Keeley

This post contains a trigger warning regarding pregnancy loss.

My first mummy I am speaking to is my good friend Keeley; first time mum from Perth, living with her wife, new bub and two puppies.

Hello lovely Keeley and thank you talking with me! Could you please share your age and what current stage of motherhood you are in? 

Hi! I’m 30 years old, almost 31. I had my 30th birthday while in my early stages of pregnancy. I’ve just come out of the fourth trimester with my little love who’s 14 weeks.

That’s so exciting! The fourth trimester really is tough.
So before baby, what did life look like? What were your goals and how did you view yourself? 

My life was good! (It still is); I worked as a nurse, I have a great wife and two fur babies and I enjoyed traveling a lot before COVID hit. In terms of life goals, I honestly did not have a lot of goals, I just really wanted to get married and start a family and be happy, which I am! My life before having my baby became quite consumed with trying to conceive. We tried for over three years before finally getting our little girl.

I am so happy for you and being able to conceive your perfect little baby girl! The trying to conceive part is so daunting and can be a very emotional time for a lot of couples and people.
Would you mind sharing your pregnancy journey and how you viewed your new changing body?

My pregnancy was pretty good! The first 16 weeks were hard for a couple reasons; one being the constant nausea and vomiting, I threw up 1-5 times a day, the second being that I had a previous loss at 16 weeks, so making it to that milestone was pretty intense, in fact the whole pregnancy I was pretty nervous for another loss, it was always in the back of my mind, but I did still enjoy it and didn’t let the fear consume me too much. I was pretty lucky in that I didn’t have a huge bump so I was never too uncomfortable to sleep; I did obviously have some pregnancy discomforts, but not as bad as I hear some people have it, so I can’t complain. I think the best thing was that baby bump and as soon as I started showing I loved it so much & as it got bigger I loved it more. The worst thing would have to be the coccyx pain, which sucked a lot!

The coccyx pain is next level and something I had never heard of before pregnancy. I am so sorry for your loss mumma, no human should have to endure a loss and I can’t even begin to imagine what that would have been like for you reaching 16 weeks. You’re a strong mumma and you should be so proud of yourself!
If you feel like sharing, how was your birth experience? 

My birth was good! I was induced the day before my due date. Induction wasn’t what I expected, in that I was told to prepare for it to take all day and night and possibly end up needing my waters broken the next day, so I was mentally ready for a marathon of a labour. As it turned out, little miss was pretty ready to come earth side, because it only took 6 hours from the gel application (a hormone gel inserted behind the cervix to induce labour) to her making her entrance into the world!

Contractions basically started right away and didn’t stop! It was intense ha-ha. I used the gas for just over half of the labour and then they put up an epidural literally right at the end of labour. They didn’t even check how dilated I was! The epidural didn’t even kick in until I was about halfway through pushing; I’m pretty mad about that, because if I had known I was fully dilated and she was coming I may not have bothered with the epidural and just stuck it out. We needed to get bub out pretty quickly as I had meconium in my waters (bubs did a poo inside), so the team had to vacuum her out. As soon as she was out, they chucked her on my chest and I finally met the little girl I had been baking for 9 months. It was love at first sight.

Nice and quick! Excuse the tears coming from my head! I love a happy ending.
Post having bubs, how has life changed? 

I guess it’s just the typical things that change for everyone. It’s not just you anymore, every move you make you need to think about this small human. You can’t just duck to the shop to grab something; you need to pack this little thing with you. You can’t just go and pee when you like, you need to set the baby down somewhere safely so you can go to the toilet et cetera. It is all an adjustment that every mother has really. I don’t particularly think there has been much that has changed for me that hasn’t for every other mother out there ha-ha. Maybe that I used to be pretty into binge watching TV and movies in my down time, and now I obviously can’t do that because I have a small human to play with and look after. If I do watch a movie it’ll be during naps and it’ll take me all day to finish one ha-ha. I also used to love my sleep and naps! They no longer occur, but it’s for the best reason ever, so I’m okay with that.

But real talk is, some times you HAVE to take the baby in to the toilet with you…. guilty! I feel you in regards to movies! It took me three days to watch The Grinch the other day, but I made my daughter watch it with me…guilty again!
Bodies change during pregnancy, but post birth has your body changed? If so how do you feel about it?

