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Beautiful Maternal Mental Health ❤️

Hello Beautiful People,

This week on May the 3rd it was International Maternal Mental Health Day. Also around the globe May 1st-7th is recognised as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. This is a fairly new awareness program set up in the last few years to recognise and put in place much needed supports for women and their families.
Maternal Mental Health is a topic very close to my heart, for several reasons. So I value this week and the awareness and support it’s raising very much.
Maternal Mental Health (MMH) addresses women and their mental health throughout the perinatal period. That is the time from which they get pregnant, give birth and up until the baby is a year or so old. 

The reasons I feel so strongly about raising awareness and promoting support around perinatal mental health are motivated by personal experiences. 

I have been through the perinatal period quite a few times in my life and sometimes it’s not been smooth sailing.

I’ve witnessed close family members struggle alone and suffer tremendously throughout the perinatal period.

I’ve supported friends who’ve felt like they were drowning throughout their perinatal  period……

I’m currently still just in the perinatal period….

Am I ok? Maybe……

The few heartbreaking things that myself, my family member and my friends all said we experienced throughout our perinatal period that we didn’t expect were:

• feelings of being overwhelmed with pregnancy; body changes; fear of baby not growing healthily; fear of no longer being attractive to partner; fear of birth; fear of birth complications; fear of not being heard by care providers; fear of not being able to breastfeed; fear of not bonding with baby; fear of not waking to baby; fear of not feeding baby enough; fear of not being able to settle baby; fear of not knowing why baby is crying; fear of baby crying because something serious is wrong; fear of something bad happening to baby; fear of body not going back to pre-baby state; fear of no time for partner; fear of no time for other children; fear of no time for self; feeling isolated; feeling overwhelmed; feeling exhausted; feeling unsupported; feeling unprepared; feeling pressure to be the perfect mum; feeling unhappy with self; feeling like a failure….. and sadly the list goes on…… All these fears experienced and shared by a group of wonderful, intelligent otherwise incredibly healthy women throughout their perinatal period… And all of them treated in completely different ways by their care providers.

Yes we all got asked the routine antenatal questions and only two out of five of us got flagged and followed up…. There are so many potential triggers for perinatal depression and anxiety coupled with massive hormone changes, it’s so hard to know who will be ok and who won’t. I was not one of the ones to be followed up despite knowing I met a lot of the criteria for high risk post natal depression….. I did however seek support on my own from my GP and Karitane a good six months after my last baby was born because after the adrenaline of running on no sleep at all for the first six months of my baby’s life wore off I realised how anxious I was and that I needed support. One friend was immediately commenced on antidepressants by her doctor because her anxiety was all time consuming and she was already exhibiting signs of depression. She said she felt like a new woman and immediately bonded with her baby and could finally function without her fears controlling her. I didn’t feel I needed medication and utilised other methods to help with my anxiety. My family member who also met the criteria for high risk for post natal depression due to a previous mental health history, history of domestic violence and being a single mother was not so lucky with her support network. She fell through the cracks so to speak and although she was already on low dose antidepressants she was alone, exhausted, completely drowning in her fears and level of responsibility as a new and single mother. She suffered from a severe postpartum psychosis and her baby was removed from her care, permanently…… But that is her story to tell completely…. All I can say to that is that as a witness to her experience and whilst going through the perinatal period myself at the same time as her, my heart completely and utterly broke for her….. And I questioned why her and not me and years and pregnancies later I still remain hyper vigilant around my mental health throughout the perinatal period.

And it’s because of all these beautiful women with all their varied experiences and yet similar feelings and thoughts around the time of their pregnancies, births and new babies, that I think this week, Maternal Mental Health Week is so important! It needs to be recognised as a topic that needs to be discussed openly so that assessments are done routinely and universally. So that support networks and programs are implemented properly and in a timely manner. So that women can avoid getting acutely unwell. So that families can feel supported and stay together! 

As for me…. despite writing a post over six months ago around R U OK day and saying I was not ok, I think it’s time to say…. I’m doing ok…. Slowly….

