A Decade And A Lifetime.

We were young eyes with old souls when we met in the springtime of our twenties. I fell in love with your kind eyes and gentle mouth long before it ever kissed mine. Some people say you just know when you meet that one person who’ll set your soul on fire for the rest of your days and I did. I knew you were meant to be mine always.

A decade is a long time by today’s measures; not many people can commit to weeks let alone months, let alone years, and yet here we are, ten years strong, four years tied by the covenant we made. I still remember the look on your face as I saw you for the first time at the altar, it was everything I had hoped your heart would scream in that silent moment.

I wanted to run, not walk into  our future together the moment I met you and also on this day when you promised to always take the path together as husband and wife.

Not a day that goes by where I am not thankful for what we have, in amongst the chaos of the dishes, nappies, sleeplessness and schedules. You are the anchor, you are the rudder and you are the sails. You give me strength, direction and momentum to continue into the future in store for us.

You’ve given me the most beautiful gift in our son. He is so like you and I am so glad. You are the man I hoped and dreamed of, even when my mind couldn’t imagine you were real. If our son grows to be half the man you are the world will be all the sweeter, better, kinder, wiser, gentler because of it.

We’ve walked a pretty rocky road these past 10 years. And not one of those steps was taken with carelessness on your part. While I skip ahead, darting from stone to stone, admiring the flowers and clouds and being distracted by my impulses and passions, you are keeping us on the path to joy and love.

You still make my heart beat faster, all these years later.

Thank you for the past decade.

I can’t wait to live the next one with you, teaching Sammy how love is a commitment for lifetimes, all made up of decades, years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds of choosing love always.

Happy 4th wedding anniversary Baby.
I love you more than ever.

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The Sam Diaries

Life with our little Bear Cub is a constant, evolving and enriching experience. We have seen him grow so much over the past 5 months, I can’t believe he is 5 months old tomorrow! It fills my heart with so much joy that on more than one occasion I have found myself with tears streaming down my face just looking at him.

His little personality has begun to unfold like a little flower. We are seeing more and more of it with each week that passes. He has a real cuddly temperament, but is strong and independent in his own company. Happy to just chill and enjoy his toys on the play mat, but absolutely lights up when you engage with him while he plays. He gives the sweetest, cheekiest smiles, chuckles and squeaks. He has the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen on a baby.

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Classic Samface!

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All pooped after swimming class

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On one of our neighbourhood walks…

He is a relaxed and calm little man. I knew this when he was conceived, so to see it in him every day is reassuring for my mother’s instinct. Amongst his mother’s group friends he is definitely the quiet one, happy to sit back and take in all the other babies as they do their thing.

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I am woken every morning by the biggest smiles, the way he looks at me makes me feel as if I am the centre of his universe. I suppose I am for now, and I am enjoying that so much. His favourite activity is without a doubt the jolly jumper – he knows what “Jumpy jump” means, his little legs begin thrashing wildly when it is mentioned. He has just started grabbing things and pulling them up to his mouth, he loves his dangly monkey toy for this reason. He still hates tummy time. He has all but stopped breastfeeding, but is still given expressed breast milk in a bottle. And that’s ok.

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Our favourite activity!

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We took a trip to the zoo where a mother Orangutan became fascinated by Sammy in my arms. She kept gesturing and looking at him with the most beautiful compassion in her eyes. It was such a great experience!!

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The Orangutan was fascinated…

We celebrated our first Father’s Day with Daddy by reading story books about hockey before bed.

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We also took our first flight together a few weeks back, just me and Sammy; we went to visit Grammy in Perth. Sammy took it like a champion, sleeping for most of the flight over and the entire flight on the way home. Those precious days in Perth were also a great recharger for me. There’s nothing quite like being home with Mum. ❤

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Sleeping on the plane on the way to Perth…

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Sammy spending some time with Grammy in Perth

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All dressed up for church!

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Slept the entire flight home to Melbourne!

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Fistbump!

If you are following us on social media, you’ll have seen a lot of these photos already. If you would like to follow us, my instagram is _bethwalker. I post daily updates and pictures/videos of our baby Skywalker. He is the best thing I’ve ever been given. We are truly blessed.

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Ohana.

When we were married we had our wedding day captured by a photographer by the name of Kristen Cook. She told our story so beautifully that we knew when the time came for us to have a baby that we wanted Kristen to be the one to do our portraits too.