I am definitely bigger since pregnancy and birth. I’m not going to lie; I do struggle with it. Body image is something I have struggled with since I was about 15. Don’t get me wrong, I love my body and what it accomplished (it grew a whole human!!) and I’m not beating myself up over the fact I’m not thinner anymore. I appreciate my body; I’m just not happy with how it looks right now. I’m also not rushing into making it look smaller either. I’m taking the time to be with my bubba and I’ll work on my body slowly. 

I think you look amazing and I don’t think you need to “work on your body”. You did something amazing and you should be so proud.
How do you look after yourself day to day? 

My partner works away for 2 weeks and is home for one week, so I don’t get a lot of time to myself when she is away, but I’m completely okay with that! I love my time with my little love! When my partner is home, I make sure I take an extra long shower and I try to squeeze in a nap (often doesn’t happen because I’m too busy thinking about what my family is doing). I like to get eyelash extensions every second time my wife is home, that’s my little break away, and something that makes me feel good about myself. During the weeks my partner is away at work, I make the effort to get out of the house and see friends and family as much as I can.

You’re a super woman for being able to look after a baby on your own for two weeks at a time! Thank you so much for answering my questions!
Do you have any tips for self-care for anyone reading or any new mums out there?

Just making sure you try and get some time to yourself when bub is asleep. I know all you want do is clean the house and get things done, I’m the worst for this too! But I dedicate at least one of bubs naps to just sit down and watch an episode or two of whatever show I’m watching. I also make sure I shower every single day. I know in those early weeks sometimes it seems impossible and I’ve heard some mums say they haven’t showered for days, but it makes me feel human and I like feeling as though I can just stand in shower and wash away anything that upset me or made me mad that day; I just like feeling clean and if I had a really bad day, sometimes the shower is a good place to cry (luckily I have only done this once or twice). Showering is a must for me. I get my eyelashes done every few weeks, and I’ve made sure I’ve kept that up and didn’t stop doing it just because I have a baby now. 

If this post has triggered you in anyway, please see the “where to get help” page above or contact me directly.

Thanks for reading! the interviewing part of this blog is a work in progress, so bare with me as I tweak and work towards figuring it all out 🙂

How pregnancy helped my recovery

It has been a whole decade since I started experiencing eating disorder behaviours and what a better way to celebrate your intense fear of gaining weight, than getting pregnant.

I have always wanted to be a mother, but the thought of uncontrollably gaining weight rapidly was always at the forefront of my mind and therefore, I was not in a total rush to go down that path, especially considering some of the dangerous head spaces I have been in over the last 10 years. That was until about 2 years ago, when I decided to take my mental health into my own hands and start a blog to help me give myself the care I deserved and my main goal was to finally love myself after years of self hate. During this process I tried finding hobbies, exercising, eating healthy and letting myself just be; but what I learnt along the way was that I was just exhibiting more eating disorder thought patterns and ultimately I learnt that I could never truly love myself; and that was okay!

Since concluding my blog, I have tailored my life to suit the current climate with social media, to reflect my level of recovery. I find social media is the new magazine; people are trying to sell a product and a way of life and everyone with a phone in their hands is eating it up like they need to be the person they see on instagram; the beauty of social media though, is you can alter what you see, you get to choose who you want to follow, what ads you want to see and what way of life you want sold to you. Realising I did not need to follow the people trying to sell me diet pills and I could follow people who embraced fat bodies, was a massive turn in my life and had enabled me to see the world in a way that I never could. I learnt how dangerous the diet industry was and was able to notice eating disorder thinking and behaviour in my own friends and family through their want to constantly be smaller. 3 years ago if I heard my one of my friends tell me about their diet plans or wants to lose weight, I would have manifested that and gone on my own health kick or diet, because I thought it’s what I needed to do in order to be healthy and live a happy life and how dare my friends lose weight and I stay the same! The constant strive for thinness is not attainable and if you’re constantly trying to better yourself, then you will never truly be happy. I realised I do not have to be a better me than I was yesterday and I am totally fine the way I am. Tomorrow I may not like the way I look in the mirror, but the day after I may be a goddess- striving for body neutrality is a much more attainable and healthy mindset and this in turn helped me finally be in a stable place in my eating disorder recovery.