I’m still mildly suffering from anxiety and severe fatigue but I’m happy. 

I have a great support network and I know that’s what gets me through. Also my baby is one now and although I’ve only ever felt this anxious once before with all my perinatal periods I’m glad that I know it won’t last, like it didn’t before. I don’t let the small stuff consume me. The house can stay messy (despite my cleaning OCD). We can have take away a few times a week if Hubby and I are too exhausted to cook. All my children are healthy and loved. I practice mindfulness. I have a psychologist. I vent to my hubby and eldest daughter/bestie. I walk. I write. I read. I sing. All things I do for me to ensure relaxation and peace. And slowly but surely everyday gets the teeny tiniest bit easier…… 😌❤️ 

To all those beautiful women out there struggling alone in silence with your overwhelming thoughts, whether you’re a first time mum or a millionth time mummy like me, please, speak up, speak out, talk to absolutely anybody you feel comfortable talking to! Sometimes getting those thoughts out of your head is the first steps to feeling better! 

And know this! 

You are not alone!

I am right here with you!

You are a wonderful mummy!

You are amazing!

You’re doing great!

You’re a beautiful human!

And your baby loves and needs you ❤️
(If you need to talk to someone or are concerned about someone please contact one of the links below)

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Beautiful Perfect Age Gap ❤️ 

Hello Beautiful People,
The mummy fatigue is still at its peak. I’ve conversed with my husband a lot about this fatigue lately, for a few reasons. Yes we are raising six children so everyone expects us to be exhausted. However, we’ve come to the conclusion that these two beautiful last baby’s that we have been blessed with are the absolute reasons for our complete and utter parental exhaustion! Poor sweet little babes are being blamed for our feelings of downfall as super hero parents that have finally crashed and burned…….
The reality is, it’s not actually the babies faults. There are many factors at play here that have finally tipped us over our limit of being able to bear with the perpetual tiredness to nearly crying from the brain fog of pure exhaustion! 

These factors are:

 We may actually suddenly have one…. or two, too many children…..  (I’m kidding 😬)

Our ages….. ughhh as much as I hate to admit it,  yes it’s true we are much older this time (and more unfit) and we tire much easier than we did with our older children. 

The temperament of our two littlest ones. These two are beautifully rowdy. Perhaps it’s because they are aware that they are in a large family and feel they need to compete for attention. Or maybe it’s just their personalities but these two little ones are noisier, more energetic, inquisitive, demanding and sleep way less than any of their older siblings. 

They are also very close in age. They were born nineteen months apart. We’ve never had such a close age gap before with our older children. In fact we’ve had some small age gaps but we’ve also had some really large age gaps. Our oldest daughter is seven years older than our next son. Then the three middle boys are fairly close in age with a three year gap being our favourite gap so far. We then had a ten year gap between the middle boys and our last two little ones….. Who are the lovely little high energy babes that are nineteen months apart.

I’ve recently met a few lovely mums at my local playgroup who are new mums and they ask me what age gap I recommend as the most ideal one to have a second baby……

When I’m truly exhausted I jokingly say never….. However I tell them that every family is different and has different experiences so may suggest different things. But for us having these last two babies close together has,  at times been akin to a living nightmare….. 

It all starts off so lovely and exciting bringing home the new sibling for the new toddler…. Then within months the reality sets in…. Endless mountains of washing, some little human nearly always crying because of hunger, tiredness, dirty nappy, double teething, sibling jealousy…. this list is not exhaustive, but I am….. 

