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Attending the Baby Expo | 5 Tips to Get the Most out of Show Day

I personally found attending the Baby Expo as an expectant first time Mum extremely valuable, and now, returning as an exhibitor, I can certainly see a few ways to plan for, and get the most out of the day. The Baby Expo is New Zealand’s biggest baby expo at 5 locations nationwide

The Baby Expo is New Zealand’s biggest baby expo at 5 locations nationwide, enabling pregnant and new parents to see thousands of different baby products, stores and suppliers in just a few hours. Rather than traipse between stores, finding carparks at each and transferring capsules back and forth, it’s easy to get a really good feel for some of the key products you need to invest in at a Baby Expo.

However, without making a plan, you may find end up feeling overwhelmed and out-of-depth, so here are my easy tips for getting the most out of your day.

1. Shortlist the Must-Have Baby Products to See

With hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of products, it would be impossible to spend even a few minutes looking at each individually. If this is your first time finding things for bubs, work out which baby products are the ones you really need to touch/feel/try in person, to get the most out of your attendance. A few examples of this might be:

  • When choosing a pram it is very valuable to be able to compare the look, feel, size and usability of a pram in person. Questions you may ask yourself are: is it one that you can fold and then carry with one hand, while holding a baby for instance; does it feel sturdy and good quality; does it have ample storage below for a baby bag; will it fit in your car boot alongside grocery shopping, for instance (my beloved double-pram doesn’t!). Baby on the Move are a nationwide company with prams from many different suppliers, and the team provide a wealth of knowledge you can learn from at the Baby Expos.
  • Baby bassinets and cots come in so many varied designs now, from a simple Moses basket to a co-sleeper and beyond. It’s great to see these in person, compare the size (especially you’re planning to have baby in your room for a while), and talk to suppliers about what’s going to suit you. Cariboo is a Canterbury-based New Zealand company exhibiting with some beautiful options at the upcoming Baby Expos.
  • A nappy bin is perhaps not your most exciting purchase, but you’re going to be using it rather often, so it’s great to see and try a few in person, compare the cost of refill bags (if necessary). We used Ubbi who are going to be at the Expo soon!
  • Our Baby Books are best seen in person – it’s hard to show all 120 page of prompts and illustrations online, and you can really see the quality when you hold them yourself.

2. Pack and Plan to Spend a Few Hours

Don’t be surprised if you end up spending almost half your day exploring the baby show. If you’re coming with a baby, of course that means packing a lot of supplies for them (there are Mother’s rooms and changing facilities, of course). There will be coffee and food to purchase for you, but you may wish to come with a full water bottle and snacks to keep you going as well.

As well as seeing baby products, you may find yourself talking to extremely knowledgeable vendors, from the Sleep Store team to guest speakers – there’s very little about pregnancy, birth and babies you won’t be able to learn. If you’re planning on breastfeeding, I suggest you talk to midwife and lactation expert Julia at More than Milk.

If you are bringing your baby to the Expo, I suggest having a pram available to you as well as baby wearing, it gives you some storage space for purchases, and you can also bring along some toys to entertain little ones if need be later.

3. Plan your visit strategically

With thousands of visitors over the weekend, it is expected that some products will sell out. However, those that don’t may be reduced to clear in the final hours. As a small business, there’s only so much stock I can take, and with 22 books and journals now, I can’t bring an unlimited supply of all – but I will try to restock overnight. If there’s something in particular you really want, I would advise to come in the morning if possible.

4. Dress comfortably

Not only will you be on your feet for a long time, you may even wish to try products on, such as baby-wearing options or even maternity wear. Layer up if possible so that you can remove a layer when it gets hot (there are a lot of people).

5. Save Time and Money – Prebook Free Tickets Online

Save queuing at the gate, and paying for entry, the Baby Expo allows families to come for free with online tickets prebooked.

Make sure to come and see our range at the Baby Expo in Bay of Plenty (Stand M6) and Auckland (Stand M4) I would absolutely love to meet you!

Attending the Baby Expo | Tips to Get the Most out of Baby Shows

Mother of One | Teaching your  Pēpi Te Reo Māori, dealing with Preeclampsia and Post-Partum Depression.

Beautiful mama Aaliyah sat down with us to open up about her struggles with postpartum depression, preeclampsia and how to incorporate Te Reo Maori into your pepi’s life.

Your family

I live in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) with my husband, Ben and our adventurous one year old, Leo.

I am Māori, Chinese-Samoan, Tongan, European and French. Ben is Māori and European. And
Leo is a yummy fruit salad of all those ethnicities put together.

We enjoy simply, just being together. We love teaching Leo Te Reo Māori as both Ben and I never grew up learning the language, so I guess you could say we are learning it together.

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How does your typical day look? Are you a stay at home parent/juggling work/kindy?

A typical day…. hmmm… Usually Ben gets up first, does his morning routine and then will
grab Leo when he wakes up and bring him to me for Leo’s morning boobie. We then have
breakfast, have a little kanikani (dance) together before Ben runs off to work. And then Leo
and I party all day…. KIDDING! I wish.

I am a content creator, photographer, social media manager and more… so I juggle all that while spending time with Leo. He is an amazing sleeper so he naps from 12:30-3:30pm and that’s the time I am able to get a lot of work done. I try to be as present as I can be with him, while he’s awake. Once he’s awake, we have play time and start getting dinner ready. We have dinner, then straight into the shower
because Leo loves to share his food with the floor, his face and everywhere else. And then
bottle time for Leo, story time and then bed time. Ben and I will clean together and slowly make our way to bed. And that’s a typical day for us.

Journey to conceiving and pregnancy

So for two years, we tried for Leo. It was a lot. Doctors suspected I had endometriosis and
kept putting me on different drugs and I was emotionally and physically exhausted. It was so
disheartening because the world made it out to be such an easy task (to get pregnant) but
yet we were two years in and nothing. We then hit a huge bump in our marriage and
separated, for a lot of different reasons… and infertility was definitely a contributor towards
that. Once we worked on ourselves and got back together we decided to try again for a
baby… this time we were so conscious of our prayers and our thoughts and intentions, but
we also didn’t hold any pressure within ourselves. And by divine timing or whatever you will
call it, we were blessed with conceiving naturally. I guess you could say that it was a surprise,
especially after trying for two years but it also just felt ‘right’.

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How was your pregnancy?

Let’s just say, I would rather do labour all over again but not the pregnancy. Most of my
pregnancy was a mission. At times I felt beautiful, but most of the time I felt like a whale.
People were telling me “You look like you’re ready to pop” around the halfway mark and it
was really upsetting me. I loved my bump though. Rubbing my puku, and connecting with my
son via my womb was something unexplainable.

Did you find out the gender of your child?

We found out the gender at the scan, just Ben and I. I thought we were having a girl and I was prepared for that, but when they said he was a boy, we were so over the moon. Ben ran up and down the hallway screaming “I’m going to have a mini ALL BLACK!!” We rang our family chats and let them know via video call. We were in and out of lockdowns during my pregnancy so we didn’t want to waste money on
doing anything elaborate.

Did you practice hypnobirthing, read books, use apps or use a pregnancy journal? 

I journal a lot. I have always been like that since I was little so I have several journals but I did have a journal for my son throughout my pregnancy. I did a lot of research on hypnobirthing, breathing techniques and anything natural. My midwives were advocates for natural births, so that was super helpful too. I had my dream midwife down here in Kirikiriroa for half of my pregnancy and then she had a family emergency and had to let me go. So we decided to live in Auckland with my parents, as we were waiting for our home to be built. Luckily I found yet another dream midwife up in Auckland and I can’t see myself birthing without her now. My midwife picked up on my blood pressure and we found out I had preeclampsia towards the end of my pregnancy. I was monitored closely and was at the hospital frequently. It wasn’t fun but I knew I was safe and in the right place.

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Birth story

Since I was being monitored for my preeclampsia, I was in and out of hospital. They
realised at 37 weeks that the baby wasn’t growing too well and my body was starting to freak
out. So I went in for a check up on a Tuesday, they told me the news and said I was booked in
for an induction on the Thursday. As I was getting ready to leave, the doctor came in and said
“Your bloods didn’t read too well. We are going to induce you now.”

Now that I was so used to these check ups, I even told Ben not to come and didn’t bring anything with me. I started to freak out. I felt like I wasn’t even asked if I was okay with that choice… it all happened so
fast and before I knew it I was induced via balloon method. I was alone. I tried calling Ben but I was already freaking out. Ben was frantically trying to get the baby bag, and hospital bag together. He managed to come in, but nothing was really happening. I was contracting on and off but it wasn’t consistent. The next day they monitored me, and still it was on and off.