Cut to falling pregnant. Over the years I have learned that when my eating disorder is in full swing, it is usually due to lack of control. Although my husband and I tried for this baby and it was all planned, you cannot control your pregnancy symptoms. From 7 weeks of pregnancy I had awful morning sickness and food aversions to anything other than potatoes. I was a fiend for anything greasy and salty and it was like a constant hangover for 13 weeks. I was gaining weight and I wasn’t even showing in my pregnancy and that thought crippled me, even though I felt like I was in a safe place of recovery. I was experiencing eating disorder thoughts like crazy and partaking in old behaviours like skipping meals, however then I would be so sick I wouldn’t be able to keep food down for hours and was violently ill. I was telling my friends how much weight I had gained and letting people know I was pregnant, long before I hit the 12 week safe mark, just so they knew I wasn’t just gaining weight, I was pregnant. I was planning new ways to lose weight, but some days I couldn’t even get out of bed or stop crying and it was almost as if I was the only woman to ever be pregnant and the thought was so isolating. The problem was I now had to think about someone else. The tiny little sac of cells, needed food, whether it be covered in grease or salt, it needed me to eat.

As a nurse, I have always been an empathetic person and I always seem to be putting myself in others shoes, but when it came to pregnant women, I never really could understand or sympathise when they said it was difficult and never really saw them as being as strong and as powerful as everyone else would feel towards pregnant women. It’s a harsh reality when you fall pregnant and realise the strain is has on both your physical and mental health and then to find strength to go through pain to give life to another human being. I have not yet gone through birth, but in just being pregnant, I have found a whole new love for women and mothers especially. I have watched a few birthing videos and attended online classes and I have a whole new appreciation for the act of actually giving birth, whether that be naturally or not.

A little into my second trimester, I found that most of the fat on me had gone and I was starting to form a little round belly and suddenly, feeling pregnant cascaded me into this new world of motherhood and my new and ever changing body was incredible! My body was producing hair in the most rude of places (I pluck thick black hairs out of my chin on a weekly basis), my nails were growing at a rate I couldn’t keep up with, there were rude smells coming from every crevice of my body, I was so sick, I was covered in pimples, my fingers and feet were like something out of movie and I developed a weird rash around my nose- but in all of this, I was a total goddess and I was making a person, my very own little person. My priority was no longer about myself but keeping as healthy as I can in order to keep this little baby going and growing inside of me, even if I ate take away food, I was still giving my baby food, I was running the show and I was amazing in doing so.

At my 20 week anatomy scan, the sonographer picked up a mass on my babies right lung. He did not seem concerned, but wanted to take it further and transfer my care to a specific maternal hospital. I was not stressed or upset until my GP told me they were thinking it was a lung lesion called Congenital Pulmonary Airway Malformation (CPAM) and with that, I was told nothing else. My only instinct as a human of the 21st century was to go to my friend Google, where I learned all about CPAM and my impending doom of losing my sweet little baby that I hadn’t even had a chance to protect. I felt like a failure. I was failure as a mother, because I tried to do everything right and I still couldn’t make a proper baby, I was a failure of a wife because I was so ill and lethargic that I couldn’t contribute to housework as I once would have and I was a failure as a colleague because my workload had changed drastically. I don’t think I will ever be able to put into words what it is like to find out that there may be something wrong with your baby, but I can only say it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to hear.

3 weeks later I got the follow up ultrasound that confirmed that my baby, did in fact have CPAM, however it was very stable and based on what they could see, they would live a normal life and eventually would just have the lesion cut out. The confirmation of the condition stung a little at first because I honestly thought it was just a mistake they had made. Usually this lack of control would have spun me out into a dangerous mind set, however it was almost as if the new mother inside me had taken over and suddenly worrying about it seemed stupid, what would worrying do? Its not going to take away the lung lesion, its not going to make anything easier on the baby, or me, in fact it will just make everything worse. My lack of control had caused me to take control of my mental state for the first time in my life and knowing that the baby will be okay was enough for me to not worry about the “what ifs”. My bond for my baby grew in knowing about the lung lesion because I had a huge sense of protection and only I could give that to the baby as the mother. When I found out the baby was the girl I always wanted, I found an even bigger sense of protection in that I did not want her to end up like me. I never wanted this baby to ever feel like she wasn’t good enough and it made me even more resilient to the thoughts that would come into my head about my weight and self worth from time to time.

I no longer cared about what I looked like, because there was so much more to the world than what was on the scale AND for the first time in years, I actually looked at the scale during appointments and even though my weight was creeping up rapidly, I was not scared for the first time in my life. My priority changed when I fell pregnant and my new journey is to nourish my daughter with love and never judge her. She will always be more than what she looks like. There will be no more complaining about my weight or what I look like because over the years, these are the things I have realised that have shaped me to be who I am in hearing the ones I love putting themselves down. I cannot protect her from the outside world, but if I help her along the way to not see those material things and surface things as valuable, then maybe she has a chance of just being.

