Is breast really best?

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We have all heard the saying and been told over and over that “breast is best” for a variety of positive reasons, being most beneficial to mama and her baby.  I have enjoyed four very special months of exclusively breastfeeding Ava, which I am “over the moon” happy about and proud of, as unfortunately I didn’t experience the same with Jaxon.

Maybe sharing my two experiences is something you resonate with, maybe you’re an expecting mama that can pick out some “words of wisdom” from my post, or maybe you have breast fed or bottle fed your children and they all grown up already and just feel like a good read, while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea.

I did a TON of reading before Jaxon was born. I wanted to make sure I was prepared for anything and everything as a first-time-mom. For some reason though, I did not do a lot of reading when it came to breastfeeding. I’m not really sure why, I suppose I just always thought this is something that would just happen naturally and all would fall into place.

If you have read my blog posts prior to this one, you would have read that my birth with Jaxon was a somewhat difficult and tiring one. He did not want to latch the few times we tried after his birth and in the early hours of the next morning after he was born, he received his first formula top-up because he was so hungry. Thereafter, I persisted with trying to breastfeed but after every feed he would cry and cry and the nurses would encourage me to keep giving him top-ups, which I allowed, because let’s be honest, as a first-time-mom the last thing you want is to think that you are allowing your baby to starve.

Once we arrived home, I felt at ease, being in my own space, and was determined to get “into the swing of things” with breastfeeding Jaxon. I will never forget our fourth night at home, where out of the blue that night he cried and screamed for what felt like non-stop until the early hours of the next morning. I tried skin-to-skin, putting him on my breast to drink, rocking him, kept trying to breastfeed him… but he was inconsolable. I just thought it must have been a bad night, but when we went for his first weigh-in at the clinic the next day, I was told he had not gained weight and was obviously super hungry, which is probably why he screamed so much the night before. Roll on feeling like the WORST mom in the world at that moment. The nurse advised me to express for one feed and see “how much milk I was making.” She then advised me to drink fenugreek tea, take a few stimulants for my milk supply and I was also prescribed eglonyl at a later stage.

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After another two weeks of complete struggle and constant formula top-ups, I contacted a lactation consultant recommended by my gyne. It turned out that Jaxon was not latching properly and was not sucking effectively, which led to my milk supply dwindling. A plan was established to get Jaxon sucking effectively, increase my milk supply and work towards stopping the formula top-ups, but this meant a lot more breastfeeding Jaxon, then expressing so that I could top-up with breastmilk as opposed to formula, and taking natural stimulants for milk production. I remember Jaxon feeding so many times… and I remember expressing right after a feed at 1am every morning. I remember “power pumping” (that’s when you pump for 20 minutes, pump for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes and so forth).

I remember during the day time, I would feed Jax, then lay him down, so I could express and only when I was done, could I give him my full attention. But I couldn’t miss expressing in between feeds as I was trying to increase my milk supply. Then I remember just always being constantly tired and emotional and taking eglonyl made me feel “out of it.” After two months (what felt like a lifetime to me) of persistence, exhaustion, a lot of tears shed on both his and my part and with no real improvement, I called it a day and started giving Jaxon formula.

I felt guilty for months afterwards, but made every effort to still make our bottle feeding experience a bonding one. Jaxon is very healthy and rarely gets sick. Being bottle fed, we were also able to capitalize on “date nights,” as we could just leave him with family without any hesitation. He even enjoyed a few sleepovers from a very early age 🙂 All-in-all, our experience with bottle feeding was a great one and even though it was not my first choice and what I ultimately wanted for us, it all worked out for the best. A happy baby = a happy mama and his happiness is what really mattered at the end of the day.

When I found out I was pregnant with Ava, I started doing a lot more reading on the topic of breastfeeding and created a private board where I pinned inspirational pictures and quotes, ways to succeed at breastfeeding, what to eat and drink to assist with milk supply and so forth. A few weeks before Ava was born, I already made contact with my lactation consultant and asked her to come in to the hospital the day Ava was born to help me and guide me, which she was more than happy to do. Before she came though, I also made peace with the fact that I may very well not be able to breastfeed her either and I wouldn’t put any pressure on myself or her.

