getting to that time again where I need to go through your wardrobe and pack things away.

You said your biggest sister’s nickname (her real name is much harder for you to say, she herself didn’t pronounce it properly until she was over 2) for the first time this month, she was ecstatic. You and her fight sometimes, usually there is snatching and yelling involved, but for the most part you have a really beautiful bond and it melts my heart to watch you together.

You all time favorite things this month are:

  • making indian noises with your hand over your mouth in the car- it makes car rides that much more enjoyable to listen to your noises followed by your proud giggle
  • your yellow ducky book- you’ve learnt to sign duck, which is adorable. Reading the 4 page book 1000 times a day, less adorable.
  • dogs- you and dogs, this has been an ongoing obsession. You love them and make an awful lot of noise when you see them, and chase them with reckless abandon, but are stunned when they actually turn to greet you
  • the bath time frog song. About a week ago I used your squeezy frog to sing you a frog song, and the container to pour “rain” over him. The very next night, and every night since, as soon as I put you in the bath you search out Mr Frog and the container and bang them on the side of the bath until I take them and perform the song for you. I am a brilliant horrible, albeit enthusiastic, singer

You have had rosy, dry cheeks most of this month, because you darling, are the world’s. slowest. teether. Your third tooth came through a few days after your birthday, and the one next to it looked like it wasn’t far behind, but we are still waiting for it to crack the gums. You’ve been pretty good about it, but sometimes you rub your mouth as you’re trying to sleep and I can tell it bothers you. I hope a bunch more make an appearance for you soon.

At 13 months you are cheeky, smiley, communicative, attentive and affectionate. You are becoming a fabulous little toddler, remnants of babyhood are fading away quickly. You are sweet, you are funny and you make me proud. You are thriving sweetheart. I love you.

10 Months

Hello Cheeky little Rainbow Princess!

How can you be 10 months already? Where did my squishy little baby go?! Didn’t I just bring you home?

This month has been a big one for you little girl, a huge explosion of skills and personality has made you even more interactive, and for the most part, a joy to be around. You have been quick to giggle this month, and have been seeking repetition of games that make you belly laugh.

Your antics, to be honest, are mildly frustrating, filling cups with water and standing up to pour them over the floor, EVERY SINGLE BATH TIME, is not as hilarious to me as it is to you. Neither is crawling just far enough out of my reach and looking back to giggle at me, EVERY SINGLE CHANGE TIME, but it’s hard to feel cross for long, because your giggle is infectious, and you know you’ve got me as soon as I crack a smile, which of course makes you do whatever you are doing even more.

If you find a box or bag that can be emptied, or a roll that can be undone, you’re doing it. Tissues, wipes, toilet paper, nappy bags and clothes draws, when you’re finished exploring the house appears to have been thoroughly searched for treasure. Putting toys on the second shelf no longer keeps them out of your reach and your determination compensates for your stature. You are a tiny 7.7kgs, and 70cm long, which puts you on the lower end of the growth charts, but to me you’re still my big bubba, you’re wearing 00 clothes The Sunshine Princess did at 15 months. I’ve had a box of toddler nappies waiting for you for months now, but your crawler size nappies aren’t looking too small just yet.

You learnt to clap, sign “finished” and wave this month, and you’re clearly impressed with yourself, but that’s ok because I’m impressed with you too. You also cut your 2 first teeth. The first one, the bottom right took weeks and a few sleepless nights, the second appeared without warning a few days after.

You were already standing unassisted for a few seconds, and cruising along the furniture, but you can now stand longer and cruise faster. You have also improved how many steps you can take pushing your walker (or anything else you can) but I am in no hurry for you to walk, and I hope you wait a few more months before you really take off. However, just a few days ago you took your very first unassisted steps, it took 3 days for me to believe it, as I kept missing the start of it and thought maybe I was imagining things, but yesterday on my birthday, you showed all our BBQ guests and there’s no denying now that my baby is getting ready to walk!! Just a few steps at a time at the moment, 4 has been your best effort, which you finished with a spectacular face plant, you are pretty excited about your new skill and have been practising every chance you get. Mummy is very proud of you little one

You slept long periods through the night more often this month, and we are using your ball far less. You’ve decided though that sleeping through, and sleeping in are an either/or situation, the nights you sleep well you rise early, with an enthusiasm I simply can’t match at the time of day. We play together in your room so we don’t wake The Sunshine Princess, I sleepily let you crawl over me, and you plant sloppy, gummy kisses all over my face and neck and I remind myself that I didn’t really need to sleep an extra hour anyway. You’re worth being up before the sun for. The last few nights have been a bit difficult, but you are in a wonder week, and hopefully it won’t last too long, as it’s making you a little grumpy in the day.

