Tell us about your life growing up – where you grew up, how many siblings, home life, etc.
I grew up in the Southern suburbs of Sydney in a little quiet place called Woronora Hts – with my Mum and Dad 2 older sisters and younger brother. My Dad is a retired lawyer and owned his own law firm and my Mum was a Housewife looking after us kids. We had a really lovely upbringing with family holidays to our fav holiday spot Booker Bay on the Central Coast. My parents, both born and bred Bondi, had moved to the Shire to build their dream home. We had a pretty blessed upbringing, going to the local catholic school and had a great bunch on friends many who I am still friend with now almost 4 decades later (Yep I am one year off 40)
What’s your life like now – family, work, lifestyle
I have a beautiful 10-month-old little girl Alinta Jean and I still work behind the scenes running my busy business The Bridal Bar which is a Beauty + Hair Salon. Hubby works full time in blue collar recruitment. We both have a serious obsession with the beach and love going on holidays to tropical islands including our fav spot Rarotonga in The Cook Islands which we try to get to 2-3 times a year (pre-covid). We have 2 little black shih tzu puppies Buddy and Bear. We have a very chilled home life, but quite a stressful work life running my business with a large team but amazing Salon Manager (we have over 12 staff).
Was your pregnancy planned or a surprise?
Planned - 5 years of IVF due to a 2-decade battle with endometriosis. We did 6 cycles and 8 transfer to get our little girl. I also fell pregnant in 2017 and 2018 but sadly had an ectopic pregnancy ending in emergency surgery and a double Fallopian tube removal and the following year a miscarriage at 8.5 weeks.
How did you find out you were pregnant?
When you do IVF, you have to wait 14 days for your bloods to be done after transferring the embryo, it’s called the dreaded 2 Week wait. I had my bloods done and then recorded the conversation of the nurse calling us to give the results (I have this conversation on Video if you want access to it)
What were your initial emotions?
I actually felt like deep down I already knew. (I didn’t know) but I felt so certain it had worked. I was over the moon that afternoon 5 long agonising years this was finally our turn.
Did you feel ready to become a mum?
Totally ready, I had been preparing for so long - I felt like I had read every book and blog and I could just nail this new role.
Do you believe you were prepared enough and knew what to do and where to source information or did you walk in flying blind?
I felt like I had prepared myself, but truth is no one can really prepare themselves for Pregnancy, birth and motherhood, we can (and should) Flood ourselves with information to feel prepared but I’m certain like me, most end up feeling like that are walking blind.
Did you have an easy pregnancy or had some struggles?
I was lucky enough to have a pretty straight forward pregnancy with just the usual early morning sickness until 15 weeks, I had serious reflux and heartburn from the second trimester and was just generally uncomfortable but I also think being pregnant later in life (37/38) brings a whole lot more body aches and pains. I had one scare at 34 weeks, sadly one of my best friends was terminally ill with Cancer and I was spending most days with her and she sadly passed away when I was 34 weeks pregnant and I was in pallative care with her saying my goodbyes and my waters partially broke, I was Leaking and was rushed to hospital. Thankfully I was kept in for observations and all was fine with bub with only a partial leak probably due to the stress of losing my friend.
Did you find out the gender?
Yes we did a gender reveal party with all our family and friends (again I have video of this if you want it) it was so nice after such a long journey that everyone had been on with us, to be able to share such a special moment like that with our nearest and dearest.
Did you have a Birth plan, if so, what was your plan A?
Yes, but I know better than to think a birth would ever go to plan, but the plan was, vaginal birth, with minimal intervention but open to drugs and epidural if it all becomes too much.
Please provide a brief synopsis of your birth.
