Becoming a family of four

Motherhood
Our Little Tribe – First Family Photo of the Four of Us

I have been meaning to write this blog for you for SO long now. As I sit here and reflect on the past 12 weeks, tears fill my eyes with so many emotions. I cannot believe our littlest member to our tribe, Avery is already 12 weeks old! Yes, you read that right! It honestly feels like we had him yesterday. This week, Avery also ticked off the milestone of rolling from his front to his back which I was so excited for but then suddenly realised he has grown and developed so much already.

We had always known that we wanted more than one child and it was when Spencer turned 18 months, we were ready for another baby. This pregnancy was completely different. I initially had some bleeding at the beginning and thought we might of lost him, he was breech until 35 weeks, then hubby lost his grandfather in the peak of Covid-19 lockdowns in Shanghai, China and then 12 weeks later, I lost my grandfather in the peak of Covid-19 restrictions in Sydney, Australia. We took their passings very hard and it made us treasure our family so much more and honestly, Avery has been the light that has kept us going in this crappy year as we had something to look forward to. We were also so excited to have two boys – brothers! When we were waiting on the gender reveal, I never quite understood why people would make comments such as “hope you have a girl” because we would have been thrilled with either sex but honestly, I was even more thrilled to have two boys! I just always felt like I would be a boy mama and here we are!

Our littlest member, Avery.

Following suit of is brother, Avery went past his due date and was induced. Little did we know I was already in labour on our induction day, that he would be delivered in two and a half hours and that our little pork chop would weigh a meaty 3.7kgs! I was so damn proud that he was such a good weight as I never expected him to be 600 grams bigger than his brother!

I had never been away from my oldest son, Spencer and due to Covid-19 restrictions, he wasn’t able to visit me in hospital. I wasn’t sure if Spencer understood the whole pregnancy and a new sibling arriving when I was pregnant but looking back now, he definitely did. We talked to Spencer about his brother, read books to him and even gave some gifts to sweeten the deal of a new sibling arriving and when we introduced Avery to him, he was so excited (and to have mum home too of course)! Even now, Spencer is very affectionate towards Avery, tries to play with him and shares his toys. I expected some jealousy but there hasn’t been any thankfully but Spencer does demand for our time. On other occasions he will say “Mum, Avery crying…go” which breaks my heart that he knows I have someone else I need to care for but at the same time so incredibly proud that I am raising such a caring and nurturing young man. In another year, I imagine they will be the best of friends and fighting heaps too!

Adjusting to being a family of four has been hard for me – the first six weeks particularly. I was learning how to navigate between two kids and also Avery is so different to Spencer as a baby. Spencer was mix fed due to tongue tie issues where Avery is exclusively breastfed (meaning all the feeds are on me). Spencer would also wake/play/feed to sleep, where Avery likes to wake/feed/play/sleep. Not only that, Avery likes to be held during day sleeps, whereas Spencer would happily sleep in his own cot.

I remember reading a post on Instagram where someone asked for votes on whether they found it harder going from 0-1 kids or 1-2 kids. I was surprised to see most mums found it harder going from 0-1 kids! I wouldn’t change anything as I love being a mum but boy juggling two kids was a different ball game – especially with Spencer’s high energy levels! I felt guilty for not being able to spend the same amount of 1-1 time with Spencer and the chores were piling up. I had little time left to spend with hubby and no time to myself. Resting when the baby does isn’t an option either with a toddler around! So unless you have a nanny, a gardener, a cook, someone to do your laundry, dishes and the list goes on… there will always be the mess and chores around. There are no perfect mothers.

There will be days where your children have tantrums, days where you don’t want to parent, wonder what you have gotten yourself into, where you doubt yourself, where you feel guilty, feel like you shouldn’t have yelled at your kids and done everything you can but still nothing is working and nothing is getting ticked off from the to do list. All these emotions and feelings are normal. It is ok to feel overwhelmed. I think being a second time around mum, you know there is light in the tunnel as you have been through it before and we get through it. Parenting is challenging, it is hard, it is filled with emotions but so worth it. Despite the hardest days where I am so emotionally and mentally drained just wanting to get the kids in bed, when they finally are, I end up finding myself looking at photos of them. Then I cannot wait for them to wake up to start the next day to do it all over again. It is a crazy ride! No two days are the same.

