Tracy - Motherhood Journey
Next on our Motherhood Journey Q&A series is Tracy Harris! Tracy shares her very interesting experiences on giving in to the seasons of motherhood and restoring mental health.
How did you find the journey to motherhood with Ethan and Jude?
My new motherhood journey with both boys was so different. With Ethan, I had the pressure of an unsupportive workplace and even though there was supposed to be flexible work arrangements for mothers returning to work, it was made very clear to me (even during my pregnancy) that there were some biased, fixed-mindsets about mothers in the workplace. That caused a lot of stress and severe anxiety for me. I felt quite alone, undervalued and misplaced. I also didn’t have any mum-friends. We were the first to have a baby in our friendship circle, so that was also challenging because you can mourn the loss of your social life as you once knew it.
With my second son, I was well on my way to healing and restoring my mental health and I was also one year into having my own business. I didn’t experience the stress of having to return to work. I could make my business work around my life. I was also more adjusted to motherhood and the parts that I found hard with Ethan, were now part of the experience. I learnt to surrender to the seasons of motherhood so I was just more present, more content and also I had more realistic expectations of myself and what I could get done in a day!
What did you find the most difficult to adapt to?
I breastfed both of my boys into toddlerhood, but when I started feeding Ethan I was shocked at how many feeds a baby needs when you’re feeding on demand. I also felt like having my baby sleep through the night and be able to self-settle was a sign that I was being a good mum and he was a good baby. As soon as I ditched those beliefs and opinions (which were not even my own), I was happier and so was my baby. I embraced co-sleeping, feeding on demand, baby-wearing and I fed my boys to sleep if that’s what they wanted. Our household began to thrive as a result!
What was your first reaction when you found out you were pregnant?
I’ve been pregnant three times. I had a miscarriage the first time and that was heartbreaking because it took two years to conceive in the first place. Each time I was over the moon but after the miscarriage I did have some anxiety about losing our other two pregnancies.
Most exciting or memorable moment in your births?
I had two natural, drug-free labours and my memories are vivid. I love how grounded and empowered I felt as my body did what it was made to do. The bearing-down, the grunting, the involuntary pushing.... it’s amazing. I also experienced the shakes after my first birth, which I had never heard of before! That was a very memorable feeling as my body shook uncontrollably for quite a while after the birth. I remember walking (shaking) my way over to the shower and asking the midwife ‘What is going on?’ and she said it was adrenaline... my gosh! What an experience.
What did you pack in your hospital bag? And how does preparing for birth change after you’ve done it the first time?
I packed so far in advance the first time and I went 12 days past my EDD (estimated due date). I totally overpacked but it was all so exciting. I had the nipple shields and the nipple cream. I had outfits for the baby. Jumbo pads for me. Thongs for the shower! Nice PJs for me that I could breastfeed in... I packed some trashy magazines (I’d just watch Netflix now haha or listen to podcasts). I didn’t pack any milestone cards or “Welcome to the world” announcement plaque... which might surprise people because that’s such an Instagram-thing to do.
What is your favourite and most rewarding thing about being a mum?
By far it is knowing how much my boys love me. I am so loved. They think I am the best thing ever. Sometimes it can be painful hearing your name called out for the one-millionth time in a day, “Muuuuuum!!!” but it is also so special and I hope they never get sick of me. I have a feeling the teenage years could be very different, so I’ll soak up all the attention and love in this season.
You've talked about energy and mental clarity in your very popular podcast, do you have any tips for new mums to increase those two facets?
Absolutely look after yourself because you will be a better mum for it. Exercise (it may look different to pre-baby and it can be challenging to find the time but move your body each day) and eat nourishing food. I love to start my day with a protein breakfast e.g. eggs or a protein shake. I also love practicing mindfulness and gratitude. These take only moments and at the most, minutes. Having a journal is a great way to support your gratitude practice and it focuses your attention on all the positives in your day and away from the mundane, hard parts. Your headspace is vital. So I highly recommend these practices.
We talk a lot about our pillars of recovery (rest, nourish, move, breathe, bond) - was there a particular area in your recovery after birth that you think made the biggest positive impact?
I had to get outside. It’s so easy to stay cooped-up at home (especially in the cooler months) but getting outside and going for a walk with baby is important for your vitamin D, your mood, and fitness. I also made an effort to make “mum-friends” by joining a local mother’s group. We would meet weekly and that was so lovely because being a new mum can be extremely isolating. That adult interaction is important. Without it, my first adult conversation would often be when hubby got home from work at 6.30pm.
You've seen Noonie grow since its inception and we continue to innovate postpartum recovery, is there anything you wish you had when you were preparing for the births of your two beautiful children?
Something to help heal my stitches after my vaginal births. Ouch! I remember freezing pads and chux cloths and popping those into my undies just to get a bit of relief... I think Noonie is doing such wonderful things for postpartum recovery.
What are you MOST excited for in 2021?
I’m excited about enjoying the last 6 months of my youngest not yet being at school! Next year I will have two boys at primary school. That feels surreal to me. We are also doing lots of staycations in Sydney and travelling around NSW. It’s wonderful to explore your own backyard with your children and seeing things through their eyes.
Tracy Harris is the CEO of the very popular Mums With Hustle online community and education platform for mums in business, creator of the online Instagram course, Hashtag Hustle, and Founder of the online marketing academy, The Social Method Society. She is fiercely dedicated to supporting big-hearted women wanting to design their life first and business second.
Follow Tracy on her Instagram.