Thursday morning came and they decided to break my waters manually. The process continued to move
slowly, but I started to focus on my breathing as contractions started coming along. They decided to let me in the pool to labour as the contractions were getting stronger. I loved being in the pool, and at one point my mum said “you’re doing really well” and I thought to myself “maybe I will be able to birth in the pool” but as soon as I thought that the nurse came running in telling me to get out of the pool safely, as my bloods came back dangerously low and that I needed some help to get the labour going faster. They ended up giving me an epidural and oxytocin to get things going.

The doctor came in to see me and she said “you can opt for a C-section now or you can risk you and your baby’s health” I instantly requested for the C-section but my midwife and my amazing husband advocated for me, knowing that I really didn’t want to go down the avenue of having a C-section. My incredible midwife requested that they give me an hour to see how things go and I agreed. It’s really important to have your support teams advocate for you when you are in labour. Because I was given an “easy” option in a time of stress, but my support team knew my birth plan and wanted to respect my wishes. Leading up to that point I wasn’t really dilating and contractions were strong. The epidural took some of the edge of the contractions but I could still feel pressure. My midwife requested that everyone leave the room to give me some rest, and all the lights to be turned off.

I remember being so scared, but needing to sleep. For 45 minutes I slept on and off while
feeling the pressure. Ben was continuously by my side and was praying like crazy that both
the baby and I would be safe. 45 minutes were up and my midwife warned me “If you
haven’t dilated we need to prepare you for a C-section” so I was feeling nervous about what
was about to happen. She checked me, looked up at me and said “You are 9 and a half
centimeters” And I remember crying happy tears and ben asking “wait what does that mean”
And I said “IT MEANS I CAN PUSH”

We got ready and I pushed for 15 minutes and Ben caught Leo. He popped him on my chest with the guidance of our amazing midwife.

Birth recovery was brutal. I was traumatised by certain things and some things you just can’t
prepare for. My baby blues came in hard and eventually spiralled into Postpartum Depression. I’m still working through it. I wouldn’t have made it through that first week if it wasn’t for my best friend, my mama, my biological mama and my hubby.

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Were there any things relating to your culture that you did during your pregnancy and birth that
you’d like to share?

From the beginning, I knew I wanted to use a muka tie which is a natural alternative
instead of using the plastic umbilical cord clamp. It’s made out of harakeke (flax) and has
natural healing properties to help with the healing of pēpi’s pito (bellybutton) which we
found to be true. Leo’s pito healed beautifully and it came off quickly. If we had time to
prepare I would have loved to have had Ben cut Leo’s umbilical cord with a pounamu. I also
really wanted to take Leo’s whenua (placenta) to his Dad’s land up north and bury it up there
but unfortunately the hospital misplaced and accidentally disposed of the placenta. But we
would love to consider that for the next pepi.

How did you choose your child’s name and does it have a meaning to you?

Leo comes from the name Leopold from my french ancestry. His middle names are his great
grandfather’s names too. The middle names are super special as when Ben and I got married
we found out that our grandfathers were actually really good friends and they died the same
year, same month and 10 days apart. And we feel like us coming together was divine
intervention from our grandfathers. We also felt their presence at the birth, so that’s why we
chose their names for Leo’s middle names.

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Te Reo Māori 

Growing up, did your parents speak te reo or teach you? Did this influence your decision to
incorporate te reo as a parent?

My parents never taught me Te Reo, and I think their parents didn’t teach them so it wasn’t a
normal thing in my whanau. Growing up though, I was always told I was “plastic” and it hurt.
So I knew I wanted to teach my children their language/languages. It’s my children’s right to
know where they come from, including the language. So I will do anything I can to try and
help Leo learn Te Reo.

How did you start incorporating Māori language into your child’s interactions? Why is it important to
you to speak te reo with your pepi?

We have started off with simple Te Reo around the house, objects, commands etc. We have
basic baby books in Te Reo as well. Another thing we try to do, is when there is a funeral, or
occasion at the marae we try to take him with us so he learns to love the marae and not be
afraid of his culture. I was so scared growing up and even now, because I feel like I wasn’t
exposed to it enough. But I hope to make that change for my son.

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For those trying to incorporate Māori languages into their everyday life, what would be the first 3-5
phrases that are easy to learn and use in day to day life?

  • I think the most obvious to start with would be “kia ora” and learning how to pronounce it
    correctly. Make sure you find a Māori friend you trust that can help you with your
    pronunciation. I say trust, because it can be scary being corrected, so finding the right person
    to guide you through it would be important.
  • The next phrase would be “Mōrena” which is good morning.
  • Lastly “Pōmārie” which is goodnight. Once you have that perfected and ingrained in your mind then you could go onto more phrases etc.

What are some practices that make it easier to learn the Māori language, are there any books or wall
charts that you use or could recommend?

Kids books are the best place to start in my opinion. They are super simple and easy to follow. Kids books also help the adults reading them learn at the same time.

Are there any other ways you are teaching your son about your family’s culture?

Mainly marae visits, time with whanau and having conversations with him about his whanau
and continuing to encourage him to be proud of who he is. We also love to watch kapa haka
and sing waiata (songs) with Leo.

Parenting

Is your parenting different to how you thought it would be? Is there anything you thought you’d
‘never do’ and after having children, have completely changed your mind on?

I definitely thought I would do things a little differently. My Postpartum Anxiety and
Depression has played a role in the way I parent. And I am trying to work through that, with
therapy and trying to create healthy habits both mentally and physically. I never wanted TV
to be such a big thing, but for the first year the TV was there to occupy Leo. I hate to admit it,
but it was a time and a season I am not proud of but it’s how I got by. But now I have less TV
time for Leo and we are getting there. Also making baby food/kids food can be super time
consuming but I’m still learning tricks here and there. Motherhood is such a rollercoaster!

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What would your top 3-5 parenting tips be for a new parent?

  • Be easy on yourself – there’s no manual for parenting.
  • Try not to compare your situation to anyone else’s.
  • Make sure you have time for yourself to recharge. Being a parent can be overwhelming, so
    remember to fill your cup when you need to.

Hacks

  • Changing nappies… pop the clean nappy underneath before you change the dirty nappy out.. So if there are any last minute explosions or water fountains, you can quickly cover it up so it’s not in your face or on the ground. SO far, I have never had any accidents on me since we’ve had Leo.

What is the most helpful advice you can offer to other parents and what advice has someone passed
down to you that you’ll always remember?

  • As long as you are trying, you are winning.
  • And sleep when the baby sleeps, the dishes can wait!

Relationship

How has having children affected your relationship, what challenges has it brought? 

Relationships in all aspects are affected in my opinion. I look at everything differently now.
We have also recently bought our first home, so that stress as well as being first time parents
has been a lot to process. We are just trying to find our feet as parents so there are a lot of
ups and downs including disagreements.

Have you loved seeing your partner become a parent, has anything surprised you about their parenting style?

Seeing my husband become a father has been something I can’t explain. Especially those first couple of weeks, I fell in love all over again. There’s something special about creating a little human, half of yourself and half of the human you love. Ben is definitely the less strict parent, and I am the authoritative one. But we have fun together. We love watching Leo grow and discover new things.

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.

Our much awaited pregnancy | IVF & Egg Donor

“We took the all-important home test and for the first time in my reproductive life, we got a very strong positive! We couldn’t believe and after the blood test to confirm later that day, we shared the wonderful news with family and friends.”

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Your family

Our family is myself (44), my partner Rowan (39), Remi (3 months) and our cat Stevie.

Journey to conceiving and pregnancy

We started trying to conceive about 8 years ago. But after 2 years of trying, realized we needed some help. We spent a year on Clomiphene (Clomiphene is in a class of medications called ovulatory stimulants. It works similarly to estrogen, a female hormone that causes eggs to develop in the ovaries and be released)

Then moved to IVF early 2017. Two rounds only resulting in 2 embryos and 2 failed transfers.

We later moved onto an egg donor who was a friend of ours. Again, we did 2 rounds resulting in 3 embryos and again 3 failed transfers. The next step was to travel to a clinic in San Diego and use an egg donor there. We started this process in 2019 and then a few weeks out from booking our tickets, Covid hit so our plans were cancelled. Our private clinic shut their doors and so we were left with one other option in Christchurch. We got in to see a specialist and again got the ball rolling with a clinic egg donor and got on the waitlist.

During lockdown, I did as much research as possible and came across a test for repeated failed embryo transfers, called an ERA. This is where a biopsy of the uterine lining is taken during a dummy run of a normal embryo transfer to ensure the embryo is being transferred at the optimum time. I had this procedure carried out late 2020 and we decided while we wait for egg donor, to do another attempt at IVF using my eggs. We knew this was a risk due to my age (42) so we went ahead and unfortunately, none of the 3 embryos made it to day 6 and we were devastated.

Again, we picked ourselves up and waited for the call that a donor had selected us and finally in February 2021, we got that call! Things started to happen fairly quickly from here and we met our amazing donor. We had counselling and more tests were done, then we waited some more for her day 1 of IVF round 6 for us. Egg collection happened on Monday of Queens birthday weekend and we got 10 eggs which ended in 4 embryos the most we had ever had.