The sibling rivalry once the baby starts moving, the tandem crying at night from night terrors, molars, hungry baby, new teeth, why does baby get to be held all night and not me…… So many challenges at once…. and don’t even get me started on trying to toilet train a toddler with an inquisitive baby crawling towards a potty full of fresh poo……. Or when they both become really mobile and older child is a runner and an escape artist and takes off in the opposite direction to the one you’re going in with his newly walking baby sister…. So you scoop her up fast, so now she’s crying because her walking accomplishment wasn’t well enough recognised because you need to chase big brother before he reaches the road…… I don’t care how judgemental people are if you’ve got a close age gap and very energetic, active, independent little ones that like to walk/run everywhere, do yourself a favour and carry baby (baby wearing) or use a pram and most definitely get one of those delightful (lifesaving) back pack/ leash strap devices! Better to take some criticism than have a disarstorus accident. Believe me I’ve nearly fallen to my knees crying for someone to chase my son and catch him before he reaches the road because I’m struggling to run after him carrying the baby… We aren’t given any books or manuals on how to deal with the reality of the everyday struggles that come with having two babies close together. 

I was talking to another mum friend/colleague who has the same age gap with her babies. We were commiserating with each other about how hard it is to do even the simplest things, like going to the toilet…. You have to take the two of them with you otherwise you’ll come back and find the baby has been buried under a pile of unfolded clean washing by the older child, who has now climbed up on the back of the lounge wearing a cap mimicking his favourite Paw Patrol character….. Long gone are the days I could do a wee in peace… And yes I’ve had years of having to take a baby in to the bathroom with me but these two just seem to egg each other on to do the cheekiest things they can to push my buttons! 

For me and my family, I honestly feel like the three year age gap and above is the winner! Reasons being for this are obvious, you’re usually only breastfeeding one at a time then, there’s only going to be one in nappies, hopefully there’s only going to be one having night wakings, the older child is easier to talk to, rationalise and negotiate with and they are usually more helpful, more understanding and less jealous of their new little sibling. 

On the flip side of this argument I’ve heard people in favour of a close age gap say “yes but I like that they will grow up close to each other and that it’s a few hard years but then all sleepless nights and nappies are over and done with at once”…. To that I say “hey that’s great for you….. but to hell with a few rough years I’d rather a nice age gap and a few smooth years that don’t make me look and feel like I’ve aged a decade in a year and a half”!…..

I met another lovely mum at playgroup today. I remarked how sweet her daughters were and inquired about their ages. She told me they were eighteen months apart…… And asked about the ages of my two…. I replied nineteen months apart…… We looked at each other with that defeated smile and gave each other that empathetic nod….. “It’s hard isn’t it”? She almost half whispered….. “It sure is” I barely choked out as we both quickly broke our visual exchange perhaps for fear that one of us would drop our guard and burst in to tears  of exhaustion…..  After a pause I felt it necessary to say “hey how good are we as mums and how wonderful despite the difficulties are our babies, I love them so much, I truly wouldn’t have it any other way”!…… Suddenly her exhausted face broke in to a beaming smile and she replied with absolute love and certainty “same, its a beautiful perfect age gap really, isn’t it”?! ❤️

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Beautiful Mild Mannered Middle Son, Marley Kai ❤️

Hello beautiful people,

Well it was bound to happen this week…. The eyes leaked a little 😌 Valid reason of course! This day 13 Years ago I gave birth to my third child, my second son, my biggest baby, my second easiest birth resulting in my calmest, most relaxed easy going, always happy baby boy!
And yes our, now teenager and our littlest warrior princess’s birthday’s are only one day apart. Things like this happen in large families like ours. The beautiful part is I remember a year ago Marley saying to me “mum can’t you keep the baby in your stomach one more day because I’d love to share a birthday with my little sibling” He makes me laugh because he is such a kind hearted, gentle soul and yet really cheeky funny too. And he genuinely would have loved for his little sister to be born on his birthday! He would have thought it was the coolest gift ever! 

You see what people don’t realise about our Marley Kai is that for ten years he was our baby. He was always happy as a baby but as he got older he showed signs of being an empath early. He was always sensitive to the emotions of others around him, he seemed gentle, soft and vulnerable. And so as a family, and him being the baby, we all tended to do most things for him. And despite my best efforts for over ten years to get him some support, I was continually told there was nothing wrong with him and I should stop feeling concerned and comparing him to my older kids……. So thanks to all those specialists who told me to ignore my mothers instincts, I did stop pursuing assessments and support for my son. Satisfied that any ‘quirks’ I had concerns about were nothing to worry about. And besides, I knew nothing was ‘wrong’ with my son I just wanted to make sure he was getting the right support he needed to navigate his way through life and learning,  safely, comfortably and to the best of his ability. 