The day she arrived, she did so in a much quicker and easier way compared to Jaxon. She latched quickly and easily and I remember feeling so much happiness in that moment… thinking “Wow, she is sucking so well, is this real, will this last?” That night I got some help from he head nurse at Sandton Mediclinic, she was really great at helping me feel at ease and showing me different comfortable feeding positions. The very next day my lactation consultant came, we spoke for such a long time, she encouraged me, she was my cheerleader from the get-go and offered me the first real advice that was worth adhering to – “You’ll know what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Trust your motherly instincts. And when in doubt, pop your boob out.” And so I did all of these.

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The second night in the hospital I felt extremely exhausted and the first thing one of the nurses said to me was to send Ava to the nursery and they would top her up with formula so I could rest. I really didn’t want to and I stuck to my guns. When we left for home, Ava hadn’t had any top-ups and I have exclusively breastfed her for four months.

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Our breastfeeding journey has been a special one. It has been difficult at times, as she is completely and solely dependent on me for sustenance, and being back at work on regular occasions since she was only four weeks old has often meant breastfeeding on the go and taking her with me everywhere I go. Just a few weeks back, I was conducting an interview and she was very upset because she was hungry. I just brought her into the interview and carried on feeding her while carrying on with the interview.

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A lot of people ask why I don’t just supplement with formula, or if I’m working so much and running around so much, why I don’t just put her on the bottle… and trust me, it often crosses my mind as right now my schedule is “out of this world crazy.” But I am happy…she is happy… we doing so well… we have come this far through all the craziness… and so it just feels like our “special thing.” I don’t know how long we are going to continue (I have my own personal ideals in mind), but for now we are really enjoying every moment of our breastfeeding journey and I am glad I got the opportunity to breastfeed this time.

Is breast best?

My take on it all is that ultimately – fed is best! A happy mama and baby is best! Doing what feels right for you as a mommy and for your baby is best. You need to trust that. Trust your motherly instincts and know that you are ALWAYS doing your very BEST!

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xxx

Creating beautiful spaces

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to blog, all because I have been super crazy busy with “life as we know it.” Since Ava has also decided to take “cat naps” of 15 minutes at a time throughout a day and be wide awake in between, it also means I can hardly get anything done as I love giving her all of my attention when she is awake.

Finally, I’ve caught a gap, and I can share with you what I have been wanting to for a long time.

Aside from being a wife, a mama, a business owner and a newbie to the blogging scene, I really enjoy putting a lot of effort into creating a beautiful space to live in. My hubby and I both love working on our home and making even the smallest of changes to enhance it wherever we can. Our home has a lot of modern elements to it, but at the same time, offers that warm and cosy family feeling of it being truly “lived in.” Some pieces of furniture and accessories took us some time to save up for and splurge on, however, in a lot of ways we have tried to keep it simple wherever possible. The pic below shows how we used recycled pallets to create a headboard in our bedroom.

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Creating beautiful spaces for my children has always been important to me and the minute I was able to, I got stuck in and put everything into creating something very special for each of them.

When I was pregnant, and found out I was having Jaxon, I immediately started pinning like mad and quickly got a “feel” for what I wanted to create when it came to his nursery. I wanted it to be minimalistic, modern, but with some “boyish” elements coming through. We slowly started buying things here and there for the room (all in line with the theme that I wanted for the room) and it all came together in the end.

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Hanging lamp: At Home | Airplane stickers: Stickaroo

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Teddy bear: Mr.Price Home

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A beautiful gift from a close friend

I saw an idea on Pinterest that I really loved and wanted to incorporate in Jaxon’s nursery. It involved a branch of a tree. My husband was so dedicated, one afternoon he drove around with me to find exactly what I was looking for. It couldn’t just be any branch, it had to be the perfect branch 🙂 All you pregnant mamas-to-be out there will know what I mean when I say this 🙂 After some sanding, a varnish and my husband’s handy hands to put it all together for me, it all came out exactly the way I had envisioned.

