baby

Home And Away's Christie Hayes writes about being pregnant six weeks after giving birth.

“Excuse me, can I please push past you?”

I hear this question in Coles more often than not nowadays. It’s generally got something to do with the massive double pram I am forever walking around with, as if it’s my favourite handbag (which is now a thing of the past).

I smile politely, then follow with a ridiculous joke that I have found myself constantly repeating on auto pilot, about how I’m pushing the Titanic with my two babies in the pram. I get the polite laugh I’m after, and then the inevitable question comes.

“What’s the age difference between the two?” “11 months” I reply.

I watch my new best friend glaze over as they try to do the maths in their head. To save time, confusion and embarrassment, (usually because this happens somewhere awkward like the tampon aisle) I offer up the answer for them.

“I was pregnant 6 weeks after I gave birth to my first.”

Motherhood was something I always wanted, but I wouldn’t say I was a natural born mother. My older sister gracefully wears that title. I’m a career person. Let me clarify, I don’t believe you HAVE to be one or the other. I do believe you can “have it all”. One of my girlfriends keeps working on Hollywood film after film and ideally wants 6 kids. However, that’s just not me. My first baby was planned, my second was a surprise. A BIG surprise. One I have been congratulated on, one I have copped flak for, and one that has resulted in the now cringe-worthy experience of people publicly discussing my sex life.

“What was she doing having sex after six weeks!?” “How can she be so stupid? You’re most fertile then!”

You get my drift. I am a big believer in creating your own destiny, manifesting your dreams and getting what you focus on. However, throw in divine intervention, some luck and in this case, simply a natural course of events after some time in the sack. Bam! Pregnant.

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Here I was. I’d just given birth, was so tired I couldn’t remember my own name and frankly, slightly depressed at a time I should’ve been happy (according to all my well-wishers who were kindly telling me this was going to be the happiest time of my life). And pregnant. AGAIN.

Watch: Mothers confess their first thoughts on seeing their baby. (Post continues after video.)

The HAPPIEST time of my life? It can’t be. I’m not sleeping. I don’t know what I’m doing. I love and adore my beautiful boy, but I can’t really boast great skill about how to look after him properly. Hell, at times I can’t really even look after myself. THIS is the happiest time? Does it get easier? Will I get used to bringing a baby with me, packing his pram, grabbing nappies and a few bottles every time I go out, even if it’s just to go to the shops?

I’m supposed to go to LA. I want to work. I have a film I’m supposed to shoot. How can I ever get ahead with my career if I’m pregnant again, then have two babies?! One, yes, I can do. Two? No. I’m generally quite fearless in life, (swam with Great White Sharks, jumped out of a plane, raced cars on a motorbike) but no. I don’t think I can.

And that realisation is, truthfully, quite crushing. I LOVE acting. It’s all I’ve ever done. Really, it’s the only thing I can do. Is it all over now?

I remember the doctor telling me the test I just took was positive, that I was “about 6 weeks along”. I remember feeling guilty straight away because I didn’t jump for joy. I felt shocked, a little scared and justifiably, very tired. A completely different reaction to my first pregnancy where we both cried, laughed, jumped around like idiots in the doctor’s office then straight away went and cleared out our local pharmacy of vitamins for me.

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A phone call to my darling fiancé Daniel offered great relief when he told me it was beautiful news. He told me I didn’t need to worry, (I’m always a worrier – “are you having fun? Are you bored? Do you need another drink? Is this table okay?”) reassuring me we could do it, I could do it, and most importantly, how blessed we were. Couples and single parents try for years to fall pregnant and have a family. I truly understand how lucky I am. I guess selfishly, I just didn’t feel it at the time.

I’m generally not the sort of woman who needs a man’s reassurance about my decisions in life, and am very strong willed and independent. But let’s face it – getting a sense of team work with your support person during important stages in your life is always welcome.

The journey of the first trimester started, along with caring for a 3 month old baby. Then the great stuff happened. Hendrix slept through the night, every night. I got into a rhythm. My partner and I got into a rhythm of parenting together. I’d like to stress that I loved and appreciated many moments in his early childhood, like the smiles, laughs, cute first time things. Yet if I’m being honest, it was different to how I expected it all to be. It was real. It was work. It was tiring. It wasn’t like I imagined. It was the good, the bad and the ugly of being a first time mother.

Flash forward to September 4th, 2015, and my beautiful second son, Harley was born. Exactly 11 months to the day his big brother was – in the exact same hospital room. And whilst it has had challenges, it’s wonderful. He is wonderful. Motherhood is wonderful. Hell, motherhood to two kids under 1 is wonderful.

Why? Because I learnt to be a mother. It takes practice. It takes time. It’s okay to not know everything. It’s okay to go on an emotional journey. It’s okay to get pregnant soon after you give birth. What we are doing as mothers, is all okay.

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I’m never going to be the mummy who sends her kid to school with the best tasting birthday cake (I can’t cook, it’s just not my thing and most nights I’m mercifully asked to leave the kitchen), nor will I volunteer at the school canteen (please see earlier point regarding cooking). But you know what? That’s okay too.

I often ask those with children what they are enjoying most, what is difficult for them, and most importantly, if there is anything they would like to TALK about in regard to parenting. How they came about having kids; be it through adoption, step parenting, foster care, being a single parent or giving birth themselves is irrelevant. We’re all in this together.

I believe that’s the key here. I’m not into mummy shaming. I’m not into tearing women down. I never have been. I’ve always been about talking, (ideally over a bottle of wine) and let’s face it, it’s nice to talk to somebody who can talk back to you. I started bottle feeding at 4 weeks old with my first baby, because I was too tired and run down doing it all myself. My partner is a tremendous and very hands on father and I needed him to do a shift for me at night so I could sleep. At first I was ashamed of myself for that, but I struggled with feeling that I had enough milk to fill my baby up. I’m glad that I’m talking about it. Perhaps it might help another woman feel free to talk comfortably as well.

A year and a half after my darling son Hendrix was born, and almost 6 months after Harley, I am delighted to say that having our two children is by far the best thing I’ve ever done. You do have a lot less time for yourself once you are a parent but it’s important to note that it does become easier!

Now when I have time to watch a film, I make sure it’s a good one. When we have time to go out for a meal, we choose a great place. When I have time to read a book, I turn off my phone and pick up a novel.

I am a confident mother. I offer good advice when I am asked and whilst depression crept up on me and hit me like a ton of bricks in the early days, it is now a thing of the past. Like my fabulous Calvin Klein handbag.

To any parent facing difficulty – the single parent, the parent of 4 children, the parent of one child, the parent of a child with special needs. You’re doing a damn good job!

During the times you’re doubting yourself, do what I do. Let the words of the late, great Yul Brenner in one of the 90s finest films wash over you.

Look in the mirror and repeat:
“I see PRIDE.
I see POWER.
I see a bad ass Mother, who don’t take no crap off nobody!” I’ll see you in Aisle 5.

– Christie Hayes x

This post originally appeared on The Modern Mumma.

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