Value of Motherhood

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Hello Baby

Four months ago when we left our beach home to be closer to Brian and his work, we had no idea we had taken a new little someone with us. In mid-August, right in the middle of Daisy and Hannah’s birthdays, I discovered I was pregnant. And it’s been a wild ride ever since.

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My pregnancy symptoms were much, much worse this time. Actually, the GP I saw to confirm the pregnancy laughed when I mentioned this and asked me, “What did you expect, everything gets worse the more pregnancies you have, the nausea, the exhaustion, the body aches and pains, everything!” So that was a bit of a wake-up call! Not that I expected it to be easy, I respect pregnancy. It’s a huge effort for a body to create and grow another human being and I know that it comes with some personal sacrifices. At that point though I decided to surrender into it and try not to complain knowing that this is just how this journey would go for me this time.

Ideally, I would have rested as much as possible and I still did that when we were home, however, we were determined to find a house to buy on the Sunshine Coast and that meant many 8 hour road-trips back and forth over the last 3 months to attend inspections. This definitely didn’t make any of the symptoms I was having easier! I’m now 20 weeks and still have days where the nausea feels a tad too overwhelming and I need to lie down until it passes.

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The first trimester is always such an anxiety-fueled time for me after experiencing several miscarriages. I debated long and hard about whether to have a 12 week scan – as we don’t personally like the testing that this scan involves – but I did want the reassurance of seeing my baby growing and developing on the screen and in the end I was glad I did. It really helped me to bond and connect more with this little person, and minimise the worry just a little. Now that I can feel the baby moving it is much easier for me to relax.

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We also debated about whether we should find out the sex once again. Many of our friends have chosen to have the surprise of finding out at birth, and we wondered if that was something we wanted to experience too. But then we remembered Blake and we decided that was surprise enough! We really have enjoyed finding out, especially in Daisy’s pregnancy where we could share it with Hannah and Blake and refer to her by name during the long 20 weeks that followed. We felt it helped all of us prepare for the baby that would join our family, and so this time we decided to do the same.

So, we are incredibly excited to share that I am pregnant with a baby GIRL and that another little sister and daughter will be joining our family in late April!!!

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Hannah, Blake and Daisy came to the ultrasound with us and so we all found out together. The kids have been adamant that it’s been a ‘baby sister’ this whole time, so they were very happy to be proved right. I have to say that I strongly felt this baby was a boy and at our 13 week ultrasound the sonographer even mentioned that she would guess boy even though it was very early. Of course, we didn’t take it to heart, but since it backed up my feeling – and Brians as well – I was a bit surprised to hear the news that baby was a girl at this scan. He did check several times and said that although he can’t obviously give a 100% statement, he said could see the labia and the correct female markers so he didn’t hesitate at all. We are thrilled of course! I am completely delighted at the thought of having another daughter and we know and believe that no matter this baby’s sex, she is the right person to come into our family at this time. It’s just fun to find out half-way and a part of the pregnancy process that we really enjoy.

 

I hope to do more updates over the next few months. Nausea and the stress of the house has really not made sitting at a computer at all enjoyable, but I’m hoping for that to ease now. Next year will be full of new beginnings for our family and we are excited to start the journey! Thank you for always being such a support to our family, it’s lovely to know people care and are excited for us! 😀

9 Top Tips for Mama Self-Love

Need some pointers on how to look after yourself now that you’re a mama?
It all starts with making yourself your top priority. These 9 tips can help.

#1 – Nurture yourself
Make time for you. I learned almost too late just how important VITAL this is. I had this strange idea that the people around me needed to nurture me. That I needed to be nurtured by my husband, by my parents and by my friendships and of-course this was only causing resentment and dissatisfaction on my part when they weren’t meeting my expectations. The nurturing had to come from inside me. Start small. Take baby steps. Make little goals. Mine were really simple at first – take my vitamin every morning, drink more water, journal more.

#2 – Value yourself
As above, if you don’t value yourself then who will? Value your time, your effort, your energy. Value your body, your mind, your spirit. Value the beautiful talents and gifts you bring to the world. Value your originality and unique features – there are 7 billion people in the world and there is no one else quite like you! That is a pretty amazing thought and you’re obviously something special. Feel it. Know it. And let yourself shine!

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#3 – Support yourself
Be that person for yourself. Start a project and encourage and motivate yourself. Bask in the joy of completion and internal satisfaction instead of external praise. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in you is so valuable, and I believe it’s been quoted that we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. That is a very powerful thought. But often we need to be our own cheerleader too and that is even more powerful.