The next step was sorting a transfer date which we planned for in July and this time, we only told a select few people. 10 days later, we took the all-important home test and for the first time in my reproductive life, we got a very strong positive! We couldn’t believe and after the blood test to confirm later that day, we shared the wonderful news with family and friends.

We knew were not out of the woods yet, but due to the young age of our donor, the main risk of miscarriage lessened. We had a scan at 7 weeks (we were still in lockdown so I had to attend alone which was rough) and there was a heartbeat. It still didn’t seem real!

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How was your pregnancy?

My pregnancy was textbook according to my OB!

The all-day sickness kicked in the day before we went into another lockdown at 5 weeks so I was lucky that I could work from home and take it easy. I felt better around 11/12 weeks and I started to feel like it was finally real.

We officially announced baby Bunting and the weeks started to fly by. Around the 30-week mark, I started to feel very uncomfortable and sore, suffering from restless legs and insomnia but other than that, I was fine.

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Did you practice hypnobirthing, read books, use apps or use a pregnancy journal?

I used a few apps, and read the great Dorothy Waide book ‘You simply can’t spoil a Newborn’ 

Birth story

We had already decided to have an elective c section due to a few factors so I was already under the care of a private OB and also a midwife.

The night of my 34 week date, my membranes started to leak so was admitted for a few nights as I wasn’t contracting and my cervix was closed so was sent home on the Monday with a plan to be monitored via outpatient’s and my OB.

Baby was fine and decent size plus he was very active! Come Wednesday morning, I went to the loo to discover I was bleeding, not much but enough to call my midwife who told me to sit tight. I had some breakfast; Rowan went to work and then my midwife called back after she had spoken to my OB who wanted me to go into her rooms to get checked just in case. So, we got there mid-morning and while we waited, I became really uncomfortable! Once in seeing our OB, she checked me and said I was having contractions so let’s go have a baby! I was in shock but she assured us it was the best idea, he was early and would be fine needing some special care but not to panic – I burst into tears of course!

We made our way to the hospital and while Rowan got a park, I called my sister and boss to let them know we were having a baby in the next few hours… because I had eaten, we had to wait a bit for the C section to go ahead. We got into a birthing room to get prepped and before we knew it, I was walking into theatre. Rowan waited outside while I had my spinal sorted then in came our OB and we got started.

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My midwife had my phone to take photos and I really don’t remember too much since I was in the zone, my midwife had said they had started and then we heard that first cry. Next, the drape was dropped and our OB was holding Remi up for us to meet him. He was perfect! He was taken over to be checked and Rowan was able to go and cut his cord. We also managed to do delayed cord clamping and then my midwife brought Remi to me for some skin to skin which was amazing. Our boy was finally here!

How was the first week?

Rowan went with him up to NICU while I went to recovery, where I got stuck for several hours! My midwife suggested we try to get some colostrum which rowan was then able to take to Remi (we had previously signed consent for him to receive donor milk). Rowan headed home for a bit to sort things and came back with McDonalds for me and then we headed to see Remi in NICU where he would spend the next 18 days.

Your little one

How did you choose your children’s names and do they have a meaning to you? 

We struggled to agree on a boy’s name!

We created a list while driving to Queenstown one weekend and Remi was a name, we both actually liked! Dakota, his second name, plays homage to his paternal grandmother’s home town of North Dakota.

Tell us about the first few weeks with your baby

Because we were in NICU for the first few weeks, we were unable to have visitors at the hospital. Once we got home, and with Omicron rampant, we decided close family only and on our terms so only staying for an hour etc.

How did you find the fourth trimester?

Because Remi came early, I felt a bit cheated that I didn’t get that time to prepare a bit more after I finished work (I still had 2 weeks of work left when he arrived!)

Being in NICU, meant I could recover really well from c section as I basically spent every day sitting and cuddling Remi. Not having to get up to a newborn every few hours was also good. It was really hard leaving the hospital each night, but he was in the best hands. Medically there were no issues, it was just a case of getting the feeding sorted and him off the monitoring and feeding tube.

So despite not having the normal start, I felt it had silver lining in terms of him coming home and me being fully recovered and able bodied.

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I found being home at first quite good, but I also struggled with not being able to do the things I normally would and your days just disappearing before your eyes! Remi slept in his own bed and we didn’t really follow a routine, just went with the flow. Definitely a challenge finding your new way as a parent and mother.

What were your must-have items?

Silverettes! And lots of comfy clothes, cloth nappies from Kmart and a freeze full of meals.

Parenting

Is your parenting different to how you thought it would be?

Not as yet – once Remi is older I am sure this will change.

How does your typical day look? Are you a stay at home parent/juggling work/kindy?

We don’t have a typical day yet but I am home for 12 months so we spend our days with a walk if its nice, we do a baby sensory class and usually a coffee date with friends in there too. We are still finding our feet with day sleeps, but evenings we aim for a bath then bottle and bed around 8.30 and we are getting a decent block of sleep (for now!)

Relationship

How has having children affected your relationship, what challenges has it brought? 

Because this is been such a long road for us, we have a very strong relationship already having had so many heartbreaks and failures, it made us tighter and closer. It can be hard watching your partner go off to work each day knowing you are on your own with your baby for such a long time. We make it work with night feeds being bottles and sleep ins on days off.

Tips & advice

What would your top 3/5 parenting tips be for a new parent?

  • Be open about your expectations of your partner
  • Make freezer meals when you are pregnant and have the energy
  • Say no if it’s not a good day to see / have visitors
  • Get out of the house with baby as soon as possible to ensure you don’t leave it too long and lose confidence even if it’s a just a quick trip to the supermarket or to get a coffee.

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.

First Time Mother | “I didn’t feel super Maternal”

“My midwife made it just in time and told me that I was good to push and everything went by so quickly and within 30 minutes of arriving at the hospital, I gave birth to Theo and I was just in shock at everything that just happened.”

Your family

I have been a mum to Theo, my son for 8 months now. Theo also has 3 fur baby siblings, our dogs. My husband and I have been together for about 8 years now and married for almost 2 years. I’m Chinese and he is Vietnamese, we have both been in New Zealand since we were children.

Journey to conceiving and pregnancy – I didn’t feel super maternal.

All of my life, I didn’t feel super maternal so having a baby wasn’t a life goal of mine.

I could tell my husband really wanted to be a father so I thought, if it happens then it was meant to be but I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself to conceive. The pregnancy came before my 30th birthday. It was a surprise, but also planned. I stopped taking my oral contraceptive pills a couple of months after our wedding. I thought it would take at least 6 months for my cycles to regulate but it only took about 2 months before I became pregnant. We didn’t expect it to happen so quickly so it was a surprise when the pregnancy test was positive.

How was your pregnancy?

One of the first things I did was create an Instagram account (@tryingtomumnz) when I found out I was pregnant because it was somewhat taboo to tell people about your pregnancy in the early stages. I found that somewhat isolating, so Instagram became a great outlet for my emotions and ultimately became my pregnancy diary. I love referring back to the beginning from time to time to see how far I’ve come. It was also an awesome way to document all of the small things that I might forget as time passes.

My pregnancy journey was quite smooth sailing. I didn’t have any morning sickness in the early stages, the only weird symptom I had was nosebleeds. For the most part, I enjoyed being pregnant, I found it amazing to watch my body change in order to grow another human. I loved going to scans and watching my little bean grow.

Did you find out the gender of your child?

We found out about the gender at one of the regular scans so I could start doing some baby shopping. However, the Covid pandemic got worse towards the end stage of my pregnancy and I had to attend all of my scans alone which made me feel quite lonely. Theo’s abdomen size was measuring small towards the end stages which meant more lonely and stressful visits to the sonographer.

I also started trying to eat 500 extra calories per day due to this which made me gain a lot more weight than previously planned quickly towards the end stages of my pregnancy. The end was definitely harder for me, Theo sat super low which gave me a lot of pain as he grew bigger and I had quite awful acid reflux that I ended up sleeping sitting up some nights.

Birth story

I didn’t have a set birth plan, I was open to everything.

On the morning of week 38, I woke up with cramps. I didn’t even think they were contractions until maybe 2 hours into it. I text my midwife to let her know that I was in early labour and she told me to monitor the contractions and that we will go to the hospital when the contractions were over 1 minute long and less than 4 minutes apart.

So I just went on with my day with the contractions getting more intense each time and tried to breathe through them while using a contraction timing app to track each contraction. By about 2pm, I was in bed, moaning and groaning and telling my husband there is no way I can have this baby without an epidural because I can’t even handle these early labour contractions.

I refused to go to the hospital because my contractions were never less than 4 minutes apart, but gave in when I couldn’t get up from all fours. I crawled to the car and we went to the emergency room so I could hopefully get some epidural. I was put onto a wheelchair and wheeled up to the birthing unit in Auckland hospital. The hospital midwife checked my dilation and she told me I was fully dilated already! I was just confused.

