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He’s here!

Introducing Reuben Eric James Crowther, the cutest damn baby the world did ever see (if I don’t say so myself!).

Where to start! In the month since he arrived so much has happened. It sounds cliche, but we are absolutely besotted — as you’d expect any new parents to be.

The joy that comes with growing your family to include a bouncing bundle of love is immense and more than I could have ever imagined.

Our little chunky monkey or Roo-Bear as I’ve so affectionately knick-named him, made his grand entrance on Monday the 12th of February 2018 at 4:26pm / 37 weeks 6 days gestation.

In that minute, our incredibly precious baby boy came into the world looking up at me with curious wide-eyes. Ever so calmly, he surveyed the room and people around him before nestling into my chest and realising the sweetest little cry. Cue heart melt and tears from Aaron and I.

After months of questioning what he’d look like, feeling little kicks and jabs from the inside, and a year of prayer, heartache and hope, having him here was nothing short of everything.

I was incredibly lucky to have an uncomplicated birth, and despite the most horrific pain I’ve ever encountered, I actually really enjoyed the experience. Call me crazy.!

While I certainly won’t be going back anytime soon, I’m in total awe of my body and the serious strength it showed. I didn’t know I was so tough. Seriously, birth is a bitch.

Since his arrival earth side, my days have become an endless parade of sleep deprivation, feeding lows and triumphs, and ‘how do you look after a baby’ freak-outs, but my God it’s all worth it for the cuddles.

I often (and by often I mean 50,000 times an hour) catch myself staring at him asleep in his bassinet feeling like my heart could literally explode with love.

I could go on all gushy for days so I’ll halt it there, but as those who follow my Insta stories know, I’m currently riding a wave of all types of wonderful.

And so Aaron and I start life as a family of three.

Stay tuned for uddles of pics (a few below too) to coo at and my birth story (I keep writing it but its so long, and you know, I now also have a baby to look after as well!).

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Confession time: pregnancy is kicking my ass

I am here today to confess — pregnancy is kicking my ass. Even typing these words is a sigh of relief.

But before I get into the nitty gritty, I have to first declare that my intention isn’t to whinge or make light of how lucky I am to be pregnant.

I know how fortunate I am to even be here right now, and I would go through anything just to hold bub in my hands. I will never take for granted the gift I’ve been given.  My post today is simply to speak honestly about my pregnancy experience.

I feel guilty admitting that I’m finding pains in the journey to motherhood, as it’s something I want so incredibly deeply. But to paint a picture of total bliss and peace is a lie.

For me, growing a human has been hard work. From the emotional rollercoaster that comes from the fear of another loss and the physical beating my body is taking, to the irrational freak-outs I have where I question how on earth I’m going to look after a baby (they’re so precious and I want to do everything right, but how does one know what to do! Where is the manual?!?).

While I wouldn’t change anything about bringing this little guy into the world (all the craziness is worth it in every way), it doesn’t mean I don’t feel like I’m lost or scared sometimes.

Fortunately, I’ve come to accept that is OK thanks to the loving support of my hubs, an awesome OB and GP, my online community, and my family and friends.

Through this experience I’ve learnt that pregnancy is a trust yourself exercise; trust your gut, trust your body, trust your community. When you start here, finding your way becomes much easier, no matter how ridiculous it feels.

What am I talking about?

Anxiety has plagued me these last eight months. I’ve questioned and feared every possible worst case scenario… You name it I’ve been there — dating scans every week in the first trimester to triple check viability, endless blood tests to check hormone levels, sleepless nights ahead of scans and check-ups, five hospital visits (so far!) for things like lack of movement (he was fine) and leaking amniotic fluid (it wasn’t). Even an emergency doctor’s visit to check a mole I’ve had since birth for skin cancer (it was normal).

I’ve avoided any food that could potentially harm bub, be it cold meats and raw fish (the obvious ones) or unpasteurised juice and reheated rice (the not so obvious and maybe slightly OTT ones). I’ve also steered clear of activities with any degree of risk.

I would argue that perhaps it’s just my overly cautious mumma bear instincts coming into play, but having done a fair bit of PAL (pregnancy after loss) reading, and knowing other mums on similar journeys, I know that this type of anxiety or irrationality is common when you’ve experienced first-hand pregnancy gone wrong.

I’ve learnt that for many, the journey has lost its innocence. We get that the road doesn’t always lead to where we want, so a protective and hyper-risk aversion momentum kicks into overdrive.

Of course, among the flutter of what could be, I also learnt that questioning pays off. At 27 weeks (13 weeks before bubs was due for those who aren’t parents) I found myself in hospital and with pains and sure enough they were real deal contractions.

Twelve hours later I had a positive foetal fibronectin test (a sign labour was underway) and was rushed to the Royal North Shore delivery suites from The Mater (my hospital) to deliver my beautiful little rainbow baby (the term for a bub after miscarriage) wayyyyy to early. Cue a heartbeat of 125bpm and panic.