‘Tis the season

I always feel so awkward when I start these posts; do I start with a greeting or just go straight in? Or do I talk about how awkward I find starting posts to avoid it all together? In my head these days, I seem to always be turning my life into a blog. Its real Carrie Bradshaw kind of stuff, my internal monologue is on fire and it stops at nothing! Everything, from how I shower to fluffing my Christmas tree, which both have absolutely no connection to my overall purpose of my blog. For instance, I didn’t even need to include this paragraph; I’ve just added it because it was what I was thinking about before I sat down.

I feel as though it is important to talk about the holiday season in regards to the triggering nature it has on people in terms of weight/food and financial stress. I have ALWAYS struggled around this time of year and not just when I was sick, but just in general. The prospect of eating and potentially gaining weight has always been a fear of mine since I can remember. Last year for Christmas, I was pregnant and for the first time in my life I felt a huge sense of relief, because I wasn’t allowed to starve myself and I was almost encouraged to eat as much as I wanted and whatever I wanted! I then didn’t need to worry about losing weight in the New Year. This year, I feel the same sense of being able to eat, enjoy and not worry about the aftermath. Why? Because I just cannot be bothered. I think my focus has just shifted and I just want to have the best first Christmas as a little family, even though my baby will have absolutely no recollection of it what so ever. I look back at Christmas time over the years and rather than beautiful memories coming to mind, I think of the fear surrounding the food, setting new years resolutions to lose weight and then starting some fad diet or “health kick” (which is just a diet with a different name).  I would make sure on Christmas morning that I didn’t eat breakfast, so that I could save my calories for lunch or dinner or make sure I exercised and burned off the calories I ate the day before. I would eat the lean meats and salads and avoid the sweets and heavier sides. If you are feeling nervous for the same reasons this holiday season, I won’t sit and say to just “get over it” because that would be very boomer of me, but just know, if you do feel this way, that you are not alone. During this time, my advice would to be to unfollow anyone in social media that endorses weight loss, fad diets and shredding the holiday weight and follow people that that emphasise that it is okay to be human! If you don’t know where to start, I recommend following @iweigh on instagram as a starting point and see where you end up, you could end up stalking your ex. I also have a highlights reel on my instagram @mummyneutral with some other great accounts to follow!

Another daunting part of the holiday season is finances and if you haven’t been living under a rock for the last year, you would know there is some kind of global pandemic thing going on at the moment and a lot of people across the globe have lost their jobs, meaning this time of year could mean extra hardship for those effected. Although I haven’t experienced a huge amount of financial hardship for this time of year, I still have had a bit of a rough time, and I am so grateful for my anxiety for making me save some money in case of emergency and my parents. I had my daughter in May, which was just past the peak of COVID over here in Perth (a story I will save for another time) and when she was a month old, my husband was made redundant from his job. I was only receiving money from the government for 4 months for maternity leave as I had only just started my job when I fell pregnant and didn’t qualify for work paying me. I decided to halve my pay each time it came in, so I could extend my maternity leave for 8 months, however when my husband lost his job, we had to use that money I had saved to pay for rent. My husband eventually got a job, but unfortunately it covers rent and bills and there really isn’t much room for spending money, which is honestly so much more than most people have it right now and I am so grateful. Seeing as I have a baby, I thought this year I would just pay one fee and get professional Christmas photos taken and then I could just send them out as a gift for everyone, but if your baby is like mine and refuses to smile for strangers, it can be a waste of money, so my advice if you’re in a similar situation, is to get some cheap Christmas ornaments and create your own Christmas photos and print them! Use your baby to your advantage, heck put their photo on a mug, gifts are now sorted forever! (see photos below)

I feel I am not at that stage of motherhood where I can give advice for children’s gifts; my daughter will only be 7 months old and I haven’t really bought many gifts for kids in the past. This year I have wrapped up the back pack and lunch box I got her for starting day care in mid January; she gets her first Santa gift and then I can finally get over my anxiety of not having her bag already packed a month early.