My midwife made it just in time and told me that I was good to push and everything went by so quickly and within 30 minutes of arriving at the hospital, I gave birth to Theo and I was just in shock at everything that just happened. I had second degree tearing because everything happened so quickly and got stitched up and next thing I know, we were on our way to birthcare.

The first week was really hard, I was in pain and the stitches felt uncomfortable. Theo didn’t latch properly and it only took a few breastfeeding sessions for my nipples to be damaged. Every time he tried to feed, my uterus would start to contract which got worse when my milk came in and I was super engorged as well. I just remember everything hurting. I cried almost daily, from pain and an overall sense of helplessness because I didn’t really know how to be a mother.

How was the first week?

We moved into my family home just before I gave birth and stayed until Theo was about 6 weeks old. It was amazing to have my own mother helping me through the beginning first few weeks of my motherhood. I feel very lucky that I had a lot of support from my friends who are also mothers who would chat to me when I was down and come outside my house with hot chocolate and good sushi. I enjoyed our newborn bubble and only let some of our close friends and family come for a visit.

Your little ones

How did you choose your children’s names and do they have a meaning to you?

Theo Wolffe Truong

I always liked Theo as a name, it works for both a boy or a girl. We wanted to pick something our parents/family could easily pronounce as well. Wolffe is actually a character from Star Wars who leads a team that was called a wolfpack. This felt fitting as we had so many dogs and Theo will eventually become their leader in a way. We are both geeks so it was a bit of fun while still being subtle.

Tell us about the first few weeks with your baby

I struggled A LOT during the fourth trimester, both physically and emotionally. I had a major milk oversupply which led to blocked ducts and mastitis a few times. My nipples were constantly trying to heal and engorgement was super uncomfortable as well. Breastfeeding did not come easily or naturally at first, I thought about giving up many times. My emotions were all over the place because of my hormones and I cried over the smallest things. I often felt quite lonely during the early hours of the morning when I was feeding the baby.

Sleep deprivation was rough, initially we tried very hard to have Theo sleep in a bassinet but it just would not work at all. We ended up bedsharing which I didn’t realise was such a taboo topic to talk about. I once told a plunket nurse that I was bedsharing and she just freaked out. We tried many different things to have him sleep independently but in the end, only cosleeping and contact napping worked for us. We held him for all of his day naps and bed-shared at night. I really wish they would advocate safe bed-sharing by providing some education around it rather than making mothers feel bad for doing it.

We didn’t really have a routine and I often found myself thinking “how will I ever go out again?”

I started enjoying it a lot more when I relaxed my expectations and just followed Theo’s lead on everything. I gave him everything he needed from me and just trusted my own instincts.

What were your must-have items, and what others were a waste of time/overrated?

Must haves were

  • A good stretchy wrap carrier – I had the Boba Serenity Wrap
  • Haakaa pump or something similar for unclogging blocked ducts
  • Nice, soft and absorbent breast pads – I’m still using the Confitex breast pads
  • Nipple creams and hydrogel breast pads
  • A good merino blanket

I personally did not buy a lot of items that I thought were a waste – Theo didn’t like to be swaddled so I didn’t use the swaddles as much.

Is your parenting different to how you thought it would be?

I feel like my parenting is how I thought it would be now that I have gotten a bit better at everything. Initially I was a lot more intense than I thought I would be. I am a lot more relaxed now.

How does your typical day look?

I am still a stay at home mum at the moment, and will return to work fulltime in a few months. We have been staying at home a lot more than I would like due to the pandemic initially and now the weather. I do try to take Theo out for a walk on sunny days and sometimes to free baby activities when we both feel up for it.

Relationship

How has having children affected your relationship?

It was quite hard initially for me to find time for my husband during the early few weeks because I was so exhausted and drained all of the time. I’m very lucky that he is a hands-on dad and will help out whenever I’m stressed out and need a break. I love how happy Theo is when his dad plays with him, he gets the best giggles. 

Tips & advice

What would your top parenting tips be for a new parent?

  • Trust your instincts
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Talk about your feelings
  • Find time to look after yourself as well
  • It’s true when they say it gets better!

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.

64 hour labour | “Great midwives are worth their weight in gold.”

“Having our baby has only made our marriage stronger. There’s something so incredibly heart-melting about going through birth, and seeing your other half become a parent. Don’t get me wrong, we have our disagreements, but for the most-part we are completely on the same page and so incredibly filled with love for our wee girl.”

Your family

There is myself, my husband and our 3.5-month-old baby Matilda. We also have two fur-children;
our cat Basil, and our dog Mila. My husband and I are NZ Pakeha. Basil is a Tabby and Mila is a
Siberian Husky x Golden Retriever (not that you really meant to ask for their ethnicities).


We’re an active family. We love to climb mountains with our dog and post about it on her Instagram
page. Yes, our dog is more popular than we are! We hope to take Matilda along on our adventures
going forward and explore our beautiful country.


Journey to conceiving and pregnancy

Our journey to conceive was very quick and we are incredibly grateful for this. We got pregnant in
our first month of trying.


Our biggest challenge was probably my own fear of judgement and insecurity around how other
people see me as a mother. We always knew we wanted children and it was always in our plan, but
I’m not outwardly maternal, and have never felt comfortable around other babies and children.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a self-confessed crazy fur-Mum and I knew full well the love would be even
greater for my own children. But I had this overwhelming fear that people wouldn’t think I was good
enough. So my mental journey to deciding it was time to try, was a tough one.

How was your pregnancy?

Most of my pregnancy was straight forward. I had a bit of nausea and food aversion in the first
trimester, and extreme tiredness. But after around 14 weeks, that went away.

The second trimester was pretty good – I certainly don’t think I can complain. I started feeling movements very early, around 16 weeks. They gradually got stronger and stronger until late in the second trimester when it looked like she was doing huge somersaults!


I was able to continue running up until 32 weeks pregnant (I was a runner before pregnancy). Which
certainly wasn’t comfortable, but I was determined to keep it up for as long as I could. My midwife
was very encouraging and believed it would serve me well in labour.

At 34 weeks we had a growth scan as I was measuring small for dates. The measurements came back
ok, and our midwife was satisfied baby was growing fine. Over the weeks that followed, I was
pressured a lot about my size (or lack thereof) by family. We got referred for a reassurance growth scan at 38 weeks. It was good that we did as baby had fallen into the 7th percentile on my growth
chart.

It was decided we would induced at 39 weeks, 4 days.

Did you find out the gender of your child?

We found out at 19 weeks we were expecting a wee girl! A very active wee girl at that. That was
probably my favourite thing, feeling her move and kick.

Did you practice hypnobirthing, read books, use apps or use a pregnancy journal? 

We didn’t do any hypnobirthing courses but did attend antenatal classes with Plunket and read a lot
online. We used the Pregnancy+ app right through which was great. It told us what size fruit or
vegetable the baby was from week to week and had interesting articles to read through.

Birth story

We had a growth scan at 38 weeks that showed that baby’s growth had dropped to around the 7th
percentile. Our midwife referred us to the obstetrician with our preference to be induced. We had
an induction date set for 39 weeks, 4 days. But I started having contractions spontaneously on the Thursday evening around 9pm (at 39 weeks, 1 day). Little did I know this was the start of my 64-hour labour! I stayed in contact with my midwife on the Friday and Saturday as I continued having regular contractions, but they never got as close as the 3 in 10 minutes that they say you need. I had a lot of back pain throughout, and we thought baby could be posterior (spoiler, she wasn’t). Despite the back pain, I kept telling myself it was just baby’s position, and I was probably in early labour, not to bother getting checked. Come Saturday afternoon I was running off no sleep, demoralised and convinced I wasn’t progressing. I was living on heat packs, in quite a bit of pain, but managing/internalising it well. We went kerb walking the Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t stomach dinner and I continued to labour hard the whole night.

Around 5am Sunday morning, I lost it. Looking back, I was probably in transition… I woke my
husband up in tears (after I made him sleep) saying I couldn’t do it anymore and asked him to ring
our midwife. If nothing else, I wanted to know if they could bring our induction forward a few hours.
She agreed to meet us at the hospital and see what we could do. We arrived, got checked, and our
midwife looked at us like “this can’t be right”. I was 9.5-10cm and ready to go! She was gobsmacked,
given how in control I seemed. We got moved straight to the birthing suite. At this point, our birth plan went out the window, no epidural. I continued to labour calmly and had my waters broken. Baby was constantly monitored due to her small size and remained happy throughout. I pushed for over 2 hours and despite pushing well, she was stuck! But it was taking too long, and I was recommended intervention with an episiotomy and forceps. They attempted forceps delivery in the birthing suite with nothing other than a numbing injection. I had been so in control until this point, but this pain tipped me over the edge. Excruciating, unexplained back pain radiating down both legs. They wanted to delivery baby there, but I couldn’t deal with the pressure the forceps added to my back. My husband and midwife pushed for transfer to theatre.

