Becoming a mother has been the best thing that has happened to me.
“I mean it has it’s good and bad days. I struggle daily, my house isn’t always spotless, but my children are always fed, bathed, clothed and warm. Remember, we aren’t always going to be perfect parents, there is no such thing as a perfect parent but as long as we are doing our best for our children that’s all the counts. Make time for yourself and your partner.”
My name is Chrystal, I am 30 years old. I am European and I was born in Auckland, New Zealand. I am married to my husband, Liam. We have three beautiful children together. Harley is our first born he is three, he turns four in June. Then there is River he has just turned two. Lucky last we have Millie who is almost 6 weeks old.
We also have two cats, a girl named Bandon and a boy named Clay.
Journey to conceiving and pregnancy
From a young age I always wanted to have children. Liam and I both wanted to get married first before we had children, so after our wedding in February 2017 we decided to come off birth control and actively try to have a baby. Six months later we found out we were pregnant with Harley. Just before Harley’s first birthday we found out we were pregnant again!
This came as a surprise as we were not trying to have a baby, however I wasn’t on any birth control at the time and I was exclusively breastfeeding. I was told by many people you can’t fall pregnant while breastfeeding which I now know is not true at all. Sadly our pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, I miscarried on the day of Harleys 1st birthday which was a really hard thing for me as I had friends and family around who didn’t know I was pregnant yet (as I wanted to wait till I was 12 weeks to tell everyone).
Even though that pregnancy was a surprise, Liam and I were devastated, so we actively started trying to fall pregnant again, 2 months later we found out we were pregnant with River. Fast forward to 2021. I am still not on any birth control but we take precaution while we have sex. I didn’t get my period in between Harley and River, but I did after River. I had a couple of months where they became frequent. One month I didn’t get my period and I thought nothing of it as I knew my period was irregular, however I just felt like something was off…
I decided to do a pregnancy test and much to my surprise it was positive! I thought how was this possible? The month before we did have a slip up so off to the chemist I went to get the morning after pill. Well that didn’t work, I was shocked! I told Liam and he was shocked too. We both talked about our opinions, we decided this baby was a miracle and bought to us for a reason so we decided we were going to go ahead with this pregnancy. So in 2022 Millie came along – and was the best surprise.
How were your pregnancies?
While pregnant with Harley I was working in a salon as I am a hair stylist, my pregnancy with Harley had its ups and downs. I got morning sickness for a few weeks but it was manageable. However with River and Millie I was very sick from the beginning till about 18 weeks, I got very sick and ended up in hospital a few times to get IV fluids. I loved all my pregnancies however there were definitely a few challenging times. Especially when you cant leave the bathroom as you are being sick every 5 minutes and having to also look after your other children.
Did you find out the gender of your children?
With both Harley and River we decided to find out the gender, with Millie we decided to keep her gender a surprise till birth, we figured since that is the last time we will be getting pregnant why not wait till birth? It was the best, and hardest thing we have ever done. I am so grateful we did it. We knew either way whether the baby was a boy or a girl we were going to be happy. But when we had her and saw she was a girl we were shocked, I really didn’t believe I was going to get the chance to be a girl mum! Yet here I am with a beautiful little girl and I couldn’t be happier.
Did you practice hypnobirthing, read books, use apps or use a pregnancy journal? I didn’t read any books during all my pregnancies, I did however watch about 1000 episodes of One born every minute, I watched YouTube videos every chance I could get. I also followed a group on Instagram called Empoweredbirthproject, they were great as they were very raw with everything they posted. However, they aren’t very active anymore. But while pregnant with Harley and River they were great and very empowering.
With Harley I went into labour on his due date and ended up having him early hours of the next morning. River was 5 days over due, I ended up getting induced for reduced fetal movements with him. I went in that morning and had him later that night.
Millie kept us all waiting for 6 days, I went into labour with her spontaneously though. Harley I had him all naturally, I did tear which was stitched up and healed in a few weeks. With River I tried to go natural again however with being induced my labour was very hard and fast. I tried as much as I could to not have any pain relief, but I ended up getting an Epidural with him, I always thought people looked at you as a cop out if you took pain relief or got the epidural.
I now know that isn’t the case, whether you chose to have your baby “naturally”, get the epidural, have gas or c section you still gave birth and should be proud of yourself. With Millie I went to the hospital to only be told I was only 3 cms and to go home and birth at home a little longer then come back. I remember telling my husband when it was time to go back to the hospital if I were only 5/6cm when I arrived I will look at getting the epidural again. However when I arrived I was told I was 9 1/2 – 10cms and ready to push so I was too far along to get the epidural.
How was the first week?
As I did with Harley I tore with River and Millie also. It healed in a few weeks, my birth recoveries have all been well. I didn’t get baby blues with Harley and River. I have experienced baby blues with Millie, it was for the first few weeks but I am feeling a lot better. I believe part of the baby blues was mum guilt. Mum guilt is real! It’s something I struggle with every day.
Your little ones
How did you choose your children’s names and do they have a meaning to you? Liam and I both loved the name Harley, his middle name is Jim which is Liam’s grandad’s name. Liam and I both saw River’s name on a list of names and fell in love with it instantly, his middle name is Sean which is Both Liam and his fathers middle name. With Millie it was really hard choosing a name 1. We didn’t know the gender and 2. We couldn’t decide on a boys name as we had used the ones we liked already.