My concerns alleviated when he was ten were like a weight of my shoulders and so we decided we would continue to grow our family. Marley was overjoyed when he found out he was finally going to be a big brother and no longer be the baby. Having William was one of the best decisions we ever made!! From the day he was born despite the ten year age difference the obvious bond between Marley and William has been so heartwarming to watch. William is so highly energetic and quite clever and Marley is so very kind, loving and patient with him, even when he’s being incredibly annoying. Marley is also studious and bright and has taught his little brother so much. 

My baby boy has grown so much through the responsibilities of being a big brother and it’s been beautiful to watch!

The hard times came when he encountered some nasty comments from his peers in high school, such as taunts about being ‘weird’….. I guess I thought it was because he has a love of reading and online games and I was going to think nothing of it until we had to revisit the old chest nut that was the problem of his attention span…..

So exactly one month after his little sister Florence was born he had an assessment again at age 12 that confirmed ADD and High Functioning Autism (which back in the day when there was no Autism Spectrum, the diagnosis would have been Aspergers). 

I was shocked because I’d been told so many times before that I was looking for something that wasn’t there…. But none of this makes a difference to us, we still do what we’ve always done. No medication, regular OT, address sensory issues, extra time for tasks, appropriate use of technology, eye contact with good clear communication and of course my favourite lots and lots of love and hugs!!

Tonight I got teary because we were hesitant to have more babies despite wanting them. I worried about money, time and responsibilities towards Marley being my baby and needing me. Tonight I suddenly realised how absolutely perfect it has been for him to have his little brother and sister. Tonight I clearly saw the lovely brilliant minded, cheeky funny, quirky young man my beautiful son Marley Kai has grown into!

A kind, caring, intelligent soul, who is an amazing big brother, a cheeky little brother, a wonderfully loving son and a very much loved grandson! And if he’s seen as weird then that’s ok because in this family being weird means you’re cool 😎 Because who wants to be the boring same as everyone else anyway! I bet you people called Bill Gates weird or different back in the day 😜

So here’s to you my sweet mild mannered  brilliant beautiful minded son Marley Kai! You my son, you melt my heart, don’t overthink that or take it too literally, I mean you reduce my heart to tears of joy because I’m so blessed to have you in my life! Happy 13th Birthday my love! Me, dad and your brothers and sisters will always love you more than you ever say you love us and I know you know what I mean! Show the world how amazingly awesome we know you are! We love you more than all the universe and more than all the stars ❤️

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Beautiful Madonna 💖

Good Morning Beautiful People,
THIS!!!! I’ve always loved Madonna despite the years of slut shaming she has encountered in the music industry!! I love how she inspires us in her speech to seek out support from other (strong) women!! This is one reason why despite my love hate relationship with social media I stay on here. Because there are so many intelligent, amazing strong women on here I love to learn from and connect with 💓 I don’t have an immediate tribe of strong women around so this is were I can draw on my feminine strength. I may not be the right ‘kind’ of feminist that others would want me to be but everyday I’m learning….. and as Madonna said maybe I’m just a “bad feminist” which I rather be than not one at all 😌 
I love this speech and I hope that my feelings are correct in sensing that there is a global shift in consciousness occurring, where women gather together to acknowledge their worth and power 💖💞💪🏼
P.S And despite being married half my life just like Madonna I have been slut shamed frequently too, even by so called friends… believe me when I say those comments stick with you for decades….. However also like Madonna (except without the exceptionally sexy and talented part 😬) I have always owned my confidence and sexuality!! Because it is mine to own and be proud of!!!! 😊❤️

#likeaboss #womeninmusic #womenunite #womanoftheyear #iwearwhatiwant #feministlife 💓

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Beautiful Survivors 

Hello Beautiful People,

Today is International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women, in Australia recognised as White Ribbon Day: 
As a domestic violence survivor myself, as a woman who has supported and continues to support close female family members who have suffered decades of severe domestic violence and having had a best friend who experienced domestic violence, I need to say…..