Your favourite time of the day, by far, is bath time. You and your sister splash and giggle and make an awful mess, but there is so much joy and love between you that I am happy just spectating. You are fascinated by the running tap, and try to catch the water, squealing with delighted confusion as it slips through your delectably chubby fingers. After the bath you crawl around the house in an over tired hyperactive state, laughing so hard you sometimes pee on the carpet, like an over stimulated puppy. We chase you and kiss your soft skin and revel in the happiness you bring us. We love you so very much, sweet Rainbow Princess of 10 months.

With infinite love,

Being Mumma


Being Mumma

I hate when people say, “don’t let kids change your life”. How could you have children and expect them not to change your world, how could you not want them to?
I am a mumma. And I am a mumma first. My kids ARE my world. My kids have defined everything I am and I am proud of that.
I don’t have time for trendy haircuts, or endless coffee dates at funky cafes, I don’t spend hours at the gym or post pictures of myself to social media to show off how wonderful I am.
Most days my hair is in a pony tail and I go without makeup. Because its more important to me to be with my children than in the bathroom getting ready. My days are spent at preschooler activities, feeding my baby and playing princesses. And I love it.

I didn’t always though. It took me a long time after my first baby was born to let go of my old life. I had a fussy baby who I couldn’t just take with me anywhere, and I struggled with my new little dependent being so, well, dependent! I had no time for me and I hated it. I had given up a lot to have my baby, my university degree, 2 jobs I loved, and an active social life, and it was nowhere near as rewarding as I thought it would be. There was an awful lot of crying, a baby that wouldn’t be held by anyone but me, who wouldn’t accept a bottle or a dummy and who screamed if I put her down and went out of sight to the bathroom. It was a huge adjustment.

But there was also an awful lot of pressure to not lose myself to my baby. Rather than being told to just enjoy what would only be a short period of neediness, to cuddle my bub while she was still tiny and soak up the breastfeeding snuggles, I was told that she should have been able to schedule feed and i must have had low supply, that she absolutely had to learn to self settle or she’d still be sleeping in my bed at age 20 and that if I didn’t want to lose my mind my best option was to let her cry herself to sleep. And I wasn’t just told these things by family and friends, but also by health professionals who I trusted to give me accurate advice.

I went back to work for a few hours each week when bub was 7 months old, and by the time she was 2 I was working over 25hrs a week between 2 jobs. I was exhausted and miserable and missed my baby. But at least I wasn’t “just a mum”.

And then. Then I gave birth to my second daughter. Who was born still. I left the hospital with empty arms and a broken heart. And at that moment i stopped fighting motherhood. I let it become me. I embraced it and found that I actually, completely, love it. I rocked my then 2 year old to sleep every night for months until she wanted me to stop. I sat with her asleep in my arms, with tears running down my cheeks and forgave myself for not enjoying it when she was a baby. I brought her to my bed for cuddles when she woke scared or sad, and chastised myself for letting people convince me that loving and comforting my child would create bad habits. She is a strong, funny, happy, smart, independent little girl and that probably would have happened regardless of whether or not she learnt to sleep by herself at 6 months. At the time I did the best I could, I did what I thought was right and I was comfortable with. I can’t even say that if I could go back I would do things differently, because I learnt so much, my baby taught me how to be the mother I am, and I am proud of that. It was hard and we survived.

And now my third baby is here, sound asleep in my arms as I write this, my favourite place for her to be. When people give me strange looks when I tell them we co sleep, or that she rarely naps in her bed and spends most of her day in my arms, I silently dare them to challenge me. This time I am ready for the criticism. I almost embrace it. Because I know it is ludicrous. Because I know I am right. Because I have researched every single decision I have made about these “controversial” things I do. I haven’t wasted my time trying to give this baby a bottle or a dummy. I have no need. She’s never been put down if she didn’t want to be. She’s never been left with anyone except her daddy. And I know that doing, or not doing these things will not make her any less independent or any more needy as time passes. This time I know exactly how fleeting this time of babyhood will be. I know that in just 3 short years she will be much like her biggest sister, who no longer wants to sleep in my arms, who doesn’t need me to hold her hand at soccer lessons and who can, I’m told, at least 487 times a day, do everything by herself.

I am me when I am mumma. And when I do it my way, I absolutely love it.