My Experience with Motherhood & My Village

Pregnancy for me in some ways has been really easy. At least mentally. A huge caveat here: I have shed many tears and there absolutely have been bad days. But I have never doubted my ability to be a mother. I remember asking a work colleague at what point she knew she was ready to be a mum. Her response: “When I couldn’t imagine life without a child.” I remember thinking how profound that statement was. How simple, but insightful it was. And I remember a year or so later, the moment I felt that same way. It was the end of a lovely Spring weekend in Bondi where we live. Saturday afternoon drinks on the grassy knoll with friends, Italian for dinner, followed by a nightcap. Then a Sunday well spent grabbing breakfast, picking up groceries and doing chores. It was full of fun, sun and laughs, but I had a distinct feeling that something, someone was missing. I discussed it with my partner, Charlie and together we set a loose plan in place - we’d get our ducks in a row with private health and start trying in 6 months or so. We fell pregnant the following August and as I write this I am 34 weeks pregnant with a baby girl.

So the easy part for me was knowing - knowing I was ready, that we as a couple are ready, and trusting in my ability to love and care for a baby. But I always knew the hard part would be support for us as a couple. We’re both originally from Brisbane and live in Sydney. As we’ve made our way through this pregnancy, the one thing we heard consistently was the importance of having parents or family nearby to help out. With Charlie’s family interstate and me being estranged from my parents, entering into motherhood I was really aware of the village I would need to create to get through. And so I plotted my parenting village plan.

There are a multitude of reasons why we wait for the safety of hitting 12 weeks to share our news that make sense. But I would say there are just as many reasons to share that also make sense. Charlie and I were completely different in our approach to the first trimester. He didn’t want to tell any friends until we hit the ‘safe-zone.’ Whereas, I had this burning desire to connect with my village of friends who were mums or expecting. The day we got the positive result, I called one of my best friends, a mum of two, and told her immediately. I then quickly organised a walk with my friend Kelly, who at that time was 4 months pregnant, and guessed straight away! It was really important for me to have that core group of friends that I could talk to and even just know that were there if I needed to ask a question. (And look I did tell a couple of other friends but Charlie thinks it’s just those two so shhh).

Once we hit the 12 week mark I immediately messaged my ‘GIRLS’ Whatsapp group made up of 15 or so of my high school friends in Brissy, many of them mums, to fill them in on the news. The news of Baby Searles meant we had three baby girls arriving within weeks of each other! And then the holy grail of parenting village invitations arrived: I was added to the ‘Mums’ Whatsapp group. And from there it really flowed - candid conversations with women going through the same experience as me with insights into the realities of motherhood i.e expert know how into just how many Huggies nappies you really need in a day.

Then my colleague at work announced her pregnancy - she was about 6 months ahead of me - I reached out and asked her who her obstetrician was. At that stage I was booked in with a male OBGYN but had really wanted to find a female doctor - completely personal preference. My colleague loved her female OB and I booked in with her immediately. She has been such a great fit, and again another great example of leaning on your village, especially as a first time mum!

I had been a little hesitant initially about sharing on socials. I’d heard from many mum friends about the unsolicited advice that comes with being a first time mum and the unfortunate mummy shame. And so, it was around the 4 or 5 month mark when I decided to announce my pregnancy publicly via social media. The response completely shocked me. I was ready to kind of protect myself in a way from the differing opinions, but instead I’ve been inundated with lovely, encouraging messages from my followers. But the thing I didn’t factor in, were the messages from expectant mums who were in the very early stages of pregnancy. I knew exactly the feeling of being so excited to be pregnant and wanting to share, but also having the ‘12 week mark’ hanging over your head. It was wonderful to be able to pay that comfort and encouragement forward to them, that I had received from my early stage mum village.

And of course the mums and bumps I’ve met along the way. We’re really lucky in that we are one of four first time parents in our extended group of Sydney friends. Four baby girls arriving months apart. There was the sharing of weird symptoms, lots of discussion about prams, baby CPR classes, birthing stories and the necessary support of everyday essentials we were all too familiar with pre pregnancy - extra supplies of Huggies Baby Wipes for any and every spillage.

The biggest thing that shocked me was the confidence over the pregnancy that Charlie and I have had with rounding out our village.The most recent example would be our Calm Birth weekend course. We were paired with 8 other couples for two days and learnt about the physiology of birth, breathing techniques and the role of the birthing partner in labour. We loved it! I can’t say enough great things about the course. The content was brilliant, but it was also the connection we made with couples in the same stage of life as us. All of us first time parents, equally excited and nervous, in a judgement free zone to talk as long as we wanted to about all things baby related! Charlie and I even took on the role of creating a Whatsapp group so we could all stay in touch after. This is something I would have cringed at in a previous life!

In your younger years, the idea of community seems a bit daggy. You’ve got friends, why make more? On top of that, we’ve all become a little insular in how we live our lives. It’s a result of so many things; apartment living, the ‘no new friends’ rhetoric and a general decline in communication and social skills - thanks COVID! But honestly, what’s made this experience even more exciting is having a reason to make new friends and lean on existing friends and family as you navigate thismonumental change in your life. And what I have overwhelmingly realised is that the string that connects us as human beings is sharing. The highs, the lows, the tips, tricks, hacks and everything in between.

The old saying of “it takes a village” rings true in parenthood - I’ve even seen it with Charlie and the birthing partners he’s connected with. But the village doesn’t stop at the people you meet, it’s also the resources that you rely on, and brands like Huggies who are with you every step of the way. Take the website, there you’ll find an abundance of resources for parents. You can even sign up to the Huggies weekly updates on your pregnancy journey through to active baby, with developmental advice and tips about your Bub.

While the village has diversified in the ways we connect (hello social media!), it remains a staple, much like the Huggies brand. From newborn nappies and baby wipes, to toddlers and toilet training, Huggies have remained the enduring and helping hand for new parents. So share your tips, tricks and hacks. Assemble your village. And pay it forward to the new Mum’s that come after you.

Written by Kee Reece, September 2022

Kee Reece is the host of Mamamia's daily entertainment podcast, The Spill. She lives in Sydney with her partner Charlie, dog Al and newborn daughter, Rue.

 

15/09/21 - min Read

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