Ever since I was 10 and I found out Santa isn’t real (spoiler alert), I haven’t really enjoyed Christmas. My presents and enthusiasm depleted and what was left were my drunken relatives and over cooked turkey. This year however, I AM SANTA! (Spoiler alert) Although my daughter has absolutely no idea what any of it means; Christmas is finally something I can look forward to again. I decided to buy a Christmas tree this year and when it arrived, I immediately put it up, not knowing the level of work was needed in doing so. I have since found out that there is a thing called “fluffing the Christmas tree” and there are YouTube videos to show you how! (I didn’t watch any) There are YouTube videos for absolutely everything these days. I digress, this year Christmas has a new meaning because I now have a child and I feel like she has helped me sieve out some of the negative thoughts I have towards this season regarding my weight and the fact Santa isn’t real. I will admit I do have my worries that one of my family members may comment on my weight, or if I should wear a shirt over my bathing suit, or wonder if someone will judge me for having a second helping of potato salad, but my main worry is staying sane while trying to tackle the many people wanting to play pass the parcel with my over tired child or having someone comment on the size of my areola (HUGE).

Have a lovely holiday season with whomever you celebrate or don’t celebrate with and I will be back next week.  

Mummy on the fence

I have been bursting to get my thoughts out into some content for the last few months and I have been really excited to get my ideas out there. I have ran ideas and had multiple conversations in my brain with myself and pictured these posts a million times over and now that the time has come to write something with the time I have set aside for my myself, my brain has gone blank- literally my life in a nutshell.

My name is Heather and I have decided to do everything I said I wouldn’t do and become a mum blogger! It started with the milestone cards and who knows where it will end? I have gone so far as to give myself a really corny name like “mummy neutral” and have a blog set up with really corny blog titles like “mummy on the fence”- it makes me cringe, but I am also like “yasss queen, this is what we want”. I’m clearly insecure, because I am already putting myself down which, as my friends will tell you is “classic Heather”. As much fun as taking the piss out of yourself is, I would like to draw the line somewhere. I mean, I am so bad at accepting compliments and I am even worse at accepting put downs; for example, the other week some told me I looked like I had aged a lot in the last few years, to which I also chimed in with “oh yeah and my hair line receding and I have wrinkles” and I could hear a voice in my head like “what are you doing? Why are you saying this?, but I think that is just how I am programmed and I wish I had the ability to just tell people like that to piss off.

I really rambled there and I have forgotten what the heck I was thinking of writing. Mum brain. Just my brain?

Oh yes, that was it! So why the blog? Well, a few years ago I discovered my love for writing and writing in a way that healed me. I have always been an anxious person and then to add, I have battled with an eating disorder for over a decade now. I started to blog about trying to love myself and in turn realised it isn’t about loving myself, it is about accepting myself. There is a safe space in accepting yourself and that is knowing that some days you’re going to love what you see and others you aren’t, and that is okay- we call it being body neutral.

It is exhausting being so negative towards yourself everyday, but it is also just as exhausting being positive all the time or pretending you are super body positive all the time, because even the most confident person has their days.

I was in a really great headspace before I fell pregnant and I felt amazing in my recovery…then I fell pregnant.

I decided to write a blog post about how pregnancy helped my eating disorder recovery and this post got published on an eating disorder website (I will post this blog in a few weeks). I shared my news with a few close friends and they suggested I should continue writing from a post partum perspective. Post having my daughter my body has changed. To some it might it might be so obvious, like “of course your body changed”, but I mean it has changed I have gone from finally accepting my pear shape, to now having a completely different body type I need to learn to accept and I must admit, it has been difficult.

I have found instagram to be a great tool for finding pages and people to follow that support your ideas and beliefs, but recently I was talking to another mum friend and I was saying that I just can’t find another mum out there that isn’t forcing a fitness regime or trying to be positive. They also have the perfect schedule and are posting like motherhood is easy and acting as if they don’t chuck their baby in front of the television for 10 minutes when they just need to take a break. I have decided to be the voice I need. I have also gone a step further than I ever have and got myself a website and a new instagram account to go with my new mum voice.

Each week I aim to share a little snippet of my life and I also plan to share the lives of other mother’s around Australia and or the world (I’ll see where my own little network takes me) and I am talking any mother! Mothers with kids, mothers without kids, trying mums, mums of 7, old mums, young mums, gay mums, straight mums, dad mums, mum mums, big mums, small mums, MUMS AS BIG AS YOUR HEAD!

I hope you got my reference, if not, this is awkward…

And on that note, welcome to mummy neutral! Thank you for your support and I will see you next week!