#4 – Comfort yourself
Take time to rest and check in with yourself as often as possible. Look after yourself in the way that you would have wanted to be cared for when you were a child. Especially if you are battling illness – mental or physical – take lots of time to care for yourself, to feel that comfort that comes from meeting your needs. And if your stress is emotional then soothe yourself, hold yourself tight, be your own friend instead of criticising, judging or worrying. If there is no one who will listen, then turn to what makes you feel good – write in a journal, sketch or draw or paint, do some exercise, get plenty of sunshine, indulge in comforting drinks and maybe bake a treat, turn on some beautiful music and dance your worries away or let the music inspire a restful sleep. Simple Lavender essential oil is brilliant for times of stress and anxiety. I desperately sniffed a handkerchief soaked with lavender oil in the late stages of my third pregnancy to help me sleep peacefully at night.

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#5 – Inspire yourself
Go to the art gallery. Take a walk in a forest. Sit at the beach and draw in the sand while the sound of the crashing waves hypnotizes your mind and lets your worries slip away. That’s when magic happens. Inspire yourself with everything that brings out your passions and reach deep down within yourself to recognise your true desires. From here, everything will flow.

#6 – Love yourself
Self-love. It’s something you know about and although I know there are mamas out there who are pretty good at continuing this throughout motherhood, it is something a lot of us leave by the wayside with our pre-pregnancy bodies, desires and interests. Becoming a mama changes you… there is no way around that. But under all those new layers are still parts of the ‘old’ you which is just another way of saying the ‘authentic’ you. The you who you truly are. Self-love is all about re-connecting with that part of yourself. If you take the time to re-discover your authentic self I promise you, amazing things will happen. You really will begin to love yourself in that pure, conscious way. The way we all deserve to be loved. And it all starts inside of you.

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#7 – Be kind to yourself
Show yourself compassion. Listen to yourself. Listen to your needs and try to communicate them to those around you as easily as you can. Realise that high expectations can put a lot of unnecessary stress and pressure on our lives, and you’re worth more than stress and pressure. Life is for living and yes, life does come with regrets and mistakes. That’s part of how we learn and as long as we keep living, we’ll keep learning and we need to be gentle with ourselves throughout that process. Use kind words when you see yourself in the mirror. Say, I love you. Say, I see you. Think kind thoughts about what is going on in your life – remember every day when you get up, you get the opportunity to start again. So do that. As often as you need to. Some parts of life are just plain hard. There’s no need to feel guilt about that. It is what it is. Treating yourself with the empathy and compassion you show others, is what you really need from yourself during the intense phases of motherhood.

#8 – Enjoy yourself 
Be a friend to yourself. Remember how FUN you are! I can be quite a serious person so this is something I need to remind myself of often. Life is so much more enjoyable when you can smile through it. Play your favourite music. Take yourself to the movies. Book that holiday. Buy yourself flowers. Dance in the rain. Bask in the sunshine. It’s all there for you.

#9 – Perfection doesn’t exist
I only wrote 9 tips because it’s not a perfect list, and being a mama is NOT about being perfect or having a perfect life. Perfection is impossible and unattainable. I encourage  you to take the word perfection completely out of your vocabulary. Stop apologising for your seeming ‘imperfections’ – actually stop saying “I’m so sorry the house isn’t perfectly clean!” or “I’m sorry I’m not the perfect mother.” – because you are not perfect. And neither am I. Or any other human on earth! We’re all just that… human. You are divinely human. And you are uniquely, womanly human, nurturing, valuing, supporting, comforting, inspiring, loving, kind and joyful. A mama – born from woman and as real as every other mama on this planet.

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Fall in love with yourself again. Try to see yourself as a child, the way that your mama looked at you when she was holding you as a newborn in her arms. Or the way that you stared at your new baby endlessly when you knew you should be sleeping instead. Find that love and peace inside yourself and feel that about yourself. I promise. You’re worth it.

My Self-Love Shelf

Self-love and self-care have been incredibly important to me in the last year. I have a half-finished post in the works that explains my journey in more detail, but today I wanted to talk more about a very physical evidence of the inner work I’m doing. Over on Instagram this week The Little Sage suggested for readers to share their personal altars.  Creating a post about my altar – or my Self-Love Shelf – has been on my to-do blogging list for quite while so I decided to use take that instagram request as a gentle universal nudge to share it now.