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I had a ball of a time “nesting” in Jaxon’s nursery and I loved the way the space turned out in the end.

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White cot: Ikea | White rocking feeding chair: At Home |White mat and rocking horse: Mr.Price Home | Storage basket: Coricraft

A little before we found out Ava was on the way, we took on the task of changing one of the room’s in our house into Jaxon’s new bedroom. Of course, I also had tons of fun with this project. This time around I went back to my trusted resource – Pinterest – for some ideas and compiled a combination I thought would not only look good but fit Jaxon’s personality.

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The color scheme I went for was monochrome, but with touches of grey. The yay banner and pillow are both from Zana Products and the Batman storage bag and mat from Gia Mila Bee who sourced the products.

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I love Simply Child and their furniture and incorporated a lot of their furniture in Jaxon’s room. The chalkboard and wooden shelf are two of their beautiful products.

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The beautiful birth print was done for me by the talented Miki Lehmkuhl from Just My Type Design. 

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My in-laws bought the cute big brother sign from Lusito Land held earlier in the year.

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Jaxon loves his room! When he is not in there playing up a storm, he is painting in there, hiding in his teepee with his friends, and then reading story books too.

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The time then came to change Jaxon’s nursery and first room into a nursery for his sister who was soon to arrive. I have to say it was very exciting having to take the space the way it was and try change it into something completely different and unique for Ava. We started with a fresh coat of paint – something light and fresh. I then started adding few elements here and there, the same way I did with Jaxon.

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I used this cushion from At Home and the throw from Mr.Price Home as my starting point for a color scheme.

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Some elements from Jaxon’s nursery I used again in Ava’s nursery, which I felt was special.

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I bought this beautiful mat from Mr.Price Home and the gorgeous play gym from Simply Child. 

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The banner above the change table is from Zana, the copper wire baskets and white storage boxes from Mr.Price Home and the paper storage bag from Eurobebe (I purchased it through Full of Beans Baby Boutique). 

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I was so chuffed that the tree branch we went hunting for when working on Jaxon’s nursery, fitted in so beautifully too in Ava’s nursery. This time just with all things pink hanging on it 🙂

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Beautiful print from Just My Type Design

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Love the canopy tent above her cot from Moocachoo and her stunning cot mobile came just in time from the talented Aqueela from Miniture Kids Decor.

I loved putting Ava’s nursery together, I loved it even more being able to welcome her into her new space, and we have been enjoying plenty time together in there ever since.

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My brother-in-law got Ava’s name laser cut for her nursery, which was the last element we added to her room, before she made her arrival.

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Many people might say “why do you go to so much trouble, if they can’t even really appreciate it now?” But, creating beautiful spaces is something I really enjoy doing, even more so for my children. I really love what I was able to create for both Jax and Ava and I hope you have enjoyed seeing it and reading more about it too.

xxx

 

 

 

 

Special friendships & adventures

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I will never forget the days, just over two and a half years ago, that three of my close friends and I all found out we were expecting. I remember one after each other, a few weeks apart, sharing the news with one another and all being so surprised, having a good laugh about it and then getting very excited that we were going to share this journey together. Of course, it was even more funny and spectacular news to find out we were all expecting BOYS!

Looking back, I have to say it was so genuinely special to share all our pregnancy stories, the morning sickness, the scans and all the excitement leading up to the days we welcomed our boys into this world. It was even more special watching our baby boys grow together. Our regular mommy “catch ups” over coffee, sharing all the fun moments, exchanging thoughts and tips with one another about breastfeeding, teething, sleeping and all other things parenthood related, were just the BEST!

