So as I am baby mad at the moment, I thought I would share with you today about a friend of mine Jess, who has just become a new mum a little over two months ago. I have known Jess for years. She first came to work with me at our shop back in Port Macquarie when she was about thirteen and was a fairly quiet girl back then. Over the last few years I have had the pleasure of watching Jess blossom into an amazing woman. She has always strived to fight for what she believes in and has always been an over achiever. When Jess was fourteen or fifteen, she sponsored a child. I remember thinking back then, Wow…most girls at that age are much more interested in spending money on clothes or make up but no matter how much she struggled financially, Jess always put her sponsor child first.
So inspiration comes in all different ways. Although Jess is much younger than me, she has inspired me to be the best mum I can be when my little man is born. She has taken to motherhood amazingly and is doing such a great job. I don’t see Jess because I live about ten hours away, but from seeing all of the pictures on Facebook, her little boy Malakai is one of the most alert, happy little guys I have seen. So I sat down and asked Jess some questions on motherhood and about being a young mum and I hope you enjoy this candid little chat about how she is enjoying the start or something wonderful.
As a young mum, did you come across any negative people who judged you because of your age?
I think people are quick to judge anyone and anything that they know little about. The term ‘young Mum’ has become something I am not too fond of. We don’t go around calling people ‘old Mum’ or ‘middle aged mum’ so I am not quite sure why people are so quick to put us into this category and then stereotype us a certain way. There definitely would have been times where people looked twice but overall, I really haven’t faced that much judgement, personally, because of my age. I think, if anything, judgement came from being placed into this category and assuming that because I am young, I may somehow be incapable. Throughout my pregnancy I have come to know some absolutely amazing mothers that are my age and even younger. I know a sixteen year old with twins and she is an absolutely incredible Mum. I have also seen my share of mothers around my age that do not seem so great. But that comes with each age group, I have seen some horrible and some amazing ‘older’ mothers, too. ANYWAY, all in all, I received an overwhelming amount of support. Those few people who were quick to judge (and who have admitted it to me) later retracted what they judged when they got to know me, followed my blog and saw how dedicated I was to changing my life for this beautiful little human.
How did you enjoy being pregnant?
I loved it. I loved the kicks, my bump, the hiccups, the way my belly changed shapes depending on how I laid, the ultrasounds, preparing for my life as a mother, the bond I shared with him; everything. Emotionally, things were hard. I had little support in Sydney where I was living and was quite isolated because of it. I had to finish a semester of Uni which was also pretty difficult but I ended up with great marks and I made it through. Hormones suck.
Did you plan a natural birth or did you go into labour without a birthing plan?
I was very set on a natural birth, however, I never really had a set birthing plan. I knew I didn’t want anything other than gas, I wanted to be able to walk around if that was what I felt was best, I wanted to utilise the bath and shower, I knew who I wanted in with me, I knew I wanted to delay the cutting of the cord until blood stopped pulsating in order to send the most possible nutrients to my son, but other than that, I just wanted to see how things went. I realise that probably sounds very much like a birth plan, but the plans I was reading went into much more detail. I never wanted to create something in my head that possibly would have to be changed as I knew that would leave me feeling very disappointed. Not having a set birth plan allowed me to change things when I needed to depending on how things were going. Being induced wasn’t something I wanted at all, but it happened, and I feel that if I had a very set birth plan, I would have been a lot more let down than what I was.
When you took your baby home, was it everything you had expected or was it harder at first to balance all the new changes?
Oh man. Going home was scary. I literally had no idea what to expect which I think probably worked in my favour because it was really tough. My labour was long and pretty traumatic and I never got to really recover from that physically (or mentally). It takes a massive toll on your body to be so worn down from your labour and then tend to a baby that wakes and feeds every three or so hours. It was definitely hard to balance. But here I am at nine weeks and I think I have it pretty balanced!
What do you think the biggest challenges were in your first month at home?
Breastfeeding. Sleep deprivation. Feeling lonely. My postpartum body. The list could probably go on. But hey, it got SO much better.
How have you adjusted to being a mum?
I was only thinking about it the other day and I absolutely love it. I feel so confident and happy. It took me a while to get to this stage but it feels so amazing now that I am here. I love him and I love being his Mum.
What is the most fulfilling part of it?
Everything. I honestly cannot put it down to one thing. I love everything he does. I love watching him change and grow every day. I love knowing what the little things he does means, like when he purses his lips and clenches and unclenches his fists, it means he is hungry. I love watching him sleep. I love watching him play and smile and babble. I love it all.
Everyone has an opinion on breastfeeding vs bottle. What are your thoughts and what have you decided to do?
If I could be a giant, massive advocate for breastfeeding, I would be. Those first two weeks I honestly could not even count how many times I cried about everything. Breastfeeding was hard. Really hard. I thought I was doing it wrong, I thought he wasn’t happy, it hurt, it was hard to adjust to, but seriously, it gets SO much better. I love it. I feed him anywhere and I refuse to hide off into a toilet to feed my baby. I understand how easy it is to want to give in, I wanted to so badly those first few weeks, but I didn’t and I am so glad I didn’t. Sure sometimes it is hard not being able to let someone else feed him so I can rest or go out without him, but the positives far outweigh that. There are so many positives for the baby and it is freeeee! I would really encourage any Mum to breastfeed for as long as they can, it is beautiful.
If you could give any new young mums some advice, what would you say to them knowing what you know now?
If I could give any advice in general, it would be to cry when you need to, never feel ashamed to feel upset and lonely and confused because being a Mum is hard, no matter what age you are. Always ask for help when you need it and never feel like a failure for needing that help. Anyone who doesn’t must be supermum. Don’t try to plan every single thing because I can assure you, the opposite of what you plan will happen. Don’t stress because your baby feeds off your stress and emotions. Now that I am confident and happy, so is my baby. Read, read, read, never stop asking questions and researching the decisions you make about your baby. I have learnt so, so much, that people don’t tell you. Don’t let other peoples unwanted advice upset you, YOU are the Mum and you know best. OH and alllllllllllllll that stuff you bought for your baby, you probably won’t need it (despite how fun it is to buy) so don’t stress about all the little things! In terms of being younger, I guess, just don’t let that stereotype hurt you because age really does mean nothing and you CAN do it. But obviously I am no expert whatsoever, every Mum is different and every Mum knows their baby more than anyone else.
What has been the best advice you have received about being a new mum?
SLEEP WHEN YOUR BABY SLEEPS.
Thanks so much Jess for your informative opinion. You are so right and age should never be an issue. It all comes down to the person you are how much you believe in yourself. I can’t wait to see Kai’s journey as he grows up