The week Sammy was released from the hospital we were over at Kristen’s studio having the images taken. They were perfect. And last week we picked up our amazing prints and the images on digital file as well. My heart bursts looking at our little man, he is truly such a gift from heaven. I also can’t believe how small he was!

I hope you enjoy the pictures. If you are looking for an incredible photographer to capture your life moments, I cannot recommend Kristen highly enough. You can check out her amazing work at http://www.kristencook.com.au/

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“Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”

The Breast Outcome Possible.

July 1st was Samuel’s official due date, but he was born May 19th. Anyone with a premature baby will be familiar with the term ‘adjusted age.’ This is where you deduct the number of weeks premature from the date of your child’s birth to determine its adjusted age. So this week, Sam turns 12 weeks old, which minus his 6 weeks premature gives him an adjusted age of 6 weeks. So while Sam is ‘older’ than his adjusted age, it means he will develop more closely to his adjusted age than his actual age. So milestones you’d expect at 6 weeks will occur closer to 12 for him.

And I am so pleased to say that this is most definitely the case with Breastfeeding. Sam has finally grown strong enough and mature enough to develop a proper latch and suck, which means we are now finally able to breastfeed!! I am so beyond stoked to report that literally the day after my last blog, Sam had an hour-long feed, and continued to get stronger every day. We now have a lovely routine locked in of our morning feed, where I get to sit in my beautiful nursery chair and soak in the endorphins and calm of breastfeeding my son. I get to finally stop condemning myself mentally for what I perceived to be a failure of my body. I can finally hold my head up high and say “Yes, we breastfeed.”

While I am so ecstatic to be able to check off accomplishing this one thing that I held onto with stubborn determination and sheer grit, through tears and frustration and many moments of throwing my hands in the air and saying “I quit! This is too hard!” I am also really sad for mums out there who for whatever reason don’t breastfeed and feel guilt and pressure to do so. We all know the saying “breast is best” but I honestly feel like what’s best for baby is what’s best for mum. There is so much pressure to breastfeed in today’s society, and so much pressure to do it ‘discreetly,’ whatever that means, when you have a screaming hungry baby throwing themselves around because they’re so beyond hangry it’s impossible to calm them any faster than ripping off your shirt and shoving your breast into their mouth, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Or fair. To mum and baby.

I know the stress I felt trying to get Sam to take the breast was enormous. More than once I was reduced to tears in my attempts. I felt like a complete and utter failure as a mother. I thought of all the centuries of women who fed their babies this way, and how I was somehow a genetic failure destined to be bred out of the gene pool for my inability to do something so natural, that so many others had done without effort. But it’s simply ridiculous to place so much pressure on a mother to do so, right from the moment of conception your entire existence is about the little life growing inside of you. You give up everything you’re told could cause you illness and the baby harm. You forego things you love to give your child everything it needs and nothing it doesn’t. You spend 9 months cultivating a human life to be able to sustain itself outside the womb with basic human needs. Your body swims with hormones. You cry over all the things you feel you’re doing wrong or not able to control from the minute you know you’re pregnant to the moment you die. You literally bleed for your child. And yet if you can’t breastfeed, you somehow feel like a failure.

It breaks my heart that the link between failure to breastfeed and post natal depression is so high, and I can’t help but wonder how much of that is because of the mental and emotional pressure women feel, from society, from family, friends, from themselves. At the end of the day, the most important thing is a happy, healthy baby and a happy, healthy mother. How you get there should be nobody’s business. So think before you ask a new mother if their baby is breast or bottle fed. You may actually be adding to a new mother’s anxiety!

I am admittedly still mixed feeding Sam and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. I am perfectly content with my morning and evening snuggles during our breast time, but I am also content with bottle feeds in the middle of the night, which ensure I know exactly how much Sammy is eating, and can be shared with Stu as well.

I’d like to encourage mothers using formula. Your reasons are your own. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. You are doing great.

I’d also like to encourage mums out there who might be struggling to breastfeed. It’s ok to formula feed. It’s ok to breastfeed. Stick to your guns either way and don’t let the outcome affect your sense of value and worth as a mother. To your little person, you’re everything. Formula or breast. You’re doing great.

