Hello Brooke! It’s so great to catch up. I know that this past year has been quite challenging in terms of Indi’s growth spurts, ending your breastfeeding journey, starting daycare and going back to work. How would you summarise 2023 so far?
2023 has been a rollercoaster of a ride. There have been many ups and downs, challenges, milestones and moments of growth. Looking back this time last year, I would not have guessed we would be where we are today…in the best way possible!
This year has been filled with many exciting milestones and new beginnings - A new career path with a job in the city vs WFH prior, juggling full time work with my own small businesses Treat Yo’ Self. And Sustainabags, Indi turning 1, Indi starting daycare and flourishing into the beautiful, kind, creative, adventurous and independent little girl she is, getting engaged and planning our wedding.
Amongst all these highs, there’s been a lot of challenges - The mum guilt, the ending of our breastfeeding journey, the mental load of juggling work, mum, social and personal life and overcoming all the challenges life throws at you. Overall, it’s been such a special year.
Talk me through your pregnancy and birth - we know Brooke now, but before we knew you, I’m sure you faced many challenges and silent struggles as a first time mum. What were some of the hardest parts and what would you say has been the most helpful/ valuable product that’s gotten you through?
Pregnancy and birth taught me so much - Aside from the morning sickness for the first 16 weeks of pregnancy, I loved being pregnant. During this time, I learnt so much about myself and found a new appreciation for the woman’s body and what it can do and to really focus on self care and self-love. Looking back, I was at my happiest with my body when I was pregnant.
Being a first time mum, there have been many challenges and silent struggles. My breastfeeding journey was one of the biggest challenges yet most rewarding and one that I am so proud of both myself and Indi for breastfeeding for a year. It was hard to begin with because you don’t know if you are doing it correctly… Is she latching properly? Am I feeding too much or not enough? Is my milk nourishing her enough to meet all the regular check ups and weight?
When I was 3 weeks postpartum, Indi slept through the night for 8 hours for the first time. I woke up to an engorged breast which turned into mastitis. This period was the darkest and most challenging moment in my motherhood journey. The physical pain, the mental and emotional load, the tears and the mum guilt that came with it. I wasn’t ready for my breastfeeding journey to end just yet as this was just the beginning but I am so proud of pushing through and asking for help because the remainder of the breastfeeding journey was a special one.
The Silver Nursing Cups were extremely helpful during this period. I couldn’t have anything touching my nipple without being in pain when I had mastitis, so the nursing cups helps soothed and heal my nipples, especially by adding a few drops of my breastmilk/colostrum.
The Haakaa Silicone Breastpump was also extremely valuable throughout the entire breastfeeding journey. During mastitis, it was a great way to use with warm water and epsom salt to help suck out/drain the mastitis out. I also used it everyday when breastfeeding to catch all the letdown. It’s amazing how much you can really save without needing to pump!
My most favourite product was the Haakaa Lady Bugs. It was incredible the amount of milk that I saved and was able to get from the let down when breastfeeding or pumping, or even to wear throughout the day/night, especially when my milk came in.
In terms of postpartum care, if I could recommend one product, it would be the Perineal Bottle. Whether you have had a vaginal or c-section birth, this is extremely valuable in the recovery time and to help speed up the healing process and to give a gentle clean during a sensitive time.
When it comes to young motherhood, you’re also balancing a career, a partnership and multiple businesses. How do you do it all?
The juggle between young motherhood, balancing a career, partnership and multiple businesses has its highs and lows. It is definitely a juggle and if I am being completely honest, there are many emotional breakdowns (weekly). I am still adjusting and finding my groove but I love the challenge. Asking for help or setting realistic expectations, especially as someone who puts 110% into everything I do, has helped take the load and stress off. Organisation is also key by writing everything in a calendar, both paper and on the phone.
All of this would not be possible if it weren’t for my partner Tom. He helps with the daycare drop offs and pick ups, the cooking and cleaning, tags in after we both finish work to help with my treat orders, is my biggest supporter and picks me up whenever I am feeling down and overwhelmed, reminding and encouraging me that I can do it and it’s ok to feel how I’m feeling.
It takes a village and I am so grateful for both of our parents, especially our mums who look after Indi on the other 2 days outside of daycare, to make all this possible with work. We also have such a supportive group of friends and family who look after Indi when we need help during work or when we need a date night together, just the two of us.
I know not everyone has a village, so this is something I do not take for granted. Even if it’s support online and having a village there where you can connect with other parents, this too has helped me and is a platform that I hope to help fellow Mamas/Parents. Thank you to Milkbar Breastpumps for connecting me with other beautiful Mums and being that online support group for all of us parents. This has helped so much, especially as a First Time Mum.
I know that a few months ago, Indi just started rejecting the boob altogether. What was the weaning process like and what sort of emotions were you processing when you realised that this journey was now ending?
When Indi was around 10-11 months, she slowly started to wean off the boob herself and the feeds were quite short. There were many emotions and I cried a lot… a lot of crying in silence. Indi loved the boob and I too loved that special connection we had. It was sad because this chapter was coming to a close, a realisation that she is growing up and becoming more independent and no longer my ‘baby’ baby. When I realised this journey was now ending and the milk supply had dropped, we were topping her up with formula. It was a week after her 1st birthday and I went to give her a night feed (by this point she was only doing a night feed), she looked at my boob, laughed at it and pushed it away and pointed at the bottle.
Whenever someone would mention if she was still breastfeeding or how many feeds she was having during this time, my heart would sink and I would be holding in all the tears or brush it off and talk about something else. We had a family photoshoot a few weeks prior her first birthday and I had asked the photographer to capture the moment of me breastfeeding Indi. I was unsure whether to ask, but I am so glad I did because she caught this moment beautifully and one that I’ll cherish forever.