After a week in hospital, multiple steroid shots, countless labour stopping drugs and an infection diagnosis, I came home on bed rest with our baby still on board (hallelujah!!!). Work stopped abruptly and the silly season was over before it began.  Four weeks and a whole bunch of taking it easy later, we’ve now reached the all-important 32 week milestone — a significant moment for any potential preterm mummy and daddy.

But the ass kicking doesn’t stop there…

I overcame a pretty silly but still raw case of bad body image — it’s confronting seeing yourself change so dramatically particularly the first time a swimsuit goes on. Hubby pulled me out of this funk with some sneaky holiday snaps of me and my growing body. Seeing it from his eyes showed me just how beautiful and incredible my body has become.

I’m also managing an expanding endo uterus that despite a great first few months, isn’t loving the later stages of having a bub, with waves of uncomfortableness and severe pain increasingly common.

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But despite the challenges to me, I’ve been continuously amazed at the strength and tenacity of our little dude. Among all the hype, he has continued to flourish and be strong — he’s currently measuring about two weeks ahead and is in the 94th percentile for his age, meaning even if he was to come early, he’d be a strong little man. I know that this has nothing to do with anything more than God and luck, but I feel so blessed knowing he’s ok.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there is so much pressure on mums to be to love the journey, to not ‘over-stress’, and to glow with radiance. But surely it has to be OK to not love every moment of pregnancy?

It doesn’t mean you don’t treasure the little life growing inside you, or the incredible opportunity you’ve been given. As I said earlier, I would give this, plus everything else I could to be standing here than not. I get that. Pain in any form is better than the pain of not having a bub, infinity times over. I think it simply means that this chapter of life, like many others, can be hard too. For our own wellbeing, we need to be able to admit that.

With the countdown well and truly on (six weeks at the most), part of me is excited to leave this bit of the journey behind, but another part of me knows I’ll miss it, despite its ups and downs.

While I love the feeling of my growing tummy, the kicks that wake me each morning, and the process of nurturing a human to life, I am living for the day I get to meet my little man, hold him in my arms, and cry tears of joy.

Pregnancy is like no other time in life. It has been one of my greatest joys. But I’ve had times of struggle as well, and I want to be real about that too.

All the pretty things

As we get closer to beb’s arrival, my urge to nest is growing as rapidly as my belly. And while a few new dresses accommodate the bump, the home part isn’t as straight forward.

For those not in the know, a few months ago Aaron and I said goodbye to our sunny three-bedroom apartment for a smaller place as the space was unnecessary. Little did we know, those extra rooms would be needed much faster than anticipated.

As a result, another move is on the cards, and just like I did with the wedding, full planning mode is in gear — only this time when it’s go time, I’ll be seven months pregnant and it will be summer. Someone fetch me a frosty fruit.

With a clean slate of potential baby rooms in front of us, I’ve become addicted to building out ideas. Let’s just say I never quite got the whole Pintrest movement until now.

Since finding out we’re having a little boy, blue and different hues of blue (exciting I know), have been my focus. I like things clean and neat, so white, wood, and you guessed, shades of blue, is what I’m leaning towards.

I’m sure as I fall into even deeper Pinterest wormholes this vision will change, but until then, here are some nursery spaces I’m loving. Now only to find the apartment!

For more on the below images check out my Pinterest.

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Holy cow, we’re having a baby!

Well the secret is finally out and don’t it feel good. There’s a little bean growing inside my belly and in a mere 20 weeks Aaron and I will be parents (otherwise known as adulting to the next level).

It’s something I’ve been wanting to share for months, but as friends, family and those who can read between the lines would know (see this post), I’ve been a little trigger shy and for good reason.

As a family, Aaron and I had our most heartbreaking time to date this February. At ten weeks pregnant we lost our first bub. I won’t spend time going into it, other than to say it was the saddest thing I’ve ever experienced.

But embracing my inner optimist, I believe that there is always a greater plan in play and without our little one returning home to heaven, we wouldn’t have this beautiful bub growing away today (most frequently referred to as Lenny the lentil in the Crowther household).

And isn’t he growing! (Catch that? It’s a BOY! So excited). He’s kicking up a storm and it’s just the most wonderful feeling. Ok, being totally transparent sometimes it’s a teeny tiny bit alien like (and lovely), but that’s only because I’m still getting used to the little body kicking my insides as he stretches and grows.

I love that I get to carry him everywhere with me, and that my body is nurturing and growing a life built of Aaron and I. Of course, like every significant shift in life, my social feeds now include an influx of mums and bebs, and Pinterest is all about cute nursery designs. So I apologise in advance if this blog expands its focus just a tad and that’s not your thing.

This all said, let’s be honest for a second, at the moment it’s a long drink between posts. Between the nerves, anxiety and morning sickness of the last eight months, finding balance offline has been the priority. So with that, I hope you enjoy this snippet into my life. I’ve missed you and all the joy The Whole Life brings.

365 days later

Despite it being nearly a year since Aaron and I got hitched (can you believe it — I can’t!) it occurred to me that I never shared with you our photos. Given most of the nice snaps we have are from that day, it seems a bit ridic for them to stay hidden away.