Further to this as a survivor and a feminist I support White Ribbon Day because society and especially men (and particularly male perpetrators) need to be made aware and accountable for this evil pandemic of violence against women!! 
Although funds raised by White Ribbon do not go towards services for victims, they do go towards a prevention and awareness campaign, to stop the violence against women! Yes it is disgusting that this program is needed I’m outraged myself that it is needed however as with primary health care programs:
Yes more money is needed for victims services, believe me I truly know!! But sadly in some socioeconomic groups people (including women) are not even aware of what constitutes domestic violence, so education is often key to stopping the cycle of abuse……..
It took me nearly two decades to realise what I had experienced and witnessed was domestic violence……… If there are primary health programs about sexual health, drugs and alcohol etc then surely there is room for a program promoting the end to violence against women……..
Today I walked with my family in the White Ribbon Walk as I do every year……….. 
Because as a survivor (many years ago) and a strong feminist and activist of women’s rights, I NEED MY HUSBAND AND SONS to take the oath!!!! To help me feel safe, secure, loved, supported and respected in MY LIFE NOW!!!! 
My wonderful husband works tirelessly in his role continuously advocating for the safety of women and children!!! He and our sons take the oath with humility and a heavy heart that they even need to be doing this……. There is never any sense of bravado, only pure, honest hearted concern to set an example to other men about how women should be treated with absolute equality and respect!! 
Each walk I’ve participated in has been attended by nearly fifty percent of women, who like me feel strongly about this day…. Yes we still live in an age old evil world ruled by patriarchy and yes a lot of organisations are run by men who certainly should not have been allowed in those roles, however if we do not assign ourselves a role in these organisations and fight the fight from the inside and unite together as women and align ourselves with those few good men that truly support us then change will never be made………. Most men I’ve encountered at The White Ribbon event work dedicatedly in roles to prevent and protect women from violence and/or have had a loved one be a victim of violence…… To say all men that attend this walk and take the oath are self righteous is just inaccurate and plain sad……… Some of their stories are heartbreaking, some have had significant others lives lost due to domestic violence……. Everyone has a story………..It’s a shitty reality we live in……. But for me it’s been shittier and right now I can honestly say I’m really proud of the men in my life for showing their unwavering support to the prevention of violence against women and to ensure the protection of ALL WOMEN and encourae all men to do the same!!!!!
I’d like to express my absolute love and support to all those amazingly strong women who I know personally and all women out there who are survivors of domestic violence…. I’m so so sorry there are so many of you!! There shouldn’t be any of you………… 😔❤️
Everyone’s experience of DV is often completely different from another’s and how we come through it can be different or similar. However there are strength in numbers!! So I say I’m always here for any of you, if you need me to be!! As you’ve often been there for me!! 
I once had a ‘friend’ tell me perhaps I shouldn’t be so vocal about my ‘experiences’ because it ‘may make people uncomfortable’….. Needless to say she is a friend no more! 
I vow (as do all my family!) to ALWAYS BREAK THE SILENCE TO END THE VIOLENCE!!!! If I see something, I will ALWAYS do something!! As my good friend always reminds me, bad things happen when good people do nothing!!
I’m so completely sorry to all you beautiful women (especially those close to me who’s struggles I’ve witnessed personally) that we live in such a shitty society where we have to stand together and support each other to eradicate violence perpetrated towards us by men!! I’m so completely sorry that there are so many of you….. It truly breaks my heart….. And I can assure you all that I will always use every avenue, every means possible, every single platform I can to shout from the (glass) rooftop that THIS VIOLENCE NEEDS TO STOP!!!!! I will participate in any program, walk, slogan, catch phrase, tokenistic passing phase, ongoing, resource planning, self evaluation, self reflecting, self empowering, growth development, self improvement, social awareness, front line hands on, direct in the firing line, throw my body in front of yours type of action that it takes to change the patriarchal societal dogma that has us all believing that nothing will ever change and we will never be safe!!!! 