It’s up to you to find the breast outcome possible. For both you and bubba. xx

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Boobs.

WARNING:
This post contains references to Breasts. And Nipples. And feeding a child with them. While there won’t be any nipple pictures for you to be offended by, you should know that if you’re particularly precious about this topic, you can kindly exit the browser window in 3, 2, 1…

Ok, you were warned.

I don’t really know how to open this blog, so I’ll start by showing you my daily (multiple times a day) reality for the past 2 months:

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This is a breast pump. I have a love/hate relationship with this thing. On one hand, it is soo relieving to use. It means my baby is getting breast milk. But on the other, I just wish I could breastfeed.

Sam being born so early meant a lot of challenges for us both, but the one that continues to this day is the battle of the boob. I hear and see friends who are able to breastfeed so naturally and easily and I envy them. I had wanted this one thing so much, and given how little control I had over the birth process and no skin to skin for 27+ hours post birth, I have sort of set myself into a stubborn determination that this one thing will be mine. I will not fail at this.

But these are hours of my life I can never get back, hours I wish were spent with Sam close against my chest, in the quiet. Hours we could spend just the two of us, bonding as mother and child.

Breastfeeding is such a special thing for a Mum. And yet Sam’s prematurity and my nipple shape (FYI, I had no idea there was such a thing as different nipple types!?) has meant we’ve had a long, stressful, sometimes upsetting uphill battle to get him on the boob. We currently mix feed, which again, is a love/hate kind of deal. With my preeclampsia, formula meant my baby was being nourished as much as possible while my body recovered from the trauma of the c-section and illness while my milk came in. On the other, the less you nurse, the less milk you have. Catch 22.

Using bottles and formula is another love/hate. Bottles need washing, sterilizing, drying. Formula takes time. The water has to be 75 degrees C before you can mix in the formula. This means boiling the kettle, and then waiting about 40 minutes. This means timers. Clock watching. And never, ever being allowed to not have some ready. But formula needs to be made as you go, so you can’t make too much. But you must always have some on hand.

On the upside, it means I am not up every single feed with bleeding and cracked nipples, dying of lack of sufficient sleep. It means Daddy can help with the middle of the night feeding times, and we can share in the bond of feeding and nourishing Sammy. It means a low milk supply does not impede the growth of our little cub.

But it sucks. Pun intended. Because I could bottle feed Sam breast milk anyway, even if I was breastfeeding as well. But even with a nipple shield and a fixed tongue, it’s not happening for us so far.When Sam had his tongue tie corrected, I thought that would be that. We would be off to the best start in our breastfeeding journey together.

Wrong.

Sam is now used to the ease of the bottle, which trickles down his throat without much effort, even when he’s half asleep. So having to put in effort to suckle at the boob doesn’t particularly interest him most of the time. In fact, there’s usually a great deal of crying, back arching and screaming involved. (And I’m not just talking about Sam!)

While I do have the wonderful support of the maternal health services and lactation consultants (we have one coming to help up soon) it’s hard not to feel discouraged that something that is meant to be so ‘natural’ is so damn difficult. For so many women. So for each block of time I’m attached to my pump, for each feed we attempt that results in the same thing, I have to remind myself that this is something I want, and is ultimately the best thing for Sam. But it is hard. I have even wanted to quit so many times. It’s really upsetting to have your son push away from you time and time again. But I persist.

I am hoping our boob battle has a victory at its end, but I just wanted to get it off my chest for now. Pun intended.

To all the Mums out there in the booby front lines, I salute you. If you need me, I’m probably not far from this machine.

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The Mum Diaries

Today is my first day at home with Sam with Stu back at work, and I’ve been thinking about my maternity leave, wondering what my life will look like when I return to work next year. Sam has been home for a month tomorrow and though we have had my parents here for a couple of those weeks, we have adjusted to having this little man in our world quite well.

But today I become the primary care-giver and that is a task I know will require all of my effort, all of my emotions and all of my determination.

Parenting is pretty crazy; you have sex, 9 months pass and then all of a sudden they hand you this little dependent human being, who relies solely on you to thrive and survive. Yes, there are classes you can attend that are meant to help you learn how to do that, but for the most part you’re sort of set adrift into an enormous ocean full of tumultuous storms, beautiful serene moments and everything in between. It requires 100% all of the time, physically and emotionally and it’s just too important to not do right.