I have learnt to prioritise which one of the boys needs tending to first, to go a little easier on myself and not to worry too much about the chores as it’s not the memories the boys will remember and not how tidy the house was. I have never looked back and regretted that the house wasn’t tidy enough.

They say it goes all too quickly and it truly does. Forget about the laundry pile and soak in those newborn cuddles and smell. Leave the cleaning and instead look at those little baby movements – those stretches, those little hands wrapped around yours and tickle those little tiny feet. Before you know it, they will be running away from you and no longer babies. I’ll be holding on extra tight to my boys and soaking it all in – You just never know when these moments become memories.

Porridge shawl by G.H. Hurt & Sons.

Photography by Sarah Mei Photography and Alana Wu

My hospital bag

Motherhood

I was writing up my handover notes for work and realised that I have five weeks left before baby arrives! This second pregnancy has flown by and I was much more organised when I had my first (the luxury of time without a toddler). It dawned on me that I better start packing my baby bag. My hospital bag is based on four nights stay.

I like to have my hospital bag packed by 36 weeks latest. This means everything is packed, washed and literally all you need to do is pick up the bag and walk out the door. I say 36 weeks because baby can come early, it is done and means you can now relax. Plus I find when you hit full term (37-42 weeks) you get tired and uncomfortable. Trust me, you do not want to be packing between contractions!

I admit that I am highly organised and an over packer. Last time, I brought a whole large suitcase after all but there were a lot of things that I didn’t need. Here is a list of my essentials and personal favourite brands to take with you. I have kept my list very simple this time around.

Birthing:

Each birth plan is so personal but these were some of the birthing items which I took and loved:

  • Birth Plan
  • Own Pillow – This was my number one hospital item. I was able to sleep well and I felt comfortable having something from home with me.
  • Flameless candle – I loved focusing on the candle, the atmosphere it created and also used it for night feeds where there was no harsh lighting
  • Entertainment – Favourite music play list, favourite photos and some movies on an iPad.
  • An insulated straw water bottle – no risk of spilling the water and not having to keep filling up regularly
  • Bralette and Bloomers – I wear the ones from Bimboy and Roy. You can also wear them for nursing too.
  • Thongs – for walking around the hospital in and to wear in the shower
  • A kimono or large tee with buttons – This is for easy nursing, comfort and being able to cover up as well. I love the styles from Saffron Lane and Maive and Bo
  • Snacks – for hubby or yourself
Clothing:

Most of the hospital clothes which I took with me to the hospital last time were from one store – Mamaway. I absolutely loved how I could pick up most of my essentials from the one place. You won’t need to many clothes as most the time you will be having skin to skin contact with your new bub.

  • Day feeding bra – I used the Mamaway Ultra Light Antibacterial Seamless Maternity & Nursing bra because I loved how it could stretch up to three bra sizes which is important when your milk is coming in.
  • Night bra – I like to have a different bra for night feeds so that I am not fiddling around with clips. I love the Mamaway Crossover one which is soft, lightweight, stretchy with antibacterial and anti-odour properties and is perfect for frequent feeds.
  • Nursing Pyjamas – Again my favourites were from Mamaway as their two pieces have an adjustable waist for pregnancy and can also be adjusted for postpartum. It is has easy feeding panels which you can just slide across.
  • Day time visitor outfit – I would normally pack two changes. I am taking the below two dresses with me this time which i can dress up or down, add layers to and pop on to get out of loungewear. These are also from Mamaway. I suggest dresses incase you have a c-section or an emergency c-section so that pants do not irritate the wound.
  • Underwear – I would normally pack seven days worth incase any got dirty. I also packed really large high waisted underwear incase I had an emergency c-section. I just purchased some cheap ones from Target so that if they were stained, I could discard of them.
  • Socks or slippers – I brought some ‘Happy Socks’ but others recommend socks with grip at the bottom. I purchased some cheap slippers from Kmart to take with me.
  • Breast-pads – Personally, I love reusable ones as I was super itchy from the disposables. The reusable option i recommend are from Stevie Jane who hand makes both daytime and night time bamboo pads. Otherwise a good dispoable option is by Pigeon.
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Maternity and Nursing Dress from Mamaway.