It has also been nice to not worry about leaking, wearing maternity clothes or the demand that it has on the body, mind and your time, which I am sure all other Mamas can relate to and feel the same way. It took some time after the breastfeeding journey ended to not feel sad, but at that moment and even now, I reflect on this journey and it makes me so happy, grateful and proud of the journey we had together.
Since you’ve returned to work and she’s stopped breastfeeding, how are you supplementing her feeds now and what sorts of products have been helpful in getting little Indi to eat? Are there any secret foods you keep stashed as ‘safe’ foods?
We have recently reduced her formula feeds and have supplemented them with milk. Indi will begin the morning with her favourite bottle (Haakaa Silicone Bottle) in bed with us and then will have her breakfast which is Weetbix with honey and bananas and/or blueberries - her absolute favourite. We also believe she is going through a growth spurt because she will have 3 Weetbix for breakfast… the same as me!
Indi loves her food - On Sundays, we will meal prep our meals as a family to be organised for the weekdays. Indi loves her mince and rice which has crushed tomatoes and hidden veggies. A super quick, healthy and affordable meal that costs us $30 for 8 meals as a family.
In the afternoon, she will have a bottle, however depending on how much food she has eaten at daycare or at home, she may have 2 or 3 bottles throughout the day (morning, afternoon and bedtime)
I highly recommend the Haakaa Silicone Pineapple Nibble Tray, Haakaa Silicone Baby Food and Breast Milk Freezer Tray, and The Squeeze and Feed Bag - We use these products weekly to freeze smoothies, to make mini fruit popsicles to put in the teether feeder (when I was breastfeeding I would freeze my milk in the pineapple nibble tray and then put in the teether feeder - this was great for hot days and to help soothe her gums when teething). We also use these products to store pre-made homemade pancakes for a quick and easy option for breakfast or a snack and savoury meals for those busy days.
Indi is absolutely to-die-for adorable! What has it been like juggling a now toddler and continuing on in your influencer journey while sometimes having her on-set?
Aw thank you!! Juggling a now toddler and continuing my influencer journey while sometimes having her on set is very different (and a lot harder) compared to when she was a baby. It was a lot easier to block out time with creating and editing content as she would have multiple naps throughout the day, however now, she only has one nap a day. Even on set, when she was on set when she was a baby, she would just feed and sleep vs. now where all she wants to do is run everywhere and play… plus the occasional toddler tantrums. In saying this, Indi is a very chill, independent and social girl who loves being amongst everyone.
It’s really special working with brands like Milkbar Breastpumps who understand what it’s like being a mum, juggling work and influencer work and sometimes, when the days or week does not go to plan, whether that be due to work, daycare sicknesses or last minute hiccups that come with parenting, so they understand there may be an occasional delay. To have brands that understand this is reassuring and helps take off any stress or pressure that we as mums or individuals put on ourselves. I also love creating the content, having Indi involved makes it all the more fun and just being creative again since becoming a mum. It’s an outlet for me and with the content I create, I hope to build a community where we can help and empower each other in all aspects of life, and to just be that friend we all need.
Returning to work and running businesses at the same time cannot be easy. What would you say to other mums wanting to get back into it?
You have got this and should be so proud of all that you have done and all that you are doing.
It is really hard and you will go through moments where you will go through self doubt, have a cry, the mum guilt and feel overwhelmed, but please know that you are incredible, strong and can do absolutely anything you put your mind to. Surrounding yourself with a supportive network is so important and please, ask for help when you need help. It’s not a sign of weakness but is crucial in helping you to not burn out. When you feel overwhelmed, just take a deep breath and focus on doing one thing at a time and if it all feels too much, talk to someone and go for a quick 10 minute walk for a break. Advice to also give myself!
It is an adjustment but it is so rewarding. I am still learning as I go, but I am always here to support you and to answer any questions you may have.
Lastly, what sort of advice would you give young first-time mums who have fears of abandoning their businesses, careers or lifestyles for motherhood?
People tend to put a lot of negativity out there for when you start to think or try for a baby - “Your life will change.” “You won’t be able to do this or that.” “You won’t have a social life or be able to do any of the things you used to be able to do.” - While yes to a small extent and especially as they become toddlers but you don’t have to sacrifice or abandon your businesses, careers or lifestyles for motherhood.
Since Indi was born, we made sure to have her amongst everyone in a social environment and at home so she was comfortable being around anyone at any time or being held. We are quite a social family, so it was important for us to introduce this to her at a young age and Indi is now such a social butterfly.
Although I am an over thinker, I was quite the over thinker before I had Indi. Since having Indi, she has made me more calm and to just stop and take a breath when I am feeling overwhelmed. This calming energy from both Tom and I, I believe has helped create a calming and chill nature in Indi.
There’s no right or wrong way whether that be breastfeeding vs formula fed vs mixed-bottle feeding, the age of when you have a baby, routines, returning back to work or the lifestyle you have. Let’s all support one another without judgement because we are all learning as we go and only you know what’s right for you, your family and your baby.
If you are scared about abandoning your business or career, there may be periods where you will have to take a step back, but it’s ok. You will work out your new rhythm and each day will get easier.
I recently saw this quote. “To my friend who never treated me as a competition and is always happy for my success. Thank you and I love you.” - Let’s all be that friend. In general, life isn’t easy, but becoming a parent and even as a first time mum, it’s a whole new challenge. So let’s all support and empower each other.