When I sat down to write a reflection for this year, all I could see was my beautiful baby girl. It's been the year of her, our own little piece of magic. She has brought our family more love, more joy and more hope than I could have ever imagined. She has been my night, my day, my comfort and my reason to smile on the toughest of days. It's been a big year and I can honestly say one of the most amazing to date, although I may be eager for just a little more sleep (am I right fellow parents?).
This time last year I wrote...
"She's been in our sights for a while now, and as I write this at 30 weeks I am eager with anticipation for her arrival Earthside. Finding out we are going to be parents has got to be one of the most life altering experiences ever."
I'd just gotten out of hospital after she attempted to meet us early at 29 weeks, and was told to take it easy, slow down and rest until our pixie arrived and turned our world upside down. Then she came and so much changed, we changed, but for the better. As she grows, I grow as a mother and as a woman, a wife, a daughter and a friend.
Though it's difficult to recall a time before our baby girl was here, I have attempted to gather some moments, some memories from the year that has passed, including those two excruciating last months of pregnancy.
I rang in the new year with my amazing husband in Torquay, a place that we return to often and have recently shared with our daughter for the first time. We spent the first day of the year by the beach, breathing in the sea breeze and talking about the future. We imagined what the year would bring, and we spoke of our sincerest wishes for our little sunshine. It was a dreary day, a welcome change from the weeks of dry heat that plagued Melbourne and our top floor apartment. It had been the only time I longed for air conditioning since moving to our home in the clouds.
Shortly after the year had begun, I was forced onto Maternity leave, told to rest as best I could. I tried to rest, but for someone who is anything but lazy I found this difficult. I spent many days walking, eating and catching up with friends. It didn't take long before I was in hospital once again with horrendous food poisoning, only weeks before our little baby's due date. Once I was discharged, I took my obstetricians orders to slow down a little more seriously, and welcomed Netflix with open arms (something that at the time was very out of character).
The next three weeks were long....
Then one day, suddenly I had this darling in my arms. Labour, childbirth and the aftermath was not as I had anticipated, and even now I praise my body for all it had to deal with during that time. I look at the marks left upon my body from that time as a reminder of my strength, and the love I have for my daughter.
The greatest part of pregnancy and childbirth was here. The reason for all this madness, this "laziness", this discomfort. The reason for the many hospital visits, the limited wardrobe, the anticipation.
Audrey-Lee Nada was born on the 25th of February 2017, four days before our second wedding anniversary.
We spent the next days, weeks, months admiring her. We spent mornings gazing at her and hoping she'd gaze back. We spent evenings bathing her and reading to her. We spent nights soothing her back to sleep, and giving in to co-sleeping when we were just too tired, and perhaps a little too in love with her to put her back in her bassinet.
The months after February were filled with adventures, travel, family and friends, good food, good wine, lessons, surprises and decisions. All of them circling around this little ray of sunshine we now had to share our lives with.
For Easter we took her to Byron Bay, her first time on a plane, and she was an absolute trooper. Then in May we visited family in Adelaide, followed by three more trips to Brisbane in June, September and October. We were visited by family and friends, the sweetest way for them to get to know our newest family member as they saw her through all hours of the day. The good, the bad and the magical.
In October she was baptised in Brisbane, surrounded by our most special family and friends, the tribe who have supported us beyond belief over the past year, and beyond.
Family, as you'd expect took the front seat this year. My heart was so full of love, in so many different ways. Whilst Audrey-Lee brought me hope, strength and peace, showing me a softer side of myself I had locked away, there was pain amongst the magic. Another of my closest was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and spent the most part of their year with doctors arguing over what was the best treatment for them, dealing with surgery and radiotherapy in the hopes they would beat it sooner rather than later. Alas we are still standing by their side, doing what we can, and feeling just a little angry that this ever happened at all. Some of my friends may think I've shut them out, turned away, removed myself, but there could be nothing more incorrect. I have just had to focus on my little baby, and the rest of my family during this time that can only be described as yin and yang.
Whilst we continued on, beating to our own drum, Jarrod and I took our little baby girl away on her first overseas holiday to Hawaii in the United States of America. It was a lovely way to spend some quality family time, just the three of us, before I returned to work at the end of August after my seven month "baby-cation". Our water baby showed us just how much she loved the ocean on that holiday, and we promptly booked her in for her first term of swimming lessons on our return.
I've found juggling work and a new baby requires a whole new level of organisation and flexibility from both me and those around me. Working from home half of the time and Jarrod arranging his work around my time in the office has been great, as we haven't had to put her in child care yet. However this comes with it's only set of challenges. For instance meeting push backs or cancellations are all the more irritating when you're coordinating them around a baby's nap schedule.
To add to our overflowing list of priorities, I returned to university to finish the last unit of my degree. I'm so grateful for Jarrod who gave up his weekends off to be the primary carer of Audrey-Lee whilst I thrashed out my final assessments. Without him I definitely could not have finished. Completing my MBA, within two years, whilst pregnant, and then with a new baby, was at times overwhelming, but now it's done I have this sense of great accomplishment and pride. I've also assured Jarrod I'm done with study, at least for a few years.
Shortly after finishing study, it was time to celebrate my baby girl's first Christmas. We chose to celebrate this occasion by the beach, surrounded by our tribe. A week together in Lorne, along the Great Ocean Road was just what the bohemian in me ordered. I love seeing my baby light up when she is surrounded by the people she loves, and she was shining so brightly with us all gathered together. As for what Santa got her, who needs Santa when you have Nanna.
The blog, and my styling projects have taken somewhat of a backseat this year, as I've been navigating my new role as mother and discovering what this role really means. I hope to blog more next year and take on some new projects, however only time will tell how successful this idea will be. The photos of Audrey-Lee was snapped yesterday by my iphone, capturing her in her own space, playing, exploring, learning.
So here we are, the end of the year. Another chapter, another calendar, another celebration. Next year I hope for many things but most of all I hope that health is restored to my family unit and that all of us find joy and happiness throughout the year. I hope that we can enjoy our lives without interference of those who only mean to bring pain and suffering. I hope that my baby girl knows that she loved.
(Audrey-Lee wears Purebaby smock)
Past years in review