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Nursing Bra’s from Mamaway.

Other items:
  • Packing cubes from Kmart really helpful. Otherwise I use canvas bags with a drawstring to organise my hospital items.
  • Hairband – to get the hair out of your face and away from your chest when nursing. Plus, it doubles as a reminder for which side breast you last fed on if you put it on your wrist! Cooper and Hudson have gorgeous scrunchies.
  • Hairbrush
  • Hairdryer 
  • Travel set Shampoo, Conditioner and Body Wash – I recommend Vatea as it contains no nasties and because there is so much skin to skin those first few days, this is was of importance for me. I choose the travel set from Vatea
  • Lip balm – I personally love the Vatea lip balm as it contains no nasties.
  • Skincare
  • Makeup
  • Contact lenses and Solution
  • Glasses
  • Cold and heat therapy – this is a must. It is a huge relief to have cold packs on you when your milk comes in. Later on, it can be warmed to help with blocked ducts. I love the ones from Body Ice Woman.
  • Camera and charger
  • Phone and Charger
  • Wallet – pack your medicare cards, licence, credit card and a small amount of cash. Don’t bring too many valuables.
  • Maternity Pads – my hospital supplied these but pack these if your hospital doesn’t. A reusable option is Modibodi.
  • Incontinence Pants – laugh now but thank me later. These are super convenient! I wore these with a maternity pads inside and I didn’t have to worry about blood leaks. Change them if blood overflows onto them from the pad or change daily. If you have a natural birth, they also hold in the cold pop stick for your down their region nicely. These are the ones I used and will be taking with me again from Tena.
  • Postnatal belt – I personally use the Mamaway Postnatal Belt which can be use after c-section and natural birth. It also helps with back pain relief, stabilise c-section wounds, uterus and muscle recovery. If you have private health as well, it is usually claimable with a referral.
  • Lactation cookies – we be brining Franjo’s cookies to snack on. If you don’t like biscuits, they also have crackers and muesli.
  • Nipple balm – do not forget this! I used the Lansinoh Ointment before and after each feed to prevent dry cracked nipples. Another option we loved was from Moogoo.
  • Breast Pump – optional whether this is something you would like to pack. I will be brining my Haakaa pump with me. I will be using this more so to catch the excess liquid gold from the other breast when nursing.
  • Dirty clothes bag – I use wet bags from Hippybottomus for these. They are lightweight, compact to pop in your bag and the double zipper allows you to separate items e.g. wet/dry, clean/dirty.
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Cold and Heat Therapy by Body Ice Woman and Lactation Cookies by Franjos.

Baby items:

I suggest packing these items into the baby bag which you will continue to use. The baby I recommend is from Arch Bags which doubles as over the shoulder bag and backpack which is easily convertible or Arrived.

  • Baby announcement plaque – I love the wooden plaques from Darling Hart and Emm & Co. If you prefer something with baby’s details, My Lovely Gifts Au have beautiful birth plaques (don’t forget the marker!).
  • Baby going home outfit –  I recommend the Monkey Tree Children’s Store as they have amazing array of quality brands, Our Joey for organic clothing or Pappe for something luxe.
  • Swaddle or blanket I will be taking my Heritage Blanket for our announcement photo.
  • Baby journal – I love the Bebe book from Truly Amor.
  • Nursing pillow – I use the one from Mamaway as you can use it during pregnancy and also for nursing.
  • Car seat – I like to ensure this is installed by 36 weeks.
  • Baby moisturiser – we use the baby balm from Vatea which is fantastic for those babies who have eczema. It can be used as a nappy balm as well. The balm is award winning too, contains no nasties and contains 99.9% organic ingredients.
  • 2-3 few nappies and a pack of wipes – we love the Simple to Us nappies as they they are Australian Owned and do not contain any nasties like alcohol or fragrances.
  • Change mat
  • Poo bags
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Baby Journal by Truly Amor, Mink Blanket by Heritage Blankets, Baby Shoes by Bobux, Rattan Rattle by Tila Interiors and Rainbow Mobile by Lew and Mae.