When Liv from My Tiny Teepee contacted me to send me one of her gorgeous teepee’s, I was “over the moon.” Our teepee arrived three days before we were set to go on another little adventure with all together with our boys. It was perfect timing! I immediately knew this would be the best time to get some updated shots of our boys (as the last professional photo we have of them all, they were still being baked in our ovens :)), along with the beautiful teepee. We had an amazing weekend away together with our “tribe,” the boys had a blast swimming, riding bikes, digging in the dirt and we even managed to fit in a game drive. There is something so special about being out in the bush, surrounded by beautiful nature and animals, and we all got to enjoy it together.

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This weekend away and this amazing setting made for some perfect shots and memories of Jaxon and his special friends that will last a lifetime.

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“Friendship is all about

trusting each other,

helping each other,

loving each other

and

being crazy together.”

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These boys have already shared so many good memories together in just two and a half years. I can only imagine what’s in store for the years to come! They are even fortunate to be attending school together, and everyone knows them as best of friends there too.

 

“Friends make the world beautiful.”

 

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Thank you to Tyme Photography again for capturing these beautiful memories, as always you do a phenomenal job.

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Thank you to everyone for helping “behind the scenes” too, making this as fun and amazing as it was.

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Thank-you to My Tiny Teepee for the beautiful and unique handmade play tent. I can see us enjoying many more adventures with it.

 

“Find your tribe and love them hard.”

 

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We are really so fortunate to have the friends we do and I am so thankful and grateful that Jaxon has Kade, James and River to enjoy many more adventures with.

xxx

Ava’s Newborn Lifestyle Shoot

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Since we had done a lifestyle shoot with Jaxon when he was just two weeks old, there was no question as to whether we were going to do one with Ava. As we always do, we called on Tyme Photography to capture these beautiful images for us and again, Tamyln from Tyme did the most amazing job. Whilst going through every photo in the album, I felt overwhelmed with emotion, feeling so much love and gratitude for my beautiful family.

Please view all the photos on the page “Jaxon and Ava’s Stories.” I apologize in advance for all the spam, but I just have too many favourites!

xx

Going for round number two

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There is something a whole lot more nerve wrecking about having baby number two and a whole lot more comforting at the same time. As the saying goes, “ignorance is bliss,” and this is true, since for Jaxon’s birth, we didn’t know what to expect and just took it step-by-step. When walking into that labour ward the second time around, you get butterflies in your tummy and suddenly see your husband turn a little paler in his face :)) Then the excitement sets in…

But like it is getting ready for any great adventure, it is best to be as prepared as you can be for the whole birthing experience, whether you are having a natural birth or a c-section, and I definitely felt more prepared the second time around. My mind was more prepared, I was determined to do my best to succeed at breastfeeding and I made sure I was more prepared for a comfortable stay in the hospital and start to my recovery after birth.

I was not comfortable wearing the usual pjs in hospital, like I did the first time around when I had Jaxon, they are always too big on me and the pants are usually too long for me, being as short as I am. I opted for comfortable leggings and flowy cotton tops from Cotton On the second time around. In the week before Ava arrived, my mom and I also took a drive to Parkhurst, enjoyed a lunch at Vovo Telo’s and visited The Yummy Mummy store. I was so happy to find comfortable nursing bamboo camis and knickers that I could wear during my stay in hospital and afterwards at home. These are one of the best buys I made and went back for more in my first weeks back at home. I still wear them now and recommend you get your hands on a few if you can.

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The cami comes with adjustable straps and clips that are the best for nursing mamas. Pictured here is also a lip balm, which I recommend packing in your hospital bag to use during recovery.

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You can also order online: yummymaternity.com

I am also not a fan of the standard or “usual” nursing bras you find in most baby retail stores, so I headed to Bras and Things, hoping to find something better and more flattering, which I did!

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With my bag packed with all these “pretty things” that would make my hospital stay and recovery a little more comfortable, and all the other “essentials,” I felt more at ease, ready and excited for what was in store.