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I started with a plain white shelf from the hardware store. And that’s where it stayed for weeks! I somehow felt I had to mentally prepare myself for what this would represent and how I wanted to achieve it. I decided I would let it come naturally and build up different elements as the right pieces found their way to me.

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Because I have little people around and I wanted this shelf to be purely for me to indulge in (Hannah and Blake each have their own shelf), I decided to place it up high where it couldn’t be climbed to. One day I’d love to have a shelf/altar lower down that I can sit and meditate at, but for now this is just fine. It’s placed between our bedroom door and the wadrobe door so I see it everytime I enter or exit the bedroom.

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I started with my crystals. I had only a few when I began, and although I have more than this now, this is the design I like them in at the moment. I have been using my clear quartz point crystal a lot, when doing my oracle card readings or journaling. Clarity is something I’ve been carving lately and indeed most of the time! The oracle cards that are always on my shelf are The Little Sage cards and the Doreen Virtue Daily Guidance from your Angels cards. On top of the cards are a bear-shaped stone Blake found for me and a key, to represent a key I was given as a gift by my guides in a meditation. The delightful candle was a gifted and handmade by a wonderful friend.

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The Alchemical Oils are from Sacred Self and were a self-love gift to myself. There are feathers collected from walks in the park, heart-shaped rocks that Hannah and I found on the beach and a wooden mother and child ornament given to me by a friend. This reminds me to practice gratitude for my role as a mother.

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 The ‘breathe’ and rainbow rock are from my blessingway when I was pregnant with Daisy and the blue pendulum was another little gift to myself. During this journey I have become a lot better at recognising that buying lovely things for myself is a necessity not an indulgence.

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Affirmations by Louise Hay and Danielle LaPorte surround a ‘Work In Progress’ painting I did with the kids one day and Oracle Cards that I wanted to see every day are above them. A beautiful angel from another friend is hanging beside the cards, reminding me I am always safe and protected. The butterflies are from another craft session Hannah, Blake and I enjoyed, representing transformation and change.

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And above all else is a visual depiction of our 5 year vision. Maybe I’ll save that story for another time. I hope this has inspired you to make your own Self-Love Shelf too, you’re worth something beautiful in your home just for you. Clear a shelf on the bookshelf, buy that gorgeous candle you’ve been coveting or try some meditations (The Little Sage have quite a few lovely ones) if you’ve never done them before. Sometimes us mamas neglect our spiritual and sensual side the most. Fall in love with yourself again.

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2014 Reflections // Gratitude

I chose GRATITUDE as my focus word at the beginning of 2014. Now, I am ending the year feeling more full, more thankful and more truly grateful than I have ever felt before.

Practicing gratitude directly and with focus over the last 12 months has meant that being grateful feels a part of me. I immediately feel grateful for even the littlest things – the salt water on my skin, the giggle of my children in my ears, and my husbands hand in mine as we journeyed through this years ups and downs together.

I now know what it is that I want to be grateful for. I now know that gratitude is about creating a life where EVERYTHING in it is something I can feel grateful for.

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2014 has been a truly blessed year, but also one that was full of challenges for me personally. I struggled, I fell down, I lost my way. I forgot to appreciate myself. This was a hard lesson for me to learn but I am slowly realising that it’s my most important lesson. I learned this year that I had put myself on the back-burner and that it wasn’t healthy or helpful to do that. I learned that letting my light shine wasn’t only important, but that it was a necessity.

Throughout this year I re-discovered myself. Sometimes it felt like I was finally on the right path and at other times it felt like one thing after another was going wrong, like all my hard work was pointless. In hindsight, I know it was all a crucial part of the journey and I learned to have gratitude for even the days that caused me stress and hurt.

My perspective began to shift once I started doing this and choosing joy was easier than before. I always tried to live my life by looking at the positive, on the bright side, and now I don’t feel that I have to try anymore. It comes easily now and this makes me realise how 12 months of really deep inner work has so many benefits.

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This year I worked on reconnecting with myself, and I felt so supported by Brian and my friends and family to really try new things and find myself again. I am so grateful for that.

Brian and I really felt into our deep desires for our family and allowed them to blossom. We made our family, our happiness and future together our first priority, and we refused to feel that we should settle for any less than amazing. We do live an amazing life and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.

My children, oh, they’re beings of goodness and light and although as every mama knows the days are long, the years are so very short. Time passes in the blink of an eye and I just want to soak up every inch of time with these three amazing little people. I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to be their mama.