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Eucalyptus Gum Wrap by Emm & Co.

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Knitted Booties and Bonnet by Woolly Mutton, Bebe Book by Truly Amor and Earth Side Plaque by Emm & Co.

 

DISCOUNT CODES

Mamaway |www.mamaway.com.au|TRIBEOFWUWU10 (for 10% off) valid until 10 August 2020 on top of their current offers

Stevie Jane Australia|www.steviejaneau.com| TRIBEOFWUWU (for 10% off)

Vatea |www.vatea.com.au| TRIBEOFWUWU (for 25% off)

Hippybottomus |www.hippybottomus.com.au| TRIBEOFWUWU5% (for 5% off)

Arch Bags |www.archbags.com| TRIBEOFWUWU10 (for 10% off)

Cooper and Hudson |www.cooperandhudson.com| TRIBEOFWUWU (for 15% off)

Monkey Tree Store |www.monkeytreestore.com| TRIBEOFWUWU (for 20% off)

Our Joey |www.ourjoey.com.au| TRIBEOFWUWU (for 20% off)

Simple to Us |www.simpletous.com.au| WUWU20 (20% off first order)

On a last note, we wish all those expecting, a beautiful and safe birth of their baby. Please feel to reach out to me if you have any questions, need any help or would like further discount codes. I look forward to hearing about your beautiful purchases for your own baby or for your friends or family.

This hospital bag list was created with the intention of supporting small businesses and is based on my own personal experience. Participating stores have not paid a fee and no links are affiliate links. The discounts have been negotiated purely for the interests of our followers. On behalf of the small businesses – Thank you for choosing to support small.

 

 

 

Casual Maternity Fashion

Motherhood

For the first seven months of my last pregnancy, I never wore maternity clothes. Honestly, I should have.

I had seen so many pregnant celebrities wear heels, tight dresses and dressed to perfection and for some crazy reason, I thought I would be able to look like this. Hands up who also thought the same!!

My stubbornness in not wanting to spend my money on maternity clothes and thinking that they were not all that nice meant that I often found myself squashing my growing belly into anything in my wardrobe which would fit. This frequented of baggy clothes and flowy dresses. Yes, I did save some money but more importantly – I was often left feeling not beautiful. I also discovered that there are heaps of maternity clothes which can be worn for pregnancy and beyond – value for money and keeping you looking stunning. Trust me when I say this – you will get a lot of wear out of your nursing clothes! Especially if you will be having more than one pregnancy as well.

There are two ways to approach maternity fashion – to wear what you already have or to start building up a maternity wardrobe. After seven months, I took some pants off and had an elastic rim around my belly and my husband said “why are you doing this? Just buy some maternity clothes and try them”. At that stage, I was fairly big and caved. I jumped online, ordered some maternity pieces from Soon Maternity and loved them! I felt beautiful and enjoyed showing off the bump. I realise now that pregnancy is such a special time in a woman’s life and this is the time where you should be feeling good about yourself.

Second pregnancy around, I am not mucking about! If anything, I am bigger this time around, so the maternity clothes are out! Below I will be showcasing my top five essential maternity fashion pieces worth investing in. These are pieces which you will wear over and over again. There will be hero pieces that you will reach for every time and ones which you can layer or style up to create so many looks.

1. Leggings

This is my hero piece. I reach for my maternity leggings at least three times a week. This one pair of bottoms will mean you won’t need several pairs of pants as they are so comfortable and provide freedom of movement. Perfect for being on the go and exercising. It can be styled with sneakers, a tee, a long sleeve, with a cardigan, with a sweater, a singlet and best of all it stretches with your belly (whilst holding it securely) and can still be worn after birth too.

