Our FIRST Real Mum: Heather

For those of you who know me, you most likely also know my sister Heather. She is a bubbly, enthusiastic, energetic, sociable woman who loves other people and has a big heart. Heather is a beautiful first-time mum to Lucas (my gorgeous and cheeky nephew!). He is now 15 months old – his birthday is exactly 1 year and 1 day before Starfish’s!

Heather has been one of the biggest encouragers for me on my journey through motherhood so far. She has lived this crazy roller coaster, not so long ago, and has been blossoming on the other side of this hectic first few months (and year!). She made me my very own little mother’s day gift package (when I was pregnant – I just missed out on Mother’s Day this year!), sends encouraging messages and emails, and visited us lots on the first few weeks with pre-cooked meals and gifts for Starfish. We always chat about our boys and life, and I’m so glad I have her as a constant support in my journey.

So here’s Heather, telling us her story – I hope you find it as encouraging as I have 🙂

Tell us about yourself. How would you describe yourself to others and what do you do for a living?

I have recently become a graduate primary school teacher, after five years of study. I currently work as the children’s minister at the church I attend, helping to coordinate and plan programs for children in the community. I also have a passion for art and design holding diplomas in Digital Media and Interior Decoration through studies at TAFE at the Design Centre Enmore, Sydney. I believe I am an enthusiastic and sociable person, and hope that people see me as encouraging to everyone around me, and always happy.

Tell us about your family.
I am a mother to a 15 month old son, Lucas, who loves to look through books, discovering nature and playing outdoors, passionate about the Wiggles (learning to sing and dance to their songs) and loves food. I am a wife to an incredible, selfless guy. I am very fortunate to have a partner who loves his family and works hard to ensure we are all happy and looked after.
This gorgeous boy is 15 months already!


Can you describe for us your motherhood journey so far?

For me, it was not an easy start. We were very excited to welcome Lucas into our little family. My husband fell in love with him instantly, and I did too – however I quickly felt the struggle with becoming a mum. The dependency he needed of me, from becoming a workaholic to stopping study and work completely to be with him. My husband went to work after three weeks paternal leave. When he had to go to work I felt a slight emptiness and shame that I should be loving my son a whole lot more. It was difficult to keep composed when everyone asked how I was going. Life continued to go on outside the walls of our home and with all the suggestions from nurses and doctors to keep Lucas at home, or minimal exposure, until his first vaccinations I felt very lonely. It was not because people did not care to come visit or help us, in fact we were showered in great love and care that we could not express more sincere gratitude for, though as most parents would understand people continue to work and live life weekdays and those are the days that can be the toughest. When we were able to feel more confident in going out I took him to my church, social gatherings and work times, and felt the satisfaction of seeing friends again.

However, all these harboured feelings and emotions were not helped with a lack of decent sleep. Lucas would sleep okay for the first few weeks but as months passed he only would sleep for about 40 minutes each turn during the day. Some nights he would sleep through but it would be guarenteed after three to four hour sleeps he would sleep.

After joining a mother’s group when Lucas was three months, things began to change for the better, and I truly felt better about my ability to socialise, and share experiences and life with other mums going through the same journey of being first time mothers. This made me feel a lot better in meeting new people and getting to socialise again. However, after six months I continued to not really feel myself and how I used to feel. I struggled under the weight of wondering who I was, whether I still wanted the same things out of life that I previously did. My husband was a great support as I struggled daily with emotional highs and lows, constant crying and still having some sense of loneliness. Eventually I sought out to try counselling, but it did not last long as I was also trying to finish my university studies (talk about putting on the pressure!).
Lucas started daycare at eleven months and after some period of getting used to it, he fit in and enjoyed the play time and attention from staff and children. He defintely takes after mum and enjoys socialising. This alleviated a lot of the pressure of full time care on me and allowed me some time to myself. And I saw the reward in it. He started to learn social skills and behaviours as I could then focus on study and work. Months later and here we are – a happy family who manage and still work through finding the balance of time as a family, socialising, working and personal times.
While motherhood hasn’t always been easy, Heather sure loves her little boy and shows that patience and support go a long way in sharing the load!

What has been the best part of motherhood, and the most challenging?
I have truly loved watching Lucas achieve new areas of development such as his firsts: rolling, sitting up, walking, talking, and saying mum and dad (and learning “nananana” – banana). Nothing speaks to a parent and the love you have for them as seeing them learn and achieve, oh and saying your name.
I have pretty much described the biggest challenges I faced earlier, but recognising the need for help was a huge challenge. Life was never meant to be done alone, especially as a parent. I know for some mothers or fathers that has not come easy and have had to experience parenthood alone. But the abundance of love and support from family and friends should never be taken for granted. Offers to help really matter and its because they care. I struggled with accepting help because I felt this need to prove to myself I loved my child and wanted to support him, I would have mother’s guilt if I was away from him. It is normal to feel this way and everyone discover’s their limit over time. Lucas was always going to be okay, I just needed to find out for myself I would be okay too.
Cheeky monkey Lucas!

If you could give one piece of advice for new mums, what would it be?
Be kind to youself. Do not beat yourself up over the little things that may go wrong, or you missed (though they seem like disasters in the moment). Your baby will not know what you did was right or wrong at the time. And be kind to yourself emotionally and mentally – you are always doing a great job as a parent! Saying to yourself in the moment, “Okay, you’ve got this” is a great motivator to start. Remember your child loves you and you are their world. Everything else that happens is just a moment. Don’t work yourself up into a ball of worry because it doesn’t matter. Love matters most.
You can follow Heather’s journey on Instagram: @onebusymummy

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