We were moved to theatre, had a spinal administered (wow that felt amazing) and baby was born
soon after. It turned out she had a very short umbilical cord which was preventing an unassisted
birth. But she was happy, healthy and we were very much in love! Despite all of this, our birth was so amazing, and I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. All the medical staff that day were beyond incredible, and we are so grateful to have had our wee girl arrive safely.

Shout out to our amazing midwife! Her knowledge, care and compassion were second to none.
I was taken aback by the relationship we built, and it felt like a break-up when we were discharged
from her care. I can only hope we meet again in the future. So yes, great midwives are worth their
weight in gold.

How was the first week?

My postpartum recovery was uncomplicated and our first week was beyond surreal. The
newborn bubble is very real!

Your little ones

Tell us about the first few weeks with your baby?

We were unable to have visitors in hospital, or at our primary care unit due to Covid. However, to be
honest it was a really nice time for us to bond with baby. When we arrived home, we had immediate
family visit only and did have some rules in place just around not kissing her, and not to come if they
were unwell. Most people were respectful of our wishes.

How did you find the fourth trimester?

Physically I recovered well, but mentally it was a bit of a shock. The first two weeks were a blissful
newborn bubble – baby essentially eats, sleeps and looks cute all the time. I could’ve had another
one then and there! We were so overwhelmed with love.


Around 2 weeks old, she woke up to the world, and learned to scream. Since then (and even some
days still now at 15 weeks old), some days are just so tough. It’s not that I never expected my baby
to cry, but when they scream for hours on end and nothing you do settles them, it’s very emotionally
draining. You start to wonder what you are doing wrong, and how people are judging you. I have
been lucky to have an amazing husband to tag in, and my Mum and Dad who have been amazing
support throughout this time. I think we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!
She has always slept in her own co-sleeper right next to the bed. It works for us.
We have a loose routine with a set bed-time, and time to start the day, but the rest of the day is
largely dictated by her and age appropriate wake windows.

What were your must-have items, and what others were a waste of time/overrated?

Must-haves – Stretchy merino swaddles, onesies with feet and fold over mittens, a front pack, Lorna Jane
maternity bras, nipple balm, Rite Aid hydrogel discs and a breast pump have all been must-have
items.

Overrated – Boba-style wrap (it killed my back), and the Haakaa pump didn’t work for me.

Is your parenting different to how you thought it would be?

I think our parenting is close to what we thought it would be, although sometimes I will myself to
have more patience. We thought we would never use a dummy. But, desperate measures…

How does your typical day look? Are you a stay at home parent/juggling work/kindy?

So far, I have stayed at home with baby. Our days are typical; get up in the morning, have breakfast
and a play, get dressed for the day, and then we head out for her first nap in the front pack and take
the dog for a big walk. Depending on the day, sometimes we have Playcenter, swimming or things
we need to do after that, such as groceries, catching up with friends etc.

I had planned to take a couple of years off but have unexpectedly been offered a great new Part-
time job with complete flexibility around baby. So, we are going to be juggling work and Mum-life
very soon!

Relationship

How has having children affected your relationship, what challenges has it brought?

It has only made our marriage stronger. There’s something so incredibly heart-melting about going
through birth, and seeing your other half become a parent. Don’t get me wrong, we have our
disagreements, but for the most-part we are completely on the same page and so incredibly filled
with love for our wee girl. My husband is fantastic with her, and it has made the whole experience
thus far so incredible. Hard, but rewarding.

Tips & advice

What would your top 3/5 parenting tips be for a new parent?

  • Try not to take to heart what people say. The old “back in my day”. Some people have strong opinions, but you don’t have to share their opinions; take what’s good and toss the rest. You know what’s right for your baby.
  • Make the most of the time with your midwife (or chosen care provider) – they are worth their weight in gold!
  • Accept help where you can! I know, it’s so much easier said than done. I came home from hospital and vacuumed my house the following day… But do give yourself a break. Let your partner hold the baby while you have half an hour to shower alone, go for a walk, take a nap, whatever it may be.

What is the most helpful advice you can offer to other parents and what advice has someone passed down to you that you’ll always remember?

“It will get better”. A bit double edged for me. In the hard times, it’s the last thing you want to hear,
but also that tiny glimmer of hope was just what I needed. It seems so impossible in the moment
that things will ever get better, but they do!

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.


An interview with Erin Simpson | 41 weeks Pregnant, going for induction

Tell us a little about you and Zac

We first met at an event at Sky City, at the time we had respective partners. A few months later we were both single and I was interviewing celebs on the Red Carpet, when Zac rocked up looking extremely inviting. I turned a into hot, melting, embarrassed mess and as a result the interview was terrible and it never made the air waves – that was 2017!

When did you first start talking about having children?

Zac has always wanted children and voiced it from the very start.

I had a few more things on my ‘selfish’ list that I needed to tick off before I could relax into the idea and when we had such a whirl wind of a romance I generally wanted more time to get to know each other before starting a family.

Originally we decided after our honey moon we would start trying. Then Covid came along and squished that travel plan, so we then decided to start the summer after the first lot of Covid 

Tell us about your journey to conceive and the challenges you had along the way.

It was quite a process, I had to have a medical expert retrieve my marina but unfortunately they couldn’t locate it.  After booking in an ultrasound to assist, instead they found some nasty cysts. One happened to look cancerous.  So again, we paused to sort that and even though it all turned out fine it added a few months to the process.  After the all clear and the marina successfully out, we starting trying again and that process took another 6 months to successfully conceive so all in all over a year.

How did you find out you were pregnant?

We were in lockdown for the tenth thousand time, I was testing at home with home pregnancy kits and when one finally came back positive, I lied to Zac and told him I had managed to get a dentist appointment during lockdown, but really I snuck to the doctors to get my bloods done and confirm the results.

How long did you wait to tell Zac and how did he react?

It was about a week later that I told him. It felt like a long time as we were in lockdown so it was just the two of us, but personally I always need time to absorb and process big moments alone before offering out positivity and putting others first and this was one of those moments.

Who was the first person you told apart from Zac when you found out you were expecting?

No one!! We wanted to wait until the borders opened so we could both tell our parents in person – at the time we didn’t think that would be long but it ended up being months before the borders opened to surrounding Auckland areas, in fact so long I nearly turned up at home with a bump!! 

You’ve decided not to find out the gender of your baby – was that an easy decision, did you both agree?

It was Zac’s original call not to know and I respected that.  If we had needed to know for any serious medical reason along the way of course we would have found out, but nothing came up so we just kept going.  

I found it very interesting along the way how many people wanted to know and couldn’t stand that we hadn’t found out and even more interesting there is a thing called gender disappointment!? I met a lady who was disappointed she was not having a girl and I really couldn’t be round her for long! I was grateful to simply be pregnant and hoping I could do it well!

erin-simpson-pregnant-induction-baby-parenting

Did you experience morning sickness? What other pregnancy symptoms and side-effects have you had, and how have you coped?

The first trimester I basically spent on the floor or as low to the ground as I could, it was horrible the amount of morning sickness that over came me.

Then the 3rd trimester I pulled the sciatic nerve in my butt and vomited a lot. It was very very painful most days, but there was nothing medically wrong so at the end of the day we were very fortunate compared to others. 

You mentioned that people have said you look small – what advice would you give to other pregnant women who receive comments on their size/bump?

You know, I don’t like to give advice, I don’t feel I’m a teacher or an expert in such a field or any field other than presenting so how can I? And especially now after going through a pregnancy where advice comes in so thick and from every direction.

There were days when I just didn’t want to talk to anyone about babies but they seemed to just start anyway without even asking.  

I have promised myself I will never give advice on pregnancy.

Did you do any hypnobirthing, read books, use apps, or anything else?

I’m a pretty simple person and don’t tend to read or use a lot of resources.  I did try an app which helped track my ovulation and periods in the beginning which I found helpful and I have the beautiful pregnancy journal from Forget Me Not Journals as a treasured keepsake.

erin-simpson-pregnant-induction-baby-parenting

Do you have a birthing plan, and/or plan for the weeks after birth around visitors?

My plan is to get to the hospital and follow the advice of my midwife. It will all depend on what happens that day so I haven’t made any plans other than to listen, respond, stay calm and be positive.

We have decided a few weeks home without visitors will be best (apart from immediate family). However, deciding how best to tell visitors… that we haven’t quite figured out how yet. Crossing my fingers people naturally know to stay away for the first few weeks?

Approaching your due date, have you had any anxiety or nerves around birth?

Luckily I haven’t had any, we have been so focused on trying to sign up a new home, sell my car, finish work and for Zac to get a promotion all in time for bub’s arrival that it has always been pushed to the back of my mind, is that weird?