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2. Crop Knits

This piece was an a mind-blowing game changer for me! It is so versatile! It is worn as a layering piece to keep you warm whilst still allowing easy feeding access! I often wear these over my nursing dresses which zip down the front for some extra coverage. The crop knit can also dress up casual dresses and skirts.

3. Slip Skirts

Slip skirts can be worn casually with a tee and sneakers or dressed more formally for dinner or work with a blazer thrown over. These slip skirts usually have an elastic waist to grow with your belly and works perfectly for fluctuating weight. These slip skirts also look great with flat or heeled sandals.

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4. Overalls

I live in overalls at home but of course they can be worn out too. They are a fuss free item of clothing. I never have to worry about pulling my pants up, checking that i am not flashing anyone and they can be worn for all seasons. Perfectly paired with sneakers or sandals, a tee, a jumper or cardigan. These overalls from Soon Maternity have a little bit of stretch, have an adjustable side button, adjustable shoulder strap, five pockets, look super trendy and provides easy access when nursing too.

5. The Feeding Top

I cannot get enough of these, these tops act as my essential piece. I had so many issues at the beginning of my breastfeeding journey and I was not a confident public feeder at all. These feeding tops provided me coverage when feeding in public and honestly when you are nursing baby, you can’t see any boob. I eventually stopped finding feeding rooms and removed the feeding covers as they brought more attention than wearing these tops to nurse. These feeding tops provided me with a sense of security and also easy access.

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So there you have it. These are my top five pieces to get you through those 40 weeks and beyond.

 

 

 

Having a child with food allergies

Motherhood

When becoming a parent, I knew some things would never be the same. Things like never being able to sleep a solid block of hours uninterrupted, that crayon would inevitably go on walls, that the day will come when you have poo explosions or get vomited on and never being able to keep anything white ever again. However, I never expected that my child would have food allergies.

My husband and I have no food or skin allergies so it was a huge shock to us when Spencer tested positive to being allergic to eggs, nuts, fish and peas. It was a huge adjustment for us in our cooking and eating habits, however it quickly became our new normal.

Ways to help a new mum

Motherhood

As a first time mum and new mum, I did not realise the impact of friends and family wanting to visit. Whilst their intentions were kind hearted, the visits often left me physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I found it very hard to say no to visitors and I also thought if I said no to visits from friends and family, that I would be seen as rude and not coping or adjusting to new family life. In hindsight these were all silly thoughts and knowing what I know now, it is absolutely ok to say no to visits if you choose or need to.

It is a lot – Between juggling your new routine, learning the new habits of your new bub, adjusting to your milk coming in, taking care of your new baby, feeding with bleeding or cracked nipples, eager visitors, stitches and trying to also recover from the birth! So much has and is happening to your body!

Family and friends would often ask “how is the baby sleeping?”, “is the baby eating well?”, “is the baby settling in to its new routine?”, “can I hold and give the baby a cuddle?” but no one asks the mothers these same questions if they are sleeping, if they are ok or if they need a cuddle.

Here are some tips of mine for helping a new mother:

1. Limit your visiting time

I remember having a friend visit who stayed for ages and despite dropping so many hints, I could not get rid of them. I felt so bad but after a few hours, I had to ask them to kindly leave so that I could sleep as I had been up pretty much the whole night. I was breastfeeding, pumping, topping up, washing and sterilising too.

When visiting a new mother, find a time which suits the mother for a visit. Never just turn up as it is very overwhelming, disruptive and the family may be trying to catch up on some sleep. New mother’s are busy and fatigued so if you are so lucky enough to have been given the go ahead for a visit, limit your visiting time. Personally, I found that 30 minutes was a good time frame as there are so many visitors throughout the day.

And… please, please, please do not visit if you are even slightly feeling unwell.