As an introvert I wondered how I would go having a little person with me 24/7. I need quiet and alone time to recharge myself at the end of the day and that doesn’t happen quite so easily with a baby and no one home during the day to help. Sam experiences quite painful wind and can be very colicky and require quite a bit of soothing at times. Other times he’s happy to chill by himself on the play mat and whenever he sleeps I try to. But it’s still full on. And it’s up to me. The Primary care-giver.

Thank God I have a secondary care-giver though in my husband. I think about single parents trying to do this alone and with no family support and I admire them immensely. Bringing a child into a marriage comes with its own challenges though. The need for good communication completely doubles in its importance. Tiredness, stress and the general demands of trying to be a parent increase the tension or sharpness in your tone. It’s also important to remember that each of you is learning, and a simple question may feel like an accusation even when it’s not. It’s a steep learning curve that can make or break a marriage. But I am so thankful for the amazing man I married, he is incredible with Sam and is working hard to give us the best future possible.

So my first day of solo dishes, laundry and primary care-giving is here and while it may be daunting, I feel like I’m ready for this. That we as a family are ready for this. I am loving being Sam’s mum, loving the moments of quiet in amongst the tears (most of which will probably be mine!) and being blessed enough to have maternity leave to be able to soak in the first year of Sam’s life; to watch him grow and develop into the little person he is meant to be. And having nowhere else I’d rather be.

 

Life With Sam.

Last blog I wrote about how life had slipped into a beautiful haze over our first three weeks as parents. This morning, whilst cleaning the house (a task which increases in necessity immeasurably once you have a baby!) I was caught off guard by the realisation that I think my ‘young adult’ days have ended.

I’m 33, so technically they probably ended quite some time ago, I knew I had stopped battling the insecurities of my twenties a few years back, being in my thirties has been something I have enjoyed immensely. But suddenly realising I’ve become by many standards an “adult” now, approaching middle age was somewhat confronting and confusing.

I sat on the couch I had just puffed, the cushions I had re-arranged, folding bibs and onesies and enjoying the quiet that comes from having Sam asleep with Daddy in the next room. I was feeling some sense of accomplishment, having cleaned the kitchen, loaded the dishwasher, sterilised the bottles, taken out the trash, tidied Sam’s room, tidied the kitchen table and documents and paid some bills when it hit me. When did I start feeling pride in having time to accomplish these tasks? When did this become the measure of me feeling “on top” of my life?

It was confusing. The old me would still be asleep if possible, sleeping til past noon is something I really (read: REALLY) enjoy, and yet today I am pleased by the fact that I have an orderly house and a sleeping baby under my belt. I used to cringe thinking about life as ‘a boring adult’… I panicked turning 23 because I felt like I was old! And yet here I am, ten years on, living life with Sam and my amazing husband, two Burmese cats and I feel more satisfied than I ever did running around to late night shenanigans and parties with friends.

When exactly did this happen?

Life with Sam has settled into a pretty stable routine for now, I love the minutes I spend snuggling with him, rocking him to sleep, watching his little facial expressions change and his personality unfold. I love having Stu home to enjoy all this with (caesarean means he can take carer’s leave to be with us) and I love that such little things, like a contented sigh from my son bring my heart such joy.

I think we complicate life too much with busy schedules and a need to be surrounded by people and noise all the time. We define our importance by the type of work we do, the amount of friends we have, whether or not we’re doing something on the weekends. Life with Sam is teaching me that none of that matters, really, what matters is love.

I love my family, and I am so grateful for this new chapter of my life where I can breathe and just be, find satisfaction in mundane tasks and moments. It’s the first time I’ve ever truly loved just being me. I have no one to impress, no petty arguments to concern myself with, just a little baby and a beautiful family to love on.

I’m sure the time will come again when busyness and schedules reappear, but for now I’m just going to soak up the joy of having nothing to do and nowhere to be except home with my loves, being a Mum.

Life goes way too fast. I want to make sure I revel in the minutes that fly past as Sam grows up, I don’t want to look back in regret that I missed them or that they went too quickly and I didn’t truly absorb and appreciate them.

So for now, if you were wondering; Yes, I love being Sam’s mum, and yes, I am enjoying this little slice of ‘boring adult life.’

Life with Sam is wonderful.

 

“He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul.”

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