Now that you are almost 41 weeks pregnant, how do you feel?

Again, I feel grateful that bubs has given us more time to try and get things sorted for their arrival. I secretly new they would, so we are a great team already! At the end of 41 weeks I was booked in for an urgent ultrasound to find that there wasn’t any or enough fluid surrounding the little one so I was called to hospital where my midwife made the call to induce me.  She was also conscious that in 3 more days I would be turning 40 and things would change once again and they would be more worried about the placenta (yes an over night change in stress levels due to a birthday did seem very weird to me), so being induced was for the best.

Is there anything else you’d like to talk about around pregnancy/birth?

Back to giving the advice part, I really found it is quite full on how everyone thinks it’s ok to give their two cents on what I should be doing or proceed to tell me about their horrible and negative birthing experiences when I didn’t ask or ever bring up the topic. I also found that the topics are very repetitive like nappy chat, breastfeeding chat, boy or girl? Some days I wanted to yell ‘yes, I’m having a baby that doesn’t mean we have to spend all day talking about your baby” – gosh I sound over it don’t I haha!

What sort of Dad do you think Zac will be?

Zac is an incredible man, very paternal and very excited.  I would not be here if it wasn’t for his love, support and encouragement that I could be more than a fun aunty in life and I feel most of this is for him so I can watch and admire him be the dad he was born to be. He does however hate loud noises so that’s going to be the fun part!

Do you have any thoughts around becoming a Mum, or any worries? Do you have a good support network?

I have amazing friends and family who I will prefer to lean on rather than new mums I have met along the way as I feel I already have a full cup of inspirational mums (Megan you are one of these!).

What has been some of the best advice you have received along your journey

I really appreciated being told things about logistics which was hard to come by, for some reason so many say “you will know” or “just you wait” but in my head I was screaming “know what”?? “wait for what”?? So I preferred ladies who were very descriptive story tellers. Explaining what happens when your water breaks, explaining how the pain compares to other experiences and explaining what all the zeros mean on baby clothes.

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.

“I never imagined myself as a parent” | Mum of 1, currently pregnant with baby number 2

Your family

In our family there is myself, Becky (39), My Husband Clinton (42), and my daughter Thea (2.5 years old). We also have another little girl due in August.

Clinton and I are from the UK but we only met each other in NZ 6 years ago and got married here. We have both been in NZ now for around 8-10 years. Thea was born in Auckland hospital.

“I personally couldn’t have imagined myself having children growing up, busy lifestyle, holidays,
different relationships etc. Then meeting the right person, growing up, getting married, all that
changed.”

Journey to conceiving and pregnancy

First time round we conceived incredibly fast, and we were so naïve to it all.

Married on New Year’s Eve we had decided to try from that night and had Thea the following October 2019. I was 37 and Hubby 39. After Thea was born, we waited 18 months to then start trying again. We conceived fast again within the month of trying but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. At the 12-week scan there were complications, and a termination was required. The worst feeling ever and an emotional
rollercoaster! It then felt like an eternity trying to conceive again but in fact only took 6 months and we found out we were pregnant again in December 2021. I’m currently 28 weeks and due end of August.

How were your pregnancies?

First pregnancy we were oblivious to it all, took it all in our own stride and didn’t overthink about it
much. We were very relaxed about it all. I was sick for all of my pregnancies up until about 14 weeks, vomiting multiple times a day, seeing docs and a couple of hospital visits but then it got better. I wouldn’t say I have enjoyed any pregnancy really; we were excited about buying new things, thinking of names
and the arrival etc but that’s it.

This current pregnancy has been different since the termination, less excitement, more overthinking
and we are definitely more tired. Being pregnant and having a toddler is exhausting. It feels a little
more clinical this time, ensuring everything is OK. However, we do love the fact that Thea is now
aware and getting excited, she knows we are having a baby and talks about it all the time and is very
protective of me, very cute!!

Did you find out the gender of your children?

We found out the sexes as neither me nor my hubby have any patience.

Did you practice hypnobirthing, read books, use apps or use a pregnancy journal? 

I downloaded a couple of apps (pregnancy+ and flo) and attended the antenatal group with the 8-
week course and have made some great friends. We then just took advise from other parents and
fumbled our way through ever since.

Birth story

I was 6 days overdue. My waters broke at 6.30am and then a couple of hours later labour started. I found it incredibly painful and just wanted to get to hospital and have an epidural. I was told to wait at home until things progressed which felt like a lifetime. My midwife made a house visit and I was 7cms dilated and was then told to get to hospital straight away. On arriving at hospital around 1pm, I had an epidural which was amazing. However, everything then just slowed down. No further dilation, Thea was breeched, and I was then just monitored for the next boring 10 hours. I ended up getting an infection which had passed to Thea, and we went for an emergency c-section, which I was all good about. Thea was born at 11.11pm.

How was the first week?

I never experience baby blues and the first week just felt like a learning curve for myself and hubby,
just fumbling our way through baby life.

Your little ones

How did you choose your children’s names and do they have a meaning to you?

We looked on name apps, google etc and about 6 months pregnant came across “Thea” which we
both loved. A little bit different, a short and cute name. We would reference her as Thea Bear until
she was born. This pregnancy we are finding it a little harder to think of a name and one we both
agree on.

Tell us about the first few weeks with your baby

With not having family here we were relaxed with having visitors. We waited until we were home
from birth care, got settled and had a slight hang of things. It was maybe one to two weeks before a
few friends came round to see Thea. They brought lunch or dinner and none of them would stay too
long. Was nice to have some company and help/guidance from friends who already had newborns.

We didn’t feel any pressure and just went with the flow. My mum then came out for a few weeks when Thea was 3 weeks old which was great.

How did you find the fourth trimester?

Forth trimester was all good, me and Thea took to breastfeeding easily which was good.
Hubby and I just enjoyed our time together with Thea, learning new things, watching her sleep,
changed multiple nappies, and got used to the night-time feeding routine. We all slept in the same
room with Thea is a bassinet next to me. We just played each day by ear, some days were very
chilled and at home, then some days we would all venture for a walk round the local park.
We maybe started a routine with naps around the 4/5-month mark.

What were your must-have items, and what others were a waste of time/overrated?

Must haves

  • I wanted a good co sleeper bassinet, so we got the snuzpod which we liked.
  • A decent baby bath.
  • A baby wearer is a must have.
  • We found a white noise machine really helped.

Overrated

  • We also ended up with so many blankets and muslins which really didn’t get used that much.
  • I feel like there are a lot of gizmos and gadgets that new parents are told to get but really, they aren’t.

Is your parenting different to how you thought it would be?

I personally couldn’t have imagined myself having children growing up, busy lifestyle, holidays,
different relationships etc. Then meeting the right person, growing up, getting married, all that
changed.

We have a somewhat relaxed approach, listen to friends and family’s approach, tips, advise and then some online baby routines as we progressed through the months. Not sure there is much we would
change or do differently next time.

If you’ve had more than one child, how has each subsequent arrival changed your family, how did the other child/children adjust, and how did you find the transition?

We will let you know, next one due August

How does your typical day look? Are you a stay at home parent/juggling work/kindy? 

I was on maternity leave for 10 months and then Thea went to Nursery 4 days, and I had her every
Wednesday. She then went into nursery full time around 18 months. I now work full time, 2 days WFH and 3 in the office for a very flexible company. Hubby is self-employed so works full time but also has some flexibility. No parents or family in NZ so not having any family help can be a bit tough at times.

Relationship

How has having children affected your relationship, what challenges has it brought?

Yes, our relationship has changed, obviously we aren’t doing as much as a couple due to time
restraints and schedules. We try to make time for each other more and communicate better.
Being tired a lot has definitely had an impact.

Have you loved seeing your partner become a parent, has anything surprised you about their parenting style?

I have loved seeing the hubby become a parent, the way Thea responds to him, daddy’s girl, how silly and fun he is with her. I’m super surprised with how I have dealt with motherhood. I didn’t really think I’d have children or could imagine myself with them and I just love it, I’m obsessed with Thea and think we have a relaxed style of parenting that suits us, and we love it.

Tips & advice

What would your top 3/5 parenting tips be for a new parent?

  • Go with what works for you, your baby and family, everyone has a different style that works
    for them and no judgement.
  • Take help when offered, you may not get asked again.
  • Always ask for help also, whether medically, friends, family, support groups.
  • Take time for yourself when you can.

What is the most helpful advice you can offer to other parents and what advice has someone passed down to you that you’ll always remember?

Take each day as it come, there will be highs and lows but everything is manageable or solvable.
There is always someone that can help, make sure you reach out where needed.

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.

Best Toddler and Baby Books to Read

There are so many beautiful toddler and baby books on the shelves, how do you choose? We have listed some much loved classic books and also some new and gorgeous ones that your family will be sure to love too. We love to encourage our children to learn te reo as well as English, so have included some Maori language books – you can see more books and learning tools for teaching te reo here.