So thank you 2014, you set in motion a foundation I will continue to build on for the rest of my life and I cannot wait to see what 2015 brings. I know it is going to be epic and full of ABUNDANCE.

What I want my children to know about breastfeeding…

Breastfeeding means a lot to me.

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After my disappointing attempt at breastfeeding Hannah I did a lot of research on the dynamics of breastfeeding and what helps a woman become a successful long-term breastfeeder (this was my goal with my future children). I realised that I had missed out on one of the key aspects – watching and being around other women who breastfeed. So I made sure I changed that in preparation for Blake’s birth. I searched out new groups of friends, I watched those women breastfeed, I asked them questions, I made mental notes. Going into Blake’s birth I felt confident that he was going to get my breastmilk no matter what, and seeing other women breastfeed played a big part in me feeling so confident. I needed to see it in real life all around me, just like women before me had for most of time.All Rights Reserved

I knew I wanted my children growing up feeling that breastfeeding was a really normal, achievable way to feed a baby. That our bodies were made to lactate and that although it can be a hard skill to learn, it can be done with support and love. I wanted them to grow up seeing their siblings be breastfed and friends babies grow up breastfeeding so that this would become part of their world view. I believe our bodies are amazing, and I want to pass on that amazement, that pure respect,  onto my children. And so far, from what I see in their play and in the way they relate to babies, I can see it has made the difference that I hoped for.

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The health benefits of breastmilk are amazing and we still don’t know so much about this incredible milk our bodies were made to give our babies, but for me the benefits to breastfeeding Daisy right now are very much for our whole family and the community in general. As a wonderful friend of mine said “The more we see it, the less we will see it.” and I believe that to be true. I find breastfeeding as normal now as any other type of eating and I love that my children, and my husband do too.

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So yes, breastfeeding means a lot to me. But now, it also means a lot to my children.

(In honour of World Breastfeeding Week 2014)

[Photos 2 & 3 by Documenting Delight]

Naming Daisy

Daisy was never in my fantasy childrens names list. I would have been really surprised if someone had told me five years ago that I would have a daughter named Daisy one day. Not because it’s not a beautiful name but just because it had never spoken to me in a way other names did. But just like when I dreamt about Hannah before she was conceived and when I knew Blake was a boy even though the ultrasound said he was a girl, Daisy made herself known to me and worked her way into my consciousness a long time before I felt her sweet kicks and bumps in my belly.

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It all started in January 2012, when quite literally the name Daisy just popped into my head. We were trying for another baby and thinking about baby names is a favourite pastime of mine but this seemed a bit too girly and sweet to me. I decided to see what Brian thought of it – completely assuming he would dislike it – and I hoped his reaction would dissuade me. Straight away he said he it was a great name.

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Soon, I began noticing signs… little things that made Daisy a prominent feature in my mind every time I tried to put her to the back of my mind. I began to imagine that I would have another little girl, that this was the spirit of that baby making herself known to me. I began to feel comforted by these little signs and know it was her way of saying to me she was getting ready to come into our lives.

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I began to see the name Daisy in department stores, in movies, photographs and linked in blogs. This happened over and over for a couple of months in mid-2012 and then it seemed to slow down. Around the time of Blake’s birthday in October we decided that since we hadn’t fallen pregnant we would go overseas with my family and we started to make preparations for that. Literally that same week, I had a dream that I was 3 weeks pregnant with a baby girl after not having a baby related dream for a long time. My heart began to ache for this new baby that I now had to wait many more months to meet as I knew we would not be trying to conceive again until we come back from overseas.

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A few days after that dream, we were all getting ready to go out and the kids were bundled in the car with Brian when I went back into our little cottage to quickly sweep some crumbs that the kids had dropped by the doorway so ants didn’t come in while we were gone. As I was doing this, a ladybug landed on my arm. I stared at it and I felt goosebumps. I just knew it was another sign. The lady bug stayed for a minute and then flew off. When I got into the car I mentioned it to Brian straight away, I knew something had just happened . Later that day I opened my Instagram  account and the first photo I saw was of a Daisy flower with a ladybug sitting atop it…

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When we found out we were pregnant less than 2 months later, Brian immediately told me, “Our Daisy is on her way.” and I didn’t doubt it for a second. We just knew this was the child, this was the other member of our family who was coming into our world. I still had hesitations about naming her Daisy though. I felt as though she had named herself instead of us choosing a name for her as we had done with her siblings. I was worried we would make the wrong decision. After another conversation where I rattled off a handful of other names, Brian asked me if I could imagine her name being anything other than Daisy and I knew that I could not. Friends who I had told about my ‘daisy signs’ all had the same reaction when I told them I was pregnant “It’s your Daisy coming to you!” they said and I knew they were right. It was a really nice feeling, like we all knew a little secret that noone else understood.