We also had a very different and certainly more relaxed experience leading up to the actual birth. After my water was broken, we went for breakfast at the coffee shop downstairs, I went for a long walk with my mom, climbed some stairs to get baby girl more ready to make her grand entrance and even had a good cry with my mom over how it was the last day it would just be “the three of us.” My husband was organized in playing some great tunes in the delivery room, replenishing me and my energy levels with vitamin water and jelly babies, and making sure I had some magazines to read while we waited for the contractions to get closer together. I think the first time around, you are all just far too nervous to think to do any of the above. But if you are soon to have your first baby, try do all of these things! You will feel calmer, more in control and filled with excitement. The time will also pass quicker and before you know it, your baby will be in your arms.

It is a good idea to make sure you have your vitamins or an energy tonic that you can take in the days straight after your birth. In fact, that evening after Ava’s birth, I had some of my energy tonic. It might have been in my head, but I am so sure it helped me in my recovery. I still take it now everyday, three times a day.

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Now as for deciding when to have baby number two, as some of my amazing readers  asked me to write about, that is a story only  you can write for yourself and your family. I don’t feel there is a “perfect age gap” when it comes to having your second baby, there are pros and cons to every scenario. I can only share my experience and our story.

We originally wanted a three to three and a half year gap but felt ready to try for baby number two sooner. Jaxon was two and five months when Ava came along. I really feel happy about the age gap as they will be closer in age than we originally planned and Jaxon has just adjusted wonderfully to Ava coming into all our lives. By nature, he is soft-hearted and kind, so he is very loving towards his sister and wants to involve her in everything. Just yesterday morning she was laying in my bed and he was playing with his dinosaurs. He brought one of the dinosaurs and put it right next to her face and said, “here’s your dinosaur, Ava.” He is fully potty trained, is starting to undress himself and even tries to dress himself. We can leave him to eat his breakfast at the table on his own if we need to be busy with his sister and he loves to keep busy with his toys in his room … things like these has made it all a little easier for us to focus some attention on Ava, without feeling like we are leaving him out.

We named Ava when I was around 18 weeks pregnant. We had two names in mind, and for some reason he kept saying Ava with such ease and so the name just stuck. Every time we spoke about his sister, every time he looked at my belly, kissed my belly, every time we took him along to see the scans, we would always talk about ‘Ava.’ So when Ava came along, it was like she has always been here from the beginning.

Going for round two is still happening for us in many different ways… the burping, the feeding, the changing of nappies and so on… but more importantly in getting to watch our newest baby grow from month to month. This is something you never get tired of and could keep doing over and over…

We have loved every minute so far and look so forward to what’s still to enjoy. xx

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Sharing birth stories

It’s the season of Spring!

People always say Spring means new beginnings and for me two of my greatest new beginnings is when I welcomed my two beautiful children into the world.

My first new beginning started on Saturday 14 March 2015, when we welcomed our firstborn, Jaxon Marques Soares, into the world. He arrived earlier than planned, three weeks to be precise, so we felt surprised and nervous at first when we found out at my 37 week checkup that I was in fact 3cm dilated, and when my water broke at 6am later that week on Saturday morning. When going into labour for the first time, you don’t really have any clue as to what is happening, nor what should happen next, despite the mountains of information you research over and over on Google beforehand to prepare. Everyone’s story is different. So we innocently still thought on the way to the hospital just to “check things out,” that I may not have been in REAL labour. We were SO wrong!

Once we arrived at the hospital, they hooked me up to the machines and told me I was having contractions, even though I couldn’t feel anything (I know, I know… you might hate me for saying this but I was fortunate enough to have it go this way). The pain started intensifying at around 5pm that day and by 7pm I asked for an epidural.  I was convinced the epidural was not working, as I was still feeling everything and even had to inhale on gas through contractions (I think my husband might of inhaled  on some of that good stuff as well :)). After half an hour of pushing and the amazing support of my husband, the mid-wife and my amazing gynecologist, Jaxon made his entrance into this world and was immediately placed on my chest. This was the BEST moment of my life!