Create a love for books and a passion for reading with your little one from as young as a few months old. They will thrive from exploring colours and help your baby’s imagination run wild and learn about the world around them.

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Our favourite Toddler & Baby Books to read

The Wonderful Things You Will Be

Filled with beautiful, quirky illustrations and clever read-aloud rhyme, you will love reading this book to your children at any age. In this timeless poem about growing up, Emily Windfield Martin explores all the things you can choose to be, from brave and bold to creative and wise.

“This is the first time there’s ever been you, So I wonder what wonderful things you will do.”

Best-baby-books-to-read-to-your-little-one-for-the-first-year

Little People, Big Dreams (Series of Children’s Books)

These books are very popular – and for good reason.

Maria Isabel likes to think the success of the series relies on the fact that children love to read real stories about other children achieving great things. It gives them the strength and the courage to believe in themselves and dream BIG.

As The Independent once said: “What a cool way to drift off to sleep.”

Little People Big Dreams

Guess How Much I Love You: One More Tickle

Small children love interaction as part of reading, what better than a book for babies with hand puppets – making story time extra fun.

Little ones will love joining in as they try to find out just how ticklish Big Nutbrown Hare actually is – and in turn they might find that they have one or two tickles too!

Best-baby-books-to-read-to-your-little-one-for-the-first-year
Guess How Much I Love You: One More Tickle!

Our favourite Aotearoa / New Zealand book for Babies & Children

Maui: Tales of Aotearoa

We love to read our Pēpi books about the history and culture of New Zealand and enjoy hearing about the tales of Aotearoa

The traditional tale of how Maui fished up North Island of New Zealand! But with a unique twist and humour. The pictures are bright and bring their own level of humour to the book.

Darryn Joseph ensures that the story is accurate and culturally appropriate.

Best-baby-books-to-read-to-your-little-one-for-the-first-year

Tahi-Rua-Toru MANU!

Your child will love spotting familiar birds in Tahi-Rua-Toru MANU!

From ‘One noisy seagull, asking to be fed’ to ‘Thirteen sleepy moreporks, slowly waking in the trees’, the birds are just asking to be counted.

Best-baby-books-to-read-to-your-little-one-for-the-first-year

Our Favourite Classic Book for Babies & Toddler

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This is a classic that the whole family will adore. It’s a go-to baby shower or birthday gift and has been around for generations.

Featuring interactive die-cut pages, this board book edition is the perfect size for little hands and great for teaching counting and days of the week.

Best-baby-books-to-read-to-your-little-one-for-the-first-year
The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Winnie-the-Pooh

Who doesn’t adore Winnie The Pooh?

Enter the enchanting world of the Hundred Acre Wood and enjoy all sorts of adventures: from hunting Woozles and catching a Heffalump, to going on an expotition to the North Pole and saving Piglet from a flood.

Best-baby-books-to-read-to-your-little-one-for-the-first-year

Best Book for Toddlers & Young Children about Feelings

How Do I Feel?

With 60+ definitions to help improve emotional literacy. This HUGE hardcover book with over 140 pages, is all about our children learning to recognise and label emotions and feelings.

Join Aroha and her friends as they share how different emotions might feel in the body and how each emotion might be helpful. This emotions dictionary is all about helping children find the words for how they truly feel. Learning to recognise and label our emotions correctly is such an important skill for life. 

Best-baby-books-to-read-to-your-little-one-for-the-first-year

Hair Maclary How Do I Feel

Lift the flaps and learn about feelings with the help of rascally Hairy Maclary and all his rollicking friends! Happy or sad? Mischievous or mad? This very special first concepts board book is designed to help babies and toddlers learn the words to express how they are feeling, with Lynley Dodd’s delightful and funny animal characters leading the way

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy first published in 1983, is the first and most well-known of a series of books by New Zealand author Lynley Dodd featuring Hairy Maclary

You can also complete your children’s bookshelf with our Baby Record Book Your First Years, a beautifully watercolour illustrated baby book from birth to five years, guaranteed to inspire you to record every memory and milestone of your child’s early life.

64 hour labour | Beautiful baby girl

Your family

There is myself, my husband and our 3.5-month-old baby Matilda. We also have two fur-children;
our cat Basil and our dog Mila. My husband and I are NZ Pakeha. Basil is a Tabby and Mila is a
Siberian Husky x Golden Retriever (not that you really meant to ask for their ethnicities).
We’re an active family; we love to climb mountains with our dog and post about it on her Instagram
page. Yes, our dog is more popular than we are! We hope to take Matilda along on our adventures
going forward and explore our beautiful country.

Journey to conceiving and pregnancy

Our journey to conceive was very quick and we are incredibly grateful for this. We got pregnant in
our first month of trying.


Our biggest challenge was probably my own fear of judgement and insecurity around how other
people see me as a mother. We always knew we wanted children and it was always in our plan, but
I’m not outwardly maternal, and have never felt comfortable around other babies and children.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a self-confessed crazy fur-Mum and I knew full well the love would be even
greater for my own children. But I had this overwhelming fear that people wouldn’t think I was good
enough. So my mental journey to deciding it was time to try, was a tough one.

How was your pregnancy?

Most of my pregnancy was straight forward. I had a bit of nausea and food aversion in the first
trimester, and extreme tiredness. But after around 14 weeks, that went away. The second trimester was pretty good – I certainly don’t think I can complain. My favourite thing was feeling her move and kick. I started feeling movements very early, around 16 weeks. They gradually got stronger and stronger until late in the second trimester when it looked like she was doing huge somersaults inside! I was able to continue running up until 32 weeks pregnant (I was a runner before pregnancy). Which certainly wasn’t comfortable, but I was determined to keep it up for as long as I could. My midwife was very encouraging and believed it would serve me well in labour. At 34 weeks we had a growth scan as I was measuring small for dates. The measurements came back ok, and our midwife was satisfied baby was growing fine. Over the weeks that followed, I was pressured a lot about my size (or lack thereof) by family. We got referred for a reassurance growth scan at 38 weeks. It was good that we did as baby had fallen into the 7th percentile on my growth chart. It was decided we would induces at 39 weeks, 4 days.

Did you find out the gender of your children?

We found out at 19 weeks we were expecting a wee girl! A very active wee girl at that.

Did you practice hypnobirthing, read books, use apps or use a pregnancy journal? 

We didn’t do any hypnobirthing courses but did attend antenatal classes with Plunket and read a lot
online. We used the Pregnancy+ app right through which was great. It told us what size fruit or
vegetable the baby was from week to week and had interesting articles to read through.

Birth story

We had a growth scan at 38 weeks that showed that baby’s growth had dropped to around the 7th
percentile. Our midwife referred us to the obstetrician with our preference to be induced. We had
an induction date set for 39 weeks, 4 days. But I started having contractions spontaneously on the Thursday evening around 9pm (at 39 weeks,1 day). Little did I know this was the start of my 64-hour labour! I stayed in contact with my midwife on the Friday and Saturday as I continued having regular contractions, but they never got as close as the 3 in 10 minutes that they say you need. I had a lot of back pain throughout, and we thought baby could be posterior (spoiler, she wasn’t). Despite the back pain, I kept telling myself it was just baby’s position, and I was probably in early labour, not to bother getting checked. Come Saturday afternoon I was running off no sleep, demoralized and convinced I wasn’t progressing. I was living on heat packs, in quite a bit of pain, but managing/internalizing it well. We went kerb walking the Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t stomach dinner and I continued to labour hard the whole night. Around 5am Sunday morning, I lost it. Looking back, I was probably in transition… I woke my
husband up in tears (after I made him sleep) saying I couldn’t do it anymore and asked him to ring
our midwife. If nothing else, I wanted to know if they could bring our induction forward a few hours.
She agreed to meet us at the hospital and see what we could do. We arrived, got checked, and our
midwife looked at us like “this can’t be right”. I was 9.5-10cm and ready to go! She was gobsmacked, given how in control I seemed. We got moved straight to the birthing suite. At this point, our birth plan went out the window, no epidural. I continued to labour calmly and had my waters broken. Baby was constantly monitored due to her small size and remained happy throughout. I pushed for over 2 hours and despite pushing well, she was stuck! But it was taking too long, and I was recommended intervention with an episiotomy and forceps. They attempted forceps delivery in the birthing suite with nothing other than a numbing injection. I had been so in control until this point, but this pain tipped me over the edge. Excruciating, unexplained back pain radiating down both legs. They wanted to deliver baby there, but I couldn’t deal with the pressure the forceps added to my back. My husband and midwife pushed for transfer to theatre. We were moved to theatre, had a spinal administered (wow that felt amazing) and baby was born soon after. It turned out she had a very short umbilical cord which was preventing an unassisted birth. But she was happy, healthy and we were very much in love! Despite all of this, our birth was so amazing, and I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. All the medical staff that day were beyond incredible, and we are so grateful to have had our wee girl arrive safely.

