"I once forgot my daughter's name."

Baby brain and sleep deprivation had got the better of me.

Walking saved my sanity in the early days of motherhood. My shuffling feet must have worn a path through my local park as I went up and down, up and down, once in the morning, once in the afternoon, my outing serving a double purpose – to lull my girl to sleep, and to get me out of the house.

Four walls and a squawky baby are enough to make anyone tetchy, but get outside in the light and air and suddenly everything seems manageable. New mums know this. That’s why they seem to invade every public space you visit on any given weekday. You know, either side of nap time.

Holly with her partner and children.

But on one of those walks on one of those early days, a well-meaning woman stopped me to peer under the pram hood and admire my sleeping little bundle.

“Aw, how gorgeous,” she said (smart woman), and clocking the tasteful flowers on her blanket. “What’s her name?”

And I opened my mouth and said, “—“.

I had forgotten my own daughter’s name.

That’s how seriously baby-brain, sleep deprived and down-right addled I was.

I also would frequently forget my house keys when I left the house, which made for some deeply awkward moments, being trapped outside with a cranky baby who just wanted to be inside, snuggling. I forgot how long it had been since I last breastfed, I forgot how to reverse park, I forgot dinner… the list goes on.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by NSW Health. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in their own words.

Being a new parent can be overwhelming. Especially at the beginning. It can sometimes feel like a learning curve that you might fly right off. You’re immersed in a world of unfamiliar information, things you didn’t even know you needed to know, and worries you never had before.

That’s why, when you talk to new parents about what’s going on in their lives, they often look blank. Their minds are overflowing with the minutiae of caring for a new person, a little person who seems to need so much stuff. A little person whose needs are so simple – food, warmth, love – but can seem so desperately mysterious at the same time.


Picking through the ocean of information to work out what matters is the tricky part – even the health pack I received at the hospital seemed densely intimidating.

But there are some things that really do matter. And that are worth remembering. Like remembering just how vulnerable little babies are to serious disease.

Ask parents like Toni McCaffery and her husband David, who lost their beautiful four week old daughter Dana to whooping cough in 2009.

We all want to protect our children, but it can be difficult.

Or parents Ian and Linda Williams, from Auckland, who almost lost their seven-year-old son Alijah to tetanus.

And mothers like Beth Cockroft, who lost her son Malakai to whooping cough at six weeks of age in September, 2012.

These diseases could have been prevented.

Beth told Mamamia:

“Nobody talks about babies passing away because it’s such a horrible concept to talk about but we need to. My son passed away from something that is preventable.

“There needs to be more awareness. Mums while they’re pregnant, even when they’re planning. Mums need to share stories, we need to talk to each other.”

Beth, and these other parents, all have something in common. They have become passionate advocates for vaccination.

Because amid the worries about day sleeps, poo consistency and dummies, amid the worries around every weigh-in, and when to start solids, and when your baby might crawl, there are some things that just can’t afford to be forgotten.

And those are the dates, starting from the very day that they’re born, that your children need the vaccinations that will save lives.

And for the record, I eventually remembered my daughter’s name. It’s Matilda.

What do you regularly need reminders about in your day-to-day life?

Save the Date to Vaccinate is an initiative from NSW Health to remind parents of the importance of on-time vaccinations for children from birth to 4 years of age.

On-time vaccinations help protect children from serious diseases at the most vulnerable time of life.

You can download the free ‘Save the Date’ phone app for personalised schedules, and handy reminders. Visit