It also feels odd to share photos without background or explanation, so excuse the gushiness that follows (I won’t be offended if you tune out now).

Like any loved up couple, we both claim our wedding day was the best ever. And to us, it was! After months of planning, when the 4th finally arrived it was all a bit surreal. A mixed bag of nerves, excitement, and joy.

We choose a spring day as we figured it was our best bet at a slice of sunshine in the typically chilly but beautiful Southern Highlands. And lucky for us, our bet paid off. Like some type of dream, the days leading up to our nuptials were sunny and glorious, and our day followed suit.

The morning started crisp and early with yoga on the deck at the house my family had rented. The getting ready part was a blur, but arriving at Bendooley Estate was when it all got real.

When we first visited Bendooley’s 12 months earlier, both Aaron and I fell in love with its incredible gardens and sandstone buildings (just look at the homestead below and its creeping vines!). A bookshop by day, the estate also houses some of the world’s most cherished love stories — a cheesy but sweet homage to our pending vows. It was also incredibly private and I liked that the ceremony and reception were all in one place — it made things simple, easy and inclusive.

Seeing everything come together was a highlight, it was more beautiful than I had ever imagined. Oh and the flowers, it was a true spring wedding. Our brief was big, beautiful and romantic, and our incredible florist Emma delivered with the most spectacular peonies.

The day came as quickly as it went, as all good wedding days do, but every bit of it was perfect. Walking down the isle with my dad to meet Aaron was by far one of my happiest moments. But nothing mirrored the moment we said I do. I remember dancing with excitement at the alter as our pastor Paul made it all offical.

The hours that followed like our first dance and moment alone together, and the sparkler farewell, were all just as spectacular. Haha I warned you! Total cheeseball post 😉

So with that, enjoy a glimpse into our special day.

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One day at a time

I recently learnt that you can’t take anything for granted. Nothing in this life is a given, no matter how strong or promising it looks, or how desperately you crave it.

When pain hits, and life’s course makes a sudden, abrupt change in direction, finding your feet on the new journey you’ve been assigned to is like trying to walk for the first time.

I’m a strong believer that we are guided through life. That there is someone watching over us, helping us find the right path.

The problem is that path, it doesn’t always lead to where we think it will. There are twists and turns, lessons to be learnt, mountains to climb, and deep valleys to cross. There are also other influences, human influences, that shape or shift what we experience.

While the direction may change, time never stops. We are always constantly moving forward, and there is no unlearning what we’ve experienced.  Because of this, each step builds us. It changes who we are and the type of people we’ll become. This is why we are given new paths, to become better versions of ourselves.

Today I am a person I never thought I would be. I am a stronger version of myself. I am also shaped differently. I have a depth I never thought I would have.

I do not understand my current journey, not yet at least. There’s a part of me that might not ever understand my most recent left hand turn. But while it may be new, I know it will bring great joys, serious laughter, and incredible love, just like the path before it would have done as well, had it continued on.

I’m OK to be shaped by a new directions. I know that every hand is dealt differently, and that no walk comes with out trials. This all said, I won’t pretend like it doesn’t hurt. It does, deeply. If I could revert back to my old path I would in a second. But I can’t. So I’ll take this one, one step at a time.

I will love fiercer than I’ve ever loved before. I will cherish everything that this new journey gives me. I will have a greater appreciation and grace than I ever could have beforehand – all because I know how special it is, and what sacrifices had to be made to get me here.

I will also trust that my new journey is for a purpose; for protection, for love, for a greater good. This gives me the greatest comfort. I know there is reason, and while it might not yet be clear to me, it is part of the greater symphony of life. This new path is here to protect me and those that I love most.

A cool change

Sydney this summer has been somewhat of a furnace. I love hot, salty days where the beach beckons and the sun goes down late in the evening, but there’s nothing like a cool storm to save the day.

Yesterday that sweet relief finally arrived. It’s no surprise to anyone who’s lived through it, but this summer has been incredibly warm; in fact the hottest on record… ever. 

So when the clouds cracked and the rain finally hit the ground, you could almost hear our garden sing out in praise.

I was in our sunroom with the windows wide open when that moment arrived with force. Out of nowhere, the air started to change and a sense of calm swept over Mosman Bay. A tranquility that’s been noticeably absent fell upon us as the birds, bugs and activity that heat brings abruptly relaxed into the cool shift.

Perhaps the moment was particularly welcome in our house as I get an itch when things sit still for a little too long, the heat being no exception.

With this all said, there seems to be a lot of change in the air at the moment. The next few days are bitter sweet for me with a new direction on the cards.

I’m leaving my work home of the last three and half years for a new adventure which I’m incredibly excited about. But of course this is accompanied with goodbyes which are always hard.

If I’ve learnt anything recently it’s that change is exciting, challenging, often unpredictable, but always rewarding. So with this said, just like the storm, it’s time to bring on the next chapter.

2017, you’re looking very promising.