Yes it’s great to question and challenge where all these programs are coming from, where money is coming from for services, why men are still representing women in eliminating violence against women! In my mind any conversation about violence against women has got to have some slight positivity behind it because change happens when people discuss and evaluate information and situations!! Keep talking!! Keep challenging!! Keep the awareness going!! 
The more violence against women is brought out of the darkness the more it can no longer be ignored!!!!! Don’t shun any opportunity to promote The Elimination Of Violence Against Women just because a man may be organising or participating in the event!!! Attend the event!!! Take control of it and make it the angry uprising of WOMEN AGAINST VIOLENCE THAT IT SHOULD BE!!!!!!!!! 😡😈
Sitting around researching and gripping about how inefficient, inept, evil and corrupt the organisations, programs, governments, people in power are that are ‘supposedly’ effecting change in the process of eliminating violence against women can be useful but what’s more useful is actively getting out there to CREATE CHANGE!!!!! 
I know I do!! I can assure you that I have put myself in direct danger many many more times than I should have to protect myself and other women from violence inflicted on us by men!! 
And yes it is completely disgracefully bad that I have had to do this!!! Including just last week when Magenta and I stopped some monster  from bashing his partner in the middle of the street, in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day, whilst not a single other person intervened, whilst I had my babies with me!!!! Including several times of calling our local cops on the horrendous neighbour who kept beating his missus until he was finally locked up (thanks to the local police for getting that done!) 
I will never ever be an arm chair warrior! I promise I will always donate whatever I can to the desperately in need Women and children’s refuges (especially the two I lived in with Maggie 😌), I promise I will always volunteer my time at these services! I promise I will always volunteer to be the SA nurse if devastatingly and when you ever need one because I want to make sure you have one person in that room who can truly show you empathy and provide you with non judgemental strength and support at one of the most horrendous times of your life!! 
I promise I will continue to support my husband and sons to continue to be strong, gentle warriors who lead by example! Who show other men that women are equal and deserve respect and kindness! That they have never and will never ever have the right to lay a hand on any woman anywhere!!!! That they will continue to show other men wrong from right and that violence towards women is not right!!!! 
Because change should start with the men!! They should just not hurt, control, abuse OR MURDER WOMEN!!!!!! I don’t want to live in a society anymore were I feel sick in the stomach about whether my daughters , my sisters, my friends are going to be hurt or killed by a man!! I don’t want to feel sick in my stomach because of having to live in a society where I need to be hyper vigilant that my husband and sons are behaving appropriately towards women because from a young age rape culture has indoctrinated them to believe that objectifying, abusing and controlling women is ok!!!!! 
It’s great that people challenge organisations, systems, governments, religions, programs, beliefs directed at ending the violence towards women!!  The more people that do, the more we will be able to effect a change in society and this evil deeply ingrained male violence towards women culture that seeps in to every aspect of humanity will be eradicated like the putrid pervasive patriarchal disease that it is!!!!! 😡
But mostly I promise to always do everything I can to ELIMINATE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN!! BREAK THE SILENCE!! END THE VIOLENCE!! 
I promise that if you ever need any help whatsoever I will be here for you………. Those that know me know I truly mean this……. 😌

Peace ❤️💪🏼
#endthesilencenomoreviolence #fightlikeagirl #iwillneverbeasecondclasscitizeninthisworld #girlpower #redmylips #toomanywomen #fightlikeagirl #whiteribbonday2016 #internationaldayfortheeliminationofviolenceagainstwomen #endthesilencestoptheviolence #illwalkwhereiwant #illwearwhatiwant #illsaywhatiwant #survivor #lovemyfamily #lovemylife #raisingkingsandqueens 

#nooshasbeautifulpeople ❤️😌