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Jaxon Marques Soares | 14 March 2015 | 2.8kg| 48cm

I really thought that overall I had an amazing birth experience with Jaxon, despite the epidural not working (this was confirmed later, I was told it was “patchy”). But then Ava came along and I can really say with confidence that my birth experience with her was way easier.

On Thursday the 3rd of August, we arrived at the hospital at 6am to have my water broken, as I was already 3cm dilated. Again, I did not have much pain for the first part of the morning, until around midday, when it all got real. For some reason, I always hold out on asking for an epidural because I always think the pain is going to get much worse, but turns out what I felt in that moment was about as bad as it was going to get. When the anesthesiologist came through to give me the epidural (after I finally asked for it), I was so happy to see her and remembered her straight away from when she gave me the epidural for Jaxon’s birth. I told her my experience with him and how the epidural didn’t work. So I got into position and it was super hard to stay still while having contractions at the same time. They were so close together at that stage, so as I got to lay back again, the nurse checked and told me I was 9cm dilated. I couldn’t believe that I had waited so long before getting the epidural! And this time the epidural worked like a bomb! The anesthesiologist told me she went in more shallow this time as I am quite short (1.52cm to be exact).  I felt like I was on cloud nine and was ready to have my baby girl! I pushed for about ten minutes and she was out and immediately placed on my chest. The next BEST moment of my life!

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Ava Gabrielle Soares | 3 August 2017 | 2.7kg | 43cm

My heart is so full with pride and love and I have never felt as complete being a mom to my two beautiful children.

I am so happy to have been fortunate enough to have had natural births with both my children. The recovery was quick and I was up and about in a few hours after their births. My gynecologist is “one in a million” and her support all along the way and throughout both births was phenomenal and made all the difference.

It was not always an easy journey for us in having our beautiful children, as I sadly miscarried before Jaxon and again before Ava, but here we are now, with hearts full of gratitude for our little family.

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Jaxon | 2 weeks old | Newborn Shoot | Photo credit: Tyme Photography

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Ava | 2 weeks old | Newborn Shoot | Photo credit: Tyme Photography

These were my two new beautiful beginnings. xxx

 

P.S. In my next post, I will share what I did differently the second time round for my labour, what was in my hospital bag and share a few tips for mamas-to-be to get you through those days in hospital.

THE maternity shoot

To do a maternity shoot or not…

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After all, perhaps you may have the ‘pregnancy glow’ to begin with, but by the time 34/35 weeks of pregnancy comes around, you no longer feel that glamorous and eager to be in front of a camera lens.

I did not get to do a maternity shoot when I was pregnant with Jaxon. I left it a little late, and when I decided I wanted to do one, he arrived earlier than planned at 37 weeks. This time, I really wanted to have some photos to look back on of my pregnant belly, so decided to go ahead with a maternity shoot and didn’t leave it for the last, just in case she would make her appearance early too.

I am SO glad I did the maternity shoot. I look at these photos with such fondness every time, remembering every little kick and shove from the inside and how truly special it is to grow another human (BIG UPS to all mamas!). It was also great fun getting dressed up for the shoot, having my make-up done at MAC, doing my hair and hiring a dress from Silver Swallow Design in the hopes to look at least somewhat decent.

As they capture all our special moments in our lives (including our wedding 9 years ago), Tyme Photography did an amazing job of capturing all these special memories for us too. Each and every photo taken is beautiful and special to me, a few intimate ones I have kept for myself to cherish forever, but these are just a few of my favourites I want to share.

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Jaxon was not in the best of moods the entire week leading up to our shoot, since we had just come back from our “baby moon trip” where he joined too, and he wasn’t happy to be getting back into the rat race of life. But… he was an absolute sport on the day, showing off and we all shared plenty laughs together, making it all that much more fun and memorable.

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There is something so special about growing a little person inside of you for 9 months and I am really so happy to have these pictures to look back on time and time again.

I would definitely recommend any mama to be do a maternity shoot, you won’t regret it!

xxx