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When it came to choosing her middle name, for a long time it was going to be Juliet. But our other children’s middle names have a family significance and I knew I wanted to try to find a name for Daisy that did too. Brian’s grandmother, his mother and my mum all have names beginning with ‘M’ so I was initially searching for M names. One night as I tossed and turned in bed with my swollen belly I jumped bolt upright when I remembered  I had always liked the name Emmeline. I quickly googled the meaning and was thrilled to find it meant ‘Hard working’ which seemed perfect as Daisy means ‘The day’s eye’ which always reminds me of dawn. I had a strong feeling Daisy would be born in the early morning so her name meaning hard work at dawn seemed perfect and  the strong M sound worked in with the family significance. I woke Brian up excitedly and let him know I had found the middle name that very moment!

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Each of my children has stretched me and my beliefs and understanding of that womanly intuition. Daisy stretched it the furthest just as she was meant to, and I let her. I let her take me on this journey and I know that her name – although it seems such a small part of her – will always have a big meaning to me and be a part of her story that I will love to share with her when she is grown.

{Photography of Daisy at her newborn photo-shoot at 2 weeks old by Documenting Delight}

Daisy’s Herbal Bath, Family Photos + Birth Video

 

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Daisy was 5 days old when these photos were taken. It was my first time having a herbal bath and it was such a lovely experience. Daisy loved it so much she literally fell asleep. Hannah and Blake joined in and loved playing with the flower petals, it was a really calming and sweet bonding activity with their new sibling. Now that Daisy is 6 months old, it seems time has been on fast forward ever since that day.

I am also very happy to be able to share the birth video created by Georgia from Documenting Delight (who also took these wonderful photos) it is such a treasure for our family to have – The Birth Video of Daisy Emmeline

January Photo A Day Grateful Project – Day 29

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This bunny is almost 7 years old. I bought him when I fell pregnant for the very first time, just weeks before our wedding day. Three days later, on our honeymoon, after a very traumatic time in hospital we learned that we had lost our baby. In the days to come I held this bunny close, I slept with him and I cried with him and I wondered if there would ever be a baby that would cuddle and love him like a child should.

I’m happy to say of-course that he has been loved and snuggled by all three of my children but somehow he has never become the toy; the one that makes it into the bed at night or dragged to the grocery store during the day. I think that’s because in a way he’ll always be the bunny I bought for May – for our baby that never was – and that’s a healing thought.

January Photo A Day Grateful Project – Day 28

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The poem below seemed to fit perfectly with today’s photo when Hannah and Blake gave me my own Dandelion bouquet.

 

If I don’t have time to cuddle that warm, pajamas-clad body with glorious bedhead first thing in the morning,

If I don’t have time to press my lips upon the cheek of the man I love at nighttime,

Then I have to ask.

If I don’t have time to call my aging parent for a quick check-in,

If I don’t have time to offer a smile to the weary cashier at check-out,

Then I have to ask.

If don’t have time to listen, really listen, to what my child has to tell me from the backseat of the car,

If I don’t have time to tell her all the things I love about her from edge of her bed,

Then I have to ask …

What DO I have time for?

Clearing the inbox
Scrolling the newsfeed
Cleaning the kitchen counter ‘til it shines?

Buying things I don’t need
Saying yes because I can’t say no
Filling my days ‘til my calendar overflows?

I have to ask …

What DO I think makes life worth living?

I know. I know.

It’s the pajamas cuddles,
It’s the nighttime kisses,
It’s knowing I said, “I love you,” just in case my parent’s ripe old age catches up with him today.

It’s the dandelion bouquets,
It’s the uncontrollable laughter,
It’s the worries my child confesses at the most inconvenient times.

Please let me not be too busy,
Too rushed,
Too impatient,
Too distracted,
To experience these moments—these moments that make life worth living.

Don’t let me place life’s most pressing matters over the moments that matter most in life.

If there isn’t enough time to live, then I need to ask myself what I am living for?

© Rachel Macy Stafford 2014 https://www.facebook.com/TheHandsFreeRevolution?fref=ts