How was the first week?

My postpartum recovery was uncomplicated and our first week was beyond surreal. The
newborn bubble is very real!

Your little ones

How did you choose your children’s names and do they have a meaning to you?

My husband and I knew we wanted quite a “girly” name, but one that was strong and not too common,
but also quite traditional. We both loved and agreed on Matilda.

The meaning of her name resonated with us; it essentially means “might”, “strength” and “battle”.

Tell us about the first few weeks with your baby

We were unable to have visitors in hospital, or at our primary care unit due to Covid. However, to be
honest it was a really nice time for us to bond with baby. When we arrived home, we had immediate
family visit only and did have some rules in place just around not kissing her, and not to come if they
were unwell. Most people were respectful of our wishes.


How did you find the fourth trimester?

Physically I recovered well, but mentally it was a bit of a shock. The first two weeks were a blissful
newborn bubble – baby essentially eats, sleeps and looks cute all the time. I could’ve had another
one then and there! We were so overwhelmed with love.

Around 2 weeks old, she woke up to the world, and learned to scream. Since then (and even some
days still now at 15 weeks old), some days are just so tough. It’s not that I never expected my baby
to cry, but when they scream for hours on end and nothing you do settles them, it’s very emotionally
draining. You start to wonder what you are doing wrong, and how people are judging you. I have
been lucky to have an amazing husband to tag in, and my Mum and Dad who have been amazing
support throughout this time. I think we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!
She has always slept in her own we co-sleeper right next to the bed. It works for us.
We have a loose routine with a set bed-time, and time to start the day, but the rest of the day is
largely dictated by her and age appropriate wake windows.

Our midwife was amazing! Her knowledge, care and compassion were second to none.
I was taken aback by the relationship we built, and it felt like a break-up when we were discharged
from her care. I can only hope we meet again in the future. So yes, great midwives are worth their
weight in gold.

What were your must-have items, and what others were a waste of time/overrated?

Must haves were stretchy merino swaddles, onesies with feet and fold over mittens, a front pack, Lorna Jane maternity bras, nipple balm, Rite Aid hydrogel discs and a breast pump have all been must-have items for us.


Overrated items were Boba-style wrap (it killed my back) and the Haakaa pump.

Is your parenting different to how you thought it would be?

I think our parenting is close to what we thought it would be, although sometimes I will myself to
have more patience. We also thought we would never use a dummy. But, desperate measures…

How does your typical day look? Are you a stay at home parent/juggling work/kindy? 

So far, I have stayed at home with baby. Our days are typical; get up in the morning, have breakfast
and a play, get dressed for the day, and then we head out for her first nap in the front pack and take
the dog for a big walk. Depending on the day, sometimes we have Playcentre, swimming or things
we need to do after that, such as groceries, catching up with friends etc.
I had planned to take a couple of years off but have unexpectedly been offered a great new Part-
time job with complete flexibility around baby. So, we are going to be juggling work and Mum-life
very soon!

Relationship

How has having children affected your relationship, what challenges has it brought?

It has only made our marriage stronger. There’s something so incredibly heart-melting about going
through birth, and seeing your other half become a parent. Don’t get me wrong, we have our
disagreements, but for the most-part we are completely on the same page and so incredibly filled
with love for our wee girl. My husband is fantastic with her, and it has made the whole experience
thus far so incredible. Hard, but rewarding.

Tips & advice

What would your top 3/5 parenting tips be for a new parent?

  • Try not to take to heart what people say. The old “back in my day”. Some people have strong
    opinions, but you don’t have to share their opinions; take what’s good and toss the rest. You know
    what’s right for your baby.
  • Make the most of the time with your midwife (or chosen care provider) – they are worth their weight in gold!
  • Accept help where you can! I know, it’s so much easier said than done. I came home from hospital and vacuumed my house the following day… But do give yourself a break. Let your partner hold the baby while you have half an hour to shower alone, go for a walk, take a nap, whatever it may be.

What is the most helpful advice you can offer to other parents and what advice has someone passed down to you that you’ll always remember?

“It will get better”. A bit double edged for me. In the hard times, it’s the last thing you want to hear,
but also that tiny glimmer of hope was just what I needed. It seems so impossible in the moment
that things will ever get better, but they do!

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.

Mother of 1 | Pregnancy after being diagnosed with PCOS and Thyroid

“After doing some research I found the most beautiful name which meant strength of mountain – ARIN. When our boy was born my hubby and I looked at each other agreed that this suited him the best.”

Your family

My name is Aruni, I am 33 years old. I was born in India and left my home country at the age of 20yrs old.
We are family of three right now – Me, my husband (Sameer) and my son (Arin). We had a fur baby
who passed away in 2021.

Journey to conceiving and pregnancy

As an Indian woman, I was raised to believe growing your family and having your own kids is very
important for a woman. My hubby and I got married when I was 20 years old, and he was 22. Soon
after my marriage I was diagnosed with PCOD and Thyroid. Doctors had strictly told me to get
pregnant by the age of 25 otherwise it could get complicated.

However, having a baby or growing a
family was not on our agenda until 9 years of marriage as we were both busy in our career life and
moving around countries trying to build a happy and stable life. I was on birth control pills for 9 years
and I could feel my body has starting to reject them and giving me all kinds of gynaecological problems.


December 2018, I decided to stop using birth control pills after struggling for 8 months with some
gynaecological issues. We were told I would only be only able to get pregnant in 6 months to a years time. However, to our surprise in April 2019 I was already pregnant and blessed with our baby boy In
December.

mother-pregancy-diagnosed-pcod-thyroid-csection-birth

How was your pregnancy?

My pregnancy journey was beautiful and smooth sailing with no complications until I was 8 months along. I never had morning symptoms or any kind of pain till I was in labour.

I loved every day every minute of being pregnant and growing my beautiful boy.
Until in our 8 month midwife visit, we were told there was a drop in his heartbeat. After a few rounds and check-up at the Heart specialist we were told he had an ectopic heartbeat and it might go away after he was born.

Now started the wait and anxiety hoping and praying everyday that his heart is perfectly fine.

mother-pregancy-diagnosed-pcod-thyroid-csection-birth

Did you find out the gender of your children?

Me and hubby both wanted to know the gender and were so excited to have a baby boy. I personally
think its good to know the gender so you can be prepared.

Birth story

We went into labour on 40+2 days – It was a Sunday morning, and I woke up not feeling any
movement so we rushed to the North shore hospital. We were monitored for full day and were told the
amniotic fluid had reduced so were booked in for induction on Christmas eve. But God and baby had
other plans. The same evening at 7pm all of a sudden, my water broke and after half hour I was in
labour which lasted for 9.5hrs and we ended up having an emergency C-section as baby boys heartbeat dropped.

How was the first week?

Recovery was very good with mum and hubby on my side, so blessed to have an amazing family
support.

Your little one

How did you choose your children’s names and do they have a meaning to you?

I always wanted and hoped to give a unique name to my cildren – after doing some research I found the
most beautiful name which meant strength of mountain – ARIN. When our boy was born my hubby and I looked at each other agreed that this suited him the best.

How did you find the fourth trimester?

Fourth trimester – A phase which is not a lot spoken about. A women goes through so many changes
and challenges. Nonstop bleeding, breastfeeding, blocked milk ducts, matitis, postnatal depression. The list in endless.


However, if you ask for help, give your body time to heal instead of being in an hurry, talk to someone it passes on nicely. My fourth trimester was the worst time of my entire pregnancy – C section incision infection, mastitis, blocked duct, feeling of a failed mama but I was blessed to have my mother by my side to help me overcome any issues I had and help in every step of the way.


The first two months were a roller coaster with sleepless nights, no routine, just going with the flow.
We had a bed side bassinet but ended up co sleeping with Arin. I just felt it was easy and I felt less
anxious because I could hear him breathe.

What were your must-have items, and what others were a waste of time/overrated?

Lots of nappies, nipple cream, bed side bassinet, diaper pail, and lots of yummy lactation cookies and
blends.

Is your parenting different to how you thought it would be?

I don’t know if we have a specific parenting style. We just go with the flow and try to teach my boy what’s the best is. Be gentle and kind and get him ready for this world.

Before Arin was born I used to tell my hubby I would not let him have gadgets or watch tv till he is 3-4 years old. But today here I am being a working mom – TV is a lifesaver when you need to cook or do
something.

How does your typical day look? Are you a stay at home parent/juggling work/kindy?

A typical day is busy, chaotic and yet beautiful. Our day starts at 6am and ends at 11pm… We are a full-time working family, juggling between work, home, kindy and trying to give a perfect and happy life to our boy.

Tips & advice

  • Trust your Intuition – no one knows your kid better than you
  • Try to be gentle on yourself as a parent – You are doing the best you can don’t stress
  • Teach your kid how important a family is.

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.