2. Please help

If you have some time when visiting, offer to help the mother. Sometimes it is easier to be proactive rather asking if the mother needs help as most of the time she will reply that no help is needed. I remember constantly having to make tea for visitors and then collecting up and cleaning all the cups when they left in my exhausted state. The best visitors I had were the ones who were proactive, asked if I needed any help and made me a cuppa. Did I need any help? HECK YES! It was also so nice to have enjoyed a hot cup of tea which was very rare in those first months and not having to feel like I had to entertain our visitors.

The family might also need some laundry done, the plants watered, the dog walked, clothes folded and put away, stacking/unstacking the dishwasher, getting some groceries, gardening, vacuuming, refilling the nursery goods like the wipes dispenser, taking out the rubbish, putting gifts away, entertaining older kids, petrol in the car, offer to make the family tea instead or even something as simple as holding the baby so that the mother can shower. Trust me, they will have a list of things needing to be done.

3. No typical gifts

We are so thankful and lucky that our little man got so spoilt but I just remember our hospital room being filled with so many flowers and gifts. It was incredibly overwhelming. Being asthmatic, I felt wheezy from the flowers in our room and the smell was overpowering, so much so that I had to ask my husband to remove them from our room despite how beautiful they were. Gifts were filling up our room making it very claustrophobic for us and hubby was carrying bag loads of things home each night! I felt bad that he had take the gifts home and I knew that at some stage that it would have to all be unpacked. I just wanted to take in the newborn cuddles and not have to worry about anything else.

Despite these gifts coming from a good place, other gifts which I would have loved and preferred were home cooked meals, meal delivery service, grocery delivery, an in-house pamper voucher like a mobile hairdresser, toys to entertain older children, gifts for the new mother such as lactation cookings, a masseuse, a pamper voucher, lactation cookies, a door walker or a engaging a company like Fantastic Services*. Admittedly, hubby does most of the cleaning in the house but when we engaged Fantastic Services to do a full house clean, it was so refreshing for the whole family. Hubby did not have to worry about the cleaning so got a lovely break, I didn’t feel stressed that we were not spending enough time together and I felt a lot less anxiety knowing that it was one less thing to have to worry about. To receive $20 off your first booking, simply enter my referral code tribeofwuwu when creating your account. Besides Fantastic Services being affordable, it gave our family time together, a break from the chores and time to do things we wanted to.

4. Offer to go out of the house together

This is a hard one depending on the recovery of the mother, however this was a memory of mine which has really stuck with me after I had bub. When my mum came to visit me, she said when she had me, that going for a walk really helped her. I just had this all these thoughts in my head – I won’t be ok if I leave the house, it has been fine being home so why do we need to go outside? What happens if someone makes the baby sick? Do you know how the pram even works? I was so consumed with the baby, overwhelmed with getting the baby bag packed, did not have any make up on, was lacking confidence as a new first time mother and getting out of the house took forever (like hours!).

One day mum offered for us to go out for a walk on a path at our local beach as she knew that I loved that walk. She is not a big beach fan so I was very surprised that she even wanted to go there.  As reluctant as I was to leave home, she made the process so easy for me and I enjoyed our time out together so much.  Mum got the baby bag packed, offered to drive to the beach, helped get the pram out (which we both laughed as we had no idea how to use it but eventually figured it out), changed bub’s nappy and all I really needed to do was breastfeed when I needed to. Plus! I had a hot tea for the first time!

You cannot force a mother out if she does not want to be but since mum made the process so easy and having been one of my favourite places in the world, I was happy to go. To be honest, those first weeks are all a haze for me but I remember being out again and feeling a little like myself again and it is a memory I hold so dearly.

5. Choose your words carefully

There was so much advice we were given and reflecting on it all, most of the advice did not help or work.  This little bub is your baby and you know this baby the best. Go with your instincts!

Encourage the mother and family that they are doing a good job. Watch for comments and advice which may be taken wrongly, such as mentioning how tired you are and how the house looks a little more messy. Don’t forget to credit the dad’s as well!

 

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