Girls’ names were also hard to choose as I found Liam and I had a different taste in girl names, we did have Lilly as our first choice right up until around 8 months we both liked Millie. With Millie’s middle name I said to Liam since he got to choose the boys middle names it was only fair I choose her middle name. Liam and I both loved Rose and since the very first day of talking about children with Liam I always said I would call our daughter (if we had one) middle name Michelle as that is his mother’s name and also my mother’s middle name. So we named her Millie Rose Michelle.
Tell us about the first few weeks with your babies
When we had Harley covid wasn’t such a thing, we had visitors from day 1 at the maternity ward. River we had during lockdown level 3. I believe we had visitors come to our home a few days later. We weren’t allowed visitors at the hospital though and could only have one support person, it was the same with Millie too. We have tried to be a little more strict on who and when people could visit this time round, since covid is a lot worse now in NZ than it was when I had River.
However with three children, two of which are going to daycare we can’t hide away from the world. When we had Harley we didn’t like to ask for help nor did many people offer either. With River we had a few close friends and family offer to watch Harley and have him for the night to give us a break or for some one on one time with River. I’ve found now we have had Millie we have had a lot more support but we have also learnt to ask for help when we need it. We are not ones to usually ask for help but after having Millie we have realized the importance of getting some help and saying ‘yes’ when help is offered.
How did you find the fourth trimester?
I used to think Harley was a hard baby, however now we have have two other children I realize Harley was a breeze. I struggled getting into a routine when I had River. Adjusting to having two children to look after was difficult at times. I have heard going from 2-3 children is easy compared to 1-2 however I feel it isn’t. I feel with 2-3 you are out numbered also it has been hard having young children as River doesn’t understand fully about being gentle and being careful around his baby sister. I can’t leave them alone with Millie. So even having a shower in the morning can be a struggle.
Harley has always been a good sleeper, River was terrible when he was a baby, as he’s gotten older it’s getting better finally It’s been a hard few years trying to get him to sleep through the night. Which has only been in the last few weeks. He is an early riser which can be very tiring. Millie is a great sleeper at night she has gotten into a routine of sleeping 5-7 hours for her first stretch of sleep. Waking a couple times a night. She sleeps in her own bassinet. I found it hard with River, since he woke so often I was finding myself feeling so tired I would just bed share with him. I found bed sharing worked for me with him or else he would wake so often that by the time I fell back to sleep he would wake again.
What were your must-have items, and what others were a waste of time/overrated?
Hmm… this is a good question. Must haves in my house would a baby monitor and baby gates! I found that my waste of time items are a changing table, I find myself changing my children on my bed most of the time or on the lounge floor on a changing mat as I’m keeping an eye on my other two children. Also don’t buy a lot of newborn clothes or nappies as they grow out of them so quickly. To be honest there are a lot of things we got that weren’t necessary but as first time parents you don’t realize.
Is your parenting different to how you thought it would be?
If you had of ask me this a couple of years ago I would have said I was the parent I thought I would be. Now I have three children I feel like I could work on bettering my parenting and myself. I would love to be more patient, worry less, stress less. I never thought I would be one to let my children have screen time, own a tablet and watch tv. But we have to do what gets us through the day. Parenting is hard! I don’t want to sugar coat anything, I really don’t know how I do it some days. I just know I have to try be the best I can be for my children. I want them to always know mummy tried her best, I want my children having a better up bringing than I did.
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? Surprisingly both boys have adjusted amazing to becoming big brothers. Harley was amazing the first time around with River’s arrival and now with Millie. Since he is older, he is super helpful. He’s always wanting to help. I wasn’t sure how River would be once Millie was born, River is a big mummy’s boy and I honestly thought he would become jealous however he has surprised me in many ways. He’s beautiful with his baby sister, he has his moments though.
How does your typical day look? Are you a stay at home parent/juggling work/kindy? I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mum. I went on maternity leave with Harley and haven’t gone back to work yet. I look forward to the day I decide to go back to work. Both boys go to daycare, Harley goes full time and River goes three days a week. Juggling appts, food shopping, house cleaning can be a struggle at times especially on the days that River is home. I really feel for my family and friends who are working mums.
How has having children affected your relationship, what challenges has it brought? My marriage after having children has had it’s ups and down’s and I believe a lot of it is from being tired. We don’t have a lot of “alone” time as by the time the children are in bed we want to go to bed ourselves, or we have the house work to do before bed.
Have you loved seeing your partner become a parent, has anything surprised you about their parenting style? I have loved watching my husband become a father, each time he surprises me more and more. Liam is a hands on dad so he’s very good with the older boys. He’s not a nappy kind of guy haha. But you ask him to go play with the kids outside with the ball or bike and he’s out there.
Tips & advice
What would your top 3/5 parenting tips be for a new parent?
- Make time for yourself
- Take each day as it comes
- Don’t compare your life/yourself with others
- Do what works for you Be kind to yourself
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?
Don’t compare yourself to other people is a huge one for me. I always feel myself looking at other people’s lives and thinking how do they have it so “all together.” But behind closed doors they are probably in the same boat as me. A few people have said to me “The days are long, but the years are short” and they couldn’t be more accurate.