I went for a late scan on my due date as I was not dilating, and my OB wanted to just check the placenta was still ok if we went over my due date. I think this scan got things moving as I went into natural labour at 9pm that night. I went to bed with just what felt like cramping and by 2am it was 5mins apart and excruciating pain. We went to hospital within 30 mins and were taken into the delivery suite. The pain was so bad, and the midwife discussed the gas which I chose to give a go but I wasn’t a fan it made me vomit several times, but the pain was too much. By 6.30am I had the Epidural and it was amazing - instant relief. At 8.30 I was examined, and my OB said things were coming along and I’d have my baby by lunchtime. By 9.30 I was resting, and midwives rushed in as the baby was in distress, they moved me around & called my OB who put a monitor internally on bubs head to monitor her. Again, asking me to rest and they were not allowing me to eat or even sip water in case of an emergency c section. At 10.30 the baby went into distress again, heart rate through the roof but she was not far enough down the birth canal for delivery so my midwife had me do some practice pushes but my OB said we will wait another hour also to monitor her progress. At 11am the midwife raised the alarm again that the baby was in distress but this time was more serious- my OB came in and explained the umbilical cord was wrapped around her shoulders and it was a matter of urgency they got her out - so they advised they would do an episiotomy and use forceps to turn her (ouch) and pull her out and that they needed me to push and follow his instructions. There was no time to turn my epidural down, so I had zero feeling of my contractions and just had to follow my OBs instructions. It only took 3 pushes to get her out and she was unresponsive- my OB advised that he could place her on my chest for only a second as they needed to take her away - she was placed on my chest blue, silent, floppy and unresponsive- one of the scariest moments of my life. They took her to a resuscitation table behind a curtain and I listened as they begun to work on her and give her oxygen in the hope to get her breathing. My husband turned to me and said “OMG it’s 11:11am” a time that is extremely meaningful to me and my friends as it means Guardians are watching over me and life is on track. I looked at him and said “she is not breathing, she could die” I then begun talking out loud to my friend who had passed away 6 weeks earlier and said “Shell please help don’t let her die PLEASE” it felt like the longest 5 mins of my life but my baby took a breath and begun to cry.... it was the most magical moment and I knew everything was going to be ok. She was checked over and was perfect and given back to me for Bonding time. This kid is a miracle - born at 11:11 on the 1st of the 11th.
How was your birth experience different to what you expected?
I truly thought having gone through IVF and having such a hard time conceiving that’s I thought my birth would be a walk in the park haha silly me. It was anything but that.
Explain the moment you met your baby for the first time.
I feel so connected to her and instantly bonded with her. We are both Scorpios and birthdays are 5 days apart / I truly feel like she is an extension of me, and that bond started from the very first moment.
What was your baby’s weight and length?
3.46kg and 50cm
How did you decide your baby’s name?
Alinta was a name I’ve loved since high school, it’s Aboriginal for fire/flame and I felt that she was the fire in my belly and with fire comes incredible strength / and Jean her middle name was after my Late Nanna who was a role model for me my entire life.
Explain what the first 6 weeks were like with your new baby?
Horrendous hahaha - I had my mum and dad living with us and hubby went back to work, but I felt awful, Amy baby was sleeping which was a blessing but I had a grade 2 prolapse bowel and bladder and my stitches from my episiotomy hurt all day and I felt like “down there” was ruined, I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand, breastfeeding was hard and felt like a full time job and NSW was on fire so we could barely leave the house as we were smothered by thick smoke, I felt fat and gross and honestly it all now seems like a bit of a blur. Days meshed into nights and it just became one big long blurry period that I can’t even really explain. But yes, was not prepared for that- thought I’d be walking my baby in my new expensive pram sipping lattes.
How was your birth recovery?
Awful and still going. 10 months on and I am still working with a pelvic floor physio and it’s a lengthy process but mentally I feel much better but it took talking about it and coming to terms with what had happened to heal and move forward.
What is your top 5 items you needed/used during your pregnancy, birth and with your baby?
Pregnancy (heart burn Rennie’s - millions of them, body oil during pregnancy for my itchy skin, partum panties for the hospital and post birth and SRC recovery shorts for after birth.
Any advice or tips for new mums?
Persist with breastfeeding but don’t kill yourself over it, I was eating millions of Boobie cookies daily and pumping day and night – and it was terrible on my mental health. After 2 months of blood sweat and tears, lactation consultants and many visits to the clinic nurse, I decided to introduce formula and she had no idea and loved it and it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. Fed is best. and for some of us it’s just not that easy to be breast and we should not crucify ourselves over it. PS I will try again with my next baby, Find a clinic nurse and go to them weekly / they answer all your questions and will help with the most up go Date info And find a mothers group even if you have to create your own.... other mums going through what you’re going through at the same time will be the biggest blessing to have these people go talk/vent too, Go with the flow - every baby is different so don’t compare yourself to others. Enjoy it - they don’t stay little for long so enjoy the newborn cuddles.
Follow Amy on Instagram @amymareec